Discussion policy for RSMG

One of the reasons I’ve taken a break from this blog is that I’ve found the effort of dealing with various kinds of disruptive commenters to be more than I can justify. Unfortunately, the same problems emerged at the RSMG blog, so I’ve developed a new discussion policy. The policy prohibits flames, snarks, trolls and especially sock puppets. When the new improved version of this blog returns, I’ll be adopting something similar, though probably a little less restrictive (I enjoy a good snark from time to time, but you so rarely get a good one).

So, if you’re interested, pop over and take a look. If you’re so minded, make comments, bearing in mind that the policy is already in force.

Taking a break

With a hugely successful fundraising appeal just completed, this seems like a good time to take a break for a few weeks. When I come back I hope to have some new ideas, new features, better defences against trolls and spammers and some policies to promote discussion and discourage flamewars.

In the meantime, I’ll probably post a bit at the Risk and Sustainable Management Group blog, and maybe also at Crooked Timber occasionally.

While I’m on this topic, I should note the departures of Mark Bahnisch from Larvatus Prodeo and Helen Dale (Skepticlawyer) from Catallaxy. Both have made big contributions.

Rip van Winkle

When Rip awoke from his 20-year sleep, he had a beard a foot long, and had missed out on some big political events. I’ve been paying attention to politics for the past 30 years or more, but events in the world of shaving have mostly passed me by. I was aware that it was no longer possible, as it once was, to get a shave and a haircut for two bits, but I was surprised to discover that you can no longer get a shave at all, at least, not at a barbershop – perhaps a long-delayed reaction to The Man from Ironbark.

Instead, having had my hair trimmed and my beard clipped down to Number 0 (as shown here), I was left to rely on my own devices to remove the stubble. Of course, I had no such devices, but I thought that the relevant technology would be fairly much as I remembered it. On the contrary, shaving now appears to require five blades and a power supply. Actually, I did read about this on CT a while back, but of course skipped over it as being of no relevance to me.

I’m slightly bemused by it, but I’m the ideal target market for this kind of thing, since the only memories of shaving that have survived three decades are the painful ones. So, I’m now on the bleeding edge of technology, literally, but hopefully not bleeding as much as I would be if I stuck with the old gear.

Today’s the day!

In a few hours, my younger son Dan and I will be heading to Indooroopilly to deliver on our side of the Great Shave bargain. Photos of the results will be available shortly.

Having set what I thought would be an impossibly ambitious target of raising $5000 for the Leukemia Foundation, I’m thrilled to report that the total including some cash donations and cheques, is just a few dollars short of $6000! There’s still time to donate. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s helped make this such a huge success.

In praise of libertarianism

I got a great response from libertarian readers to the Great Shave Appeal, and so the final instalment in my ‘In Praise of ..’ series is addressed to them.

Although they are often at loggerheads, libertarians and social democrats share plenty of ideas, derived in large measure from common sources. Both draw heavily on the 19th century liberalism of John Stuart Mill, who managed to write effectively in support of both classical free-market economics and, later in life, a rather abstract form of socialism.

It’s not surprising then, that I broadly agree with libertarians on the classic civil liberties issues – freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, opposition to government intervention in private decisions such as sexual activity and drug use and so on.

The attacks on civil liberties since the Iraq war have made many of these issues more vitally relevant and led me and others to stress our areas of agreement with libertarian defenders of freedom such as blogger Jim Henley. They have helped to distinguish genuine libertarians from otherwise orthodox authoritarians (typically US Republicans), who happen to take a relaxed view on sex and drugs.

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