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Civilisation

Yes, there is an “Anus” in the Phillipines…

… and it is not that far from a “Bollock”.

And there is much more gold to be mined. I realised I was in the wrong job when my solar-system dynamics lecturer (he’s on the telly sometimes) Carl Murray used the phrase, “Semilatus rectum” and I was the only one to laugh. I blame Viz. And my Gran who had a turn of phrase that would shock you younglings (easily the worst line uttered by Ewan McGregor – evah).

H/T davidthompson.

Savoir-faire …

But I can’t imagine Jeeves as ever needing this technique.

Some observations of foreign types in crowds

There was some strange behaviour outside my hotel this evening, instead of the usual languid European-style pavement restaurant with a few, mainly elderly residents enjoying their café under an iridescent evening sun as a few blonde haired goddesses drift by aimlessly on bicycles, there was a massed throng of unruly teens and drunken men filling the square in front of my hotel.

I presumed that it was some form of political protest as they were uniformly dressed alike, but apparently not, it was in fact an opportunity to get utterly paralytic on Heineken served in plastic cups while watching a giant TV screen erected at the end of the not-so-very-grand place. I initially presumed they were there to watch the local version of “America’s Next One Hit Wonder” or whatever it is called in The Land of Clogs.

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Crassology – Dixon style.

Last night I watched the final of “Britain’s got Talent” on ITV. It was primarily a collection of profound tosspottery. But this act stood out (even above the pro-mawk that was teenage rappers “Bars and Melody”. It was “Paddy and Nico”. An elderly British woman being chucked around the stage by her much younger Spanish dancing instructor – “Oh, young man!”. The act itself reminded of a Quote by TS Eliot along the lines of it being fascinating “If you concentrate on the essential horror”.

But that was not the point. Paddy, the geriatric hoofer, had almost missed the final due to some (clearly) minor injury and Alesha Dixon (one of the judges) praised her “courage” and explicitly compared it to the courage of the troops on D-Day. Epic fail.

So, doing a three minute dance routine is equivalent to charging Sword beach with a rifle at a German machine-gun nest? Alesha, get your dictionary out.

I dunno who won. Frankly I was past caring so put the footie on only to see England secure a goal-less draw against those titans of the game – Honduras. Yes, Honduras. When it comes to the real thing Italy are going to murder us and stack the bones in the shower before breakfast.

I did quite a lot of swearing at the telly last night. And yes, there is a literary ref there which I’d be interested if anyone knows. And I mean knows, not Googles.

More Evidence of the Decline

Used positive pregnancy tests can be found for sale all over the Internet, and as CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, those involved said people are snapping them up – with less-than-ethical motivations.

One mother from Dallas did not want her identity revealed, but she does want people to buy her positive pregnancy tests. She talked about one woman who took her up on the offer.

“She wanted to trick him into thinking she was pregnant, so he would drop everything so I gave her two tests,” the woman said.

Positive Pregnancy Tests Up For Sale Online

Offered without comment, simply as evidence of the further decline of Western civilisation. I’m known for being an opinionated swine, but this just left me speechless.

[Edit - CCiZ server can't cope with the video playback]

Boko Haram.

Well Nigeria is a right mess is it not? Now I’m not going to retread all the usual arguments as to the whys and the wherefores and such. I will just point out one thing. When I temped I had a Nigerian colleague. He was a decent enough lad which is why he lived in the NE of England and not Nigeria. He had just become pig-sick of the epic incompetence and corruption. He told me quite a lot about it. It sounded ghastly. Now what has this to do with the kidnap of over 200 kids to be enslaved? Actually quite a lot. I would like to think this wouldn’t happen in Britain and that is because we are not hopelessly corrupt.

The Chinese have a saying (don’t they always) that a fish rots from the head down. Now bad things, sometimes very bad things happen everywhere but to kidnap an entire school is something else and as far as I can tell it indicates something deeply rotten in the body-politic of Nigeria. OK, it is perhaps a leap from a bit of brown envelopes full of notes changing hands under the table to outright slave-raiding but is it really? Now I’m not generally convinced of “slippery slope” arguments but… If a polity has no essential moral core or the rule of law then… maybe such depravity can get going.

Note my colleague and his brother felt the need to move continents to get away from the drip, drip, drip of continual petty criminality, bribery and epic corruption. It sort of erodes your moral. I suspect this is why the Nigerian government has done nothing and why that Boko Haram bloke can look so chipper. He knows the Nigerian government is powerless to prevent his depravities and in a sense that is part of the same spectrum which means you can’t get a phone installed without a back-hander.

This explains a lot

In a comment here Julie near Chicago makes mention of the Drake Equation, an estimate of the number of communicating civilisations in the galaxy at any one time.

This, of course, raises the issue of the Fermi Paradox – where are they?

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The Pope may also have a tendency towards Catholicism…

…and we all know about ursine silvan defecatary habits…

This staggering gem from the NYT/Daily Mail. I recall when the fun and games started in the ‘stan. There was a twinkly old bar steward “massing” with a fucking hatchet on the Af/Pak border and ranting to the BBC about killing Americans. Above him were the contrails of a B-52. He was (self) impo(r)tently waving his little mashie at the bomber. And he was ponying up from Pakistan’s “restive” tribal areas. Or Hell on Fucking Earth as is better known.

Anyone who sincerely believes the Pakistani government has been our best buds through this farrago which has cost something like 3,000 NATO lives, God knows how many Afghans and you may have noticed how well we’re doing in the Paralympics of late… Well they are demented.

It comes down to this. The USA has had an alliance with Pakistan for many years. In their early wars against India, Pakistan flew largely F-86s, and the Indians got chummy with the Soviets and flew MiGs (they also had some Hawker Hunters and the Pakistanis got some Supermarine Attackers which were truly dreadful but that would detract from the narrative). The Indians still are chummy with the Russians on aerospace which is why the Su-34 has a microwave oven and a proper toilet. It was specced-up and partially designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) primarily for India. A great strike fighter (with a microwave!) but they should have fitted (along with the toilet) variable geometry inlets for the engines to get the speed past Mach 2. Because under successive US Admins there has been a bizarre “Game of Thrones” in the spheres of interference and Pakistan landed in the US one and India in the Soviet one for whatever reason. But genuine friends? Seriously?

We know, or ought to know, who our real friends are. The first British DFC awarded to a female pilot came from her (and her crew) flying through an unbelievable shit-storm of fire into a fort (yes a fort!) to rescue a critically wounded Dane, twice – shot down first time around. Now my people stood (with fuck-off axes) against them Scandy sorts but the Battle of Stamford Bridge* was like nigh on a thousand years ago. Since then we’ve made-up and bought Lego and are genuine mates – real allies. This is not blood – though I am Nordic/Celtic ancestry. I have long blonde-ish hair right now and look like I’m about to lead the Éored down the right flank. Good. I like it as does my wife. I am not being racist. Indeed I’m suggesting I am of immigrant blood and blood matters nothing. What matters is culture and if not it’s exact convergence but the mutual understandability. That makes for genuine friendship and not the sub “Game of Thrones” we have with Pakistan and the Afghans. I mean Dear God we liberated Afghanistan so they could impose a law legalising marital rape! When we stormed the beaches of Normandy did we expect to set-up such societies? I have been to France and Germany and they ain’t like that. I haven’t been to Japan or The Republic of Korea (though I have put enough moollah their way) but I have been to the Korean War memorial in DC. That is a memorial to 50-odd thousand soldiers who died to ensure half the peninsula didn’t get over-run by the vilest regime on the planet.

And it isn’t blood, or culture or even religion (I found Turkey very friendly). Well, maybe it is culture. The culture of not being an arsehole. I am sure many Afghans manage it but not the Khazi of Kabul. Though a man not without sin there can be a need for an Atatürk (as we had a need for a Cromwell). Sometimes you need a hard bastard to pull you out of the soup.

Or maybe not. It’s not very libertarian is it? But Turkey would be a complete shit-hole without Mustafa Kemal (insert obvious joke). Mind, the current Turkish PM seems hell-bent on a return to the fucking dark ages.

Or maybe not. The great social changes I have seen in my lifetime have been of the slowly, slowly monkey catching variety. Sometimes you need society to simply change and the biggest change I have seen is probably gay rights. There has been a phenomenal change in that since I was at secondary school.

But fundamentally you don’t choose your friends – your genuine allies – they choose you or you just get on. There is a reason every year the Norwegians ship us a ginormous Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a reason Hamid Khazai ships us fuck all (apart from heroin on the sly) – an Eid prezzie would be nice. It isn’t blood or treasure or religion. We simply get on with Norway and we don’t with ‘stan (because they are cunts, largely). That in a sense is what this war is about. Or isn’t. It is an attempt at “nation building”, in shit-holes. I saw on the telly a couple of years back a US Army Cpt taking tea with tribal elders. He was an engineer and wanted to build a bridge employing local labour so they could go to town and get jobs but all the lads had gone off Talibaning. The US officer was very obviously pissed-off. I don’t blame him. He couldn’t say anything, alas. But there was a definite look about him that said, “Well, if that’s their attitude then fuck ‘em”. Of course he offered to build a bridge and not offer the chance to “marry” pre-pubescent girls so he was buggered from the start.

These are not allies in the sense of friends. The French might be founder members of the “Awkward Squad” but I reckon we can vaguely trust ‘em. We can certainly trust some other Europeans and the USA and some of the Commonwealth. We have friends, genuine friends and that is very different from having “alliances”.

I know people I would stand with (if it came to it) to the last gasp and I know they would stand with me but realpolitricks never works in the long term.

I know this post has rambled and I hope it is taken in the right sense. This is not a rant contra Islam and it is not a paean to Nordicology. I am just saying that if you want a genuine friendship which is the utter prerequisite for a real alliance you have to get on rather than manufacture it. And a country that harbours public enemy #1 within a brisk walk of its premier military academy for years is not a friend and should not therefore be regarded as an ally. It is both a strategic and some level a moral failure.

*Some enormous Viking held the bridge with a giant axe until a sneaky Saxon went underneath and skewered the IKEA merchant with a spear up the fundament.

Resurrection Shuffle.

It’s Easter Monday, a day of great joy for Christians. Their Lord and Saviour is risen from the dead. But 55 of the prod nosed, know better than you do, self righteous, would prefer you forgot all about it. Could their letter to the Telegraph be just a coincidence on this day? I seriously doubt it.

I’m looking out of my window, and from where I stand (I live on top of a hill here in Bristol) I can see  at least five church spires. Admittedly two of them are now carpet warehouses and another converted into sheltered housing, but the other two are still functioning places of worship. I live in the district of St Andrews, just down the hill is St Pauls, then next to it is St Annes and St Werburghs , all with their attendant churches. Bristol was just a little bit Christian religious in the past, just like the whole of Great Britain, don’t you think?

Are we now? In strict observance and church attendance certainly not, but who can deny that the whole of our culture, Laws and morality stem directly from Christianity, and as belief in some imaginary sky fairy or other goes, it is most certainly the most benign that has ever been invented.

But the 55 signers of the Telegraph letter think that iDave’s professed belief is divisive to our country. Oh really? what more divided than it is already? This is Hotel UK. Come on in, get yourself a room, make whatever mess you want , carry on just as you did wherever you came from, live in a parallel universe, and we’ll do our best to just ignore it. Don’t bother trying to fit into our culture or learn our funny little ways, cos it’s all made up rubbish anyway, say the 55. The great cathedrals of Wells, York, Canterbury etc etc matter not a jot, in fact pre Christian contributions to our Nation count as much… Er, who the hell was that then? Bronze age Britons? The Romans?

It would seem to me that the ones being divisive here are the signatories to  the Telegraph letter. Is iDave being a two faced little PR shit in trying to hoover up every spare vote he can get, including the Christian one? You bet! But if the 55 want to have a go at Potato Face then do it directly, not through knocking what we fundamentally are and have been for over a thousand years… A Christian country.

A little music for a bank holiday that suggested the title of this piece. Bugger Ashton Gardner and Dyke, this is much more fun… Or riseable… take your pick.

Cannibals!

There has been an outbreak of cannibalism in Pakistan. I really have nothing much more to say. Except this seems an act of depravity almost beyond the comprehension of Burke and Hare. Or it could just be nonsense because I trust “Pakistani Authorities” as far as I could spit a pig. Oh, and any wannabe cannibals out there – get a fridge because then you can keep your head full of headly goodness and not cause a Dame Judi that gets the neighbours upset. Jus’ sayin’.

My Dad (who worked there) has a front page of the “Times of Zambia” covering an outbreak of cannibalism. Headline is “Gobblers strike again!” The UK has no laws against human-munching. We have never seen the need. That’s called being civilized. Mind when I watch “Geordie Shore” I have doubts.

Barque to the Future…

This is USS Zumwalt…

Just launched at a cost of umpty billions. Now I know aeroplanes and bugger all about ships but does that not look rather similar to a US Civil War ironclad to you? Like this…

The Zumwalt class is designed to have the radar sig of a fishing smack. I guess you might get much the same from the CSS Albermarle not, obviously, that it was an issue at the time. It is possible (and the USN has been ickling on about railguns for some time and a planning sea trials in 2016 which is when the Zumwalt is due to enter service. So clearly looks may deceive and it might look the same but be bigger on the inside so to speak.)

So… It’s kinda odd but for completely different reasons the naval architects have gone back to the future. Either that or the Confederacy had some unknown naval genius beavering away and designing a low radar-return ship almost a century before radar.

But, and this is a biggy for me. Now it might sound nit-picking but how the heck is that a destroyer? It displaces 15,000 tons, it is 610ft long. That is a cruiser at least. Surely. Is this some bizarre ruse to get the funding past Congress? Because the Zumwalt class is essentially designed as a 1-1 replacement for the Iowa class battleships.

That is a broadside from an Iowa class (Actually BB61 USS Iowa). Those are 16″ guns. Who needs railguns when you can hurl a shell the mass of a VW for a couple of dozen miles. I’d be much more impressed by railguns on the Zumwalt if it was nuclear powered and therefore had practically unlimited electricity. Hell’s teeth I’d be going for a fully nuclear navy! No need for oilers and fill ‘er up every 25 years! You’d buy a car that did that. Especially if it had a railgun. It has to be noted though that we won the Cold War partly (thank you Ronnie!) with recommissioned Iowa class battleships and the off-key caterwauling of skanty-clad songstresses. I dunno which scared the Kremlin most. But they are very big guns indeed and Cher is wearing very little indeed. That was the ’80s and that is how we won. Hard and soft pressure. Ronnie and MTV – an unstoppable alliance.

I mean can you imagine how dull communism must have been?

Yeah, and inevitably here’s the video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G4O5AMSevc

Yeah, I liked the ’80s. We seemed to be going somewhere and that dear reader is a guilty pleasure from the era. But that’s one hell of a ship whatever you think of Cher.

And if we had another Ronnie then Vlad would be hiding under a table in the Kremlin with stained trews. And if we could take out Comrade Kim and the Ayatollahs and dear old Bob and… I can dream. But that video speaks to me of serious belief in our moral, social, military and economic might. We believed it then. That is why I liked the ’80s.

PS. The Iowa class were designed to be Panamax. They had 18″ wiggle room so never again complain about parking in TESCO.

PPS. This has been edited by moi. This fecking Toshiba is at the very end of the tether.

The Miller’s Tail…

So Maria Miller, Sec State for Culture has fallen on her sword (for I am slain iDave!) due to her diddling expenses.

What the flying fuck do we have such a position for, apart from some croney of iDave diddling expenses, obviously?

Have you been to the National Gallery (it’s free by the way – and my favourite art gallery in the World*). Did Turner need a Department of Culture to paint his piccies? Did Francis Bacon? I recently saw some of his in Amsterdam recently**. Did Tolkien need one to write Britain’s favourite books? Did Elgar? Did the Beatles? The Stones? Does Adele? Do you or me? God help us Shakespeare managed to make it without the state!

Culture is simply what we do. In a sense it is what we are. We just do it. From posting video of a cat doing something amusing on Youtube to the Elgar violin concerto we just do it. In this case “we” is Kyung-wha Chung. She is my fave fiddler ever -do listen to the rest – it’s great***. And I have a weakness for the violin concerto. And that is her with the LSO conducted by Solti. Neither are Brits but Elgar was. And in a real sense that kind of sums up “culture” for me in the sense that here we have a piece of music played by a Korean/American with the orchestra conducted by a Hungarian/mainly American with an honorary British knighthood. What I mean is Elgar has “stretch”. All true culture has. Elgar is quintessentially English and not from a rich background (at one point he was employed to conduct an orchestra in the local lunatic asylum) but that his music can reach from Seoul to Budapest to Chicago and touch people enough to play it that well says something.

I have been to a folk festival (for my sins). It was curious. Apart from getting Brahms und Liszt (it was a stag do) it struck me how parochial (and in extreme cases nationalistic – not in a good way****). True culture is in a sense beyond borders. God help me I am English but I can’t stand the Tory club Little-Englander with his G&T any more than I can stick the “shop local, think global” lot with faux tribal tattoos. I was going to get one if I’d completed my PhD – my equation. Alas for me and an inker this did not come to pass. Folk is shite anyway. But what I was really trying to say is… I once came across in Georgia (USA – not entering the Putindoom) a fellow who expressed surprise at my mere existence. He declared a desire (and he was well adult) not only to never leave the USA (for there be dragons elsewhere ) but to never leave the state of Georgia. I’d just done a 2,500 mile road trip round the SE USA. I guess I just like globalization and that Huge Furnished Shitting-Stall can get his locally-sourced onions off behind his organic arras.

Anyway, that is getting seriously off the point (if there ever was one*****). This I like. (Aside – there is a shop in central Amsterdam that sells Brit stuff called “Arkwrights”).

Yes there was. Culture. It is universal and natural. It should be allowed to just happen but it is intrinsically global (and that scares people). Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against “local colour” but our culture is increasingly self generating and global. That does not mean it is less diverse. Gods no! You can get decent sushi in Manchester******. If that means the Eccles cake is heading the way of the sauropods then so be it. Mind, in Porthmadog you can get excellent fish and chips (but fuck all else). And they all speak Welsh! But that is not my point. You expect good fish of whatever sort in a fishing port. And good chips anywhere (apart from Amsterdam).

Culture happens. It can be global. It can be local. It can be both. Concentrating on the local is absurd in the age of jet planes and youtube in my eyes. The more it goes global the better I think. I have God knows how many channels off my Sky dish. I can watch a Nigerian soap opera if I want – I don’t because they are piss-poor but… Why do we need a culture secretary at all? Why when we have Easyjet? Why when we have the internet? Why when within walking distance I have have Chinese, Italian,Spanish and Indian take-aways/restaurants? Why have a culture secretary?

*I’ve been to quite a few of the greats.
**See, I’m not uncultured. I could have gone to the ‘Dam and spent my time bombed out of my box sucking dope from bongs shaped like penises. I went to the maritime museum, the Jewish history museum and… Mind the food over there ain’t great. I did eat kangaroo mind (a first for me) but it was bloody awful. Having said that it might be just due to the Dutch tendency to serve Flintsonian portions and bugger the quality. And chips with everything.
***But not as great.
****Not that that was anything like that.
*****There wasn’t really.
******My brother would disagree because he’s lived for several years in Japan.

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Quids…

The Daily Fail just has to say this. OK, it’s bimetallic but that is it. It doesn’t really look like the Euro. More to the point if we are introducing a new coin design does that not imply a commitment to Sterling? I don’t want the Euro. Guess why? Euro notes are OK. Euro Coins are very difficult to distinguish and God alone knows what they make ‘em from but after a couple of years they look tatty as Hell. Look, I can get myself around say US coinage, or Czech or Polish or British but Euros don’t float my boat. OK, so like the Euro coin it’s bimetallic but so is the GBP2 coin which I rather like. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” and all that caper. But dear me! The Euro cents I handled in Amsterdam recently just looked rough – like they came from one of those toy tills. They looked like they had been through a Belgian. Or an Alsation. Something of that kidney. They all look the bloody same yet different. Having different national images is a pain because whereas we have instantly identifiable symbols whereas having a variety of national symbols on the reverse you don’t bloody know – I mean you know if it is German* or French but it isn’t obvious if it is 10c or 20c. It identifies where the coin came from but not what it is worth. Having them all the same colour is a hyper-pain too. The notes work. The coinage doesn’t. And it looks shonky. It doesn’t look like the Euro my dear Fail. It looks nothing like it. I think it looks quite nice. Although by 2017 I bet it won’t buy a Coke but that is another matter. And there is also too many. I like the US system (I know they have other coins) but largely it’s 1,5,10,25 and that is your small onion. Works. OK, the fact that the nickel is bigger than the dime always annoyed me but nothing to the Euro. I also liked the dollar bill. I, being a Brit, am just not used to holding a wad of foldable. I felt like a movie star though in truth I had about enough to go to Wendy’s for a burger. The smallest paper you get here is a fiver which is worth roughly USD8.30**.

But, let’s get back to the score. The pound coin is not being scrapped. The Fail is mongering the scares. It is being replaced. Fair enough. It still has her Britannic Majesty’s head on it. It looks fuck all like a Euro. I quite like it.

*The German one has Norman Foster’s “Friendly Eagle” on it. You know the one that doesn’t invade Poland. And let us all be grateful for that. Because the last time that happened…

**So I say to my wife. “That’s good – can we go to the USA”. Problemo. Myt wife is a translator and is often paid in USD so that isn’t good. Swings and bloody roundabouts. You simply can’t win. You can run but if you do so you’ll only die tired.

Aidgentina

I did not know we gave foreign aid to Argentina. Or Brazil. Seeing as they are not exactly potless God knows why especially we give money as if this is some cockamamie attempt to curry favour we haven’t exactly got very far. Let’s look at the evidence shall we? Brazil has a space program, Brazil is hosting not just this year’s football World Cup but the next Olympics. It’s like crying poverty because you can’t afford to fill the Bentley. As to Argentina. Well, they fucking hate us. They shouldn’t of course because oddly enough we historically have strong links of blood and culture with Argentina but they have a perennial knicker-twist over the Falklands. Oh, and the Argentinian government has just gone on a spree of arms buying. Although God alone knows (and the Pope is an Argentine recall) what the be-buggery they will manage to do with a squadron of knackered Spanish Mirages.

Look, don’t get me wrong… I am not 100% contra international aid (there is a reason I was conceived in Zambia). Zambia had a space program as well. My parents were paid by the FCO to teach out there and I guess fair enough. Up to a point and all that but most of my adult life has seen me living in English inner-city areas: Nottingham, London, Leeds, Manchester and they all have loads of places you can wire money back to the old country from. This genuine charity is larger than the official stuff in scale and is vastly better targeted. That is the future of aid – the little things like getting your uncle a cellphone so he knows where to land the fish he caught etc. Of course that means making life easier for non-EEA citizens to work here and we can imagine the howls over that – UKip et. al. are already doing their ends over Poles and such. I don’t have a problem myself but people seem obsessed with the idea of employment as a zero-sum game. It seems connected to the idea that “creating jobs” is a “good thing” in and of itself. No it isn’t. Imagine trying to explain what you do to a pig-poker from 1725? They’d probs burn you at the stake – “He be consorting with the demons of the HTML”. Destroying jobs is the “good thing”. It of course creates jobs our ancestors would never believe. And who wouldn’t rather design computer games than wallow in shit with the piggies? A woman I spoke to on a train once doing a BSc in games design thought otherwise. Blimey, I envied her! That is like so cool.

She was also very good looking but then life is a series of events.

Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the Chancellor should find savings by stopping aid that goes to countries who “don’t need it”.

Mr Nuttall was speaking during a debate on the BBC show [Question Time] about Mr Osborne’s recently announced plans to cut the welfare bill by £12 billion in the two years after the 2015 election.

Mr Nuttall said: “The welfare budget under Labour spiralled out of control, it could not go on and something had to be done.

“However there is another budget which is ringfenced which comes to around £12bn, it is called the foreign aid budget.

“I am not against giving money to countries who are in dire need, people who need to be fed. But what I am against is giving money to countries like Argentina and Brazil.

“I believe the way you should pay for these cuts is by going to the foreign aid budget and taking money off countries who don’t need it because quite frankly that’s your tax and it should be spent on our own people.”

Whilst I appreciate the principle of Nuttall there is a problem. How can I explain this? Here is a start…

It was reported over the weekend that Argentina have [sic] received £2m in aid from Britain since 2012.

Now two million quid sounds a lot to you and me but in the grand scheme it is fuck all. That is money Osborne can lose down the back of the sofa. Yes, the principle of not giving Argentina money (it annoys me) is sound but if anyone believes that is going to impact the deficit then they really need to think a bit deeper. Ukip are either being thick or dishonest.

I dunno. I do know we should not give government aid to Argentina but I also know the quantities involved are not a scratch upon the buttock of the body politrick’s pissing money up a rope. I do though believe in being much more open door (which UKip isn’t) rather than saying ‘eff off but we’ll give you monies.

In 1993 I bought a PC (my first but not my last). It was a second-user Elonex 386-SX16 and was truly abysmal (cheap, mind). I am fine with Bill and Melinda Gates giving a stunning sum to the potless and starving. I did and do through them. Fine.

I believe in charity and though I am not a rich man I do not starve I believe in charity in the sense of money, goods, whatever freely given. Not, absolutely not, cash taken from me by force. Jesus Christ! In the 1980s there was a famine in Ethiopia and I (despite being a primary school kid) organised a “Santa’s Grotto” which meant wearing me ma’s tights because I wound-up dressed-up as “head elf”. We raised a few hundred notes. I did that off my own bat and my mates came in. That is charity.

That is what it should be about.

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