Saturday, April 17, 2021

Already Gone

 It's fine to do the "Prince Philip was an immigrant!" discourse if Twitter is your level. But people with a column at their disposal really should do better. Philip was also an immigrant from a different Europe -- one that was no longer on the map when he was born -- that of the multinational empires. World War 1 had destroyed these empires, and replaced them multi-ethnic nation states, that would then go on to destroy each other in World War 2. And what emerged from that was a Europe where borders corresponded more to "national identity," and a Europe with its Jewish population mostly killed or displaced. So rather than the easy layups, how about a reflection on which Europe was better, for whom, and why Philip's life story is more than validation for comfort-zone bourgeois opinions? 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Tonight I'm Gonna (Rock You Tonight)

 

Friday, April 09, 2021

Live Action Role Playing, Belfast edition

Financial Times -- 

Residents watched the action [riots[ from cars parked six deep in a retail park separated from New Lodge by high railings. “It’s like Netflix,” said one man in his sixties, adding that he had spent the previous nights bingewatching US crime drama Quantico. Some brought snacks. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Imagine how Ireland would be doing against an unpartitioned Luxembourg

 LuxembourgPartitionsMap english.png

By Spanish_Inquisition - LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

There they go again

 Reuters on the latest surge in regime killing in Burma / "Myanmar" --

"Russia is a true friend," Min Aung Hlaing said. [Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is the the junta leader]

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Under Siege 3: Suez Sand

  

Cool soundtrack to the Egypt "MENA" on-the-scene video of the Evergreen / Ever Given situation.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

His most brilliant stunt yet

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500, oil on walnut, 45.4 × 65.6 cmBenjamin Netanyahu will be in Abu Dhabi later today. He is meeting Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli media rumour has it that Mohammed bin Salman might show up as well. 

How could Bibi top that? By appearing with the allegedly in Abu Dhabi but long not seen Leonardo painting, Salvator Mundi

UPDATE: Bibi's bag of tricks didn't include an airspace clearance from Jordan.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Is there a moment?

It's understandable that people are interested in #TheMoment, that one time when they realized that Covid-19 was going to be something really big and disruptive.  But maybe the focus should be more explicitly on the retrospective aspect: not a moment that was immediately evident, but something that stuck in your mind when you saw it, but its significance only became apparent later. Here's an example, from RTE one year ago tomorrow:

Meanwhile, a healthcare expert from the Royal College of Surgeons said the urgency of Covid-19 merits the cessation of government formation talks and for political leaders to instead focus on national planning to deal with an outbreak of the virus here. Professor Sam McConkey, Associate Professor of International Health/Tropical Medicine at RCSI, ... also said that an '"open, transparent national discussion" should take place to decide upon "acceptable levels of social control and social distancing" as Irish people are not used to being told what they can and cannot do. He said the spread of the virus onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and across northern Italy showed that efforts to contain the spread had failed. He said the "draconian measures" of mass quarantine and social distancing in China seem to have reduced the spread of the virus so Ireland needs to consider how best to approach an outbreak here.

At the time, this seemed jarring. All the discussion was around individual or a small number of cases. Prof McConkey was warning of the possibility that the disease was not contained and radical measures like in China might have to be considered, despite their seemingly shocking nature. It would still be many weeks before this level of alarm permeated the general debate. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Song for a year into the pandemic


 

George Harrison and Leon Russell - Beware Of Darkness - Live Madison Square Garden 1971 [link if embed doesn't work https://youtu.be/G7jN08RQGnM ]

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Curiosity and the cat, etc.

 US House Member Marjorie Taylor Greene in her otherwise patently insincere apology for believing crazy stuff today (via WSJ) --

“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true and I would ask questions about them and talk about them and that is absolutely what I regret,” she said Thursday, wearing a “Free Speech” mask.

Note: she's admitting that "asking questions" was her gateway to believing crazy stuff. It's a case study in faux-scepticism. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Saturation Coverage

Dr Mike Ryan, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies at the weekly Covid-19 media briefing yesterday,  when asked about the China expert visit:

The visits will include the Wuhan Institute of Virology, other labs, the Hunan market, early responders, hospitals in which the first clusters of cases occurred. It's a very busy schedule and I also wonder; sometimes the media accompaniment of the teams is much larger than the international and Chinese team put together

Don't mess with the Protocol

 


Thursday, January 28, 2021

The afterlife

Saudi Arabia Future Investment Initiative press statement --

Others scheduled to participate include ...  Lord Grimstone of Boscobel; Minister for Investment at the UK Department for International Trade; ... and Anthony Scaramucci, Founder & Managing Partner of SkyBridge Capital.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

He also is Mermaid Man in one Spongebob episode

A classic detail from the superb FT recounting of the last year in Brexit: 

To while away the tedious hours in Brussels, Frost and his exhausted team would sip whisky at the UK ambassador's ­residence. "There was one night we were discussing our favourite Batman — Frosty could only think of Adam West," says one British official. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Irish Blood, English Heart

From the truly bizarre White House 1776 report, where it sounds like reactionary American conservativism meets rant overheard at Irish bar in Washington DC --

British monarchs not only disputed one another’s claims to the throne but imposed their preferred religious doctrines on the whole nation. Gruesome tortures and political imprisonments were common. The Puritans proclaimed a “commonwealth” which executed the Anglican king. The executed king’s son proceeded to supplant the “commonwealth,” but because his brother was suspected of being Catholic, Protestants expelled him in the so-called  "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 that installed the Protestant monarch of the Netherlands and his wife as England’s king and queen.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Self-censoring

There was an article briefly posted on the White House website which purported to blame state-level Covid-19 related business restrictions for the bad payroll numbers in December. The article has disappeared (here's the busted link). Blaming states for their attempted mitigation of uncontrolled spread  of a virus whose impact was constantly minimized by the President is ... interesting.  

UPDATE: It's reposted, but the headline message has been changed. The headline does not blame the states ("December job losses driven by state-enforced shutdowns"), it is now attributed to industries. 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Late to the party

There is attention of the "that's unexpected!" variety on the Wall Street Journal editorial calling for Donald Trump to go, preferably via resignation. The problem is, the editorial is rubbish.  It's not worth line by line analysis. But it starts: 

The lodestar of these columns is the U.S. Constitution.

But then it goes on to complain that some people say the 6th of January events prove he was unfit for office all along. Which it rebuts by reference to the 63 million votes that he got in 2016. Except that ... Hillary Clinton got more votes! If the metric is votes, he wouldn't be in office in the first place. So you can't say that your lodestar is the Constitution and what about his millions of votes -- they are constitutionally irrelevant.

The Constitution does not have a fit and proper test for the Presidency. So conduct in office surely matters -- that's what impeachment is there for.  So now their complaint is that the Democrats "abused the process" in 2019. Remember how the constitution is their lodestar? It says nothing about something "abusing the process" by applying it -- it's for Congress to decide what merits impeachment. 

The most that they can bring themselves to say about Ukraine is Trump was "ham-handed." But the only reason it didn't translate into Senate conviction is that some Senators (most notably Susan Collins) decided that he had learned his lesson from it. Which his phone call to Brad Raffensperger showed otherwise. 

This editorial is more about easing the consciences of people jumping off the Trump bandwagon at this late stage. But there's no way such a logical shambles has broader significance. It's not news. 

Monday, January 04, 2021

Putting the ME in media

Just one of the astounding exchanges in the Trump Georgia election phone call (transcript via Wall Street Journal) --

MR. RAFFENSPERGER: Well, Mr. President, the problem that you have with social media, they can – people can say anything. 

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, no, this isn’t social. This is Trump media. It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social. I couldn’t care less. Social media is big tech. Big tech is on your side, you know? I don’t even know why you have a side, because you should want to have an accurate election. And you’re a Republican.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Quote of the Day

Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism (1927):

This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace. The German socialist, Ferdinand Lassalle, tried to make the conception of a government limited exclusively to this sphere appear ridiculous by calling the state constituted on the basis of liberal principles the "night-watchman state." But it is difficult to see why the night-watchman state should be any more ridiculous or worse than the state that concerns itself with the preparation of sauerkraut, with the manufacture of trouser buttons, or with the publication of newspapers. 

Context: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a new layer of eligibility proof and associated penalties for when a vaccine is given out of "priority." The night-watchman state would seek to vaccinate as many people, as quickly as possible.