Archive for the ‘memes’ Category

Libertarianism, by which I mean yer bog standard comments thread North American subtype, is irrational. This struck me in the context of this post of Charlie Whitaker’s, which was of course criticised by the local libertarian in the usual terms. First of all, let’s define terms; the standard set-up of modern right-libertarian arguments is based on two layered arguments. The first is a weak-form argument, which derives from the Austrian tradition in economics and, therefore, eventually from classical liberalism. It goes a little something like this: As Hayek and von Mises pointed out, we can’t possibly know enough to manage the whole economy, and therefore, we should rely on market mechanisms as far as possible.

The notion that GOSPLAN wasn’t a triumph is hardly controversial, and for most of the political spectrum, the debate is really about how far we can rely on market mechanisms and what the alternatives to them should be. But the libertarian argument does a hop, a skip, and a little leap of faith here; it extends this argument to claim that any nonmarket organisation will inevitably be less efficient than any market alternative, and that it will be so much less efficient that the costs, whatever they are, will always be worthwhile. We can characterise this as the argument from efficiency.

What’s worth pointing out here is the degree to which the volume has been turned up. All the points of doubt in the economic argument have been replaced by conviction. The argument against central planning is built on scepticism, drawing its strength from flexibility like a great bridge or the backbone of a ship; but suddenly, there’s a lot of massive but brittle certainty about. What may very well be very small efficiency gains, which may well come at great cost, are being used to legitimate a very strong normative claim indeed.

This is something libertarianism shares with conservatism; the belief that 1) the government will always be incompetent at allocating investment, but 2) it is perfectly competent to de-allocate it. Ministers and their officials cannot under any circumstances be trusted to choose projects to fund, but they have perfect knowledge of what to cut. Now, this isn’t actually as stupid as it may sound – as Daniel Davies says, it’s much easier to identify stupid proposals than it is to come up with intelligent ones. But economic decisions have a fundamental duality – the decision to buy X involves not buying Y, the decision not to buy Y involves going without Y. Cutting, privatising, deregulating – these are the same activities as spending, nationalising, or legislating.

Clearly, there is a need for a stronger philosophical foundation.

This we find in the doctrine of the illegitimacy of taxation. The ability of the state to collect tax depends on its monopoly of force, and therefore taxation is actually a form of theft. Again, a hop, a skip, and a little leap of faith, and we arrive at the position that as all the activities of the state depend eventually on tax, therefore an NHS blood transfusion is as illegitimate as, say, being shot seven times in the head by a policeman. The immediate counter-argument is to knock the ball forward from Hobbes up to Locke, and to appeal to the social contract. It’s entirely possible to enter into a voluntary association to which you pay dues and in which you agree to accept its internal discipline; and here we come up against the rock. You didn’t choose to be born into a democratic society – and therefore the contract is invalid.

Of course, at this point most people will lose their temper with the obvious stupidity on display. The horrors – to be born into a democratic society rather than, say, Somalia or the eastern Congo! What an appalling imposition! But then, we parted company with empiricism way back when we decided that Railtrack was necessarily a better idea than any other way of organising the railways.

But there’s another, more fundamental point here. The doctrine of the total illegitimacy of the state is a huge, extraordinary claim. It is at least as extraordinary as the claim that a central planning commission with 1920s information technology could manage an advanced economy with better results, both in terms of equality and in terms of economic growth, than any alternative. (And, going back to the DRC for a brief holiday, it has arguably amassed a comparable pile of corpses.) Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, but then, we’re dealing with libertarianism here.

Here is the point; if we’re being rational about this – and we better be, as it’s absolutely indispensable for any libertarian argument to work whatsoever – things should change as soon as we accept this claim. In fact, even deciding that such an extraordinary statement is worth considering, rather than noting that it is at least as crazy as Stalinism and passing it straight to /dev/null, should lead us to change our minds about other extraordinary statements. If we decide it’s worth bothering with, we must have changed the criteria we use to assess these things. We need to update our Bayesian priors.

If minarchy makes the cut, why doesn’t anarchy, an Islamic caliphate, libertarian Marxism, deep ecology, or the joke from The Onion about the political scientists who discover a new form of government which has features of both anarchy and fascism? Further, libertarianism is very excluding – it denounces everything, all the way across the centre ground and well over into conservatism. If you can find a place for it in your worldview, your priors have to be very odd indeed to exclude social democracy.

And therefore, it is, indeed, irrational; all the strength in it comes from the prior assumptions, and these assumptions have to take a very strange form indeed. Further, accepting a zone of political possibility large enough to hold libertarianism forces a rational person to accept a wide range of views as possible that libertarianism demands that you denounce and attack at every opportunity.

“Prior assumptions”, after all, is a polite way of saying “prejudices”, and irrational forms of politics inevitably become ways of expressing prejudice.

As a reward for putting up with this drivel:

Bruce Schneier and Jason Sigger, usually sensible sources, both mock a study by some thinktank or other which raises the supposed possibility of hackers “using the Internet to start a nuclear war”.

As they both point out, the possibility of anyone getting access to the actual command and control firing chain with metasploit is so remote as to be ridiculous, and we’d do much better to worry about tidying up old radioisotopes in Russia, and perhaps not having quite so many nuclear bombs.

My only objection is that we have, in fact, lived through a serious attempt to do just that, immediately after Lashkar e-Toiba terrorists attacked the centre of Bombay in December, 2008. As you might expect, they didn’t try to get control of nuclear weapons from the command line.

Instead, they attempted to use the Internet to influence the political leadership – they placed a call to the Pakistani president’s office, spoofing the calling line identification message in order to give credibility to their effort to pose as the Indian foreign minister. My technical analysis is here; the Indian government’s investigation later showed that the attackers set up a VoIP network with nodes in the US and Austria for their own use.

Presumably the idea was to provoke the Pakistanis into doing something that would destabilise the situation, causing the Indians to respond and thus triggering Pakistani mobilisation for real. The Guns of August, 2.0, with Princip using a Linksys SIP handset.

Clearly, there is still a need for the existing nuclear states to help the new ones establishing solid command and control procedures, including the communications elements that make them work; one of the problems of international crises is that the system to be secured suddenly gets a whole lot bigger, as other systems – in this case the diplomatic/protocol bureaucracy – become closely connected to it.

It’s not the early 80s hackers of War Games we need to worry about – instead it’s essentially trolls, provocateurs, empowered by the technology available to today’s spammer.

It strikes me that the possibility of ambiguous identity is a hard one to grasp; for a very long time, it was safe to say that such a message was unlikely to be a fake, and if it was, it was probably faked by a proxy for the real enemy. Consider the case of 4chan vs. AT&T.

AT&T null-routed the server which carries the bulk of 4chan’s content; everyone freaked; AT&T claimed that a denial of service attack was coming from that IP range. But it was hardly likely that the 4chan crowd, of all people on the Internet, would have been daft enough to launch a denial of service attack from their own machine – DOSs have essentially always been distributed over many, many hacked computers (DDOS, for Distributed Denial of Service) since the first botnets emerged in the early 00s, this being harder to counter, offering much more stolen computing power, and being much more difficult to trace to its source.

A detail in the Ars Technica story explains it all. One of the sources cited mentions “persistent ACK scans” – when a computer wants to start a TCP connection, as used for the Web, to another, it sends a message called a SYN to the receiving party, which if it gets the message and wants to reply, sends a message called an ACK to the address provided in the SYN. If received, the sender replies with a SYN-ACK and then starts transferring data.

4chan was experiencing a DDOS attack itself at the time. Putting these bits together, it’s clear that the attackers were altering the source header in the packets they threw at 4chan to point to a machine somewhere in AT&T’s network, so that every one received generated a further packet thrown at the AT&T machine. This is a classic; it gets you two attacks for the price of one, it conceals your own position, and it brings the possibility that AT&T might go ape and do the job for you. If the first target is especially big, you could also use it to magnify the volume of traffic, in a so-called reflector attack.

It’s surprising and depressing that they weren’t aware of that; no more surprising and depressing, however, than the way so many people have been willing to believe patently false information just because it’s “secret”.

Is tragic diva SNLI cracking up, ask friends? “Creepy obsession” with blogger raises old rumours about starlet; Max Clifford is holding on line one.

“He’s very good with colours”, says Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security. “Everyone around here relies on him for style tips before their TV appearances. I’d never have thought of giving my shemagh a light spritz of Crazed Wingnut before going on Rachel Maddow, but it made my performance…”

(In the future, trolls will be considered a strategic resource like oil.)

Iran war watch; Pat Lang quotes a Ha’aretz story about the Israeli air force practising long-range missions towards Gibraltar as preparation for an attack on Iran. The original is here. The first thing that is interesting is that this story has been repeated at regular intervals for some time. In fact, I believe it’s been floated every spring for several years (2007, for example). The second is that, if you look at the actual text, it’s got several markers of nonsense in it; the only sources are references to other media, and none of those actually quote any text. There are direct claims, but they are sourced to anonymous intelligence briefers, and they don’t actually corroborate the story. Rather wonderfully, one of them goes so far as to say that:

The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words

Of course not. But what I’m interested in is the significance of Gibraltar here; it’s not a set of coordinates in the open ocean or the desert, it’s an actual place with people, who have newspapers and the Internet. (Of course, it’s possible that it has a similar psychic significance to the Be’kaa Valley as a Happy Hunting Ground of nonsense.) Not only that, it’s a military base that bristles with radars and electronic intelligence equipment. Carrying out a major air exercise near it seems…bizarre, unless the point was to show off.

But the only people who they could show off to would be GCHQ, and they aren’t talking. And it’s not just Britain, either. Both Spain and Morocco have air-traffic control and air-defence radars operating in the area. Further, wouldn’t it all have been a bit obvious? Past descriptions of this mentioned as many as 50 aircraft, an impromptu airshow that could hardly have failed to attract attention on the beach at La Linea.

This is what the Panorama, Gibraltar’s local newspaper since 1975, has to say:

This is not the first time that there has been a mention of ‘Israeli military aircraft flying to Gibraltar’, but in the past this has been interpreted to mean that aircraft may have flown to the ‘Strait of Gibraltar area’ and back to Israel, but NOT to Gibraltar itself.

So nobody’s actually seen one? Consider me the Tony Dye of Iran-war bullshit.

The impact of terrorism; new research demonstrates that people who survive terrorist attacks think more highly of themselves. Terrorism causes arrogance.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed this Bartholomew’s Notes post, in which a self-made terrorism expert who is currently doing the Nazi-memorabilia circuit with his Barack Obama-is-a-foreigner act turns out to have been a pusher of 1990s Satanic-cult drivel to audiences of policemen. I’ve long thought that there should be a science of drivel; bullshitology, perhaps.

One of its primary research concerns would have to be the way in which the same people, ideas, and networks reappear in different contexts. The DDT-tobacco-climate change lobbyist career-path is the Rosetta stone of this study, and the neo-conservative movement is getting close. But it really is fascinating to see that the same guy pushed three successive baseless or semi-baseless panics in succession.

I am in awe of this. Surely this must be some sort of brilliant artistic prank? Where is Chris Morris?

Yes, that is Richard Branson

Yes, that is Richard Branson

The story behind it is that he’s a simulated refugee in an event held during the WEF. Many jokes are of course possible regarding the fact that the people pretending to be refugees are themselves thousands of miles from home, packed into a remote location surrounded by armed guards and dogged by grandstanding journos. If you follow the links from the post at Foreign Policy, you’ll find that they have all been made.

My objection to this is that even if it helped to induce empathy in the participants, that’s not enough; in fact it’s more likely to play into confirmation bias by relieving them of some cognitive dissonance. And then, of course, it’s back to the toolkit of pat solutions you carry with you. Pigeon religion again.

For example, consider this ruck in the comments at Abu Muqawama. I really don’t get why, for some people, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict seems to be framed by rightwing nostrums from 1980s urban policy about “dependency culture”; what next, a zero tolerance drive to fix all the broken windows, vandalism obviously being a gateway drug to terrorism? But I’ve repeatedly seen this, almost always from Americans. And it’s not just a debating point – Donald Rumsfeld thought of appointing Rudy Giuliani chief of police in Baghdad, after all, and aren’t you almost disappointed not to have seen that epic cluster-fuck?

But quite a lot of people’s political views are best understood by posing this question; what qualifies my opinion as serious in a given peer group? Analysing Gaza as if you were running for election in New York City circa 1987 on a law-and-order ticket is objectively insane – it makes as much sense as using one’s remembered views on pay-beds in the NHS from 1978 as a guide to EU-Russia diplomacy.

And the outputs from it are as bad as you might expect; yer man is absolutely furious with me, although we appear to agree that there must be a Palestinian state and by corollary the Israelis will just have to cut their coat according to the cloth. The chief difference is that he thinks that abolishing the UN Relief and Works Agency will somehow lead to the state, rather than the other way around. Again, it’s very 1980s – slash their child benefit until they become better people, dammit, because otherwise…a generation of superpredators will knifecrime the suburbs!!!

There must be a reason for it, though; a meme this strongly conserved is conserved for a reason. I’d guess it’s twofold – one, this is the sort of thing a sensible conservative citizen is meant to say, two, it’s a screen-statement which protects against the fact that we are, after all, discussing the creation of a Palestinian state. And just as the only way to make Richard Branson a refugee is to persecute him out of London…

But then, what kind of pat solutions and dead ideas am I carrying about?

Reduced blog; I’ve been working on a version of FixMyStreet for Symbian S60 devices.

If you want snark, how about this? I always thought that the BMW not-minis were telling in themselves. Objects are an ideology made manifest.

The original Mini was a minimal car, one designed to be even cheaper than the ones sold to the workers in the factories that made them. Beyond Ford. As a side effect, it was also light, beautiful, and efficient in space and energy.

The “New Mini” is absurdly large, by comparison – it’s not that much smaller than a 3-door Land Rover Freelander, which is reasonably sensible despite being aesthetically an SUV. The Freelander was, after all, reasonably sized, space planned to carry a load, engineered to work off-road, and driven by a highly efficient turbo-diesel engine. Perhaps not coincidentally, it wasn’t pretty. The BMW Mini, however, is a mass of gratuitous placky bits. Over the last ten years, we have lived in the era of gratuitous auto design; I grew up with cars that were advertised on their drag coefficient and their fuel consumption, but not long after I was legally allowed to drive, there was this weird rococo decadence of trucks without ground clearance.

At the same time there was a binge on property, which swelled outwards where there was land enough, and inwards in crappy construction and natural gas-guzzling, and which swelled even more in price where the land wasn’t available. Foxtons’ fake-neat cars were part of the performance of the property binge; speculating in property was meant to feel subversive and young. You doubt? Look at the arse-awful fake graffiti sprayed on them. Fake art on fake coachwork on a fake economy for fake people.

What would fit? Perhaps, if they go down, there may be a supply of “New Minis” going cheap. Maybe I should apply for an Arts Council grant to stack up 20 or so of them in Trafalgar Square and topple them, using a Chinese-made bulldozer. We could beat them with our shoes and torch them with gallons of bioethanol, or maybe homebrew high-test peroxide.

I grinned at this comment at the Stiftung:

“Joan Walsh, are you telling me, really telling me here, now, on TV, that because Charlie Black worked with this Savimbi guy, this so-called Reagan ‘freedom fighter’ in Africa who is alleged to have been a cannibal, are you really telling me that this means Team McCain eats people???? Are you making that allegation here tonite ?! I am asking you directly. That Team McCain are cannibals. Is this guilt by association? Yes or no !!”

Joan Walsh: “Chris, no one wants to do that. Not at all. We are just saying that this relationship between Savimbi and the McCain campaign needs to be investigated. We need all the facts. What exactly was the relationship with this notorious Savimbi character. There is a lot there that should concern the American people. We need to know it all so the American people can decide.”

Well, ha ha. But then it happened. Via Making Light, this brainblitzing turdspurt:

Bree Keyton told the tribal “Christians” you are NOT Christian if you practice “tribalism” where they do voodoo to conjure up a goddess spirit or a “genie” and then come to church on Sunday to worship Jesus! What she discovered there is apparent in most churches around the world; namely, mixture in the church. Some renounced their devilish practices of blood covenant by killing sheep, goats, humans to be inducted into the tribe or to get a wife or to get revenge.

She said the current president of Kenya is a Christian. However, Obama’s cousin Odinga ran aganist him and said he rigged the election and stirred up the masses to rape woman and boys, kill and burn and torture Christians, etc. until Obama contacted Condeleeza Rice and she granted Obama the right to contact Odinga and other ruling elders and he “convinced” them to stop terrorizing the Christians. Bree Keyton said the current Christian President was forced by our government (!) to “create” an office for Odinga (to make “peace”) so he was made the Prime Minister (!) to make peace between the Christians and Odinga’s Muslim religion!

Long pig; it’s this year’s Ibogaine. Relatedly, I was just reading back over some of the Pierre Falcone posts, and it struck me that McCain’s public image has come a long way since I blithely remarked that Falcone had been a fool to offer him money. True, I was thinking of relative rather than absolute integrity – I said Falcone should have offered Tom DeLay the cash, and got a far better deal in terms of value for his bribe dollar.

Perhaps McCain should try a different West African warlord; Charles Taylor knew a good campaign slogan when he saw one. He could help him mend fences with the crucial evangelical vote, thanks to his links to Pat Robertson. And eating UN personnel would probably go down well with the base.

Said Sir Michael Rose, speaking at the SAS passing-out parade in 1979: One intelligent soldier can achieve more than a fleet of B-52s. There’s some debate as to whether that statement could be applied to Rose himself, but I doubt many would disagree with it.

David Davis apparently agrees. His resignation from Parliament should be understood as an exercise in the struggle for strategic influence, specifically directed at the growing decent/neocon faction in the Conservative Party. I have been a little surprised, and pleased, by how well the Tories have held up on the Counter-Terrorism Bill, ID cards, and related issues; I would have thought the Murdoch influence would be telling by now. And, indeed, there are signs of change within – Boris Johnston’s win seems to have hugely strengthened the Policy Exchange/Michael Gove current, while Cameron’s annoying press chief Steve Hilton has run off to California. His BlackBerry is unlikely to be enough to compensate for the distance, which must strengthen Andy Coulson’s role as Rupert Murdoch’s ambassador to the Tories.

But now: cazart! Davies’ replacement, Dominic Grieve is even talking about repealing the 28 day provisions. Stick that up your punter – I think not. There’s not going to be any cave-in now. It’s part of the Westminster traditional language that, to be considered principled, an act must also be ineffective or poorly executed, which is one of the reasons so many people have been at pains to accuse Davis of Machiavellianism or frivolity. People who want something that isn’t evil or dishonourable don’t get to pull off brilliantly outrageous triple-crosses, do they? Yes, of course it’s Machiavellian scheming – this is politics after all, and that’s how things get done, and the people who complain are usually the ones who were outschemed.

If you needed evidence that the Davis coup is significant, you need look no further than the emergence of an actual Murdoch candidate running against him. Yes, Kelvin McFuck is back, looking to add another name to his litany of post-Sun failures. He is one of very few men to actually fail to make money by underestimating the public’s taste – it’s not like News Bunny ever made a penny… But, this time, he is clutching a promise of actual financial support from News International, plus close air support from the paper itself. Inevitably, the media establishment is busy writing him off as a joke candidate, which makes as much sense as writing Davis off and is being done for precisely the same reasons.

Whether McFuck realises it or not, in a very serious sense Davis was running against the Sun Party from the word go. What does the Sun actually stand for, politically? Well, now we know – we can read it off McFuck’s public statements.

He also told the BBC he would be campaigning on three issues – hostility to the “sense that our country is somehow in the grip of some kind of security vice”, demanding that there be “the referendum for Europe”, and on more populist issues – like seeking changes to government spending on “things I don’t think we care about”.

In a BBC Radio 5 interview, he was slightly more specific about point three, saying that he wanted to ban BT from using “automatic voice responders and call centres”. You have to wonder whether a man who had just come from a late-night dinner with antisocial binge drinker Rebekah Wade was entirely sober, but there is a clear pattern here – he, and it, stand for authoritarianism, the Special Relationship in the worst sense, and fake populist gut-chafing (this latter, of course, is essentially content-free).

Putting it another way, McFuck’s candidacy is an exercise in the promotion of power-worship. It’s Schmittian conservatism; the permanent crisis requires an Ausnahmezustand, which demands a strong leader who may incidentally beat up the odd call centre to demonstrate their compassion for the weak, who are very much intended to stay that way. Note that McFuck’s not interested in the people who work in the call centre. Only a numskull like Geoff Hoon could think the Government ought to field a candidate – it should be clear enough to everyone else that the Government, in many ways, already is.

In this light, it’s clear why Davis is standing and why he deserves your support – it’s only contradictory that he believes in both the death penalty and habeus corpus in terms of generalised progressivism or liberalism, which he doesn’t believe in (or he wouldn’t be a Tory). In terms of classical conservatism, it makes perfect sense to think that the State should have the power to cut your head off, and that its power must be constrained by law as much as humanly possible. (After all, if the State *wants* to kill someone, it’s likely to find a way unless someone stops it.)

And, going by the polling data, this is likely to be your chance to help pour the proverbial vast bucket of shit back over McFuck’s head. Imagine the scene at the Murdoch summer party – McFuck, red-faced, holding forth, James Murdoch explaining to Rupert, ticking quietly on his death-support system, that there’s this thing called the Internet and it’s like TV that you read, Wade drooling slightly over Wendi Deng’s shoulder but still reasonably coherent, the plates of roast baby stewed in the juice of freshly squeezed minority shareholders well dug into but not quite down to the toying level yet. All seems well with the world…and then, the disruption. Forced to show their hand.

This is also to say that Dan Hardie was right. He’s been a Davis fan for some time; I was doubtful, especially after he reacted to the police crime figures going down by suddenly deciding the BCS was right all along. But when the time came…

There’s a PledgeBank here; and what’s this? Bob Marshall-Andrews and Colonel Tim Collins? And Kings of War. And Peter McGrath. It’s like going back to the 2005 general election, maaannnn.

This essay by Ian McEwan in the Guardian Review shows precisely why the Decent influence on British intellectual life is so damn depressing. You may think, and I would say the AaroWatch crew are guilty of this, that they are just a bunch of wankers left behind with their blogs after history moved on. But their unpopularity is not all that important – the whole Decent project is intended to be an elite/intellectual one, based on influence rather than numbers.

On those terms it’s succeeding, what with the ramifications it’s developed in the Conservative Party…and its effect on the literary establishment is pretty grim, too. McEwan will never be a core-group Decent, even though he wrote a whole book about how terribly civilised, self-controlled surgeons compared to those irresponsible scum protesting in the streets. He’s too good for that, and style has a role to play as well – Martin Amis’s epic self-dramatising fits in perfectly with a movement as queeny as Decency, but McEwan’s literary protestantism doesn’t quite fit. But they are having an effect on him.

Consider this essay. It’s a good, solid piece of work; a well-researched reflection on the continuity of apocalyptic thought in human societies, and the way it projects the real horror of mortality – that the world goes on without us – onto precisely the society that will always outlive us. But then, but then; you read this:

It was inevitably a transition, the passing of an old age into the new – and who is to say now that Osama bin Laden did not disappoint, whether we mourned at the dawn of the new millennium with the bereaved among the ruins of lower Manhattan, or danced for joy, as some did, in the Gaza Strip.

They didn’t, though, did they? The TV image in question turned out to be stock footage shot months before, and no-one remembers the BBC lead of that night from Palestine, Yasser Arafat giving blood for New York. There is something wrong here – after all, why would you want to involve Palestinians at this point? They didn’t bloody do it, man. Why not say – in Afghanistan, where the orders for the attack were given? In Saudi Arabia, where the attackers came from and where, in all probability, the money came from? In Hamburg, where the terrorist cell actually prepared the attack? Why give a location at all – someone, after all, will have danced for joy somewhere?

And here we go. McEwan now devotes several hundred words to the revolutionary notion that Wahhabism, Nazism, and Stalinism are undesirable and would be best avoided, something no Guardian Review reader is likely to have thought before him. He cites Christopher Hitchens, raging about John F. Kennedy, but oddly doesn’t seem aware that Richard Nixon nearly started a nuclear war in 1973 or Ronald Reagan in 1984 with the ABLE ARCHER crisis, one which was particularly perilous because it happened without any of the diplomatic crisis management Kennedy’s cabinet wrapped the Cuban crisis in. There is a message here, no? And it’s not about apocalyptic thinking, at least not that kind.

But McEwan, as I said, will never be a real Decent. American Christian Identity types come in for a lot of flak, as does the Israeli settler movement. The fox is struggling to hedgehog up. On the other hand, though, it’s there – the creationists get given an explicit pass on the suggestion they don’t really believe it, and we’ve dealt with Palestine further back. This is undoubtedly a Decent document, which is a great pity, because its indecent curves are stunning when shown.

Meanwhile, I was driving away from Windsor Great Park on the day of the Queen’s Cup polo match when I saw, over a hedge, the top of a Routemaster! Given the bizarre significance of the things to the PolEx/Godson/Standpoint/CCO/Martin Bright club, I’m tempted to imagine it as the transport for the Decent assassination squad.