If a politician and a bureaucrat were both drowning and you were the only person who could help, would you go to lunch or read the newspaper?
People say it’s a class matter; for historical reasons there is something essentially middle class and respectable about rugby, about the players and about the fans. There’s an odd contradiction about the way the more violent game can produce the less violent supporters and vice versa.
It lies in the old distinction (for those bright people, economists, at least it is old) between complements and substitutes. Does watching a violent game (for rugby is indeed that) incite you to further violence, or does it satisfy that savage beast, replace the desire for violence by assuaging the appetite?
With sport it\’s not all that important a distinction (for it may inded be just that the middle classes don\’t want to get blood on their Barbours) but in other areas of life it is indeed an extremely important one. For example, think of the upcoming plans to ban "violent" pornography. Is such a complement? Does viewing it make people more likely to go and commit violent sexual crimes? That\’s the argument used in favour of the banning, certainly. But what if the opposite is true? That it is in fact a substitute? That viewing such material replaces the desire to physically act out the fantasies?
Then a ban might actually lead to an increase in the violent sexual crimes: that\’s, of course, the very thing we\’re trying to avoid. We don\’t actually care what people do in a darkened room in front of a flickering screen. But we do care very much when they take such dark thoughts to the streets and to others.
That distinction is highly important and unfortunately, on the pornography front, it looks like it is in fact a substitute, not a complement. Thus banning it will lead to more crime, not less.
If in dentistry as elsewhere, huge increases in spending fail to produce huge improvements in services, the Conservatives or Conservative policies will triumph over social democracy. Voters will prefer to keep their taxes rather than have the government spend them on their behalf. Like Martin Amis, they will conclude that the British state can\’t help them and look elsewhere.
Yup, that is pretty much it. Going by the evidence, huge increases in spending (and the associated taxation) do not produce huge improvements in services. So, thankfully, goodbye to social democracy.
Someone, somewhere, has a very odd view of religion:
The ultimate came in last week\’s episode, featuring rowing champion Matthew Pinsent. His tree traced back to Edward I. According to medieval genealogy, monarchs are divinely appointed, so this meant Pinsent was actually a direct descendant of Jesus.
While there are Christian and other sects who insist that Jesus had children it\’s certainly not a mainstream belief: nor was it a mainstream one in medieval times. Thus no monarchs claimed direct descent from Jesus: even if they did claim to be divinely appointed. I don\’t know who got this wrong, the original TV show or Vic Groskrop, but very wrong it is.
At the ASI. On measuring inequality.
So, they\’ve changed the estimates of the future population levels again.
Rising immigration, a higher birthrate among migrant families and longer lifespans are on course to lift the population by at least 15 million by 2051, from last year\’s 60 million total. There are fears it could even hit 77 million.
Only one small thing. The headline figure will be used to insist that we must "do something". It might even be correct that we must. But as far as the EU nationals immigration is concerned we can\’t actually do anything. Even if we hadn\’t opened the floodgates, our power to limit it expires in 2011. Extra EU immigration is very small by comparison. Birth rates of immigrants , well, there\’s no known cure for them except time: second and third generation such trend towards the same birthrates as the indigenes. And the third, longer lifespans: well, do we actually want to try and do anything about this? It\’s usually thought of as a good thing, not a bad, isn\’t it?
More than 200 Soweto Rugby Club members, their friends and other fans gathered to watch the match in a stadium in the South African township. The game was shown projected onto a sheet draped over a fence, two South African flags propped up on either side.
Gorgeous that the Afrikaner game of rugby has reached Soweto, a nation being created, sad, well, you guess.
Congratulations to the new holders of the William Webb Ellis Trophy.
Just a thought:
I think Heather Havrilesky might be a tad too generous here about why there seems to be an influx of draconian, insufferably self-righteous assholes in animal rescue, particularly in big, liberal, coastal cities. She assumes it must be the nature of the work slowly molds people into inflexible, impractical meanies who get off on judging other as inadequate compared to themselves in terms of good treatment of animals, but I think it might be that rigid, holier-than-thou types are drawn to the work, and in very large cities, the population of holier-than-thou types is sufficiently large enough that animal rescue operations can be staffed completely with them, and no one of common sense punctures the bubble to remind people that their job is getting animals into homes, not passing often arbitrary judgments on perfectly acceptable people in order to feel self-righteous.
That supply of insufferably self-righteous assholes is virtually unlimited. Every bureaucracy on the planet is stuffed with them and every time a new such is set up more appear to populate it. Politicians are simply the same squared, raised to a higher power.
That\’s why we don\’t want to give such people any power over our lives: otherwise we\’ll be treated just like the animals in the shelters. You might recall that a number of States have indeed been run by such bureaucracies and they instituted very much the same programs that the shelters do: from sterilization all the way to euthanasia of those deemed unwanted.
Just a thought, you know, that your observation might have some wider application.
Editors everywhere pray for writers like this:
He was the most reliable of contributors. He always filed early and wrote to the length required.
Alan Coren\’s writing in a nutshell:
Coren senior, a humorous writer from an early age, was a distorted prism. Shine a fact, the more trivial the better, at one side and out of the other would come a refracted rainbow of lateral thinking that would take wing on an updraught of preposterous imagination.
This won\’t surprise those with my level of cynicism:
Guidelines on safe alcohol consumption limits that have shaped health policy in Britain for 20 years were “plucked out of the air” as an “intelligent guess”.
The Times reveals today that the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women, first introduced in 1987 and still in use today, had no firm scientific basis whatsoever.
An "intelligent guess by a committee" apparently. Some truth about booze:
One found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week had the lowest mortality rate in Britain. Another concluded that a man would have to drink 63 units a week, or a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller.
Yes, of course alcohol can be dangerous. Depending upon how the rugby goes, tonight\’s consumption could even be so. But isn\’t it lovely the way we\’ve been lied to over what is a dangerous level of consumption?
At the ASI. Why has it taken so long for a purported liberal to realise what actually is the great liberal battle?
There\’s echoes here, phrases that I seem to have used in the past:
At the same time, there are strong moral arguments for their legalisation. Our whole social and economic set-up is based on the idea of the right to private property, and at the very base of that – at the very plughole of our legal system and the fountainhead of our freedoms, in the form of habeas corpus – is the ownership of your own body, and the right to do with it as you damn well choose.
But then of course it\’s not echoes of me, it\’s what anyone who was even aware of Mill would say about the subject. The argument that if we alone legalised drugs we\’d become the crack-den of Europe has merit though, something I hadn\’t thought about.
One very large problem about this though is that we\’re signed up to a UN treaty that insists we cannot legalise drugs.
So, do Argentina join the 6 Nations or the Tri-Nations?
France 10 Argentina 34
Very sad to hear of his death. Almost certainly the finest comic writer of the generation.
For me the best stuff was the essays he did at Punch, while he was editor there. This is a book of the best of them.
From that book, this is the one that I remember the most. (You might have to fiddle about to see it. Put "Moses" into the see inside bit and it starts on page 28. Fiddle about and you can read the whole of it.)
He aready has his monument I would say.