We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Hey Dawson… Yeah, you…

Yeah, you…Dawson of Dawson.com

Your e-mail address link is phucked. Fix it or we will send Natalie Solent and her well armed husband around to sort you out.

On target

I have to agree with the majority of Perry’s comments on both the 40 cal. and the SIG 229. Excellent choice of caliber and weapon. The 229, like most weapons chambered for the 40 S&W, also has the advantage of being readily converted via a simple barrel change to the .357 SIG, a caliber that has garnered rave reviews in both civilian and government circles. As for leaving home without it, however, depending on dress and circumstance the somewhat smaller SIG 239 might be more appropriate.

Unfortunately for Perry, he lives in the UK where the great experiment in civilian disarmament continues unabated despite all the evidence proving it is simply a bad idea. So until he makes the move back to the US, his desire will remain a futile, unfulfilled dream.

Pity, old chum.

‘Pro-Family’ groups demand Internet censorship

When I read about people like the hilarious American Center for Law and Justice and Family Research Council calling for on-line censorship, I am not sure if I should laugh or snarl… perhaps both. In an article in Charisma News Service, they say things like:

This is an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to protect children in the ongoing battle against online porn,” said Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). “This measure…represents a proper and constitutional protection to ensure that pornographers don’t commercially profit from making pornography available to children,” Sekulow said. “The First Amendment protects free speech — but was never intended to permit the sale or distribution of porn to children on the Internet or anywhere else.

Hmmm. Although as a libertarian I do not usually argue matters on constitutional grounds but rather moral ones (a constitution is just a statement of rights, not the source of them), let us look at the First Amendment of the US Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now perhaps my copy of the US Constitution is an abridged version but no matter how many times I read it, I cannot see the bit that says:

However freedom of speech, and of the press, can have the crap abridged out of it if computers and the Internet are involved.

Will some legal scholar who reads the Samizdata please take pity and e-mail me and point out in which section of the US Constitution’s apocrypha is that passage to be found?

Now even if these authoritarian statist clowns got their way (unlikely), exactly how do they think a US law is going to prevent 15 year old Hank from Peoria taking a peek at a nice pair of titties on a web server in Amsterdam? These people are not just control freaks, they are pretty damn stupid

Have you ever noticed that groups calling themselves Pro-Family are often the ones who actually want the state to pass laws which remove responsibility from the family and make it a matter of criminal law? If little Hank from Peoria wants to look at porn on-line, why is that not a matter for the family to sort out? I suspect if these people think a US law will have the slightest effect on the global proliferation of on-line porn, then perhaps they are also sufficiently obtuse not to realise that the computer they purchased for little Hank also has an off switch. Doh!

Vegetarians say “Be Christlike, don’t eat meat”

It seems that ‘People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) feel that to be a good Christian, one must refrain from eating meat. There is even a Christian Vegetarian website.

Now as a libertarian, I regard vegetarianism as a totally acceptable life style choice for other people and I am not knocking it…however it is not something I choose to follow myself. I shall stick to my omnivorous ways.

I just have one question… if vegetarianism matters one jot to Christianity, then why did Christ perform the miracle of turning five loaves and two fishes into many in order to feed the multitude (Matthew 14)? Why not five loaves and two tofu cubes?

40 cal, the choice of the cognoscenti

Now Dawson is certainly entitled to his opinion that the Colt .45 “has never been surpassed as a combat weapon side arm”, but I think times have moved on. Sure, it is a fine choice, but I cannot see any real advantage over more modern .40 cal weapons like the excellent SIG 229 but I can see several disadvantages. The SIG has 12 rounds in the magazine (vs. 7 in the Colt), is a smooth double action out of the box and just as reliable as the venerable 1911-A1 (and it’s various grandchildren). To be honest, I think the Colt is only really competitive these days if heavily modified (polished feed ramp, extended slide release etc.). Most importantly, I just don’t like a Colt style lock safety in a combat piece… it is just too easy to forget that it is on at the moment of truth and too dangerous to leave it off in the mean time.

Don’t get me wrong, the Colt .45 is a great weapon and fun to shoot but when the chips are down and it is time for business…I want a 40 cal SIG 229…Don’t leave home without it.

Freedom is not empowerment

I just felt like posting this short piece from the inimitable P. J. O’Rourke that he wrote a few years ago.

Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It’s not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights–the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery–hay and a barn for human cattle. There’s only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

Quite so.

Samizdata quote of the day

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

- H.L. Mencken

And here’s one for all you Objectivists who have a sense of humour…

Now I realise that the concept of an Objectivist-with-a-sense-of-humour (or even humor) might be straining the bounds of credulity for some readers of the Samizdata, but I beg to differ. After all, if you listen to just about anything Leonard Piekoff has said since September 11, it indicates a man with immense comedic talent and superb comic timing. He even keeps a straight face whilst indulging in collectivist whimsy like advocating lobbing nuclear weapons at various unspecified Middle Eastern cities. See what I mean? Now is that man a jolly funster or what?

And so in that spirit, take a look at Modern Humorist (ignore their ghastly American spelling for a moment… there is a u shortage over there), and read ATLAS SHR: A glimpse into alternate universes where Ayn Rand’s books are all 400 pages shorter.

I particular liked:

ALAN GREENSPAN finished reading Ayn Rand’s complete works seven years earlier. He advanced more quickly into Rand’s inner circle, began his career as an economist in the mid-1960s, and became chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in 1971. Thanks to his earlier leadership, there was no oil crisis or recession in the 70s. As a result, widespread vilification of Arab culture by working class Americans never came to pass, and the professional wrestling scapegoat known as The Iron Sheik was never created. This allowed wrestler Bob Backlund to retain the WWF championship belt in 1983.

Excellent.

Cheers and a funny handshake to the sinister Matt Drachenberg for pointing the Samizdata at Modern Humorist.

If you think things in Afghanistan are straightforward…

Then read this article Too many cooks about the multiplicity of players involved and their differing agendas. The article also suggests that the Taliban execution of Abdul Haq might have been due to him being set up by the ISI:

The USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which reportedly attaches greater importance to the co-operation with the United Front than to that with Pakistan’s intelligence establishment, and is distrustful of the ISI. This has been particularly so since the capture and execution of Abdul Haq, the CIA’s mole in the Pashtun community, by the Taliban in October.

However, do keep in mind that as the author is a member of the Indian establishment, a rather jaundiced view of Pakistan as the font of all worldly evil is to be expected. That said, just because he is Indian does not make him incorrect and the whole article is an interesting piece of analysis.

There is also an interesting take on the ‘Konduz airlift’ that suggests it was carried out by Pakistan in the confusion rather than with US complicity. I have my doubts on that but only time will tell what really happened. I fully expect that incident will become fodder for conspiracy theorists for years to come.

This is actually a very good site and I shall be keeping an eye on it in the future.

Thanks to Samizdata reader Bob Van Andel for pointing us at the Afgha.com site (availible in English and French).

Hitchens writes it how he sees it

It is remarkable when a man such as Christopher Hitchens makes the transformation from Prince of Darkness of the Socialist Left to something pretty damn close to a libertarian. He is on excellent form in this article in The Nation.

He even favored us with the most witless and fatalistic of the recent naysayings, to the effect that if we kill Osama bin Laden then others will rise to take his place. I actually think this proposition is an unsafe one: Bin Laden looks like one of a rare kind to me (and increasingly flaky in recent guest appearances). His deputies are obvious goons and would probably start knifing one another if the holy one stepped on a mine. But leave that to one side–does it never occur to anyone that tens of thousands of people would also rise up to rid the world of bin Laden all over again?

This is good stuff. Read the whole article.

The future of warfare?

Some interesting observations from the good folks as Fevered Rants regarding the prospect of unmanned aircraft being the wave of the future. Is the manned combat aircraft soon to be a thing of the past?

I agree that we will be seeing more and more of a role for UAVs but there are also some serious weaknesses in the theory that they will completely supplant manned fighters. Against the likes of Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan circa 2001, UAV’s have much to commend them. Yet sooner or later (probably later) the USA will have to fight an enemy who will have access to technology much closer in quality to that which is available to America itself…which means high quality sophisticated electronic warfare (EW). One of the realities of EW is that you can never be quite sure of what the enemy can do until he does it and it is a hell of a lot cheaper to jam the controls of a UAV than it is to fire a missile at one. However the only way to completely jam a manned aircraft is with a fast moving object (like a missile or cannon shell).

Samizdata quote of the day

Prostitution is a combination of sex and free enterprise. Which one are you against?

- Unknown