Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

President of the Philippines calls the President of America a “son of a whore”, and says they’ll be “wallowing in the mud like pigs” if the President of America disrespects him.

President of America, supposedly the most powerful man in the world, gets in a huff and goes to Korea instead.

Can anyone imagine that happening with a real President, like Reagan? Back then, the Philippines cared what America thought about it. Apparently not any more.

The Chinese leaders must be laughing their ass off.

More on the ‘post-scarcity’ nonsense:

Convicted with thirteen life sentences, and thirteen five year sentences for using an imitation firearm in an armed robbery.

You’d think he’d be in prison for the rest of his life, wouldn’t you?

Not in Britain.

I’m so glad to see that, while the economy collapses around them, the EU can still find time to… mandate a universal smartphone charger.

So, we’ll be stuck with Micro-USB chargers until the EU goes bust. which, fortunately, probably won’t take long.

Kerry decries ‘new isolationism’, says U.S. acts like poor nation

No, it’s acting like a socialist nation, which is exactly what the US government has been turning it into over the last few decades.

A nation where people are expected to work for a living can afford a big war budget. A nation which puts a vast fraction of its GDP into a welfare state cannot. There’s a reason the British Empire collapsed after WWII, and that reason is the British welfare state; now America is heading down the same path.

Which isn’t a bad thing, in a way. Since WWII, most other Western nations have cut back on defence and bloated their welfare states because they can rely on America to protect them. If the US Navy is no longer at their beck and call, they’ll have to start looking seriously at real defence measures. For example, a nation which expects others to defend it can afford to ban guns… a nation which expects its people to have to defend it cannot.

After years of economic stagnation due to the bursting of the bubble of cheap credit created by central banks holding interest rates artificially low, the G20 has decided that what we really need is economic growth:

G20 meeting targets an additional 2% economic growth

Now, if only they had any idea of how to actually create economic growth, rather than just printing money and handing it to bankers…

Please can we get some Global Warming up this way, soon?

From Chaos Manor:

“Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon.The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.” Vladimir Putin

No idea whether Putin really said that, but it’s true anyway.

The real question is how Obama ever got into the White House?

Oh, hang on: the alternative was Romney or McCain. I guess it could have been worse.

How did the world ever reach the point where anyone could take seriously the idea that those three were the best possible candidates to run America?

How can you win a war when you can’t define what winning means?

I’ve been reading Losing Small Wars, and, recently, a thread on a web forum where people, many of them British military, were arguing about the British Army in Afghanistan and how they should stay there until they win, etc.

The problem is that no-one has ever been able to explain what ‘winning’ there would mean, in any sense that could actually be achieved.

In the Falklands, it was easy: throw out the Argentinian military and return the islands to British control. In the first Gulf War, throw the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and return it to the Kuwaiti government.

Even the initial invasion of Afghanistan made sense: capture or kill bin Laden, and kick al Qaeda’s ass. But they let bin Laden get away, yet they still couldn’t manage to leave. Rather than withdraw most troops and send in Special Forces to hunt down the remnants of al Qaeda, they switched to ‘nation building’.

Every suggested definition of winning since seems to pretty much come down to turning Afghanistan into Surrey, which makes about as much sense as trying to turn Surrey into Afghanistan. Given the British government’s attempts over the last couple of decades to turn Britain into an Islamic state, the latter might actually happen, but first you’d have to get rid of those annoying British people in Surrey who don’t much like Sharia law. Similarly, turning Afghanistan into Surrey would be possible, but only by getting rid of those annoying Afghans who don’t want to be Western liberals. I guess the ideal solution would be to do a swap, with the Afghans moving to Surrey and the Surreyans moving to Afghanistan; then everyone could be happy.

I realized the other day that zombies are really a metaphor for Marxists; they come into your world, eat your friends’ brains, and turn them into mindless drones who want nothing more than to make you one of them for their own greedy ends.

Peru is in a state of emergency due to unusually low temperatures and heavy snow:

Fortunately, unlike unusually warm periods, this is only weather and not climate. Because if the planet’s temperature was to drop a few degrees, that would really, really suck.

So, the Peace Prize President is itching to bomb Syria.

At least there’ll be one good thing to say about his Presidency: no-one will ever be able to take a Nobel Peace Prize seriously again.

Whenever someone says ‘X is considered good/bad/indifferent’, the correct response is ‘By whom, exactly?’

The answer will almost certainly be by be someone who has a vested interested in that position. The passive voice is a lame attempt to hide that fact.

Best article I’ve read on the subject:

Fred On Everything

The great ‘wind turbine’ massacre continues:

Twitchers flocking to see rare bird saw it killed by wind turbine

They’re expensive, unreliable and massacre wildlife. When will these things finally be torn down?

Or something.

I was reading a funny thread on a web forum where one of the forum socialists was bemoaning the future of 3D printing and nanotechnology and how it would destroy jobs so the government would have provide jobs for the unemployed to do things no-one else thought worth doing.

I could only shake my head and wonder: why would anyone want a job if they produce anything they wanted in their garage?

Mass employment is a relatively recent invention as part of the industrial revolution. In the early era of human hunter-gatherer life, we would hunt or collect the things we needed at a good time to do so, and then relax the rest of the year. In the farming era, there would be jobs available for those who didn’t have their own land to farm at times where the farmers needed more hands than they had in their own family, but life-time jobs in the modern sense were rare. It was only with industrialisation that we needed millions of people to do the same boring, repetitive things all day, every day.

Jobs are bad. Many of us have jobs that we find inherently interesting, but that doesn’t mean we want to do them eight hours a day, five days a week forever. We should look forward to a future where few people have to work and we can leave the industrial anomaly behind us.

The problem is that socialism is inherently an industrial-era philosophy, so that would make them irrelevant. Socialism made no sense before the industrial revolution because there were few workers to own the means of production. Socialism makes no sense in a future of home 3D printing and nanotech assembly because everyone owns their means of production.

They should be celebrating. They’ve won. The fight between workers and employers is irrelevant in a world with no workers and no employers. But they’ve been ranting about the need for full employment for long that they simply can’t understand or accept that employment itself is going away; not to mention that such a world destroys an entire power base of people who have no desire to lose the power they have.

I see a lot of talk on the Internet lately about the wonders of our coming ‘post-scarcity’ world, mostly because so many people are unemployed and can’t see how they can possibly work again. In this brave new future, everyone will be able to have whatever they want, no-one will have to work and we’ll all be happy and fluffy.

Except it will never happen.

There will never be enough resources for everyone to have as much as they want without scarcity. Even if I was the only being in the universe, I could easily use more resources than are available to me. For any amount of resources you can think of, I can think of a use for more. If I want to turn the solar system into a Dyson Sphere all of my own, then no-one else can have it. If I want to turn every galaxy into a giant super-computer to calculate prime numbers, you can’t use it for running your super-complex MMO game.

This is an example of what you might call the ‘Who cleans the toilets on the Enterprise?’ problem. I’m not sure that Star Trek has ever claimed to be a post-scarcity world, but a number of trekkies have claimed it is. Yet somehow, people are still found to do all the boring, dirty and dangerous jobs on the Starship Enterprise, rather than demanding starships of their own. If there’s no scarcity, why would anyone choose to clean the toilets on the Enterprise?

The problem with the whole ‘post-scarcity’ idea is that it mostly comes from people with little imagination. They’re happy to live in an apartment with a cat and a TV, and anyone who demands entire galaxies for their own use is just being silly. The reality is that the ones who are happy with very little are being silly; one person who wants to own galaxies and spawns off numerous copies of their personality can use up the entire universe and leave nothing for the ‘sensible’ people.

Pretty soon they announce that there must be rationing of the ‘post-scarcity’ resources to ensure people only use them sensibly. So you’re suddenly back to scarcity, this time artificially created a ruling caste. Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels are a good example, a ‘post-scarcity’ world where the synthetic intelligent Minds ensure that humans only get whatever scraps the Minds feed them. Fortunately, as in much left-wing fiction, the ruling caste is almost entirely composed of altruistic philosopher kings, so everyone is happy.

In the real world, of course, the ruling caste would get their Zil space limousines, while the rest would live in caves and fight for the rulers’ favour. When resources are power, the very people most attracted to power are the least likely to give any of it to anyone else.

But let’s suppose for a moment it did work. The wondrous philosopher kings can amicably share all the resources of the universe so everyone is happy and everyone has everything they want and no-one has to work for a living. Then what?

Well, we all sit around being pampered with no reason to do anything. And, being bored, we start having kids. Pretty soon, the population of pampered, unproductive people is rising much faster than the resources available to sustain us. Oops.

Then we’re back to square one. The ruling caste is now telling us how many kids we can have, and ensuring we can only have a ‘sensible’ number, even if we want millions.

So whenever anyone tells you about the glorious new ‘post-scarcity’ future, what they’re really talking about is their new ‘post-freedom’ future where everyone must behave ‘sensibly’, even if they have to force you to do so.

So, Margaret Thatcher is dead. Not exactly unexpected, but a sad loss nonetheless.

I’d hardly be the first to defend her mistakes. The Poll Tax, for example, always seemed to be a cynical attempt to push Labour voters off the electoral roll. Closer EU integration was a disaster. Global Warming perhaps even more so.

But Britain of the 70s was a socialist nation on the fast track to Third World status. The government ran most of the economy, and the unions ran the government. Since WWII there had been a cosy collaboration between the far-left in the Labour party and the wet-left in the Tory party, and scarcely a right-wing politician to say no. The end result was massive inefficiency and bloated overmanning in industries that produced lots of things no-one wanted to buy, when the unions could actually be bothered to go to work. The country was bankrupt and even Idi Amin was offering to send financial aid to help out.

I’m barely old enough to remember much of the 70s, but one of my earliest memories is sitting in the dark, trying to read by candle-light, because the miners were out on strike in sympathy with the bin men and the power stations were shut down (or whatever nonsensical combination of demands happened to have come together that week). Another is regularly being sent to the baker to buy bread, and then having to go home empty-handed because rampant inflation had increased the price yet again.

Thatcher ended that. She broke the power of the union leadership and returned it to the union members. She privatised many nationalised industries and let the inefficient and incompetent collapse. She slashed tax rates, so successful people no longer had to choose between leaving the country or handing most of their income to the government.

For pretty much the first time since WWII, Britain was a country where you could be a success if you weren’t politically connected or a senior union official. The brain drain of skilled workers had been continuous as those who could get out fled to any country where they could lead a better life, many to America, many of the rest to the Commonwealth. Then, while Thatcher was in power, it stopped. Why go when Britain finally valued them again?

And the particularly amusing part is that it was all the unions’ fault. In one of the best examples of left-wing political stupidity prior to their suicide pact in the recent Canadian elections, the unions lead a massive strike campaign in the run-up to the election, turning a small Labour lead into a massive lead for Thatcher.

Sadly, the good times couldn’t last. The left hated her because she stood against everything they believed in. The wet left in her own party hated her because they feared she’d lose the election. So they finally stabbed her in the back. John Major continued similar policies for a few years until the economic recovery was done, then voters threw him out in favour of the New, Improved, Not Socialist Labour Party.

Which spent the next thirteen years bankrupting the country again.

Needless to say, the brain drain rapidly returned and by the time I emigrated in the mid-2000s, Canada had a waiting list of three years or more. It will only get worse as Cameron’s wet-left Tory party replaced Labour with almost identical policies and the 70s returns in re-runs.

For those who missed the 70s in Britain, or don’t understand how it could have been so bad that people were finally willing to throw out the entire post-war consensus, the TV SF of the time may be a good place to start; shows such as 1990, with Edward Woodward as a crusading journalist helping illegal emigrants escape from the UK after the government imposes exit visas to imprison those with skills, The Guardians, with resistance against a totalitarian government of a more fascist persuasion, and the final Quatermass series, where Britain is in the advanced stages of complete social breakdown. Survivors, of course, was very popular because the prospect of 99% of the population dying of a fatal disease could hardly seem worse than a few more years of Ted Heath or James Callaghan in power.

These shows might have been futuristic, but none of them were particularly unbelievable in an era where newspapers talking about the possibility of a military coup. None of them, of course, have been regular repeats; partly, to be fair, because some are not very good — 1990, for example, has one of the least effective totalitarian governments in history — but also because, in left-wing mythology, the 1970s are the utopia to which Britons should aspire. Surely no-one could seriously have imagined the government might have to stop people leaving?