September 2007

26 September 2007
Brian Micklethwait’s feed problem and how to get around it

I am not the Supergeek who won’t answer the phone.  In fact, I’m not really a supergeek at all.  I just want to point that out in case anyone should read Brian’s two pieces (here and here) about his return to blogging and put two and two together.  And get to five.

However, I have been doing a bit of work for him here and there - mainly in the way of changing a font here and sorting out a template there.

In doing so I have been trying to get to the bottom of a problem that’s been really bugging a few of us - namely, that when you subscribe to Brian Micklethwait on Bloglines, posts frequently get lost.  Indeed, recently, I haven’t been getting any Brian posts at all.

I had assumed that the problem was at the Brian Micklethwait end but after numerous tests I came to the conclusion it wasn’t.  It is, in fact a Bloglines problem.  It would also appear that it is not unique - although still rare.  Even so, I know of no other blog so afflicted.  Bearing in mind that Bloglines is currently in the throes of moving over to its all-singing, all-dancing new version, I get the impression that it’s not a problem that’s going to be solved anytime soon.

Anyway, there is a workaround.  I’ve set Brian up with a Feedburner account which creates a feed that does (at least for the time being) seem to work on Bloglines.

So, if you’re a Brian and a Bloglines fan I suggest you subscribe to that.

Oh Bloglines!
Yes, it’s Full Feed Fever!

First it was Guido, then Alice, and then Samizdata and Dumb Jon.  Don’t know what I am talking about?  Well, I’ll tell you.  In the space of one miraculous month they have all adopted full text feeds.  This means that those of us who use aggregators to read our blogs are relieved of the hassle of having to work out on the basis of the 40 or so words we are offered by inferior feeds, whether it’s worth clicking the link and waiting, waiting, waiting or not.


This sort of thing deserves to be encouraged.  So, if either you or a blog you know has chosen the path of RSS righteousness, please let us know.

25 September 2007

From Theo Spark

Update And he’s got another good one here.

21 September 2007
Is this what they call guerilla advertising?

Well, it made me laugh.  Especially, the disclaimer.

Talking of which, footie, that is, rather than disclaimers, I think I may have found out the real reason for Chelsea’s run of poor form:

Mourinho managing his last Chelsea game

See here in case you don’t know what I am talking about.

20 September 2007
To the Filing Cabinet #05

Well, there’s been a bit of a delay in getting this latest instalment up.  Can’t for the life of me remember why but it must have been something Very Important.

Anyway, I’ve been continuing my trawl through LA pamphlets that I know and like - the results of which can be seen below.  One thing that surprised me was how few pamphlets concentrated on the fact that libertarian economics works and why it works.  Maybe, that’s because libertarian writers assume that everyone has read von Mises and Hayek.  Or maybe it’s difficult.

So, a request, do you know of any good and short explanations of why free markets work?  Or partial explanations, for that matter?  If you do then please let me know.

Come to think of it, that rather puts me in mind of this:

How hockey sticks explain the relative attractions of statism and of free markets, Brian Micklethwait, Samizdata, 1 October 2004.  Why state enterprises decay and why free markets (eventually) work.

On with the show:


Liberty versus Democracy, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance, 1983 (not 1981 as advertised) (pdf).  Democracy is worse than Liberty but better than civil war.

Gun control doesn’t work. Wouldn’t you feel safer with a gun? Richard Munday, The Times, 8 September 2007.

Britain’s Soviet Planning System, Don Riley, Libertarian Alliance, 2000 (pdf).  How planning, stuffs up the building profession, lowers quality and leads to hoarding of building and land.

In Praise of Ticket Touting, Charles Earl, Libertarian Alliance, 1996 (pdf).  Touting - known as scalping in the US.

Why We Should Concentrate on Free Trade and Stop Worrying About the Balance of Payments, Adam Chacksfield, Libertarian Alliance, 1993.  Or dumping for that matter.

The Disaster of the Welfare State, Simon McIlwaine, Libertarian Alliance 1989 (pdf).

State Intervention and Nineteenth Century Education, Max More, Libertarian Alliance, 1986.  It was just fine before the state started getting involved.

How to Win the Libertarian Argument, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance, 1990.  You start by having it.

The Tyranny of The Facts, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance, 1990. Facts matter a lot less than people tend to think.

Purpose and Strategy of the Libertarian Alliance, Libertarian Alliance, 1979.  Keep it intellectual and be patient.

How Gun Control ‘Worked’ in Jamaica, Tina Terry, Libertarian Alliance, 1998.  Guns were outlawed and only the outlaws had guns.

Lies, damn lies, and bloody idiots, Squander Two, 20 September 2007.  Statistics - especially the ones that get published - are rarely that much of a guide.


Patients ‘have been failed by NHS reforms’, Daily Telegraph, 10 September 2007.  So say the patients’ “tsar”.

BBC staff face sack in cheat inquiry, Daily Telegraph, 20 September 2007.  They even rigged a phone-in vote to name the Blue Peter cat.

14 September 2007
Testing a combined blog and podcast feed

Recently, my thoughts have been turning towards podcasting.  But, if I am going to do it I’d like to be able to set up the feeds correctly so that an aggregator knows what to do with it.  In the case of the Bloglines aggregator, if it recognises a podcast as a podcast, it can do a couple of funky things one of which is to stream the podcast - useful for the listener if the podcast goes into tens of megabytes, which so many do.

Anyway, after a number of experiments and a sharp learning curve, I think I’ve figured out a way of doing it as well as integrating the podcast feed with the regular blog feed.  So, if you’re reading this via RSS you should at least get an enclosure, if you’re reading this via Bloglines you should get a play button below and if you’re reading this all regular like a link should appear below.

We shall see…

The podcast in question is me talking to Brian about Emmanuel Todd.  Which is worth republishing in and of itself.

Update  Well, it works in RSS 2.0 but not Atom.  Not a complete disaster given that not a lot of people subscribe to Atom but still, not good.

12 September 2007
Too easy to turn off the alarm?

Then try this:

What will they think of next?

The alarm clock that rolls round the room, forcing you go to get up…

...and switch it off and go back to bed.

07 September 2007
To the Filing Cabinet #04

I have been continuing to trawl the LA archives for those pamphlets that I remember enjoying the first time round.  For the most part I haven’t re-read them so I can only hope that the say what I think they say.


Abolish the Welfare State and restore some Respect, Brian Micklethwait, Samizdata, 17 January 2006.  The Welfare State causes crime.

I Am A Libertarian Because…, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance, 2002.

A Neither Profound Nor Original Article on Why the Sale and Use of Recreational Drugs Ought Not to Be Illegal, Sean Gabb, Libertarian Alliance, 1998.  Good, precisely because it is neither profound nor original.

Arguing About the Welfare State: A Radio Confrontation With Professor Peter Townsend,  July 17 1996, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance 1996.  Only tangentally about welfare or even tactics, but fun anyway.

The Success of the Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Political Revolutions: How Britain Got Lucky, Findlay Dunachie, Libertarian Alliance, 1996.  The Channel meant we didn’t need an army.  The lack of an army made it difficult to oppress us.  So, we were free.  So, we started the Industrial Revolution.

Why Guns Should Not Be Illegal, Brian Micklethwait, Libertarian Alliance, 1995.  Another article on guns.  Interesting because of the Jamaican example.

The Inevitability of Prejudice, Axel Davies, Libertarian Alliance, 1995.  This is one of my all-time favourite pamphlets. 

Culture, Virtue and Freedom: How Civil Society in Britain Has Been Undermined and How to Rebuild It, Simon McIlwaine, Libertarian Alliance, 1995.  After a slightly dull start the author takes few prisoners as he lays into the welfare state.

Education still in a mess despite cash injection, Jeff Randall, Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2007.  In the UK, that is.  More money, less discipline, easier exams.


JR East to lift speed limit of Shinkansen to 320 kph, Asahi 27 July 2007

Hospital food fails safety inspection, Burning our money, 13 August 2007.