* I was
riding the tube a couple of days ago, when a voice came over
the PA and said, "This train is quite crowded. When exiting,
please use all available doors."
how to use one door or another to get off a train, but I froze
in puzzlement as to how I could use "all available doors." It
was six stops past mine before I just punted and used the one
nearest to me.
* And I
was looking forward to having tons of yummy English muffins
when I got over here, but I haven't seen one! Have the English
sold all of theirs to the States?
* The other
night someone said to Jan Lester, "Jan, how is Escape to
title of Jan's book is Escape
Leviathan, so the title as spoken suggested quite a
different work. However, it also suggested a series of titles
Jan might produce: Escape for Leviathan, in which Jan
escapes from a prison to rescue the State, Escape Through
Leviathan, where Jan uses the labyrinth bureaucracy of
the State to elude his ferocious and vicious pursuers, and my
favorite, Escape with Leviathan, in which Jan and the
State run off to a deserted tropical isle together, leaving
the bewildered populace longing for both authority and critical
* A headline
in The Times read, "Hurricane Ivan Leaves Behind Wreckage
Worth Billions of Pounds."
Ivan can drop by my place and leave some of that wreckage there.
I'd even be satisfied with wreckage worth a million pounds.
* On the
tube yesterday, I saw a sign showing an abandoned piece of luggage
on a seat and reading: "Don't touch, check with other passengers,
inform station staff or call 999."
words, if you just ignore the bomb, maybe it will go away. For
the want of a semi-colon, the train was lost.
the US is as full of badly worded signs as is England. At my
old office, there was a sign on a door reading, "This door must
be kept closed at all times." Wouldn't a wall have been a better
choice than a door, in that case?
* I was
walking down the main road near my house at night when a police
van, containing two cops, came to a halt by the curb next to
flashed back to a night in sleepy Redding, CT, when I was walking
home from my local around midnight and had a cop pull up alongside
me. His window came down.
me, sir, are you just out for a walk?"
I responded, "I was down at the Georgetown Saloon, and I'm heading
live near here?"
have you lived there?"
had tried to be patient, but that was about it. Instead of thanking
me for not drinking and driving, this nitwit was going to grill
me because not many people in Redding walk at night.
going to send me a birthday card?" I asked.
he answered, "Something like that."
I haven't broken any laws. I'm heading home." I turned and walked
away from him.
to be a repeat scenario, here in London? Once again, the window
came down. I waited for the question.
nearest to me leaned toward the window of the van and said,
"Excuse me, sir, can you tell us how to get to the Colindale
I'm not making this up.
* I passed
a Woolworth's in North London the other day, then turned because
I realized I was curious: Would a Woolworth's here smell the
same as one in the states?
sure did. Just what is that smell? Caldor and Bradley's
always had pretty much the same odor as well.
thinkers gather at LSE from left to right, me, Lionel
Robbins, and Pete Boettke
one's clothes outside brings surprises. Two days ago, I put
on a shirt and found that a bird had used it for target practice.
This morning, as I pulled up my boxers, I felt a small lump
on the waistband. I pulled it off, and then looked to see what
that I was holding a decent-sized, live wasp in my fingers.
Yikes! I have no idea why I wasn't stung, unless I luckily had
employed just the grip Steve Irwin uses to hold a wasp and not
be stung by it.
through Paddington Station, I saw a sign reading: "Caution:
Cycle Thieves About."
it's like rotating your tires you don't want the thieves
getting all worn out on one side or anything.
* I took
a trip to Oxford yesterday. It was the first tourist activity
I've done since I arrived in England. Except, of course, for
the tourist activity I like the most: finding out what it's
like to live in some place, especially what the people who live
there are like. At the standard tourist spots, that is not
what happens: they are filled with other tourists, not the locals.
That bothered me when I stayed in old Quebec City: the entire
old city area is a giant tourist attraction. After a few days,
I realized I wasn't in a real city at all, but in something
equivalent to Colonial Williamsburg on a larger scale.
the London-Oxford train passes through, once one gets perhaps
25 minutes out of London, is lovely. Autumn is fully setting
in here, and the trees lining the bright green fields are muted
tones of green and gold and brown, much quieter than a New England
fall, but with their own charm. The English rivers are enchanting,
full and slow and lazy, their banks studded with trees and shrubs.
itself is also very nice, filled with majestic old buildings.
I walked down New Road, whose name probably means it was built
only about five or six centuries ago New College was built
in 1379. Crossing Hythe Street Bridge, I saw a sign that read,
"Hump 75 Yards." I went there and waited for a while, but
the Ashmolean, a wonderful museum. In the Ancient Egypt exhibit
I pondered the explosion in human technical ability that started
around 10,000 years ago. Egypt had been occupied by humans for
roughly 1,000,000 years, over the first 990,000 of which the
exhibit showed small changes in stone tool technology. Then,
suddenly, there is pottery, farming, copper needles and fishhooks,
and so on.
before my trip, I had wound up sleeping on a friend's couch,
from where I went straight to Oxford. I hadn't planned to do
so, and, therefore, I hadn't brought a change of clothes. By
late afternoon my feet were feeling, shall we say, "not so fresh."
I wanted to rinse them off, so I walked along a canal. A life
preserver bobbed in the water, caught up in some branches. Someone
throw it a human!
saw canal boats for the first time long, thin, low affairs,
most of them emitting streams of smoke that smelled like a peat
fire, but apparently were the result of burning some material
that comes in plastic bags, which the boat owners stacked by
the dozen across their roofs.
found a place where I could reach the water with my feet, and
I dunked them in. I walked barefoot back along the path toward
where I had come from. Two small, black birds ducks? with
white heads fought the current to stare at me, perhaps hoping
for food. As I took out my notebook to jot down their appearance,
a couple strolled toward me up the walk. They gave me a very
wide berth. Well, I suppose, standing on the asphalt path in
dress slacks and a buttondown shirt, but barefooted in 50 degree
weather, with my shoes, socks, and a notepad in one hand, scribbling
on the pad with a pen held in the other, that I might have looked
a wee bit odd.
* My friend
Jim Henley cites
the perfect quote to sum up the US election results: "Democracy
is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve
to get it good and hard." H.L. Mencken
I'm finally looking the right way when crossing the street.
that I probably will be hit by a car within a day or two of
arriving back in the States.
* My soul
captured by a wild spirit of adventure, I walked several blocks
further down the main road through my town (Colindale) then
I have during the first month I've been here. There I found...
City is a giant mall devoted to things from eastern Asia. There
is a store with a huge supply of Chinese ceramics, several shops
selling Oriental bric-a-brac, a Japanese beauty parlor, and
a Sega center that is a confusing jumble of lights from giant
game screens and the sounds of cars, shots, kicks, and dying.
farther in I found an Asian supermarket as large as a Wal-Mart
in the US. I wandered the aisles for a few minutes, surveying
the unfamiliar items. Some of the prices were astronomical:
whelks were selling for 65 pounds a kilo, while "surf clams"
went for 68. I saw little fruits from Thailand called "rambutan"
that looked like they were covered with tentacles. My favorite
item was "dried salted witch." So that's what they do with them
went to the food court. It contains about a dozen Asian restaurants
Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese.
One shop sold sixty different, non-alcoholic drinks, including
lychee in syrup, iced horlick, Lo Hon Guo Longan tea, ice sago
in coconut milk, and jelly grass in syrup. Another place displayed
whole ducks, including the heads, roasted and skewered, as well
as whole, bright-red cuttlefish. In one of the Chinese stalls
I could have ordered preserved vegetables with pig intestine.
I wound up choosing a wonderful Vietnamese beef-noodle soup,
flavored with fresh basil and cilantro, scallions, freshly squeezed
lime juice, and plenty of bright red chilies.
* I watched
a very moving film last night called Amandla: A Struggle
in Four-Part Harmony. It was about the role music played
in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. (And the music
was great as well.)
the course of the movie I reflected on the parallels between
what I was watching and the US invasion of Iraq. One dissident
mentioned that the South African prison wardens would strip
political prisoners naked to humiliate them. Sound familiar?
interviewed former members of the "riot police," one of whom
said that they "had" to use heavy weapons during protests, or
some of the police might have been hurt. Just like how the US
and Britain have "had" to employ aerial bombing and heavy artillery
in densely populated areas, in order to minimize their own casualties.
Because of such tactics, Iraqi civilian deaths are running about
100 to 1 ahead of US military deaths. The soldiers all volunteered
for a job that they knew entailed the possibility of going to
war. The civilians dying had no such option. But simply because
Bush knows Americans will be far more upset by one American
soldier dying than 100 Iraqis, the military is using an approach
that they know will kill many, many innocent bystanders.
African soldiers who fired on peaceful protesters were just
doing their "duty" for their "country." They probably saw themselves
as good patriots.
excuse their actions, nor will a similar excuse wash for anyone
participating in the immoral fiasco now occurring in Iraq.
Lester, and Pete Boettke listen to Larissa Price discussing
property rights at a meeting of the LSE Hayek Society