Night of the Mini-Tornadoes

I kept being woken last night by sudden blasts of wind against my window. I’d doze for about 15 minutes and then get woken by another sudden blast slamming against the window. The very powerful blasts of wind would only last a few seconds. And the wind seemed to change direction each time. In between blasts there was almost complete calm.

This regime went on all night. And I ended up blearily wondering whether some bodies of air travelled much faster than the air around them, like speeding cars on a motorway weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic. I couldn’t think of any other explanation. I wondered why there weren’t motorway pile-ups of air, as the fast-moving bodies of air ran into the backs of the slow-moving ones.

But in the morning, fully awake with a mug of tea and a cigarette, I thought that there was probably a much better explanation for what I’d been experiencing: strong eddies of spinning air, or mini-tornadoes.

For the most part the wind seems to all blow in more or less the same direction all the time, much like a placid river. But maybe when the wind strengthens beyond some point, the flow of air becomes turbulent, just like a river in flood, and the air becomes filled with eddies (right) as it tumbles over itself. And in these eddies the air is moving very fast, going round in circles, just like in a tornado.

So last night maybe what I experienced was a succession of mini-tornadoes. They were part of a relatively slow moving mass of air, all moving in the same direction. They were like eddies in a river.

They would probably have been invisible. Or less visible than the French tornado of a few days back shown below:

The high winds had made the news. They had not been predicted, it seems.

The Met Office is facing criticism for failing to name a ferocious storm that battered Britain with destructive 95mph winds and another blast of heavy snow.

Thursday’s storm which hit a day after Storm Fionn wasn’t given a name, even though amber and yellow warnings were issued, because the predicted conditions fell just below the criteria…

In Britain, the storm left more than 35,000 homes without power and caused travel chaos as it brought down trees onto rail lines and roads, forced bridges to close and disrupted flights and train and ferry services.

Perhaps it’s very difficult to predict mini-tornadoes. My experience last night was of relatively light winds blowing most of the time, punctuated by brief periods of very high winds. Maybe the 95 mph winds were only found in mini-tornadoes, because the principal prevailing wind was probably not much stronger than 30 or 40 mph.

And perhaps mini-tornadoes would explain why just one tree gets blown down (like the one below) and not the ones next to it. A mini-tornado might only be a few feet or yards in diameter, and the strongest winds within it might be located at one small, single point within it, delivering hammer blows at one single location.

It reminded me that yesterday I’d seen some crows in flight, hundreds of feet in the air, and noticed that they were flying in irregular paths, some going down as the others near them rose. It’s probably hard for birds to fly in very turbulent air. One moment they’ll be thrown downwards, the next lifted suddenly upwards or leftwards or rightwards or forward or back. Maybe some of them even get their wings broken by sudden gusts.

Anyway, my guess is that while the Met Office could predict the average wind speed (which certainly wasn’t 95 mph), they couldn’t predict the mini-tornadoes or the high winds inside them.

One simple physical explanation for the mini-tornadoes might be that if the average speed of the wind cannot be increased over a large geographic area, the wind speed can be raised locally in the mini-tornadoes. So the kinetic energy in the prevailing wind might be ½mv², but be ½mV² inside the mini-tornadoes, where wind speed V (95 mph) is a lot bigger than v (30 mph). In this manner the kinetic energy of the entire air mass could be raised without raising the prevailing wind speed, by having small localised “hot spots” of fast-moving air.

Anyway, if nothing else, it goes to show that we don’t understand very much about weather and climate, and that includes the Met Office.

And I’m going to be dozy for the rest of today: I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

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The Psychologists

A month or two back somebody emailed me some links to Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor or psychology. He’s apparently well thought of in conservative circles, for resisting some daft new politically-correct language rules that his university was trying to impose on everybody.

So I’ve been watching him talking (always very animatedly) on YouTube about one thing and another. Here’s a 3 minute video of him talking about Brexit:

He’s certainly an interesting guy. But as I watched him I kept thinking that I’m really not a psychological thinker. Psychologists like Freud and Jung really have next to nothing to say to me. In fact, to be perfectly honest, they have nothing to say to me. And I don’t know why anyone takes any interest in them.

The way I look at the world is primarily as a physical rather than psychological entity. And as I see human life, it’s not so much that it is made up of hopes and dreams and fears, but of down-to-earth things like getting enough food to eat.

For me, human life is all about growing, harvesting, storing, cooking, and eating food. It’s something we do every day. Later on today I’m going to go shopping for some more food to eat. We humans – in fact all living things – have to work to stay alive. And work entails an expenditure of energy. And we get the energy we need from the food we eat. And in fact when I get home later today with some more food, the packages in which it comes will say how much energy is contained in it. For example, the fish pie I ate a couple of days ago contained 1670 kJ of energy.

And apart from eating food every day, I also wear clothes and live in a little flat (apartment). And the clothes I wear and the walls and roof of the flat in which I live serve as insulation to reduce the rate at which I lose heat from my body – which has a core temperature of 37ºC. And heat is a form of energy. So my eating and clothing and housing are all about energy conservation and management.

And so is the car that I drive. The car does work for me, as it carries me around. And if I didn’t have a car, I would maybe have had a horse or a mule. And that’s all about energy as well.

And global politics is all about energy too. We’re always trying to gain/keep control of energy resources like coal mines and oil fields. And we’re always looking for new sources of energy – like wind and solar and tidal and hydroelectric or nuclear energy.

Psychology doesn’t come into it at all. Or psychology is entirely secondary. Our psychology is our response to the physical world in which we find ourselves: the world of food and clothes and houses and cars and mules and coal mines. Our psychology grows out of our attempt to make sense of the world in which we live. And we worry about whether we’ll end up starving or homeless, or whether the price of food and clothes and houses will sky-rocket, and we sincerely hope none or these things happen, and we dream of an ideal world in which those things won’t ever happen.  But these fears and hopes and dreams are all about physical conditions – starving for lack of food, thirsty for want of water, cold for lack of clothing or shelter.

So I see human life as embedded in a physical reality. It’s the physical reality of food and clothes and houses and cars, but also the physical reality of the seasons and the weather and the sun and the moon and the tides.

But when I read someone like Freud or Jung, I find myself dealing with people for whom psychological states seem to be their only reality. Theirs always seems to be a rather disembodied psychological world from which physical reality has been expelled or sidelined. I never get the sense of the Freuds and Jungs of the world that they ever did anything like go shopping, or cook, or eat food. I’m sure they actually did all those things, but somehow or other they regarded them as being unimportant, and the only really important things were psychological in nature: fears, hopes, dreams.

And I have the same concern about Jordan Peterson. For in his 3-minute talk about Brexit he managed to bring in the story of the Tower of Babel, the book of Genesis, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and God and Heaven and Satan and Lucifer. And all these things are fictional or imaginary entities. Or they’re psychological entities. Did anyone really try to build a Tower of Babel? Probably not.

Or at least I don’t think I could have ever introduced so many abstract notions into any discussion of something as concrete as Brexit. For me Europe is a physical place, with people living in it, and jostling with each other as they try to get enough food on their plates, and clothes on their backs, and roofs over their heads. And Britain is an offshore island of Europe. And the insularity of its people is a reflection of their physical insulation from the European continent.

So when I think about Europe (or anywhere), I start with geography and climate. I think those realities shape the psychology of any people. So if the peoples of southern Europe are fun-loving and easy-going and happy-go-lucky, it’s probably because it’s warmer in the south, and life is easier. And conversely it’s colder and wetter and darker in the far north of Europe, and so we might expect the people of the north to be more hard-working and serious and maybe even a bit gloomy.

And if Britain is an independent country, and its people are of an independent state of mind, it’s because Britain actually is an independent island. And if the independent cultures of Greece and Rome arose where they did, it was in part because both are peninsulas – almost-islands – where a language and a culture could survive in ways it might not elsewhere, where peoples were separated from others only by rivers or mountain ranges.

And when Britons sailed across the Atlantic to the new world, they took little bits of Britain with them, to create New England or New Scotland or New Caledonia or New South Wales. And when the Spanish and Portuguese crossed the Atlantic, and settled in warmer climates than the British or Scottish or Dutch or French, they probably took bits of Spain and Portugal with them, and recreated those countries there, as best they could.

And if Britons invented the game of football (soccer), it was as a highly energetic game in which people ran around a lot, because Britain is quite a cold country where you need to run around a lot to keep warm. And if Brazilians reinvented football as a game where players strolled lazily around, and kicked balls with deft and highly accurate passes, it was because in Brazil it’s too hot to spend all your time running around.

Is there any need for psychology as an abstract, independent study in itself, detached from everything else? I think you can learn a very great deal about the psychology of any people simply by looking at the country in which they live, which has gradually and insensibly shaped them for many generations, just as it has shaped the hills and mountains and rivers and forests around them.

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Cultural Degradation

From Nisaki:man:

The number of smokers in Greece has decreased over the last five years, however, the non-implementation of a smoking ban in enclosed public places has irritated the public, which calls it “cultural degradation,” writes European affairs website euractiv.com. The European Commission  generally advises Greece to implement the smoking ban which was voted in  but never fully implemented.

It’s the smoking bans that bring the real cultural degradation. What’s more degraded than having smokers exiled to the outdoors?

Smoking bans destroy communities, shatter friendships, and bankrupt pubs and cafes and clubs. They create a waste land.

Smoking bans destroy culture. They destroy a genial and convivial culture that has existed for centuries, in various slightly different manifestations, all over the world – from the English pub to the French bistro to the Spanish cantina.

When I visited Japan in 2005, and stepped out on the streets of Fukuoka, I was delighted to find a cosy little bar full of Japanese reading newspapers and eating rice and drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. I couldn’t understand a word that any of them said. But it didn’t matter, because it was as convivial as any English pub or French bistro.

It was a universal culture. And now it’s being deliberately and systematically smashed.

Nobody should be too surprised now if geniality and conviviality is disappearing not just from public bars, but also from public life. Nobody should be surprised if the whole character of public discourse is getting uglier and meaner. Once the arenas of easy and affable discourse have been closed to the smokers who once occupied them, nobody should be surprised if discourse ends, and distrust and misunderstanding multiply. What else is going to happen when people cease to meet?

At least the bastards in the EU recognise that it’s “cultural.” Because this has always been a cultural war. It’s a cultural war that has been launched on an old and stable culture by demonising the products that the culture used – beer, cigarettes – to sustain its convivial character. If it had been a cultural war launched upon churches, they would have banned candles instead, and for the same pseudo-epidemiological reasons.

It’s a cultural war as ferocious as that conducted by Mao in China, back in the 1960s, when much of China’s cultural heritage was smashed to pieces. And it’s probably being conducted by Maoists in the West. Wasn’t Manuel Barroso, one-time President of the European Commission, once a Maoist?

According to a new survey conducted by ΚΑΠΑ Research and published last week (12 January), the number of smokers in the country has significantly decreased.

Particularly, 27.1% of the population today says it smokes compared to 36.7% recorded by researchers in 2012. This decrease within five years is a record on an EU level, analysts highlighted, adding that this is the smallest prevalence of smoking ever in the Greek population.

In addition, most Greeks said they opposed smoking and 88.1% consider it a national goal to reduce it.

The survey also focused on the issue of passive smoking in enclosed public places, with 83.8% of respondents claiming that the non-compliance with the law is a cultural degradation.

Moreover, 76.1% of Greeks are angry about the fact that the country is one of the few EU countries that allow smoking in enclosed areas, exposing its citizens to passive smoking.

If 76% of Greeks are angry about the absence of any real smoking ban in Greece, wouldn’t that be something that would be influencing Greek bar owners, as they lose 76% of their customers?

This reminds me of all the hordes of non-smokers who were going to show up in UK pubs once smoking was banned in them, but never did – because the hordes didn’t exist. And if UK landlords had been left to run their pubs they way they wanted, UK pubs would still be as smoky as any Greek taverna. For nobody much wanted to change UK pubs, apart from a few zealots.

So I doubt if many Greeks want to change Greek culture. It’ll only be a few Maoist zealots who want to smash it all up.

The survey must be fraudulent. But then everything conducted by the antismokers in Tobacco Control is always fraudulent.

But don’t ask me. Ask Nisakiman. He has lived in Greece for many years.

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The Chain

I’m still trying to get my head around something I read a day or two back.

“Chain migration” definition:

Chain migration is a term used by demographers since the 1960s to refer to the social process by which immigrants from a particular town follow others from that town to a particular destination city or neighborhood. The destination may be in another country or in a new, usually urban, location within the same country.

Chain migration can be defined as a “movement in which prospective migrants learn of opportunities, are provided with transportation, and have initial accommodation and employment arranged by means of primary social relationships with previous migrants.”[1] Or, more simply put: “The dynamic underlying ‘chain migration’ is so simple that it sounds like common sense: People are more likely to move to where people they know live, and each new immigrant makes people they know more likely to move there in turn.

Seems simple enough. Chain migration is something that’s probably been going on in places like the USA since the time of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1630. When your brother or your uncle was already living there, it was easy for you to migrate as well. And once you were living there too, it was easier for your sister or your mother to follow in your footsteps. One migrant pulls other migrants behind him, and they draw in yet more migrants. That’s how the “chain” works.

“Chain-smoking” works the same way. The first cigarette is used to light the second cigarette, and second cigarette is used to light the third.

But when Donald Trump mentioned “chain migration”, this was Senator Dick Durbin’s response:

“When it came to the issue of, quote, ‘chain migration,’ I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally. He said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.'”

That’s crazy. That’s just barking mad. Durbin seems to be saying that you shouldn’t use words like “chain” in front of African-Americans, because it will instantly remind them of slavery.

Maybe you shouldn’t use words like “slave” either? Or “master”? Or “plantation”?

I wondered what a real African-American like Thomas Sowell would have thought of this. I think he’d probably have burst out laughing.

It seemed to me that it all said much more about Dick Durbin than Donald Trump or African-Americans. It’s probably only the Durbins of the world who get triggered by words like “chain”. Because it’s white male Americans like Durbin who are still feeling guilty and ashamed of slavery in the USA prior to about 1850.

Maybe that’s what the “liberal” mindset is all about: guilt and shame. Shame over the misdeeds of past generations.

It’s not just slavery they’re ashamed about. They’re ashamed about everything. And here in the UK I guess we’re supposed to feel ashamed of the Industrial Revolution, and the British Empire, and probably about 300 other things as well.

Everyone’s got something to be ashamed about. And some people get crippled by shame and guilt. And Dick Durbin is one of them. And so also, most likely, are all the Nancy Pelosis and Diane Feinsteins. They’re all crippled by shame.

I was thinking this morning that the Roman Empire probably imploded when the Romans just started feeling thoroughly ashamed of themselves that they’d gone and conquered every country around the Mediterranean, and far beyond. And, worse still, despoiled them with cities and roads and aqueducts. And they probably sent delegations to all the places they’d invaded to apologise for what their ancestors had done.

Anyway, here’s a piece of music that Senator Durbin probably doesn’t like: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. And in it the refrain is that they would “never break the chain”, which of course meant that the black slaves working in the cotton fields should never be set free.

 

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How Did They Manage It?

The morning’s thought today was: How on earth did they manage to get smoking banned in almost every country in the world in the space of barely 10 years?

It’s an extraordinary achievement.

I think that even North Korea has a smoking ban, although it doesn’t seem to apply to Rocket Man himself.

And all done without there being a single global government. I think there are still something like 200 separate nations in the world.

But it seems it doesn’t matter when it comes to things like smoking bans. They go through national borders like they don’t exist.

So how the hell did they manage to do it?

I think that the answer is that there’s pretty much a single global scientific consensus on any scientific question you may care to ask. American rocket scientists don’t think at all  differently from Russian or Chinese or North Korean rocket scientists. They might all have political disagreements, but they don’t have scientific ones. Or at least not really any major ones.

Science is already globalised in the way that political society has yet to become fully globalised. There’s a global scientific consensus on everything scientific.

And medical science is part of that global scientific consensus. There’s a consensus of medical opinion just like there’s a consensus of rocket science opinion. And that means that when the scientific consensus changes, it changes everywhere, all over the world, more or less simultaneously.

I can’t remember what the old geological explanations used to be, but sometime around 1960 or 1970 the geological explanation of the world became something called Plate Tectonics. The world was suddenly decided to be made up of plates that were bumping and grinding together, and all of the volcanic events around the world were taking place along the fault lines between plates. And so whatever used to be taught stopped being taught, and everyone everywhere started being taught Plate Tectonics.

And much the same happened in about 1950 when it was discovered that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer. And again, in about 1990, when it was discovered that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming. In both cases the scientific consensus flipped from one view to another, almost overnight. Anyone who disagreed was called a Denier, or even a Flat Earther.

How is this scientific consensus achieved? There doesn’t seem to be any means by which it is achieved. Scientists don’t seem to ever vote among themselves to elect a current consensus orthodoxy. It seems that there is instead a mood within any scientific discipline that favours one view more than another. Do all doctors believe that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, and do all climate scientists believe that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming? Probably not.

Perhaps the consensus is actually always a fiction which is created by the mainstream media which reports on scientific developments. Perhaps it’s the media who determine what’s in and what’s out, just like they do with hemlines or hairstyles.

Fictional or not, the consensus opinion is that of the respective scientists in the various different fields. The opinions of ordinary people are irrelevant, because ordinary people know nothing about epidemiology or climate science or geology. Ordinary people are simply there to be told what the current consensus view is. For the most part they have no means of answering arguments that are often so highly mathematical that hardly anybody – apart from a few Experts – knows how to argue. In such circumstances, ordinary people are reduced to silence.

And so the consensus opinion on more or less anything is being formed among a very few people – all experts in their fields -, and it’s these people who create the consensus. There were probably only half a dozen senior geologists who decided, back in the 1960s or 70s, that Plate Tectonics was a much better explanation than the previous one. And their considered opinion became the new conventional wisdom almost overnight, firstly in the geological community, and then in public opinion all over the world. All of a sudden EVERYBODY believed in Plate Tectonics, including the bartender behind the saloon bar, and the taxi driver taking you to your next Tobacco Control conference.

Opinion changes almost overnight. One day everybody thinks one thing, with almost perfect certainty. The next day they think something else, with almost equally perfect certainty.

It doesn’t really matter who’s in government, or what country you live in, you keep waking up finding that everybody has stopped believing what they believed yesterday, and now believe something completely different today. And if you’re a “progressive”, you’ll congratulate yourself for the speed with which you changed your mind.

The Council of Nicaea under the emperor Constantine in 325 AD was called to settle questions about the triune nature of God, to write the Nicene Creed, and to establish the date of Easter. The fifth Solvay Conference, that was held in Copenhagen in 1927, discussed electrons and photons and the newly formulated quantum theory. That is to say that the 325 Council of Nicaea and the 1927 Copenhagen conference were not essentially very different in character: both discussed currently pressing but highly abstract ideas which nobody else could understand. And both conferences were equally definitive in their separate ways not just of the scientific opinion of the time, but of public opinion in general. Nothing has really changed in seventeen centuries.

And there are lots and lots of conferences being held everywhere these days. Some of them are closed to the public, like the Tobacco Control conference held in Moscow in 2014. And they all serve in small ways to shape educated (i.e. regimented) public opinion.

And this forms a sort of government of the like-minded, everywhere in the world. Yesterday they banned smoking. Then they banned carbon dioxide. And next they’ll ban cocktail sausages. And almost everybody will agree that it’s The Right Thing To Do. And the Debate Will Always Be Over before it’s even started. Because the debate only took place between a handful of geologists one afternoon in 1960.

And the more globalised any idea becomes, the more uniform public opinion becomes, and the harder it becomes to dissent from it. While there are two or three or more sides to any discussion, there is room for manoeuvre along the dimensions of the debate. When there is only one opinion, there is no room for manoeuvre, no place for dissent. Nobody wants to be a cocktail sausage denier.

And of course a uniformity of public opinion can also be manufactured simply by excluding all dissenters, refusing to allow them to speak. They are all drowned out. Like Arius in 325, or Albert Einstein in 1927.

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As Above, So Below

I’m currently building models of asteroids. Computer simulation models. The asteroids (or maybe they’re comets) are dirty snowballs made of radioactive dust and ice. The radioactive dust warms the snowballs very slightly, and I’m wondering whether, if the snowballs are big enough, enough heat will be generated to melt the centres of the snowballs, and create warm sub-surface seas beneath the ice. And I’m wondering if maybe the seas will boil, and the asteroids will explode.

It’s a very simple heat flow model, and I’ll probably have it working later today, and I’ll find out whether these teardrops explode.

Is it any different in human affairs than it is inside dirty snowballs? Aren’t there unstoppable processes at work there too?

For in some ways the Earth has become a sort of dirty snowball, gradually getting buried under ever-deepening layers of rules and regulations. We’re living in an ice age of top-down rules and regulations that rain down like snow. We’re all getting buried. Not just here in the UK, and in the EU, and Australia or New Zealand, but also the USA and Russia. The new ice age is everywhere. And as the snows of regulation fall, they compress and freeze into ice. And the ice weighs down on everyone, harder and harder. But we’re all still warm-blooded people, and we each generate a small amount of heat. And I’m wondering whether the sum total of all the people in the world, buried under the ice, is going to be enough to melt the ice beneath the miles-deep glaciers. And I’m wondering whether the water might even boil, and blow off the ice.

Yesterday I came across an Italian poster:

“Slaves of Europe? No, thanks!”

Do they really think that they’re becoming slaves of the EU? I suppose they must, if they’ve created such a poster. How civil of them to just say “No, Thanks!” There are a lot worse things they could have said.

But Europe is only part of the problem. The slavedrivers aren’t just in the EU, but also in the UN and the WHO and the BMA and PHE and the EPA. The slavedrivers are in governments everywhere. There are millions of them, busily making new laws to restrict this or stop that. They’re people who are always on the look-out for new things to ban or limit or control. They’re people like Alesha Dixon.

And I’m wondering whether the people who are buried beneath these snowdrifts of legislation are beginning to have had enough. I’m wondering whether the small resentments of countless millions of people is going to result in them all starting to gradually get more and more hot under the collar, and perhaps even boiling mad. Not just at the EU or the government, but at everything.

US politics is at boiling point, or not far off it. And European politics is heading that way too. Brexit was a revolt not so much against the EU, but against everything. It was a revolt against top-down control in all its multitudinous forms. And that’s what the Trump vote was too. And it’s what the Italian authors of the poster above are revolting against. And it’s what the French and the Germans and the Spanish are soon going to be doing, if they aren’t already. Everyone is going to revolt.

How placid it all once seemed, only 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, when a US Democrat government was replaced by a Republican one, it was a seamless transition, with everyone shaking hands. But now it’s almost cause for civil war.

Can one imagine a European politician of 30 or 40 years ago saying, like Guy Verhofstadt a few days ago, “There is no place in our Union for countries who take EU money, who want to participate in the single market but who reject our shared values.” It was never so acrimonious back then. It was all very civilised.

And if it was so peaceful back then, and so acrimonious now, doesn’t that suggest that it’s only going to get more angry and more acrimonious? And get angrier and angrier everywhere?

I suspect that we’re going to see some high profile Archduke Franz Sarajevo-style assassinations fairly soon. We don’t have archdukes any more, but the Junckers and Merkels and Macrons are their modern equivalents. And as resentment and animosity builds, it will explode in one place or other.

We’re looking at an upcoming French Revolution, in which the whole world has become France under Louis XVI. It’s going to be a global revolt against global tyranny, fed by the simmering (or boiling) resentments of hundreds or millions of people, each with their own particular grudge. Smokers are just a tiny few of those resentful millions. There are plenty of other causes out there. And a new one is born with every new piece of legislation that comes raining down from above.

Donald Trump isn’t the cause of anything that’s happening. He’s a symptom of what’s happening. And Brexit also was a symptom of the same growing revolt against authority in all its forms. For the revolt is not just against political control but also cultural control and scientific control and medical control. It’s a revolt against Control.  And it’s happening everywhere.

If I knew how to do it, I’d build a computer simulation model, and try to predict exactly when and where the big eruption will happen. For I think it’s almost exactly as predictable as radio-active dust heating their interiors is likely to blow dirty snowball asteroids apart. For what happens out there in the depths of space also takes place right here on Earth beneath the stars. As above, so also below.

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My Way or the Highway

Caught in passing:

…the celebrity signalled her distaste for the preferences and habits of the vast majority of ordinary Britons when asked: “what law would you change if you could?”.

Responding, the millionaire vegetarian stated: “I would make smoking illegal and I would ban the slaughter of animals for food or anything… make it illegal to smoke or eat meat.”

I find it surprising how readily people – in this case a rap artist – will call for more or less anything they disapprove of to be made illegal.

If nothing else Alesha Dixon has shown that she has no consideration whatsoever for those millions of people who eat meat and/or smoke cigarettes – which is probably almost everybody in Britain.

Only her own preferences count: nobody else’s. For her, it’s my way or the highway.

I don’t know anything about her, but since she’s a rapper I imagine that she’ll be of some sort of progressive-liberal disposition. She probably believes that global warming is a big problem as well.

And then there’s this:

The President of the European Parliament has told right-wing Hungary and Poland that they must accept liberal values or leave the bloc.

Guy Verhofstadt, who is also the parliament’s Brexit spokesman and leads its largest liberal bloc, said there was “no place” in the European Union (EU) for nations who elected right-wing governments to create “illiberal societies”.

“The European Union… was built to guarantee our citizens’ freedom, democracy and the rule of law. If the Hungarian and Polish governments want to build closed and illiberal societies, they must do it outside the EU,” he blasted Wednesday on Twitter.

Adding: “There is no place in our Union for countries who take EU money, who want to participate in the single market but who reject our shared values #ValuesFirst”

All this from someone whose European parliament voted for a European-wide smoking ban in 2009, complete with show trials for prominent offenders. How much more “illiberal” can you get? Who’s he to decry right-wing Hungarian and Polish polish politicians?

And since when has the EU had a set of “shared values” which all members must accept? Doesn’t that make the EU into something like a religion, with its own Credo and 10 Commandments? Isn’t it actually the case that people actually don’t have a common set of shared values, but a wide diversity of them? Isn’t politics all about negotiating some sort of balance between competing interests and values, rather than imposing a single orthodoxy on everybody.

In their separate ways Guy Verhofstadt and Alesha Dixon demonstrate the same intolerance of any dissent from their values. And it’s an intolerance which is driving more and more people away from supposedly progressive-liberal, but actually increasingly coercive, organisations like the EU.

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