Friday 2 February, 2024

Young farmer of the year

Provence, Summer 2023 at a street festival put on for kids by the local branch of the Farmers Union.

Quote of the Day

”Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good. 

  • Woody Allen

Only Mae West does these gags better.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Van Morrison | I Want A Roof Over My Head


Long Read of the Day

To Fight Populism, Invest in Left-Behind Communities by Diane Coyle –

Terrific essay on the Project Syndicate site by Diane Coyle on what happens when people living in “places that don’t matter” see quality jobs disappear, public services eroded, and their economic prospects rapidly diminishing.

As Western democracies become increasingly polarized, rural and small-town voters are regularly pitted against their counterparts in larger urban centers. While this is not a new phenomenon – and certainly not the only factor affecting voting patterns – the rural-urban divide is a significant driver of today’s culture wars. This dynamic, which economist Andrés Rodríguez-Pose evocatively described as the “revenge of the places that don’t matter,” suggests that the ongoing populist surge largely reflects geographic disparities.

How did the rural-urban divide come to dominate so many countries’ political discourse and development, and how can we address it?

It’s a great piece. Diane is a great economist and an inspiring colleague (she’s on the Advisory Board of our Research Centre). She also runs a lovely books blog. Which means that she reads more books than anyone I know, with the possible exception of Tyler Cowen.

Books, etc.

I’ve just finished reading this fine book by Marianna Spring. She’s the BBC’s first Misinformation and Social Media correspondent, a post best described as enforced recumbence on a bed of very sharp nails. Her book is the product of a deep dive into the dark underbelly of our supposedly liberal democracies, and is a good example of dogged and courageous investigative journalism. It comes out in the UK in March (I think) and I’ve reviewed it for the Observer. I’ll post a link to it when it appears.

My commonplace booklet

31 chemicals blacklisted by Europe are currently permitted in the UK

Interesting Politico story:

In the four years since Brexit, the European Union has added 31 new chemicals to its Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) watchlist. The U.K. has added zero.

When the uK left the EU, its government copied the EU’s REACH chemicals regulation wholesale. But it has been far slower to update either its watchlist or impose outright bans than Brussels has. Over the same four years Brussels has banned eight chemicals outright whereas the UK has not acted on any. So is this is a product of Brexiteering ideology inside the relevant British regulators? Or is it just a reflection of the declining capacity of the British state? I suspect the latter.


Some things I noticed, while drinking from the Internet firehose.

  • Screenshot of the first Macintosh (courtesy of Dave Winer)

  • How the FBI took out Volt Typhoon’s botnet. The Register

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