Rights? Who needs them?

From the “only the guilty have anything to fear” department: almost 1/2 of Americans polled for MSNBC believe that Muslims living in the US should have their rights restricted. Interestingly, the (to me) less atrocious idea of infiltrating of civic and voluntary groups (something I’m sure MI5 do over here right now) was much less popular – only 29%.

The wisdom of markets

Crooked Timber looks to squash a spreading error – the idea that electronic markets predicted the US election better than the polls did. The actuality – that the markets were as inaccurate as the polls – indicates to me both the reliance of markets on available information and common wisdom, rather than anything more ethereal; and the primacy of polling data in the US political newsline. Are there alternative means of sampling public views than opinion polling? How reliable is it? Where is the political bias?

Ukraine again

A writing project is bringing me back to Machiavelli again, particularly the Prince and the Discourses, and this passage from the Discourses made me think of the Ukraine, and possible futures for Russia:

For the degree of corruption to which the kings [of Rome] had sunk was such that, if it had continued for two or three successive reigns, and had extended from the head to the members of the body so that these had become also corrupt, it would have been impossible ever to have reformed the state. But losing the head whilst the trunk was still sound, it was easy to restore Rome to liberty and proper institutions.

Discourses I.17

Ars est celare artem

A woman is sitting opposite me on the train. For about 15 minutes she has been putting on various creams, perfumes, mascaras, etc. The latest package she has taken out, presumably to finish off the confection, is called “natural look”. Well, quite.