Thursday, 6 June 2019

Have We Gone Yet?

This paper (Stanley Brodie QC, 3rd June 2019) argues that we left the EU at 23:00 on 29th March 2019:
(5.1) ...The conclusion, I would suggest, is that the Agreement used and implemented by the Prime Minister, Mr Barnier and President Tusk was unlawful and ultra vires Article 50. 
The first extension proposal, on 14th March to extend to 30th June, was lawful but was rejected by the EU. Subsequent shenanigans, which leave us with 31st October as the latest deadline for the apparat to ignore, were unlawful and skullduggerous:
(5.4) ...the civil servants responsible for briefing parliament to enable an informed debate to take place, themselves were misleading it. The alteration of the text of Article 50, and of the proviso to paragraph 3, must have been deliberate. 
The beneficiary of this misconduct was the Prime Minister, who could and did arrange for extensions of time without hindrance.
Thus we left on 29th March absent any lawful alternative. An interesting case, though I suspect that lawfulness is not a consideration.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Birth of the EU

Jean Monnet's Mémoires (1976) open on the 10th May 1940, the day German forces invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France and Churchill became PM.

Monnet hears the news from General Ismay as he arrives at his office of the Anglo-French Co-Ordinating Committee at Richmond Terrace. Pausing only to note that he, Monnet, was alone in having expected the attack at Sedan while the brass hats, politicians and everybody else got it completely wrong (even Hitler, who had only adopted Manstein's high-risk plan on 17th February) he goes on to survey his work for a similar outfit in WWI and regret that this time round, too, the alliance's economic and logistic co-ordination is slow-moving:
Les mécanismes de coordination et de coopération plus étroites que nous mettions en œuvre étaient trop lents. Il n'avait pas fallu moins de quatre mois pour obtenir de nos administrations nationales le simple bilan du potentiel aérien, et ce bilan était indispensable pour convaincre les États-Unis d'intensifier leur production de moteurs d'avions.
He had already discussed his solution, ever closer union, with Neville Chamberlain and apparently got short thrift. But he kept at it:
Dans une nouvelle lettre personnelle à Churchill, je proposai, le 6 juin, une fusion des deux forces aériennes dont j'avais fait faire, non sans difficulté, un inventaire permanent.
Two days after the end of the Dunkirk evacuation, a day after the Germans started their assault towards Paris, it was clear to him, as he wrote, that the air forces must be combined into one
si les forces des deux pays ne sont pas traitées comme une seule, nous sommes condamnés à voir les nazis acquérir la maîtrise de l'air en France... Bref, la victoire ou la défaite peuvent dépendre de la décision immédiate d'utiliser dans la bataille présente nos forces en matériel et nos pilotes comme une seule force
but as he notes it was already too late (Dowding wrote his letter advising against sending any more fighters to France ten days later). The practicability of combining the two forces at the drop of a chapeau in the midst of this catastrophe is not a problem that occurs to him. And so:
Paradoxalement, à mesure que les décisions les plus logiques, les plus simples coordinations échappaient à notre pouvoir, nous étions conduits à placer plus haut nos objectifs et à tenter de reprendre au niveau politique le contrôle des événements qui nous échappaient sur le plan militaire. Quand il devint inutile d'espérer combiner des états-majors, la perspective s'ouvrit à une fusion des souverainetés.
and he got to work with his pal Arthur Salter on a proposal "Anglo-French Unity":
Le 13 juin, nous mîmes la dernière main à un texte de cinq pages examinant les hypothèses qui se présentaient alors  : toutes nous amenaient à la conclusion que seule l'union totale de la France et de l'Angleterre sauvegarderait les chances de la victoire finale.
The day before the Germans entered Paris, this is a
projet d'une déclaration d'union indissoluble. Chaque Français, chaque Anglais jouirait dans chacun des deux pays de tous les droits de citoyen. Une union douanière serait créée ainsi qu'une monnaie unique.
Common citizenship, a customs union and a single currency: the simple and obvious counter to the Nazi hordes.

Over the next few days they worked to get their plan put up to Churchill and de Gaulle. It went to Cabinet on the 16th, the day the French government collapsed and Pétain sued for terms:
Nous comptions, non sans de bonnes raisons, que les deux hommes seraient sensibles à la grandeur du geste dans l'absolu et à son efficacité pratique dans l'immédiat. Mais il était clair que chacun d'eux, par son hérédité, sa croyance mystique dans la souveraineté nationale, rejetait les dispositions du projet qu'il jugeait inconcevables et inapplicables.
It is this pesky "mystical belief in national sovereignty" that stymied Monnet's highly practical plan. Inconceivable, inapplicable? Clearly Churchill and de Gaulle had no notion of the "quick fix":
C'est sans romantisme que j'envisageais la fusion de deux pays et la citoyenneté commune de leurs habitants appelés à se dresser contre le même péril. J'étais également sans doctrine et ne rattachais ce geste à aucun projet fédéraliste. Bien qu'il y eût là l'ébauche d'une construction institutionnelle durable, je ne pensais pas, je n'avais pas le temps de penser en ces termes abstraits. Seule la nécessité de résoudre une grave situation de fait m'inspirait.

Monnet is dismissive of Winston:
Je le revois dans un costume gris à rayures roses, le cigare à la bouche, sortant du conseil pour venir nous parler, traitant de toute cette affaire d'un air négligent – et assurément tout était négligeable dans l'idée qu'il se faisait du monde. Telle était sa manière d'être supérieur.
and thus this superficial and supercilious buffoon is left to the business of saving Britain, defeating Germany, other trifling matters of that sort.

The difficulties our own Mrs May is encountering in her attempts to liquidate Parliament and Democracy are nothing by comparison. Really, there is no excuse.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Dunning Kruger: The Biter Bit

The Dunning Kruger Effect seems so pleasing a finding that it surely must be true...
If you're incompetent, you can't know you're incompetent ... The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.
...the Hard of Understanding are incompetent to understand that they are incompetent, while the intelligent and learned tend to underestimate their own competence, assuming that many people must be able to understand what they understand.

Most of one's life experience in a nutshell, plus American politics, nearly 97% of Twitter, slebs, "artistic" avant-gardists, &c, explained.

Two unique papers in Numeracy reveal problems with the graphic introduced in the 1999 Kruger and Dunning paper. Subsequent researchers used it, (y − x) versus (x) scatter plots, and related variants for nearly two decades. The authors show how a major part of the body of literature that used these approaches seems to have mistaken and interpreted mathematical artifacts as the products of human behavior.
 Whether this disproves the DK Effect (a false theory built on the mathematical incompetence of the researchers) or proves it (the researchers being incompetent to understand their errors and ploughing on regardless) I am not sure.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Please Don't Learn to Code

Coders: Please don't learn to code. Really, we've got it covered.

Management: We need people with brains like Alphabetti Spaghetti who can bluster copiously at all levels of the organisation.

Coders: Very well, here is your mainframe...

The Darwin-Coxe Machine or  Narrenturm, on which the insane were swung to calm them (Vienna early C20th).

Sunday, 10 February 2019

FGM: Fakely Generated Mendacity

Very rum. Seems the totally evil Sir Christopher Chope

has totally blocked this righteous Law to make Female Genital Mutilation a crime in our Sceptered Isle...

...or, if not an "FGM Law" per se, as the Guardian insists, at least an amendment to Section 5A of, and Schedule 2 to, the existing 2003 Act.

There was I thinking that: FGM has in fact been illegal in Britain for 23 years or so; the law has only resulted in one prosecution and one conviction in all that time; Sir Christopher's objection was that an amendment relating to the custody of children should be properly scrutinised and debated in Parliament; far from blocking the amendment, the consequence of his action is that now Parliament has the opportunity to debate this very thing.

Imagine a world in which Parliament had some responsibility for making law, and making effective law at that; a world in which colourful ethnic pastimes like FGM were actually treated as crimes and prosecuted with vigour... a nightmare world against which the lying shitbags good folk at the BBC, the Guardian, are our bulwark.

MPs are spending a lot of time at the moment on important matters like "What I Did In My Holidays", bringing pine cones in for the Nature Table and sneering at Sir Christopher to advertise their own righteousness. Little chance, it seems, of any debate on FGM getting squeezed into the schedule anywhere.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Black Lives Matter to the FSB

Somewhat startling, this account of Russia's trolling "Black Lives Matter" from the middle of both ends for a both ends against the middle effect.

A somewhat startling waste of time and money since the Twitterati do the trolling for and to themselves anyway. Promotion of the wise, courageous, moderate and just would be truly subversive but don't tell Ivan.
Pictured: Sukhoi SU-27 launches an attention-seeking missile: the shrieking "mee mee mee" as it approaches its target is designed to spread demoralisation.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Martial Waah

Per the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (h/t Tony Blair)

1    Meaning of “emergency”
    (1)    In this Part “emergency” means—

        (b)    an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment of a place in the United Kingdom

    (3)    For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) an event or situation threatens damage to the environment only if it involves, causes or may cause—

        (b)    disruption or destruction of plant life or animal life.

posting Tiny Tim singing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" should be enough to precipitate civil emergency, martial law and the Putsch

if anyone has the sheer damn spunk to actually try it...

Alas for my Struggle, such is not in fact a possibility in this sensible country where re-Tweeting a squib about transgenderism merely provokes a half-hour phone call from a policeman and not even an armed response team in sight.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Why Bother Writing This Rubbish?

No surprise to discover that the Guardian has an "Opinion Donald Trump" page, which has no doubt kept a considerable staff of stone-faced harridans in daily employ for the last thirty months.

No surprise either that the "Opinion" is an incoherent gallimaufry of cognitive leftovers; it is the Guardian after all.

I was going to pick through the article and try to reconstitute the self-contradictory arguments, half-baked concepts, prejudices, snobberies &c from the scumble of titbits, but lost the will even as I read.

Would that the writers had as little staying power as I.

salad (n): a combination of Hindustani argula leaves; Swiss chard and lamb's lettuce; Oban creel-caught languostine; Peruvian (or Bolivian at a pinch) quinoa; and so forth, ported to the Guardianista's table within 24 hours of the harvesting, with a splash of the 1988 DOP balsamic of Reggio Emelia.

"salad" ("n"): the sort of common-or-garden trash of lettuce; tomato; red onion; grated carrot; and so forth eaten by poor people: ingredients* probably refrigerated somewhere along the way (!!!).

Reader: Indeed, why bother writing this rubbish? I'm the only one who ever looks at your blog, and I never get much past the first paragraph before turning to something instructive and entertaining.

Blogger: No, I meant the Guardian.

* well, at least they used to be picked by proper Albanian peasants. And who's going to prepare our coffees in Pret when the Europeans have gone?

Friday, 18 January 2019

Come Fly With Me

Some people may think that such an Accomplishment as this, can be of no use to the Owner or his Party, after it has been often Practis'd, and is become Notorious; but they are widely mistaken : Few Lies carry the Inventor's Mark; and the most prostitute Enemy to Truth may spread a thousand without being known for the Author. Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ'd for only an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no further occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and Truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceiv'd, it is too late, the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its effect : Like a Man who has thought of a good Repartee, when the Discourse is chang'd, or the Company parted : Or, like a Physician who had found an infallible Medicine, after the Patient is dead.

Jonathan Swift, The EXAMINER. Numb. 15.
From Thursday November 2, to Thursday November 9, 1710
Or is it Number 14? Odd.

It is a strange sensation to be reading Plato's Republic during a hyperinflation of pother and mendaciousness: Polemarchus has not hidden behind a sidescreen to shout abuse at Socrates until he goes away; Thrasymachus, angry as he is, has not started bellowing his "the just is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger" incessantly, nor hired a chorus of harpies to accuse Socrates of Trumpy McHitlerFace RacoSexoPronounism, or a battalion of lawyers to keep on impeaching him until they find something to impeach him for.

There seems to be a sense that there is such a thing as reality, and that the truth of it is worth some measured and reasonable enquiry.

A relief, then, to note that Socrates was eventually put to death and that Swift was writing three hundred years ago: the "post-modern" is nothing new and civilisation has survived it until now.

Illustration: Bosch's "Ship of Fools" from five hundred years ago (phew). I cannot find an "Aeroplane of Fools" though the Falsehoods must be whizzing about somehow.