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By TheophileEscargot (Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:11:16 PM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP, Theatre (all tags)
Reading: "Lost Girls". Theatre: "Feast". Watching: "The Last Stand", "Dark Shadows". Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished Lost Girls. Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie put the graphic into graphic novel with a loving tribute to Edwardian pornography. Slightly more realistic versions of Alice from "Alice in Wonderland", Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz", and Wendy from "Peter Pan" meet up in an Austrian hotel and share erotic stories while engaging in promiscuous sex with each other, the hotel staff, and the other guests.

I get the feeling Moore is a bit disappointed with the lack of outrage at it. While publication was long delayed in the UK, the issue was with the extended copyright anomalously granted to "Peter Pan", rather than moral outrage. I think even now he overestimates the legitimacy that comics have in the mainstream: this is probably pretty much what the average person thinks a comic for adults is.

The book itself is surprisingly good. The artwork is elegantly drawn in pastel colours, and while there's not much plot as such, there's a lot of structure and unveiling of character as well as bodies. Also has some amusing innuendo. However, could get a bit repetitive for some as there are only so many permutations to go through.

Overall, worth reading if you like Alan Moore, though not his best work.

Note, the cover of this edition is innocuous, but you might not want to let anyone easily shocked see the interior.

Theatre
Saw an early second-night preview of Feast at the Young Vic. Interesting mix of theatre, music and dancing. Basically a series of vignettes themed around Yoruba culture, going from West Africa to Brazil, America, Cuba and the UK over history.

Not bad. The prostitute reluctantly pressed into fortune-telling scene in Cuba was excellent. Some of the segments are weaker though, the scene in America felt a bit forced and the UK one tried a bit too hard to be topical. Two hours without an interval felt a bit much, though they're apparently trying to cut it down.

Might be a bit early to judge it. With more practice and some trimming it could be pretty great. The performance I saw was pretty good but a little bit strained.

What I'm Watching
Saw Arnold Schwarzeneggar action comedy The Last Stand at the cinema. Surprisingly good: it's a crisp, fast, fun movie. Feels low-budget in a good way, with nice crunching small-scale action scenes rather than vast detached CGI. Especially liked the thudding fist-fight at the end, and the car chase through a cornfield.

Worth a look if you like action movies. Also might help keep Arnie out of politics?

What I'm Watching
Saw the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows on disc. Based on a TV series I've never heard of about a vampire reawakening in the Seventies. Some nice period sets, but not that great: didn't manage to be either very funny or very involving.

Web
Economics. A bad recession and a terrible recovery . The Austerity Delusion? (Or, 'Cuts? What Cuts?') . The job-rich recession. George Osborne is destined to be remembered as the most inept Chancellor in British history.

Culture. Review: Running with the Fairies . Real life magazines. The word sexualisation is a troubling cultural shorthand . The problem with polynormativity.

Sci/Tech. Guinea worm could be the first parasitic disease eradicated What Nate Silver gets wrong. Doubt over coma EEGs.

Politics. "Like the interior of Mali, large tranches of the Conservative Party have become an ungoverned space, just waiting for an interloper to raise the flag of open revolt". How Outsourcing unemployment assistance is working, probation to come.

Politics
I think David Cameron is suffering from a peculiar and distinctive form of hatred from the Tory Right, that happens when an ideologue finds the real world conflicting with his ideas. He's cut corporation taxes, cut the top rate of income tax, drastically cut benefits to working-age people. This ought, according to their ideology, have propelled us into a tremendous economic boom: instead we're sinking into stagnation. But it literally cannot be considered that the ideology is wrong. Therefore, it must be that they have been betrayed somehow. The only psychologically acceptable explanation is that Cameron and Osborne have failed to deliver enough austerity. However much they cut, they will always be traitors for not having cut enough, because the cuts aren't doing what the ideology says.

This is very familiar to anyone who remembers Labour or the left from the old days. Nationalization isn't creating an economic boom? Must be that the sellouts of the Labour leadership didn't nationalize enough. The Right are the new Left.

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Candles out | 62 comments (62 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
i thought Cameron suffers by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:30:06 PM EST
From exactly the same problems that John Major has, that 1/3 of his party are totally nuts about the European Union and they forget that he is in a coalition (kind of like John Major's small majority) and British public, while fairly anti-EU, finds their obsession a turn off.

Anyway his big rival, Boris, has called for the end of austerity so it's not like the Tory right is united behind austerity anyway. I guess the only thing is they'd prefer any splurging on their mates in big business and the upper-middle classes rather than on the less well off.

I really don't understand the apathy by dmg (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:10:21 PM EST
About the UK publics ongoing and expensive loss of sovereiginy to the EU. I can only assume its because the issues are too complex for the average shithead UKian to grasp.what time is the x-factor on?
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
I thought by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 05:25:51 PM EST
It didn't matter because both UK and EU leaders are alien lizards anyway.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Well true. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:38:32 PM EST
But then, nothing matters because we are all going to die in the end. That's a nihilistic world view. I object to the eu because it it is stupid.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Not really the same by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:09:57 AM EST
Some things don't matter in the end. But this doesn't matter now. There's no actual loss of sovereignty to the EU, because the UK doesn't have sovereignty to lose: the alien lizards just tell both the UK and the EU what to do.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Thinking about it, you are right. by dmg (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:57:00 AM EST
It's sort of like the 'lesser of two evils' argument. I suppose choosing evil A vs evil B is the same as choosing wrong Lizard over right Lizard.

If we are to get rid of Lizard rule, a good place to start would be the EU, then we would at least be free to sort out the domestic Lizard* problem.

*on a minor note, the politically correct term for Lizards is 'Reptilians' in this context.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
But the EU are the wrong kind of lizards by darkbrown (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:22:05 AM EST
Well by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:53:21 AM EST
I don't see Boris Johnson as being that right wing: he tries to appeal to them, but he knows he can't go too far right and still be Prime Minister.

But on ConservativeHome and Marginal Revolution lately, I'm seeing an awful lot of "True austerity has not failed, it has never been tried" rhetoric. The "Austerity Delusion" link addresses it, but the theme is always the same. Departmental spending cuts haven't reduced the deficit much, since tax receipts and growth have been stagnant instead of growing normally, therefore the solution is greater departmental spending cuts. They always ignore or claim not to understand the basic point that too-fast spending cuts are expected to reduce growth and tax receipts in all mainstream economic models. It seems to be that crowd that's particularly hostile to David Cameron as being "too left wing".

Not sure about Euroskepticism, it seems to be partly just a symbolic issue standing for a host of other issues. But insofar as it's about Europe, it seems to be another instance of ideology hitting reality with rage as the result.

Free trade in reality means you have to have common standards for product regulation and labelling to keep the playing field level. Visualize a supermarket shelf with cans of Grade A pickled cucumbers from three countries. The German and French cucumbers are beautiful, straight and unblemished. The British cucumbers are bent, discoloured and warty. That gives the British cucumber-growers an advantage. The solution is a common standard for Grade A cucumbers. Whatever that standard is, it's going to annoy some countries, either because it's too strict for their preference, or too lax for their preference.

Therefore, there is a trade-off between free trade and sovereignty. If you want free trade, you have to give up some local control over product labelling and regulation. If you want sovereign control over your cucumbers, you can't have free trade too: the free trade zone won't let your cucumbers in unless they get the chance to sell you cucumbers too.

The Euroskeptics can't accept that this trade off. It doesn't help that some of the older ones remember the British empire, where the slogan of free trade was used to impose unfair trade: the UK could export to India, but India was forbidden from exporting to the UK.

So, they can't really be satisfied by any plausible deal on Europe. But more than that, psychologically they can't accept any flaws in their ideology, so it has to be rationalized by a hatred of the sellout leaders who aren't giving them the fantasy they want.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The overriding issue is private banks by dmg (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:31:12 AM EST
And their ability to create 'money' out of thin air, and then lend it at interest to irresponsible governments. Until this issue is addressed, the human race cannot move forward.

I don't think Eurosceptics are against bilateral trading agreements as you seem to imply. I think they are pro free trade, and understand the necessity for agreement on things like food labelling and the like. The point about the EU is that it is an attempt to create a supra-national state, with a currency, an army, a police force etc. The press want you to focus on straight bananas, because it trivialises what is actually a very serious subject.

For example, my passport accuses me of being a citizen of the European Union. The European Union has an anthem. Why would a free trade area need any of that?

The end game is the eradication of sovereign nation states, and the creation of a country called 'Europe', with a governmental system that has more in common with the old USSR than anything approaching democracy.

It does not have a mandate from the people to do this, nonetheless the so-called 'elites' persist because they know that if they can pull it off, they will be riding a gravy train for a very long time, and they actually have contempt for the public at large.

The EU accounts have not been signed off after 18 years, to give but one example of how unaccountable they seem to be.

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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
Um by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:42:51 AM EST
You don't care about the EU anymore because UK and EU are both controlled by alien lizards, remember?
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Humour me. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:00:02 AM EST
I'm trying to point out the stupidity of the EU to people who DON'T believe the world is run by Reptilian entities from the lower 4th dimension.

Perhaps if they look into the madness in more detail, they may have an epiphany.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
Also, by dmg (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:02:34 AM EST
One has to consider that the EU and the UK political establishment are basically the same thing. There is no mainstream party that advocates leaving the EU. EU membership is an orthodoxy that is taken as a given by the 'ruling classes' of the UK.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
The thing is by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:18:32 AM EST
You underestimate the difference betweeen conspiracy theorists and the rest of us.

Conspiracy theorists are not put off by contradictions. The same individual conspiracy theorists belive simultaneously that Princess Diana is still alive, and that Princess Diana was killed by the security services.

But the rest of us need our belief systems to be consistent. There's no point in arguing with someone who can adopt both sides of a contradictary position simultaneously: they're immune to logic itself.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Some conspiracy theorists. Not all, or even most. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:56:31 AM EST
I am as certain as I can be, given the evidence available to me, that Princess Diana is DEAD, and was in fact murdered by agents of the Crown. I have seen Keith Allen's excellent documentary 'Unlawful Killing' (very careful and apposite choice of title there) and the evidence it presents, and that from other sources is compelling. I don't believe she is alive.

One thing your article does get right is: "authorities are engaged in massive deceptions intended to further their malevolent goals". (emphasis mine)

There can be no doubt about this whatsoever.

Unfortunately being stupid is no barrier to being a conspiracy theorist*, but then, its no barrier to voting either, or having children. At least the conspiracy theorist is correct in the assumption that the government and associated authorities are out to get him/her, or at least have complete and utter disregard for his/her wellbeing.

*the very term itself needs to be changed, as the historical record shows plenty of examples where the conspiracy is fact. 'Conspiracy facutalist'  would be a better term.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
But both CAN be true by lm (4.00 / 1) #28 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:22:58 AM EST
See, the real Diana was switched in her childhood with an impostor. The impostor died in the auto crash as part of the security services plot to kill the real Diana but, since it was the impostor that died, the real Diana lives on in hiding.

More seriously, I think that most people carry around contradictory beliefs. Usually the contradictions aren't immediately apparent but sometimes they are. It's relatively rare for people to subject their thoughts and beliefs to strict scrutiny and, even when they do, contradictions can easily escape notice.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Hence the well known currency union of NAFTA, by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:20:01 AM EST
... the diplomatic corps of Mercosur, the ASEAN anthem and the famous president of the WTO.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
The Euroskeptics by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:42:45 AM EST
Aren't demanding that the UK leave the single currency, because we're not in it. They demand that we leave the EU, and the most common objection to it they talk about is "regulation".

Here's the ASEAN anthem by the way.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
And the regulatory burden of the WTO is? by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:35:38 AM EST
Non zero, to be sure, but of a completely different scale, and hence nature. 1% of GDP is an awfully expensive free trade area. And you're still not addressing the institutional changes that accompany the euro even for non-members.

Do most euroskeptics complain about regulation? Seems to me centralisation is more to worry about.

Ok, so ASEAN has an anthem. I like the characteristically low rent earnestness.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Not sure by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:00:10 AM EST
Where you've got that "regulatory burden is 1% of GDP" thing from

It would be good to see a comparison of the costs and benefits of NAFTA, ASEAN and EU regulations and membership, but I don't know of one. Most of the estimates of regulatory burden I've seen are wildly exaggerated.

The WTO isn't a free trade zone, it's an organization promoting free trade. It's not really comparable to the EEA or EU.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The issue is not regulation by dmg (2.00 / 0) #33 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:53:04 PM EST
It is the issue of pooled sovereignty, which inevitably means reduced sovereignty, and contributes to the over-regulation.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
No, it's alien lizards, remember? by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 02:02:47 PM EST
You can't care about trivial stuff like that in the midst of an actual alien invasion!
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
It is my understanding by dmg (2.00 / 0) #38 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:54:26 PM EST
That one of the main ways in which the Reptilians manipulate human society via control of the money supply. So it is actually highly pertinent, and not trivial at all.

The respected Oxford Doctor of Philosophy Joseph P Farrell explains a lot of how this works in the excellent book: Babylon's Banksters - The Alchemy of Deep Physics, High Finance and Ancient Religion. Well worth a read if you are of an open-minded bent.

Many will dismiss it as 'conspiracy theory', but bear in mind newspapers were reporting on the impossibility of heavier-than-air powered flight, even as it was occurring regularly at Kitty Hawk.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
That book by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #51 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:46:25 AM EST
Appears to believe that fractional reserve banking is a conspiracy. But fractional reserve banking has been how banks have worked since the Renaissance. The UK used fractional reserve banking long before the EU even existed. The whole world uses it. We would still use if we left the EU.

So now we now have three main conspiracies (forgetting Diana for now as that seems less important):

1. Alien lizards taking over the UK and EU
2. Fractional reserve banking dominating all civilization since the Renaissance.
3. EU takeover of the UK

So, this new conspiracy theory doesn't seem to mean we should be more concerned about the EU. Rather, we should be even less concerned about the EU, because it's pushed further down the list of important conspiracies. Leaving the EU is even less important when you include the new theory, since even if we left, we'd still be ruled by alien lizards politically, and dominated by fractional reserve banking economically.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Sovereignty? by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #36 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 03:04:44 PM EST
Didn't that used to be a coin?

Yes, one cannot overestimate the importance of the ability of one arbitrary geographical grouping with guns to make rules over another, somewhat bigger one. Makes all the difference...

[ Parent ]
Certainly made the difference in 1939-45 by dmg (2.00 / 0) #39 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:56:14 PM EST
And I would argue that unlike certain countries, the UK's geographical grouping has a lot to do with it's actual geography, being an island and all that.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
*an* island? by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #49 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:03:26 PM EST
After all the troubles you guys went through?
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I can see I'm going to have to start painting by dmg (2.00 / 0) #54 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:19:18 PM EST
with less broad brushstrokes here.

It means my postings will now become tediously verbose in addition to being inexplicably inflammatory to some people.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
EU budget is 1% of Eurozone GDP by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #41 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:10:45 PM EST
Which is fairly frugal for a federation, even one that can't balance the books, but somewhat gold plated for administration of a free trade area. Impact of regulatory burden on GDP would be interesting though harder to demonstrate.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
The WTO by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #42 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:09:27 PM EST
... is an organization with 30000 pages of agreed schedules and a court of arbitration, that was only created after the participants in GATT agreed to significant tariff reduction. If anything it reinforces your point about free trade needing regulation, though I still think the cucumber example is silly. Why not let people choose bendy cucumbers?

I do wish I weren't on the same side as the Reptilian Independence Party in this debate though.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Nothing wrong with people choosing bendy cucumbers by lm (2.00 / 0) #44 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:36:43 AM EST
The question isn't whether or not bendy cucumbers should be allowed in stores but whether they should be allowed to have the same labeling as non-bendy cucumbers.

A better example is olive oil. In the US there is no standard for what counts as "virgin" or "extra virgin" olive oil. Consequently there is no meaningful way for consumers to know about the real differences between the various brands of olive oil on the shelf that all have the same description on the label. But if country A has laws about that and country B does not. Then country A has a disadvantage relative to country B when exporting olive oil to the US.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Olive oil is a better example by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #45 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:14:31 AM EST
It's where there is a large inexpert retail market the regulation becomes more meaningful I guess. Though there is definitely a bureaucratic managerial instinct to over regulate once you start down this path. Allowing dogs at cafes in my home town is illegal because of a trans-Tasman trade agreement. It was illegal to sell pesto pizza in New York for quite a while because there's a law defining pizza as having tomato sauce. Etc. I suspect the reason detailed trade regulations work is as much due to the political personalities involved in trade negotiations as any advantage to such specificity.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Could be some of that by Herring (4.00 / 1) #46 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 11:57:23 AM EST
You also have to take into account a lot of the "Brussels bans Brit Bangers" style stories are bollocks.

With electrical stuff it's an issue clearly. Actually I have a theory about that. The continent was largely 220V and we were 240V. The EU "standardised" on 230V. Plus or minus 10%. I measure my voltage at home and it's 240V. "Long life" type fluorescent bulbs last less than 2 years typically.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
I agree that this sort of thing can go too far by lm (4.00 / 1) #48 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:13:28 PM EST
But, in general, I find that truth in labeling laws have been a net positive. Otherwise we'd have tons of 100% All American Beef™ on the shelves that contained absolutely no beef.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Not sure if you read it by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #50 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:33:13 AM EST
But this is mainly in reference to the EU referendum stuff I put in my last diary. The Euroskeptics are fanatical about leaving the EU, and mostly claim to want a "free trade zone" instead. But countries like Norwway and Switzerland, which are part of the European free trade zone but not the EU, still have to pay EU contributions similar in scale to the UK's, and still have to obey EU regulations.

So, the reasons they give for wanting to leave the EU, aren't consistent with a plan to be part of a European free trade zone.

To a degree, the Euroskeptics are the equivalent of the Tea Party in the US. Amongst them are, presumably, some reasonable people who want small governments and are opposed to international institutions large than a smallish state. But also amongst them are an awful lot of oddballs qwith odd theories. black helicopters, birthers, gold bugs, Agenda 21 as a UN takeover, Bilderbergers, and, yes, alien lizards.

Of course, every significant political movement has some kind of lunatic fringe. But with some movements, you do start to wonder if it's more like a lunatic garment with a sane fringe.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I have a soft spot for sane fringes by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #52 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:33:48 AM EST
.. of lunatic garments.

I went looking for the Swiss contribution to the EU and I found out there's a person called Sir Rocco Forte. Ah, Britain.

I also found out the UK contribution to the EU would quarter if it was in the EEA / EFTA on the same terms as Switzerland.  The Swiss also seem to contribute to some of the new EU member budgets via an EU mechanism.

25% or £2 billion are interesting figures, and probably why the direct comparison was surprisingly hard to find. It doesn't suit either side's argument well enough. £2 billion is a monstrous fee for a free trade area really and people would recognise its not a great deal for entry to the visitors lounge of a members only club. But 75% is a big saving, so proponents of staying dont want to mention it directly either.

I read most of your diaries for what it's worth. Given Jacques Delors is even suggesting some formal form of less integrated membership, what's your thoughts on that?

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Not sure about those figures by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #53 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:11:39 PM EST
You seem to be basing that figure on gross contributions. But the UK also receives money from the EU through regional funding, CAP etc. Some kind of net measurement might be more useful.

E.g. Greece is the biggest net recipient of EU spending, but also pays the biggest proportion of its national income to the EU. So by your reasoning where only gross contributions count, Greece gets the worst deal, rather than the best.

I think when dealing with sane and lunatic fringes it's important to consider assumptions. Suppose a government collects and spends 1bn in taxes. A mainstream economist might say, government spending is less efficient that private spending at satisfying preferences. So, say that spending is 90% as efficient. That taxation therefore has a deadweight loss of 100 million.

However if your ideology is that all taxation is theft, and government is an illegitimate institution, you might consider the whole 1bn lost.

So, what is the cost of EU membership? Is it the gross cost of EU contributions? The net cost: what the nation pays minus what it gets back? Or is it the deadweight loss associated with the contribution?

Complicating things further: regulatory costs might be cheaper if done at an EU level. Euroskeptics often like to compare the costs of the EU to an imaginary libertopia of no taxes and no regulations. But what if you compare the costs of the EU to the costs of being a regular nation state?

Suppose that the EU has car safety regulations, and that if they didn't exist, rather than no safety regulations at all, they were set at a national level. That would probably be more expensive as the nations can't pool some costs. So in that case, say 1 million of your budget contribution goes into those EU regulations: the alternative is not spending no money at all, the alternative might be spending 5 million on setting up your own regulations. So, at least some part of the EU contributions might actually be benefits if you factor in economies of scale.

If you set up a McDonalds franchise, there's a £30,000 flat fee, plus an ongoing 9.5% of sales. Is that a monstrous fee? Or is it a relatively cheap way to get equipment and marketing, benefiting from economies of scale you couldn't match as a small independent business? You can't really tell whether a joining fee is "monstrous" until you also look at the benefits you get from paying it, versus the alternative costs and benefits of going it alone.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
It's a very good point re macdonlds by dmg (2.00 / 0) #55 Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:40:56 PM EST
Because the unasked question is, are more macdonalds a good thing, at any price?
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
I think by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #56 Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 05:26:59 AM EST
That's a subset of a larger issue that neither right nor left has come to grips with: the fact that economies of scale and transaction costs often mean large organisations can produce goods and services more efficiently than small ones.

The fantasies of the right tend to involve advanced economies made up of small businessmen and the self-employed. The fantasies of the left tend to be of workers cooperatives and happy peasants tending their own small plots.

The realities of right policies tend to involve vast mega-corporations. The realities of left policies tend to involve giant state bureaucracies and huge collective farms. In both cases the pressures of reality, with economies of scale and transaction costs, tend to favour large organisation.

Having lots of small businesses isn't generally a sign of a thriving entrepeneurial culture, but a failing or underdeveloped economy.

Lots of McDonalds can mean an increasingly homogenized environment. But it also means people can eat hot meals for less money with less waiting at a time of their choosing.

I just wish people would be honest about the tradeoffs, instead of pretending that they can have both small independent organisations and high efficiency.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
You can expand your point to include government by dmg (2.00 / 0) #62 Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 10:33:57 AM EST
There is a case that a single world government would do a better job than the 100s we currently have.

That is what the EU project is about, it's about the consolidation of the management of power.

A homogenised political landscape is not much fun if you happen to disagree with it, or if it is authoritarian/totalitarian in nature.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
Net costs by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #57 Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 08:05:43 AM EST
It depends whether you are really arguing for free trade area, or you are arguing for a federal Euro government. Regional funding is a particular joke. Fine, some solidaristic contribution to the poorer members, well again not much to do wih trade but fairly efficient or fair to do multilaterally if you're going to do that sort of thing. Sending money to be spent in your country to get blessed by the EU first before getting it back? That's not anything like a free trade area anymore, it's a government and not a very useful one at that.

I think its disingenuous to focus all your discussion on the nature of the free trade area when it is much more than that.

There are indeed economies of scale, but there's diseconomies as well. This phone is annoying. Me though let me make a second comment.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Who do I troll when I troll Europe? by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #58 Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:34:47 AM EST
Right so there's two aspects to this - the European free trade area, and the European federal government. Certainly the world being what it is there are grey areas and it can be convenient to make them the same thing in some ways. But since almost the only benefits you specifically are bringing up are about trade (until the very last comment), let's look at that first. Straight off the bat, 75% of EU expenditures go on the common agricultural policy and regional support. Neither of these have bugger all to do with trade except as a second order effect. So the EU is at most 25% a free trade area. (Yes yes British rebate, it's significant but not that huge.) The budget of the ASEAN secretariat is US$15 million. That's .0005% of GDP vs 1% for the EU. You are doing something different over there.

If its not a free trade area what is it? Pretty much a federation. Is it worth being in and helping set the rules, or paying a huge cover charge to be in the cool club but cede less control, like the Swiss? Yeah I can see both sides but I'm less sympathetic to the former to be sure. The fee is monstrous in that it is detached from costs: the EU is pretty much rent seeking there, much like McDonald's.

I guess I've never worked in a company less than 100 people. The small firms had their inefficiencies. The big firms have others. In a very big firm, I'm at one now (100k+ employees), you get a real Roland Coase effect where you can see the internal departments are pretty remotely related to one another, and could start drifting away out of orbit. A massive scale organisation like the EU also likes to work with other large scale organisations, so it promotes more massive corporations almost unwittingly. I suspect like the banks that caused the EU's current financial woes, it tends to be generally a bit cheaper until it is suddenly a lot more expensive.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Not really sure what your point is by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #59 Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 11:59:44 AM EST
You're responding to a comment when I made a reference to how the Euroskeptics can't be satisfied by any plausible deal on Europe, and that's rationalized into anger, for which most of the argument was in the previous diary.

The Euroskeptic Tory MPs mostly represent rural constituencies. So, they're not big opponents of CAP. Large agricultural subsidies are to them one of the few good things about the EU. If the UK did leave the EU, agricultural subsidies are one of the things they'd almost certainly like to just do at the national level instead. ("Vitally important for food security you know, got to be prepared for another U-boat war in the Atlantic").

If you look at say, the Daily Mail you'll see that the main complaints about the EU are regulation and immigration. CAP doesn't really get a mention. Complaints about cost are usually tied to "bureaucracy", with the impression that all the money is spent on lavish salaries and offices for overpaid bureaucrats. There's almost no objection to regional funding per se, only the presumably inefficient way it's administered.

You seem to be saying "well yes they have unrealistic ideas about solutions to the problems they complain about, but if they complained about different problems instead, their solution might fit."
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I think this is the crux of it by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #60 Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 04:10:50 AM EST
You are arguing against Euroskeptic Tories, I am arguing against the current form of the EU.

The structure of the EU is changing, so it seems like a fair time to talk about that. It is a federation, so if staying in being serious about democratic accountability might be worthwhile. Euroskeptics as a group may be incoherent especially if you include the Daily Mail as a datapoint, but wouldn't make sense to discuss coherent alternatives? Even if you feel Cameron is falling into populism here in offering a referendum, what makes you think he would offer exactly what some average of opinion polls suggest? Wouldn't, think tank or policy suggestions from MPs be a more useful data point?

It is curious that the Labour opposition to the EU has collapsed so.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #61 Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 05:17:43 AM EST
I think you might be falling into the trap of thinking: "The EU has some benefits, some flaws, and is fairly unpopular, so it ought to be reformed".

The problem is that from the point of view of mainstream economics, it's the benefits that are unpopular (unified product standards, free movement of labour) and the flaws that are popular (farm subsidies, GM bans).

So, any democratic reform of the EU is likely to make it worse rather than better, from an economic point of view.

Earlier you compared the EU very critically to NAFTA and ASEAN. Yet the EU evolved through painstaking public debate in every nation, with 34 national referendums along the way. ASEAN and NAFTA were more or less imposed by elites. Insofar as the EU is worse than these, it's because the EU was created more democratically, not less. Even more democracy isn't likely to make the EU more ASEAN-like.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
re: normativity by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:57:07 PM EST
I don't know what media that blogger is frequenting, but I don't recognize anything they're talking about. I know there is mainstream media articles on "open marriages" and swinging, I've generally not seen these conflated with polyamory - and would not expect them to be.

Blogger seems to be offended by this conflation, but I don't know who is supposed to be doing the conflating? Random people blogger encounters and tries to explain things to, and then they go "oh right, open marriages I read about those"?

People fail, blogger fail.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

Osborne by dmg (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:37:17 PM EST
Has quite some way to go before he beats the one eyed Scottish idiot. But give him time,
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
Fuck you by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:09:09 PM EST
Seriously, what gives taking the piss out of an irrelevant but serious disability a former prime minister had?

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry by dmg (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:39:53 PM EST
I meant to say one eyed Scottish cunt.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
As well as being unpleasant by Herring (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:33:27 AM EST
it's also inaccurate. GB's injury that he received as a child (hilarious that) left him blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. He didn't lose an eye.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Close enough. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:50:37 AM EST
I don't like this new trend that is emerging where if you state something factual people get 'offended', and that somehow means you should keep quiet.

It's like when you point out the Jewish overrepresentation in the UK parliament. People start accusing you of being an anti-semite, when you are actually merely stating a fact. (If Muslims were to be overrepresented to the same extent that Jews are, there would be around 200 Islamic MPs in the UK parliament).

So while I take on board your point that I should have called Gordon Brown a 'blind in one eye Scottish idiot', I feel that you are not focussing on the core issue, which is Brown's total incompetence as a politician, and his documented personality defects.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
Ad hominem is ad hominem, by belldandi (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:02:06 AM EST
regardless of it being true or not...

[ Parent ]
Yeah, by dmg (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:06:09 AM EST
I know. But his record speaks for itself.

I am just venting as he and his misguided supporters personally cost me a large sum of money, with his cynical raid on my pension.

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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
I see by Herring (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:14:01 AM EST
My mum lost an eye to cancer and she has some Scottish ancestry. I bet you're pissing yourself laughing about that. Glad I could brighten your day.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
that's horrible. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:12:42 PM EST
i think everyone in this thread are together in their compassion and best wishes for human victims of disease and injury, especially scottish humans.

[ Parent ]
Let's not get into cancer one-upmanship. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:50:55 PM EST
It's in poor taste.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Well you seem to find it funny by Herring (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 02:47:47 PM EST
OTOH, her treatment was paid for from taxes - which you would find repellent.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
It was a throwaway comment by dmg (2.00 / 0) #37 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:47:05 PM EST
I didn't realise this place had become such a hotbed of 'politically correct' touchiness.

As for what I do and don't find repellent, you are off the mark.
What I DO find repellent is the ongoing taxpayer funding of various questionable military involvements in far flung places, and of the bailing out of capitalist banks that made a bad bet. Healthcare is way down my list of concerns. Obviously the less coercion involved in obtaining the funds the better, but I'm not a heartless person.
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
You clearly are a heartless person by Herring (2.00 / 0) #40 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:21:33 PM EST
because you find people losing their sight funny.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
In no way do I find it funny. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #43 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:13:20 PM EST
It is a statement of fact.

Just like stating that Israelis are killing Palestinian children is a statement of fact.

I find neither of them funny. But I should not be censored for merely pointing out facts.

I actually pity Gordon Brown  in a way, he was totally out-reptiled by Bliar, and his legacy amounts to:

Stealing our pensions
Selling off our gold at rock bottom prices
Presiding over massive deficit spending that we are still paying for
Ending boom and bust, and saving the world.

He was a disgrace to the office of prime minister, and should be on trial for his criminal disposal of Britain's gold reserves to bail out AIG.

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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
Re: Lost Girls. by dmg (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 02:21:18 AM EST
Wasn't there a massive hoo-hah about it due to the under-aged nature of the pornography in question? Or did you miss that? It is possible you could get prosecuted for owning it, if Wikipedia is to be believed (which admittedly is open to question).
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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
Not really by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 05:55:25 AM EST
That doesn't give any examples, and says "Moore states that the storm of criticism which he and Gebbie expected did not materialize"
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Huh. by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #47 Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:18:31 PM EST
I just didn't think it was very good.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
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