Feeling a bit dizzy now

by Kieran Healy on December 29, 2003

In future, when you come across some piece of irritating rhetoric or dishonest spinning, rather than attempt to rebut it simply link to this picture instead. It conveys very well what’s going on and will save a lot of trouble all round.

Uncertain science

by Chris Bertram on December 29, 2003

Iain Murray has “a column on global warming in the Washington Times”:http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20031226-114728-6336r.htm . As is typical of the genre, the column employs very different epistemic standards when assessing the claims of scientists about climate change than it does when invoking the projections of enviro-sceptics about the economic consequences of Kyoto. Be that as it may, I thought the following sentence worthy of at least an honourable mention in any “It could have been in _The Onion_ ” competition:

bq. Moreover, the alleged increase in extreme weather events may simply be due to better reporting, as more people move to areas susceptible to such events.

Hitchensian drift

by Chris Bertram on December 29, 2003

History News Network has “a discussion”:http://hnn.us/articles/1882.html of whether Christopher Hitchens has sought to misrepresent his own reaction to 9/11 in the light of his subsequent political evolution (via “Au Currant”:http://www.jackieblogs.com/ ). When the Guardian article Sean Wilenz descibes as “particularly sickening” (available “here”:http://www.ucolick.org/~de/WTChit/Hitchens.html ) is re-read, I don’t think Hitchens has anything to be ashamed of or that there’s great inconsistency between what he said then and the positions he has adopted since. What has changed appreciably is Hitchens’s attitude to both the Bush administration and the Iraq war. On my old blog Junius, “I linked on March 2 2002”:http://junius.blogspot.com/2002_03_03_junius_archive.html to a “Hitchens article in the Daily Mirror”:http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=11650232&method=full (subtitle: “On the peril of America’s muddled, ignorant hawks”) in which he attacks the Bush administration’s “axis of evil” approach and refers to “an overconfident superpower whose leaders appear to be making up foreign policy as they go along.” Hitchens has every right to change his mind about the issues of the day. What some of us find unsettling is the ease with which he is today able to denounce as lacking in moral intelligence people who agree with positions he himself spouted as recently as the spring of 2002.

Love Actually

by Chris Bertram on December 29, 2003

I went to see _Love Actually_ last night. My vote was for _Master and Commander_ , but since that meant getting in the car and driving to a mulitplex whereas LA was showing at the end of the street, it was a battle I was never going to win. Two reactions: first, the intellectual in me was saying “this is utter crap” throughout; second, my eyes watered at various points during the evening. Now it isn’t hard for a film to engage my emotions — I always find it hard to stay composed during the closing scenes of _Crocodile Dundee_ — but for what it’s worth the film does work pretty well on that level. Hugh Grant’s as Prime Minister really is awful, but Bill Nighy as the ageing rocker is really funny and both Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson put in fine performances. It isn’t that I want to recommend it as such, but it did overcome my determination not to enjoy myself.