Being fact-checked is not very fun. Good fact-checkers have a preternatural inclination toward pedantry, and sometimes will address you in a prosecutorial tone. That is their job and the adversarial tone is even more important than the actual facts they correct. In my experience, seeing your name on the cover of a magazine will take you far in the journey toward believing your own bullshit. It is human to do so, and fact-checkers serve as a valuable check to prevent writers from lapsing into the kind of arrogant laziness which breeds plagiarism and the manufacture of facts. The fact-checker (and the copy-editor too actually) is a dam against you embarrassing yourself, or worse, being so arrogant that don’t even realize you’ve embarrassed yourself. Put differently, a culture of fact-checking, of honesty, is as important as the actual fact-checking.

This week, Newsweek came under an onslaught of criticism for publishing a cover story titled “Hit the road, Barack: Why we need a new president.” (See image.) Written by conservative historian Niall Ferguson, a Harvard professor who served as an adviser to the John McCain campaign in 2008, the story is a litany of complaints against Obama, blasting him for his poor economic stewardship, fiscal irresponsibility, broken promises, and foreign policy weakness.

The problem?  The article is riddled with so many errors and misrepresentations that it prompted scores of corrections and complaints from other publications, including a full fact-check from rival magazine, The Atlantic

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A few of my favourite photos from the twitters of the 2013-2014 Les Mis cast.

Niall Ferguson: The 6 killer apps of prosperity

Let’s talk about billions. Let’s talk about past and future billions. We know that about 106 billion people have ever lived. And we know that most of them are dead. And we also know that most of them live or lived in Asia. And we also know that most of them were or are very poor — did not live for very long. Let’s talk about billions. Let’s talk about the 195,000 billion dollars of wealth in the world today. We know that most of that wealth was made after the year 1800. And we know that most of it is currently owned by people we might call Westerners: Europeans, North Americans, Australasians. 19 percent of the world’s population today, Westerners own two-thirds of its wealth.

Economic historians call this “The Great Divergence.” And this slide here is the best simplification of the Great Divergence story I can offer you. It’s basically two ratios of per capita GDP, per capita gross domestic product, so average income. One, the red line, is the ratio of British to Indian per capita income. And the blue line is the ratio of American to Chinese. And this chart goes back to 1500. And you can see here that there’s an exponential Great Divergence. They start off pretty close together. In fact, in 1500, the average Chinese was richer than the average North American. When you get to the 1970s, which is where this chart ends, the average Briton is more than 10 times richer than the average Indian. And that’s allowing for differences in the cost of living. It’s based on purchasing power parity. The average American is nearly 20 times richer than the average Chinese by the 1970s.

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Sharing this because uurrgghh I LOVE THE NEW CAST THEY ARE AMAZING

(I’m also a little obsessed with Anton Zetterholm’s Enjolras right now)

Download here

  • included in the zip file: 2 mp3 files (Act 1 & Act 2), cast list (txt), cast board (jpg), cast & musical numbers (jpg)
  • please like and/or reblog if you download
  • Enjoy! :) 


Les Miserables

21/06/2013 - Queen’s Theatre, London


Jean Valjean - Geronimo Rauch

Javert - Tam Mutu

Fantine - Melanie Bright (u/s)

Marius - Rob Houchen

Cosette - Samantha Dorsey

Eponine - Carrie Hope Fletcher

Thenardier - Cameron Blakely 

Mme Thenardier - Wendy Ferguson

Enjolras - Anton Zetterholm

Combeferre - Jonny Purchase

Feuilly - Niall Sheehy

Courfeyrac - Rhidian Marc

Joly - Dougie Carter

Grantaire - Adam Linstead

Lesgles - James Gant

Jean Prouvaire - Leo Roberts

Little Cosette - Caoimhe Judd

Gavroche - Jack Kelly

Truth in the Age of Niallism

Here are three facts about how the 10-year budget outlook has changed in the past year: 1) the fiscal cliff deal raised $600 billion in new revenue; 2) the sequester, if left in place, cut $1.2 trillion; 3) the CBO revised its projection for federal healthcare spending down by $600 billion.

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has a counterfactual take. Here’s how he described how our debt trajectory changed the past year:

A very striking feature of the latest CBO report is how much worse it is than last year’s. A year ago, the CBO’s extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year’s long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.”

This isn’t a difference of opinion. It’s incorrect. But it’s incorrect for reasons that will escape casual readers.

Read more.

  • On Multiculturalism
  • Stuart Hall
  • BBC Radio 4 | Thinking Allowed

Stuart Hall | Interview on multiculturalism 

Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4, March 2011

"I’m not surprised that identity has become a political question, but I’m in despair, and also ironic, about the actual forms that takes…I mean St George’s Day, can you imagine? I think those are pretty ridiculous. But, at the same time, globalisation has greatly overplayed the decline of the nation state and national culture. These two things work hand in hand, so the question of, well, ‘what are we attached to?’, especially for a society which has constructed its history to suggest that, you know, these are special people - they came out of the North Sea already tolerant, liberal, open-minded, addicted to freedom etcetera. It’s horrendous distortion of what the national history has been, as our story, which is going on right now. We’re about to teach a version of it that says the only thing is really that we did come out of the sea civilized. I think all of that is not amusing at all. A difficult and dangerous preoccupation, and its a preoccupation that Paul Gilroy called ‘[postcolonial] melancholia’ a kind of mourning for a lost object, and its an unrequitable mourning because it’s not going to come back in that form.”


What the Spaniards had failed to understand is that the value of precious metal is not absolute. Money is worth only what someone else is willing to give you for it. An increase in its supply will not make a society richer, though it may enrich the government that monopolizes the production of money. Other things being equal, monetary expansion will merely make prices higher.
—  Niall Ferguson | The Ascent of Money

Happy Birthday, Niall Ferguson

He’s 47 today.  The well-known historian and author of, e.g., The Ascent of Money and Empire, is a bit like me in some ways: we’re both Scottish-born (though he prefers to describe himself as British); we’re almost exactly the same age (he’s 5 weeks younger); we live and work in the United States.  On the other hand, he’s posher than me; he’s more conservative than I am (e.g., he’s fallen out with Paul Krugman, whom I like and I generally agree with); he’s published 14 books to my zero (a published monograph is the closest I’ve come).  Oh yes, and he teaches at Harvard while I teach at St. John Fisher College.  If you’re not from Western New York you’ve likely heard of one of these fine institutions. :-)

Here he is on The Colbert Report from a couple of years ago.  Judge for yourself.

Just like we strongly predicted from Rebecca Ferguson’s story with Modest! Management (x),

now we have the confirmation that One Direction’s contract with Modest! Management will, in fact, end in 2015 (x):

However, Rebecca is not the only X Factor star to be left dissatisfied with Modest Management. Although every contestant’s contract is five years long, stars such as Alexandra Burke left Modest after the flop of her second album (…)”.

tv meme

↳ 8/9 canceled/ended shows: eureka

"thank you for making me and my dad a part of your family. i promise to do my share of the chores, and i’ll try not to blow up the world if you don’t."

Watch on

Niall Ferguson: By 2021 There Could Be A Restored Middle Eastern Caliphate.

Niall Ferguson spoke with The Telegraph about what he believes the world may look like 10-years from now, in 2021.

Key points:

  • China will be the largest economy in the world by 2021
  • No guarantees the euro will still exist
  • The U.S. could europeanize itself, or it could revitalize itself
  • Tiny possibility we get western-style democracies in the Middle East
  • More alarming to think about a “restored caliphate”
  • Germany’s love of European integration under threat