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

Gorge yourself stupid

With a rapidity which defies belief, Mr Bezos, of Amazon.com, has delivered to my grasping hand Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s The Myth of National Defense, and a copy of Ludwig von Mises’ Bureaucracy, direct from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, via standard shipping, in less than a week. Remarkable.

I thought I’d warm myself up for the big one, from Herr Hoppe, with the 1944 classic from Herr Von Mises. And what a true classic it is. I’m only on page 19, of its one hundred and thirty four pages, but already it has staggered me with its guillotine-sharp language, its brutal power, and its Germanic eloquence. Magnificent.

We simply are unworthy of this greatest of the twentieth century’s bearers of the flame of liberty.

One quote has already caught my eye, after a recent David Carr article:

It [modern socialism] is totalitarian in the strict sense of the term. It holds the individual in tight rein from the womb to the tomb. At every instant of his life the ‘comrade’ is bound to obey implicitly the orders issued by the supreme authority. The State is both his guardian and his employer. The State determines his work, his diet, and his pleasures. The State tells him what to think and what to believe in.

Now I could mention how clever it was, in 1944, for Von Mises to spot the increasing role, in the 21st century, for our illiberal friends at a certain UK newspaper, but let’s take a closer look at the subject of diet, something Professor Mises told us in 1944 the totalitarians would feel bound to try to control us with, for whatever miserable reasons they dream up.

I must also thank Uncle Stephen Pollard for his excellent Times-published article about the Atkins diet. I relapsed from Atkins, somewhat, over November and December. But Uncle Stephen has slapped me round the jowls and got me back on track. When I was that healthy vision of virility, which I keep in my mind, and a blindside rugby flanker, less than 10 years ago, my fighting weight was 14 stone. This crept up to an outlandish 17 stone 10 pounds, over the next few years, following retirement from the scrum, meaning I was 52 pounds overweight. Crikey.

A simple use of Atkins, over a few months, got this down to 15 stone 8 pounds, i.e., I lost 30 pounds, and only had 22 to go. But you get smug on Atkins when none of your clothes fit any more, because you’ve lost so much weight. So I relaxed the regime and drifted slowly back up to 16 stone 4 pounds. This means I now have 32 pounds to lose, instead of 22. But now I’m back on the program, much to the consternation of UK taxpayer-funded nutritionists, dieticians, and other Von Mises predicted health fascists, everywhere. One was on the UK Today program this morning, virtually accusing the Atkins diet of being worse than that most evil of consumptive habits, smoking, shrilly accusing Boots the Chemist of virtual genocide for daring to stock Atkins-brand chocolate bars. How dare they! Don’t they know who rules this country?

So in my bid to repay Ludwig von Mises, Stephen Pollard, and the late great Dr Atkins himself, and to induce apoplexy into socialist health control fetishists, wherever the sad useless fools may be, I thought I’d pass on a recommendation as to my favourite greasy spoon restaurant, in the whole wide world.

This is, of course, the spectacular Gorge Cafe on the south side of the Caversham Bridge, in Reading. Popular with Reading Festival attendees, motorbikers, and other discerning denizens of monster grills, you just cannot beat the Gorge. Good prices, quick service, top quality sausages, excellent tea, fried eggs always done just the way you like them, and all cooked and served by people who really look like they’re enjoying themselves, especially the girls in those modern jeans which only start going down halfway round the bum. Most excellent.

The parking’s a bit tough, with only a few spaces outside for Gorge customers, in the BP garage forecourt next door. But as you’ll be arriving on your Harley Davidson anyway, don’t worry about it (or you can park by the Caversham rowing club, down behind the Holiday Inn hotel opposite, if you get a bit stuck, or in the Rivermeade leisure centre car park, just up the road).

With two split levels in the Gorge, non-smokers like me, who are waiting for the UK government to ban the filthy weed so they can start up again, are well served by the lower non-smoking level, and top quality smokers can relax in the upper level, imbibing their nicotine amongst friends (though good air-conditioning quickly cleans the air). I often dine up there, just to get the fumes. Ah, memories.

What else can I say about the Gorge? They have an excellent Atkins-style breakfast, which is basically their monster grill without the beans or toast, and there’s usually plenty of seating room inside, despite the unusual pink ceiling cave decoration which makes you feel like Fred Flintstone would be happy in there.

As greasy spoons go, the Gorge is also a true classic, like Bureaucracy, as any of its regulars will testify. Despite searching, I’ve yet to find a greasy spoon restaurant as good, or as memorable. Its ceiling, particularly, truly is world class.

After your splendid Atkins-style Gorge breakfast, take a walk down by the Thames, to see the swans, or do this beforehand to build up your appetite. Either way, if you’re in Reading, in the Caversham area, and you want to stick two fingers up to the diet and health control freaks you’re forced to pay for through your taxes, always make sure you pay a culinary visit to the Gorge. If you can do this on your 1000 cc Ducati Monster, this gets bonus extra points. And remember, extra points means extra rashers of bacon.

22 comments to Gorge yourself stupid

  • Did it actually have a stamp showing that it had been posted from Seattle? I have often found that books ordered from Amazon US to be sent to the UK have been posted from Frankfurt, and books sent to Australia have been posted from South East Asia (Thailand I think). Once this happened, shipping time increased substantially. (In the early days of their business books were posted from the US). They have pretty clearly put together a fairly complicated international distribution system.

  • Yes I am curious about their distribution system, too. I send my books to Amazon’s Kentucky warehouse for distribution.

    I gather that they do indeed have a number of bricks-and-mortars warehouses, all with terrific parking. All they need now is a Starbucks and they can open up their warehouses to retail customers! 🙂

  • Dave O'Neill

    All they need now is a Starbucks and they can open up their warehouses to retail customers! 🙂

    Having just finished John Cassidy’s excellent “dot Con”, the irony of this idea coming to fruition would be wonderful.

    They’ve a huge one in Slough as I recal, handy for the A4.

  • Andy Duncan

    Mr Jennings writes:

    Did it actually have a stamp showing that it had been posted from Seattle?

    Not sure. I was too worried about setting off an explosion, when I opened up the Myth of National Defense book, to worry about where it physically came from. Isn’t Frankfurt though just their regional distribution hub, where they post stuff into the European mail systems after getting it off the Amazon chartered plane from the US? (Visions of Tom Hanks, in Cast Away).

    I designed an international distribution system once, for hardware parts, and I hope to never go there again (which is a postal joke). Horrendously horrible, it was, and applied maths of the most mind-boggling madness imaginable, is the best I can say! 🙂

    But I am glad I’ve got the Hoppe book. I better buy a big thick chain to hold it down, until I can get through Bureaucracy, as it’s sure to be chock full of serious magic spells, the colour of octarine. Anybody know any Orangutan librarians who can keep hold of it, for me, for a couple of weeks? 😉

  • Dave O'Neill

    On the Atkin’s side, I restarted my Atkin’s regime today after many months of back sliding caused mostly by work load and the trials of sticking to it sensibly on protracted business trips.

    I’m not going anywhere significant until the end of Feb (except maybe 3 days in Seattle) which should be enough time to get back into things properly.

  • actually, i use to work at the holiday inn nearby the gorge cafe you mentionned above. i have fond memory of this place.
    the holiday inn was another thing though, i don’t recommend you to stay there.

    about the gorge cafe, i think it’s part of a chain, as i remember quite clearly having breakfast in another gorge cafe, in a pedestrian area of plymouth, the tables, seattees and ceiling had a similar layout to the one in caversham,so with a little research you might even be able to find one near you.

  • I, too, have been ‘doing the Atkins’ and I like it. What’s not to like? Steak (grass-fed, of course — I’m in Seattle!) and vegetables (some) — and vanity satisfied to boot.

    Yes I miss bread, mildly. But overall it seems to work — cholesterol down, too, believe it or not.

  • Dave

    My issue with Seattle and Atkins is the huge number of really good Micro-breweries you’ve got there.

    Tangletown and The Elysium always feature on our itinerary somewhere.

  • Charles Copeland

    Forget the Atkins diet, ma bruddas. The only solution is to blog and exercise simultaneously. I manage this by positioning my exercise bike under a specially designed glass top desk on which I have placed my flat screen, keyboard, and mouse. So I blog and cycle approximately 60 – 80 km per day in the comfort of my own home. I have been doing this for over six years. Result: I am a slim, trim, and ageing traditionalist conservative paleolibertarian who doesn’t have to waste his free time at fitness centres. You, too, can be like me. Just do it the way I do it.

    Now on to Hans Hermann Hoppe (hereinafter: HHH), who seems to have been phased out of the discussion as a result of this obsession with the libertarian body beautiful. HHH is, to put it mildly, sui generis. He’s one of those ‘I have a dream’ libertarians with whom I have great gung-ho sympathy but who are basically phantasising about their own utopias of gated communities. He is realistic only in the sense that he demands the impossible, as the Frog students used to say in 1968. Now, I haven’t read HHH’s latest opus – though from what Andy writes it is surely a page-turner – but judging from his book entitled ‘Democracy – The God That Failed’ putting HHH in charge of the state would lead to ‘interesting times’. On page 218 of TGTF, HHH writes:

    “There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism – will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”

    On page 219 HHH goes on to say:

    “Libertarians, in their attempt to establish a free natural social order, must strive to regain from the state the right to exclusion inherent in private property. Yet even before they accomplish this and in order to render such an achievement even possible, libertarians cannot soon enough begin to reassert and exercise, to the extent that the situation permits them to do so, their right to exclusion in everyday life. Libertarians must distinguish themselves from others by practicing (as well as advocating) the most extreme form of intolerance and discrimination against egalitarians, democrats, communists, socialists, multiculturalists, environmentalists, ill manners, misconduct, incompetence, rudeness, vulgarity and obscenity. Like true conservatives, who will have to dissociate themselves from the false social(ist) conservatism of the Buchanites and the neoconservatives, true libertarians must visibly and ostentatiously dissociate themselves from the false multi-countercultural and anti-authoritarian egalitarian left-libertarian impostors.”

    Well that’s certainly the sort of traditionalist conservative libertarianism that appeals to me and warms the cockles of my heart. My main criticism is that HHH fails to mention the eugenic requirement, in every libertarian society, that the more intelligent a woman is, the more she should be prevented from entering the workforce (or actively participating in the blogosphere) before the menopause. The reason for this is that an intelligent woman’s main function in life is to lie back and think of devoting herself to reproducing members of the species who are as clever as herself. For – verily I say unto you – the hand that cradles our rocks, rules the world. Of course it would be a pity to lose Alice Bachini, Natalie Solent, and Adriana Cronin etc. for the next twenty years – but then you can’t have everything.

    There is one snag: HHH is going to find it difficult to persuade more than 0.0001% of the population that this is the way forward. HHH, Andy and myself just aren’t enough to mastermind a libertarian coup and drive out the faggots, fornicators and farters to the Degenerate Republic of Sodomistan. And curiously, for all his traditionalist conservative libertarianism, he seems to be completely clueless as to why the entire world is out of step except for himself. He is clueless because he has little understanding of human nature. In particular, he fails to grasp man’s need to belong to some kind of ‘community of fate’ with a common purpose. As Jared Diamond eloquently put it in a symposium on White Nationalism on David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine: “our society should recognize the tribal nature of man rather than pretend we can rise above it.” (more here). It’s the core weakness of all libertarian political theory. Most libertarians are brilliant at describing and lambasting the various roads to serfdom that mankind has trodden over the centuries. But they seem unable to understand why people are the way they are. HHH needs to brush up his Darwin.

  • HitNRun

    I lost 40 pounds (that’s…uh…American pounds. Not sure how that converts to stone) in a couple of months on Atkins two years ago. The health nuts are grasping at the cholesterol level now, which is pretty much the only drawback of the diet, besides a kidney complication that occurs if you don’t hydrate yourself on the diet (I’m not an aquaphobe, so why should I ditch the diet again?).

    The only reason I stopped (and can’t seem to start again) is that meat starts to taste like ash after awhile, eating it was like taking cough medicine. The forbidden foods picked up the slack by tasting that much better, which didn’t help.

  • IIRC, the conversion is fourteen pounds to a stone. The fractions are stated in pounds, so it’s kind of like stating that you’ve got X dollars and Y cents.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    OK then, let’s see…

    …umm, that’s 17 x 14…four seven’s 28, four one’s four…one seventeen’s 17…

    …add ten…


  • Charles Copeland

    Theodopoule, gia sou!

    Den exeis tipota allo sto mialo sou ektos apo oles autes tis malakies gia ta kila kai to stomaxi?


  • George Peery

    If only the Spectator could deliver my copy to North Carolina in even twice the time it takes Bezos to get books to Britain (sigh).

  • Andy Duncan

    Theodopoulos Pherecydes writes:


    Yep. It ain’t small. There’s this lift at one of my client’s, which has mirrors all round, so you get to see yourself as others do, from about 75 degrees behind, rather than the svelte 13 second 100 yard runner you used to be 7 years before, or residual self image, as they call it in the Matrix. Even four years ago I could run 5 miles in 45 minutes. But just look in that mirror.

    Jesus H. Christ. Who’s that great big fat guy?!!!

    Oh bugger. Time for Atkins! 🙂

  • ernest young


    Very funny main comment. I enjoyed it – thank you.

    Now if we could just hone the lumps off your more serious prose, I think we could have a winner!.

  • Stephan Heller

    Human Action, Mises’ greatest acomplishment, is avilable for nothing at http://www.mises.org/humanaction.asp. The pdf-file, however, is 3.5mb in size. It’s really worth reading.

    At http://www.mises.de/texte/mises/index.html you’ll find several of Mises’ articles and books published online. But, I’m sorry for you, this is a German page.

  • The Tangletown? You know it. Small world. I spend a fair amount of time there.

  • Dave O'Neill

    I think I prefer the atmosphere in the Elysium, but The Tangletown is within walking distance of a friend’s house and I can expense cabs.

    Actually, its a pretty big world as I discovered when I flew around it last year 😉 But people webs are small 😉

  • Charles Copeland

    Thanks, Ernest.

    Hmmm … So you thought I was joking?

  • ernest young


    I thought it humourous, but I will certainly reclassify it as yet another facet of “Charles idiosyncratic pedantry’, – if you so wish? 🙂

  • State sponsored nutritionists? If only, if the UK had listened sooner to the nutritionists we wouldn’t be in such a mess.

    You can’t blame the doctors they get less than a couple of days on nutrition training whilst nutritional therapists get a min of 3 years training and then a commitment to regular training updates thereafter.

    How is Dr Atkins by the way???????