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]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Mediocracy prides itself on being progressive. Its critics (to the extent they are permitted to survive, and allowed to express themselves) are derided as conservative, reactionary, and so on. However, the kind of progress that mediocracy promotes is rather specific. Curiously, it often takes tribal life as its paradigm. Movement ‘forwards’ is movement towards a model of a pacifist, egalitarian community, not exploiting the environment, sharing all tasks equally, with each member answerable to the whole community. Other kinds of change are considered inappropriate, and therefore not described as ‘progressive’: e.g., greater freedom from state interference, fewer restrictions on commercial activity.”

Mediocracy, by Fabian Tassano, page 142.

A useful advertisement for the BBC Reith Lectures

British tax funded broadcaster the BBC (it does not like the term “state broadcaster” as it prides itself on its political independence from the government of the day – although it shows no independence from collectivist ideology in general) does not run advertisements apart for what it considers good causes. Such as, of course, itself – BBC shows and other products.

The first “Director General” of the BBC, when it stopped being a commercial company, was a man called John Reith – and annual lectures are given in his name, the “Reith Lectures“. The BBC proudly advertises these lectures as a high culture jewel, something that no nasty commercial or charitable broadcaster would ever produce. Each year some establishment person actually lowers him or herself to speak to the unclean masses.

However, this year the endless advertisements were useful. The lecturer (a former head
of the Royal Society – although Newton, Boyle, and the others must be spinning in their graves) is to be a man of science, but of the modern sort in that the advertisements quote him saying that science must avoid investigating certain things – there are “doors that should remain closed”. This is an attitude that would have pleased the more extreme people in the Inquisition, but is unlikely to inspire children to question established orthodoxies – but, of course, questioning is no longer the function of “science”. Also the main modern functions of science appear to be to combat “climate change” (by supporting ever greater power for governments, pretending that more regulations and taxes will “save the planet” rather than be a corrupt scheme for special interests to gain money and power – by the way this is true even if, as may well be the case, the theory that human C02 emissions are a danger is correct, as such schemes as “Cap and Trade” will do nothing to reduce such emissions and such political scams are not part of science anyway) and to make sure that the “benefits of globalization are equitably shared”.

How “science” can be twisted so that this last nakedly political aim can be claimed to be part of it, I will never find out – as, of course, I will avoid the Reith Lectures as if they were the plague (which they are – the plague of ignorance and collectivist fanaticism), but I am still grateful for the advertisements for, as always with BBC advertisements, they warn people that the show being advertised is excrement, something to be avoided unless one enjoys stepping in excrement. However, if should be remembered that for children, especially for intelligent children interested in the world, such things as the “Reith Lecturers” are presented as key to the golden door of knowledge.

This is the tragedy – it is the most intelligent and hard working children who are ruined, those who hunger for knowledge are poisoned with a political message disguised as science (or history, or high culture). Not everyone has access to books (especially in modern times – the days when ordinary homes were full of serious works are long gone, at least in Britain), and many people are not first inspired by books in any case – they are inspired by the spoken word. And both the education system and the media (especially the broadcasting media) target such young people for ruination – for taking what is good in them, and turning it bad. Teaching them a rigid orthodoxy (which they must not question) which is really a mask for a political ideology – world egalitarianism, the “equitable sharing” of “the benefits of globalization”, with its basic denial of private property rights.

Perhaps, as so many tell me, the internet will save such young people – but perhaps it will not. I remain doubtful.

Oh and I, of course, remain open to correction – for example it is possible that the lecturer (his name did not make an impression on me – such beings being rather close to being parts of a hive mind anyway) may explain various new designs for atomic fission power stations in his lectures and discuss various approaches to nuclear fusion in great and enlightening detail. If he does I will have been, partly, refuted.

Strata

Opinions about new architecture differ a lot, but from where I sit, in London, and when I walk about in London taking photographs, I think that new architecture, having gone through an all-time-worst phase (apart from the BT Tower) between about 1960 and about 1980, has of late been doing rather better. This chap seems to agree, although it’s all in Russian and I could be quite wrong about that.

The latest London Big Thing to be completed is this:

Strata1s.jpg

It’s called the Strata, and that’s a view of it from Vauxhall railway station, just across the river from where I live, towering above a concrete stackapleb cluster between it and me with my camera. → Continue reading: Strata

The next generation

There have been some good postings at Rob’s Blog recently, in particular an informative review of a new book called The Spirit Level Delusion, and a vivid description of some rather uncaring care. But this

RobsBaby.jpg

… is particularly good news.

You can’t assume that children will have even approximately similar opinions and ideas to their parents, but that’s the way to bet. But however his ideas and opinions turn out, warmest congratulations to Mr and Mrs Rob’s Blog.

Samizdata scary car of the day

I try to carry a digital camera with me at all times. Here is a reason why, which I happened to encounter this afternoon in Victoria Street. It was a seriously cool version of the latest Rolls Royce, which looked to me like it was a particularly scary member of the Wehrmacht:

RR1ss.jpg

I particularly liked the intimidating hubcaps, so often an opportunity for gold or silver glitter on cars like this, but here, like everything else, painted in scary military dark grey:

RR2ss.jpg

The only gold I could see was the classic Rolls Royce statue on top of the radiator. Click on either picture to get it bigger.

I don’t know what kind of money it was that paid for this vehicle, but I bet it’s quite a story. Failing that, it is the kind of money that at least wants you to think it’s quite a story. Any ideas? The driver wasn’t wearing a uniform, by the way. He was young, and casually dressed. He completely ignored me, although he must have known I was photoing his car. And he must get this a lot.

Government aid

Tim Worstall asks a good question about why the UK taxpayer is giving aid to countries. First off – as can be seen in the associated comment thread – it seems madness to give money to a rapidly growing economy such as India when that nation has a space programme and a nuclear weapons programme. True, that country still has immense numbers of very poor people, but surely the best way to address that problem is to continue with pro-market reforms, encourage as much free trade as possible, and so forth.

Another good reason for opposing government-to-government aid (and that is what a lot of such aid amounts to), is because it bolsters existing, sometimes very harmful regimes, is frequently stolen and stashed away, or is misused, or deranges local markets, and creates a bureacracy with a vested interest in continuing programmes far beyond their useful life, assuming they ever had a valid reason in the first place.

Unfortunately, “Overseas Aid” has taken on a near sacred status in UK political discourse on a par with “National Health Service”.

What is it with the acting profession?

Over at Counting Cats, NickM uses suitably salty language to say what he thinks of the actor Jeremy Irons for coming out with “there are too many humans on the planet” sort of comments.

I am not going to add to the post in question – I am pretty certain that we have trodden this ground fairly well already – but I wanted to ask the question as to why is it, that folk in the acting profession, or at least most of them, seem to hold such statist/Greenie views? Maybe it is an impression not based on a lot of hard statistics, but I’d guess that the acting trade is disproportionately full of folk who hold these kinds of opinions. Of course, there are actors who are a bit of a break from the trend – think Michael Caine, Clint Eastwood and the playwriter, Tom Stoppard, but they are often notable for being exceptions to the rule.

Maybe it is because, as actors, they view business, and people with cash, as somehow alien. Or maybe it is because, as actors, they often take on a generally adversarial view to the prevailing culture, and for many, being adversarial is still to be left-wing, to champion things such population control, government aid to Africa, or whatever.

Or maybe it goes right back to when they were at school. They probably were not on the same wavelength, emotionally or socially, with the kind of people who excelled at hard science, or who showed a flair for business and sport. Some may even have been quite badly bullied or put upon by the school “toughs” and took a sort of view that they’d take their revenge on society by the kind of plays/films they would get involved in, or the causes they would espouse.

Like I say, this is all very impressionistic. But the weakness for certain celebrities in the acting business for such causes deserves to have a sort of Phd thesis. I wonder if one has ever been written.

Samizdata quote of the day

Mr Congdon said the dominant voices in US policy-making – Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz, as well as Mr Summers and Fed chair Ben Bernanke – are all Keynesians of different stripes who “despise traditional monetary theory and have a religious aversion to any mention of the quantity of money”

- This is the, er, money quote, so to speak, from an article by the erratic Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, quoting Tim Congdon

Samizdata quote of the day

Here’s the problem: the global economy has gone tits up. We are doomed. And nowhere is more doomed than Europe whose Monopoly-money currency is going the way of the Zimbabwe dollar and the Reichsmark, and whose constituent economies are so overburdened by sclerotic regulation and so mired in corruption, waste and the kind of institutionalised socialism which might work just about when the going’s good but definitely not now sir now sirree.

And what, pray, is the European Union’s solution to this REAL problem which has already led to riots and death in one country and which could well lead to many more in the horror years to come? Why, to impose on its already hamstrung, over-regulated, over-taxed businesses yet further arbitrary CO2 emissions reductions targets, which will make not the blindest difference to the health of the planet, but which will most certainly slow down economic recovery and make life harder and more miserable for everybody.

In Britain, David Cameron is wedded to the same suicidal policy – on the one hand brandishing £6.5 billion cuts in government spending as though this were a sign of his maturity and his commitment to reducing Britain’s deficit, while on the other remaining committed to a “low carbon” economy set to destroy what’s left of our industry and cost the taxpayer at least £18 billion (yep – almost THREE times as much as the pathetic cuts announced so far by his pathetic chancellor) a year.

- James Delingpole explains why he keeps banging on and on about Global bloody Warming.

Crisis in Korea…

So when Hilary Clinton states that maintaining stability on the peninsula was “critical”, surely a solution seems to be staring everyone in the face.

  1. Keeping tens of thousand of US troops in South Korea is expensive for the hapless US taxpayer
  2. China would rather not have US forces stationed anywhere in Korea
  3. North Korea will soon be capable of actually delivering nuclear weapons
  4. North Korea has an antiquated military and a busted economy and therefore no ability to fight a long war
  5. North Korea is clearly lead by deranged madmen prone to attack South Korea (i.e. torpedo their ships) for no good reason
  6. South Korea has a formidable and modern military

So…

Bite the bullet, so to speak. Give South Korea a nudge and whatever backing it needs to blow the living shit out of the North and reunify the country. They have the wherewithal to do most of the heavy lifting themselves and the casus belli is a legal slam dunk.

Result? Short term death and misery, for sure… but long term geopolitical stability for the region because:

  1. The most repressive regime on the entire planet will be history
  2. No longer any justification for stationing significant US forces on China’s doorstep

The backroom deal is obvious: China throws North Korea to the wolves and US promises to get out of the post-unification Korean peninsula.

This has the making of a win-win-win-win for China, the hapless occupants of that open air prison called North Korea, nuclear threatened South Korea and the ever burdened US taxpayer. Extra added ‘win’ can also be added to the scenario if the leadership in Pyongyang end up on meat hooks (but eating a laser guided 500 kg bomb also works).

Samizdata quote of the day

“The core problem over the past few decades was not bankers’ greed or the complex financial instruments that enabled them to satisfy it. It was the immense pyramids of debt built up by the Anglo-Saxon half of the world, and the equally massive mountains of savings created in the other. Almost everything that occurred in the past couple of years was, directly or indirectly, a consequence of this.”

- Ed Conway, Daily Telegraph. He has not bought the whole free market line on what is wrong with finance today, but this is pretty good.

Fashions in persecution

“The process is the punishment”, and Dale McAlpine has been processed.

Charges have been dropped against a Christian preacher who told a police officer homosexuality was “a sin”.

Of course they have. So long as someone pushes back, the police will retreat. They know that they would lose in court – they also know they do not have to win in court in order to intimidate. Being arrested is not nice, is it? The mere arrest is quite enough to spread the idea around that saying homosexuality is a sin is illegal.

Dale Mcalpine, 42, was accused of a public order offence after speaking to a community support officer (PCSO) in Workington, Cumbria, in April.

Mr Mcalpine was preaching to shoppers in the west Cumbrian town on 20 April when he said he was approached by the PCSO, who told him he was a liaison officer for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“He told me he was homosexual,” Mr Mcalpine said.
“I said ‘the Bible says homosexuality is a sin’. He said ‘I’m offended by that and I’m also the LGBT liaison officer within the police’.
“I said ‘it is still a sin’.”
He said three uniformed police officers then appeared and accused him of using homophobic language.
“I’m not homophobic, I don’t hate gays,” Mr Mcalpine said. “Then they said it is against the law to say homosexuality is a sin. I was arrested.”

Kudos to gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who “condemned the arrest and urged the home secretary to issue new guidelines to the police” – although it is a pity that Mr Tatchell does not follow through the logic of his argument to the case of property rights.

Once freedom goes it becomes a matter of elite fashion just who the police harass. In 2010 it was Baptist street preachers. Twenty years earlier it was homosexuals. Twenty years later it may be homosexuals again. Get yer multiculturalism right and it could be both.