A blog by Patrick Crozier

July 31, 2003

If there is one thing worse...
Patrick Crozier

If there is one thing worse than a Yank calling football "soccer", it is a Yank calling football "football".


July 28, 2003

July 23, 2003

World War One in colour - Channel 5
Patrick Crozier

Marvellous. Channel 5 (or someone at least) has taken a whole bunch of First World War footage and colourized it and put it out at 9pm on a Wednesday. Marvellous.

And not just that. Somehow they've assembled a whole bunch of veterans (I didn't think there were any left), several of whom have died since being interviewed, to tell us what they remember. And there's a whole bunch of talking heads, including the incomparable Norman Stone, to give us the bigger picture. And they've got Kenneth Branagh to do the voiceover. Michael Redgrave did it for the Great War in the 1960s, Laurence Olivier did it for the World at War in the 1970s and now we have Kenneth Branagh. Forget the Dane, the real mark of a great actor is doing a World War narration.

But the centrepiece of the show is the coloured footage. Sky is blue, grass is green, skin is pink, uniforms are khaki, blue and grey and mud is brown. For some reason the effect is to make the whole event more immediate, more real. Good.

The joys of socialised medicine
Patrick Crozier

From a comment posted on Samizdata by Alfred Neumann:

I have [experienced the joys of socialised medicine], resulting from a very bad car accident in Wales. This is what the socialized medicine specialist (not a GP) there told me about a badly shattered part of my body (and this is verbatim, lest anyone accuse me of exaggerating--you don't forget lines like this when your future mobility is at stake):

"I don't know what your American doctor will do, but I wouldn't operate on it." He said "American" with a sneer, of course.

Now, his not operating would have resulted in the shattered bones fusing into a mass, causing me to be unable to walk, or at least normally.

Guess what? My American doctor, upon my return to NYC, completely reconstructed the whole thing, to almost complete freedom of use. I walk normally today.

Fuck. You. Socialized. Medicine.

However, the nurses and Sisters, who were totally overworked, were highly professional. Also, I later found out that I could have been taken to the nearby totally private hospital because I (of course) have private mediacal insurance, and since my insurance was paying either way because I'm not a limey, it could have been paying the private hospital rather than the NHS. Oh well.


July 21, 2003

The Kelly Affair
Patrick Crozier

Or why this is going to be far worse for the government than it will be for the BBC.

You see the issue all boils down to whose account you trust: Gilligan's, as told on the Today programme, or Kelly's, as told to the Commons Select Committee.

Now, under normal circumstances, the testimony of a no-particular-axe-to-grind Government scientist (especially one so unused to publicity that it caused him to take his own life) would trump that of a BBC journalist.

But not this time. Two reasons. One, because Susan Watts, another BBC journalist got a very similar story (can't quite remember the details) from Kelly.

Two. Because we know the government was being shitty towards Kelly - why else did they reveal his name? That's the shittiness we know about. What about the shittiness we don't know about? Who can say what pressure was brought to bear on Kelly in the week before he testified? The government was in a position to throw the book at him (unauthorised meetings etc) and I am sure would have thrown the book at him whether or not it had been in a position to do so. Dark warnings of removal of pension or worse.

So, in short, poor old Dr Kelly's testimony cannot be trusted.

And the government has cooked its own goose.

July 19, 2003

Three cheers for Mickey Nitpick
Patrick Crozier

The Telegraph, in it’s oh-so trendy way, takes New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to task for enforcing little known minor laws against such acts as allowing kittens to roam free on the Subway and sitting on milk crates. Bloomberg is turning New York into Nitpick City, they say.

Balderdash. Now, I have little time for a man who bans smoking on private property and hums and hars about putting something fucking big on the site of the World Trade Center. But on the questions of how many seats you should occupy on the Subway and where dogs might be allowed off the leash he is absolutely right.

It’s about time we had an elected official who is prepared to enforce all the laws – even the silly ones. As far as I am concerned the sillier the better as it sends out the message that the government takes the law seriously and that crime – in all its forms – will not pay.

So, three cheers for Mickey Nitpick.

I wonder if New York has the same ban on Christmas that we do in the UK. ‘Cause, Mickey, if you plan to enforce it and need a few deputies – you can count me in!

July 07, 2003

Heard on a West London doorstep
Patrick Crozier

Householder opens door to see two well dressed men. Suspects they could be Jehovah's Witnesses.

JW1: We are in the area today asking people if they have ever known a time when crime has been so high.






JW1: Er. What do you think?

Householder: About what?

JW1: What I said.

Householder: Why do you ask?

JW1: Well, to see if you agree and then offer a solution.

Householder: What is your solution?

JW1: The government of the Kingdom of God.

Householder: Thank you. Goodbye.

Having heard what the Jehovah's Witness said he wanted to say and not wishing to detain him any longer, householder closes door.

July 04, 2003

To the blogrolls!
Patrick Crozier

A hale and hearty (and perhaps belated) welcome to newish bloggers Andy Duncan and the folks at Catallarchy.net whose names shall be added to the blogroll at some point, one day, when I get round to it.

The burning issue
Patrick Crozier

In all this hoo-haa over Berlusconi there's one question that seems to have been overlooked: would German MP, Martin Schulz make a good Kapo?

I think we should be told.

UPDATE. Actually, it seems that Alexander Chancellor has the answer.

July 03, 2003

State Failure #3: The R101
Patrick Crozier

The R101 was an airship. In 1931 it crashed on its maiden flight killing most of those on board - including the Secretary of State for Air and several other notables.

Now, I had thought the story went along these lines: both the private sector and the state sector were, at the same time, in the business of building an airship. The R100, the private sector airship (worked on by, amongst others, Barnes Wallis and Neville Shute - yes, that Neville Shute) worked perfectly. The state airship, the R101, obviously didn't and after the crash, rather than admit that it wasn't up to the job, the state banned production of all airships.

Not quite. According to this what actually happened was that the state sponsored the building of two airships: one by the state and one by the private sector. And when the R101 crashed, it scrapped the whole project - largely on cost grounds.

OK, so not quite the state failure I had thought it was but it was still a state failure. While the example of the R101 might not demonstrate the superiority of the free market, it does demonstrate the superiority of private enterprise. It also another example of a state projects ending up in expensive and embarassing failure. A sort of Concorde of the 1930s, if you will.

Salute to Whit Stillman
Patrick Crozier

Catallarchy.net praises cerebral film maker, Whit Stillman - something I heartily endorse. My own favourite was Barcelona which included the following exchange:

Ted: You're confirming all their worst assumptions

Fred: I am their worst assumption

July 02, 2003

To reply or not to reply
Patrick Crozier

I like supportive comments. They give me a warm glow of satisfaction. I also (funnily enough) like good criticism by which I mean comments that correct me on facts, ask pertinent questions or take me to task having first shown that they have understood what I was saying in the first place. (Not, it has to be said, that I get much of this). What I don't like is bad criticism - the stuff that neither agrees with me nor puts up a good counter argument and is often abusive (at least in tone if not content).

The question is should I reply to it or not?

I blog in order to spread libertarian ideas. In doing so I am looking for two sorts of reader. The first is the open-minded reader. The second is the like-minded reader who (hopefully) will read my stuff, be fortified in his beliefs, and then go and spread my ideas around the Blogosphere, where hopefully, they will eventually come into contact with yet more open-minded people.

What I am not looking for is the close-minded anti. There's just no point.

Now, having said that, replying to bad comments could be useful. It could help to convince the open-minded and it could fortify the like-minded. But then again, on the other hand, comments are by their very nature a bit obscure and so not as important in the grand scheme of things as main postings are.

And there are other problems too. Many years ago (about three) before blogging took off I used to regularly participate in newsgroup "discussions" ie slanging matches. What I found was that typically my opponents (when they weren't being abusive) would be illogical, make assertions that couldn't be proved and miss out steps in their logic. And that was when they bothered to answer my points at all. Now, I did find ways of dealing with them which usually involved heavy use of the phrases: "You haven't answered the question" and "So what?" I did find that if I kept on going long enough they would finally start to get discouraged. Indeed, the effects could be quite dramatic. News groups are brutal environments. Once people lost arguments they often disappeared entirely. Now that was all to the good except that it was a lot of hard work and I often found myself wondering just how much good I had actually done.

It must also be said that newsgroups have the massive advantage (over blogs) of having threads - which means that you can reply many times to a comment - each time examining one part of his argument and undermining it in turn. Blogs (generally) don't have these.

Now given that we don't have threads here and given that I am not really prepared to put in the effort to see off my opponents and given that if they are not seen off they have an annoying tendency to reply ad infinitum, I think, as a general policy, that I won't be replying to opposition comments.

July 01, 2003

Ends vs means
Patrick Crozier

Interesting debate over on Catallarchy.net on what it is to be a libertarian and especially whether the ends justify the means.