On progress

Much criminality results from inadequate parenting, especially when kids are very young, i.e., before the age of 2. Society depends on there being well-adjusted children, but is too stupid to realise this. Lack of parental leave exacerbates the problem. 

About 60 years ago, the capitalists turned feminist when they realised that increasing female participation in the rat-race meant that they could practically double the cost of key consumer items, principally houses.

Prior to what was then called “women’s liberation”, primarily it was men (many of whom coped by excessive drinking) who were rats on the wheel. The greatest trick of capitalism was to dress up the hamster wheel as liberation, and thereby conning women into becoming as downtrodden and hollowed-out as the majority of men. 

Of course, you not allowed to say any of the foregoing lol. The foregoing is offensive to conventional (linear progress) feminist thinking; and it is just as offensive to simpering HR departments and to today’s post-union hipster pleb class (men and women alike), who collectively are dumb enough to be convinced that that bosses and employees are “in it together”.

The difference between “popular” and “populism”

Lots of gnashy Brexiters react furiously to being described as “populist”. They reject the implicit insult.

Instead, they spin “populism” as a salt-of-the-earth approach which merely refers to political activities or ideas that claim to promote the interests and opinions of ordinary people.

Similarly, feminism spins itself as being merely about equality. 

In reality, much feminism is animated by an animus against men.

Unfortunately, that self-serving definition of populism is self-pitying pish.

Worthy ideas (such as charity, or the NHS) can be popular. But “populist” refers to the kind of popularity which is obtained through deception and cynical over-simplification.

In reality, “populism” refers to simplistic, slogan-based “solutions” to complex issues (such as “get Brexit done” (without even defining how lol), or “take back control“, or “too many foreigners“), and usually proffered cynically, in the knowledge that the “solution” won’t work in reality (Brexit has of course failed on every count) – but it will build up enough of a head of emotional steam (in a socially fractured internet age) to create short-term political changes.

Britain’s Nigel Farage is a master at this side-line expert schtick – full of simple, megaphone solutions, but without the guts to take part in real politics himself.  Shouting beery slogans from the side-lines is as good as it gets for this 7-times political loser.  We saw what happened when short-lived British PM Truss attempted a populist solution – chaos, and the world’s fastest u-turn lol.

My sincerest wish is that Farage’s new “party” – “Reform” – win a thumping majority and actually get into power, instead of wanking endlessly on the sidelines.  It’d be the most fun spectator sport ever, watching choleric armchair theorists trying to govern on the basis of emotion.  You’d have the IMF in inside a decade, after the destruction of the monarchy and the mass disorder and food riots. 

And how ironic is this – Farage’s Reform party is not even a party in the truest sense, but a registered company with centralised control. It had been a Farage vehicle, but is now led by Richard Tice, a property investor turned political agitator.

That is, the man who advocated that Britain should “take back control” has set up an unaccountable apparatus ran primarily by a small cabal.

Smells like the 1930s folks. 

When V.A.G. was hip

Back in the 70s and 80s, VWs and Audis were cool.

These 2 classic ads make the point.

Subtly, of course.

Not obvious now, but the “tell Charles I’m on my way” TV ad below, featuring a Yuppie wanker, was a sly dig at BMW drivers of the period:

And the magazine ad below (featuring a Vauxhall wanker in the grey car, shoulder chips firmly in place) also is very true to life. In those days, the VW GTi badge was an aggression magnet:

Schrödinger’s ball

The relevant rule is:


The ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air.

Clearly, the ball in the Japan-Spain game was no longer physically in contact with the end line:

However, the ball was fractionally also overhanging the outermost edge of the end line, in the air, as indicated for convenience by the light spot on the ball.

(This overhang / oversail aspect is interesting.  Consider, in passing, the analogous position of a player who deliberately leaves the field of play during the game (this is a yellow card offence).  If any player stepped outside the playing area (both feet outside), would any referee deem that player still to be in the playing area merely because he kept his head leaned over the playing area?  Good luck with that one.) 

(The ball, being 3 dimensional, is capable of being partly on the ground and partly in the air at the same time; and, being a sphere, is capable also of simultaneously not touching the white line on the ground while overhanging it in the air.)  

In this case, the argument (for holding that the ball had not gone out of play) is that, while the ball had passed over the line on the ground, it had not fully done so in the air.

Ergo, case closed, the ball was not fully out. 

But there is an ambiguity in the wording.

The rule is phrased as either / or.

The rule does not state that:

The ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground AND in the air.

The question then is – does a ball, rolling on the ground, “pass over” the line as soon as: (i) it ceases to touch the line – or (ii) when it ALSO ceases to overhang the line?

If (ii), then we must read into the rule some words which are not present, namely:

The ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air, [and, when it passes over the goal line or touchline on the ground, no part of the ball which is in the air must overhang the goal line or touchline]”

There would have been no ambiguity had the rule merely said:

The ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline.

In that shortened version, all of the ball must have passed over, in all circumstances, full stop – including not physically touching and not overhanging.  No ambiguity. 

But the rule does not say that. 

The rule as written is an either / or rule.

That is, the rule states that the ball can be out in either of 2 different ways. 

The ball is out if EITHER it passes over on the ground OR in the air.

The “or” is disjunctive.  If we are to give words their ordinary, everyday meaning, “or” is always disjunctive.  And, in that premise, the first way that the ball is allowed to be out, “on the ground”, specifically excludes the operation of the second limb of the rule, namely, “in the air”. 

Accordingly, according to the way the rule is written, the ball can be out “on the ground” without needing to be out “in the air”. 

If the ball must be both over the line on the ground and in the air when it crosses on the ground and crosses in the air, then the last 7 words of the rule are redundant / tautologous, and add nothing.

And that cannot be right.

In construing drafting, there is always a presumption against meaninglessness, or redundancy. We only conclude that the wording of a rule (or a contract, or a statute) is gibberish (and therefore should be ignored) if we can attribute no meaning or utility whatsoever to it.

Otherwise, we enter a dark world where lawyers and administrators, subjectively and unilaterally, can decide to ignore any words in laws or in contracts that they don’t like.

But it is not difficult to ascribe meaning to the last 7 words of the rule.

They simply draw a distinction between passing over on the ground, and passing over in the air. We do not need to grasp for obscure or forced meanings.

And, since we must afford semantic heft to the last 7 words, it follows that there must be a difference between passing over on the ground and passing over in the air.

For if there is no difference at all between the two physical states of “on the ground” or “in the air”, then the distinction would not need to have been made in the first place.

And the only difference can be is that a ball passes over on the ground once it no longer touches, and it passes over in the air when it does not overhang.

Otherwise, there is no difference.

Accordingly, the ball in the Japan-Spain game fulfilled one limb of the definition and was out.  The subsequent goal should not have stood.  

Everyone will say – oh for f***’s sake, you’re reading too much into it.

I’m not.

Either we follow the rules of football, or we don’t. 

And, in following the rules, we must take care to follow what the rules say, and work out precisely what they mean; and not to rely on second-hand interpretations.

The British Union is not a union

The UK’s Supreme Court, sitting in London, has ruled that Scotland may not hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

The judgment is un-surprising – but also interesting.

First, it reveals that the British Union is emphatically not a union, at least, not in any modern sense.

Ask yourself what would happen if England wished to hold a referendum on an English secession from the UK union?

By contrast, the EU is a union, freely entered into. You decide to join, and, as the UK has shown, you have a right to leave. And that right to leave can be exercised unilaterally.

By contrast, any country or region wishing to leave the British Union de facto needs English approval to do so.

And that’s the intractable asymmetry problem at the heart of a union between a large English backside and 3 Celtic pimples.

The judgment is also interesting in another way. At line 78 in the judgment, it was held that: “a lawfully held referendum is not merely an exercise in public consultation or a survey of public opinion.

This is new. I dislike referendum(b)s, viewing their plebiscite-democracy character as being at odds with a system of representative democracy. The UK’s judiciary here is demonstrating its jurisprudential elasticity by this new categorisation of plebiscites as having a legally intermediate nature, but no good will come of it. Referendums are too intrinsically febrile, and too susceptible to troll-farm / mob-capture. A system of representative democracy moves more slowly and any change emanating therefrom will be less socially divisive and longer lasting. That is, if you don’t like something, you need to get out there, form a party, sell your ideas to the electorate and get into government on your manifesto. That takes real commitment and tends to weed out the bullfhitters. By contrast, voting in a referendum is no more onerous than voting in a bake-off competition. They should be banned.

Musk is an asshole

Has there ever been a dumber business deal than Musk’s botched and over-priced acquisition of Twitter? Musk massively over-paid for Twitter, and his approach to the deal was so amateurish that he locked himself in early. Frankly, had he been a mid-ranking investment manager, you’d have fired him for such a cock-up.

Thoughtful analysis of Musk’s latest folly here:

It looked like Musk had put himself into a commercial situation he could not get out … Few business people, following advice, would have allowed this to happen … the utter lack in this transaction of any visible risk-based approach by Musk is remarkable.”

Twitter is just another technologically-unremarkable social media platform. From Friendster to Bebo to MySpace, the history of the internet is littered with their carcasses. There is nothing intrinsically different or sustainable about Twitter – it’s always going to be subject to the whims of generational fashion, and there is no technological barrier to entry for any competitor. Only an idiot would have blown $44 billion on a piece of crap like Twitter.

So, having lunged into a binding commitment on the seeming basis of no due diligence to speak of, what’s Musk’s big plan? Mostly, it’s to lash out and blame everybody else and inflict economic harm on other people to cover up his own bungling.

First, he states publicly that it would be better if Twitter allowed racist assholes and dumb conspiracy theorists (such as Trump) back onto Twitter. (Musk was working in the office when he came up with this brainwave.)

But then major companies (Audi, General Motors, Pfizer, United Airlines, etc) – who are less than enthused by having their products associated with racist assholes and dumb conspiracy theorists – start to cancel their Twitter advertising deals.

This is a direct result of Musk’s stupid strategy (the one he dreamt up in his office).

Next, Musk rages at said companies for being “influenced by activists”.

Blinded by his own ego, and too fragile to own his own mistake, Musk is unable to accept that companies merely respond to what their own customers are telling them. Unlike Musk, they make decisions for financial reasons.

Next, Musk has another brainwave – get everyone back into the office full-time.

That’ll sort it out. We need that face-to-t0-face interaction, for un-specified reasons.

Next, desperate to recoup some costs from his over-priced and un-researched purchase, Musk has another brainwave – let’s fire half the staff!

Oh, and, despite what Musk said about everything needing to be done face-to-face at all times, curiously, firing thousands of people can be done by e-mail. No face-to-face interaction needed for that.

Next, having hit a few speed-bumps with his stupid “back to the office” plan (e.g., Irish employees, who had moved out of Dublin due to Dublin’s exorbitant rents and general unavailability of housing, pointed out that returning to the office would involve them doing a 10-hour daily commute), Musk then invited everyone to sign up to work unlimited hours for no extra pay. This, according to Musk, is what you need to do – work around the clock, in a business you have no personal stake in, for no extra pay and dedicate your entire time on this planet to the good of your employer.

This stricture, from a man who then received a $55 billion dollar payback for working part time at Tesla.

So, it’s OK for Musk to get super-normal rewards for working part-time, but you suckers should work around the clock for nothing more.

The hubris and hypocrisy of this increasingly-unhinged guy beats the band.

And let’s not forget that, in the travesty that passes for his “personal” life, Musk is a failure – he has a string of failed relationships (divorced three times already); and he has named one of his childen X Æ A-12, thereby all but ensuring that the unfortunate child will grow up to despise him.

Years ago, I admit I thought about buying a Tesla.

But Audi makes wonderful EVs folks. So does BMW. So does Lucid Air. So does Porsche. So does Hyundai. So does VW.

And it’s to one of those that my money will be going in future. I’d rather walk than buy anything that would associate me with a cissy-bully twerp like Elon Musk.

Musk’s toxic personal brand is now the biggest reputation liability his business interests have to deal with, and he’s too full of it to see that.

America’s descent

Thankfully, in Ireland or Britain, it is difficult to conceive of a reality where senior political figures and / or the son of a previous President or Prime Minister would be gloating, openly and crudely, about a potentially-murderous attack on the elderly husband of a political rival.

It reveals how far America has fallen that nobody is any longer surprised by that level of thuggery being on open display in the US.

This next image was part of a Trump-inspired culture of violence against political opponents:

No surprises then that, in response to such incessant promptings, Pelosi’s elderly husband was beaten up by a covid-denying, vaccine-denying Trump fan who believes the last election was stolen.

Trump’s dumb, scum-bag son then mocked the attack on Twitter, and, despite the fact that the MAGA thug concerned has been arrested at the scene, tried to refer to a conspiracy theory among Trump’s nut-job supporters that Pelosi was in fact beaten up by a gay prostitute:

Sniggering at murderous attacks on political opponents?

The Atlantic magazine, rightly, noted that this unsavoury episode marked “a new level of depravity in the GOP“; the fact that “a parade of Republicans somehow think that an unhinged, hammer-wielding intruder putting an old man in the ICU is funny.”

No wonder the Trump fans love the fascist in the Kremlin – the similarities between them are all too obvious.

One genuinely wonders if the US will survive.

If a country’s polity has degenerated so much that the previous President’s son is openly and crudely gloating at a murderous attack on the husband of a political opponent, can one say that there even is a “United States” any more?

Ireland’s hatred of tall buildings

There’s a reason why churches have tall spires. 

Spiritually, psychologically, they’re deeply aspirational.

The building soars.  Our spirits soar with it.  You never hear of a “low-rise cathedral”. 

Back in the last century, when Ireland was poor, I was embarrassed by Ireland’s lack of skyscrapers, and consoled myself with the expectation that, as soon as the country had a bit of money, we’d rectify the situation.

But we’ve had money coming out of earholes for decades, and still the same timidity.

I realised our lack of vertical ambition has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with an inferiority complex. A particularly-insidious inferiority complex too, as it has convinced itself it’s mere historical curation.  

Meantime back in planning land, another day, another tall building shot down by Irish planners:

“ …the proposed building would stand apart as an overly assertive solo building which would not form part of a coherent cluster,” the planners found.

The proposal would therefore have a significant and detrimental visual impact on Dublin’s historic skyline, by reason of fragmentation and visual intrusion and would thereby seriously injure the urban character of the City Centre skyline, would create a precedent for similar type undesirable development and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

Yep, we can’t be having anything “assertive” now, how vulgar.  We’re Irish, no assertiveness here. Croppies lie down.  These planners see a large building “dominating”.  I see a tall building as providing hope to its neighbours, a tall template that their stunted, apologetic existences can aspire to …

Architecturally, Dublin is still a colonised city, forever genuflecting to the 3-storey Georgians. 

Everything about this miserable decision screams cautious bourgeois twats in full-on committee mode. 

If I was in the room where that dull decision was taken, I suspect that I’d have fallen out with everyone in the room. 

Are people still scarred by Fatima Mansions (the tower block, not the band) lol.

The subjectivity is off the scale here, as is the unspoken, and culturally regressive, reverse-snobbish, assumption that “everyone hates tall buildings”.  Blind prejudice masquerading as a priori standards. 

A tall building can be ugly and inappropriate, same as a short one.

And care must be taken to ensure that any building – tall or short – does not obscure a good view of an existing well-loved building, of course. 

But as this bloke notes:

Georgian proportions have defined the Dublin skyline for the last 250 years, but standards established then should not be the sole determinant for the ambition or natural evolution of the city for the next 250 years.

This position contributes to urban sprawl, prioritising the character of a few areas over developing the green belt within and outside the city.”

Consistently, in comparison to some other European cities, Dublin needs around twice the amount of land to house the same amount of people. 

Dublin houses circa 2,900 people per square kilometre.  The corresponding figure for Madrid is 5,400 people per square kilometre.  For London, it’s 5,100 people per square kilometre.  For Barcelona, 5,000 people per square kilometre.

In other words, Dublin’s sprawl is off the scale, and all because Dublin’s planners have decided that a large chunk of Irish territory should be governed by a height template established by the English in the 1700s.  But that’s OK – the sprawl contributes to Dublin’s endemic traffic gridlock and it means that all those tourists stuck in taxis in from the airport get more time to admire all those pleasantly-nondescript low-rises that Dublin’s planners have decided are the only way to live:

Dublin city centre houses

Done right, a skyscraper is beautiful:

On my first visit to New York, I was up early and away into Manhattan, as excited as a child. 

The towering brutalist buildings were and remain things of wonder:

NYC, sunrise
Manhattanhenge in New York City, seen from 42nd street.

Ugly as sin, and an appalling vista to be stoutly resisted, in the minds of Irish planners:

Chicago skyline
Skyscraper, London

Check the old church beside the above skyscraper in London. In Dublin, that juxtaposition would have led to sackings.

And, of course, skyscrapers don’t just look good from the outside in. They’re terrific from the inside out too, as this one in London shows us;

Skyscraper restaurant, London

That day in NYC years ago, I certainly didn’t get up early to have a day-long gawk at a bunch of 3 stories. 

Dreams and ambitions should be lofty.

I judge countries’ ambitions, and openness to change by many things, but by 2 in particular – how tall their buildings are and how high their speed limits are …

In each case, well, “lower is lower”

Centuries later, when it comes to planning, we’re still dominated by our former colonists; it’s still a case of croppies lie down. 

Truss is the best failure ever

Even by British traditions of political failure, this prime minister’s brief tenure has been a spectacular disaster.”

Article by Tom McTague in The Atlantic, here.

True, and one looks underneath the bonnet / hood of cultural life in an attempt to discern the increased tolerance for rank stupidity which facilitates both the rise to power of these numpties, and the willingness to try out their daft policies.

Always, I keep coming back to the Internet – specifically, its simultaneous democratisation of people who are not cool-headed but who are governed by their emotions (akin to being ruled by a cabal of racist taxi drivers), and, as a medium, the Internet’s social-media wing’s twin tendency towards bias-affirmation and its vulnerability to mendacious, industrial scale astro-turfing.

Truss’ cabinet is distinguished primarily by one thing – the number of its members who are extreme ideologues. The kind of people who will say to themselves: “never mind about it working in practice – does it work in theory?

Brexit, for instance, was an exercise in self-delusion on a national scale.

It’s the spirit of the age. Instead of keeping religious beliefs inside churches or in one’s personal life, so that the only inform one’s macro ethics, in the age of neo-puritanism and rampant oppression Olympics and rigidly self-pitying identitarianism (from BLM through MeToo through Brexiter nationalism), religious fervour has infected domains previously animated by rationality, level-headedness and a spirit of compromise.

Or, in other words, most people nowadays are nuts, and it’s only an aging cohort of people who came of age in the 70s and 80s who still remember what it was like to be level-headed, and to have necessary doubts about anything.

Why the Nissan Cube tanked in the West

Here’s a house in Miyazaki, Japan, designed for a family of four. Few Westerners would buy this house. You see lots of houses like this throughout Japan

Here’s a picture I took in 2010, somewhere in rural Japan, of a Nissan Cube outside a cuboid house:

And here are 2 pics of the wonderful Nissan Cube:

The Cube sold well in Japan, and was sold there for over 20 years, between 1998 and 2019. In Europe, it was sold for a mere 2 years, between 2009 and 2011, and Nissan pulled it from the European market, due to very poor sales. It didn’t fare much better in the US, being sold there merely between 2009 and 2014.

Pretty much every Western person I ever met hated the way Nissan Cube looked.  They had never driven it, so had no idea about how it actually drove.  But they were adamant that they never would even try it.

It appalled Westerners.   

The French (in my experience) were least inclined to be critical, perhaps due to their tradition of making proudly-utilitarian cars (Citroen 2CV, Renault 4, etc). In terms of design ethos, the Renault 4 (surely the ultimate holiday home runaround!) predated the Cube by nearly 40 years:

Renault 4

Dig deeper, and it’s simple snobbery at work. 

Square, boxy, lines are both utilitarian and very down to earth. 

They do not project wealth, trendiness, or power.

The fact that they are useful and pleasant to be in is irrelevant. 

We’re all living exemplars of Sartrean bad faith. 

We’ve too much status-anxiety to embrace a Cube.

The Japanese, with the culture of humility, have no such mental blocks.

More fool us.