Thursday 16th November 2017

US beefs up its presence in Asia according to WSJ

Backstory to Trump in Russia – Luke Harding writes well.

Some Neo-Nazis are losing their blue tick status in a Twitter purge

Some Tory MPs are disappointed not to have been included in yesterday’s Telegraph Mutineers front-page:

Right wing US Billionaire Koch Bros are weighing up a bid for Time Magazine

Aramco seem to think the latest anti-corruption purge will benefit investors

A Hundred Years Ago Traitors Like John Redwood Might Have Been Hanged

Asking investors to abandon the UK goes against the UK’s interests. No amount of debate can change that. Yet that is what Parliamentarian and Brexiteer John Redwood has done.

How can he be forgiven?

Brexit would allow for the UK to frighteningly reinstate capital punishment.

I would like to think John Redwood himself might be one of the first to be hanged.

Although it is true that our head of state has been revealed to have money invested offshore – it is quite another thing to actively encourage this sort of thing to happen.

The Conservative Party have tried to push the blame for the migrant crisis from migrants themselves onto the people smugglers.

Will the same logic apply to those intermediaries who are rewarded for eroding the UK’s financial interest?

Telegraph Drama

It felt like more ‘Enemies of the People’.

The Telegraph’s front page:

The online content itself is biased but ok.

Here is the website:

And the actual piece:

I watched some of the proceedings yesterday — Dominic Grieve did a great job.

As far as Britain’s business interests are concerned these ‘mutineers’ are actually the only trustworthy Tories.

The Telegraph quote the pathetic Sir Bernard Jenkin whose contorted logic and uncharismatic speech made him look desperate.

John Redwood contributed in the same way.

Coppola’s Comment

Read this excellent Frances Coppola thread on Redwood and make up your own mind:

The FT should be ashamed of themselves for giving Redwood a platform.

Letwin’s Monster

Sat next to Redwood during the debate was Oliver Letwin with a rather pained look on his face. He admitted in his new book Hearts and Minds that his 1988 book Drift to Union converted Bernard Jenkin into a Eurosceptic.

How must he have felt in the knowledge that this retard has taken the country hostage?

Jenkin also said it’s ok to leave the EU because most countries are outside the EU and are perfectly fine. Hardly the best defence of the Brexit cause.

Maybe he should spend a bit more time in Albania or Puerto Rico?

Last night Frances Coppola retweeted this:

Max Hastings’s Guilty Conscience

But former Telegraph Editor Max Hastings summed things up in August:

Hastings of course employed the bumbling oaf Boris Johnson at the Telegraph. He sent him to Brussels and even promoted him to assistant editor so, just like Letwin, this Tory Remainer ought to feel much remorse.

 

Liam Fox claims to be a Free Trader

 

The Infinite Meaning of Meaning

Some people see meaning when it just isn’t there.

But maybe it is – just not in the way you think.

And who am I to presume what you’re (not) thinking?

Start again.

There is meaning.

Perhaps more meaning.

Than.

I.

Realised.

But the pre-meditated, agenda-pushing, social engineering nature of this message may not be as clear as a Chanel or a Tory Saatchi ad.

What would Barthes say?

And what of Jung?

Is my shadow bursting out of the shadows?

Are my deepest most repressed desires all simply masquerading themselves via randomness?

Or has an experiment in image generation let me colonise semiotic space by repurposing otherwise dormant media so as to to operationalise my own bit of harm reduction?

maybe

such undertakings leave little to the imagination.

Di(c)e-Sect a.k.a. Random De’ath Cult

Speaking of Rednecks / Bannonites:

Kulchur

Ezra Pound starts his defence of totalitarianism known as the Guide to Kulchur with a reference to a conversation involving a Chinese Philosopher on the topic of government, law & language.

The first thing is to agree the terms. He prints Chinese ideograms. Some repeat.

 

 

 

 

So Pound is against the Clouding, the Vagueness, the Shadow.

The double standards.

The lack of a go to point where meaning is meaning and not Machiavellian semantic gymnastics.

We have this today with Shadow Banking which is an activity in which all major banks are players — and with the use of this word Regulation.

Once we go into the regulatory space then it becomes a civil matter.

No such thing as a Corporate Criminal!

And the Police will tell you to call your lawyer.

Brexit means Brexit.

Q: What do you like about Pepsi?

A: It is the Taste of a New Generation.

When marketing bleeds into news you have a world full of shadows.

From the flickering light of the Sun as viewed indirectly from inside the Cave to the Electric Flicker of the Mobile Smart Phone competing for your attention with actual traffic and real world goings on.

Have we become fully Cyborg? Part Man Part Machine.

Of course there would be no advertising per se in a truly totalitarian society. Advertising is driven by tapping into people’s free desires. So what is the difference between today’s China and ‘the West’? Or Russia for that matter?

We are amusing ourselves to death. 

Shirley Robin Letwin in her On the Idea of Law references Plato’s idea that if a law is wrong, it must stay wrong  until it is updated. In some systems this would have been every five years.

Better there be injustice for all till the bad law is updated – or instead everyone will turn a blind eye to the bad law – and the good law as well!

They say the best way to get rid of a stupid law is to apply it fully — to the letter.

As Mencken said :

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Does this make Shirley Letwin, Ezra Pound and Ayn Rand Crypto-Fascist Proto-Platonists?

Who wants the Law updated every five minutes?

Now that we have access to real-time updates and big data, continuous consultation could be an imminent reality.

Nothing describes the pitfalls of modern British politics better than the closing scene of The Rise of Michael Rimmer.

Discrete vs Continuous

A bit of continuity might help. Walter Lippmann, in Public Opinion, refers to those people who lived in peace after war had been declared simply because they hadn’t yet heard the war had started.

In the same way there are those for whom there will never be peace.

Permanently living in the subjunctive.

The role of fiction & theatre for the anti-truthers.

The rapidity with which truth subverts itself to reveal yet more truth at a scale so granular as to elude reasonable immediate inspection yet somehow capable of permeating through to all.

One has to either be very clever or try very hard not to feel it. Our society excels at both. From the outstanding declarative to the merely procedural.

From neoteny to phylogeny. The Master and his Emissary. Left Brain / Right Brain. Iain McGilchrist.

The recreation of the journey of human consciousness from zygote to foetus to birth – thousands of generations of evolution in just nine months.

Laputa

Jonathan Swift’s mysterious flying island of Laputa features in two places of significance for me.

At the beginning of Nicholas Dunbar’s Inventing Money – on the downfall of the Long Term Capital Management Hedge Fund staffed by Economics Nobel Prizewinners who perhaps should have known better. LTCM’s collapse was a notable pre-cursor to our post 2008 too big to fail bailout culture.

And in Alfred Korzybski’s Science and Sanity as recommended by the wonderful Robert Anton Wilson.

Science and Sanity was published in 1933 and opens  with a quote about the mysterious flying island of Laputa in Gulliver’s Travels.

The Laputans’ collective consciousness enabled the island to fly.

Was Swift satirising scientists? Full of knowledge but lacking basic wisdom?

The island was a place where they were very good at music and mathematics and interested in little else.

not unlike our current love of sharing songs on social media to help marketing firms target us with the data we generate:

If you look at the bottom of the image above, I like how the guy who came up with the term self fulfilling prophesy also wrote a book called Mass Persuasion.

And spawned a mathematician, Robert C Merton,  who, with Fisher Black and Myron Scholes, created a derivative pricing mathematical model which in non financial engineering terms could legitimately be described as a money machine.

Shun peer pressure from social media or the internet. If you reveal your opinion to a group with strong views, the sociologist Robert K. Merton has warned, the ensuing debate becomes more “a battle for status” than “a search for truth.” Instead, get a second opinion from one or two people you know and can trust to tell you if they think you are wrong.

But as Donald Mackenzie of the University of Edinburgh points out in – It’s an Engine Not a Camera – the point of these mathematical models which are based on imperfect economic and psychological assumptions is not to be correct.

They are simply designed to make money!

And if they go wrong – we shouldn’t be surprised because truth was never their purpose.

A source of confusion when marketing rubs shoulders with fact.

When the Calculus was invented many scientists went around saying that what they had discovered was wonderful but they didn’t know why it worked.

In the case of financial engineering, the bottom line is the bottom line.

Korzybski said:

The Map is not the Territory – The Menu is not the Meal.

Bit like Magritte:

And his pipe:

Took me forever to realise that it’s not a pipe – but an image of a pipe.

Korzybski speaks of abstraction:

There are no illusions. Only what we abstract.

Neil Postman, follower of Marshall McLuhan fused his Medium is the Message argument with George Lakoff’s Metaphors we Live By to produce: The Medium is the Metaphor in the first chapter of his 1985 work: Amusing Ourselves to Death.

McCluhan was a Catholic and heavily influenced by GK Chesterton who also influenced Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges is himself referenced in Dunbar’s Inventing Money.

The Garden of Forking Paths is quoted in reference to option pricing. So many possible futures. We happen to be friends in this world – doesn’t mean we would in any other.

Borges himself was interested in Infinity.

One of the best books I ever read was Jorge Luis Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans

whose title is inspired by the idea that if you give a chimpanzee a typewriter and infinite time it will eventually write the works of shakespeare.

imagine my joy when I saw the Thomas Mullaney book on the Chinese Typewriter – in front of which I would be no different to an Orang-Utan!

Tamil is the oldest spoken language. I no longer speak it but here is a recent talk in Tamil on Borges. I only found it because I couldn’t find my favourite sound recording of Garden of Forking Paths.

How Borgesian! All things for a reason. Or Not.

Discriminate.

I am that.

Things. Consciousness. Bliss.

 

Post Charlottesville Democrat Victory in Virginia

Virginia Acceptance Speech

No outright mention of Charlottesville — but still a big speech in Virginia.

The comments section is split with some calling it an Obama speech.

Any reference to White Nationalism, Healing Wounds, or Affordable Care Act interpreted as outright Communism.

All subtext in the USA!

And why is the Virginia drawl so similar to the Texan?

LA Times reaction

Daily Beast on the Charlottesville Shadow

 

Accidence & Incidents: Aurobindo, Koestler, Oakeshott

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

FT political leader writer, Sebastian Payne recently referred to the Conservative Party’s pre-eminent post-war philosopher — Michael Oakeshott.

So why do Tories love him?

1. Oakeshott was a philosopher — not a neo-liberal economist.

2. Unlike Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, or even Arthur Seldon, Oakeshott was a bona fide English Gentleman.

3. He wasn’t actually that interested in politics.

Oakeshott was appointed Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics in 1968 – at a time when Daniel Cohn Bendit (Nous sommes tous les Juifs Allemands / We are all German Jews) was over from Paris attempting to foment revolution at the London University.

By simply not being a leftist, unlike his predecessor Harold Laski, Oakeshott did more to foster the LSE neo-liberal counter insurgency than many realise.

Oakeshott was very good friends with Oliver Letwin’s mother Shirley Letwin who wrote the Anatomy of Thatcherism shortly before passing away in 1993.

A lot of these relationships are outlined in the wonderful Thinking the Unthinkable by Richard Cockett.

Thatcher once said “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.”

Given that Oliver Letwin has since discovered Behavioural Economics, as outlined in a previous post, it is telling that he chose to name his new book on the Conservative Party — Hearts and Minds.

Nudging people into loving deregulation hasn’t gone quite according to plan. In a way Letwin was hoist by his own petard. He wrote a paper called Drift to Union in 1988 in which he pointed out the risk of a Ever Closer Union and a European Superstate. But nevertheless he believed it would have been better to remain in the customs union whilst arguing for reforms.

He talks about the morning of Brexit as reminiscent of passages by Nadezhda Krupskaya on the morning of the Russian Revolution. A coup d’état had taken place with the ‘arch-Machiavelli’ David Davis being one of the major players.

Was all this madness just to suit the ambition of a bunch of Tory psychopaths?

A Guide to the Classics

Oakeshott wrote a book in the 30’s about how to pick the winner at the Epsom Derby.

Applying conservative principles to the world of horse-racing Oakeshott translated his way of thinking to something everyone could relate to — dealing with uncertainty.

In some fields this could be termed rationality, empiricism or even heuristics.

Oakeshott’s principles included checking a horse’s breeding and form and not just betting on a horse because of its name.

“Airborne”

Despite Oakeshott’s advice I couldn’t help but notice — at the top left of an early edition — a horse going by the name of ‘Airborne’.

Airborne, for a couple of years, was also my nickname for Daily Mail Columnist Peter Oborne.

And it just so happens that Oborne wrote the foreword to the June 2017 reissue of Oakeshott’s Guide to the Classics — the only reason I picked it up in the first place.

Merely co-incidence? Of course — but fun all the same.

It turns out that Airborne was a surprise winner. Nobody had heard of it but lots of people bet on it because of the airborne division in the war.

Oakeshott never claimed to make you rich, merely to help you think about how to think.

The Routes of Co-Incidence

Psychogeography

Several years ago I met a cousin of the great Indian teacher and Spiritual Guide Krishnamurthi. He (the cousin) was friends with my mother. I understand both were devotees of the late Sathya Sai Baba.

Krishnamurthi (for that was also the cousin’s name) told me all about Sri Aurobindo and the Upanishads.

For a mix of Oakeshottian and non-Oakeshottian reasons I decided to follow these leads, albeit at a leisurely pace.

The Krishnamurthi who I had  spent time with was an eloquent inspiring man.

I soon discovered that I had (briefly) attended the same school as Aurobindo in London — St Paul’s.

I call my reasoning partly Oakeshottian because of the  breeding component.

Not racial necessarily — but I did also find out that Aurobindo was Bengali.

Turns out most Bangladeshis may be Dravidian — not unlike yours truly — a Tamil from Sri Lanka (via Paddington).

Aurobindo would have been a Hindu – like the Bengalis I came across at St Paul’s

They were all very high caste. Or so it appeared.

From Death to Death will go the man
who discriminates between,
What is seen in the unseen world
and unseen in the seen

This is my re-edit of a line in the Upanishads that I found highly useful.

As a Hindu, once I die, I don’t want to come back.

Gillian Tett: Burgeoning Shadow Banking Sector dependent on Regulatory Arbitrage

In the FT today Gillian Tett points out that while the media glare falls on the big banks that are currently reporting their third quarter earnings, the real story is the Shadow Banking sector’s continued colonisation of those sections of the market that were once served by those very same big banks.

Rules that were originally brought in to make banks lend more responsibly and avoid another global financial crisis have created an opportunity for the Shadow Banking sector.

Despite low interest rates and quantitative easing ensuring that there’s plenty of money sloshing around the system, it’s taken innovation and financial engineering to bypass the new rules and kickstart lending to riskier borrowers i.e. small businesses.

Tett says “The real secret of of finance today is that the real credit growth in the US is happening in the world of private capital.”

She calls out the process whereby big banks lend to the Shadow Banking sector which in turn lends to small businesses as being nothing more than ‘regulatory arbitrage’.

As the journalist who warned of the imminent credit derivative fuelled credit crunch in her forensic piece The Dream Machine back in March 2006 – when it comes to regulatory arbitrage, this journalist really knows what she’s talking about.

 

Sir Oliver Letwin used Nobel Prize winner’s ideas to torture innocent Brits

Nudge

Richard Thaler has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

He’s best known for co-authoring the bestseller Nudge with Cass Sunstein in 2007.

Sunstein went on to become President Obama’s Regulatory Czar while Thaler provided the ideas for Oliver Letwin’s Behavioural Insights or “Nudge” unit.

Here Letwin, a former Thatcher adviser who wrote Privatising the World while working for N.M.Rothschild, introduces his take on what he refers to as Social Market Economics.

Some call it the Third Way.

Letwin boasts that given that Marxism has been thoroughly debunked ( or so he thought ), it is now possible to be both Deregulatory and Interventionist.

What is interesting about this statement is that he doesn’t mean Interventionist in the economic sense which would involve some form of nationalisation or meddling with the market such as QE.

Here he is talking about PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS a.k.a. NUDGE.

Letwin’s wife Isabel was the head of Legal Services for the Department of Health during the passing of the Health and Social Care act of 2012.

The Act opened up the NHS to Private Health Insurance firm United Health — also known as Optum.

Mrs Letwin was also in charge of Legal Services for the Department of Work and Pensions.

This means she was responsible for overseeing the implementation of austerity in UK Job Centres and for the disabled which involved private firms such as ATOS claiming that people who were sick and disabled were fit for work and then cut their welfare benefits and made them work for free on the work programme.

Letwin and Thaler may claim to be enlightened individuals but the deregulatory interventionism they spearheaded caused much misery and cost many lives.

Kids

Mrs Letwin supported the oversight panel of the Jimmy Savile Inquiry into his activities at Broadmoor Hospital in West London. This in itself is a major conflict of interest given how close the Letwins were to Jimmy Savile’s good friend Mrs Thatcher.

Shirley Letwin, Oliver’s mother, wrote the Anatomy of Thatcherism and Jimmy Savile attended nearly all Mrs Thatcher’s New Year’s Eve parties when she was Prime Minister. It’s unlikely they wouldn’t have met.

On the subject of Tories and Paedophilia Lord Finkelstein has attacked the police for the way they have communicated the investigations into Edward Heath’s private life.

In this article Finkelstein defends Cyril Smith and even Jimmy Savile.

Finkelstein was friends with Greville Janner so he defended him too.

Having moved in Tory and high up Lib Dem circles in the eighties it is inconceivable he wouldn’t have ever heard about what went on.

I don’t believe the modern Labour Party are particularly good at listening to people at the moment or that their economic programme completely adds up.

But to celebrate another torture complicit nobel laureate feels so wrong. Interesting to see how ideologically close the Obama administration were to Cameron, Letwin and even May.

Just because Trump is in charge, I don’t think the bigger picture will really change.