Irresistible Free Fire Zone

This has been the slowest time for creationism news we’ve ever seen. That’s why we posted yesterday about extra-solar planets. The situation continues today, so what’ll we do? First, a bit of poetry:

Mars is red,
Uranus [oops, Urabdomen] is blue,
The Sensuous Curmudgeon,
Has no news for you!

And now, as you probably guessed, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Please use the comments for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

35 responses to “Irresistible Free Fire Zone

  1. The news about the latest probe on Mars, in particular the fascinating robot helicopter Ingenuity makes for understanding what design is, and what it is not.
    How different the resort to design is, different from an explanation for the variations in life, for life itself, or the totality of the natural world.
    Some people involved in the Ingenuity program have made reference to the design process of the Wright Brothers.
    The design process involves seeing what works, and changing things as difficulties arise in the ways things work. Unsuspected difficulties arise that must be dealt with.
    The design process is complicated, in so many ways different from the ways that living things arise.

  2. Dave Luckett

    I will take low advantage of the FFZ to remark that if Goldman Sachs and KPMG are accurate in their projections – and forgive me, but I trust them somewhat more than those of the Mancunian Marxist or the British Broadcarping Crew – then the British economy will recover from the combined effects of the pandemic and Brexit faster than the US and the EU will from the pandemic alone. This was the point I was making. I have never argued, nor thought, that Brexit would have no negative economic effects. In fact, I thought that the effects would be worse than they have been, and said so.

    Meanwhile, the Tories have, if anything, increased their margins, Johnson is vastly more preferred as PM to Starmer or anyone else, and the more the SNP pushes for full independence, the worse their numbers get. It could still all go rhomboidal, but maybe it won’t, and the doomsayers and calamity prophets (naming no names and not looking at anyone) will turn out to be overly pessimistic.

  3. There is a word that describes silly dimwits who are scared to say perfectly good words like Uranus (YOUR-ANUS). I’ll leave up to you to decide what that word is!

  4. Eddie Janssen

    First there was AlphaGo, then came AlphaZero and AlphaFold (1 and 2). The first to were more of a learning ground but the last two are definitely very useful.
    Maybe we could convince the team to make an AlphaOOL to bring a solution of the Origin Of Life within reach. And we may let the Discovery Institute pay for it. 🙂

  5. @Eddie Janssen
    Is there any chance of an AlphaX which will solve the problem: the goal is a functioning organ, to determine what DNA will produce such an organ.

  6. How about an example of design which approximates something sort of like producing something from nothing? Is there anything that can stand as an analogy so that we can imagine sort of a design as the basis of existence out of nothing?

  7. @ Dave Luckett: You appear to be ‘seeing’ things that you wish to be there in order to confirm your a priori conclusions.

    Lamentably, those things are not there.

    The KPMG report (in the .pdf linked from the article) makes three references to Brexit, as follows:

    Brexit-related frictions and limited agreement on Services trade with the EU will dampen recovery.
    ….
    A rapid roll-out of the vaccine is expected to facilitate relatively strong growth from Q2 onwards, with Brexit-related trade frictions expected to ease from the second half of this year.

    The impact of Brexit on supply chains is also likely to push up consumer prices.

    And the report forecasts GDP growth of 4.6% for 2021, and 5.6% for 2022. The Goldman Sachs report, which makes no mention of Brexit, has a different forecast:

    The bank said in a note to clients that it now expects British gross domestic product to grow by a “striking” 7.8% this year, “above our expectations for the U.S.”
    Previously, Goldman had expected Britain’s economy would grow by 7.1% this year and its forecast for U.S. growth in 2021 stands at 7.2%, helped by U.S. President Joe Biden’s huge fiscal stimulus programme.

    IOW: The UK is springing back a 0.7% faster from a very deep hole than the USA is springing back from a much shallower one. Well, that’s not bad news for us in the UK—if Goldman Sachs is right, and KPMG are wrong, that is.

    The discrepancy in their respective reports doesn’t seem to trouble you—forecasts of 4.6% or else 7.8%—but hey, who cares? But if given the choice of being a stock picker on minimum wage in an Amazon warehouse who is awarded a 10% salary increase, or CEO Jeff Bezos being awarded a 9.3% salary increase, what’s your choice?

    Folks usually try to conceal their prejudices, but you deserve much credit for parading yours so openly. And so cutely! Manchunian Marxist indeed! And full marks for showing those Bolsheviks of the British Broadcarping Crew–an organisation which recently received its record number of complaints because it cancelled 4 hours of prime time for coverage of the death of Prince Philip. What dangerous radical lefties indeed!

    So let’s stick to the right-of-centre press for our reporting here. I don’t normally link here to the Telegraph as there is a paywall for non-subscribers, but the tabloids that were the most ardent cheerleaders for Brexit are readily available to all. Surely they must now be loudly trumpeting the blessings of Brexit now that it is finally in place!

    No, not a bit of it. Here’s the Express, fulminating in its house style but with a very different tack than before: Think Brexit done? Read BEN HABIB on how today’s deal is biggest sell-out in a generation

    The TCA [Trade & Co-operation Agreement] is overwhelmingly to the advantage of the European Union and to the detriment of the UK. Our Prime Minister could not afford to allow it to be scrutinised for fear of its terms being properly understood. The same reason why he tried to bounce through the Withdrawal Agreement in October 2019 – he failed in the case of that agreement, only to push it through pretty damn fast post his general election victory.

    These two deals done with the EU constitute the biggest political misrepresentation and sell-out by a British government in my lifetime.
    Indeed, I struggle to identify any greater act of self-harm done by a British government in modern times.

    This is very interesting—but we’ll come back to it in a minute. First, your claim here is much more interesting:

    I have never argued, nor thought, that Brexit would have no negative economic effects.

    Even prior to the 2016 Referendum? I’ll take you at your word on that, but that does make you unique. Prior to the vote, the Brexiteers here denied any down side at all, instead promised nothing but benefits, like £350 million pounds a week for the NHS, and sparing the country the influx of the entire population of Turkey as immigrants to this green and pleasant land, &c &c.
    After the Referendum, of course, the tune changed. Suddenly, Rees-Mogg and Farage acknowledged it could be 10 years or more before Brexit delivered any tangible benefits! And lo, there would be costs and disruption in that interval! Who knew?

    Examples abound, of course: Why has Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal caused UK milk and cream exports to plunge?

    Milk and cream sales to the EU have slumped 96 per cent as a result of Brexit-related trade barriers, according to figures released this week. The Food and Drink Federation said the new trading arrangement with Europe had cost exporters more than £1.1bn since January, when Britain left the customs union and single market.
    Milk and cream exports collapsed by 96.4 per cent while cheese sales to the EU fell by 64.6 per cent in the year to February.

    But never mind, we were assured that, once free of the tyrannical despots of Brussels, the UK would quickly replace its lost trade with the EU with splendid trade deals with third countries. Well, that is still in play, of course, but it hasn’t been a rip-roaring success so far:

    Brexit: Anger over government’s failure to get Norway fishing deal

    Brexit: EU steals march in race for India trade deal as Johnson announces ‘enhanced partnership’

    Australia seeks UK’s agriculture pain points as trade talks continue :

    British beef, sheep and chicken farmers are also facing pressure from the loss of millions in EU subsidies replaced by a new domestic scheme that supports them for their environmental stewardship rather than as food producers.

    Australian negotiators have been made aware of the impact that the switch will have on Britain’s industry.

    A person familiar with the British meat industry’s thinking said the deal holds out more potential for Australia to get access to Britain’s market than vice versa.

    The benefits of the deal are “weighted to” Australia, the person said, as Britain exports mostly pork to the Pacific nation.

    The first person said they are confident Truss understands the importance of standing up for British agriculture and food production in the negotiations as she represents one of a handful of constituencies categorized as 100 percent rural.

    But if Truss “sticks to her guns as she said she will,” they pointed out, “where’s the kind of landing space?”

    Returning to our domestic Brexit cheerleaders, who went on at the end of last year to hail Johnson for “getting Brexit done”, we must ask: why their long faces now, as exhibited by the Express article above?

    Let’s try this on for a theory. The Leavers won the Referendum, not only with outright lies about the EU, but perhaps even more tellingly with a series of false promises that were never deliverable.

    So what is left to them now? Renewed irrational rage! Apologies to folks without a subscription, but there is no better evidence for this than in the pages of the Telegraph: Now that the trade deal has finally been ratified, Britain is free to start the fightback against Brussels
    Which is on a pathetic par with the Discoveroids fighting against the evil Darwinist Global Conspiracy. The Telegraph piece is a master class in the xenophobia, bigotry, and flat-out paranoia of true Little Englanders.

    I did not know your expertise also extended to Scottish politics! Hitherto I’ve been largely restricted to consulting The Herald, Scotland’s oldest newspaper—which btw endorsed the ‘No’ campaign in the Independence Referendum of 2014:

    Brexit’s toll on Scotland’s exporters highlighted

    NEARLY two-thirds of Scottish businesses which trade with the European Union have experienced “negative” or “very negative” impacts on this activity since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, a key survey reveals.

    While 64% reported such effects, only 3% cited positive impacts, according to the latest business monitor conducted by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute and published yesterday in partnership with law firm Addleshaw Goddard.

    But if Brexit has increased Scottish dissatisfaction with the UK, it has also rendered independence harder to achieve—unless Scotland wishes to be entangled in the same kinds of mess now inflicted on Northern Ireland (which, like Scotland, also voted to Remain in the EU but were compelled to be dragged out by England and Wales). For all the Brexiteers’ claims to be champions of democracy, Brexit has in fact undermined the democratic course of devolution.

    Brexit was painful, but independence would be much worse

    But enough! Am I perhaps being a “doomsayer and calamity prophet”? That would be rather odd given that, were it my choice, I would much prefer to be wrong about Brexit–and why not? Who wouldn’t prefer to dwell in the promised sunlight uplands promised by Brexit rather than the actual damage we are now experiencing in the the UK?

    There is no satisfaction in ‘I told you so.’

  8. Excuse me for harping on this issue.
    I find this obvious, but it isn’t often addressed – to be sure, not by ID proponents, I’m used to their silence – and it isn’t brought up by the backers of scientific explanations of the variety of life.
    What is the “design” in Intelligent Design? Life doesn’t look at all like the sort of thing that Designers do. David Sedley, in “Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity” says that the argument from design had its first exposition by Socrates, in Xenophon’s “Memorabilia”, where Socrates says that a living thing is much more complicated than even the best designed sculpture – and therefore it must be designed. My take on that is that this an argument that life is not designed. What am I missing?

  9. @ TomS: We’re likely overthinking something to which the Creationists conspicuously give insufficient thought.

    Something that is ‘designed’, not only in the Creationist lexicon but generally, simply means something that existed as a plan or intention in the mind of an intelligent agent prior to its manifestation as a physical object–if indeed it is ever manifested as a physical object–and the physical manifestation of which is in accordance with that pre-existing plan or intention,

    IOW: it’s a form of question-begging by Creationists, who see in this onanistic exercise a ‘proof’ of an Intelligent Agent (aka God). All the additional word lawyering by the Discoveroids about ‘specified complexity’ &c does nothing to further their argument.

    Is the Mona Lisa more designed than a Jackson Pollock? That’s as silly a question as any proposed by the Medieval schoolman debating how many pins could be stuck in the end of angel, or some fool thing….

  10. Megalonyx, it’s a mystery why you ended up in the spam filter. Sorry about the delay. It’s out of my control.

  11. Theodore J Lawry

    I don’t want to brag, but actually I do. The Discovery Institute launched their “Paradigm Project” where they had their video streaming, and off to one side, people could comment. I called Jonathan Wells a liar about the evidence for human embryonic gills, and Casey Luskin counter commented, we went back and forth several times. Guess what, it’s all the evolutionists’ fault, because Haeckel. Anyway, Luskin got so hacked off, he did a whole post, all about little old me! I feel so blessed and empowered!

    And guess again, Luskin proved Wells was accurate by quoting Wells! No wonder Luskin doesn’t want to practice law! Luskin also claimed that the “gills” can’t really be gills since we never breath with them. That’s like saying a car can’t be a car if the carburetor is missing! You see the gill part that is completely missing is the gill rays, the feathery material in the gill slits that actually gets oxygen from the water. But of course they should be missing, we don’t need to breath with our embryonic gills since we get oxygen from the umbilical cord. What evolution doesn’t need it discards. The other parts: gill bars, gill muscles, gill nerves, gill arteries, and gill glands, evolution keeps so it can rework them into parts, like a larynx, that an airbreather needs and a fish wouldn’t have.

    Follow the logic Luskin! A fish out of water no longer needs its gills, but it would need new organs. And those now useless gills were just sitting there…

    Oh, and by the way, Wells was wrong when he said the gill pouches make the inner ear instead of the middle ear. Luskin quoted that passage and never blinked! Wells has a PhD in biology from Berkeley, and yet he makes elementary mistakes about basic embryology. It doesn’t get better than this!

    What Luskin is finding out is what it is like to allow comments on your website, (even if only while the webcast is running), after banning them all these years. No wonder he feels hurt and annoyed! But this “Paradigm Project” is supposed to be a recurring thing. Let’s all show up at the next one and make ourselves heard!

  12. Dave Luckett

    Megalonyx, you didn’t tell me or anyone else so. What you predicted was total economic and political collapse, beginning with medicine and food shortages and moving right on up to civil war.

    I say again, Britain is recovering faster than the EU or the US from the effects of the pandemic, despite Brexit. Brexit has had, and will have, negative effects. But Britain will emerge from them, and it will again trade with the entire world without needing the approval of any external power, and she will be stronger and more free for that.

    I have never in my life read so convoluted an argument as the one you advance on Scottish independence. It is less in Scotland’s interest to secede from the United Kingdom than it is to stay, and this is in some extraordinary way an abrogation of democracy, because Scots would rather be independent, but their own better interests are forcing them to remain! I call tosh.

    And you are, or at least have been, “a doomsayer and calamity prophet”. You are now walking it back a little, perhaps, but I gain the strong impression that you’d like to be right – just a bit, just enough to give yourself something more substantial to throw than dairy products. But you’re not right. You’re wrong.

  13. @ Theodore J Lawry: Bravo! You have earned full bragging rights, and are entitled to crow! Thanks for giving us a bit of cheer, well done!

    And dear Luskin is truly back in good form, backed up by Merriam-Webster to prove that gill slits aren’t gills! He’s not only still a lawyer at heart, but a lousy lawyer!

  14. @ Dave Luckett’s: you claim

    Megalonyx, you didn’t tell me or anyone else so.

    But your memory has failed you: here’s what I wrote on a thread on this blog on 10 January: The First Free Fire Zone of 2021:

    If the so far entirely elusive benefits promised by the Brexiteers do actually materialise, and significantly outweigh the already manifest damages and costs, I will feel no shame in admitting that I was wrong: as Mark Twain famously said, to admit a belief was mistaken is only to say ‘I know more today than I did yesterday.’

    But so far, what I knew yesterday is reconfirmed daily by those who voted for Brexit but are now the ones finding new knowledge: Brexiteer says he’d never have voted for Brexit ‘if we knew we’d lose our jobs’. But I can find no pleasure in saying to that growing number of folks “I told you so,” for the self-inflicted harm that Brexit has done—the loss of freedom, the blighting of opportunities for my children, the stoking of social division, the re-igniting of sectarianism, the diminished standing of my country in the world, &c &c—all that damage is too great and enduring to permit of any satisfaction of ‘winning an argument.’

    And in any event, people don’t actually ‘win’ arguments: reality does.

    And then your memory goes full-tilt creative:

    What you predicted was total economic and political collapse, beginning with medicine and food shortages and moving right on up to civil war.

    Citation please? I’ll wait.

    …Except, that would be an indefinite one, for I never made such ‘predictions.’

    What I have consistently said (here and elsewhere), from the time of the Referendum in 2016 to the signing of the TCA last December was (1) no one actually knew what Brexit would be because the Brexiteers themselves had no agreement on that, (2) the promises of the Leave campaign were undeliverable, and (3) specific and significant damages would result from Brexit, but which damages depended on what Brexit actually turned out to be.

    But do feel free to point out where I ‘predicted…total economic and political collapse’, leave alone ‘civil war.’ Until you can do that, I’m afraid you are sounding as hysterical and dishonest as a Discoveroid.

    As for Scotland, I have made no argument, convoluted or otherwise, either for or against Independence: that is ultimately a matter for the Scots, not for me and still less for you. But I was pointing out the irony with which the SNP appears to be grappling: in the 2014 Referendum, one of the issues was whether or not an independent Scotland would remain in the EU, as a majority (both pro- and anti- independence wished). But it was pointed out that an Independent Scotland would not automatically retain its EU membership but would be obliged to re-apply to join—a lengthy process, with no certainty of success, particularly as it would be saddled with its share of the national debt on leaving the UK. Moreover, it would have to create its own currency, as the UK would not permit it to use Sterling, and its trade with the UK, then a member of the EU, would be as a third country under WTO terms unless/until a trade agreement was reached—again, a lengthy process. To what degree these factors influenced the outcome of that Referendum cannot be precisely quantified, but they had some weight, possibly decisive weight.

    A majority in Scotland having voted to Remain in the EU in 2016 but finding they have been forcibly removed by Westminster, dissatisfaction with the UK government has increased north of the border, to the advantage of the SNP. But at the same time, the case for independence is significantly weakened amongst many Scots who previously favoured it precisely because it would mean, not only exclusion from the EU as before, but exclusion from the UK until a new trade deal was in place—but what could such a deal offer that would be better than the entirely frictionless and tariff free trade with the UK at present? And it would still entail the hit against Scottish trade with the EU that is now in place thanks to Brexit. When you say their ‘own best interest’ is to remain in the UK, you must also add that that is inferior to how their best interests were served prior to Brexit.

    You go on to claim

    You are now walking it back a little

    Walking back what, and where?

    The chief ‘walking back’ of which I am aware on our various threads concerned ‘empires’, ‘EU army’, and other hyperbolic bollocks.
    I’ve provided on these threads quite a few—perhaps too many—links to reports on the unfolding effects of Brexit, including considerable ‘walking back’ by former Brexit voters. You consistently ignore those, which is your choice. But I really would prefer to engage with realities rather than rhetoric, if you can manage that.

  15. Fresh entry today under the heading of ‘more substantial than dairy products’–a category which could be expanded very easily, but there really is no need:

    Brexit causes difficulties for more than 60 per cent of UK firms – report

    In fairness, credit due to Dave Luckett, who acknowledges

    I have never argued, nor thought, that Brexit would have no negative economic effects.

    Mind you, the fact that he does not bear the consequences of those negative economic effects does rather smack of crocodile tears…

  16. More on the “convoluted argument” the likes of which someone claims never to have encountered before:

    Why Brexit is a double-edged sword for the Scottish National Party

  17. Theodore J Lawry

    @Megalonyx Thanks for those kind words!

  18. On a lighter note: A dress-up soldier fired a musket at French boats off Jersey

    Makes you proud to be British! 🙂

  19. @Megalonyx et al.
    Is the British Constitution an example of (intelligent) design?

  20. Dave Luckett

    I regret the delay, for several reasons, not least because these things must be taken at the volley, but combing through 5 years of even only FFZ threads has been a lengthy exercise.

    Megalonyx, 18 Mar 2019, replying to TomS:
    “However, your multi-border proposal does indeed ensure delivery of a principle (sic) aim of the Brexiteers: the total Balkanisation of Europe and a return to the grand old days of international conflict in the name of Bannonesque ‘economic nationalism.’ Who knows, with a bit of luck we might even get back to shooting Grand Dukes in Sarajevo just to see where that leads us!”

    So let us by no means be confined to predicting the breakup of the UK and a return of the Troubles – which was a civil war, if not, by the usual standards, a high-intensity one. But nothing so picayune as that. No, no. If we have such a thing as borders anywhere, let us rather foreshadow “the total Balkanisation of Europe” and the Great War all over again.

    29 Dec, 2019, predicting:
    “Reduced annual growth in GDP for at least 10 years; HM Treasury’s estimate in range of -7.5 to -3.8 [Source: LSE)”

    The LSE was wrong. If the Treasury ever predicted such a thing, they were wrong. But I suspect that the estimate was a worst possible case. The pandemic caused far worse effects, from which recovery is now well under way.

    Same post, he predicts:

    “Substantially reduced international influence of UK”

    Hardly. But at least, such international influence as the UK has is now its own to use, in its own interests.

    All right, I can’t find where Megalonyx actually predicted “food shortages” in so many words, but I haven’t examined all his posts for the last five years. Still, if I can’t say he said so, I withdraw “food shortages”. Mind you, his favourite news source was not so reticent: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/04/no-deal-brexit-food-shortages-brc. It is still predicting them. Apparently the worst of it is short supply of lettuce and broccoli, towards the end of winter.

    But Megalonyx did predict unalloyed disaster, and he used that word freely. I recall clearly his lamenting the “disaster” that had overtaken the prospects of his daughters. I can’t find the post now. It was some time in 2019, and I suspect it wasn’t on a FFZ.

    9 Dec 2019
    “we will see where we are this time next year. I predict: a struggling UK economy with no end in sight to finalising any trade deals or further instability as the union continues to unravel at the seams.”

    Well, here we are a year and a half later. The prediction fails. Many “trade deals” have been made. The Union hasn’t unravelled, and is not likely to. Rather, Megalonyx is now reduced to a frankly ridiculous argument that if the Scots perceive – correctly – that it is not in their interests to secede, that this somehow undemocratically denies them their right to do so. Let it be said, right now, as before, that if Scotland were to be damnfool enough to vote to secede, I would be in favour of them going. Not that that would matter in the slightest.

    N. Ireland is a different case. I said, and still say, that the Troubles might return. I suppose that I can be accused of predicting civil war on the strength of that. And there are all sorts of lamentable sequelae that might ensue. Agreed, dolefully.

    But Britain is now again under a government made in a Parliament that is not subject to any power save the will of the British people, expressed by universal equal-weighted adult suffrage. Heavy prices were paid in the past for that. I say it was worth it, and still is.

  21. Dave Luckett

    Oh, and I see that “universal equal-weighted adult suffrage” has again spoken. Hartlepool, which has never elected a Tory MP in its history, one of the safest Labour seats in the country, has just elected a Tory by simple majority. That is, even in a preferential voting system, a distribution of preferences would not be necessary: the Conservative and Union Party has had an absolute majority. In Hartlepool! In a bye-election, when bye-elections generally tend to go against the sitting government.

    I confess to a feeling of gloom. Of course the voters of Hartlepool are entitled to elect whomever they choose. But this is nothing less than a total eclipse of the opposition, and here, I’m a Labor voter (note, no “u” in the Australian Labor Party’s name), and always have been. A democracy needs a viable and robust opposition party. Labour in Britain isn’t it.

    So what’s going to happen in Scotland? Beats me.

  22. I am deeply beholden to Dave Luckett for his latest instalment of his entertaining series, Teach Yourself Creationist-Style Rhetoric. Today’s lesson: Quote-Mining Masterclass! He’s given us a veritable cornucopia of examples, so we’ll break this down into manageable bite-size lessons.

    First rule of quote-mining, of course, is to not facilitate access to the citied source, for there’s no point in assisting your intended gulls in checking for themselves. But to illustrate why that is an important principle [yes, I spelt that word wrong in a different context, peccavi, mea culpa maxima], let’s violate that rule and provide the relevant link: We’re Still Here — Free Fire Zone

    So what do we find there? I don’t wish to speak for TomS, but I do not think I misread his post—to which I was responding—which he introduced with the words, ”Yur humble servant has the perfect solution for Brexit, one whch is sure to please all sides.”. I took his post—suggesting a full fragmentation of the UK in accordance with local voting on EU membership–as a Swiftian ‘modest proposal’, playfully delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. Which is how I still read it, and still marvel that anyone could read it otherwise—but I did not reckon with DL’s powers of wishful reading! Which is, of course, an essential tool for the dedicated quote-miner: the ability to ignore everything extraneous, and see only what one wishes to see!

    And, as is clear even in the portion DL quoted above, my response was in kind—and specifically, it was a response to ”your [TomS’s] multi-border proposal”. What it explicitly was not was a ‘prediction’ of what Brexit would be. Indeed, it could not have possibly been: as I had explicitly stated in the earlier portion of that post (which DL did not include in his extract, above), “Brexiteers do not even agree on what Brexit means”. And to turn a sentence beginning “Who knows, with a bit of luck we might–” into a ‘prediction’ is a piece of quote mining and distortion worthy of a Casey Luskin.

    Which is not to say my post in question was merely flippant, for it was not. At that time (March 2019) the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit was very much alive and kicking, indeed it remained the front runner of possibilities right up until December 2020, the absolute 11th Hour in which to find out what Brexit would actually mean. And my mention of the ‘economic nationalism’ of Steve Bannon (another overseas cheerleader for Brexit, along with Putin, Trump, Bolsonaro and Xi, et al) was a reference to the remarks by some Brexiteers, particularly Farage, that Brexit was only the first step in their bigger project of dismantling the EU altogether, as he continued to state even while still an MEP in January 2020: Nigel Farage predicts EU’s collapse ‘within ten years’.

    Speaking in [the European] Parliament on Wednesday, the Brexit party leader told this website, “If we get Brexit half right then these institutions will not be here within ten years.” Farage said he will continue to campaign “all over Europe” against the EU in the coming months and years and identified three countries – Italy, Denmark and Poland – as being among those most likely to next exit the EU.

    “They are the frontrunners,” he declared.

    Farage, whose party won 29 seats in the last European election, believes the UK departure will prove a “hammer blow” to the EU, adding, “and that is a good thing.”

    And remarkably, Farage goes on to claim

    “I want to stress that we are not anti-European. I love Europe but I loathe the EU.”

    IOW: Brexit was part of a project to return Europe to the status quo ante the EU, a continent of competing nation states each seeking to advance its own interests at the expense of others.

    And what would that look like? We have many centuries of history to show the inevitability of conflict, often bloody, inherent in that model. Why, if the Bannons and the Brexiteers succeed in their project, should we expect things to be different this time around?

    That would be an interesting discussion—indeed, should have been part of the debate about Brexit: if there were good grounds for supposing that things would necessarily be better this time around, it would have been a vastly better argument to advance in its favour rather than the Little Englander xenophobia and ignorance that was mostly served up instead.

    OK, Class, we’ll have a short recess here. But DL has given us an even better lesson in his splendid Quote Mining Masterclass which will follow soon!

    QUIZ ON LESSON 1: Write on one side of the paper only:

    [1] Is TomS a serious advocate of multi-partitioning of the UK, and was Jonathan Swift really an advocate of cannibalism?

    [2] Does Nigel Farage truly love Europe while hating the EU? Does DL truly love Britain while resenting Germans and Italians, because WWII? Discuss.

  23. Dave Luckett

    Proverbs 26:19.

  24. OK, Class, settle down now: it’s time for the next lesson in the Teach Yourself Creationist-Style Rhetoric Masterclass.

    If you’ve done the assigned reading, you’ll recall DL’s words here:

    All right, I can’t find where Megalonyx actually predicted “food shortages” in so many words, but I haven’t examined all his posts for the last five years. Still, if I can’t say he said so, I withdraw “food shortages”. Mind you, his favourite news source was not so reticent:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/04/no-deal-brexit-food-shortages-brc. It is still predicting them. Apparently the worst of it is short supply of lettuce and broccoli, towards the end of winter.

    Please note, class, how he ignored the important rule of obscuring the source for a citation but has included it here. But note that, by only giving the URL rather than the title or any quote from the article, one can still distort the item with all the aplomb of a Discoveroid! For here is the link with the article title: No-deal Brexit will bring food shortages despite assurances, supermarkets warn

    Ah! Dating from September 2019, the article addresses the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit, which as I said before was then a strong possibility and was advocated by many (at one point, even by DL himself). And is this a ‘prediction’ being made by The Guardian — or the Mancunian Marxist, if we must?

    Not a bit of it! It was reporting on warnings issued by The British Retail Consortium , at a meeting with MP’s, about the problems that would be created by a No Deal Brexit.

    This meeting was likely reported in the Telegraph as well (if it wasn’t, that would be quite a piece of editorialising!), but in the hands of a Master Quote Miner, this becomes a failed prediction about Brexit made by a left-leaning newspaper!

    Casey, eat yer heart out!

    ….Do I need go on? O, but there is so much more!

    DL further directs us to the Ultimate End of the World Free Fire Zone of December 2019, wherein I wrote:

    It will be another year before we actually know what Brexit is, but we can already start toting up some of the costs:

    Followed by a list of 8 bullet points, with links to their external sources, from which DL highlights just one, to wit

    “Reduced annual growth in GDP for at least 10 years; HM Treasury’s estimate in range of -7.5 to -3.8 [Source: LSE)”

    On this point, DL now states

    The LSE was wrong. If the Treasury ever predicted such a thing, they were wrong. But I suspect that the estimate was a worst possible case. The pandemic caused far worse effects, from which recovery is now well under way.

    Note the hand of a Master of Creationist-Style Rhetoric here! Particularly note the splendid phrase, “If the treasury ever predicated such a thing”, a cute way of dodging the substance in favour of a subtle but wholly groundless accusation that ones opponent had lied about a source!

    The LSE article has since been archived and is available in archive as a .pdf: The UK Treasury analysis of ‘The long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives’:

    And the projected growth rates therein were not, as DL appears to think, made by the LSE but indeed was made by the UK Treasury (2016), in another downloadable .pdf, with the link provided in the LSE report: HM Treasury analysis: the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives, wherein we find

    This document assesses continued UK membership of the EU against the three existing alternative models:

    • membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway
    • a negotiated bilateral agreement, such as that between the EU and Switzerland, Turkey or Canada
    • World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership without any form of specific agreement with the EU, like Russia or Brazil

    The Treasury’s analysis shows that the UK would be permanently poorer if it left the EU and adopted any of these models. Productivity and GDP per person would be lower in all these alternative scenarios, as the costs would substantially outweigh any potential benefit of leaving the EU. The analysis finds that the annual loss of GDP per household under the three alternatives after 15 years would be:

    £2,600 in the case of EEA membership
    £4,300 in the case of a negotiated bilateral agreement
    £5,200 in the case of WTO membership

    The negative impact on GDP would also result in substantially weaker tax receipts, significantly outweighing any potential gain from reduced financial contributions to the EU. After 15 years, even with savings from reduced contributions to the EU, receipts would be £20 billion a year lower in the central estimate of the EEA, £36 billion a year lower for the negotiated bilateral agreement and £45 billion a year lower for the WTO alternative.

    But what does the UK Treasury know? DL already knows “they were wrong” a mere 4 months into Brexit, leave alone 15 years! And how does he know it? Something to do with the rate of recovery from the pandemic? Huh?

    QUIZ ON LESSON 2: You may use electronic calculators.

    Jack used to earn $100 a year—but then the pandemic hit, he lost his job, and had to take a different one that paid $25 per annum instead: a 75% decrease in his annual income. The following year, he finds a better job, this one paying $50 per annum: a 100% increase of his salary!

    [1] Would anyone seriously suggest that, as Jack’s income grew by a bigger percentage in year 2 than the percentage it had decreased in year 1, he must be better off at the end of year 2 than he had been at the beginning of year 1?

    [2] At an annual rate of 50% increase, how long before Jack exceeds his original salary of $100 per anhum?

    [3] BONUS POINTS QUESTION: Consider the following reports from January of this year:

    (a) Financial Times (paywall) 12 Jan 2021: N Ireland food shortages set to worsen, say UK supermarket heads

    (b) Sunday Times (paywall) 16 Jan 2021: Food shortages as Northern Ireland nears new Brexit deadline

    (a) Belfast Telegraph 14 Jan 2021: NI hospitals and schools facing food shortages in ‘major crisis’

    Now answer the following:

    [1] Because these Brexit-caused food shortages only applied to Northern Ireland rather than England, does that mean they do not count?

    [2] What contribution do such issues make to dampening down sectarian conflict in NI?

    OK, Class, time for another recess! Other exciting lessons pending, when time permits.

  25. Alas, tossing in Bible quotes, although another time-honoured feature of Creationist Rhetoric, is not on the syllabus for this class–but Dave Luckett has tossed this into the mix:

    Proverbs 26:19.

    So are we to take it that TomS was not joking? Really?

    Mind you, the far better joke on that thread of December 2019 was the perversely repeated claim about the EU forming an army!

    O, how we laughed!

  26. Apologies, Class, but Lesson 2 appears to have gone to the spam filter…

    [Voice from above:] It was due to the number of links therein, which is typical of spam. The Cosmic Aardvark regrets the temporary inconvenience.

  27. Dave Luckett

    All right. It appears that I have totally misunderstood Megalonyx’s rhetoric. He doesn’t think that food shortages or war – civil or general European – will result from Brexit. Very well.

    Or does he not think that? I must admit to confusion. He says he never said so. Yes, but what does he think? The Guardian, then and still recently, was forecasting food shortages, at least. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/mar/06/food-scarcity-fears-prompt-plan-to-ease-post-brexit-checks-on-eu-imports. I mean, even I think there is a palpable risk of starting the Irish Civil War, aka “the Troubles” again, as I said. although I think any talk of food shortages is alarmist. I understand that he thinks Brexit will be economically disastrous. I think that it will be costly, but manageable, with good government. Is there an uncrossable chasm between us? Alas, it appears so.

    Not everyone who approves of Brexit thinks the same about the EU or wants exactly the same outcome. Megalonyx seems to think that is evidence for – what, I’m not sure. Incoherence? Invalidity? Fraud?

    Farage wants the EU eradicated, root and branch. The main reason, as I understand it, is that he thinks it is unreformable. I want it radically reformed. and its powers much reduced. I want it to be subject to the democratically elected governments of its members, and never able to enforce its own regulations on them. I want it to be what it was originally intended to be – a customs union and free trade area, composed of those European democracies who agree among themselves to erect no trade barriers between them and to neither subsidise nor protect their own producers. I agree that such an organisation would be a means to make those nations’ economies mutually interdependent, and that’s a good thing. Within reasonable limits – which I think have been exceeded, in the case of eastern European migration into Britain – I would support open borders. Other benefits – pooling of research funds, mutual recognition of trade and professional qualifications as a default, and so on – are also good. Provided. that is, that they are efficiently administered. With the EU, that is not a given.

    But I believe that the EU should not have the power to make its members’ trade policies with external countries, nor the power to regulate what products are produced, and how. Those powers allow the EU – specifically, the European Commission – to regulate and thus control very large and significant proportions of the economies of the member states. That is, in my opinion, inimical to democracy – for the member states must be democracies as a condition of membership, but the EU is not itself a democracy, at least not in my opinion.

    Such powers are also very substantial inroads into sovereignty. Of course sovereignty is never absolute, and it can be compromised, to some extent. But in a democracy, sovereignty rests ultimately with the people. It is they who must decide. Which brings me to the second reason I support Brexit.

    I support Brexit because the British people voted for it. It may be good, it may be bad, but they voted for it, and it is for them to say. They did so not only in a referendum – which was close, but decisive – but in all elections including very recently. Hartlepool was nearly 70% for Brexit at the referendum, and dyed in the wool Labour. Labour put up a remainer – or at least a former remainer – as their candidate for last week’s by-election, and got absolutely hammered – 16% swing against. Of course that doesn’t mean that the electors of Hartlepool, and certainly not the rest of the country, are as strong for Brexit as before, but it does mean that those electors were prepared to abandon traditional party loyalties in favour of a Conservative government with a salient policy of “getting Brexit done”.

    So it seems to me that the government manifestly has a mandate to leave. To negotiate the best Brexit conditions possible, certainly, but to leave. I can see no point in militating to remain, in the face of that. The boat has sailed. The people have spoken. End of story.

    So that’s my position. I have been at pains to lay it out as clearly as possible, and I have carefully avoided personalities, snark and irony. I recognise that my personal and emotional experience at Heathrow is irrelevant. Speaking of it was an error, one I regret. But I will not return fire with the same weapons as have been discharged at me.

  28. @ Dave Luckett: You make some good and important points that help move the discussion to a more worthy plane and deserve considered (snark-free) responses—which I look forward to offering, but on the other side of a stack of real-world commitments which do not allow me the time to do so just at the moment.

    In the meantime, just to get one thing out of the way: there has never been any argument from me about the principle that it is absolutely right for a government to carry out the democratically-made choice of the people.
    But that’s not at all the same thing as saying that whatever democratically-made choice is a good, still less an optimum, one. And the absolute pre-requisite to the democratic process is that people are enabled to make informed choices—and that’s an eternal challenge.

    Also: my snark is aimed not at you but at the Creationist-like rhetoric you sometimes employ on this topic—which is far below the high standard of clarity and style you consistently (and most agreeably) exhibit on other subjects.

    More to follow on this expired thread when time permits.

  29. @Megalonyx
    The democratic majority expressed choice of the people – there are problems:
    If the majority wants to deny the right to vote to a minority
    If the majority does not vote
    If the choice is not clearly expressed
    Etc.

  30. TomS notes:

    The democratic majority expressed choice of the people – there are problems:
    If the majority wants to deny the right to vote to a minority
    If the majority does not vote
    If the choice is not clearly expressed
    Etc.

    Indeed there are problems—but also a number of solutions, or at least mitigations:

    (1) Rights of minorities can be protected by Constitutional guarantees that cannot be readily abrogated.

    (2) Elections can require a quorum of eligible voters to participate, and optionally a quorum threshold for the result of a vote on a given proposition.

    (3) Governments do not call Referenda on a proposal for which there are conflicting versions, and no plan for implementing any of those versions

    None of these safeguards were applied to the 2016 Referendum on Brexit. The result was four and half years of political chaos here which could have been avoided had the government that put the Referendum actually had a notion of what Brexit meant, leave alone had a plan for delivering it.

  31. [1] @ Dave Luckett: Let’s start with what I think to be the most important point which you have raised:

    Not everyone who approves of Brexit thinks the same about the EU or wants exactly the same outcome.

    Exactly.

    And this is remarkably similar to those who ‘approve’ of Creationism, who range from OEC’ers and YEC’ers to Hambo, fundamentalists of other religions, and all the writers of letters-to-the-editor that are a regular feature on this blog: they don’t agree on what ‘Creationism’ means, but they do all agree that ‘Darwinism’ is utterly wrong and completely evil.

    In the same fashion: prior to the 2016 Referendum, it was the Brexiteers who could not collectively give a consistent account of what ‘Brexit’ entailed. Instead, they served up a bizarre gallimaufry of contradicting claims about what Brexit meant, from Hannan’s bland assurance that the UK would remain in the single market and customs union to Farage’s wild swings from flirtation with ‘the Norway model’ right up to calls for a complete sundering of relations without even a separation deal. ‘Brexit’ meant a whole spectrum of possible mutually-exclusive and contradictory outcomes, including a number that were never actually possible; the term was as vague and ill-defined as ‘Intelligent Design’ or ‘observational vs. historical science’.

    This resemblance to Creationist-style rhetoric is the main reason I have persisted on this topic on this particular forum. But you seem to suggest this point of resemblance is of no consequence when you then go on to say

    Megalonyx seems to think that is evidence for – what, I’m not sure. Incoherence? Invalidity? Fraud?

    It’s evidence for all of the above—but with this difference from the Creationists: Brexiteers campaigned for a nation to vote in favour of taking a major leap without any notion of where it would land. The Brexiteers had no answers for specific difficulties that arise from the UK’s departure from the EU, such as the Irish border, and hence no plan whatsoever for actually implementing Brexit. They had no data to indicate that the UK economy would perform better outside the EU but nonetheless made extravagant claims to the contrary—like £350 million per week for the NHS! As for the arrangement for trading with the EU—the UK’s biggest trading partner—they had no end of moronic claims that would be “the easiest deal in history” because “we hold all the cards” &c &c. And they had no more compunction than Creationists in promulgating outright lies, such as the one about Turkey about to join the EU and its entire population set to thereafter emigrate to the UK, &c &c.

    I can only identify two points on which all Bexiteers appeared to agree on what Brexit would deliver:

    [1] Enhanced economic growth, and
    [2] Reduced numbers of foreigners in the UK

    And the Leave campaign won the Referendum (narrowly, but that aside) and thereby gave the government a mandate to “leave the EU.” Which it did, over a year ago on 31 January 2020, with an 11 month “no change” transition period, which ended on 31 December 2020—IOW, after four and half years of political chaos and two changes of government, all because the Brexiteers had no agreement on what Brexit meant, still less how to implement it.

    So where are we now? Your view:

    The boat has sailed. The people have spoken. End of story.

    Mais non, mon ami! This is the only start of a whole new and exciting story, the thrilling adventure of actual Brexit, the promised sunlit uplands of milk and honey!

    This is the part where the Remainers are relieved to discover that their concerns were groundless and that Brexit is delivering a stronger, more independent and more prosperous Britain, pip pip! Who in Britain, whether they voted Leave or Remain, would not welcome these blessings?

    I’ll even allow that, although the promises made by the Brexiteers in order to win the Referendum were, where not flat-out falsehoods, demonstrably unachievable, that is rather academic now: we are where we are and have to make the best of it—a view endorsed by both Lib-Dems and Labour parties, see: Brexit: Ed Davey says Lib Dems won’t campaign to rejoin EU, and Andy Burnham urges UK to ’embrace’ Brexit as ‘new reality’.

    So much for the Remainers—but what about the Leavers? The active promoters of Brexit have mostly gone rather quiet—apart from the hardcore bunch now pushing for dismantling the EU altogether (see the Telegraph link previously posted); that was always part of their agenda.

    [Parenthetically, it’s fun to note that, had the 2016 Referendum gone the other way, the Brexiteers would not have proclaimed “the people have spoken, end of story”: instead, here’s what they were saying a month before that vote: Nigel Farage: Narrow Remain win may lead to second referendum:

    The question of a second referendum was raised by Mr Farage in an interview with the Mirror in which he said: “In a 52-48 [in favour of Remain] referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the Remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.”

    ]

    But what of the ordinary voters who cast their ballot for Leave? There’s plenty of Buyer’s Remorse amongst them, as I’ve shown in earlier links, but here’s a few fresh ones:

    Leave-voting British fisherman speaks of Brexit regrets
    Brexit regret: Meet the Leave voters who wish they hadn’t voted Leave

    But too late! We must just suck it up and make the best of it. And at least we avoided (narrowly) a No Deal exit—which virtually every expert (including KPMG and Goldman Sachs btw) calculated would have been the worst possible outcome.

    Instead we now have the TCA (EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement), so what are the prospects? Please don’t tell me that the Canadian financial publication, Investopedia, is as dangerously left-wing as the Mancunian Marxist, for here’s their take on things: Brexit: Winners and Losers

    Ahh yes, the TCA doesn’t cover Financial Services—passporting of British Banks remains in place pro tem while negotiations for an agreement covering them continue. In the meantime, in the first 3 and half months of actual rather than promised Brexit, what do we find? Brexit: Banks and insurers move £1 trillion of assets from UK to EU

    And how optimistic should we be that whatever agreement does eventually emerge from that will be as good as we currently have? Well:

    Brexit transfers: Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley move senior City dealmakers to the EU:
    Brexit hit: City of London suffers £2.3 trillion derivatives loss in a single month

    –and on and on!

    But wait! Surely, I’m missing your other important point. You—apparently alone among the enthusiasts for Brexit—did indeed say that there would be an economic hit from Brexit, but that should be borne manfully with a British Stiff Upper Lip, for Brexit was in accordance with Precious Bodily Principles that must remain pure and unsullied!

    Let’s have a look at those—but in the next post, as this present one already has enough links to ensnare it in the fell spam filter of this blog!

  32. @ Dave Luckett, continued:

    [2] The Discoveroids, having no data to support their claims and breezily dismissing the massive evidence which counter them, instead press their insistence on pushing their brand of Creationism into schools and universities on the principle of Academic Freedom. They delight in posing as the champions of freedom of thought and as opponents of censorship and suppression. To disagree with them is to declare oneself an agent of Orwellian Thought Police.

    Similarly, having no evidence to support claims of benefits from Brexit while dismissing the evidence of its growing harm, we should not be surprised to find Brexiteers spaffing out grand and lofty ‘points of principle’ like so much ink from a squid, viz.:

    Britain is now again under a government made in a Parliament that is not subject to any power save the will of the British people, expressed by universal equal-weighted adult suffrage. Heavy prices were paid in the past for that. I say it was worth it, and still is.

    The cute phrase “now again under a government made in Parliament” is a splendid ”when did you stop beating your wife” form of petitio principii–but we’ve seen this, and discussed it, before. If one cannot demonstrate that the embedded assumption is true, then such a statement is meaningless.

    Far more revealing is to consider whom is indicated as having paid those “heavy prices” in the past? The Parliamentary soldiers of Cromwell’s New Model Army when it crushed the Royalist Cavaliers at Naseby, perhaps? But that was long before the era of full adult suffrage.

    Ahh, it’s a dog whistle! All of the brave British soldiers, sailors, and aviators of WWII are invoked here as the selfless anticipators of Brexit—about the meaning of which was something the latter-day Brexiteers spent years arguing! But never mind: who would dare besmirch the good name of the British soldiers at Dunkirk, or belittle their sacrifice of The Few in the Battle of Britain?

    Except, of course, this little rhetorical flourish is as crooked as that of the Discoveroids when they enlist Newton and virtually every other thinker who lived before Darwin as proto-Creationists. And it is readily—and every bit as meaninglessly—reversed, e.g., invoking those same brave souls as noble warriors against the evils of nationalism that gave rise in the 1930’s to fascism and world war and who helped usher in the an era of international co-operation, as embodied in the movement that became the EU. Two can play the game:

    “The English will never develop into a nation of philosophers. They will always prefer instinct to logic and character to intelligence. But they must get rid of their downright contempt for ‘cleverness’. They cannot afford it any longer. They must grow less tolerant of ugliness, and mentally more adventurous. And they must stop despising foreigners. They are Europeans and ought to be aware of it.”

    ― George Orwell, The Lion and The Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius

    But it’s a silly game, and recourse to it is really only for folks bereft of data or evidence. In any event, history books are written by the victors: post-war textbooks in the Soviet Union claimed that the Red Army, which sustained the most casualties by far of any of the combatants of any nation in WWII, had made such valiant sacrifices as much in defence of Communism as they were to repeal the invaders. And today, the neo-Nazi AfD in Germany attempts to invoke the ‘noble patriotism’ of the Wehrmacht (second only to the Soviet Red Army in casualties in WWII) as brave defenders of Heimat. Such claims are, at best, an emotional sugar-rush for those already adhering to the cause; as rational arguments, they are worthless.

    The appropriate term for such rhetoric is, I believe, ’stolen valour.’ If there was any real substance or merit in the notion of ‘Intelligent Design’, there would be no need for the Discoveroids to keep exhuming pre-Darwin scientists to advance their case. Similarly, if Brexit has genuine merit, there is no need—but much harm to the argument—in the kind grave-robbing practised byt Creationist Resurrectionists.

    In a similar neighbourhood to the above is this apparently noble sentiment:

    I support Brexit because the British people voted for it. It may be good, it may be bad, but they voted for it, and it is for them to say.

    Partly, of course, this is a strawman intended to cast opponents of Brexit as opponents—gasp!—of democracy itself! And so it is utterly dishonest. The electoral result of the 2016 Referendum was not disputed by the Remain camp, but given the inability of the Brexiteers themselves to specify what Brexit entailed, it was not undemocratic to request a confirmatory vote on Brexit once a deal had been negotiated and was awaiting parliamentary ratification. This request was denied—so who are the opponents of democracy in this instance?

    But again, we can have some fun with this ‘principle’—though granted, that’s really only because of that slippery word “support”. Why not go on to say ”I support Vladimir Putin because the Russian people voted for him”?

    Oops, some snark is sneaking in, so let me swat it at once. I have no quarrel with what I am tolerably confident is your real point here, to wit: decisions reached by democratic means possess legitimacy, even if they prove to be deleterious to those who have democratically made said decisions. Hence, I am generally in accord with your earlier observation that, while you thought that Scotland would be wrong to vote for Independence, nonetheless such a decision—if made by a democratic process—would have to be respected. Or, as you put it:

    if Scotland were to be damnfool enough to vote to secede, I would be in favour of them going.

    But I am struggling to see how you reconcile this over-riding principle with another such over-riding principle you stated earlier—though with a different value in the variable should there in future be a majority vote for Scottish Independence:

    Britain Scotland is now again under a government made in a Parliament that is not subject to any power save the will of the British Scottish people, expressed by universal equal-weighted adult suffrage.

    IOW: on this latter principle, you should now be advocating Scottish Independence with all the same emotional vigour with which you previously advocated Brexit ahead of that event, without regard to any deleterious consequences that you think only the damnfool would ignore!

    And I am sincerely struggling to see the difference. The mediaeval Parliament of Scotland existed for nearly 5 centuries before it pooled sovereignty with the Parliament of England in the 1707 Act of Union—but with no Article 50 to allow for later withdrawal. But under the democratically-decided programme of devolution in the late 20th century, the Scottish Parliament was reconstituted in 1999, but with limits on its powers. IOW, you could hardly find a better example of a Parliamentary government which really is subject to a power exerted by a body not exclusively composed of representatives of the Scottish people.

    So: when can we expect your posts on this blog strenuously advocating IndyRef2 and a vote for the SNP?

  33. Dave Luckett

    There is a limit to my goodwill, and this is it.

  34. @ Dave Luckett, continued:

    [3] I’ll leave aside a quibble in the following about conflating the Irish Civil War (which ended in 1923, and concerned the status of the newly-independent Irish Free State) and The Troubles from the 1960’s through to 1998; they are related but by no means synonymous conflicts:

    even I think there is a palpable risk of starting the Irish Civil War, aka “the Troubles” again, as I said…[snip]… And there are all sorts of lamentable sequelae that might ensue. Agreed, dolefully.

    Agreement, no matter how doleful, doesn’t take us very far here. We can hope they do not arise, but the early indications are very poor. Any such “lamentable sequelae” are part of the human cost of the Brexit you advocated. Own it, preferably without the unseemly hand-wringing.

    I fear I am at or over the limit on space on this forum (to say nothing of my own available time) to deal in detail with the points you introduced here:

    I want it [the EU] radically reformed. and its powers much reduced

    We have a number of points of agreement under this heading. But I think that some of your crits arise from confusing the trading treaties of the EU’s custom union/single market with other bilateral trade agreements. You appear to be arguing in favour of individual rather than collective bargaining: that is that a nation is better off with a large set of its own bilateral trading deals than it is as part of a union making those deals with those other nations. That might even be demonstrable in a few individual trade deals, but you would have to further demonstrate that the total advantages of all those deals, including both any advantages or disadvantages in individual deals, would be superior—or at least equal to—the results (costs and benefits) arising from the deals achieved as part of a collective union.
    That’s one of the two basic claims Brexiteers seemed to agree on (as noted in point [1], above of Brexit, and it is currently being tested in real life. We watch this space.

    Which brings us to the second of their agreed claims, ‘Reduced number of foreigners in the UK’.

    I recognise that my personal and emotional experience at Heathrow is irrelevant. Speaking of it was an error, one I regret.

    I have to disagree: such emotional experiences were highly relevant to the Referendum result—and no, I’m not saying this glibly or dismissively, nor do I even wish to charge or blame you for such emotions. They are widespread and highly resistant to reason. Farage never offered—nor needed—rational criticisms of the EU: it was enough to “loathe” it, and for no other reason than that it was partly comprised of foreigners. The Remain campaign found that data on the measurable impact of immigration made as little headway with a significant portion of the electorate as it does when one argues science with Creationists. For many voters, it did not matter that EU migrants (less than half of all migrants here) to the UK were significant net contributors to our national economic growth, or that UK citizens were similarly prospering from opportunities to work and reside in the EU. Long before the idea of the Referendum had taken shape among the political strategists of the Tory party, they had introduced the “hostile environment” that gave us the Windrush scandal. No lessons were learned from that save the popular appeal of stoking xenophobia, which was actually increased by the Referendum: Hate crimes soared by 41% after Brexit vote

    In short: emotions are often impervious to facts, and this has very often been to the detriment of humanity.

    So you were not wrong to speak of your emotional response at Heathrow, and certainly not alone in having such. Such emotions were decisive in the Referendum, and it was a failing of the Remain campaign to not seek to understand where those sentiments came from, or how to address the legitimate concerns that underpinned such damaging conclusions. I’ll even allow that there may be no point in arguing with them—they are simply beyond the reach of reason. But also, as I will bluntly tell you, beyond the reach of rationalising, which is how I read much of your discourse on Brexit
    So again: we are where we are and have to make the best of it, no matter if we disagree about the why or wherefore of how we got here. But I do not see in Brexit as it is now unfolding as anything more than a nostalgic if not indeed reactionary attempt to restore the status quo ante here, but in a Europe which has outgrown the toxic sort of nationalism that gave us centuries of bloodshed and waste.

    And—if one really does need to consider grand and abstract principles—I would say that the impact of technology on the modern world, the undeniable degradation of the planet’s environment, and the lessons of the pandemic must surely argue for enhanced global co-operation in place of the xenophobic insularity of the past?

    But that, of course, is also an emotional judgement! I am not short of criticisms of the institutions of the EU, just as I have of the UK government (I mean, a wholly unelected upper chamber in Parliament! Really!), but in neither case do I find those perceived faults to be fatal ones. Of course, it may very well be that my own emotional experiences lead me to overlook pertinent and demonstrable facts. But you have yet to put any such before me.

    But again: all that is by the by. I have already said I would be happy to ‘lose’ the argument over Brexit because, despite my criticism, it actually turns out to be beneficial to Britain and to Europe.

    So we wait, watch, and see…

  35. Dave Luckett

    If I should feel moved to comment on Brexit, on some future FFZ, I shall do so, for the alternative is to be silenced. I shall, however, completely ignore any rejoinders from Megalonyx, as I shall ignore all posts by him on the subject of Brexit.