Weekend Reading V
The UK National Archive has a fabulous podcast series. There are some amazing episodes on the integral detail of the organisation of files and how a country in so many ways defined by its ability to keep records has evolved over the centuries. No episode has been more enjoyable, or more illustrative of this point, than this recent lecture on the Double Cross system. It’s full of quite unbelievable events, hilarious plans and plots, and reinforces the impression that war-time intelligence is on the constant brink of farce beyond parody. Listen in for accounts of putative conspiracies of Aryan Welshmen, carrier pigeon interception strike force, and the incredible level to which the Abwehr were duped.
I wrestled a bit with whether I should post this one or not. On the one hand, it’s very interesting and useful insight into the challenge of pseudo-mathematical language in an area of semantic precision like the law (which is, arguably, equally formal discipline of thought, albeit quite different). On the other hand, it has a shamefully link-baiting title. I would normally not even read an article with such a title, but the overall blog is one that has interesting content. Judge for yourself.
In a recent judgement the English Court of Appeal has not only rejected the Sherlock Holmes doctrine shown above, but also denied that probability can be used as an expression of uncertainty for events that have either happened or not.
Does social composition of the parliament matter? Do political parties need to be substantial slices-of-society? Social democratic parties in both Ireland and the UK often contain both the traditional union workers and the ‘smoked salmon’ upper-middle class types. It’s less clear that the conservative parties are as successful, though arguably they have a stronger rural/urban diversity. I found this article on the composition of the UK Conservative party very interesting. It’s also worth considering the effects in Ireland, where seats are often inherited, and where we draw a substantial number of our own TDs from the ranks of teachers.
MPs were linked together in a web of family relationships, which was sometimes called the ‘Cousinhood’. Moreover, it was estimated that, in a remarkable display of nepotism, thirty-five of the eighty-five members of Harold Macmillan’s 1958 government were related tohim by marriage.
There was a great deal of coverage of the home-made weapons in Lybia. It seems that similar activities are underway in Syria. I find it fascinating, but also quite disquieting. The line between terrorist, freedom fighter, rebel and martyr is muddy at best. Still, I can only admire the ingenuity.