12th June: Adam Smith and the New Right. How their ideas are indeed quite similar. Both assume that an elite should control society. And like his modern admirers, Smith had a way of excluding ‘off-message facts’. Pretended not to know about unfree Scottish labour in The Wealth of Nations, but had mentioned it in the public lectures the book developed from.
Market Winners Rob the Rest of Us. Money is a crude way of running a complex society. Smart money depends on ‘stupid money’ to balance the books. Obviously no one starts investing with the intention of being ‘stupid money’, just as no one goes betting or gambling with the intention of enriching the bookies and casino owners. But that’s the way it works out.
Cooking Made Us Human. The notion that we advanced by being able to cook. And the alternative notion it might have been drying food in the hot sun, before fire was tamed.
Natural Selection as ‘Survival of the Grandkids’. An ‘audit of grandchildren’ is the actual way in which natural selection shapes species. Just having offspring is not enough: they in turn must have children for the genes to survive long-term. And human life includes other options: Newton left behind no children or grandchildren, but his actual legacy is immense.
Letter About Memes. Every Tom, Dave or Sammy bears a name of Jewish origin, as indeed does every Liz, Jane or Mary. So are Jewish names must be very very good at self-replication? (Dawkins’s notion is a half-arsed theory of culture.)
11th June: Ukraine – Kiev’s Five Day War Machine. What actually happened after rioters chased out the elected President. How they alienated the large minority who were not hostile to the Soviet past, and made the Russian-backed secession of Crimea almost inevitable. And the strong fascist connections. (An extract from Newsnotes, April 2014.)