I have removed the search box because it was not working but the search box in the title bar seems to.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Fracking in Lancashire

15 councillors in Preston have kyboshed fracking in one of the proposed sites on the grounds that the local roads cannot handle the traffic that would be involved. Not a triumph, I think, for the bedwetters, but evidence of the pusillanimity of the council.

No one has ever been killed by fracking, unlike all other forms of energy production. We have perfectly serviceable laws to protect the public against adverse effects of hydraulic fracturing. Does anyone doubt that there would be massive (that is to say, colossal, immense, enormous) resources available to any citizen of Lancashire who could make a half-way decent case that they or their property had been harmed by the process.

On the plus side, fracking will reduce energy costs and the cost of living of those in Lancashire. Lowered energy costs will increase employment. Indigenous supplies of energy will reduce our dependence on overseas suppliers, not (characteristically) good guys.

On the minus side, it is conceivable that aquifers will be marginally contaminated. Any one adversely affected will have the law to forbid continued fracking or to award compensation. As for seismic effects, tremors caused by fracking have been compared to dropping a bag of sugar on the floor or to a bus passing your house.

Given the chance to vote, I would abolish valve and bypass surgery before prohibiting fracking. Presumably, this is because I hate Mother Earth. Actually, no. The earth is God’s creation and we have a duty to protect the environment. The anti-fracking activists are, to a person, leftist in their thinking. They hate industry and markets, the source of our astonishing material wellbeing. They claim to care about the poor. They lie. If this technology were allowed to spread and develop, the benefits to third world countries would be spectacular. Women and children who die of respiratory diseases caused by burning wood and dung would enjoy the benefits of electricity which we enjoy and which are too numerous to mention. Clean air and water are far more plentiful in ‘capitalist’ countries.

If you hate humanity (and many 'environmentalists' do; humanity is a cancer, they say), vote against fracking. If you are in favour of ‘human flourishing’, support it with every fibre of your being.

Have you ever heard of Neodymium? It is crucial to wind farms. Most of it comes from China. Its extraction and processing is literally deadly. Wind farms kill birds and bats in huge numbers. I could live with this if the f**king things actually produced cheap, ‘sustainable’ energy. Every wind farm (because the wind either blows too hard or not hard enough) requires back-up power stations: gas or coal.

My rage against the greens leaves me gasping: is it because they are so stupid or so evil? They are both.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


This is one of many Intelligence Squared debates on YouTube. There were some interesting points made – by those opposing the above motion. To stand up and declare that ‘Marx was Right’ is exactly analogous to declaring that Paul Ehrlich was right. PE is the word champion of being wrong about everything. The UK, according to him would have ceased to exist some thirty years ago. Industrialised societies should have perished from starvation. He continues to publish and to be lionised by the bedwetters.

The debaters were agreed on one thing: Marx admired Capitalism. He thought that it was but one step on the road to Communism. Communism is, to all intents and purposes, dead. Marxism, regrettably, survives.

Interestingly, Marxism defines itself with respect to Capitalism. This is a big mistake. Capitalism is not an ideology – it cannot have internal contradictions. Free market apologists did not invent Capitalism. We simply wish to see the state cease to intervene in normal, natural interactions between human beings. Marx was wrong about everything. At the time he was writing, predicting that wages would fall, wages were rising.

When leftist progressives attack what they call capitalism, they always get it wrong. They allege that bail-outs to banks are in some way capitalistic. Bankruptcy is capitalistic. RBS and Lloyds were bailed out by the f**king government. Our government took money (looted from us) to cushion gamblers who had made bad bets. Free market thinkers may have sympathised with those who made mistakes. Speaking for myself, sympathy is as far as we go. In every business (and I speak from experience), you make good decisions (which are and deserve to be rewarded) or you make bad decisions (which are and deserve to be punished). RBS and Lloyds should have been allowed to take the bankruptcy route – particularly in view of the fact that our banking system allows banks to create money out of thin air.

Let’s hear it for bankruptcy! A business fails; someone else buys the assets and (maybe) makes it work.

This is not an economic ideology. Leftists simply do not understand free markets.

The big division is between those who see the world as it is and those who have a conception of the world as they would like it to be.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Families of Ideas

This is one of my themes. I think it is fairly uncontroversial. An atheist, a socialist or a warmist would, I think, agree that, for example, if you take a position on subject A, it is (to some extent) predictive of your position on subject B. I hope you think that this is interesting – and a bit baffling. You tell me that, in your opinion, inequality is the major issue facing our society. Ladbrooks would give me lousy odds on correctly guessing your view on global warming. What on earth have the two to do with each other? Not a lot – superficially. If I were a confrontational sort of bloke, I might argue that stupid people have stupid opinions. Actually, this is what I think. I don’t think, though, that that would be worth blogging about. Atheists and socialists think the same.

I have been listening this afternoon to Phillip Johnson arguing against Richard Dawkins. He believes that RD takes the position he does on ‘Darwinism’ because of his world view. Dawkins gives support to this belief: he claims that Darwinism makes it possible to be ‘an intellectually fulfilled atheist’ – and that is what he wants to be. He is grateful to Darwin. Good luck to him.

Suppose I were in his camp. I would believe that space, time, matter and energy were all that exist. The surprising existence of ‘complicated beings that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose’ have to be explained in terms of space, time, matter and energy and nothing else. The Neo-Darwinists give this their best shot. Purpose is ruled out from the beginning. Any ‘apparent’ evidence of purpose or design is (by definition) illusory. QED! Having thus defined the rules of the game, I cannot lose.

I am not in his camp. There have been two camps in European intellectual history. One camp maintains that ultimate reality is matter; the other that ultimate reality is mind. The former is the tyro. For much more than two thousand years everyone believed the latter. Did I just happen to be born into camp two?

The use of the word ‘liberal’ is interesting and perhaps instructive. One meaning is ‘generous’. We like generosity; we like to be thought liberal. How comes it that in the USA political opinions are broadly categorised as liberal or conservative? It drives conservatives and (particularly) libertarians crazy that someone like Obama is called liberal. What is liberal, they ask, about compelling people to take out health insurance? What is liberal about prosecuting people for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage? What is liberal about progressive taxation, whereby the wealthy pay not just more but a higher proportion of their income? What is liberal about politically correct so-called speech codes in universities? ‘Oppressive’ would seem a more appropriate word. Leftism, statism and ‘progressivism’ have been violently oppressive in the last hundred years. Pol Pot, the Cambodian dictator, achieved the remarkable feat of murdering one third of the people in his country, sometimes for the crime of wearing spectacles – I am committing a capital crime at this very moment. Of course, Mao, Stalin and Hitler each killed more in absolute terms than PP; but proportionately he wins the gold medal.

Multiculturalism is a ‘liberal’ agenda, as is feminism. Feminists and multiculturalists find it difficult to be critical of FGM and ‘honour’ killings. To my mind, it is hard to identify practices more illiberal than these.

The issue of AGM divides people. Alarmists are frequently to be found on the ‘liberal’ left. Some have called for the imprisonment of ‘deniers’. Prison for finding the alarmist case unconvincing?

For sure, there have been cases of people who have rejected one set of beliefs and embraced another. I am comforted by the apparent fact that progressives are more likely to become libertarians or conservatives than vice versa. David Horowitz is a dramatic example. Brought up by card-carrying Marxists to be a hard-core leftist, he now espouses conservative views and campaigns for free speech on US campuses.

I have seen dozens of videos in which so-called liberals have attempted silence him (and other conservatives) by noisy demonstrations.

Why is it that conservatives and libertarians are much more likely to support Israel and that ‘liberals’ are likely to accuse Israel of genocide? Why do so-called progressives energetically campaign for the right to abort a baby for the crime of being inconvenient to the mother? Protecting the weak is surely as clear cut a moral obligation as exists.

For the record (and to nobody’s surprise), I am a libertarian conservative. I strongly support free markets and free speech. I strongly support Israelis in their resistance those who would destroy their country. I think that AGM is a crock and that policies designed to de-industrialise the west and to deny industrialisation to the developing world are wrong-headed at best and wicked at worst.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Personal Stuff (continued)

I am informed by Manchester Royal Infirmary that they want me in to a pre-admission clinic on 24th of June. Surgery is scheduled for 29th or 30th.

A man is coming tomorrow to rip out the bath and install a walk-in shower. My ablutions will then be much easier.

Wish me well!
By tomorrow I hope to have a functioning shower cubicle. I will just walk into it, instead of climbing! They will restore the ‘grab rails’. TBTG.

The Pope Has Not Been Reading My Blog

More is the pity.

Fortunately, AGW is not a matter of faith or morals.

It is a matter of the deepest regret that the head of my church has shown himself to be as ignorant as he has. Moreover, he has revealed himself, not for the first time, to be a member of the bien pensant chattering classes. Oh dear! He doesn’t know much economics. Which is to say that he has not shown himself to be even aware of economic ideas outside of the Marxist/Keynesian mainstream.

I do not think, for one moment, that he has changed any minds. Those of us with active minds were sceptical of the alarmists before he pronounced on this issue. He has, however, undermined many thoughtful Catholics. I do not, for one moment, think that all Catholics think as I do. Many do. We have suddenly been plunged into the position of anti-papists. He was wrong to do this to us. He has, and this is indubitable, given comfort to many who are viscerally anti-Catholic. Some Catholics, I suppose, are in the Al Gore camp.

One of my deepest concerns is about what I call ‘families of ideas’. Materialism, Subjectivism and Socialism are all members of the current predominant family. AGM is, at least, a cousin.

The pope is entitled to his opinion on economic issues, though his ecclesiastical role gives him no authority for his opinions. Earlier popes have been unequivocal about their opposition to socialism. I do, indeed, hate and despise socialism. For me, socialism is (like fascism) incompatible with Catholic theology. I am a five year old Catholic. My love of the church is not, has never been, a consequence of my libertarian world view. I am delighted (at the same time) to discover that my Catholicism is entirely consistent with libertarianism.

Perhaps my favourite member of the Austrian School is Tom Woods. He is a historian rather than an economist. But he knows more Economics than Paul Krugman, who has a Nobel Prize. TW has written many fine books. My favourite is The Church & the Market. He is, by the way, a Catholic.

I would like to hear Tom Woods’ take on the Holy Father’s latest encyclical.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Personal Stuff

I am informed by Manchester Royal Infirmary that they want me in to a pre-admission clinic on 24th of June. Surgery is scheduled for 29th or 30th.

A man is coming tomorrow to rip out the bath and install a walk-in shower. My ablutions will then be much easier.

Wish me well!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Magna Carta

Eight hundred years old tomorrow. Wow. King John was forced at Runnymede to sign the great charter. To it we owe our concept of ‘The Law of the Land’, to which even the king was subject.

Who better than DH to expatiate on Magna Carta? I shall not presume to add anything.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Seventy-two Minutes of Brilliance

Daniel Hannan is as incandescently brilliant a political orator as the English speaking world can boast today. He has no rivals. For the record here are some of the competition: Jonah Goldberg, George Will and George Galloway. I admire the first two of these unconditionally both for their oratory and their positions. GG is a phenomenon – wrong about everything but an extraordinary speaker.

Please watch this ten point argument for political disengagement from the EU. Imagine him being opposed by Ken Clarke, Leon Britain or Nick Clegg. He could take them on simultaneously and comprehensively defeat them.

He will never be a minister. However, he is too precious a treasure in our political life to make this any cause for serious regret.

This speech is a master class in how to think and how to argue. Who were his masters in rhetoric? Disraeli was long dead before Hannan was born. It is a mystery. It is native brilliance.

One of the points he makes is this. In 1973 what has morphed into the EU accounted for 36% of world GDP. It is now 25% and by 2020 it will be 16%. It is the only trade block in the world which is shrinking. We are specifically forbidden from signing trade agreements with, for example, India. India’s economy is growing at 7% per annum. The language of business in India is English. We have accounting traditions in common. There are over a million Britons of Indian descent. Iceland (pop about 300,000) makes its own trade agreements with India. We cannot. Beyond absurd.

Another point: EU law takes precedence over UK law, not because of treaty obligations but because of judicial activism by EU courts. Democracy?
Do listen. DH is an education.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Climate Change (Again!)

I am moved to post again on this hoary topic not because it is in the news – but because it is not! For sure, the usual suspects carry on as if the science were ‘settled’. The serious scientists, eg Tim Ball and Richard Lindzen can be found on YouTube with totally convincing arguments as to why the ‘bedwetters’ have no case.

I am still bewildered about the way the battle lines are drawn. With few exceptions, the sceptics are right-leaning or libertarian in outlook, whereas the ‘true believers’ are passionate in their conviction that there is scarcely any arena in which government should not ‘do good’ whenever and wherever it can.

The left has little interest in cost/benefit analysis. They are primarily concerned about feeling good about themselves. One of the reasons Margaret Thatcher was such a breath of radical fresh air was that she brought a housewife’s perspective to Westminster politics. She had an instinct for affordability. It is astonishing that Gordon Brown, brought up in a Scottish manse, was so profligate with taxpayers’ cash.

I shall briefly rehearse the reasons I have for opposing the climate alarmists. This is not an exhaustive list. I am not going into the technical reasons – I am not technical myself. Nevertheless, I am certain that my list is comprehensive enough to persuade any open-minded person to be sceptical of the alarmist position.

·         Climate changes. It always has and always will. These eight words are commonplace among the sceptics – almost embarrassingly so.

We are (and it is universally agreed) in an interglacial period in Earth’s History, thanks be to God. We are emerging from the Little Ice Age of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – lucky us! Australia’s Bob Carter demonstrates conclusively that there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about our current situation. The Roman Period was warmer than what we are going through, likewise the Medieval Warm Period. The CO2 content of the atmosphere has been both higher and lower than it is at present. In any case, it is clearly the fact that, insofar as there is any correlation between CO2 and temperature, higher temperatures precede high levels of carbon dioxide. Al Gore’s graphs made this plain. QED – already.

·         The link between carbon dioxide and warm temperatures is extremely contentious (see above). CO2 is undoubtedly a ‘greenhouse’ gas. But nobody denies that water vapour accounts for 95% of the greenhouse effect. There are billions of tons of it in the atmosphere, which is what you would expect of a planet about 70% of whose surface is covered in water constantly warmed by the Sun. There is no doubt that we have substantially increased the CO2 in the atmosphere. But, and it is a very big ‘but’, most of the increase in temperature over the last century or so occurred before the massive increase in consumption of ‘fossil fuels’ after WWII. I put quotes around ‘fossil fuels’ because there is some evidence that hydrocarbons (which are detectable in comets) do not exist as a result of the decomposition of pre-historic plants and animals.

·         Is all warming a bad thing? Maybe we have contributed marginally to warming of the planet. The ‘urban heat island effect’ is well attested. The panic mongers told us in the 70s that we were headed for global cooling. Deny it if you can: human beings tend to do better in warm climes than in the fridge. Many more people die as a result of bitterly cold temperatures than in warm periods or warm regions. Do we go to Greenland or the Bahamas for our holidays? The much maligned Middle Ages (slandered as the ‘dark ages’) were the period in which we built hundreds of glorious cathedrals.

     During this period the monasteries flourished; they advanced technology, medicine, education and philanthropy to a degree never seen before. The Middle Ages were warm. Food production was cheaper and more efficient. I like warm.

·         Are the proposed solutions likely to have their desired effect? Is shutting down our industrial society a smart move? Is denying the third world the benefits of development just? The most optimistic alarmists make extravagant claims about cuts in CO2. By their own lights, savage cuts to CO2 emissions will have next to no effect on temperature. Imagine yourself on a panel. An audience member asks you this: If we (accepting the UN’s assertions, predictions etc) enact swingeing legislation, how soon and by how many degrees will global temperatures return to what you imagine is the ideal? Puleez.

      Bjorn Lomborg, a professional statistician and sometime environmentalist, calculates that on the basis of IPCC figures warming will be delayed (by the end of the century) by about 37 hours, if we implement the suicidal policies recommended by the alarmists.

·         Finally, some non-technical facts: CO2 constitutes 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere and human beings are responsible for 3% of it. Termites and volcanoes and a plethora of other sources make up the other 97%. The alarmists don’t shout these figures from the rooftops. Of course not. They make the alarmists’ case simply incredible. Without CO2 plants would not be able to photosynthesise. Without CO2 we would be in big trouble.

My Physical Condition

A few weeks ago, as I was on my way to bed, I collapsed. I do not remember losing consciousness or hitting the floor. I phoned for an ambulance and was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary. They admitted me and performed a myriad of tests: Electro-cardiogram, Echo-cardiogram, Angiogram etc., etc. They concluded that my aortic valve was defective and should be replaced. I felt no anxiety at all.

After more than two weeks in hospital, I was scheduled for surgery. However, on the very day it was to happen, they discovered MRSA on my skin and determined that this meant that open-heart surgery was too risky. I was discharged. I was put on a regime of body washes and nasal cream to eliminate the bacteria. They would not operate until I had provided three negative swabs from my nose and from my groin. So far I have had two negative results and am waiting for the results of the third next week. If it is negative, I will be admitted for surgery. I still feel no anxiety. I certainly hope that the result is negative and that I get the operation in short order. It’s not so much that I want them to save my life but that I want my ‘quality of life’ to be improved.

I can honestly say that fear of death does not feature in my thoughts. I would like to have more energy. Undergoing the procedure is necessarily risky. There will necessarily be a period of discomfort as I recuperate. I remain in excellent spirits. I regard myself as being undeservedly lucky – particularly with respect to my three sons, three daughters-in-law, three grandsons and two granddaughters. I became a Catholic less than ten years ago. I am a ‘serious’ Catholic. In other words, my world view is informed by my faith. My lack of anxiety is indubitably, at least in part, a consequence of my Catholicism. I always knew that I was mortal, that life is a sexually transmitted and always fatal disease – of course, it far more than that.

My sometime hairdresser tragically lost a child and, consequently, her faith. She suffered what most of us would agree to be the ultimate catastrophe. But she was wrong. She had always known that children sometimes die. That her child died is/was, from a logical point of view, irrelevant. I feel cruel to point this out. It does not diminish my pity and grief one whit.

My life has been, in comparison with billions, extraordinarily fortunate: never hungry, never tormented with other than ordinary worries.

The professionalism of those who cared for me in the MRI was exemplary. I am still not persuaded about socialised medicine.

State education is inferior to private education in almost every case. In some poor countries poor people choose to pay for their children’s education rather than send them to free government schools. In our country we have seen how miserably the state ran car manufacturers. Why should medicine be different from anything else? Why should medicine not benefit from competition and deregulation? We would not contemplate state run supermarkets. Food is surely as important as health care.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Koran

There are some converts to Islam who say that it is the perfection of the Koran which has led them to believe.

It is a commonplace among Muslims that the Koran is a miracle, that no human can produce anything which is comparable: Islam is therefore true – QED. Islamic apologists think that this reasoning is irrefutable. They, of course, reserve to themselves the right to adjudicate on whether any human sentence is or is not indeed comparable. They thereby render their assertion irrefutable. Clever!

Being, I hope, a fair minded man, I have (not for the first time) had a look at the text. Not the Arabic, which is allegedly the only authoritative version, but an English rendition of the meaning by pious Muslims.

It is astonishing – astonishingly turgid, repetitious, boring, unstructured and impenetrable.

I have some sympathy for Muslims who might maintain that it is only to the eyes of faith that the truth and beauty are revealed. I encounter many attacks on Christianity which are opaque to me: that isn’t what I believe, I inwardly protest.

Christian and Muslim attitudes to scripture are radically different. There is scarcely a writer in the Christian tradition who maintains that the Bible is the literal Word of God, certainly not in the Catholic tradition. I believe that the prophets and saints were men and women whose thirst for God were rewarded by God’s drawing near to them. Every one was a fallible sinner. Muslims believe that the Koran is the eternal Word of God, given by the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed. I think that this exposes the Almighty to the charge of being the worst stylist in the history of literature.

Many scholars have drawn attention to the contradictions and inconsistencies in the Koran. If Muslims are right, this cannot be. So, they have an answer. Although the whole Koran is perfect, verses which were revealed later may ‘abrogate’ verses which were revealed earlier. This puts me in mind of Animal Farm: All animals are equal; but some are more equal than others. Regrettably, the earlier irenic Meccan verses are abrogated by later warlike Medinan verses. Reason is thus discarded at the outset. This has put the Islamic world at a disadvantage.

I very much doubt that any of you will have the patience to read all the suras in the URL to which I have linked above. Good luck!