The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The Tory catastrophe

Two writers in the Times looked at two different aspects of the Conservative party's ongoing vandalism to the United Kingdom. First, David Wallace-Wells tracks the post-Brexit economic declines:

By the end of next year, the average British family will be less well off than the average Slovenian one, according to a recent analysis by John Burn-Murdoch at The Financial Times; by the end of this decade, the average British family will have a lower standard of living than the average Polish one.

On the campaign trail and in office, promising a new prosperity, Boris Johnson used to talk incessantly about “leveling up.” But the last dozen years of uninterrupted Tory rule have produced, in economic terms, something much more like a national flatlining. In a 2020 academic analysis by Nicholas Crafts and Terence C. Mills, recently publicized by the economic historian Adam Tooze, the two economists asked whether the ongoing slowdown in British productivity was unprecedented. Their answer: not quite, but that it was certainly the worst in the last 250 years, since the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Which is to say: To find a fitting analogue to the British economic experience of the last decade, you have to reach back to a time before the arrival of any significant growth at all, to a period governed much more by Malthusianism, subsistence-level poverty and a nearly flat economic future.

As Burn-Murdoch demonstrates in another in his series of data-rich analyses of the British plight, the country’s obvious struggles have a very obvious central cause: austerity. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, and in the name of rebalancing budgets, the Tory-led government set about cutting annual public spending, as a proportion of G.D.P., to 39 percent from 46 percent. The cuts were far larger and more consistent than nearly all of Britain’s peer countries managed to enact; spending on new physical and digital health infrastructure, for instance, fell by half over the decade. In the United States, political reversals and partisan hypocrisy put a check on deep austerity; in Britain, the party making the cuts has stayed steadily in power for 12 years.

Over two centuries, a tiny island nation made itself an empire and a capitalist fable, essentially inventing economic growth and then, powered by it, swallowing half the world. Over just two decades now, it has remade itself as a cautionary tale.

The Tories' lazy malfeasance in promoting and then implementing Brexit may also unwind 25 years of community-building on Eire in ways literally everyone predicted, says writer Christopher Caldwell:

Ireland remains part of the European Union but Northern Ireland no longer is — and yet the two parts of the island are bound by trade and a 25-year-old peace treaty that helped defuse a terrorist conflict between Protestant unionists and Catholics.

Those loose ends were tied up in a little-understood clarification of Brexit called the Northern Ireland protocol, ratified in January 2020. It looked like a mere codicil three years ago; now it looks like a serious diplomatic blunder that could threaten Britain’s territory and the region’s peace.

[Former Prime Minister Theresa] May promised — too hastily, in retrospect — to honor the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement among Britain, Northern Ireland’s political parties and the Republic of Ireland. One of the main things the agreement did was to bind together the economies of Ireland’s north and south. But adapting that arrangement to a post-Brexit world came at a steep constitutional price for the north. To protect the European single market against smuggling and the transfer of unauthorized goods through Northern Ireland, a customs border would be established between Northern Ireland and Britain. To administer the single market, the European Court of Justice was given authority to interpret E.U. law in Northern Ireland.

Caldwell seems to favor UK independence from the EU, but he makes a good point. Something has to give. And it looks like even odds whether Brexit winds up unifying Eire into one Republic of Ireland, or reigniting the Troubles. Can't wait to find out...

Tuesday night round-up

In other news:

And finally, a glimmer of hope that the 10-year project to build one damn railroad station near my house might finally finish in the next few weeks.

Stupid is as stupid does

One of the most loathsome, talentless personalities on the Internet self-pwnd yesterday after going 0-for-2 against 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, and it was beautiful. Actor George Takei sums it up:

Oh my, you have that right, George. MSNBC has the details on the accusations against Tate:

On Thursday, [Romanian] prosecutors said that they found evidence that six women had been sexually exploited “using physical violence and mental constraint” by members of the group.

The women had been forced into making pornographic content for distribution on social media for financial gain to the group, they said.

And the New York Post enlightens us about how Tate got caught:

Tate and his brother Tristan were detained on kidnapping and rape charges Thursday after the controversial social media star tweeted a video response to one of Thunberg’s tweets.

In it, Tate asks someone off-camera to bring him pizza and “make sure that these boxes are not recycled” as he’s handed two pies from Jerry’s Pizza — a local chain in Romania.

The video was all authorities needed to pinpoint the former kickboxer’s location and make the arrest.

The back-and-forth between Tate and Grunberg just adds to the Schadenfreude one feels at his arrest. Tate on Wednesday:

Thunberg replied:

And then yesterday evening, after Tate's arrest:

Chef's kiss, Ms Thunberg.

Oh, by the way, you can't recycle pizza boxes—at least not in Chicago, unless you do it very carefully. The oils from the pizza ruin the cardboard.

Probably the last warm day of the year

Cassie and I took a 33-minute walk at lunchtime and we'll take another half-hour or so before dinner as the temperature grazes 14°C this afternoon. Tomorrow and each day following will cool off a bit until Wednesday, the first official day of winter, which will return to normal.

Meanwhile...

Finally, Amazon's ads really have gotten to the point where it's "a tacky strip mall filled with neon signs pointing you in all the wrong directions."

And in just a few hours, I will tuck into this:

I may run out of mason jars though...

Lunch reading

I'm starting to adapt my habits and patterns to the new place. I haven't figured out where to put everything yet, especially in my kitchen, but I'll live with the first draft for a few weeks before moving things around.

I'm also back at work in my new office loft, which is measurably quieter than the previous location—except when the Metra comes by, but that just takes a couple of seconds.

I actually have the mental space to resume my normal diet of reading. If only I had the time. Nevertheless:

Finally, does anyone want to go to New York with me to see a play about Robert Moses starring Ralph Fiennes? Apparently tickets are only $2,000 a pop...

Amazing late-summer weather

The South's misfortune is Chicago's benefit this week as a hot-air dome over Texas has sent cool Canadian air into the Midwest, giving us in Chicago a perfect 26°C afternoon at O'Hare—with 9°C dewpoint. (It's 25°C at IDTWHQ.) Add to that a sprint review earlier today, and I might have to spend a lot more time outside today.

So I'll just read all this later:

Finally, the leader of the Westminster city council in London really wants to close down the "American" candy stores opening up all up and down Oxford Street.

Meanwhile and elsewhere

In case you needed more things to read today:

There are others, but I've still got a lot to do today.

Regulate crypto! And guns, too

Even though it seems the entire world has paused to honor HRH The Queen on the 70th anniversary of her accession, the world in fact kept spinning:

Blogger Moxie Marlinspike wrote about their first impressions of web3 back in January. I just got around to reading it, and you should too.

Oh, and plastic recycling doesn't work, and probably can't.

And here, a propos of nothing, is a photo of St Boniface Cemetery I took this morning:

Stuff I didn't have time to read today

I had to put out a new version of the Inner Drive Azure tools for my day job today, and I had more meetings than I wanted (i.e., a non-zero number), so these kind of piled up:

There were other things I'll read later, but it's past 6pm and someone is staring at me because she needs a walk.

Monday afternoon stories

Just a few:

Finally, James Fallows rolls his eyes at the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner, but praises Trevor Noah's closing statement.