October 2007

30 October 2007
Podcast: Bruce Benson on private law

I first came across Professor Bruce L Benson when reading his excellent paper on the history of toll roads in England.  So, when I learnt that he was to be addressing the Liberty 2007 conference, organised by the Libertarian Alliance, I very much wanted to see if I could get him to agree to do a podcast.  Luckily, he did.

We decided to talk about private law enforcement.  While we managed to cover areas like how it would work and how you would prevent next door turning into a pub, time prevented us examining some of the other issues, like how the courts would work and what would prevent the re-emergence of the state.  But even so, I think it works pretty well.

This was my first attempt to conduct an interview with a handheld mike which accounts for some of the rustles and for the difference in the loudness of our respective voices.  I think it’s one of those cases where you live and learn.  I just hope it doesn’t spoil the listener’s enjoyment too much.

24 October 2007
Podcast #7: Brian and I talk about architecture

Particularly “modern” architecture.  Hmm, one wonders if that phrase will ever come to mean contemporary architecture rather than architecture from age that sanity and taste forgot. 

Main points: Modern architecture was, indeed, awful.  It even represented bad economics.  Things are starting to get better.

Brian wanted it to be known that he wasn’t coming to this as a complete amateur and so e-mailed me with the following:

At the start of the conversation I forgot to say what got me interested in architecture in the first place.  The answer is that for two years around 1970 I was, briefly, a failed architecture student.  I confused being interested in architecture with wanting to be an architect.  But I had no talent for architecture, and quite lacked the skill of architectural drawing in any way.  I should have realised sooner, but did eventually, and carried on simply being an enthusiastic observer of architecture.

But, having been an architecture student I did acquire and insider knowledge of how architecture people thought and felt.

I would add that the process of me working out what was wrong with the thinking behind the Modern Movement in Architecture and the process of becoming a libertarian were one and the same process.

That bit at the end could make a jolly good podcast in and of itself.  Some other time perhaps.

In case some listeners were unfamiliar with some of the buildings and structures mentioned here are some photos:

Charing Cross
Lemon squeezer
St Pancras


16 October 2007
Podcast #6: The Rugby World Cup

Croziervision’s first ever panel discussion recorded yesterday features Brian Micklethwait, Antoine Clarke, Michael Jennings and myself chatting about the Rugby World Cup.

Topics ranged from the continuing glory of Clive Woodward and the origin of the word “try” to why you should never allow your prop forward to go skiing.  Best quote: when Brian Ashton gets described as looking like “...an accountant who’s just been fired for being too dull.”

My feeling on panel discussions is that it is vitally important to make it clear who is talking.  So, at the outset I had intended to announce the speaker’s name every time and before he opened his mouth.  Well, that didn’t work and degenerated into announcing the speaker’s name after he’d already started talking, sometimes.  So, I would be interested to know how it sounds to any listeners out there who aren’t familiar with our voices.  Is it easy to work out who is talking at any given moment?

There are also some annoying thumps and bumps which I thought I’d worked out how to eliminate.

On the positive side, all our voices are reasonably audible.  Not bad considering there was only one mic to play with.

Update 17/10/07.  From a “friend”: “Who needs Ambien with stuff like this on the web?”

14 October 2007
11 October 2007
"Apparently a lady rang the BBC and said she heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well, don't worry, if you're watching, there isn't."

Few readers will need reminding who said those immortal words and when.  Words ever since held up as proof positive of professional arrogance and incompetence.


He was talking about Florida.  And doing so in the afternoon not the evening.  And when he did talk about England he did say: “batten down the hatches.” 

So, what was he doing talking about Florida?  There had been a news item on it just before he went on air and he wanted to set the record straight.  Worse still the news item was wiped.  Something the BBC seems to do a lot of.

08 October 2007
Brown bottles it: Brian and I chat about recent developments in British politics

A week ago it all seemed so simple: we (or rather Brian) had a grand theory of Conservative Party ungovernability worked out.  All we had to do was to watch while the Conservative Party put this grand theory into practice and then podcast about it on the Monday.

Well, that was the plan.  All I can say is that a week really is a long time in politics and no plan survives contact with the Enemy Class.

So, our podcast was a bit of a ramble, starting with the Tories and ending up with Shakespeare via junior flunkeys fourth grade and Jim Callaghan.

At one point Brian mentions the growth of the state over the course of the 20th Century.  This encouraged me to dig out this graph from here (warning: PDF) which illustrates the point.

Tax as a proportion of GDP

Oh, and to illustrate another point, here’s Theo Spark’s take.


Oddly enough, Peter Briffa’s been getting back onto the podcasting bandwagon too, saying more or less the same thing.  I am sure it’s spite.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention.  There’s a bit of swearing.  On our podcast, not Peter’s who is far too prim and proper to stoop to that kind of thing.

Update  Michael Jennings has just rung me up to point out that the podcast seems to end very abruptly and whether it is supposed to or not.  To which the reply is that, yes, it does end abruptly and, yes, it is supposed to.  We had actually run out of things to say.  We had half an idea to come back to it but never did and then I cut out some of our deliberations at the end.  This is one of those things we will get better at over time.

03 October 2007
To the Filing Cabinet #06

This week’s bunch of fileable stuff comes from here, there and everywhere.  In the Blogosphere, that is.


Oil’s Supply and Demand Curves
Robert Smithson, The Oil Drum, 19 August 2007
Although, as the name suggests, primarily about oil, it serves as an excellent primer on supply and demand in general. (Via Pajamas Media)

The Unintended Consequences of Foreign Aid: Theodore Dalrymple on how Western policies have poisoned the water supplies of 70 million in Bangladesh
Social Affairs Unit, 3 September 2007.
It’s UNICEF what done it.

Man of Steel, Re-forged
Andrew J. Bacevich, National Interest, 29 August 2007.
Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 by Geoffrey Roberts. 
In claiming that Stalin was a gifted supreme commander and a man of peace he has caused quite a stir.  So, we should be grateful for Bacevich’s partial takedown. (Via A&L Daily)

Scrap scalping laws
Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, 8 August 2007.
AKA touting in the UK (via Pajamas Media)

William D. Rubinstein wonders how a nation came to be enthralled by a belief-system quite as insane as genocidal anti-semitism: The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 - Saul Friedlander
Social Affairs Unit, 3 September 2007.
He wonders but fails to find an answer.

Blair talks Giuliani’s language but handcuffs cops
Julia Magnet, Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2002.
How they brought crime down in New York

Fight crime by stamping out the seedbed
Norman Dennis, Daily Telegraph, 26 August 2007.
Crime used to be much lower.


The End of Affordability
Save Our Suburbs, 2007
Get this, they’ve put a stop to urban expansion in Australia.  Australia, for heaven’s sake.  Oh and it puts up house prices, and even manages to use up more energy. (Via From the Heartland)

News Items

Canadian woman gives birth to quadruplets at US hospital because there were no suitable beds in Canada.
Tim Blair, 18 August 2007


“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good…”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Yeah, I know he’s a bit of a whack-job nowadays but I think he was right on the money here.


“Guns don’t kill people, doctors kill people”
Something to Ponder, Theo Spark, 28 September 2007.
There’s a flaw in the logic somewhere.  It’s just that I can’t spot it.


A dreadful age
Brian Micklethwait, 30 September 2007
The dreadfulness and precariousness (if that is a word) of life in the time of Shakespeare.  Serves as a reminder (which increasingly seems necessary) that wealth and progress are good.

01 October 2007
Brian Micklethwait and I discuss Victor Davis Hanson's "Why the West has Won: Nine landmark battles in the brutal history of Western victory"

Earlier on today, Brian Micklethwait and I sat down to record a podcast about Victor Davis Hanson’s Why The West Has Won: nine landmark battles in the brutal history of Western victory - the result of which you can listen to by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

Summary: Yes, the West does win, there are reasons why it wins, and it’s none too nice about it.

Just in case you were wondering, the nine battles were:

Rorke’s Drift

We also managed (amongst other things) to mention Isandlwana.  This was a battle the British managed to lose immediately before Rorke’s Drift.