Archive | December, 2008

If you read one last thing in 2008…

31 Dec

…make it Willem Buiter’s Boxing Day post on the FT’s maverecon blog. Probably the most damning piece ever written about this – or any other – government. Spectacular.

It’s foolish to “pick” a single section for your inspection, when indeed you should really read the text in its entirety, however I’m nothing if not foolish ::

The fact that we grant the state (and the government in charge of the instruments of the state) a normative raison d’être and acknowledge the universality of its presence in every historical organised human society, does not mean we should respect, let alone trust the state. The state is a necessary evil. It is necessary for the reasons outlined by Hobbes, Locke and many other worldly philosophers. It is evil because I know of no example of a state that has not abused its power over its citizens. Nor do I know of a society where the state does not try to extend its control over the lives of the citizens to domains that are none of its business and that are not material to the performance of the key tasks of the state. Every action, legislative initiative, executive order, legal ruling or administrative decision must therefore be scrutinised with the eyes of a hawk and with a deep and abiding mistrust of both the motivations and the likely consequences of any state action or initiative. The simple rule of thumb as regards both new and existing laws, rules and regulations should be: when in doubt, throw it out.


I have become convinced that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance against the encroachment by the powers of the state on the private domain. The better-intentioned a government professes to be, and the better-intentioned it truly is when it first gains office, the more it is to be distrusted.


I have watched this process at work in the UK since I returned here in 1994. It was breath-taking and depressing to observe the transformation of New Labour after 1997, from the party of open government, human rights and civil liberties into an increasingly paranoid group of power-hogging and repressive political control freaks, who have done more damage to fundamental human rights in the past 11 years than any other (sequence of) government(s) in any comparable-length stretch of time since the Glorious Revolution. Fortunately, despite their worst intentions, they have not been very competent – a more competent government could have done much more damage to our freedom and civil liberties.

Continue reading…

via Tim Worstall, c/o Mike Power

Lists: Ten things on TV that aren’t wank

29 Dec

I was challenged, so…

Ten things on TV that aren’t wank

1. South Park

2. The Wire

3. The X Factor (Mock me. I don’t care)*

4. Stephen Fry

5. Top Gear (yeah, I know it’s fake)

6. EuroNews/al Jazeera

7. Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe

8. Graham Linehan

9. The Simpsons (still relevant)

10. The Daily Show

btw. I would have found Ten things on Radio 4 that aren’t wank much easier. Also, note the volume of US content. So much for the superiority of British TV. I could have added The Shield, Arrested Development, Entourage, The Office (US) and 30 Rock.

*Yeah, it’s often wank

Lists: Ten things on TV that are wank

29 Dec

Ten things on TV that are wank…

1. The One Show

2. Soaps, especially depressing ones (which is all of them)

3. Anything starting with the word “Celebrity…”

4. Mark [fucking] Lawrenson

5. Bargain Hunt

6. Antony Worrall Thompson

7. The [fucking] Tweenies

8. News 24

9. Anything with Graham Norton in it, that isn’t Father Ted

10. My Family (ever since Nick left)

Lists: Ten iconic videogames

29 Dec

Ten iconic videogames…

1. Pacman

2. Missile Command/Space Invaders

3. Paperboy

4. Pole Position

5. Super Mario

6. Final Fantasy

7. Doom

8. Resident Evil

9. Gran Turismo

10. Grand Theft Auto 3

Lists: Ten things a gentleman must have

29 Dec

Ten things a gentleman must have

1. A sensible leather belt

2. A driver’s licence (whether he uses it or not)

3. A good watch (from a watchmaker, not a clothing company)

4. A penknife

5. A music collection, and a reasonable knowledge of the subject

6. A copy of The Godfather film – 1 & 2 (the third film is optional)

7. A quality leather wallet

8. A tape-measure that doesn’t flop on the floor when extended more than 6′

9. A talent for making a good breakfast

10. A firm handshake

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

xmas tyger

…and here’s hoping that 2009 is kinder to us all than 2008 has been.

Love and peace.

David Cameron is soft

24 Dec

Slippery Dave likes to play the tough-guy at PMQs, but as Stephen Tall points out, when it comes to the crunch the guy’s got no balls.

Is this Janus-faced empty vessel really going to become the next Prime Minister?