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

The year is almost gone

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We at Samizdata will be onto the champagne soon, but it is gingerbread hippos for now.

Indeed not

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Middlefield, Dorset. Today.

The mystery of New York

To me, one of the great mysteries of the American media is the New York Times op-ed page. How exactly is one recruited to write for it? Given that this Thomas Friedman op-ed generator managed to produce copy that makes at least as much sense as real Tom Friedman op-eds, when is the page going to be outsourced to computers?

Also, when is someone going to create an automated David Brooks? This will surely be at least as funny.

Similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the Climate Wars

I’ve been reading about both recently.  For those unfamiliar with it, the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s involved the wrongful conviction of a French officer for treason.

So, the similarities:

In the Dreyfus case, the authorities faked the evidence.  In the Climate Wars the authorities sought to “hide the decline”.

In the Dreyfus case, an officer who raised doubts was removed and posted to the desert.  In the Climate Wars, anyone raising doubts will find himself in the academic equivalent.

In the Dreyfus case, the authorities were aided by a tide of anti-semitism.  In the Climate Wars the authorities are helped by a tide of environmentalism.

In the Dreyfus case, the author Emile Zola was sued for libel.  In the Climate Wars, the author Mark Steyn is being sued for libel.

In the Dreyfus case the authorities withheld evidence that would have exonerated Dreyfus.  In the Climate Wars the “scientists” refuse to publish their data.

In the Dreyfus case the authorities felt it was all right to lie because the truth was on their side.  In the Climate Wars some warmists, convinced that the truth is on their side, are happy to lie.

In the Dreyfus case, Dreyfus was exiled to Devil’s Island.  In the Climate Wars it’s the truth that is far, far away and under guard day and night.

In the Dreyfus case, and after many years, justice was eventually done.  In the Climate Wars…well, we’ll see.

 

Alfred Dreyfus begins to regret challenging the global warming orthodoxy

Alfred Dreyfus begins to regret challenging the global warming orthodoxy

 

Preparing for winter

It is good that we have the fact checking, mainstream media to help us.

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Bread and circuses

Steve Redgrave writes in the Telegraph (which may be inaccessible to overseas readers unless you delete the Telegraph cookie):

The 29 gold medals – not to mention the dozens of silvers and bronzes – won by Team GB not only defined the most spectacular year of sport I can remember, but completely overhauled how we are perceived as a nation.

Really? Who is this ‘we’ I wonder? I perceived Britain as a regulatory statist nation circling the drain with a smug grin on its collective and in-need-of-a-punch-in-its-Steven Fry face before the Olympics… and the preposterous and expensive spectacle has just reinforced that view.

Indeed the much trumpeted ‘success’ of the games just tries to stuff the economic damage they caused down the memory hole. But hey, in the final self congratulatory event, the establishment got to praise that ‘envy of the world’ that so few other nations seem to envy enough to emulate, the NHS, so no… the Olympics just reinforced my less than flattering view of Britain rather than ‘completely overhauling’ it.

My strangest picture of 2012

Okay, I admit it. This is me checking out how you post photos on Samizdata, with Michael Jennings sitting next to me to show me, what with him already having done this successfully.

Nevertheless, this is quite a fun photo. It was taken on November 28th of this year:

Weird Concorde picture

Words don’t fail me, but you surely know what I mean.

There’s the fact that Concorde was scrapped in 2003. There’s the weird colour changes imposed upon the dear old Union Jack (which were such a feature of life in London in this Olympic Year). There’s the fact that this is an item of weirdly designed Olympic stuff on sale and on display in a London shop (it was not the only one – trust me). And there is the fact that this weirdly designed Olympic object is still on sale now, months after the Olympics have been and gone. Michael assures me that Olympic crap will still be around in our shops for many more months yet.

There is probably plenty more to be said about this strange, strange thing, but I leave it to others to add such observations.

Samizdata quote of the day

That Cyd! When you’ve danced with her you stay danced with.

- Fred Astaire, talking about Cyd Charisse. Quoted in the TV show Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood, shown this afternoon on BBC2.

The First World War almost starts 2 years early

While perusing the Times from 1912 I came across an article that mentioned Austrian mobilisation.  This got my attention for two reasons.  The first reason was that it’s big stuff.  Mobilisation is as close as you can get to going to war with actually doing so. Things must have come close to the brink.  As Eric Sass explains (in a wonderful series, by the way) they had:

On November 22, 1912, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II had promised Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones, that Germany would back up Austria-Hungary in a war, and on November 17, the French premier Raymond Poincare assured the Russian ambassador that France would back up Russia. The stage was set for a conflagration.

He goes on:

Fortunately, internal divisions in St. Petersburg helped avert further escalation. The Council of Ministers, furious that Nicholas II had bypassed them in ordering mobilization, demanded that he cancel the orders. At the same time, France, Germany, and Britain were scrambling to arrange a diplomatic meeting that would allow them to iron out the complicated situation in the Balkans; the Conference of London, which first met in December 1912, ended up preventing Serbia from expanding to the sea, satisfying Austro-Hungarian demands.

I love the use of the word “fortunately”.

The Austrians even issued a commemorative medal:

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The second reason it grabbed my attention was that it completely undermines the argument (put forward by Harry Elmer Barnes) that the Entente was just as much to blame for the First World War as the Germans.  The claim rests on the idea that mobilisation meant war.  In other words, Russia’s partial mobilisation in 1914 was just as aggressive as Germany’s subsequent declaration of war.  The fact that a mobilisation happened and war did not follow only a couple of years previously would appear to blow that argument out of the water.

Someone at the Department for Communities and Local Government reads blogs

While the default response to reading any government document is and must forever be “Bah humbug”, I must admit that, when reading the latest from the DCLG this Christmas Eve*, I am tempted to let slip a surreptitious “God bless us, every one” or similar piece of Tiny Timmery.

Via Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, I learn that the thirty-seventh of 50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government suggested by Eric Pickles’ department is

Cease funding ‘sock puppets’ and ‘fake charities’: Many pressure groups – which do not deliver services or help the vulnerable – are now funded by state bodies. In turn, these nominally ‘independent’ groups lobby and call for more state regulation and more state funding. A 2009 survey found that £37 million a year was spent on taxpayer-funded lobbying and political campaigning across the public sector. Many of these causes may be worthy, but why should they be funded by taxpayers?

Endearingly, Mr Pickles or whoever wrote this has not got the usage of the term “sock puppet” quite right. I would have called what is being described “astroturf” myself, but even so the appearance of the term “sock puppet” in a government document is a great big blog-print in itself. Specifically the print left by the currently inactive but still influential trope-namer “Fake Charities” blog started by Chris Mounsey of Devil’s Kitchen fame.

Scanning back to sensible suggestion no. 31, it too shows the influence of blogs:

Scrap trade union posts: Get rid of unnecessary non-jobs such as taxpayer-funded, full-time trade union ‘pilgrim’ posts.

“Pilgrims” was a term coined by Guido to describe a full time union organiser paid from the public purse, named after one Jane Pilgrim, who posed as, and was admiringly reported as, a nurse giving the then Health Minister a piece of her mind before the revelation that she hadn’t been near a patient in years.

*As one does. It’s that or “Merlin must find a way to overcome his greatest challenge yet, yadda yadda, the young wizard finally comes face to face with his destiny.” The latest heartstopping ep of “Examples of sensible savings in local government” is probably more exciting and less politically correct.

Merry Christmas, everyone

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There is much feasting at Samizdata HQ this evening

Still not out

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Haifa, Israel. January 2012.

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Jerusalem. January 2012

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Jordan River Valley, January 2012

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Istanbul, Turkey. February 2012

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Aronda, Goa. March 2012

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Mumbai, India. March 2012

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Nowa Huta, Poland. April 2012

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Karak, Jordan. May 2012.

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Dimona, Israel. May 2012.

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Jerusalem. May 2012.

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Jericho, Palestine. May 2012

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Bethlehem. May 2012

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Ari’el, Judea and Samaria. May 2012

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Gamla, Golan Heights. May 2012

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Paris, France. June 2012

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Opole, Poland. July 2012

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Mostyn, Wales. September 2012

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Berlin, Germany. September 2012

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Będzin, Poland. September 2012

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Ostrava, Czech Republic. October 2012

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Budapest, Hungary. October 2012

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Uzhhorod, Carpathian Ruthenia. October 2012

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Berlin, Germany. November 2012

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Kraków, Poland. November 2012

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Mt Olympus, Republic of Cyprus. December 2012

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Pyla, United Nations Buffer Zone, December 2012

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Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area. December 2012

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Varosha, Famagusta. December 2012.

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Salamis, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. December 2012

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Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area. December 2012