A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘margaret thatcher

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Anthropology.net notes that the discovery of an ancient Homo sapiens jawbone in Israel pushes back the history of our species by quite a bit.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait shares stunning photos of spiral galaxy NGC 1398.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the ways in which the highly reflective surface of Europa might be misleading to probes seeking to land on its surface.
  • The Dragon’s Tales rounds up more information about extrasolar visitor ‘Oumuamua.
  • Far Outliers considers the staggering losses, human and territorial and strategic, of Finland in the Winter War.
  • Hornet Stories notes preliminary plans to set up an original sequel to Call Me Be Your Name later in the 1980s, in the era of AIDS.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res considers if Wichita will be able to elect a Wichitan as governor of Kansas, for the first time in a while.
  • io9 takes a look at the interesting ways in which Star Wars and Star Trek have been subverting traditional audience assumptions about these franchises.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining what decision-makers in North Vietnam were thinking on the eve of the Tet offensive, fifty years ago.
  • The LRB Blog takes a look at a new book examining the 1984 IRA assassination attempt against Margaret Thatcher.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an article examining how school districts, not just electoral districts, can be products of gerrymandering.
  • Marginal Revolution seeks suggestions for good books to explain Canada to non-Canadians, and comes up with a shortlist of its own.
  • Kenan Malik at the NYR Daily takes a look at contemporary efforts to justify the British Empire as good for its subjects. Who is doing this, and why?

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomy shares a video imagining of how Cassini will meet its end with Saturn.
  • Cody Delistraty shares an interview with Rebecca Solnit.
  • Far Outliers reports on Margaret Thatcher’s unorthodox campaign in 1979.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Hillary Clinton’s thanks to her 66 million voters.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at gender stereotypes among scientists.
  • The NYRB Daily talks about the visual art of Pipilotti Rist.
  • Otto Pohl commemorates the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Kalmyks.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests China might follow Russia’s Crimea strategy in invading Taiwan, and looks at the latest on controversies about Tatar identity and genetics.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bruce Sterling at Beyond the Beyond links to an argument claiming that classical standard written English is on the decline because so many more users of English are writing than ever before.
  • Centauri Dreams has more on the migration of our solar system’s planets early in their history. Jupiter’s inward migration may have given Earth oceans; will systems without Jupiters, only Neptunes, have watery rocky worlds like ours?
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin takes one Jewish woman’s narrative about feeling at home in Israel and starts a whole discussion on the Middle East.
  • Far Outliers notes the rapid and thorough assimilation of Basque descendants and Basque cultural elements into the modern Philippines.
  • Geocurrents shares French satirical maps of their own country.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen suggests, after Bryan Caplan, that immigration does not have any effect on the American welfare state.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer shares cites to interesting books on migration.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Marc Rayman describes the Dawn probe’s painstaking deceleration as it moves to its Ceres encounter.
  • The Signal wonders how to enculcate a love for electronic data, in the way that other formats–books, for instance, or LPs–have their own aficionados.
  • Towleroad cites a gay Christian apologist who started a minor controversy by calling GLBT identity a choice.
  • Window on Eurasia shares a Russian writer who argues that there is no impending Cold War over Arctic seafloor with Russia’s neighbours.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell, meanwhile, takes issue with an account of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s errors in the financial crisis that doesn’t take into account the choices of Thatcherites to enable the RBS to go overboard in a financialized economy.

[LINK] “Margaret Thatcher: European.”

Alex Harrowell’s A Fistful of Euros post making the argument that, as a politician, Margaret Thatcher was much more pro-European integration than her successors in the Conservative Party would have preferred is a great revisionist take. Thatcher as a practitioner of the German doctrine of ordoliberalism? Makes sense.

Margaret Thatcher was underrated as a European politician. As prime minister, she was very much in favour and deeply engaged in the creation of the Single European Act and therefore of the single market. It is a cliche to say that the Brits only think of the European Union as a single market, but this is ahistorical – in the mid-80s, single market completion was the absolute top priority on the European agenda. If Europe is a project under construction, the single market was the phase that was completed in the 80s. The notion of catching up with Europe, competing with Europe, trading across Europe – all of this was ingrained in Thatcherite style, tone, and rhetoric.

British macro-economic policy in the Thatcher years was also driven by European integration. After giving up on monetarism, the UK government decided to establish a fixed exchange rate with the D-Mark, and later formalised this by joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism. In fact, the UK spent as much time under Thatcher tracking the D-Mark as it did targeting the money supply. The notions of “importing credibility” that were used to promote the Euro in the 90s and 00s had an earlier run-out in the UK in the 1980s.

With an open capital account and a currency pegged to the D-Mark at a dramatically high parity, the UK in the late 1980s looks rather like a peripheral European economy of the mid-2000s, with inflows of capital chasing yield, a growing financial sector, a trade deficit, a housing bubble, and a political elite frantically clapping themselves on the back, before the crash.

The UK’s broader foreign and defence policy could have been reduced to the word “NATO”, which is another way of saying that it was focused on Europe. In the early 1980s, UK defence plans were all about the BAOR operational area in Germany and the NATO Northern Flank. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the accident of the Falklands, they would have been much more so, sharply reducing the Navy at the expense of the Army and RAF and the nuclear world. Similarly, Thatcher really didn’t care about the Commonwealth or anything much outside, yes, Europe or the North Atlantic.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora notes that although the Bronx might have more incomers than fellow New York City borough Manhattan, Manhattan’s catchment area is global.
  • Centauri Dreams takes a look at the study of planetary systems of subgiant stars, relatively aged stars, starting with Kappa Coronae Borealis.
  • Eastern Approaches deals with the legal and criminal controversies surrounding a Czech lobbyist.
  • In an era of increasingly pervasive and efficient surveillance technologies, the Everyday Sociology Blog’s Tristan Bridges and Tara Tober wonder what privacy actually is these days.
  • Geocurrents’ Asya Perelstvaig profiles the Samaritans, a little-known but enduring ethnic group related to–but distinct from–the Jews.
  • GNXP’s Razib Khan notes a preliminary genetic study that gives credence to the idea of pre-Columbian Ainu migration to South America six thousand years ago. I want to see more on this.
  • Joe. My. God observes that “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” is a hit on the UK pop charts.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Robert Farley notes that much criticism of Margaret Thatcher’s role in the Falklands War is ill-judged, and wonders why so few people blame the Argentine junta.
  • Michael in Norfolk notes marriage rights successes in Uruguay and France.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer outlines the recent history–surprising to me–of fairly loud conflict between Argentina and Uruguay.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Behind the Numbers’ Carl Haub notes that several countries have seen their demographic transitions stall above replacement levels, notably post-Soviet countries but including outliers like Israel and Argentina.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling describes the reception given to Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show in belle époque Europe.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster goes into detail about the implication of the discovery of hydrogen peroxide on Europa’s surface, and its implications for life in Europa’s oceans.
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram argues that while Margaret Thatcher may have managed to Americanize the United Kingdom, she certainly didn’t make it more egalitarian or meritocratic.
  • Daniel Drezner wonders if the collapse of China’s overextended financial sector could have implications for the future of the Chinese government.
  • Eastern Approaches has three recent posts of note: one regarding political maneuvering around arrests in an increasingly autocratic Ukraine; one from Hungary describing the resignation of a deputy governor of the Bank of Hungary, Julia Király, over concerns that the Orbán government’s populism could threaten the country’s future; and one from the Czech Republic, about an almost pleasingly non-catastrophic transition from one president to another.
  • False Steps’ Paul Drye goes into detail about the orbital mirror proposed by some people in Nazi Germany. It would have worked, but just have been impractical.
  • Geocurrents links to a map of endangered languages around the world.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that official Argentine statistics might understate levels of poverty, but also notes that levels of poverty have improved markedly over the past decade. Why bad statistics, then?
  • Torontoist blogs about a new tool library in the neighbourhood of Parkdale.
  • A report from Towleroad: apparently it’s possibly to identify who, in a same-sex relationship, is more likely to be a top than a bottom and vice versa, on average.

[BLOG] Some Margaret Thatcher links

One CBC article on the top of my RSS feed was titled “Margaret Thatcher’s death evokes polarized reaction”. (It’s a very good collection of reactions by various figures from around the world.) I saw that today on Facebook, as well as in the blogosphere.

  • At Bag News Notes, Michael Shaw notes the success of Margaret Thatcher in subverting traditional depictions of femininity, like those of the mother or the shopper.
  • Crooked Timber’s Harry Farrell shares an anecdote of Margaret Thatcher comforting a dying Labour politician, one Eric Heffer.
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin, meanwhile, discusses Thatcher’s views on economic and social organization from a critical left-wing perspective.
  • Daniel Drezner writes about Margaret Thatcher’s role in international relations theory, particularly in providing a paradigmatic example of the diversionary war and in promoting modern globalized capitalism.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Thatcher’s strong voiced support in 1987 for her support for a government policy–codified as Section 28–that prohibited schools from discussing homosexuality.
  • Joe. My. God. also notes the celebratory street parties that have sprung up across the United Kingdom.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen opens a discussion thread on Thatcher.
  • Towleroad notes that although Thatcher was one of the few Conservative MPs to vote for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the 1960s, her record in office as prime minister (as mentioned above) wasn’t very good, Section 28 standing out.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2013 at 12:20 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On Canada, Thatcher, and the Commonwealth

In celebrating the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Andrew Barton noted new releases from British archives which show that, even as the Charter was being debated in Canada Margaret Thatcher and the British cabinet considered intervening to prevent Canada from becoming fully independent of the United Kingdom.

The British cabinet records show there was considerable constitutional angst not just in Canada, but across the pond, said Eric Adams, an assistant professor of law at the University of Alberta.

“There’s this massive tug-of-war going on in which the rules are not clear, and in which politics and law are totally interwoven, and you can see how flummoxed this makes the British Parliament. They wish this issue would go away,” said Adams.

“These memos represent the last moments when the British are wringing their hands about the difficult colonials across the ocean that are causing them headaches.”

During a British cabinet discussion on Oct. 20, 1981, then-foreign minister Peter Carington told colleagues that Trudeau was talking of “substantial compromise” between the federal government and eight provinces with objections.

Still, “the possibility of such a compromise remained uncertain,” the cabinet minutes say.

That was worrisome because the Supreme Court of Canada had just ruled that while the federal government could seek changes to the Constitution without provincial consent, doing so would violate convention.

It was noted during the cabinet session that the Supreme Court ruling “had increased the likelihood of the British Parliament rejecting the Canadian proposals.”

The reason: if Ottawa overrode one constitutional convention by pushing ahead without provincial backing, Westminster could not reasonably be bound by another — the long-held notion that Britain was no longer entitled to intervene in Canadian matters.

The Thatcher cabinet feared a parliamentary vote against the Canadian plan.

Many Conservative MPs, the article continues, were also hostile to the inclusion of a “Bill of Rights” on the American model in the constitution of what was still a Commonwealth country.

This announcement isn’t surprising, since, for Margaret Thatcher, the Commonwealth mattered, as a transnational community ultimately under British leadership. Thatcher was upset with the United States’ invasion of Grenada in 1983, for instance, partly because Grenada was a Commonwealth realm and the Queen the sovereign. Similarly, Thatcher tried to echo Reagan’s policy of “constructive engagement” with South Africa under apartheid, shifting towards an embrace of sanctions only when Britain’s partners in the Commonwealth made sanctions a condition for the Commonwealth’s survival.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 21, 2012 at 3:58 am