Californian kingsnake!

I know, it sounds like a phrase you’d encounter in a political rant about California, dream to nightmare, blah blah.

Actually, it’s an actual type of snake.

The League of Nations builds itself a custom-built headquarters in Geneva

I have been reading The Mighty Continent by John Terraine, which is a history of Europe from 1900 to the 1970s when it was published, being a spin-off book from a TV show.

On page 145 of my 1974 paperback edition, Terraine describes yet another example of the tendency of an organisation to lose its way at the very moment it constructs its custom-built headquarters. In this case, it’s the League of Nations, which collapsed into impotence when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and the League did nothing about this:

The organisation lingered on and, with a final irony, it was now that it assumed the outward shape that is generally associated with it. The Palace of Nations, begun in 1929, was finished in 1936, just in time to become a mausoleum. Here at last were the necessary offices, 700 of them, and the fitting conference rooms for the words that no longer meant anything. There was a floor of Finnish granite, walls and pillars faced with Swedish marble, enigmatic and forbidding murals, depicting Technical Progress, Medical Progress, Social Progress, the Abolition of War, and so on, by the Catalan artist Jose Maria Sert. Under their sombre painted sermons, the Assemblies still met a passed their resolutions; everyone was still very busy. But underneath it all the mainspring was broken.

This building, the Palais des Nations in Geneva, is now occupied by the UN, which has its own custom-built headquarters building in New York. This is also a very busy place.

Patrick and I talk sport

Yes, the latest recorded conversation between me and Patrick Crozier is up. It’s about sport. My pet theory, that the rise of professional sport and the ending (for now (fingers crossed)) of great wars between great powers are not coincidental events, gets another airing. I expanded because it sounded like Patrick was having his ear bent on this topic for the first time. I swear I’ve mentioned it before. Should also have mentioned a famous earlier peace episode, the Pax Romana, which gave rise to the custom-built sports arena in the first place, gladiators, etc. Forgot.

Our conversation happened just before the Euro2020 (that happened in 2021) semi-finals. Patrick doesn’t care to watch England games because England have disappointed him so often. I resist watching them because I can’t help getting sucked in and my nerves can’t take it, so I keep half an eye, rather than the usual two, on the game, while internet surfing.

Perry de Havilland on those Covid demonstrations

Well, I managed to do a posting that I had merely hoped to do for Samizdata, about the Covid demo in London the weekend before last, linking back here to all the photos of it that I stuck up here.

Here. and there, I added some rather rambling verbiage about how I had mixed feelings about such demos. Do they work? What do they achieve? That kind of thing.

And I really liked Perry de Havilland’s comment on my Samizdata piece in response:

Demonstrations are much misunderstood; particularly ones like this (& this was a huge demonstration).

They are not going to change state policy directly because that just isn’t how things work, they are mostly about deisolating activists, they are about demonstrating to the demonstrators that they are not crazy (even if some of them are as is the case in any group of disparate people).

Demonstrations are a building process. Demonstrations in this case are particularly effective at highlighting assorted lies about this particular disease. After all, get hundreds of thousands unmasked unvaccinated people shouting for a few hours face to face, there is going to be an observable spike in deaths each time, right? Right? 🤣

Some demonstrations against the lockdown got hammered by the police earlier on … why? Because they were small enough to get hammered by the police to try and discourage other demonstrations. In this demonstration, the police were so vastly outnumbered, by a march that refused to even tell the police where it was going to march (by design), there was never any chance it could be stopped with truncheons. And the demonstration’s organisation was connected yet dispersed, utterly protean: a couple organisers were arrested before the march to try and derail it, and expecting that, others on various platforms seamlessly took over.

What THAT demonstrates to the marchers is that resistance is not futile, they are not alone. In fact, they are legion. It was an anti-lockdown march but it was also an anti-media march, giving lie to the idea that utterly dominating the media dominates public opinion (as if Brexit had not already proven the falsity of that in the internet age). How many times do crap opinion polls have to get it wrong for demonstrable things (such as election & referendum outcomes) for you to stop believing them when things are less demonstrable?

If you don’t ‘get it; then who cares; you are most likely not the target audience. But these marches are not a pointless hissy fit like some marches, these particular marches are literal in-your-face defiance of instructions by the state intending to protect you from “the inevitable consequences of a terrible disease spreading amongst crowds”. These marches are an absolute refusal to obey & a demonstration that the state relies on your willing even if grudging compliance, because there is a tipping point beyond which they do not have enough people with truncheons to force your compliance. That is what demonstrations like this are for & it is working just fine.

Perry and I have since talked further about this, and it is clear, from his and other comments, that libertarianism, as I merely speculated hopefully, really is spreading amongst those demonstrators. In general, says Perry, a lot of people are going to be radicalised by Covid, more precisely: by the response to Covid. This will take time, as the economic damage done by this response makes itself felt and as the facts start emerging in greater detail, both the scientific facts and the policy making facts. Of course, nothing like all of this radicalising will be in a libertarian direction, but a lot of it will.

And I had completely ignored the crucial point that this one was a demonstration in favour of the right to demonstrate, and in defiance of the claim that demonstrations would spread The Plague.

Perry and I also agreed that if it had been a real Plague – dead bodies in the street, double digit percentage deaths and so on – our attitude would have been very different. This is an argument about the mishandling of medical data, not just a libertarian “hissy fit”, to quote his phrase.

Although, I rather suspect that for many, “hissy fit” is simply a demonstration they don’t agree with. Which was why I mentioned those pro-Remain demos in what I wrote at Samizdata. I disagreed with those demos, yet they were clearly demos, and they clearly will have consequences, even if not those that the demonstrators will be fully satisfied with, of just the sort that Perry described.

Perry also mentioned how getting to know this lady had informed his thinking on these matters. He zeroed in on this sentiment, that I also mentioned in that earlier posting:

Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

In other words demos say, if only to the demonstrators, but typically also to many sympathetic but timid onlookers: You are not the only ones thinking like this.

The rest of my friend’s photos of Saturday’s Covid demo in London

Indeed. Here are the rest of those photos, this time all the horizontal ones:

I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this demo, and the many others like it, and about demos generally. When do such demos work, and equally importantly, when don’t they work? In general, i feel there has to be some sort of echo going on indoors, where the power lies, before such outdoors stuff really makes much impact.

What demos do do, I think, is create friendship networks and spread ideas amongst those doing the demonstrating. That, I suspect, may be their most important impact in the longer run.

This demo did get a bit of mainstream media coverage, despite my friend’s prophecies of a black-out. But, I suspect that this was partly because, actually, it was not that big.

Some photos of last Saturday’s London Covid demo

I am in no state to be doing to demos just now, but I have friends who have no such problems. And one friend dropped by for a visit last Saturday, bringing photos of the demo he had just attended, just as I asked him to do.

Most of the photos I photo are horizontal ones, and putting both horizontal and vertical photos in galleries doesn’t work very well, so I am in the habit of neglecting all the vertical ones, for blogging purposes.

Whatever. These are the vertical ones that my friend supplied me with:

Displayed here with the enthusiastic permission of my friend, to whom profuse thanks.

Thou shalt display photos though thou photo none. Anyone know what quotation that is a butchery of? It’s one of my favourites.

The horizontal ones will follow, Real Soon Now.

Brexit didn’t stop London’s cranes

While I’m on the subject of postings past, here is one from the old blog from exactly five years ago, featuring a crane cluster photo, which I have also just transferred to here. Brexit was then being hailed by its enemies as the latest bringer of economic doom. So, I asked, would Brexit mean the departure of all the cranes from the London skyline?

Hasn’t happened so far. I’m not getting out nearly as much these days as I’d like. But, here is a photo that a friend recently photoed in Stratford, with all its Olympic stuff, of the present state of the Olympic village:

It’s been a while since I’ve even set eyes on all the cranes in the Battersea/Vauxhall area, but they can’t all have disappeared by now, even if their number may now be starting to diminish.

And if the story I linked to recently about how there are 587 new towers in the pipeline is anything to go by, the cranes will be around for quite a while.

2008 and all that didn’t stop the march of the cranes, and Brexit hasn’t either. People all over my bit of the internet are celebrating that Brexit, economically, seems to be working out okay, five years after the vote. This has been my celebration.

“This video makes me feel like CRT is a cult …”

CRT, as referred to in this posting, and in this tweet, stands for Critical Race Theory. I say that because I very much like the idea that at least some of my readers here have no notion of what “CRT” stands for. After all I do not bang on here very much about such things, having other preoccupations nowadays, here anyway.

However, this snatch of video strikes me a truly remarkable:

(“CRT” also causes me to remember a libertarian collaborator from my earlier late twentieth century life, Christopher Ronald Tame. Chris would have detested what CRT means now.)

I doubt that “Cardinal Pritchard” is really a cardinal, and if he’s not then I don’t know what else he is besides a (Not The) Babylon Bee writer, but this is what the Cardinal says about this bit of video.

In all seriousness though, this is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a while. And I’m willing to bet that only like four people in that entire group found the experience “a little weird.” Cuz it seems like most of them are super into it.

If this feels like a “cult”, then I say that, in the days of my youth when I was an unwilling participant in it, Church of England congregations sounded to me just like this also. I suppose a religion is a cult that has achieved social respectability, by stabilising into a part of the social furniture and by becoming less pushy and obnoxious, and people no longer want to complain about it by calling it a cult.

But cult, religion, whatever. This is very clearly a religion-like event.

How the artificial meat story will play out

Andrew Lilico tweets:

People seem to imagine there’ll be a “Yuck!” factor barrier to lab-grown meat. But a) in a sausage or burger are you even going to notice? And b) if you think “Yuck!” about lab-grown meat, wait til you find out how they produce non-lab-grown meat!

And “Discount Davy Jones” immediately responds thus:

Step 1: vat grown meat is a luxury, rich people eat it to look better than animal-killing proles.
Step 2: vat grown meat is cheap enough for everybody and becomes a staple of fast food.
Step 3: rich people start eating expensive animal meat because it’s more authentic.


That’s exactly how it’ll work.

Me: Yes, probably. But add in that at some point regular meat will be made illegal, at which point there will be a thriving black market in it.

When good things happen, “progressives” (the sneer quotes because these people typically get in the way of progress rather than make any significant contribution to it) always try to get on the front of the trend by making whatever it is illegal, compulsory, whatever, thus … well, getting in the way of progress, in this case by bullying the old and recalcitrant, and by introducing criminals into the mix.

Nevertheless, I do think it will be progress when we mostly become much nicer to animals, by not imprisoning them and then eating them on the huge scale we do now.

ISIBAISIA, although I couldn’t quickly find where (that link is to a posting about Modern Art): The planet earth is becoming one gigantic zoo.

Big demo – zero Covid result

Winston Tarquin Smith:

Evening all … 1 million marched in London 2 weeks ago … and nobody died of Covid.

And in the follow up tweets, this:

I don’t know why it’s “CONVID” rather than COVID.

To be clear, the question is not: Are they now getting this wrong? Yes, of course, but merely guessing wrong is forgiveable. The question is: Should they have known a long time ago? I suspect: Yes again.

I reserve the right to change my mind about all things Covid. (Come to think of it, something like that applies to everything I say.)

But, see also, this on Samizdata today. Every time I see a clever person talking this way, the more I am inclined to believe it was all a horrible over-reaction. And yes, this is an “argument from authority”. Arguments from authority are to be taken with seasoning, but they are not a “fallacy”, like post ergo propter hoc (after therefore because). They aren’t definitive proof, because experts can certainly be wrong. But they are a clue, to add to all the other clues.