Monthly Archives: April 2013

Human societies as studies in relative scarcity: the price of children, the cost of capital

That modernising societies experience a “demographic transition“–a change from high fertility and high death rates to low fertility and low death rates with an intermediate period of high fertility and low death rates–is well known. The likely reason is lags in adjusting to changes in death rates. The price of children Having children is a […]

Under Siege

A seal has boarded a Royal Navy amphibious-assault ship as it was about to carry out military exercises near Carnoustie. HMS Bulwark was making preparations for the multinational training exercise Joint Warrior when the seal swam up the ship’s landing dock. The animal sat and watched the crew for about half an hour. It was […]

You are correct: westerners care more about Boston than Baghdad – guest post by Jacques Chester

[SL: I have long been of the view–while I have great sympathy for my libertarian and leftist friends who want calamity in the developing world taken as seriously as calamity in the developed world–that the lesson that Jacques teaches below is important, and needs to be taken seriously. There is a reason why ‘if it […]

Government by expert, scientists, and those Platonic Guardians (again) #QEDcon

Over the weekend, I was a guest at this really rather splendid skeptical convention (responsible for the terrific animation above). I and my fellow panellists (three lawyers, one science writer) got to talk about libel and defamation law, and how it relates to social media. This is, I think it’s fair to say, controversial right now. […]

Check your expectations (3) Milton Friedman not going far enough

Milton Friedman’s 1967 Presidential Address (pdf) is something monetary economists regularly say anyone interested in monetary economics should read. Having recently read it, I have come to the conclusion that it is something anyone interested in monetary economics should read. As is normal with Friedman, it is beautifully clear, one of his great attributes. His analysis […]

Wall Art

Two Somerville Rd corner shops on opposite sides of Tuppen St have striking wall art. One has a very Oz bird scene. It is strikingly executed–somewhat better done than a lot of the wall murals one sees. I am no expert or bird-watcher but I am guessing it is a Willie Wagtail.  The trees are […]

You Turn If You Want To

Downing Street has released the names of more guests who will attend Lady Thatcher’s funeral, including US politician Newt Gingrich and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Advertising magnate Lord Maurice Saatchi, internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee and singer Katherine Jenkins have also accepted invitations. The ceremony will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in […]

Check your expectations (2) Women preferring Sharia

I am deeply sceptical about any legal recognition of Sharia on two grounds. First, it is profoundly misogynist, starting with the discounting of evidence from women. Second, it evolved as an imperial legal system. It does not claim to be a legal system for only the faithful, as Jewish law does, but God’s law, applying […]

Divorcing marriage?

When I wrote my Reason Foundation brief on equal marriage, I focussed (understandably) on the empirical arguments both for and against same-sex marriage, leaving rights arguments to one side (what do you expect? I’m a positivist). However, in one section, I addressed (albeit briefly) the common libertarian argument that we should ‘get the state out […]

SIWOTI: the Margaret Thatcher Edition

In order to understand this post, you need to be familiar with this cartoon. Familiar? Good, now onto the ‘fun’ part. As a general rule, I try to avoid the situation in which the cartoon’s protagonist finds himself. That is, getting into lengthy online disputes where – it would seem – very few people are […]