Middle Ages Librivox Collection

Commenting on this blog post made me think that I might as well make a list of my favorite Librivox MA books.

Manners, Customs and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period -- this book is a lot of fun and no, not much has changed ever since those times either(take special note of chapters 30&31...). Much more interesting than the usual laundry list of nobles and their wars and marriages!

Popular History of France from the Earliest Times The chapter on Charlemagne is fascinating! The book has 3 completed volumes, and a 4th is in the making.

There is also The History of London which starts earlier but because it's written for boys back in the day, it is quite easy listening and far more deep than a BBC production and not as preachy or patronising as well :)


Tim offers a socialist solution to an age old problem: littering.

I think I prefer the capitalist approach and make the user pay:

Maybe we need some kind of disposal certificate number etched on the appliance, where on purchase of a new item, we pay the disposal costs upfront, plus a bond, which gets refunded (with interest) when the item finally gets collected by a council.

Plus it would generate a nice pool of money that could be used to invest/etc. The savings from not being blackmailed into paying for other people's rubbish easily make up the extra bureaucracy involved, most of which can be automated anyway.

Of course fridges etc would cost about £100 more but that is only the true cost, instead of the subsidised price that is advertised at the moment.

Hero worship of Raoul Moat

Inspector Gadgets blogentry is interesting -- like many he is so disgusted by the entire thing that he just fails to see why people are paying Moat this kind of tribute. Here is my comment:

I'm amazed you don't understand that this hero worship of Moat actually is the last remnants of an instinct for decent principles his fans have.

What (distorted shades of) values did he demonstrate to his audience (not to us!)?

1) He didn't just discard his ex, he cared enough to be seriously upset(if he didn't he'd not have shot her and just moved on to the next woman, as there was a queue of 'ladies' waiting for him anyway). Most men of his 'status' (and stature) nowadays wouldn't care about loving (for strange values thereof) a women at all but change them like underpants.

Women appreciate that kind of 'romantic loyalty' nowadays, especially since the only steady men on offer (if available at all) are feminised wimps. (and of course, all those 'good girls' would not have set Moat and the new guy up for her private Circus Maximus game either, honest guv)

2) Moat took care of the guy who 'stole' his girl and lived in his house (You had that spot on. in fact this entire thing was an Anglo-Saxon honour killing). This does have a lot of appeal, especially to the hen-pecked and cuckolded males of today.

3) He took on 'The Man'. Chavs, just like Lefties have a penchant for this probably from watching too many movies or so... the dream of David vs Goliath lives on here.

4) He did what he said he would -- he was a man of his word. This is a rare thing nowadays.

In other words, in todays' world of neutered plastic people, Moat tried hard to be a 'real man'(tm), and whilst it was a caricature thereof, it still comes closer to 'the dream' than reality -- he was a real life 'Conan the Barbarian'.

The hero worship of Moat is a strange protest at modern morals more than it is a tribute.


As for the tale about baseball bat to spine... look, if he whacked her with this in any meaningful way, she'd be in a wheelchair(...). As for the rest of her story I refer the honourable Inspector to the tattoo she wears and the fact that they appeared to have a BDSM relationship without safeword or sanity. I'm certain that *everything* she claims is true, just not in the way we think it is... ;-D


We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.- Ayn Rand

The cost of children

Tim Worstall makes a good point here, but doesn't follow the trail back to the money and so misses the actual issues, I think. Hence my comment:

The core of the problem here is that children no longer are necessary for survival as old people no longer are live-in family members but get fostered out to care homes and then mostly forgotten.

Plus women are free to work nowadays instead of being stuck at home, and the reason they wanted to be free of that drudge in the first place is that being full-time mom and nurse to one’s parents is a pretty crap job that no-one enjoys all that much.

So children and old people instead of being a important investment that brings in wealth and helping hands to the family, have become a elective cost, a luxury item, and it’s financially a foolish decision to have them around(a bit like buying a boat)

And since IHT/forced care payments swallows a lot of the inheritance there isn’t the incentive either to earn that money and look after the old, after all, the state has to pay because that is what the old dears paid tax for all their lives, right?

I don’t think that this way of doing things will last longer than my generation, love doesn’t appear to be a great incentive to keep things going as the amount of abandoned, family-less and disposable people of all ages everywhere prove to us.

Applied Modus Ponens Abuse

When discussing anything(foxes, guns, Ecstasy, let's call it 'Problem A'), at some point in the flow of discussion, some muppet always pops up and argues the toss as follows:

Problem B > Problem A by a huge margin, hence we should ban B, banning B is ridiculous, ergo, we should tolerate A.

Problem 1) Modus ponens (if -> then) is only one directional, that is, when it rains I take my umbrella, but taking my umbrella doesn't cause it to rain.

Problem 2) Horseriding is not Ecstasy, gun ownwership can not be compared to traffic accidents, and foxes cannot be compared to dogs either. The only thing all those have in common is that someone is taking a risk and all those events have the potential to produce more or less mangled people. Making a milkmaid calculation involving yearly traffic accident tolls as the benchmark is going to end up in no-one doing anything about problems ever, because statistically, accidents are nearly at the top here, and of course life being the terminally fatal STD that it is, occupies Nr. 1 in the death charts. (deal)

Problem 3) As for tolerating things we don't like... sometimes it's correct to prevent something, at other times, the same action is simply meddling. There is no magic rule that covers everything, other than: 'Thou shalt use common sense'.

Problem 4) Adding problems together in an effort to cancel them out is always an exponential affair, because in this kind of calculus, problems don't subtract, they multiply.

It's time for Kalamares...

The evidence:

There is only one way of sorting this:

Kalamares "Paul"

500gm medium-sized squid (or, an entire Paul)
for dredging:

100gm  cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
small pinch of Garam Masala
for the batter:
1 egg
100gm cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup very cold water


Clean Paul and remove insides and ink, leaving only the body and tentacles. Cut Paul's evil, treasonous tentacles horizontally, to create about 1/4 inch rings.

Beat egg and blend in flour. Add very cold water and stir until batter is smooth.

Combine dry ingredients for dredging - flour, salt, and spices. Use a plastic bag to dredge Paul's remains comprehensively (and hygienically) in that mix.

Using chopsticks to prevent the flour and batter from clumping, dip floured Paul into the cold batter and deep fry in hot oil. Do not overcook to keep Paul tender, about one minute or just when the batter turns crispy.

Enjoy with green salad, lemon wedges, chips and an ice cold German beer(Pils is great here, but a Flens of course is better), and remember, Barcelona football club didn't pay it's players' June wages.

UPDATE: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/0,1518,705298,00.html All you ever wanted to know about Octopie (and more)

An idea for a new familiy law model

When we made divorce legal, we drove a cart and horses through the bedrock of our society.   Chesterton was pretty spot on with his analysis, except that the result was even worse than he anticipated.

However, now it's done and there is no way we can make divorce illegal again unless we wish to descend into barbarism, as society has moved on, and the old models do no longer fit modern lifestyles and mores.  We need a new model.

So we need to ask 'what was marriage?'  Clearly, the christian model thereof no longer is applicable to the majority of our citizens, and the mess we legislated what was left to death with also is unworkable.

However, there remains the laborious and expensive business of raising the young, and, in this case, there is no remedy for getting it wrong, a child ruined is a child lost forever.

Marriage no longer is the unbreakable contract between a man and a woman and the idea of a lifelong romantic attachment as the norm in life and as a signature element of our culture it has been dropped.

We also need to accommodate a huge variety of different lifestyles and believes.

A side-effect has been that the kids(if any) have been turned into valuable hostages and the game strategies are decided by lawyers and what the law makes possible, with payouts and perks approaching lottery win (taken right out of the children's mouths)

However, kids are the people who have the main interest in a marriage working out, and they are the main losers in divorce cases, no matter what deal the adults eventually agree on.

Looking further down the line, being a single parent family kid is often a very lonely childhood -- and some adults have issues with their parental behaviour when there is no second adult around too.  There are a heap of other reasons (you can probably figure out yourself...). No matter how much you gilden the cage here, this is a complete disaster for the child.

So, let's start with the idea that children have certain requirements in life -- enough food, nappies and so on, but also, that they have needs to have 2 parents who will be there for them until they are 18, and that they have a right to a happy childhood that allows them to develop into competent people. 

One parent families offer none of the above, and for many kids they work out as a insidious forms of serial child abuse. (for many reasons!)  Also for the single parent this often is a tough task, and quite a few people get pushed to their limits and end up behaving destructively.

So, let's rewrite the concept of 'family' with the children as benefactors and the parents as providers(instead of the kids being a celebration of romance), and let's give the kids some rights and control over how this family life is conducted, and let's drop the idea that the adults in the family have any rights over finances or the kids, but make the kids a legal entity that has a direct claim to any family assets.

In other words, we need to severely curtail out adults' rights and promote children's rights instead.

As an idea collection in no particular order:

Being married entitles people to have children legally, because the union supplies two guardians for the planned children.  Children born out of wedlock get to adopt two parents by default, since otherwise, they could not command two guardians which should be the minimum of parents a child has.  However this does not invalidate the obligation of the physical parents to pay alimony and whatever else is required to compensate the kids for loss of blood parents.

Also, there is a compulsory DNA test at every birth to verify parentage in order to protect the genetic rights of the children(medicines for example). (yes you may stipulate donors of course who would not be financially liable, but still genetically responsible, and such children should have access to their blood relatives) Only one such marriage is allowed per life and only widow(ers) have the right to remarry with full conception rights.  Because there no longer is a legally recognized romantic part of the marriage, fraudulent adultery that results in pregnancy should get a jail term after parental duties have been discharged as this is one of the most terrible frauds that can be done to a man, the child and the donor.   However, in the meanwhile, people will be bound to *all* the children the marriage produces.  If you want to be uncharitable, you'd call the marriage partners 'breeding mates' (and you'd be spot on).  Note: none of this says anything about your private sexuality. Unless I see a disgusted, shocked horse I don't care just don't make anyone other than yourself unhappy... romance is great but your sexlife should not be a factor in your parenthood -- marriage is about raising children, and so why not be direct about it and say it like it is: parents work for their kids --  the children own the parents, not the other way round.

If there is a separation that cannot be avoided for self-inflicted causes, the children are removed as a family unit and placed with adoptive parents, and both original parents are liable for the full maintenance. Children get to decide their own access rights, and parents will have a duty to attend.  Widowers or people whose spouse is otherwise incapacitated (not jail birds tho) will need a different set of rules here, but that would disgress so I'm not dealing with that there, there are obvious common sense solutions tho. 

Why such a radical change?

Adults wanted to be liberated from the moral constraints of romantic marriage, but in the process abandoned their children.  I think that changing the basic focus of the family contract in the way I described would be a very good remedy for many problems we have with modernity, whilst leaving people their essential freedoms to indulge in *after* they done their duties.

This change also actually restores the original essence of marriage and basically nixes the permission to divorce -- you can still divorce your spouse, but you remain property of your kids (think indenture) for as long as they have a legitimate claim on you and you only lose the right to continue to breed as to protect the interests of your existing children who would be in direct competition with your new family.

It would also elevate children to be free people who have rights instead of being quasi-chattles of their parents.

Drugs: Conservative principle substituted for Lefty thinking

The fascinating thing about drugs is, that it turns Left into Right and vice versa and swaps the core concepts those political sides hold dear.

The Left has a fetish for central planning and nannying and the good of the collective over that of the individual, whereas the Right has a longstanding libertarian tradition, where people are responsible for themselves and the freedom of the individual to choose is paramount, that is, they allow and expect people to organise and police themselves as a core principle of their philosophy. 

Whilst large parts of the Left are suddenly championing personal responsibility and freedoms and complete drugs legalisation, the Right suddenly turns Maoist and demands that individuals sacrifice personal freedoms and takes away personal responsibility to replace it with a diktat to yield to the greater good.

Weird, huh?

I see it as an opportunity to turn lefties into natural conservatives since for once they actually have made an intellectual start here on the road to recovery *snicker* and also, as an chance to question the Right's adherence to core principles because every time they drop them and go all pseudo-socialist on everyone, this is when everything else goes to (ahem) pot for them(as it always does for anyone dabbling in lefty strategies).

The drugs debate is only a symptom of a malaise that started about 40 years ago where Left and Right no longer define themselves properly but started to borrow from each other -- which means they are turning into the one and the same side (and we already have our democracy almost completely hijacked by a professional political class) and so, without the differences, no policing (and renewal by challenge) of either philosophy is taking place, and the principles are rotting from within through constant compromise. 

My favorite politician, a guy called Roland Koch has recently left politics for good, and other competent people who once were our great conservative talents have recently left the crumbling CDU which no longer has any principles (let alone conservative ones) at all on their agenda ever since IM Erika has taken them over... I really hope that  those guys are going to form a new, proper conservative party that Germany deserves to have, if anyone can do it at all, they have the principles, culture and know-how to.   Not saying they are perfect, but they are a darn side less confused than the others...

In the meanwhile, all we can do is play some Lou Reed in appreciation of the epic mess:

Ps.: The Tories in the UK are only one election away from this situation as well, maybe even less. Not much holds them together anymore on the principle side, the clear blue water has turned quite muddy in the past 20 years :(