Quotulatiousness

January 16, 2017

100 years ago today

Filed under: Americas, Britain, Europe, History, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:26

From the Facebook page of The Great War:

On this day 100 years ago, a coded telegram was sent by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to German Ambassador to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. In this telegram, Zimmermann instructed von Eckardt to offer Mexico a military alliance and financial support against the United States should they not remain neutral. This was a possibility since Germany was about to unleash unrestricted submarine warfare by February 1, 1917.

To understand this telegram, it is important to understand that talks about military cooperation and even a military alliance between Mexico and the German Empire had been going on since 1915 already.

The telegram was sent via the American undersea cable since the German cable was interrupted by the British when the war broke out. US President Woodrow Wilson had offered the Germans to use their cable for diplomatic correspondence. What neither Wilson nor the Germans knew: The cable was monitored by the British intelligence at a relay station in England. Furthermore, the British codebreakers of Room 40 had already cracked the German encryption.

The biggest challenge for the British now was to reveal the content of this telegram without admitting that they were monitoring the cable while ensuring it had the desired impact.

January 14, 2017

“We call it diplomacy, minister”

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Another brilliant bit of realpolitik from Yes, Minister, disguised as humour:

January 11, 2017

“The money paid to footballers is ‘grotesque’, said Corbyn today, in his best irate vicar voice”

Filed under: Britain, Politics, Soccer — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn just proposed a salary cap for professional football (that’s “soccer” to us benighted colonials on the other side of the pond) in the UK:

Is there nothing Jeremy Corbyn can’t screw up? This week his advisers whispered to the press that their leader was about to do a Donald, be more populist, try to connect with the man and woman in the street who might think of him as a bit stiff and aloof and stuck in the Seventies. And how does he kick off this project? By slagging off footballers, the most idolised sportspeople in Britain, cheered by vast swathes of the very people Labour no longer reaches but wishes it could. The money paid to footballers is ‘grotesque’, said Corbyn today, in his best irate vicar voice. Cue media coverage of Corbyn’s moaning mug next to Wayne Rooney (£250k a week, loved by millions). What next in Corbyn’s populist makeover? A call to wind down Coronation St? Close pubs on Sundays? A Twitterspat with Ant and Dec or Sheridan Smith or some other national treasure?

[…]

Labour leftists have never understood this basic fact: ordinary people don’t hate rich people. In fact they admire many of them. They don’t wince when they see a footballer and his WAG posing by the pool in Hello! — they think, ‘That looks like a nice life. Good on them.’ Corbyn bemoaned footballers’ pay as part of his proposal to enact a law preventing people from earning above a certain amount of money. Yes, a maximum wage. ‘I would like there to be some kind of high earnings cap,’ he said. It’s the worst idea a British political leader has had in years, and it reveals pretty much everything that is wrong with the left today.

First there’s the sheer authoritarianism of it. It will never come to pass, of course, because Corbyn’s footballer-bashing and bodged populism and general inability to connect with anyone outside of Momentum and the left Twittersphere means Labour won’t be darkening the door of Downing St for yonks. But that Corbyn is even flirting with the notion of putting a legal lid on what people can earn is pretty extraordinary. It would basically be a stricture against getting rich, a restriction on ambition, a state-enforced standard of living: you could be comfortable and middle-class, but not loaded. There’s a stinging moralism, too. Labourites complain about those on the right who look down on the ‘undeserving poor’, but what we have here is not all that different: a sneering at the undeserving rich, a prissy concern with the bank balances and lifestyles of those who’ve made a bomb.

January 8, 2017

Secrets of the Dead: What Sank The Mary Rose?

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on Aug 13, 2015
Henry VİII’s and England’s most important battleship, the Mary Rose, sunk off the English coast in the Solent in the 16th Century.

Secrets Of The Dead – What Sank The Mary Rose?

January 7, 2017

James May The Reassembler S02E01 Christmas Hornby Train Set

Filed under: Britain, Railways, Technology — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 28 Dec 2016

James May is back in his shed, reassembling a Hornby (or is it) train set

December 23, 2016

Repost – Kate Bush – Christmas Special 1979 (Private Remaster)

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 5 Oct 2013

I know there’s a good few copies of this out on YouTube, but here it is, again! The other copies were either split up into individual tracks, the best complete one (from BBC Four’s rebroadcast in 2009) had the wrong aspect ratio, which annoyed the hell out of me! So, here this is…

Video and audio have been tidied up very slightly, not much was needed!

Kate Bush – Christmas Special
Tracklist:
(Intro) 00:00
Violin 00:29
(Gymnopédie No.1 – composed by Erik Satie) 03:44
Symphony In Blue 04:44
Them Heavy People 08:20
(Intro for Peter Gabriel) 12:52
Here Comes The Flood (Peter Gabriel) 13:22
Ran Tan Waltz 17:02
December Will Be Magic Again 19:43
The Wedding List 23:35
Another Day (with Peter Gabriel) 28:05
Egypt 31:41
The Man With The Child In His Eyes 36:21
Don’t Push Your Foot On The Heartbreak 39:24

“I was recently asked about this BBC TV special and I thought I’d share my comments here. Kate: Kate Bush Christmas Special is a stage performance by Kate Bush with her special guest Peter Gabriel. Though most of the songs are not holiday ones, they come from Bush’s first three albums (Never for Ever her third album would be released in 1980 after this 1979 TV special was taped). The performances include costumes, choreographed dances and a wind machine, creating an eclectic music TV special to say the least.

This is one of the programs that makes my research quite difficult — because it calls itself a Christmas Special yet it contains only one performance of a Christmas song “December Will Be Magic Again” (a song that wouldn’t be released as a single by Bush until the following year, in 1980). TV programming that calls itself a Christmas Special and yet contains little to no Christmas entertainment is actually quite common — especially on the BBC.

Between the end of November and the end of December each year, there is quite a bit of special programming on television. Remember Elvis’ 1968 Comeback Special — it aired in December that year and includes only one holiday song, a performance of “Blue Christmas.” Is it considered a Christmas special? No, not really. And so, despite its title, the lack of holiday programming in Kate Bush’s 1979 TV special means it shouldn’t be considered a Christmas special either. But the Kate Bush Christmas Special is certainly worth watching!”

H/T to Ghost of a Flea for the link.

December 20, 2016

The pursuit of “fake news” may lead to unexpected destinations

Filed under: Britain, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At the Adam Smith Institute blog, Tim Worstall looks at the ginned-up outrage over “fake news” in the media:

The comment page of The Guardian is a useful place to watch the latest alarum and mass delusion to which we humans are distressingly subject take form. The one so taking form at present being the outcries over the false news which so obviously won the election for Trump (or Brexit, The Italian referendum, Beppe to be, Le Pen and, well, select from whatever will annoy those who write the Guardian‘s comment pages).

The truly astonishing thing about it all being the alarming lack of self knowledge on display. Because of course fake news is nothing new at all, indeed it’s been a standard tactic of various on the left for some time now.

[…]

And closer to home here think of the UK Uncut saga. The story about Vodafone and the £6 billion tax bill. There never was such a bill, there was no deal to cut it and yet that isn’t what our media has been telling us, is it? Richard Brooks, the originator of the story in Private Eye, has actually explained to us how the figure was reached. If tax law was different then more money would have been owed. We’re sure that’s true but there’s a certain promulgation of not quite an entire and whole truth to move from that to an insistence that £6 billion was owed, no? Or the campaign about Boot’s tax avoidance, something they achieved while obeying every jot and tittle of the law about what people should not do to avoid tax.

At least one of the perpetrators of that little, umm, piece of truthiness, has openly agreed that it was all about creating the narrative, exact details were not the point.

Or even the continued wails that inequality is rising to unprecedented levels. Global inequality is falling and within country inequality is nothing at all like the levels of the historical past – we’ve welfare systems explicitly designed to make sure that it isn’t. The spread of food banks – is this evidence, as claimed, of massive need? Or evidence of an always extant need now finally being met?

We’re going on a length here because this is an important issue. Yes, indeed, there is fake news out there. But what is going to be uncomfortable for a lot of those complaining about it is that a close examination of “truth” is going to leave an awful lot of supposedly established facts about our modern world looking terribly exposed.

Ghostly apparitions terrorize elderly businessman at Christmas

Filed under: Books, Britain, Economics, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Tom Mullen discusses the leftist apparitions who tormented poor Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, leaving him permanently damaged financially and intellectually:

[Scrooge’s] only weakness seems to be sentimentality towards the whiny, presumably mediocre-at-best Bob Cratchett. We know Scrooge was paying Cratchett more than anyone else was willing to or Cratchett would surely have accepted a higher-paying job to put additional funds towards curing Tiny Tim. But we really don’t have any evidence anyone else was willing to employ Cratchett at all, at any salary level. Still, we must defer to Scrooge’s judgment on this and perhaps even laud him for finding a way to employ a substandard employee without jeopardizing the firm as a whole.

Thus, all was as well as it could have been on December 23. Scrooge’s customers were happy, Bob Cratchett was at least employed, thanks to Scrooge, and Scrooge himself was as happy as he could be, considering the ingratitude with which his genius had been rewarded and all the panhandlers constantly shaking him down.

Everything changed on Christmas Eve, when Scrooge was terrorized – there really is no other word for it – by three time-traveling, left-wing apparitions. It wasn’t enough to frighten an elderly man with the mere appearance of ghosts. They took him on a trip through time, scolding him for supposed mistakes made in the past and blaming him for the misfortunes of others in the present and future. And let’s not forget the purpose of this psychological waterboarding. They are not, as Shaffer observes, pursuing Scrooge’s happiness, but his money. They are William Graham Sumner’s A & B conspiring to force C to relieve the suffering of X. Politicians A & B use the polite coercion of legislation; the spirits make use of more direct and honest threats of violence.

Their plot was successful. Scrooge awoke from his night of terror obviously out of his senses and began making one poor financial decision after another. Perhaps buying the largest turkey in the local shop could be excused on Christmas Day. But then, without any evidence of improvement in performance, he raised Bob Cratchett’s salary and promised to take on the Cratchett family’s medical expenses.

After that, we are told Scrooge was “transformed” completely, which we can only interpret to mean he no longer made the kind of decisions that had previously benefited so many. We are told Scrooge’s subsequent behavior was so foolhardy that some people laughed at him. But even this wasn’t enough to snap him out of the permanent delirium with which the spirits had inflicted him.

December 15, 2016

“Rebuilding” a Mosquito

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Robert Beckhusen on the ongoing attempt to bring a long-ago crashed de Havilland Mosquito back to life:

De Havilland DH-98 Mosquito at the Ardmore Airport de Havilland Mosquito Launch Airshow, 2012 (via Wikipedia)

The de Havilland Mosquito was arguably the best British plane of World War II, the war’s most effective fighter-bomber and one of the most versatile military planes ever built. That’s why it’s strange so few of the wooden, twin-engine machines appear at air shows.

There are currently only three airworthy Mosquitos in the world.

A group of British engineers are trying to change that by bringing a Mosquito back from the dead. Since 2012, the U.K.-based People’s Mosquito project has raised funds and begun working to restore an ex-Royal Air Force Mosquito which crashed in 1949, was buried and then recovered 61 years later.

“A much beloved friend of ours, and our patron, Capt. Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, once said that three British aircraft were preeminent in World War II,” Ross Sharp, the People’s Mosquito’s director of engineering told War Is Boring. “One was the Spitfire, the other was the Lancaster and the third was the Mosquito, and if you had to rank them, you’d put the Mosquito first.”

“That was due, I think, because it performed so many roles and performed them superbly.”

[…]

On Feb. 14, 1949, the NF.36 fighter RL249 suffered failures in both engines after takeoff and crashed near RAF Coltishall in Norfolk. Sgt. W.B. Kirby, the plane’s navigator, later died from his injuries. RL249’s remains were recovered in 2010, but the pieces are almost entirely unusable.

Instead, the People’s Mosquito team is building — largely from scratch — a Mosquito FB.VI variant, a highly-configurable fighter-bomber. The plane will thus be a “data plate restoration,” meaning the airframe, wings and engines will be fresh, but it will also contain some non-structural bits from the original RL249.

The original Mosquitos did not contain data plates. But that’s not necessary for the team to get the finished aircraft certified as a restoration.

“Providing you possess everything that is left of that aircraft, legally you are in possession of what our civil aviation authorities call ‘the mortal remains’ — that’s the technical term — and you can then restore it,” Sharp said.

“It’s going to be mostly new parts, of course, which in a predominantly wooden aircraft like the Mosquito is vital.”

December 14, 2016

Niall Ferguson’s “Bremain” recantation

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Niall Ferguson regrets sacrificing his principles to help his friends stay in power:

The three words you are least likely to hear from an academic are “I was wrong.” Well, I was wrong to argue against “Brexit,” as I admitted in public last week. By this I do not mean to say “I wish I had backed the winning side.” Rather, I mean “I wish I had stuck to my principles.”

For years I have argued that Europe became the world’s most dynamic civilization after around 1500 partly because of political fragmentation and competition between multiple independent states. I have also argued that the rule of law — and specifically the English common law — was one of the “killer applications” of western civilization.

I was a staunch Thatcherite. I was a proud Eurosceptic. So what on earth, many old friends wondered, prompted me to take the side of “remain” in the referendum on EU membership?

A part of the answer is that I sincerely convinced myself that the costs of Brexit would outweigh the benefits. But I too readily trotted out the doom-laden projections of a post-Brexit recession from the International Monetary Fund, the Treasury, and others. I accused the proponents of Brexit of being “Angloonies” as opposed to Eurosceptics. My most desperate sally was to compare Brexit to a divorce — desperate not because the analogy is a bad one (it still fits rather well) but because I myself am divorced.

I linked to his divorce analogy at the time:

I suppose there are such things as amicable divorces. Mine wasn’t. Like the First World War, it was fought for more than four years, and ended with the Treaty of Versailles (by which I mean that it imposed territorial losses and the payment of annual reparations for a very long time).

Which brings me to Brexit, the ultimate divorce. Leave aside the arguments based on economics. Leave aside history, too. Instead, permit me to get personal. You want to get a divorce from Europe? Very well, let me explain what divorce is like.

Ouch.

December 12, 2016

QotD: Don’t mess with the market

Filed under: Britain, Economics, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Please note that this is nothing to do with a debate about capitalism or socialism: they are descriptions of who owns the productive assets in a society. It’s also nothing at all to do with whatever the correct level of taxation, state provision or anything about what redistribution should be in a society. It’s purely a point about how you try to achieve the goals that you’ve set yourself.

It’s entirely possible to alter or ameliorate the outcomes of market process. But the temptation to direct those market processes is where the problems come in. Take Venezuela: as I’ve repeatedly said there’s nothing immoral or necessarily undesirable about increasing the incomes of the poor or of reducing inequality. It’s just that the method that one uses to do this has to be taking money from richer people and then giving it to poorer people. Not, as they have done, attempting to do a whole series of price fixing. This was something that New Labour, under Blair and Brown, largely did get. Allow the economy to hum along and tax it to then pay for the results that you want.

Miliband was arguing the other way. That we should be doing that price fixing, that interference directly into the market, in order to achieve our goals. And that is the Venezuelan mistake.

We do in fact have in front of us an example of what most leftists consider to be a generally desirable outcome: the Nordics. They’re high tax, high redistribution states, oh yes they are. But they’re also, underneath that, markedly more classically liberal than either the UK or the US. That’s what makes the places tick. They don’t have minimum wages for example, let alone price fixing for energy. As Scott Sumner has pointed out Denmark might be the most classically liberal economy on the planet.

The real lesson I think the left needs to learn is that markets work. You can change the outcome through tax and redistribution if you wish: but don’t mess with the workings of the market itself.

Tim Worstall, “Under Miliband Britain Would Have Become Like Venezuela”, Forbes, 2015-05-09.

December 8, 2016

Greg Lake, RIP

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:44

The BBC reported that Greg Lake has died:

Greg Lake, who fronted both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died aged 69.

One of the founding fathers of progressive rock, the British musician is known for songs including “In the Court of the Crimson King” and his solo hit “I Believe in Father Christmas”.

He died on Wednesday after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer”, said his manager.

The news comes nine months after Lake’s band-mate Keith Emerson died.

Keyboardist Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, coroners in the US said.

Lake’s manager Stewart Young wrote on Facebook: “Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer.

“Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been.”

Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Music bows its head to acknowledge the passing of a great musician and singer, Greg Lake.”

“Another sad loss with the passing of Greg Lake,” wrote Rick Wakeman, keyboardist in pro rock band Yes.

“You left some great music with us my friend & so like Keith, you will live on.”

November 30, 2016

“Bush is full of surprises”

Filed under: Britain, Media, Politics — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

That’s Kate, not George or W or ¡Jeb!:

Name: Kate Bush.

Age: 58.

Appearance: Rare.

Occupation: Artiste.

This is the Kate Bush, right? That’s right. The art-pop prodigy and now reclusive doyenne.

What has she done? Is it a new tour? It’s a new tour, right? Please can it be a new tour? Nope. It’s a political opinion.

I’d have preferred a new tour, ideally. Yes, but you’ll have to wait.

It’s not fair! And political opinions are so boring! Just about every artist in the world is either leftwing or very leftwing. Not so fast. Bush is full of surprises, remember. And the latest is that she loves Theresa May.

November 27, 2016

Jeremy Clarkson’s Life Revealed – Exclusive Documentary

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 25 Nov 2016

Subscribe for more great content, about the upcoming Grand Tour

November 25, 2016

Censorship in the UK

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Liberty — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Commenting on the recent fine handed down by a Dutch court against opposition leader Geert Wilders, Perry de Havilland points out that it’s not just governments on the continent that are working so hard to quash free speech:

Now whatever you think of Wilders, this has been an astonishing attempt to simply shut down free expression in a western nation. And of course this will not silence anyway and will probably prove to be a spectacular establishment own-goal.

And in the UK, more and more infrastructure to censor internet porn is being put into place. Why is this related? Because once control infrastructure exists, it can and will be re-purposed, in much the same way the Department for Education’s “counter extremism unit“, set up ostensibly to prevent violent Islamic extremist views being taught in UK schools, gets re-purposed to shut down a gay secular journalist who has not called for any violence against anyone.

All across the Western World, political verities and assumption are starting to shift, and almost nothing can be accurately predicted any more. We live in times that are a danger and opportunity in equal measure, and people who care about liberty will have to get their hands dirty, making common cause with others who will not pass any purity sniff tests but with whom we share common enemies (however care does need to be taken in such matters for sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my enemy … but sometimes not), however now is the time for engagement and action.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: