February 2007

25 February 2007
Croziervision’s first podcast: Michael Jennings on sport in Australia

When about a year ago Brian first mooted that he was planning to get into podcasting I thought this was definitely something I should have a go at.  I’d always rather fancied myself as an interviewer.

Why it has taken a year to equip myself with a microphone is another matter but I’ve finally got around to it and my first interviewee/victim was my good friend and fellow Transport Blogger, Michael Jennings talking about sport in Australia.

As a first stab at a podcast (or should that be padcast?) it’s not too bad.  The quality is pretty good, although it could do with a few less thumps and bumps and I need to think a bit about my positioning.  I think Michael sounds very good, but I am a bit too far away from the mic and sitting in front of a rather echoey wall.  These are the sorts of things that you get better at with practice.

As far as the interviewing itself goes, all I can say is that it isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I was lucky in that Michael is a good interviewee who is happy to talk but I may run into trouble with a more taciturn subject.  My intention had been to get Michael talking and say as little as possible myself.  In the end, I still think I said too much.  And there were a few other don’ts to carry over to next time.  Such as:

Don’t laugh
Don’t mumble… or stumble
Don’t go “Uh, huh”
Don’t divert the conversation into irrelevant matters

Actually, the whole mumbling and stumbling business is a bit of an issue.  Until I started recording my own voice I had no idea how much I did it.  It’s amazing I have any friends at all.  It’s certainly something that needs to be addressed pronto.

In case you haven’t already…
  1. ‘Vietnam troop commander William Westmoreland gruffly announced during one commission hearing that he was not interested in leading an army of “mercenaries.” Friedman coolly replied, “Would you rather command an army of slaves?”’  From a Reason bio of Milton Friedman (hat-tip: A&L)
  2. “In the first government defeat, the Lords voted to rule out using sexuality, criminality and cultural or religious beliefs as grounds for diagnosing a mental disorder.”  Yes, you read that right.
  3. Squander Two fisks Tony Blair.  At some length.  He also defends Blogger from the techno-snobs.  I am inclined to agree with him.  The days of the permalink crisis are long gone.
  4. Jackie reviews an Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatry professor who also suffers from manic depression.  Jackie also manages to get to the root causes of gang culture in a sentence:
    One of the girls made a good point about the fact that lots of the boys who have these guns are more afraid of those around them than they are of the law…
  5. The other week I linked to some colour photos of Russia from the 1900s.  Here are some (coloured rather than colour, I suspect) from the 1890s.


18 February 2007
In case you haven’t already…
  1. Harry Hutton considers the issue of smoking inspectors:
    If we can raise a fighting fund of £500,000 we can probably drive many of them into exile, arranging for gangs of hoodlums to break their windows, drag them from their homes and tar and feather them.
    Ha! Unlikely, for sure, but looking to the future, is it really beyond the bounds of possibility?
  2. Just when you thought it was safe to surf free of pop-ups, WordPress (of all people) bring them backJackie isn’t too impressed either.
  3. Free market think tank sets up school.  Or does it?
  4. The standard version of the Madrid train bombing is that the government tried to pin it on ETA when, in fact, it had been carried out by Islamists.  John Chappell begs to differ.
  5. A photo of Roman Abramovich from the 1980s.  Seems there’s nothing new in the blank expression, even when, as it would appear here, he has plenty to smile about.
  6. Helen Szamuely feels the need for a German national identity.  Which begs the question, if they don’t already have one, what is it that is keeping them together?  Also check out Helen’s article on Willi Munzenberg - Josef Goebbels’s propaganda nemesis.
  7. France’s Socialist Party has selected a good-looking woman to be its candidate in the up-coming Presidential election.  This has implications.  But only an economist can tell us what they are.
  8. Don’t fancy yours much… Mark… Anthony.
  9. I know this item is called: “If you haven’t already…” but I have never made it clear what you may not already have done - read it, or seen it.  For instance, while I have read this article on bullying in the Russian Army I haven’t seen it and I am not sure I want to.  The British Army, of course, is so much better.  While we’re on the subject of English Russia don’t forget to check out, well… everything.

Toodle Pip!

16 February 2007
Never lend your car to Al Gore


If only the truth weren’t so mundane.

Ésprit d’escalier Hmm, that should really read: “If only the truth weren’t so inconvenient.  Oh well, too late now.

12 February 2007

It would be difficult to describe Tim Evans’s Putney Debate held on Friday as being particlularly well attended.

It had an audience of one.


Which was a shame because it was a really good talk. The subject (for the main part) was privateering.  This was practice of allowing private concerns (privateers) to become licensed pirates and do your warfare for you.  They would be allowed to capture the merchant vessels of any hostile power around and keep whatever loot they found.  They played a large part in the fighting of Britain’s wars up to and including Napoleonic times.

Tim took no small pleasure in outlining the havoc privateers wrought on enemy shipping as well as how efficient and technologically advanced they were.  While the Royal Navy had to press men into serving, the privateers wanted the best men available and paid them accordingly, ensuring that they were well looked after while on board.

He also admired they way they avoided destroying property.  Whereas a typical navy has no incentive to preserve property intact, a privateer has every incentive.  No loot, no return.

Privateering disappeared as the era of the big state emerged.  But according to Tim that era might be about to end.  Already the SAS is suffering severe problems with retention as its soldiers get lured away to the private sector on three times the salary.  Who knows, maybe in future President Clinton will be issuing Letters of Marque entitling a new generation of privateers to deprive Iran or Saudi Arabia of the odd oil field or two.

No one else - least of all its subject - seems to have mentioned Radio 4's profile of Guido Fawkes. So, I will.

Big contribution from Brian Micklethwait.

11 February 2007
In case you haven’t already…

... here are some of the items I’ve enjoyed reading/listening to over the past week:

  1. Ann Althouse describes her podcasting technique as putting nails into a rice pudding although you may find her distinctive style puts you in mind of a quite different dessert. (Hat-tip: Instapundit)
  2. Hydrogen.  It’s a hoax.  I particularly liked Zubin’s description of how difficult it would be to transport.  (Hat-tip: Pajamas Media)
  3. When I first saw Apple’s latest Mitchell and Webb advertising campaign (the one in which the guy with the job is the PC and the layabout the Apple) my immediate thought was: “Well done, you’ve just lost a potential customer.”  I was not alone. (Hat-tip: Tim Hall).  Charles Pooter agrees.
  4. Mark Steyn takes a break from his own prophecies of doom to diss the climate change competition.  Nothing particularly new, just good knockabout stuff.
  5. David Farrer blogs about Bavaria’s parallel currency, one of many to have emerged in Germany since the introduction of the Euro.  Yeah… but… isn’t it just a teensy bit illegal?
  6. “In my darker moments I think guns should be not just legal but compulsory for sane, law-abiding members of the public.”  David Copperfield outlines a multi-agency approach to crime prevention.
  7. And finally… this week’s link to English Russia: the rebuilding of Moscow. When I see photos like this I can almost believe that the Putin clampdown is only temporary.


Or maybe not.

08 February 2007
Green Belt to go, reports the Telegraph. We can but hope...

04 February 2007
In case you haven’t already…

What do you think of the new title for the spot formerly known as “Weekly Round-Up”?  Cool or what?  Anyway in case you haven’t already read them, here are a few of the items that caught my attention this week.  Let’s start with a few quotes:

  1. “But what does freedom mean if I can´t slaughter my own pig in my back yard?”, a Romanian farmer learns about the downside of EU membership.
  2. “‘Global warming’ does indeed present a grave threat; as a tool of political power it is a threat to freedom, prosperity, trade, progress and all the health, wealth and happiness that those things make possible.”  Thaddeus Tremayne vents the finest spleen in the blogosphere.
  3. ”...if I may generalize about all computer geeks - is that they really like to overexplain the fucking shit out of everything.”  Jackie adds that this also applies to hist and pol geeks.  Warning noted.

And now for the serious stuff:

  1. Squander Two wanders into the abortion debate, makes some not entirely unreasonable remarks and ends up being called a misogynist, a wingnut and a Jew-hater.  I knew he was the guy to do the Transport Blog redesign.
  2. McDonald’s, bad for agenda-driven documentary makers but, thankfully, not for normal people.  And their coffee, apparently, tastes better than Starbucks’.
  3. Boris Johnson’s article on why women aren’t marrying these days - he thinks they’re all too well-educated (what, in state universities?) - is creating a bit of a buzz.  For what it’s worth I think the answer is a lot more prosaic: housing is just too expensive, meaning that very few men can support a family on their own income.  No prospect of a family = no point in being married.  Abolish planning - that’s what I say.
  4. Harry Phibbs wonders if Doughty Street is the future of TV.  Well, if it is, I’m a dinosaur.  But he does at least give us this:
    One irony was that among the coverage 18 Doughty Street launch was given was a hostile item on Channel 4. Krishnan Guru-Murphy declared: “They won’t have any obligation to be impartial or accurate.” This is astonishing audacity. Does anyone really imagine Jon Snow votes Tory?
  5. Chilling news on global warming.  Scientists must say what politicians tell them to.  In a similar vein (or should that be vain?), Al Gore agrees to an interview with his fiercest critic and gets a mysterious bout of cold feet.
  6. Oh dear, what a mess we free marketeers get into when trying to explain away highly-taxed Sweden’s economic success.  Here’s Johann Norberg predicting disaster tomorrow.  It’s always tomorrow, isn’t it?  My best guess is that Sweden is just a bit odd.  Whatever the case may be it’s an experiment that no one else has ever been able to repeat.
  7. Just to prove the virility of their continuing intellectual self-confidence, the former democracy of Belgium and that great model of Europeanism has banned the number 18.
  8. And finally… do check out these colour photos from Russia in the 1900s.  For example: