Gimbal

Until recently, I had no idea what a gimbal is. But, recently, I attended an ASI event. Clearly, the important photos from that night were those I photoed of fearless Hong Konger Denise Ho. But I also took these photos, of the official Real Photographer for the event, in action, with a peculiar stick which I took to be something to do with stabilisation-while-videoing:

I asked him: What’s that? He said: It’s a gimbal. I said: Excuse me while I write that down. So, how do you spell gimbal? He said: g-i-m-b-a-l.

When I got home, I looked it up, because basically I didn’t believe this. I mean, really. Gimbal? But no, it’s true. Wikipedia establishes its reputation for truth telling, which it then applies to politics by telling lies, by telling the truth about things like the gimbal. So, I believe this account.

If you look at Photo 1, you see the word “Ronin”. So, is the gimbal in my photos, this gimbal? There appears to be just the one sort of Ronin gimbal, so: could well be.

Big Ben is having its scaffolding removed

Here’s a photo I took from just upstream of the Blackfriars Station entrance. It is of one of the many weird alignments you get, from the fact that the River Thames is not straight, but full of twists and turns.

Here we are, on the north side of the Thames, looking through the Wheel, which is on the south side of the Thames, past one of the rectanguloid lumps attached to or near to the National Theatre, also on the south side, towards … Big Ben. Big Ben on the north side. Big Ben smothered in scaffolding:

The reason I mention this photo now (aside from the fact that I like it) is that today, I learned from Guido Fawkes that this scaffolding has now started to disappear:

As was announced by Parliamentary Authorities last week, Elizabeth Tower has begun the prolonged process of shedding some of its cladding. To the palpable relief of tourists who have experienced years of photographic disappointment …

When Guido says “Elizabeth Tower”, he of course means Big Ben. And, also of course, I loved all the scaffolding around Big Ben, and have numerous photos of it taken from all sorts of different places and angles.

For the last year or two I have found myself connecting this scaffolding with the battle to accomplish Brexit. Time standing still, or some such thing. I had a sort of bet with myself that when the scaffolding came down, Brexit would finally happen. (I favour Brexit, having voted for it in the referendum.)

But now, it seems the scaffolding will be long gone before Brexit occurs, if it ever does. Although, on my television, they’re still advertising Brexit as going to happen at the end of this month. Maybe it will happen then, but what do I know?

Concerning these latest delays to Brexit, my favourite internet posting by far has been another one at Guido Fawkes, more recent than the one linked to above, concerning a malfunctioning advert.

For my more serious Brexit opinions, listen, if you can stand the idea, to this conversation between Patrick Crozier and me, which I reckon still makes pretty good sense. Although, if you’re a Remainer, you should probably give it a miss.

BMNB quote of the day: Julia on the retreat of the monstrous regiment of ASI Matts

I love this tweet, from Julia Behan of the Adam Smith Institute:

Today is the first day of there being more women than Matts in the ASI office.

LOL. Genuinely. Sams Bowman and Dumitriu also liked it. So, lots of Sams on the prowl as well.

Come to think of it, there seem also to be a lot of Julias around these days.

Photos of Denise Ho at the ASI

Earlier this evening I attended an event at which Denise Ho answered questions put to her by an ASI guy, about the unfolding situation in Hong Kong. I photoed her:

Very impressive.

Short summary. The protests continue, and the way for her side to win is to universalise the struggle, turning it from a merely local battle, which China is bound to win, into a global argument, which China is a lot less likely to win. Hence her presence in London (and many other spots around the world) to tell people about what’s happening in Hong Kong.

I heard another talk about Hong Kong on Monday that covered a lot of the same ground. My question then (which I thought rather than actually asked) was: What can we do to help? Answer, from Denise Ho this evening: a lot. Because “we” means everyone else in the world who wants to help.

BMNB QotD

Kassy Dillon:

I’m voting for Trump but I wouldn’t be friends with Trump. I’m not voting for Yang but I’d definitely be his friend.

I have no idea who or what Kassy Dillon is, but I think this is an important distinction.

Which is not the same as saying that I would definitely like having this “Yang” character as a friend, or wouldn’t like having Trump as a friend. The point is that voting for someone and befriending someone are two different things.

Trump tweets: “I’m OK with that!” Which is how I heard about this.

An “electoral pact” is going to happen whether Boris agrees to it in public or not (which is why he isn’t agreeing to it (in public))

Steve Baker MP says that he struggles to see how Brexit can win the next general election, if Boris doesn’t do a deal with the Brexit Party:

I, on the other hand, think that I can see exactly how Brexit can win the next general election, if Boris doesn’t do a deal with the Brexit Party. And I reckon Boris does too. (Whether anyone can then “reunite the Conservative coalition” is another matter. Say I: one thing at a time. The task now is to get a Brexit Parliament, followed by Brexit.)

Farage definitely does get how to get that Brexit Parliament, election deal or no election deal.

This, which I spotted in these comments at Guido Fawkes, explains:

The important thing is that all Brexit voters need to know who to vote for in their particular constituency, come the day, to ensure Brexit. So, the Brexit Party just needs to tell them. If the Brexit Party campaigns for Conservative Brexiters who’ll win, but for its own candidates when they are more likely to win, the Brexit Party will get its deal. And Brexit will then happen.

All the Brexit Party has to do is impose its deal by keeping the Brexit voters fully informed, and the Brexit voters will do the rest.

Boris has no power to stop this.

But here’s the twist.

Assume that Boris truly wants Brexit. I think he does, if only because if he doesn’t get Brexit, both he and the Conservatives will be toast. Even if he’s a pure egomaniac, his pure egomania is now, surely, fully aligned with Brexit happening, on his watch. That’s the only way Boris gets to be Churchill 2, which is his not-at-all-secret fantasy.

And, if the above is correct, all that is needed is a general election, and Brexit will follow. Deal or no deal.

The reason Boris doesn’t want to do a deal with the Brexit Party is the same as why the London/Cummings wing of the Brexit campaign in the general election didn’t want to cooperate with Farage. Because, in the event of such public collaboration, there was and is a crucial slice of Conservative but only Leave-ish voters in the affluent south who would have been put off voting Leave, and would who would now be put off voting Conservative and would switch to the LibDems.

Ergo, it is actually Boris doing a deal with the Brexit Party that might jeopardise Brexit, rather than no deal. Just as the original Brexit vote would have been lost, if the Brexit voters had all feared that voting Brexit meant voting for Farage.

Remember, Boris is cleverer than me, and probably also cleverer than you. Boris must have realised all this, if only because Dominic Cummings must have explained it all to him, several weeks or months ago. To get a Brexit win in the next general election, Boris doesn’t need a deal, and actually would be better off not doing a deal. He just has to let nature take its course, with just enough behind-the-scenes nudging to make sure, e.g., that Conservatives who are going to lose don’t campaign too eloquently, and the odd phone call to/from Team Boris from/to Team Farage to make that little bit more sure that all this happens smoothly.

I know, what the hell do I know? This could all be oh-so-clever-clever bollocks. Good point. But, Steve Baker says he’s waiting for someone to explain how Brexit can win without Boris doing an election deal with the Brexit Party. I believe I just did.

Please note also that although my pro-Brexit opinions are probably very clear in the above, the analysis still works no matter which side you are on.

Stephen Davies on Ruling Classes and Industrious Classes

Stephen Davies is my sort of libertarian historian in many ways, and in particular in not denying the historic importance of the predator class in times gone by. It is one thing to regret the enormous power held by predators, and the comparative powerlessness of producers – the power of the taxers and the impotence of the taxed – but it is quite another to assert that the powerful predators were not in fact the people who made the historically significant decisions and that the impotent producers were actually very powerful. Libertarianism is the claim that the predators should lose their power, not that they have already lost it, or worse, never, historically, had it.

At the heart of Davies’s book The Wealth Explosion is the claim that the wealth explosion only happened because of a rather anomalous glitch in the typical behaviour of the predator class, which took the form of a non-united Europe. Normal predator behaviour throughout the rest of Eurasia meant that the wealth explosion was only able to happen in Europe.

Here (pp. 11-12) is some of what Davies says about this distinction:

There was a basic social division found in all societies after the advent of agriculture. This was between those who produced wealth by production or exchange on the one hand and those who acquired it through the use of force or fraud on the other. The first category included peasant farmers (the great majority) as well as artisans, merchants, and traders of all kinds. The second category were those who controlled not the means of production but what we may call the means of predation – organised force or systematic mystification in other words. These were the ruling classes of society such as aristocrats and clergy. The second group often did come to control and own great wealth and much productive resources, such as land for example, but this was a consequence of their privileged position rather than the cause of it. That position derived in the first instance from their greater access to the means of violence. They were not however simply parasitical because, partly for their own advantage, they came to provide what economists call ‘public goods’ such as defence against other human predators (bandits, criminals, or members of other tribes and political communities), or a means of settling disputes peacefully (so a legal system).

These ruling groups were the primary subjects of historical accounts until very recently. There is a good reason for this, quite apart from the practical point that most of the surviving sources are concerned with them, which is that they were the primary active force in human history. It was rulers and elites who had the power to actually make things happen. They were the ones with agency in other words. In addition, as Peter Laslett famously argued, they were the only social class in society with true class-consciousness, a self-conscious awareness of their own group interest. (Laslett, 2015) This and their nature meant that their relation to innovation and activities that actually changed the world in a positive way was ambivalent. On the one hand, to the extent that innovation led to actual growth in productivity, that meant more resources for them to extract from the productive part of society. On the other hand if it went on for a long enough time it would tend to weaken their position and increase the capacity of other social groups for effective action. Another aspect of the ruling classes historical role was the way that successful groups tended to expand the area of the planet that they controlled and so create an empire. Empires produced internal peace and so although they were created using (often) savage violence, once established they brought social peace to a large part of the planet’s surface. However this also meant an even stronger incentive for the successful group to keep things the same.

And mostly, except in Europe, this is what happened.

Find your way to more bits from this book by going here.

Getting serious about a gun control joke

Funny:

I considered selling my weapons “back” to the government, but after a background check and thorough investigation into the buyer, I determined the buyer has a history of violence and is mentally unstable. Big risk to everyone around it.

This sounds logical enough, but this “government” (the government of the USA) of which this tweeter tweets already possesses an abundance of weaponry. If the US government collected more guns, that would affect those disarmed, but not the US government. The US government would just become a tiny bit more armed.

Gun control laws would likewise make criminals only a bit less armed. But they would utterly disarm the law-abiding. Which would make the law-abiding far less able to defend themselves against crimes of all kinds. These are, and always have been, the real arguments against gun control.

When a joke is felt to be expressing a truth – and if the comments on this tweet that I have read are anything to go by, then this joke definitely is so felt by many – then it becomes important to get serious about the joke.