Monday, August 30, 2004
for min Svensk hjartan avbrytare
Yes, it did happen once to me. But I was afraid the sentiments would change. I was afraid of some form of betrayal and so I walked away. I betrayed it before it betrayed me.
Religious environmentalism II
Whether these summers' rains and heats are directly due to global warming one cannot say, but the world's scientists seem mostly agreed that extremes of weather will be an increasing feature of our planet, with bigger and more frequent storms. Global warming is the biggest threat to the future of humanity.
Let us pray then that the American Presidential election will produce a President who will take this threat seriously. The USA, with Russia, has still refused even to sign the Kyoto Agreement...One smells the influence of the powerful oil lobby on the presidential mind. Pray hard for for a change of heart (or of President).
Well, if you are not religious, instead of praying you could support your local environmentalist group. And, according to both institutions, I guess, if you don't support them, you are going to hell.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Posner on climate change part 4
How else, except in the blogosphere could I have a famous judge respond to my amateur thoughts within a few hours. Amazing.
Number of caffe (espresso) drunk this week = 20
Volokh.com had an amusing post on academic coffee consumption in April - NYU president John Sexton apparently drunk 33 cups in one day!!!!! That some were decaff is little comfort.
Piacere, guarda il suo website
POPS, SMILE : mixed media, wooden board, 2004
by my extravagantly talented Japanese friend, Kanako.
Many more paintings and other art are available on her website
Anarchy and Somalia
Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution had a good discussion of the situation a while back.
Food photo of the week
So it's time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.
The problem of consumer choice
The chairman of the Keep Sunday Special campaign is quoted: The time has come now for the people of this country to admit we made a mistake allowing Sunday work to become normal for so many people. We need a new act to guarantee a shared weekly day off for everyone.
What particularly struck me was the use of the plural we. How are we to admit our mistake and produce a new act - a deliberative democratic consultation exercise, a referendum perhaps? My alternative is as follows: allow shops to open when they want - no restrictions, and if we decide we want a special day (or whatever) it will be apparent because less people will shop on that day. Why should a minority (or even a majority) be able to determine when the rest of us buy a loaf of bread or a can of Coke? Surely there are more important things for the government to spend scarce resources on then this?
Also, in London at least, you can shop every day of the year thanks to the racial diversity of shop owners. Why should they keep Sunday special, and if there is a loophole for them on religious grounds (or whatever) what about a loophole for atheists or agnostics or anyone who doesn't agree that sunday is special?
Bush snubs Howard
Good point (R) by Matthew d'Ancona - that the Bush team are not concerned with losing the favour of Howard because they do not see him as a potential Prime Minister.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Posner on climate change part 3
1 - he rather bitterly criticises the Copenhagen Consensus on the grounds that none of the economists were experts on climate change - in other words because they are commenting outside their field, their work carries less weight. Isn't this exactly what Posner is doing? He should concentrate on the science (which he does address) and leave out the petty academic stone-throwing.
2 - In arguing that the conclusions of the Consenus were mistaken, he states: Malnutrition and malaria are serious problems too, but one effect of eliminating them would be to cause a population surge, which would in turn increase global warming.
Surely he is not suggesting that it would better for malnutrition and malaria to go untreated?
The benefits of gastronomic globalisation
Attack of the consumer clones
Essentially, it seems to argue that because supermarkets have risen to prominence, and displaced small or independent shops, our high streets are in danger of becoming clone towns. Cue wonderful quotes by Andrew Simms (NEF policy director)
- Natural scientists since Charles Darwin have understood the value and importance of diversity in maintaining healthy and stable ecosystems. Clone towns imperil local livelihoods, communities and culture by decreasing the resilience of high streets to economic downturns and diminishing consumer choice.
How much more diverse could you get than a supermarket which sells thousands of lines of products by thousands of different companies? Indeed, not long ago, on the back of this book the media warned us that supermarkets offered us too much choice, which is somehow bad for us.
- H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell all wrote nightmare visions of a future world that would conform increasingly under unidentified totalitarianisms, and that would determine the life and consumer choices of the ‘masses’.
Is there any similarity at all between the life of an average consumer in London today and in Orwell's 1984? Simms has cleared jumped off the deep end here...
Good rebuttals by Sean Rickard in the BBC report (If supermarkets have grown big and strong and powerful, as indeed they are, it's by the choices made by individuals - not by anyone forcing anyone through their doors) and Richard Hyman in The Times (All major retailers of today were very small once and grew by delivering a more relevant offer, more often than their competitors. The chattering classes do their shopping at supermarkets and do not practise what they preach.)
Hyman's point is particularly important because often, when people criticise certain conditions in society (footballers earning too much, too many supermarkets) they ignore or do not realise that these conditions have arisen mainly because of the combined, voluntary actions of millions of individuals. To attempt to micro-manage the situation is to interfere in the free choices of millions of people.
This is report is yet another example to illustrate Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain theory.
Mortality does funny things
Obviously there is no shame in such a choice but it would be intellectual cowardice if this person were to survive and continue campaigning, which it seems she will. By campaigning in the manner that animal rights activists do, she is, however indirectly, slowing the development of drugs for fellow cancer sufferers. She even complains that doctors have not yet found a cure for cancer - perhaps this is because the doctors are more worried about being bombed, beaten or attacked by the activists and their companies are using scarce resources to protect them and their families.
Sometimes, what goes around, does come around.
Friday, August 27, 2004
Posner on climate change
Evil multinationals part 1009
It was in Holloway in 1975 and i had to deliver [McDonald's] post every day. I thought there was something pretty sinister about it, this new cafe with workers in colourful uniforms...smiling all the time.
I have also always been afraid of smiling people in colourful uniforms. More here
Biggest tag sale ever?
The only positive of this situation seems to be that the solution (which it hopefully is) came about after action by Iraqis against other Iraqis. Hopefully, this will be the first of many such efforts where Iraqis take responsibility for running their own country, no matter what a hash the US... have made of it.
No doubt much blame can stuck on the US and allies but pursuing this to the exclusion of rebuilding Iraq is surely not the way to go.
Incidentally, I remember in the early days of the invasion (or whatever you want to call it), when looters stripped hospitals of equipment and hoped it was not a precedent. Vandalising your own country (or someone else's country in the case of the mercenaries) as some sort of protest action is a sorry situation.
The trouble with supermarkets...
Big supermarkets are comfortable, convenient and a cornerstone of modern life. The government ought to do something about them.
No, they are not being sarcastic. The argument seems to go that because lots of people like shopping in supermarkets, and therefore the supermarkets have become very powerful (in the economic sense), the government should do something. They bemoan the loss of independent butchers, the strong arm tactics of supermarkets...
However, one fairly fundamental point ought to be picked up. How did the supermarkets become so powerful? Most of the answer stems from the fact that they offer people what they want. They do not force people to buy stuff, they do not hypnotise people to buy stuff.... It is very safe to assume that people shop at supermarkets because they prefer them to the alternatives for whatever reason.
It is mainly because British food culture is so awful that price comes before quality. Supermarkets (like any evil multinational) would after all sell ice to the eskimos if it were profitable. That they do not sell good quality (however defined and debatable anyway) products is simply a function of the nature of consumer demand. The very fact that farmers' markets are increasing in popularity is evidence of the producer - consumer relationship.
If the demand for good quality stuff were sufficient, why wouldn't the supermarkets sell it? Theories such as the Scotsman's have to answer that supermarkets would rather lose money than sell good stuff. Which is a pretty stupid, on all accounts.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
America's fastest growing sport....apparently
A surplus of available energy is a remarkable historical and biological anomaly. A supply of oil that exceeds demand has permitted us to do what all species strive to do - expand the ecological space we occupy - but without encountering direct competition for the limiting resource.
Humans, however, suffer less from environmental constraints in this sense, because our ingenuity means we can invent solutions to problems we face and problems we will face in the future. This is how Julian Simon taught us why Malthus was wrong.
New turns out to be very old - very little use of fossil fuels (except the good ones - parafin and wood), very little machinery, commune.... However, it is curious that the people who live this way (a large majority of 3rd world inhabitants) choose to migrate to the West or aspire to live like us in the West. I see few reports of impoverished Africans risking their lives to get to the UK or US and going to live in eco-communes. Perhaps the media bias is just not reporting these stories.
Should we stay out of the sun?
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Should the stupid be allowed to vote?
I too am not inclined to lavish too much praise on democracy, although whilst it is easy to poke serious holes in majoritarianism, it is less easy to construct realistic alternatives, and it is even harder to say to people living under despotic regimes that democracy is perhaps not want they really want. Life in democracies is not always better than in non-democracies, and vice-versa - the more important issue is substantive: ie - are the desires of the majority benign? Democracy is more about imposing the will of a certain group than imposing the right view (however defined).
Kerry, Bush, Vietnam...
? cheers for democracy
Monday, August 23, 2004
Today I am happy for I have bought bread
The Sudan question
We also have 50000 murdered in 18 months (with the State complicit) and more than 1000000 displaced. We have hundreds and thousands dying every day the talks progress. This should never be forgotten - just because important people are talking about something does not mean people are not dying. Does this mean that those guilty of talking too much are guilty in some way of causing suffering - in my opinion yes. See the excellent Stephen Pollard on this. Let's hope that a post-Iraq fetish for diplomacy at all costs does not develop in IR.
The fallacy of government minimum standards
We and They
Sunday, August 22, 2004
The tragedy of Ayn Rand
Islam and civil society
Education in the UK
How to cook tripe
Have found the best – indeed, perhaps the only way, to eat tripe: deep-fried in beer batter. Tripe is the stomach lining of an ox. I have tried it Italian style in Treviso (cooked in tomato sugo) and Irish style in Cork (cooked in milk and served with onions and drasheen - a liver sausage far inferior to Italian liver sausage) and both were unremarkable.
Method: Slice tripe (pre-blanched) to desired size and boil in (beef) stock for 10-20 minutes and allow to cool in the stock. When cold, remove from stock and dry well with kitchen paper. Allow to dry out in fridge and when sufficiently dry, deep fry in normal beer batter.
I apologise for innocent plagarism if this is a well-known recipe, but I haven't seen it anywhere.