Scrapbook for February
19.02.2017 – Jack of all trades…
Joel Mokyr, Robert H Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor [sic] of economics [sic] and history [sic] at Northwestern University in Illinois, plumbs the depths of his knowledge of Arts, Sciences, Economics and History, to tell it like it isn't:
One outcome of the activities ['activities' being what, exactly?] in the market for ideas [wozzat?] after 1600 was the European Enlightenment, in which the belief [?] in scientific and intellectual progress [wot? Rousseau was a Luddite who made his name arguing against scientific progress, Wright of Derby was painting demonic scientists and Mary Shelley was definitely off-message with Dr Frankenstein – all passim on this website] was translated into an ambitious [?] political programme [no it wasn't], a programme that, despite its many flaws and misfires, still dominates European polities [no it doesn't, The Metternich Restoration, the Prussian unification, the rise of Communism and National Socialism, the Great Depression… need we go on?] and economies [ditto]. Notwithstanding the backlash it has recently encountered, [wot? Oh, Trumpist populism, those knuckledraggers. They make Hitler seem like a pussycat.] the forces of technological and scientific progress [why is this always progress?], once set in motion, might have become irresistible. [rilly?] The world today, after all, still consists of competing entities [entities being?], and seems not much closer to unification than in 1600. [wot?! Germany, Italy, Great Britain, EU etc.] Its market for ideas [wozzat?] is more active than ever, and innovations are occurring at an ever faster pace.
There are 19 other paragraphs of this pretentious waffle. Let's not bother. We apologise, dear Reader, for taking your time up with this one.
17.02.2017 – Site changes
The organization of the articles on this site is chronological, but, unlike many blogs, the articles do not sink down into oblivion after a while. You may think that oblivion is really all they deserve, but even elderly articles may be updated.
To help reader(s) keep track of these updates there is now a list of updated articles accessible from the menu heading Updated content.
Unfortunately, the authors themselves cannot be updated.
15.02.2017 – Samoyeds
14.02.2017 – Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, reloaded
Hoffmann von Fallersleben's anthem is still melting snowflakes after all these years.
13.02.2017 – Scandi noir blacker humour
Fresh from their triumph over that misogynistic, pussy-grabbing, foul-mouthed brute President Donald Trump [below] the plucky gals of the Swedish government cycled off under the leadership of their Trade Minister Ann Linde to Iran.
It was about 6°C in Iran, so the Swedish winter clothes that the clever women had so sensibly packed came in very handy.
Linde's long black coat was much admired by their host, President Rouhani. 'Give us a twirl', he was heard to mutter in Farsi, but this seemed to get lost in the translation, somehow coming out as Min fiendes fiende är min vän, 'My enemy's enemy is my friend'.
Bowing, right-hand on heart – a traditional Swedish greeting when a woman meets a man – the gals filed past the Iranian President.
Donald, watch and learn. This is how civilised Swedish feminists behave!
08.02.2017 – The Envy-of-the-World™, again
The doom of the Envy-of-the-World™ will come not through economics or rationality.
It will come through photographs. Yet one more instalment here. Some takeaways: '95 seriously ill patients and only 33 beds'. 'On Sunday night, the computer screen telling patients the average waiting time read 13hrs 52mins.'
Now that everyone has a camera in their phone we can expect much more of this.
At least the corridors have liberal visiting hours.
Expensive and highly trained paramedics and ambulance staff hanging around in corridors.
The best-rated comment at the time of writing, 'We are paying more tax than ever. Where is our money going?' revealed a lack of understanding about the operation of government soup-kitchens.
Most of the others missed the point completely: 'excessive immigration', 'foreign aid budget', 'health tourism', 'mismanagement'. All of which may possibly be true, but they are not the cause of the problem, which we have discussed in some detail elsewhere.
The Envy-of-the-World™ is not a disaster because it is overwhelmed, taken advantage of or underfunded – it's simply an irreparable financial soup-kitchen. Financing through health insurance would be cheaper, fairer and put an end to the misery and inhumanity which photographs like these irrefutably expose.
06.02.2017 – The madness of Prince Charlie
Does anyone imagine that, once he succeeds to the throne, His Royal Madness Prince Charlie will be capable of keeping his opinions to himself? It will not happen: he is too much of a fanatic. He believes that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, caused by capitalism and consumerism, will destroy the world. He is 'advised' by those two manic green Wormtongues Jonathon Porritt and Tony Juniper. According to his calculations planetary doom will be inevitable from July this year. He will never be able to subsume his beliefs to the trivial round and common monarchical task.
Once on the throne, even if he did put a sock in it, he has been so vocal as Prince of Wales that everyone would know the gruesome paths his mind followed behind those close-set eyes. Wait until he has to hand out honours to frackers, industrialists, bankers and oil-barons. Would you want him waving a sword over you?
06.02.2017 – Scandi noir black humour
Isabella Lövin, Swedish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and spokesperson for the Swedish Green Party, appalled at some of the photographs of Donald Trump signing executive orders in the Oval Office surrounded mostly by men (yuk!), retaliates with a photo of her… well, her tweet says it all.
Our wise and well-informed readers will need no further comments from us on the current state of Sweden.
Update: Just heard that this was picked up by Breitbart a couple of days ago. Must try harder. Still, the ladies look so fetching, and the children's paintings on the wall – not to be missed!
Update: Swedish cop flips out, overlooks threat of climate change and lack of crèche provision completely. Off to the special prosecutor with him! Men!
05.02.2017 – John Bates, whistleblower
The veracity of Bates' account is hard to doubt and confirms everything we have been saying about the corruption of climate science. This swamp really must be drained. A first step would be for the journal Science, the publisher of the 'pausebusting' Karl paper, to retract it. They should also reveal the names of the anonymous peer reviewers who failed utterly in their duties by waving this crock through in short order in time for the Paris climate conference.
05.02.2017 – Whose side is North on?
A few days ago we were reminded to look once again at the doings of blogger Richard North. Although his serious personality defects have confined him, ranting, to the darkened padded cell that is his blog, he is still capable of doing damage.
He spent the campaign for Brexit, the thing for which he has apparently been fighting for decades, sniping at what might be assumed to be his own side. There is, however, only one side for him in anything: the Richard North side. The Leave campaigners were idiots, liars, malignant, stupid, evil and so on. The members of the media who failed to persecute the idiot Leavers properly in interviews were fools and children. To his profound shock the Leavers won the referendum vote.
Ever since that moment he has been sniping at those who want just to leave without following his 20-year plan to take Britain from being a province of the EU through complex intermediate stages to being… well, something else – Liechtenstein, perhaps. To no one's surprise North's 700 page, continuously developing cunning plan has not resonated either with the punters or the 'bovine' politicians. His 16 PDF 'monographs' on various topics, even denser than his blog posts, have sunk without trace.
The consequence of such a lack of recognition is that he has spent the last few months bouncing his ego around his padded cell, writing intemperate, vicious and despairing pieces of incredible detail about some regulation or other. He is now perversely trying to stop the UK invoking Article 50 and leaving the EU.
Judging from today's piece by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph he has mobilised his old pal to this cause. He also told us on 25 January 2017 that he 'was at a private seminar on Brexit in London yesterday, where a wide range of issues was covered in front of a knowledgeable group'. He really is an important person, you see.
When we read of the parliamentary or judicial doings of those trying to block Brexit we have to wonder: did Gollum take the trip to Mordor in the hope of getting his precious back? Is the man who argued for decades for Britain to leave the EU now doing his best to sabotage Brexit, simply because it is not 'his' Brexit? Just as he did during the Brexit campaign, is he supplying the Remainers with their ammunition?
As a contrast to North's spittle-flecked invective and serial insults try John Redwood's Diary – calm, reasoned, positive and polite: it is possible.
03.02.2017 – Myron Ebell at the GWPF
On 30 January 2017 Myron Ebell, the head of Donald Trump's transition team for the EPA, took part in a press briefing held by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Foreign Press Association (FPA). Our piece last month about the corruption of climate scientists, A basket of disreputables, has been updated with a transcript of some of his remarks and the full video.
Everybody looked at from some perspective is a special interest and the climate-industrial complex is a gigantic special interest that involves everyone from the producers of higher-priced energy to the academics who benefit from advancement in their careers and large government grants. There's a large range of people who belong to the climate-industrial complex and they constitute to my mind a very dangerous special interest.
02.02.2017 – Sir Detail and friend
A masterly piece of description from the estimable Quentin Letts.
On Article 50, the European scrutiny committee quizzed Sir Ivan Rogers, until recently our ambassador to the European Union.
Sir Ivan is the one who quit after controversy over his reported claim that Brexit could take ten years.
He came across as an intense, histrionic, explosive man, obsessive, vastly knowledgeable, one of those people so intelligent that they could really do with a second skull in which to keep the over-matter of their impressive brains.
He spoke rapidly, colourfully, his sentences sprayed with superlatives and linguistic magnifiers.
I lost count of the number of times he said how ‘very, very complex’ the Brexit negotiations were going to be.
The challenge was ‘humongous’ (is this now an approved Whitehall word?).
As he rabbited away, the phrases used included ‘immensely complex… difficult stuff… everything is very difficult… too complex to be gone into here… senior Beltway wisdom… the wisdom among the technocracy… immense financial difficulty… an enormously complex legal process… extraordinarily difficult stuff to go through… you have to understand it in micro detail… a complex question… immensely complex… increadibly complex… huge… huge… huge… unbelievably difficult and technical’.
Sir Ivan struck me as less of an obstructive Europhile than a purist of procedure and small print. I bet he is brilliant at Cluedo.
Though sparky and at times quite amusing, he is perhaps not one of life’s problem solvers.
More a problem raiser, I’d say. He must have driven many a minister mad over the years.
Hmm… Who does this description remind you of? Go on, have a guess – this blog has visited his padded cell all too often. That's right, Richard North, doctor angelicus (Meat Processing). Likes attract in this case: he is full of admiration for Sir Ivan. And let's not forget that Nigel Farage had to sack North from the EU after nearly being driven mad by him – spot on, Quentin!
A correspondent writes to say that Sir Detail did indeed mention North and his Flexcit doorstopper explicitly, but that this remark was ignored by the committee. One of North's acolytes, outraged at such dereliction towards his master's immortal words, is driven to an outburst of semicolonitis:
Either members of this Committee are aware of the document and its author, in which case they exhibit an arrogance by ignoring it; or, they are ignorant of its existence and exhibit an arrogance in not querying its mention.
Our correspondent commented on the acolyte's blog, wondering that anyone could be surprised that North's vicious intemperance over the years had made him persona non grata in the counsels of the wise. The comment never made it through moderation, which is also not in the least surprising.
Correction: we are told that the comment did make it eventually past moderation and that even the supposed acolyte himself was currently banned from North junior's website.
01.02.2017 – Snowflakes of the month
500 Women Scientists can't be wrong.
The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.
In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA, immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.
Glad to see that my category, 'Q', is getting a look in at last. Google tells me that 'Q' means either 'queer' or 'questioning', in both of which cases one feels quite at home: 'Pass the paddle, Nurse'. Though fetching in a lab coat, by no stretch of the imagination could I be considered to be a woman, though. Will I be able to sign their pledge?
This category confusion is thought-provoking: can a 'G' be a woman, or a 'T' in the wrong direction? At a bus-stop can one no longer ask whether this is the end of the Q? Can one no longer assertively catch the barman's eye and shout for two G & Ts and a packet of nuts? The confusion was encapsulated in a limerick from my student days, before anyone had thought up these acronyms:
There once was a puff of Khartoum
Who took a lesbian up to his room.
They spent all the night
Deciding who had the right
To do what and with which and to whom.
The grammar is exemplary; the vocabulary could do with some modernising. 'They', as the matchless Ken Dodd often put it, 'They cannot touch you for it'.