Monthly Archives: June 2010

Amazon.co.uk: james eves "WOUIFE"’s review of The Blood of Alexandria


 

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars YOU CAN NOT BEAT A GOOD STAKE, 26 Jun 2010

By 
james eves "WOUIFE"

This review is from: The Blood of Alexandria (Hardcover)

This is my first outing with Richard Blake Aelric,the young British clark who has become a senator and trusted henchman of Emperor Heracluis and i found that it kept me page turning all the way to the end of this politcal intrigue in 612AD Egypt.The one character i was not sure of was the Mistress who seem to float through the story but was not notice by anyone except Aelric and who had powers that seem to take us into the world of fantasy.The man who i grew to like was Priscus,the old enemy from Constantinopl who has a drug habit and a passion for a nice stake,but not all ways on the plate,which along with his pet cat,was not unlike that of a Bond villain.I also throught the Amazon Nuns was a nice touch in the final outcome,so perhaps not so far from fantasy.So to sum up,a good read that makes me want to explore the first two books by Blake and the ending leads one to believe we will have more adventures with Aelric yet to come.

Amazon.co.uk: james eves "WOUIFE"’s review of The Blood of Alexandria

Peter Saunders: The Working Classes are Thick


I agree. Clever people tend to have clever children. Stupid people tend to have stupid children. In a society where birth counts for everything, there will be a gradual tendency towards an even distribution of intelligence among the classes. In any reasonably open society, however, clever people will rise from the bottom. Over time, there will be a decline in the average intellectual quality – among much else, perhaps – of the lower classes. Welfare policies that subsidise the proliferation of the unfit will make things worse.

I am willing to accept a system in which those who are able to pass certain rather stiff examinations can go to university, and receive financial assistance if their own family means are insufficient. Indeed, though my own interest is not necessarily a guide to what is right, I am a beneficiary of this system. But I see nothing but national harm and individual shame in the system we now have. SIG

“In an open society, people will be recruited to jobs largely on the basis of their ability. This means the brightest people will tend to be found in the higher occupational classes. These people will tend to produce relatively bright children so, in the next generation, middle-class children will be over-represented in the higher positions. In a meritocracy, therefore, we should not expect equal success rates among children from different class origins.”

More at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7144765.ece

101 Years Ago – G.K. Chesterton on Great Powers


Christopher Houseman

By 1909, Chesterton was contemplating the prospect of the decline of the United States, especially in light of its war against Spain over the Philippines. The decline of the British Empire after the Second Boer War of 1899-1902 was a given.

It may be said with rough accuracy that there are three stages in the life of a strong people. First, it is a small power, and fights small powers. Then it is a great power, and fights great powers. Then it is a great power, and fights small powers, but pretends that they are great powers, in order to rekindle the ashes of its ancient emotion and vanity. After that, the next step is to become a small power itself.
Chesterton, G. K. (2010). Heretics (265). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

Surrey Police Authority owns up to confidence trick (almost)…


Christopher Houseman

My copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a confidence trick as “an act of cheating or tricking someone by persuading them to believe something that is not true.”
Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

So imagine my reaction upon perusing the contents of “Policing Surrey”, a glossy puff-piece shoved through my door this morning as part of Nanny’s ongoing efforts to convince me she’s doing a bang-up job for the money. In a surely unintended moment of honesty, I note from the ten performance targets for 2010/11 listed on page 11 of the booklet that Surrey Police is hoping:

“1) For public confidence in Surrey Police to remain at or above 80%”

But further down the list, I read that Surrey Police is also hoping:

“8) To improve detection rates for serious crimes to 18.6%”

So, let me get this straight. Surrey Police currently spends a £215.8 million annual budget (page 7), almost half of which it admits (on page 11) is extracted from Surrey residents through Council tax.

In return for this largesse, more than 80% of Surrey residents are kept convinced that Surrey Police is doing a fine job. But for this coming year, the force is hoping to raise its detection rates for serious crimes to a point where perpetrators will still have an 81.4% chance of not getting caught.

If this isn’t a multi-million pound public relations confidence trick, what is it?

And by the way, in light of the force’s own assessment of its results, will the next person who tells me the right to bear arms should be left to the public safety experts kindly tell me who the experts really are in this context?

Meanwhile, should a genuinely public-spirited officer or civilian member of Surrey Police happen to read this piece… let’s swap condolences.

101 Years Ago – G.K. Chesterton on Home Rule


Christopher Houseman

Although he wrote the following passage in 1909 about the United Kingdom and the question of Irish Home Rule, G.K. Chesterton might just as well have written it about the EU and UKIP. Enjoy:

union is no more a good thing in itself than separation is a good thing in itself. To have a party in favour of union and a party in favour of separation, is as absurd as to have a party in favour of going upstairs and a party in favour of going downstairs. The question is not whether we go up or down stairs, but where we are going to, and what we are going for? Union is strength; union is also weakness. It is a good thing to harness two horses to a cart; but it is not a good thing to try and turn two hansom cabs into one four-wheeler. Turning ten nations into one empire may happen to be as feasible as turning ten shillings into one half-sovereign. Also it may happen to be as preposterous as turning ten terriers into one mastiff. The question in all cases is not a question of union or absence of union, but of identity or absence of identity.
Chesterton, G. K. (2010). Heretics (255). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Chesterton wrote the above in the context of correcting the idea that older politicians like Gladstone were idealists whereas newer ones like Joseph Chamberlain were materialists. In fact, he noted, the real difference between them was that Gladstone thought of his ideals as things he would like to change reality to resemble, whereas Chamberlain thought his ideals simply described the way things were in any case.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

Diane Abbott for “Labour” leader


David Davis

As I have often said on Facebook, it is of no account whatever who is the leader of the “Labour Party”, since it will try to do the same thing over and over again regardless – which is to say: burn down and destroy what semblence of liberalism still exists in the UK.

It must, simply, be shut down and its hard disks malleted, before it can continue to exist to do yet more damage to liberty in the world.

But although people are rating her as a 3%-cert or less, I think all support should be given to her. That will ensure that Labour is unelectable for at least three years.

Diane Abbott and jobs and security and moving house


Michael Winning

That Diane Aboot woman is a scream. First, she clams up in front if Andrew Neil (not a good position to be in) saying “Andrew, I have nothing more to say” many many times over her taser fares. And then she thinks that not having tenure in your job is “cruel”. Well look love I farm pigs, and if no sod wants to eat them, or I don’t get the money  for them I need to pay our way, then I’m thrown out of here by the Bank and by your governmint. What do you suggest I’d do then Diane.

Fantasy Book Critic: Odds and Ends: My New Top 10 Anticipated Novels From the Rest of 2010


 

The Blood of Alexandria by Richard Blake (same as above, except that this is book three in a pretty anachronistic series that nonetheless managed to hook me by the narration of its irrepressible and cynical (anti)hero and which I plan to review soon – for fantasy lovers, this series is what I imagine Joe Abercrombie would write as historical fiction)

Fantasy Book Critic: Odds and Ends: My New Top 10 Anticipated Novels From the Rest of 2010

Meetings of the Other Libertarian Alliance


We meet on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at The Institute of Education, just off Russell Square – student bar, Room S16, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1B 5EA. On Monday, 12 July Jock Coates will speak on “Mutualism, Market Anarchism and the Libertarian Left: foes or fellow travellers?” On Monday, 9 August Derrick Silver will speak on Global Warming. On Monday, 13 September Tim Evans will speak on ‘Thoughts on the UK’s Libertarian Movement’

The joke of the day


Michael Winning

Had a hard day on the farm todasy, so here’s some light reliefe.

North Korea to elect a new leader.

PFS Conference Videos


Sean Gabb

Here they are:

http://vimeo.com/channels/114000

There are two general discussions that must wait until my upload quota resets next Tuesday. But the speeches are now up.

By the way, I may be about to acquire the ability to upload long videos to Youtube – the normal limit is ten minutes only. If so, I will upload everything again, which will allow me to mix in some of the video footage that Hans is sending me from the Hotel’s own record.

Sean

A quick response to Mr. Osborne’s Emergency Budget


Christopher Houseman

This tough austerity budget, in which everyone will bear the pain together, has everyone at the BBC prattling on about the projected 25pc departmental spending cuts.

Apparently, everyone’s forgotten George Osborne’s admission that, because of his refusal to cut capital spending projects, overall Government expenditure is set to rise from £637bn to £711bn over the five-year term – a mere £74bn increase (that’s well over 11.5pc).

Wow! What a sacrifice by the State. Imagine how much more Government would have awarded itself if we weren’t in a recession.

I further note that, as indicated beforehand by David Cameron, some Government departments are more equal than others. Spending at the Department of Health (doh!) and the Department for Overseas Bribery Development won’t be cut. I guess the coalition Government needs to keep renting votes in the North-East and the UN General Assembly, and Big Business needs some more taxpayer-oiled overseas contracts in the “Developing” World.

Clobbered: middle England (esp. those on household incomes of £40-60k), anyone on State “benefits”, anyone planning a big ticket purchase in the New Year (when VAT will rise from 17.5pc to 20pc)

Pseudo-clobbered: the rich (28pc CGT is still less than the top rate of 40pc income tax, so that loophole remains cost effective), the banks (surely the new bank tax won’t be passed on to customers in the form of higher charges – will it?)

Encouraged: Some small business owners (various breaks relating to entrepreneurs’ CGT, NI breaks for SME’s outside London and the South East).

Overall: Open for (Big) Business as Usual.

New Video Files for the Property and Freedom Society Conference


Sean Gabb

Note: I have said this many times to individual correspondents. But I am now getting so many enquiries that I will say it generally. I use a video hosting service called Vimeo. This allows me to upload high quality video of any length. However, there is an upload limit of 5Gb per week – which sounds a lot, but isn’t. This is also an inflexible limit, and there is no question of a rollover from the many weeks when I upload nothing.

Therefore, the videos for this month’s Property and Freedom Society conference in Bodrum must go up over several weeks. I have uploaded the main details for every speech, and have attached position holding videos for those that have not yet had the speeches uploaded. That is the reason for the four second clip of a baby crawling – it was the shortest piece of video I could find at the time.

These position holding videos are now being replaced one at a time. So far today, I have uploaded the following:

PFS 2010 – Hans-Hermann Hoppe, On Private Goods, Public Goods, and the Need for Privatization
http://vimeo.com/12598721

PFS 2010 – Norman Stone, World War I: Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Making of Turkey and the Modern Middle East
http://vimeo.com/12598642

At this moment – 1:20pm BST – I am uploading these videos:

PFS 2010 – Thomas DiLorenzo, America’s Culture of Violence: Myth vs. Reality
http://vimeo.com/12598489

PFS 2010 – Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple), “Public Health” as a Lever for Tyranny
http://vimeo.com/12598829

These should be ready for viewing within the next few hours. I will continue uploading until I reach the 5Gb limit. I expect to get everything up before then except two of the general discussions.

Therefore, please be patient. Everything will be available soon. In the meantime, do think of me. My dear friend Richard Blake, the critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling author of “Blood of Alexandria” (available through all good booksellers), etc etc, is trying to work on his next masterpiece. I am preparing lectures. My Baby Bear has found how to unlock the bathroom cupboard and is unpacking all the aftershaves I have been given over the years for Christmas and never used. And all you want is video uploads…..

Regards,

Sean

Some very nasty people are NICE


David Davis

Spotted this just now.

Robert Henderson on Primrose Hill


A lesson from Primrose Hill

Robert Henderson

I was walking down Regents Park Road in Primrose Hill in the heart of London recently when I was struck by a curious thing: the street had a distinctly old fashioned air. There were no supermarkets, chain stores, no MacDonald’s, not even a Starbucks or a Coffee Republic. Instead there were a string of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. None was of mega-size , most were small, none sold the tat which is the staple fare of nearby Camden Town. There was even that great modern rarity a bona fide fishmongers. The telephone boxes were the old iconic red ones. There was a blissful shortage of street furniture and signage. The traffic was light and the pavements well inhabited but not painfully crowded. There was not a tramp or drunk to be seen, nor gangs of young men loitering. It might have been a market town high street from the 1950s.

Other things were striking. Although Primrose Hill is in central London there was barely a non-white face to be seen. Even more remarkably for these days, the voices I heard about me in the street were almost all English. The staff in the shops were overwhelmingly white, and in the couple of shops I went into they also turned out to be English. Away from the shops a similar unusual cultural scene obtained, with the large houses and the streets being overwhelmingly inhabited by white faces and English accents. No council or housing association properties stand amongst the urban villas . The place has the unmistakable stench of wealth.

The interesting thing about Primrose Hill is that it is one of the favoured residences of the denizens of the media and allied trades. If you talked to them or encountered them broadcasting or writing , to a man and a woman they would effusively tell you of the benefits of multiculturalism, how marvellous it has been for the country, how dreadful it would be if England was the England of old, that marvellously homogenous place so recklessly and traitorously thrown away over the past fifty years. Yet these are the people who choose to live in a place which comes closest in modern London to precisely the England they ostensibly decry.

These days most of the Primrose Hill fraternity would also happily parrot the globalist creed as well, for they converted to it when the Labour Party became NuLabour and embraced the Thatcherite economic faith. Yet they do not choose to live in an area touched by the economic fruits of globalism . Instead, they opt for a locality which is miraculously protected from the chain stores and their ruthless drive to destroy the private shop and impose uniformity. Not for the Primrose Hill set the vulgar traipse round the supermarket, even a Waitrose, but the old-fashioned and civilised shopping which involves personal service from people who understand their products and display a civility which is dignified rather than chummy.

That most of the inhabitants of Primrose Hill are card-carrying members of the “right-on” brigade is unsurprising , because the only people who can afford to be relaxed about the effects of globalism are those who can avoid its consequences, or at least its most immediate and obnoxious effects.
Not for them the “joy of diversity” of living in a tower block on a council estate where they are the only Continue reading

Attack the System » Blog Archive » Revolutions: American and Spanish, Anarchist and Patriotic


 

Attack the System » Blog Archive » Revolutions: American and Spanish, Anarchist and Patriotic

Amazon.co.uk: M. Huet "Sianlover"’s review of The Blood of Alexandria


 

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Blake Yet, 16 Jun 2010

By 
M. Huet "Sianlover"

This review is from: The Blood of Alexandria (Hardcover)

I discovered Richard Blake in 2008. I am a big fan of ‘Conspiracies of Rome’, and I greatly enjoyed ‘Terror of Constantinople’. When I heard there was another one on the way, I could barely wait. I was also more than a little apprehensive. Sequels (and sequels of sequels) are often increasingly disappointing. I had been lucky once with Mr Blake, but this was hardly a guarantee of his continued excellence. But I have now read ‘Blood of Alexandria’, and while I would be the first to say it is not in fact the best novel I have read, it is certainly the best historical novel I have read. Indeed, it is better even than his first, which I have come to prefer to the admittedly more richly-studied and sophisticated follow-up (possibly because it seems to me to be in some way "purer"). But what more of this one? Well, the best idea I can give you of it is to as you if you would like to know 7th century Alexandria. If you would, this is the book for you. Would you like to see the mummy of Alexander the Great? Would you like to see the Great Pyramid before the Arabs chose to deprive it of its limestone casing? Would you to see, hear, smell and taste a world that is long-dead, and may never have existed quite as depicted here, but which is presented with the utmost persausiveness and plausibility? Blake’s knack for setting the scene is one of his greatest strengths. He has never been less than impressive in this respect, but here he excels himself: we are presented with a veritable rogue’s gallery of disreputable but entirely credible characters. We are also left in no doubt that this is exactly how clever, ruthless people behave when plunged into an interlocking set of crises. Mr Blake’s writing is fluent, immersive and so subtly expositional that we are able to persuade ourselves that the guilty pleasure of reading his works is tempered by their educational value. As we have come to expect, there are many moments of delicious black comedy, and many moments of shocking horror. And, driving everyone and everything inexorably on, is a plot as logical, complex and aesthetically and intellectually satisfying as a Bach fugue. It is a plot that picks us up on page one and does not allow us a moment’s peace of mind until the moment when it sets us down, cathartically exhausted, five hundred pages later.

Amazon.co.uk: M. Huet "Sianlover"’s review of The Blood of Alexandria

The New Barbarossa?


Christopher Houseman

George Osborne’s emergency budget tomorrow will coincide with the anniversary of Hitler’s decision to invade Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1941.

Those of us who, on the one hand, grieve “New” Labour’s sovietization of British society and the UK economy, wait with some trepidation on the other for the new Chancellor’s pronouncements.

The coalition government is reportedly keen to raise income allowances but will at the same time penalise any attempt to translate this extra income into investment capital by slashing non-business CGT exemptions and raising CGT rates. Meanwhile, the combined result of reported plans to raise VAT with recent cuts in the number of tax inspectors is a subsidy of the so-called “black” economy. No doubt, this subsidy will be further enhanced by the usual rises in taxes on petrol, diesel, alcohol and tobacco.

When combined with ongoing efforts to artificially depress interest rates, the unmistakable end result will be to encourage people to keep spending as much or more than they earn, but to try to do so “off the books”. And no doubt any future reversal of the proposed war on capital gains will involve encouraging capital formation under the control of large financial institutions. I can think of no outcome more likely to disillusion coalition members and the wider electorate alike in the longer term.

In 1941, some people hoped that Operation Barbarossa could somehow result in both sides losing. Sadly, until control of the money supply (at the very least) is wrested from the political system’s cold dead hand, such a hope will again be too much to ask for.

All in all, it sounds to me like a good time to go long on gold, silver and ferry companies (the booze cruise boost), and short on the FTSE in general and off licence chains in particular.

Will Hutton on How the Banks Won (and keep winning…)


Christopher Houseman

Will Hutton presented a Dispatches documentary recently on Channel 4 about the British banking cartel system.

The extent of Mr. Hutton’s connections with the previous Government were plain to see, as he treated us to an hour of breast-beating to the tune of “Why oh why do the noble politicians not rescue us from the greedy bankers?” This seems more than a little rich (in irony only, you understand). As I recall, the recent banking crisis would have lawfully removed large numbers of greedy bankers from the UK economy – but for Labour’s insistence on debasing the money supply still further to try to prop them up.

Perhaps the most informative snippet came towards the end when Mr. Hutton revealed that British banks currently lend out fifty times more money than they have on deposit, and five times more than the value of everything else the UK produces. No wonder our glorious leaders are worried about a repeat performance. Mr. Hutton’s solution? To try to force the banks to stop inflating residential property prices by switching the focus of their lending activities to (British-based?) businesses.

Sadly, Mr. Hutton didn’t tell the viewers how his proposals would avoid inflating the prices of business “assets” (commercial property, plant and machinery, R&D, properly skilled and experienced labour, etc.). Nor did Mr. Hutton explain how artificially stimulating productivity could be compatible with any conceivable form of environmental responsibility (so much for the alleged anti-environmentalism of decision-making in a free market). In fact, Mr. Hutton didn’t even tell us why businesses should apply for his proposed extra loans if they can’t be sure there are enough additional customers able and willing to pay for all the proposed new supplies of goods and services.

2010 Property and Freedom Society Conference Report


Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 194
17th June 2010
Linking url: http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc195.htm
Available for debate on LA Blog at
Reflections on the 2010 Conference of the
Property and Freedom Society
by Sean Gabb

I have never bothered asking what persuaded Hans-Hermann Hoppe to invite me to the first conference of the Property and Freedom Society in 2006. I received his invitation in about the February of 2006. It looked interesting – not least because it was to be held in Bodrum, which is the modern Turkish name for Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Herodotus and otherwise famous for its Greek theatre and the remains of the great Mausoleum. However, Chris Tame was dying in hospital, and I decided that my place was at his side.

“Oh no, it isn’t,” Chris answered from his bed. He sat up and stabbed at the print-out of the invitation. “I’ll be dead long before May. Whatever the case, you’d be mad to turn this one down.” He took me through the names listed in the invitation, pointing out their eminence within the conservative and libertarian movements. Finally, he reminded me of the key importance of Professor Hoppe within both movements, and his importance in his own right as an economist and philosopher. It was my duty to attend, Chris announced. If he were not confined to his death bed, he would go with me.

And so – Chris now dead, just as he had predicted – I set out in the May of 2006 for Bodrum. I wrote a longish account at the time of this first conference of the Property and Freedom Society, and see no reason to say more about it now. But Chris was right. It was a significant event in my life. Until then, I had long admired from a distance, but never met, men like Professor Hoppe and Paul Gottfried and Stephan Kinsella. Now, in the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Karia Princess, and in the perfect weather of the Eastern Mediterranean, I could sit down to dinner with them and get to know them. I was invited back the following year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Last week, I went again, and can report that this fifth conference was every bit as interesting and productive as all the others.

PFS 2010 – Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Welcoming Remarks. The PFS – After Five Years from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because I made video recordings of all the public proceedings, I do not need to give a close account of all the speeches. They will, in the next week, all be uploaded to the usual place for anyone to see. But it is worth discussing professor Hoppe’s opening speech, The Property and Freedom Society: Reflections After Five Years – now published by the Libertarian Alliance as Personal Perspectives, No.25. In this, he explains why he set up the Property and Freedom Society and what he hopes it to achieve. He begins with a critique of the mainstream libertarian and conservatives institutes. It is, for example, now 63 years since the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, and it is hard to see what good this has achieved. F.A. Hayek cannot be wholly blamed for its failure, since he was never wholly in charge. But it was, from the start, a place where limited statists were able to mingle with avowed advocates and beneficiaries of fiat law and paper money. And any scheme for limiting either of these is impossible in principle and has failed in practice. The tendency of fiat law is to become ever more arbitrary and burdensome. The tendency of paper money is semi-permanent inflation. Both are means for the ruling class to tighten its control on society. The State cannot be limited. At best, those directing it can be persuaded to pick and choose among various schemes for making their control easier or less immediately destructive.

The very success of organisations like the Mont Pelerin Society to engage with governments is a sign of their failure. In the past, ruling classes were able to neutralise the far more potent threat to their control posed by religion. They have used much the same methods to deal with the limited state movements. As with the churches, they have been bribed and flattered into moderating their critique of the State, and even co-opted as some kind of intellectual fig leaf.

Professor Hoppe saw this clearly in the 1990s, when he attended three meetings of the Mont Pelerin Society. These were filled with politicians and central bankers and general clients of the ruling class. There was no discussion allowed of the American State’s military aggressions, or of its monetary corruptions, or of the multicultural discourse that is the main current legitimation ideology of the State. His own attacks on democracy and support for constitutional monarchy were considered scandalous and “confrontational”, and he has not bothered going back.

His experience of the John Randolph Club was slightly more positive. This was largely a Murray Rothbard front organisation, where conservatives and libertarians were able to come together and discuss their equal, of sometimes different, objections to unlimited state power. It was also a place where members of each movement could learn from the other. Libertarians, for example, could overcome the indifference to the cultural and historical underpinnings of liberty that often proceeds from their emphasis on economics. In turn, the conservatives could learn some true economics.

Ultimately, though, the John Randolph Club fell apart because of the failure of many of its conservative members to radicalise. They were never able to put aside their fantasy of somehow capturing the institutions of an extended state and using these to impose a conservative authoritarianism. And they would not reconsider their support of stupid economic policies like protectionism and soft money.

It was on account of his disappointment with even the least useless of the other policy institutes he had known that Professor Hoppe decided to set up the Property and Freedom Society. Its purpose was not to engage with the ruling class or its various clients, but to have nothing whatever to do with them. It would exclude politicians and economic illiterates. It would reject the State and all its works. It would instead seek to foster a counter-culture that was opposed both to the State and to the legitimising ideologies of the State that many libertarians have not been able to recognise for what they are. The Property and Freedom Society would provide a space within which representatives from a range of traditions would be able to discuss the principles of a free market natural order, and to see the State more clearly than is normally possible as nothing more than a gang of bandits surrounded by various applause societies and useful idiots.

The Property and Freedom Society was conceived as a kind of salon – a place where intellectuals from various traditions could come together as friends, and share and harden their own opposition to the State and its legitimising ideologies. Presided over by him and by his wife Gülcin Imre, the Salon Hoppe would surely have it impact on the movement, and on the world at large.

This was the essence of Professor Hoppe’s opening speech. And his movement has been a success in the way that he intended. Its public proceedings are the speeches, and I am glad that I have been able to help make these available by making video recordings of them and putting them on the Internet. I regret that my recordings of the first two conferences were incomplete. I also regret that my fuller recordings of the next two were marred by technical incompetence. Some of these have adequate sound, but many are hard to follow, either because I relied on the internal microphone of my video camera, or because I was ignorant of how to place an external microphone. This year, I am happy to say, I was more successful. All the speeches have adequate sound, and many have good sound. A problem I have not been able to overcome is that, outside of England – in both Turkey and Slovakia – recording on mains power with an external microphone is inseparable from a feedback hum. The morning sessions I was able to record on battery only, with partial recharges during the coffee breaks. Afternoon sessions required mains power. I can filter out much of the feedback hum, but cannot wholly eliminate it. Whatever the case, the speeches all have clear sound, and I shall eventually buy additional batteries or a better video camera.

PFS 2010 – Mustafa Akyol, Are Islam and Capitalism Compatible? from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

But, as said, because they have all been recorded, I do not need to describe the speeches. If I have to acknowledge any star of the conference, I suppose it would be Mustafa Akyol, on Islam and Capitalism. He is a Turkish journalist who is completely fluent in English, and is a libertarian, and, it seems, is a fairly devout Moslem. His speech is an informed response to the frequent claim in the West that Islam is a religion only for men with frightening beards and wild eyes and a taste for suicide bombings. It is not. If is, of course, The Other – the historic enemy of Christendom, that subdued three quarters of what had been the Roman Empire, and came close more than once to taking the last quarter. No one who is not of that Faith can take a sentimental view of Islam. At the same time, Islam produced a great and often admirable civilisation that had room for much intellectual freedom and for extended commerce. If the accidents of immigration have made Islam in Europe a religion for displaced peasants with lavish funding from Saudi puritans, that does not make Islam in the wider sense other than a religion compatible with as high a degree of enlightenment as Christianity. Islam is compatible with a free market order. The development of a market system in Turkey has been associated with a recovery of Islam in the public sphere, and this must be recognised by anyone who wants to see through the fog of propaganda that has been raised to lead us into another world war.

I liked Paul Gottfried on Herbert Marcuse, and on Marxism in general. I liked Olivier Richard on the economics of inflation. And I liked everything else. To single anyone out other than Professor Hoppe and Mr Akyol would be – as I keep saying – superfluous, bearing in mind that everything is on-line, and unfair to the other speakers.

Naturally, this does not prevent me from mentioning my own speech. I was asked to speak about the Second World War and why it should have been avoided. I did this rather well. Mrs Gabb, who came into the conference room to watch me, was not impressed. She said it all sounded too much like an advertisement for the novels of Richard Blake. But I have watched my speech twice now on video, and I still think it was rather good. I dislike reading from a text. Even without one, my voice tends to dullness, and my general delivery is wooden. Since I can speak fluently enough without, I like to avoid having either a text or notes in front of me. At the same time, I do like – other commitments allowing – to produce a text in advance. This lets me lay down the structure of what I want to say. It also removes any suspicion that I have just turned up without any preparation to deliver a speech that is only clear by accident.

PFS 2010 – Sean Gabb on the Second World War from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because both text and video are available, I will not go again over the main part of what I said. What I do think worth mentioning is the point that came into my head for the last five minutes of the speech. This is the lack of any sustained cultural production within the conservative and libertarian movements. We have always been strong on analysis and criticism. We have our philosophers and economists and historians, and these are among the best. We are not wholly without our novelists and musicians and artists. But we have not so far excelled in cultural production, and have mostly not considered this of comparable importance to uncovering and explaining the workings of a natural order. So far as this has been the case, however, we have been mistaken.

The socialist takeover of the English mind during the early 20th century was only in part the achievement of the Webbs and J.A. Hobson and E.H. Carr and Harold Laski and Douglas Jay, and all the others of their kind. They were important, and if they had no written as they did, there would have been no takeover. But for every one who read these, there were tens or hundreds who read and were captured by Shaw and Wells and Galsworthy and Richard Llewellyn, among others. These were men who transmitted the socialist cases to a much wider audience. Just as importantly, where they did not directly transmit, they helped bring about a change in the climate of opinion so that propositions that were rejected out of hand by most thoughtful men in the 1890s could become the received wisdom of the 1940s. They achieved a similar effect in the United States, and were supplemented there by writers like Howard Fast, and, of course, by the Hollywood film industry.

More recently in England, the effect of television soap operas like Eastenders has been immense and profound. Their writers have taken the dense and often incomprehensible writings of the neo-Marxists and presented them as a set of hidden assumptions that have transformed the English mind since 1980. No one can fully explain the Labour victory of 1997, or the ease with which law and administration were transformed even before them, without reference to popular culture.

I do not wish to disparage novelists like Ayn Rand, who was a libertarian of sorts. At the same time, what I have in mind is not long didactic novels where characters speak for three pages about the evils of central banking. What I do believe we need is good, popular entertainment of our own creation that is based on our own assumptions. I think the most significant objective propagandist of my lifetime for the libertarian and conservative cause was the historical novelist Patrick O’Brian. I have read all his historical novels, some more than once, and I do not think he ever sets out an explicit case against the modern order of things. What he does instead is to create a world – that may once have existed largely as he describes it – that works on different assumptions from our own. If this world is often unattractive on account of its poverty and brutality, its settled emphasis on tradition and on personal freedom and responsibility has probably done more to spread the truth than the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Ideas combined.

I would never claim that Richard Blake is in the same league as Patrick O’Brian. But he is significant so far as he is a libertarian novelist who has managed to find a mainstream publisher. His latest novel, Blood of Alexandria, is still more explicitly libertarian than his others, and he deserves all the encouragement that our movement can provide. Indeed, someone else who deserves our encouragement is Jan Lester, one of the most significant figures in the Libertarian Alliance and in the Libertarian Alliance – yes, this is not one of my typing mistakes! The Libertarian Alliance has just published his play, The Naked Politician, as Philosophical Notes, No.82. This needs a performance. Anyone who can help with this is doing the cause of right, truth and justice as great a service as by funding the distribution of the more abstract works of our movement.

But this really is enough of the public proceedings of the conference. Professor Hoppe spoke of a salon, and this works at least as well through private conversations as through formal speeches. And one of the few rules of the Property and Freedom Society is that there are to be no limits on what anyone cares to discuss over lunch or dinner. Sadly, these were private conversations, and I might find my own conversations in Bodrum far less open and interesting in future if people thought their words were about to be transcribed and published to the world. One part of a long conversation, though I can reveal. I was at dinner with some Turks who explained their bitter humiliation at being kept out of the European Union. They listened patiently to my explanation that they were lucky to have avoided that horrid embrace. Their reply was that it was a matter of national pride. They could put up with being excluded from a club made up of great nations like France and Germany and England. They could accept the inclusion of the Greeks – a matter of historical connection with Europe. But to be passed over in favour of disreputable mafia states like Romania and Bulgaria was too much to be tolerated. If I wanted to understand Turkey’s rising disillusionment with the West, and its recent closeness with the Arab countries of the Middle East, I needed look no further than its rejection by the European Union.

But this is all I think I can say. If you want to know more about them, you will have to go to Bodrum yourself next year!

I should say something now about the location of the Property and Freedom Society conferences. The Hotel Karia Princess is a luxury hotel in one of the quieter parts of Bodrum. It is about a ten minute walk from the harbour and shops of the city, and just a flight of steps away from a discreetly-placed supermarket that is most useful for those things that are not provided by the hotel. With its swimming pool and large garden and its gymnasium and Turkish bath – the hotel is a world in itself, and many guests – some go every year for a month – and conference attendees hardly ever go outside it.

Even if it were not owned and run by libertarians, I would recommend the Hotel Karia Princess for the excellence of its location and the quality of its service. But it is owned and run by libertarians, and I suggest that any libertarian or conservative who is planning a Turkish holiday should consider booking a room here. It has all that anyone could desire for a memorable holiday. Since all the hyperlinks will be stripped from this article when it is posted out, here are the full details of the hotel:

Hotel Karia Princess
www.kariaprincess.com
Eskiçeşme Mahallesi,
Myndos Caddesi No:8
48400 Bodrum
Turkey
Tel. :+90.252.3168971
Fax : +90.252.3168979
E-mail: reservations@kariaprincess.com

Speaking of Turkey in general, I do most highly recommend the country to the more discriminating traveller. As with Islam, I do not take a sentimental view of the Turks. Historically, they have been implacable advocates of every cause to which they attached themselves. This being said, they have never been other than a brave and honourable race. They are justly proud of their country. To anyone who does not attack Islam or the memory of Kemal Ataturk, and who refrains from going about stark naked in public, they are as straight and welcoming as could possibly be desired. Since I regard Ataturk as a great man – if somewhat flawed – and have no desire to shock the religious sensibilities of others, and am far too modest to expose my flesh to the world, I am not inconvenienced by these limitations.

I cannot speak for those parts of the country remote from the sea. But the parts of Turkey I have seen strike me as entirely safe. The reputation of Turkish drivers is undeserved. On three of my visits with Mrs Gabb, I have hired a car and driven for several thousand miles. I have never once seen an accident, and the other cars are far less battered than in Greece. The main problem on the mountain roads is finding the right points for overtaking the lorries that rumble uphill at about 20mph. On one occasion,, we ran into a giant storm on the mountain roads between Aydin and Mugla. For half an hour, it was like driving in a car wash, and the road was an inch deep in water. But everyone else on the road slowed to a steady crawl and stayed safely in lane.

The beaches within easy reach of Bodrum are mostly either crowded or dirty. The beach at Bitez is both. We spent an hour there, struck by the omnipresent smell of dog mess and the stains on the cushions provided by the local restaurant. Unless you are a lower class Englishman or an elderly German of limited means, my advice is to avoid the place. There is an excellent beach resort outside Fethiye, a few hours south of Bodrum. We arrived rather late in the day, and so had less benefit of the place than we might have liked. Otherwise, boats can be hired for about £200 a day. These will take you to places inaccessible by road, where you can swim in the warm, sparkling sea.

So far as sightseeing is concerned, I am less fond of Ephesus than I ought to be. Though grand, it is normally filled with tourists. We went there in 2007. I enjoyed sitting in the theatre where St Paul preached, and the public toilets have a sociological interest. But it rained hard while we were there, and our most memorable experience was trying not to fall down on the wet marble pavements.

But I do recommend Aphrodisias, about four hours through the mountains from Bodrum, and hardly ever visited. In ancient times, this was the provincial capital of Caria, and its sudden destruction by an earthquake in the 7th century – plus the quality of the marble used for its construction – has left ruins of great freshness and magnificence. The reconstructed gateway to the Temple of Aphrodite is particularly impressive, as is the partially reconstructed Temple of the Emperors. There is also an immense stadium on the outskirts of the city, part of which, I regret to say, was partitioned off in later antiquity for gladiatorial combats.

On all my visits to the ruined cities of what used to be Asia Minor, I have been struck by the great wealth of the region. Judging the wealth of past ages by modern standards is a worthless activity. But I do not think Western Europe had anything until fairly recently to compare with the civic life of the Asiatic Provinces of the Roman Empire. I will not boast about my knowledge of the ancient languages. I have much trouble with reading inscriptions. The ancients never separated words, and used many abbreviations that I am not learned enough to understand. But I was struck by the fact that almost every carved block in Aphrodisias is covered in writing – dedications, funerary inscriptions, public memorials: this was a civilisation based on the written word, and those who carved their words into stone did so in the assurance that their civilisation would last to the end of time. It is both interesting and melancholy to walk streets that once swarmed with people, and to wonder how London or Paris might appear to the travellers of some remote future in which our own civilisation has also passed away.

Because, yet again, we arrived rather late in the day, we had to hurry about the city. We missed the public baths and the theatre. However, we did find time to look in the museum. This is well worth seeing. Perhaps its most interesting exhibit is a statue of a Governor set up in about the year 500. I had never before seen a public statue from so late a time in antiquity, and, though much influenced by the stiffness of Christian art, this shows a strong survival of the classical tradition. For this alone, the trip was worth the drive.

We have been twice to Pamukkale, anciently known as Hierapolis. Both times, we arrived late and without any hope of seeing the whole of what was once a large city – a large city surrounded by one of the biggest cemeteries in the world. Mrs Gabb, on both occasions, was much taken with the limestone deposits that have given the whole site the appearance of a snow field. I was more interested in the bizarre paganism of the city. This was a centre for the worship of Cybele, whose priests would castrate themselves in a religious frenzy. They were notable for their visits to the Plutonium, which is a fissure in the rocks through which poisonous gas escapes. Though more visited than Aphrodisias, This is also far less crowded than Ephesus, and repays a visit.

One day, we shall pay visits to Miletus and to Laodicea. It would also be interesting to find some Turkish towns that have not been stripped of their old charm by modern development.

I could say much more. I could go into detail about the immense hospitality shown by Professor Hoppe and by his wife Gülcin Imre. I could mention the meals, the visit to the fishing village, the boat trip, and all the rest. However, this has already been a long article, and Stephan Kinsella has already written at length about these things. And so, I commend Turkey and the Hotel Karia Princess. And I commend Hans-Hermann Hoppe and the Property and Freedom Society. Long may their salon continue to shine from Bodrum!

NB—Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded for free from http://tinyurl.com/ya4pzuh

Religion and liberty


David Davis

My younger boy had his first communion today, nine years after the other one who blogs sometimes on here. Unlike many other hard-libertarians, I see no conflict whatsoever between the profession of  libertarian ideas, and (with my hard-scientist-hat on) the hypothesis that the astonishing level of observed order in the Universe and its Laws of action _/may/_ be the result of what goes on in God’s Mind.

Creationists have tragcially got the wrong end of the stick. They take folk-tales like the Book of Genesis, written down as the Apostle Paul said quite clearly, “through a glass, darkly”, and try vainly and without hope of success to conflate their supposed meaning to overlay and explain observed reality. It will never work and will only lead to more ructions and maybe “rivers of blood”, but I hope not. Only if the socialists, who cleverly encourage these sadly misguided people for the useful idiots they are, manage to get all the lights turned out and the food-production facilities destroyed, as they wish to do.

The older one has no problem being a libertarian, while heading for a scientist of some kind who can also gig on stage with an electric cello or guitar, and yet can calmly stroll up to the Priest  in Mass. Perhaps the younger will be as lucky. Perhaps this intellectual integration can only be properly accomplished in the Anglosphere?

Educashun, educashun, educashun


David Davis

Someone “high-up” in the British Political EnemyClass has suggested that the State monkeys yet further with end-of-school qualifications, to play to the different skills of boys and girls. This is the wrong solution addressing the wrong problem. The problem is that there is nothing left worth learning in British State GCSE exams. This ought to be addressed first.

As the Irishman said, on being asked the way to somewhere: “If I were you,

I wouldn’t be starting from here!” The problems with GCSEs are these:-

(1) the ones that really matter (Maths, English, Science, History, Geography,

Latin) have been deliberately stripped of real content, partly to make them

inclusive and partly to deliberately de-educate more than two succeeding

Generations of English people especially males in particular.

(2) The droids which run exam boards, “Local Education Authorities”,

teachers’ “Trade Unions” and also whatever the Ministry of Education

is currently called, are GramscoFabiaNazis. They know and believe and wish,

with all their hearts, that our culture (here) and our historiography must die,

and plan to ensure it. They can’t logistically round up 60 million people at

gunpoint into cattle trucks bound for…(…where would they put us all!) so

they do the next best thing. (For example: for his GCSE “Religious Education”

(full course, higher) my boy ought to have watched “East Enders”,

whatever that is.) These mountebanks got to where they are on purpose, to do

exactly what they have done. Our backs were turned at the time, facing the

homologous military threat by their real masters (it pretended to cave in in

1989, and so the strategy was brilliantly clever. Never, ever underestimate

these thugs.

(3) The syllabuses of these have been captured the discourse-owners of the above GramscoFabiaNazi ideology. GCSE “Biology” module 1, is all about alcohol abuse, dangers of smoking, misuse of drugs, and a woman’s mentrual cycle coupled with “fertillity control”. Clearly designed to impress boys. Nothing about comdoms, but then they were forced to learn that in primary school. In maths, “Bhavneeta conducts a survey about how her friends travel to school. She finds that 98% travel by bus or bicycle. What fraction travel by other means?”

(4) Other distractions, such as “Media studies” and “PE”, fill time which could be used to teach proper science, or read several Shakespeare plays in full, part for part, over a week or two for each one. Then they could act it. “Food tech” is all about risk-assessing the preparation of a “healthy lunch” for a wheelchair-bound vegetarian, using “local ingredients” and no salt or sugar – does that mean you only use what’s in the pantry then?

(5) The “mark schemes” are totally prescriptive. You may not even describe something correctly but in different words from the MS.

(6) The Government adjusts the grade-boundaries (usually down each year, trust me, I mark stuff) to be able to trumpet that “the better-than-ever results reflect the efforts of our pupils and teachers, harder-working and more successful than ever before!”

None of that could be true unless the papers were getting really harder, really longer, and containing more content, than ever before. Which they are not.

The whole system needs to go, and we need to start again. With the papers from 1950 which have been considerable lengthened to contain the next 60 years of real added knowledge, to test. About 1% of all takers will pass at all, but that’s how we will learn what the real papers ought to look like: those who fail will just have to step back and learn more things.

You could get out a lot pf TV programs about thermodynamics, transition metal chemistry, and subnuclear particles, in the daily Eastenders slot.

(5) You’d be shocked at the “poetry clusters” in the English syllabus.

THE TIMES shoots itself in foot


Michael Winning

It’s just set up a thing called a “paywall”. Perhaps it will fold quitely now.

…that GCSE stuff’s not a “science paper”…THIS is a Science paper!


David Davis

A little time ago I published a recommended High School Science test paper, designed to better prepare those who were planning to pursue Natural Sciences of all kinds at a “University”. It’s been revisedf a little:-

Improved science paper for GCSE, devised by David Davis for the Libertarian Alliance, a free-market, civil liberties and Classical liberal education think-tank and publishing house in London, originally issued in Sept 2009.

PAPER ONE

TIME ALLOWED: THREE HOURS

1                                            Estimate the DC current, flowing in a one-turn copper coil which follows the earth’s equator, which would cancel the Earth’s magnetic field at either pole. (Take the horizontal component of field at lat 86o 30` N and longitude approx 30o W to be 0.18 gauss: vertical component = 0.9 gauss. State the relationship between the c.g.s Gauss unit and the MKS Telsa unit.)

2                                            Calculate the cross-sectional area of a square copper turn, smoothed and unblacked but not polished, and fully suspended, whose surface temperature will not exceed 800 K in dry air temperature of 310 K. Assume the specific conductivity of the supports to ground as being 0.2 Joule m-2 sec-1. If the young’s Modulus of the supporting material is 50GPa, calculate the minimum cross-sectional area of each support assuming you place one every five metres of copper conductor. State how many supports will need to be ordered to circle the Earth at your designated line, and, in still air, their minimum height to prevent the ground temperature rising more than 5 K.

3                                            Calculate the gravitational field strength existing between the Milky Way and a hypothetical galaxy 13 billion LY away. Use 2E42 Kg for the mass of the Milky Way: make an informed estimate of the mass of your further galaxy, stating clearly any assumptions you have made. Using your figures thus obtained, and your informed estimate of the mass of Galaxy M31 whose data regarding mass, position and relative speed you already will know, decide where approximately to place your spacecraft so that the resultant vector of gravitational forces from the three galaxies on it is zero, assuming no other interactions.

4                                            Estimate the cross-sectional area of each of two Duct-tape fixtures, (tape is of 48mm width and 0.5mm thickness) applied always parallel to the direction of force, which would be required to separate reliably two opposite charges of 1C each at a distance of one meter in free Space. (Young’s Modulus of Duck Tape is assumed to be 4E9 Pa.)

5                                            Estimate the number of moles of human DNA on the Earth as of now, its total estimated mass, and the molar mass of human DNA. (Assume that one haploid human genome, complete, = 1 molecule. Also assume that the mean volume of all human cells is about 1.9 picoLitres.)

Ignore human gametes in this answer, but also estimate the total number of human gametes present on the planet at any moment. Use your knowledge of human population trends and age-band-statistics to derive as accurate an estimate for this number as possible, differentiating male from female gametes. State the assumptions you have made about the relative frequency of each gamete.

6                                            Calculate the reduction in heat capacity of the Gulf Stream over a calendar year, caused by a wind farm of 10,000 turbines directly in the path of the airstreams above it at latitude 55oN, each turbine having an installed generating output of 100Kw, at a height of 100M and operating at a 16% duty cycle. Use your own knowledge of geography, natural climate movements, astronomy, the heat capacities of water and moist air. (You may assume that the Sun’s radiated power output is about 3.92E26 Watts and is deemed for this question to be constant.) Estimate the extra mass, surface area and volume of North Polar ice that would build up in the Barents, Norwegian and Greenland Seas in one year, assuming that no other areas are affected, as a result of this set of turbines. (For quickness of solution, assume polar ice above latitude 65 radiates IR into space at 25 Watts/M2 at all temperatures above 230K.) Specific heat capacity of water in liquid phase = 4.18KJ per Kg per degree K.

7                                            You are to deliver a shell weighing 1.5 imperial tons, at a range of 60 miles, from a barrel of diameter 460mm, at a target at the same elevation as the emplacement. (g = 9.81m/s2) Devise a suitable mathematical model from which the answers could be derived, and then calculate, in no particular order:

(a)   The barrel length

(b)  The time of flight

(c)  The maximum height reached by the projectile

(d)  The required muzzle velocity at 40o barrel elevation

(e)   The mean gas pressure (assume uniform) in the barrel

(f)    The acceleration of the projectile in the barrel

(g)  The muzzle velocity (you may neglect air resistance for this question.)

8                                            Calculate the number of 25Kg sacks of rice that would be required, and also the total volume of rice grains in cubic miles, if the Great King had been able to grant the wish of the Resident-Court-Mathematician who had invented Chess for him. The inventor asked for “one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, sixteen on the fifth…..”. Assume a grain of rice is a cylinder of length 7mm and diameter 1.25mm and that they pack approximately efficiently. State your grain-packing-density assumptions in your answer.

If the sacks used above are made of polythene, and must be 850 microns thick, estimate the area of film to be manufactured including excess cutting-flash needed on the packing lines, this amount’s mass, and the number of barrels of Saudi Heavy Crude that may have been used to make it. Use your knowledge of thermal cracking procedures, the mean composition of linear alkanes in Saudi heavy Crude, and also of the average mass of a “barrel” and how much of this is realistically convertible into monomers for this question’s use. Density of polythene (MDPE type) is about 0.932 g/cm3.

9   Calculate the rate of change of mean global temperature, stating in which direction it will move, if unbroken polar ice caps cover the Earth down to latitudes 50 North and 50 South. Assume the boundary is a straight line in both cases. State what percentage (to 3sf) of the earth’s current land area would have to be moved by tectonic drifting to be below latitudes 50N/50S, to bring about the cooling you have calculated.

Britons Are ‘Inherently Sceptical’ Of Climate Science And Politics, UK Climate Minister



17 June 2010

The Climate Policy Network – Published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Britons Are ‘Inherently Sceptical’ Of Climate Science And Politics, UK Climate Minister

I think the British are inherently quite sceptical about theoretical politics and science and maybe a little more cautious than some countries in Europe. –British Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, Metro 17 June 2010

Spain’s government will cut the revenue of most existing solar-power plants by 30 percent, a move that may bankrupt hundreds of companies that produce electricity using photovoltaic panels, a local trade group said. “It’s incomprehensible that the government is doing this. We feel cheated,” said Tomas Diaz. –Ben Sills, Bloomberg, 17 June 2010

The government is reportedly poised to axe a planned £80m loan to nuclear engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters, in a move that is bound to spark questions over its support for low carbon industries. –BusinessGreen, 17 June 2010

1 ) Britons Are ‘Inherently Sceptical’ Of Climate Science And Politics, UK Climate Minister

Hayden Smith, Metro, 17 June 2010

2) Spain’s Solar Industry Faces Bankruptcy

Ben Sills, Bloomberg, 17 June 2010

3) UK Government Starts Cutting Low Carbon Loans

BusinessGreen.com, 17 June 2010

4) Obama’s Deadly Silence On Carbon Caps

Darren Samuelsohn, Politico 16 June 2010

5) European Carbon Market: A Haven For Tax Fraud

Mark Shapiro, Center for Investigative Reporting, 16 June 2010

6) Scan Of Arctic Ice Dispels Melting Gloom: Researcher

Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service, 15 June 2010

7) Matt Ridley: Threat From Ocean Acidification Is Greatly Exaggerated

The Rational Optimist, 15 June 2010

1 ) Britons Are ‘Inherently Sceptical’ Of Climate Science And Politics, UK Climate Minister

Hayden Smith, Metro, 17 June 2010

High levels of scepticism and indifference among Britons continue to dog efforts to get the country to go greener, a Europe-wide study has concluded.

We continue to lag behind other major nations in our attitude to and appetite for tackling climate change. Less than a third of Britons believe the issue is ‘serious and urgent’ and requires ‘radical steps’.

A similar number of people doubt whether climate change is happening at all, according to the study.

This scepticism has contributed to the 2.1 tonnes of CO2 generated per house each year from electricity use – the highest of all ten countries examined by researchers at Imperial College London.

A little more than half of Britons are ‘quite’ or ‘very concerned’ about climate change. In contrast in Spain, which topped the poll, three-quarters said they were at least quite concerned. [Climate Change Minister] Greg Barker said he was encouraged by nine in ten Britons saying they would make changes if given financial support.

‘I think the British are inherently quite sceptical about theoretical politics and science and maybe a little more cautious than some countries in Europe,’ he said.

‘But I am convinced British people want to do something about it.’

Prof Nigel Brandon of ICL said the study, commissioned by EDF Energy for Green Britain Day, said: ‘It all helps to build a more complete picture of how habits follow attitudes when it comes to the environment.’

Britain came sixth in the poll of 5,700 people across Europe.

Metro, 17 June 2010

2) Spain’s Solar Industry Faces Bankruptcy

Ben Sills, Bloomberg, 17 June 2010

Spain’s government will cut the revenue of most existing solar-power plants by 30 percent, a move that may bankrupt hundreds of companies that produce electricity using photovoltaic panels, a local trade group said.

The industry ministry, after negotiating with trade groups for weeks, plans to reduce the number of hours a day during which they may earn subsidized prices for clean energy, said Tomas Diaz, director of external relations at the Photovoltaic Industry Association in Madrid.

“It’s incomprehensible that the government is doing this,” Diaz said in a telephone interview after solar industry representatives met today with Deputy Industry Minister Pedro Marin. “We feel cheated.”

Solar executives, whose companies have invested more than 18 billion euros ($22 billion) in the last three years in Spain, have pressed the government for weeks to maintain prices guaranteed for 25 years under a 2007 law. The decision, which hasn’t been approved by the cabinet, would mean bankruptcy for most of Spain’s 600 photovoltaic operators, Diaz said.

Full story

3) UK Government Starts Cutting Low Carbon Loans

BusinessGreen.com, 17 June 2010

The government is reportedly poised to axe a planned £80m loan to nuclear engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters, in a move that is bound to spark questions over its support for low carbon industries.

The Financial Times reported this morning that the loan to finance the installation for a forging press to make components for nuclear reactor will be withdrawn as part of the coalition government’s review of spending commitments made since the turn of the year.

The previous government had approved the loan in March, hailing it as evidence of its support for low carbon industries. It also argued that the loan would help ensure that the new fleet nuclear reactors that is expected to be built over the next decade would deliver economic benefits and jobs for the UK.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills declined to comment on the report, but confirmed Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander would make an announcement later today on the progress of the government’s spending reviews.

Former energy and climate change secretary and Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband posted on his twitter account that he was worried by reports that the loan would be axed.

He added that the move was “bad for jobs, bad for economy and not serious about green industrial revolution”.

4) Obama’s Deadly Silence On Carbon Caps

Darren Samuelsohn, Politico 16 June 2010

President Barack Obama pleaded Tuesday night for Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation, but he may have put the dagger into his long-sought plans for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions by opening the door for alternatives.

In the first Oval Office speech of his presidency, Obama connected the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to his longer-term vision to wean the country off of fossil fuels. Still, when he turned to the policies he’d like lawmakers to consider, the president stopped well short of calling for carbon caps of any kind.

Obama never even uttered the words “carbon,” “greenhouse gases,” “global warming” or “cap and trade.” He used the word “climate” only once — and then only to acknowledge that the House last year passed a “a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill.”

He didn’t call on the Senate to adopt a similar cap-and-trade plan; instead, he gave primetime props to Senate proposals along the lines of a bill from Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) that sets up a nationwide renewable electricity standard and a more recent measure crafted by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that promotes energy efficiency in buildings and new cars and trucks.

“I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party – as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels,” Obama said. “Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development – and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.”

“All of these approaches have merit and deserve a fear hearing in the months ahead,” Obama added. “But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet.”

A former Senate aide said there was much to be read into Obama’s silence on carbon caps.

“The fact he had a phrase or sentence for each of the alternatives and clearly didn’t have the sentence that would have been a carbon cap made it clear he’s not making a push this summer for a Senate climate bill,” the former aide said.

Full story

5) European Carbon Market: A Haven For Tax Fraud

Mark Shapiro, Center for Investigative Reporting, 16 June 2010

Flying below the American radar, a tax scandal has been rocking the global carbon markets. Ironically, it is emanating from Copenhagen, the city that six months ago hosted the world’s largest climate summit. But back in 2007, long before COP 15 arrived, the Danes began working behind the scenes to host a growing cadre of carbon brokerage firms, which have become central to trading the world’s fastest growing commodity.

To make it easier for these financial firms to set up shop in the Danish capital, the Ministry of Finance decided to skip background checks on companies being vetted to trade on the country’s national carbon exchange. According to a string of reports in the Danish newspaperEkstra Bladet, all the government asked companies to provide was an email address. This laissez-faire attitude succeeded in channeling close to a third of all EU carbon trades through Denmark, and has since backfired badly.

The paper reported that one firm after another was little more than a front company for transacting complicated financial scams. In fact, more than 80 percent of the carbon trading firms registered on the Danish exchange closed down after the media probe began,according to a statement (pdf) by the country’s Environment Minister, Lykke Friis.

The fraud is known as a “tax carousel.” Danish-registered companies buy carbon credits from brokers in other European countries. This intra-European trading of credits to meet EU emissions standards (and the trades made by speculators betting on the price of these credits) are not taxed. But when the buyer and seller are trading in the same country, in this case Denmark, a value added tax, or VAT, is imposed.

In Denmark, VAT is a hefty 25 percent on each transaction — one of the highest rates in Europe. But rather than turn the tax monies over to the Danish treasury, the traders packed up and disappeared. Three-quarters of the carbon traders registered in Denmark during the past year have either been dismantled by their owners or were shut down by the authorities.

According to a Reuters report, EuroPol estimates the scheme has so far cost treasuries in Denmark and other European countries some 5 billion euros (about US$7 billion) in lost revenues, while throwing into question the veracity of thousands of carbon trades.

Bo Elkjaer, the Danish reporter who broke the story, explained over email that his further investigations suggest the scandal is by no means confined to Denmark. Many of the same firms are suspected of running similar schemes in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and the UK. EuroPol reports that after the governments of France, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain changed their tax codes to close the loophole, the volume of carbon trading in those countries collapsed by 90 percent.

Meanwhile, the media blitz has raised questions about the EU’s new commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, who was Denmark’s climate minister when many of the fraudulent deals were set in motion. Hedegaard said publicly that she knew nothing about the fraud before Mr. Elkjaer and his newspaper began reporting on the case last December.

In May, the Guardian reported that it had obtained a document from inside the Danish ministry drawing attention to the tax fraud problem, which Ms. Hedegaard had initialed back in August 2009. Since then, she has admitted she was aware of the problem but says that at the time she signed the report, she saw it as a tax issue and, therefore, not her responsibility.

EuroPol is in the middle of a full scale investigation into the scam, and hundreds of arrests have been made across Europe.

Elkjaer says the scandal highlights the vulnerability of a system based on trading an intangible asset. “It’s just a computer certificate, moved from account to account in endless loops,” he said. “A trade can be performed from a single laptop anywhere in the world. All it needs is an internet connection.”

6) Scan Of Arctic Ice Dispels Melting Gloom: Researcher

Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service, 15 June 2010

An electromagnetic “bird” dispatched to the Arctic for the most detailed look yet at the thickness of the ice has turned up a reassuring picture. The meltdown has not been as dire as some would suggest, said geophysicist Christian Haas of the University of Alberta. His international team flew across the top of the planet last year for the 2,412-kilometre survey. They found large expanses of ice four to five metres thick, despite the record retreat in 2007.

“This is a nice demonstration that there is still hope for the ice,” said Haas.

The survey, which demonstrated that the “bird” probe tethered to a plane can measure ice thickness over large areas, uncovered plenty of resilient “old” ice from Norway to the North Pole to Alaska in April 2009.

The thickness had “changed little since 2007, and remained within the expected range of natural variability,” the team reports in the Geophysical Research Letters.

There is already speculation about how the ice will fare this summer, with some scientists predicting a record melt. Haas said he doesn’t buy it.

He said the ice is in some ways in better shape going into the melt season than it has been for a couple of years. “We have more thick ice going into the summer than we did in 2009 and 2008,” he said.

Much will depend on the intensity of the winds, and how the ice fractures and is blown around, he said. “But any talk about tipping points, a sudden drop and no recovery…I don’t think it is going to happen.”

The more likely scenario is that the ice will continue a decline that has been underway for at least 30 years, he said. There is likely to be plenty of variability in that decline, he added, with “extreme” melts in some years, followed by “significant recoveries like we saw last year.”

Full story

7) Matt Ridley: Threat From Ocean Acidification Is Greatly Exaggerated

The Rational Optimist, 15 June 2010

As part of an `interview’ with me, New Scientist published a critique by five scientists of two pages of my book The Rational Optimist. Despite its tone, this critique only confirms the accuracy of each of the statements in this section of the book. After reading their critiques, I stand even more firmly behind my conclusion that the threats to coral reefs from both man-made warming and ocean acidification are unlikely to be severe, rapid or urgent. In the case of acidification, this is underlined by a recent paper, published since my book was written, summarising the results of 372 papers and concluding that ocean acidification `may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century’. The burden of proof is on those who see an urgent threat to corals from warming and acidification. Here is what I wrote (in bold), interspersed with summaries of the scientists’ comments and my replies.

Take coral reefs, which are suffering horribly from pollution, silt, nutrient run-off and fishing – especially the harvesting of herbivorous fishes that otherwise keep reefs clean of algae. Yet environmentalists commonly talk as if climate change is a far greater threat than these, and they are cranking up the apocalyptic statements just as they did wrongly about forests and acid rain

Andy Ridgwell says `I agree that at least for some reef systems, other, and more local human factors such as fishing and pollution may be the greater danger’ and Jelle Bijma says `I do agree that, for example, pollution and overfishing are also important problems, some even more important than the current impact of ocean acidification’. It was not therefore accurate of Liz Else to say that the critics accuse me of failing `to recognize that there is more to the health of corals than the amount of bicarbonate in the sea’ They do not – she has misrepresented their views and mine.

Charlie Veron, an Australian marine biologist: ‘There is no hope of reefs surviving to even mid-century in any form that we now recognise.’ Alex Rogers of the Zoological Society of London pledges an ‘absolute guarantee of their annihilation’. No wriggle room there.

Chris Langdon agrees that such claims `may be extreme’. None of the others provides any evidence to support such extreme claims. Yet these remarks were widely reported in the media.

It is true that rapidly heating the water by a few degrees can devastate reefs by ‘bleaching’ out the corals’ symbiotic algae, as happened to many reefs in the especially warm El Niño year of 1998. But bleaching depends more on rate of change than absolute temperature. This must be true because nowhere on the planet, not even in the Persian Gulf where water temperatures reach 35°C, is there a sea too warm for coral reefs.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg says that `the observation that corals grow in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures of 35 °C does not mean that coral reefs will be able to adapt rapidly to the current upward shift in sea temperatures’ in other words, he concedes the point I was actually making: bleaching is caused by rate of change of temperature, not absolute level of warmth. This is not understood by many commentators on the subject in both the environmental movement and the media. I am glad to have it confirmed, because it corrects a widespread misunderstanding.

Full comment

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The German Horse begins to tire of its French jockey…


…and hopefully may throw it off into a cowpat.

David Davis

Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against either the Germans or the (West) Germans who live west of the upper and middle Rhine. If the re-assertion of Nationhood on the European Continent involves the resurrection of German realisation that it’s about time it stopped having to “apologise for the War”, then that’s fine by me. Germany – strategic/iconic discoveries apart, such as the Electron, the neutron and fission, was always going to be the industrial and scientific power-engine of Europe: it was irrelevant, by about 1905, what we or the US or Russia did.

It’s also fine if France, while being held tightly by the UK and Germany into the Western Sphere of Influence (so it stops thinking it invented “la Civilisation”, stops also trying to stray into hot dry places, or even humid wet places like SE Asia, in search of subject-peoples ‘coz it can’t find any more at home) is put in its place finally as a marvellous holiday-destination containing more than an average amount of smart people, and some of the planet’s finest wines, champagnes and brandies.

The real bonus, of course, is that the EU will begin to unravel at the seams, just like Belgium is doing today. The Euro is big enough to sink or swim on its own, like the deficit. It may survive, it may not. But the German Mark certainly will.

Blood Shortage!


Mr Blake tells me that his publishers have already run out of copies of “Blood of Alexandria”. This is a nusance, as Hodder & Stoughton take an age to reprint unless besieged by desperate booksellers. Can I ask all my friends to mention the book the next time they are in Waterstones and don’t see it on display? Mr Blake would be happier with a reprint of the hardback than yet another diversion of the big paperback from foreign markets, which is what happened with the previous novel.

ConservativeHome’s Local Government Blog: From Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column


 

From Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column

Interesting item about Labour controlled Lewisham Council in the Rotten Boroughs column of the current issue of Private Eye. It concerns their Staying Put scheme. This is the scheme where home improvements are funded so that disabled people can remain at home – which they generally prefer than institutional care which would also be much more expensive to the taxpayer.

However, Private Eye adds:

That’s the theory. But after David and Sepi Peckover, from south London. applied to Lewisham Council for help building a loft extension so that their son, who from suffers asperger’s syndrome, could be cared for at home they ended up homeless with their house an uninhabitable wreck. Seven years after their nightmare began they are still living in ‘temporary’ accommodation with nod idea when they will be able to return to their home. And they reckon the saga has cost taxpayers at least £300,000 – so far.

The item goes on to detail years of delay with the Council’s Staying Put team and the Council’s Planning Department blaming each other for failure to produce the correct drawings. Calls went answered. Staff illness was blamed. More delay.

Eventually, work started in 2006, three years after the process began. But failure by the council to pay for the work on time led to the builders downing tools while the roof was off – leaving the interior exposed to heavy rain in the winter of 2007 which rendered the house uninhabitable. The council’s building control officers then expressed grave concerns about the substandard work their own grant surveyor colleagues had released money for. Three years later the Peckover’s house remains a wreck and they are reduced to living on benefits.

ConservativeHome’s Local Government Blog: From Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column

Sean Gabb, Speech in Bodrum on the Second World War


Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 194
15th June 2010
Linking url: http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc194.htm
Available for debate on LA Blog at  

Chamberlain, Churchill and World War II:
Reflections on Factual and Counterfactual History.
A Speech to the 2010 Conference of the
Property and Freedom Society
by Sean Gabb

 

Note

This is not actually the speech that I gave in Bodrum. That was a shorter affair and was given without this text in front of me. I am not very good at reading from a text. It makes my voice even flatter and duller than it naturally is. Even so, I do find it useful to have something written in advance. This allows me to get straight in my head what I want to say, and parts of the structure and wording stay in my head. It is also useful to have as proof that what I am saying has not been made up on the spur of the moment. Therefore, the video to which I link is somewhat different from this slab of text, and may be worth watching in its own right.

I am, by the way, converting and uploading videos of all the speeches from this most remarkable of conferences. These will be made available through the Multimedia page on the Libertarian Alliance Website.

***

PFS 2010 – Sean Gabb on the Second World War from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

I could make this an entirely conventional speech about what a disaster the Second World War was for humanity, and how much better it would have been had we all managed somehow to avoid fighting it. However, bearing in mind the present audience, I do not think I should be saying anything original or challenging. For those who are interested in a conventional argument, I attach as an appendix to my speech a review article that I wrote several years ago. What I want to do instead is to explore how the world might have appeared in 1960 had there been no Second World War.

Why do this? you may ask, and why choose 1960? The answer is that my dear friend Richard Blake is now ahead of his contracted schedule. His Blood of Alexandria will come out next Thursday the 10th June 2010. The next in the series, Sword of Damascus, was offered a few weeks ago as an unrevised first draft, and was accepted without any need for changes. This means that time he had set aside for rewriting can now be given so some other project. He could write another novel about the Byzantine Empire, but has decided instead to write about something completely different.  

Mr Blake has for many years been impressed by Continue reading

Latest Libertarian Alliance Publications


J.C. Lester, The Naked Politician, a Play, 2010, 4pp
Cultural Notes, No. 82
(html) – (pdf)

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Property and Freedom Society: Reflections After Five Years, 2010, 8pp
Personal Perspectives, No. 25
(html) – (pdf)

Can this be confirmed?


David Davis

Was “Ed” “Balls” a member of OUCA? (Via Guido.)

And, if so, why?

WE ARE allowed to be members of enemy organisations, so as to infiltrate and destroy them. That is our job: we are Jihadists-turned-upside-down.

THEY are not allowed to be members of ours, because “It’s Not The Taking Part, It’s The Winning” that matters. You should not apply the same rules of war to your enemy as he does to you. If you did, you would have to kill him when you win. (We do not.)

I and some libertarians would regard “Conservative” organisations as being on “our” side of the barbed-wire.

Christopher Booker on the Vampire Class


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7806149/Quangos-the-more-we-pay-the-less-we-get.htm

Christopher Booker 6 6 2010

An understandable wave of shock ran through Britain last week when our new Government revealed the explosion in recent years of the pay given to our top public officials, 170 of whom now allegedly earn more than the Prime Minister. But the other side to this grotesque inflation in salaries is that it has been accompanied by a corresponding deterioration in the performance of almost every public body one can think of.

One glaring example, not on last week’s list because it is not a government body, is the BBC, the head of which, Mark Thompson, now receives a staggering £834,000 a year. Twenty-odd years ago, as I learn from one of Mr Thompson’s predecessors, my old friend Alasdair Milne, the salary of the director-general was a mere £80,000, less than a tenth of what his successor now takes home in his wheelbarrow.

Yet in almost every respect over the same period, the performance of the BBC’s bloated empire, awash with £3.5 billion a year of licence- payers cash, has declined, to the point where it has become a national scandal. The more its professional standards have fallen, the more puffed-up and pleased with themselves its grossly overpaid executives and celebrity presenters have become.

I recall Mr Milne saying in the 1980s that the one issue on which the BBC was proud to have defied its charter obligation to impartiality, by adopting an unequivocally partisan position, was South Africa’s policy of apartheid. Yet since then the BBC has adopted a partisan agenda on so many issues, from the EU to Palestine, from its mindless “multiculturalism” to wind farms and global warming, that in many respects it has become no more than a gigantic engine of propaganda. There is scarcely a single subject on which we do not know exactly what is the “BBC line” and what it wants the rest of us to think.

Another once-respected body which has suffered a catastrophic drop in its reputation – again not least thanks to its infatuation with global warming – is the Met Office, currently run by John Hirst on £170,000 a year (under the chairmanship of a former climate change activist Robert Napier, onetime head of WWF Europe). The hugely expensive computer models on which the Met Office relies for much of its prediction have become such a laughing stock that it was recently forced to drop its wildly inaccurate “seasonal forecasts” altogether. Yet these are the same models which for years have been relied on by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to drive its great scare over global warming, by forecasting what the earth’s climate will be like 100 years into the future.

The Met Office and its discredited computer models were also recently part of another massive official system failure, the volcanic ash fiasco, which in April cost the airline industry more than £2 billion. It has now been confirmed, at great expense, by the airlines themselves, that the closing down of Europe’s air traffic thanks to the Met Office computer was wholly unnecessary. As British Airways’ Willie Walsh put it, after 8,000 engine tests, “there was no ash”.

The problem was that the official bodies responsible for air safety, including our own Civil Aviation Authority, had concocted a crazy new system which relies solely on the UK Met Office’s modelling of the direction of winds around Europe, without at the same time providing any means whereby specially equipped aircraft could be used to measure the density of the ash and thus whether it posed any genuine risk. This is why on Friday it was reported that EasyJet is to fit all its aircraft with monitoring equipment, to do a job which should have been done by the various bodies responsible for the new system, such as the CAA.

Yet it is that hopelessly flawed system which is still in place, being defended by the likes of Dame Deirdre Hutton, the “quango queen” now running the CAA. (She was formerly head of the Foods Standards Agency and the National Consumer Council.) For this work, for which she has no practical qualification, she receives £130,000 a year, just for turning up at the office two days a week.

Similar examples abound almost wherever you look across the public sector. When Adam Crozier recently stepped down as head of Royal Mail, he had presided over a disintegrating postal service and an industry in chaos, with post offices closing almost as fast as the price of stamps has risen. Yet his pay package last year, as reported on Friday, was an astonishing £2.4 million, even more than the wheelbarrow-load given to the head of the BBC.

No Government department had more of its officials on the inflated-
salary list than the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, on £245,000 a year. Yet this is a ministry whose record in recent years has been one of almost unmitigated failure, ranging from the humiliations it has presided over in Iraq and Afghanistan to the billions it has wasted on buying inappropriate or wholly unnecessary equipment.

One specific, truly shocking scandal was lately highlighted by Stuart Fisher, a Lincolnshire coroner, after hearing how in July last year Captain Daniel Shepherd had been blown up in Helmand after trying to defuse by hand an improvised explosive device (IED). Recording a verdict of “unlawful killing”, Mr Fisher said: “It seems to me to be crucially important that wherever possible those working in this desperately dangerous area should seek to use remote-controlled devices.” He urged the MoD to supply them to the Army as soon as possible.

Mr Fisher was right in suggesting that this is a crucially important issue. Of the 250 British troops killed in action in Afghanistan, some 80 per cent, more than 200, have been blown up by IEDs, many trying to defuse these deadly devices by hand.

What the coroner was clearly not aware of, however, was that other national forces in Afghanistan – Americans, Canadians, French, even the Italians – have been supplied with heavily-armoured mechanical equipment for mine clearance which makes the job of detecting and destroying IEDs infinitely safer. In particular, they use a combination of Huskies and giant Buffalo machines, supplied to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as early as 2003. These can spot and explode IEDs without having to send in men on foot such as Captain Shepherd, equipped with little more than hand-held mine detectors and their unbounded courage.

The MoD announced that it was belatedly proposing to equip our troops in Afghanistan with Buffalos, available “off the shelf”, as long ago as October 2008. But stilll, it seems, not one has arrived in theatre. What makes this even more disturbing is that, until the 1990s, the British Army led the world in using machines for detecting and clearing mines, as it did in mine-protected patrol vehicles. But, under the Blair government, these were all sold off or given away, the last of them just when he and the MoD were sending to Iraq those unprotected Snatch Land Rovers in which so many soldiers needlessly died.

Although the MoD was responsible for this deadly catalogue of failures long before he was promoted to his present post, the one man at the top of the MoD who could have had the clout to ensure that our troops in Afghanistan were equipped with mine-clearing machines as a top priority was Sir Jock Stirrup. But still, for lack of the Buffalos and Huskies that protect their allies, men like Captain Shepherd continue to die. Scarcely a day now goes by when we do not hear of another British soldier being blown up, usually by an IED. And still Sir Jock continues to draw his £245,000 a year. The more all these public servants are paid, it seems, the less they understand what it is the rest of us are paying them for.

Robert Henderson on Trevor Phillips


Colour Coded

Robert Henderson

The ineffable Trevor Phillips was on the Radio last night with the first of a two part series entitled “Colour Coded” (BBC R4 (9 June 9-9.30 pm – the second programme will be at the same time on 16 June) .

The programme was unintentionally hilarious. The subject was the pesky fact that despite all the liberal bigot huffing and puffing about how homo sapiens is just one big undifferentiated species, the norm amongst this supposed universal species was to differentiate between the broad racial types. Actually, Phillips didn’t use words such as but instead relied entirely on colour asking why people still described others as white, black, yellow and brown when shock, horror, they were simply various shades ranging from black to pink or cream.

The listener was treated to a wondrous fantasy world for the full thirty minutes as Phillips painted a picture of a happily inter-breeding world, a claim which was not only factually wrong even today in First World cities where there is a considerable variety of racial and ethnic types but is self evidently wrong for the whole of human history because the broad racial types we all recognise today without being told would not exist if there was not a very strong tendency towards assortative mating using race as a prime signifier of fitness to breed.

The other very telling point was that Phillips concentrated entirely on blacks and their relationships with whites, especially during slavery. There was no consideration of the position of Asians nor of the interests of whites in their relationship with blacks.

RH

I think we could profitably watch this space


David Davis

Here.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating


David Davis

The Cameroid has appointed old George Young (remember him from thousands of years ago, when history was going to end and the West had Won?) to “review H&S legislation and scumbag pointless regulations brought in to destroy this culture and enterprise.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

All they have to do is simply repeal the regulations. In a block. All of them. Them we can buy pipe-cleaners again, and take school parties to steel-foundries again, which is rather more important. I wanted to do the latter a few years ago, just about five of them in a car. But I could not, for the steelworks, although keen to have us, would have got closed down by force if one of the little buggers’d injured himself on a piece of white-hot rolled-steel. (You just have to say “careful with that, sonny, it’s a bit warm!”)

Richard Blake in “The Times”, Friday 11th June 2010


From The Times

Over a dozen people and three police officers were taken to hospital yesterday, after violence erupted at the launch of Richard Blake’s new novel The Blood of Alexandria.

Fans had queued all night outside the Charing Cross Branch of Waterstones to obtain first copies of this much-awaited work by the critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling novelist. However, when copies ran out after the first ten minutes, disappointed fans fought viciously in Trafalgar Square with knuckle dusters and sharpened umbrellas.

Chief Inspector Srindomar Pakeshi defended his decision to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Speaking from the hospital room where he has resumed his sick leave, he said: “In over 18 months of policing, I’ve never seen anything like it. I had no choice but to order my officers to open fire.”

Enid Braithwait, 73, Chairwoman of the Richard Blake Appreciation Society, threw the whole blame on the management of Waterstones. She said: “If only they had ordered another 500 copies, none of this would have been necessary. As it is, I just don’t care about the plate glass windows.”

Richard Blake was unavailable for comment.

Prince Charles has been at the Philosopher-Juice, again


David Davis

I chanced upon this in the Times. Also, I find that Nick@CountingCats has done a good fisk of the silly old loon. Here’s a bit more detail about what the bugger said…

It’s a great pity really, for the poor British, who have striven mightily over the centuries to achieve something resembling the outer shell of a pre-capitalist-barbarian warlord-polity, but with “added freedom” and some goodish bolt-ons… This sort of social structure I guess gives comfort to some, if not most, people whose main past-time is trying to just get by while avoiding thinking too deeply about much.

But one of the goodish bolt-ons is that this model also delivers a modicum of personal liberty to the vast mass of the subjects – sadly often against their will. They will live to regret this lacuna in their perception of reality.

Now, however, although the British have at last painstakingly evolved, within this structure, the grand tradition of being able to get rid of their “king” and hire another one from somewhere else if they don’t like the first one, and so although they have now got a more-or-less-harmless strain of hereditary “Heads Of State”, the supposedly-chief male heir now proceeds to go batchy on Global Wireless Tele Vision – and he does it often as well, which is worse.

It’s all rather sad. If the concept of republicanism wasn’t so innately un-conservative and redolent of philosophical rootlessness, I might be more in favour of it for the British. I’ll have to reflect a bit.

The subtext drips, wet with condescension


Michael Winning

angrier than normal

Nick Palmer (ex) MP has gone on the dole. Needless to say, he got specialist CV help and got put in touch with headhunters. By the “staff” of the “Jobcentre”. He was a Nasty lefty MP, should have known better. But I guess he did, that’s why he got a lorra-lorra help.

I had a mate once, I did. He used to run and own his own firm. He retired and couldn’t do it any more, he was tired, he was only about 50 then. He went to the “Jobcentre”, where he was grilled by a Jobstapo-woman-droidtron, who probably voted Labour all her life. He said she walked about with an ID card thing on a blue strappy number, round her neck all the tme.

He had to go back when she said for four interviews, one a week, with her and then others. Then, She said after all this he could not have any “benefits” as he had been a “director” of his firm and so had paid “the wrong kind of NI contripbutions”. So no “unempliyment” for him, nor “the Supplementary”. And to add insult to injury she told him to go and look for jobs himself as they had nothing for him. She handed him out a sheet about how to write letters to “firms”. he had to bring in copies of letters to firns he’d written to in the last week. To show.

Well there you go

My mate’s dead now. Died in 2002

Lefty British state peple better watch it, because I remember things, me. Not that I’d do anything, mind,, Just remember.

He was only doing what they wanted


David Davis

Sir Fred was, for years, the darling boy of shareholders of RBS. He was only doing what he thought they wanted him to do – become the most important bank on the planet.

It only goes to show that, if you lie down with politicians and scumbags, you will get lice.

How to save £45 billion


Simon Jenkins suggests the British Government should scrap the armed forces.

Sleeping on (and off) the protests


Christopher Houseman

I was watching the BBC state o’clock news at midday, in which a correspondent was covering the protests by Spanish public sector workers over an across the board 5pc pay cut there. She noted that the protesters converged in the morning on the “Economics Ministry”, where they passed the time chanting slogans and banging saucepans – until it was time to go home for their siesta.

Now don’t get me wrong, anyone who’s been to Spain knows how thoroughly sensible it is to have a long lunch and an afternoon snooze there, particularly in the summer. But even so, there’s something quite satisfyingly ironic about public sector workers having to leave their own protest for a long lunch and forty winks to follow.

When Spain’s public sector turkeys can’t stay awake to protest against their approaching Christmas, I think Spain’s beleaguered private sector may be in for better times ahead… eventually.

How to (not) fundamentally re-appraise the role of government


David Davis

Pretend you are going to ask the people. Guido feels as cynical as I do.

Has someone shot the gun control lobby’s Cumbrian fox?


Christopher Houseman

Recent events in Cumbria have led to an entirely predictable concern among UK libertarians that even more restrictions on gun ownership and usage are on the way. But on this occasion, I don’t share their pessimism.

UK domestic gun legislation is already among the tightest in the world (which is a bit ironic for a country that is one of the world’s largest arms exporters). Furthermore, even the most dyed in the wool statists are currently resigned to having their budgets (and therefore their de facto powers, at least) cut in the short to medium term. These facts, combined with the rarity of shooting sprees in the UK by licensed gun owners using their own weapons, make any attempt to administer further restrictions uneconomic.

So, might a total ban be contemplated? I couldn’t help noticing from the outset that key elements of the Whitehaven episode didn’t play out according to the standard gun control script. Jamie Reed, the local MP for Copeland was interviewed by the national media as the story broke on 2nd June. Although a Labour MP, he didn’t go along with one reporter’s efforts to corral him into calling for tighter gun control laws. Clearly, Mr. Reed knows something of the realities of his rural constituents’ daily lives. Quite simply, the prominent role of shotguns in particular in rural pest control means that a shotgun ban is unlikely to be supported.

Since 2nd June, it’s emerged that Derrick Bird had held shotgun and/or firearms licences for 20 years with no prior incidents, so it’s unlikely his actions could have been foreseen by anything short of continuous human and/or audio-visual surveillance (and then only in the very short term). Furthermore, it’s also emerged that local police officers had sight of Derrick Bird and might have been able to prevent his last 9 killings – except that the officers were unarmed, and therefore backed off when he confronted them directly.

This last snippet of news has clearly been released in an effort to deflect criticism away from Cumbrian officers. It may have the effect of relaunching the debate over the routine arming of police officers (that would be the state-thinkful option). This is unlikely to be deemed acceptable, but combined with the recent attack on 2 baby girls in their London home by a fox, it opens up new public debate opportunities for libertarians.

What’s the point of relaxing or scrapping the “reasonable force” restriction on householders’ defence of life and property against intruders if householders aren’t allowed to own and train with the best technical means available for home and self-defence (including pepper sprays, tasers and guns)? No wonder ministers are getting jittery about changing the law. And as urban foxes get more numerous and bold, isn’t it time to stop thinking of home defence purely in terms of repelling human burglars?

But what, you may ask, if the forthcoming debate does result in the police being routinely armed? In that case, civil libertarians of all stripes will unite to get it reversed. A significant number of police officers will meanwhile complain about the potential damage to their public image, and the extra pressures routine carrying of a gun will put on them. And then we will have to wait and see how well the state’s prefabricated “one rotten apple” justification will stand up to the public outcry when an armed police officer finally goes on the rampage with a Heckler and Koch. What, then, will be the justification for using the law of the land to allow only the police and the criminal classes to carry guns in Britain?

Intellectually speaking, at least, I suggest the gun control lobby is only a few steps away from shooting itself in the foot.

If arms offer power and protection, they belong in the hands of the People


David Davis

And no I didn’t invent that myself: it is the formal policy-position of the Swiss “Government” (if that word is not slightly tautological.)

Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome nicely articulates the position most of us take on here, which is that now is definitely not the time to do kneejerk, Tabloid-Million-Moms-driven legislation to further restrict, or even ban entirely, all firearms, thus taking us as a people into the territory of the Third Reich, wherein Himmler said that private gun ownership and licensing was “inconvenient” for the State. Except for Göring of course.

I have been excoriated on Facebook, for saying that these periodic massacres, ostensibly by lone crazed lunatics, are set up by the “authorities” every time they want to ratchet up the gun controls here. With hindight, I’m prepared to suspect (but only suspect) that I was wrong in this particular case. But my major thesis still stands I think. We will anyhow know the truth about Dunblane in about 80 years’ time.

Thought you guys better see this


Michale Winning

Coalition looking at drink-drive limits through some fellow at Jesus College

Photo for the day.


Fred Bloggs.

Terribly sorry for not posting in a while guys, but saying that i’ve been up to my neck in it is an understatement to say the least.
But I saw this and I thought you guys might enjoy it:

Till next time…

Robert Henderson and Homosexuality


Robert Henderson

David Laws’ “outing” raises the question of why liberal bigots fear admitting to being homosexual when they publicly declare at every possible opportunity that being gay is “just as valid” as heterosexuality and “completely normal”. I thought I would test what the public mood is and to hat end I ran up the short questionnaire below to test the proposition in the case of heterosexual men.

I placed the questionnaire on some of the main UK politics newsgroups. (For those who do not use them, newsgroups are a type of global chatroom whereby anyone in the world who subscribes to the newsgroup can post and comment on other people’s posts).

The first thing of note was the rapidity and volume of the traffic it generated. In twelve years of using newsgroups , I have never had such a voluminous and rapid response. After half an hour there were 38 replies. Two days after putting the post up there are 442 replies (For those with newsgroup feeds you will find the thread on uk.politics.misc). This is wholly exceptional for any posts in newsgroups and suggests to an intense public interest in the question.

Amongst the responders there were small minorities of card carrying liberal bigots and outright homophobes. Much more interesting was the response from those in the middle. The general mood was that they were uncomfortable with the idea of homosexual gay acts, many candidly saying they found them disgusting. However, those away from the extremes were also quite content to let homosexuals do whatever they want in private – but not in public – and had no wish to see homosexuality re-criminalised. There was also a fair deal of complaint about homosexuals acting as a public pressure group.

The question which produced the most disquiet was 11. Unsurprisingly, as it went to the heart of being human.

So there you have it, if the response reflects the population at large, and it may well have slanted affairs towards the liberal end of the spectrum because it was computer users only, the population does not share the liberal elite’s view of homosexuality, but neither is it aggressively homophobic. RH

Questionnaire

1. Would you be comfortable if you were taken for gay?

2. Would you be comfortable if a gay man made sexual advances to you?

3. If a gay man had expressed sexual feelings for you, would you be comfortable working or socialising with that person?

4. If you live in circumstances where there was communal living, for example in the services, would you be comfortable sleeping in the same room as men you knew were gay?

5. Would you be comfortable appearing naked in front of a gay man, for example, where there are communal showers?

6. Would you be comfortable being in the same place as a gay couple engaged in heavy petting?

7. Would you be comfortable in the company of a gay couple who were holding hands?

8. Would you be concerned that any gay man might be HIV positive or have Aids?

9. You go on a business trip with a gay man. The only accommodation you can get is a room with a double bed. Where do you sleep?

10. A gay man is making persistent sexual advances to you despite you rejection of them. What do you do?

11. You have two children, both sons. They both announce they are gay. Your natural ambition for grandchildren vanishes. How do you respond?

12. Your gay son brings his partner home with him to stay for the night. Do you let the two of them share a bed

Tell Underdog to continue writing


David Davis

I have a suspicion he’s getting tired? But his insights are also an interesting highlight on what we all do, why we do it and what we expect to get out of the activity.

Aktuelle Nachricht – Amoklauf in Nordengland: Wiederbewaffnung der Bevölkerung „schützt vor Massenmord“ – Redaktion eigentümlich frei – eigentümlich frei


A superfast translation from Robert Groezinger!

Aktuelle Nachricht – Amoklauf in Nordengland: Wiederbewaffnung der Bevölkerung „schützt vor Massenmord“

Aktuelle Nachricht – Amoklauf in Nordengland: Wiederbewaffnung der Bevölkerung „schützt vor Massenmord“ – Redaktion eigentümlich frei – eigentümlich frei

Syed Kamall on Bendy Eurofruits


Syed Kamall MEP

Sir, Last month in Brussels Tory MEPs voted to defeat a Spanish plan to re-impose the EU’s ban on wonky fruit and veg. This is an example of how the Conservatives are achieving some successes in holding back the tide of ever more regulations from Brussels.

I am delighted that common sense has prevailed in the European Parliament. British farmers, store owners and shoppers can breathe a sigh of relief. The election of a Conservative government will help us achieve more successes like this in future.

Yours Sincerely,

Syed Kamall
Conservative MEP for London
3 Bridle Close,
Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2JW

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