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]

Supply, demand, regulators, middlemen

If there is one thing the BBC and Samizdata have in common, it is our coverage of all the important issues.

Simon Watson, 41, has been an unlicensed sperm donor for 16 years, donating once a week. “Usually one [baby] a week pops out. I reckon I’ve got about 800 so far, so within four years I’d like to crack 1,000.”

This is a whole new world of discovery for me.

The number of women using donated sperm to get pregnant is rising, but many find the cost of treatment at private clinics prohibitive. This has led some women to use unlicensed donors. […] Very few women are eligible for artificial insemination on the NHS as the criteria are very strict. Private licensed clinics cost between £500 and £1,000 for each cycle of treatment. Mr Watson charges £50 for his services […] “If you go to a fertility clinic people have to go through lots of hurdles – counselling sessions, huge amounts of tests and then charge absolute fortunes for the service – but realistically if you’ve got a private donor you can just go and see them, meet them somewhere, get what you want and just go,” he explains.

Regulatory hurdles push up prices for the end user, so the demand for cheap and cheerful is met elsewhere. But what about the supply side? Another BBC article, bemoaning the lack of donors, completes the picture.

Just nine men are registered as donors a year after the opening of Britain’s national sperm bank in Birmingham. […] Donors are paid £35 per clinic visit, but Ms Witjens said financial reward was not a good way to boost recruitment. “We might get more donors if we paid £50 or £100 per donation, but money corrupts. “If you feel you can make £200 a week for four months, you might hide things about your health.”

I would have thought women might want to be a bit pickier than have sperm from the kind of loser who gets out of bed for thirty-five quid.

So we have private services supplying a high cost, high quality product, but crowded and regulated out of providing better value or budget services. A state provider that manages to have nothing but shortages of supply and (I would guess) poor quality products. And a grey market filling in the gaps. This is not a new world at all: there is nothing new here. To make things better I would abolish the state providers and deregulate, creating an environment for reputable intermediaries to supply maximum value for money across the whole range of price points. If anything does change it will probably involve more rules and the criminalisation of the grey market, increasing costs and risks.

Anthropological fieldwork

The BBC reports:

Arts body Creative Scotland has defended giving an artist £15,000 to spend a year without leaving Glasgow.

Ellie Harrison’s project is called the Glasgow Effect – a term relating to poor health in parts of the city.
The artist said she wanted to explore sustainability by travelling less and focusing more on local opportunities.
Critics on social media have described it as a waste of money but Creative Scotland said Harrison’s strong proposal had qualified for funding.

On a web page explaining the project, Harrison states: “The Glasgow Effect is year long action research project / durational performance, for which artist Ellie Harrison will not travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend).

“By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic.”

The Independent tells us that,

“The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”

Responses to the artwork have been mixed. Some Glaswegians have been offended at the idea that their city is evidently considered to be what the Diplomatic Service calls a “hardship posting”, a place that one must be paid extra to endure. Unkind residents of Edinburgh have said that for a year in Glesca, £15,000 isn’t nearly enough. I do think that the extra fifteen grand will make the restriction of Ms Harrison’s current lifestyle a little easier to bear. Unlike the majority of those citizens of Glasgow paid by the State simply for existing within its boundaries, Ms Harrison is free to augment her dole by continuing to work as “‘successful’ artist/academic”, and no need for the scare quotes round “successful”, either. She has done better than most artists in that she has been successful in getting someone to pay handsomely for her stuff (albeit not with their own money), namely the Scottish Government. Of course her finding a patron was probably made easier by the fact that, like herself, those who approved her grant application were part of the famously close-knit Scottish arts community. There is a rather different class of Glaswegian who has to work forty hours a week for a total level of remuneration often not that much different than the top-up Ms Harrison gets to fight off the people simply demanding that she come and bestow her art upon them. According to the Scotsman and the International Business Times, some of these benighted Weegies have been kicking up a fuss at having to pay for all this. You’d think they would be grateful that someone was taking an interest in them. Philistines.

By the way, you all knew that David Thompson would be making his own artistic response to this, didn’t you?

Finally, here are some of Ms Harrison’s own words from her grant application which she has kindly posted online:

Since then, I have developed an actively self-reflexive practice, which is as much concerned with analysing and exposing the motivations, processes and ethics of making art, as it is with the individual projects that I produce (see examples in attached Supporting Material). Whilst studying, I began to notice the environmental impact of my practice, becoming the first individual artist to launch an Environmental Policy. Published on my website in 2010, the policy summarises the action I currently take to reduce my carbon footprint and holds future decisions to account.

Is copyright law really this stupid?

Ars Technica says than in the UK “you may soon need a licence to take photos of that classic designer chair you bought”.

Changes to UK copyright law will soon mean that you may need to take out a licence to photograph classic designer objects even if you own them. That’s the result of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which extends the copyright of artistic objects like designer chairs from 25 years after they were first marketed to 70 years after the creator’s death. In most cases, that will be well over a hundred years after the object was designed. During that period, taking a photo of the item will often require a licence from the copyright owner regardless of who owns the particular object in question.

There are lots of exceptions hinted at here: what is a classic designer object and why will the photograph only require a license “often”? It also seems as if such copyright enforcement already exists and only the timing is changing. Perhaps in practice the effects of this change in the law will be minimal.

Nevertheless, it is wrong to meet with violence the non-violent act of photographing an inanimate object. It is also so unintuitive that people will be surprised by it. And it is so unenforceable that it will be applied selectively.

There is another possibility. A Star Wars fan recently had his Facebook account suspended for posting a photograph of a Star Wars toy.

One possibility is that at least someone at Disney was openminded about Carvalho’s thoughtful response, but the organization has a software-enabled copyright enforcement regime in place that they simply can’t stop.

Pattern recognition software means that previously unenforceable crazy laws and policies can now be uniformly enforced. I find this…interesting.

Medical student ‘struck off’ before he even started – because of a Facebook post

A fourth-year medical student at Leicester University, Mr Ravindu Thilakawardhana, has been deemed unfit to practice medicine by the University, after making comments on Facebook towards someone who had annoyed him, the Independent tells us. It appears that he will not be permitted to complete his degrees and graduate, quite a long way down the line too.

Ravindu Thilakawardhana, who was in his fourth year studying medicine at the University of Leicester, became furious when a fellow student posted explicit pictures of his friend onto the social networking site.

Mr Thilakawardhana retorted with a photo of the actor Liam Neeson accompanied by the words: “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you,” the Leicester Mercury reports.

He later sent a private message to the student saying: “I don’t want to see you on a night out in Leicester, or in the UK.”

The student reported Mr Thilakawardhana to the medical school who reprimanded him, before deeming him “unfit to practice medicine”.

The matter is going to law, with Mr Thilakawardhana taking legal action in the hope of having his sanction overturned.

There has been no criminal conviction (not even a prosecution) of Mr Thilakawardhana over his action, and yet his career is effectively ruined, as things stand, because of an intemperate post. This has all the hallmarks of a grotesque reaction to me.

How many other medical students might be barred from the closed shop profession for expressing attitudes that render them ‘unfit to practice medicine’? How wide might this ‘catch-all’ classification extend? Has all common sense left the University? (Yes, I know, by definition…) Is this not tyrannical, with echoes of Dr Bonham?

A funny thing happened in my local bank…

Earlier today I was standing in line waiting for a teller in my local bank, when some chap who was clearly a few cards short of a full deck started complaining at the top of his voice:

“This is how a run on a bank starts! People see an unusual number of customers waiting line and become alarmed, and the next thing you know, it becomes a national crisis with banks collapsing!”

The rather well dressed fellow standing behind me immediately quipped:

“With a grasp of finance and human nature like that, this gentleman is clearly a contender for the Corbyn Shadow Cabinet.”

A great many people laughed. Made my day.

An unsolicited response – Barrister blows off Solicitor after ‘compliment’

A previously private exchange of messages on LinkedIn between a barrister*, Charlotte Proudman, and a solicitor*, Alexander Carter-Silk, disparate in age, has erupted into a ‘scandal’ after the barrister took umbrage at the solicitor’s comment on her photo, which he described as ‘stunning’. Not as stunning as her response, it seems, which we are told, set off a ‘Twitter storm’.

Miss Proudman said she found the message “offensive” as she was LinkedIn for “business purposes” and not “to be objectified by sexist men”.

She said: “The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women.
“Unacceptable and misogynic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.”

It appears that she ‘connected’ with him on LinkedIn, he viewed her profile and made the offending comment, and she appears to be reporting Mr Carter-Silk for professional misconduct.

The Telegraph has piled in with some allegations about Ms Proudman having what one might call an ‘agenda’, being a member of the Fabian Society, and a feminist opposed to equality with men.

Earlier this year she used the left-wing website Left Foot Forward to explain that she was a campaigner for feminism, not equality, because: “Men live and work in a brutal society, which is maintained through stratified social order based on ritual humiliation, gentleman’s clubs, fights, rites of passage, sexism, and banter.
“When women enter the male realm whether law, politics, or a construction site, they find themselves in a repugnant world in which their only means of survival is by undergoing a fundamental transformation leaving them with little opportunity to make any change.”
If men and women were truly equal, she said, “men’s genitals would be sliced up” in the same way that some women are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
She added: “Equality is harmful to women and most men, as they are required to replicate behaviours that are degrading and dehumanising.”

Some have suggested that the barrister may have ruined her career, after all, barristers work in the main comes from solicitors, and the message one might take from this is that if you offend Ms Proudperson, she would have no hesitation in seeking to a) disregard any convention as to privacy and confidence in communications and b) seek to publicise your wrong-doing as widely as possible, as part of her ‘jihad’ against misogyny. However, it should be pointed out that she was merely seeking to campaign against the ‘objectification’ of women by men, and no one should conflate private and public, indeed her Twitter feed appears to recognise the risk she runs, and frankly I suspect that she will be the ‘poor man’s Mrs Clooney go-to right-on lawyer of choice’ for a while, or perhaps in a while when she actually starts practising.

Will endure misogynistic backlash that accompanies calling out sexism in hope it encourages at least 1 woman2feel she doesn’t need 2 take it

Ms Proudman’s rationale for connecting with the solicitor appears to have been to make professional contacts, even though she is not actually practicing at the Bar as she is doing a Ph.D at Cambridge on law, er, female genital mutilation.

And there I was thinking that LinkedIn was for recruitment consultants to fish around for prospective clients.

Now what if the solicitor accuses the barrister of sexism, after all, would she have reacted in the same way and taken the same steps had a woman of a similar age and standing to the man provided such a comment on her photo? Not to have done so would smack of ‘disparate treatment’, a cardinal sin to the true SJW.

Is this not an indication that Twitter is, as someone called Stewart Lee said: “The Stasi for the Angry Birds Generation“?

And Lenin was reputed to have said ‘We must teach the children to hate.‘. A lesson that appears to have been well-taught and well-learned.

* For those unfamiliar, the English legal profession is divided into barristers, who do in the main courtroom advocacy and specialist advice, and solicitors (who, unlike Mr Carter-Silk) in the main solicit barristers for their clients and pay them to argue a case in court, and do the preparation work for cases etc.

Could this be the most epic imprecation ever?

“Tap dancing titty-sprinkle rhubarb Christ”

Harmful Opinions

Apple is clearly run by people I would not invite across my doorstep

Will World War 2 games now be banned from Apple’s App Store for having Soviet and Nazi flags given what those regimes did made the Confederacy seem like choir boys? How about game featuring ancient Roman symbols as they had slavery? Apple is clearly run by people I would not invite across my doorstep as they have just refused to sell any game featuring a Confederate flag in any context.

The Israelites still up to their old tricks, I see

Then:

So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.

Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.

And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?

David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.

The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.

So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.

Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:

And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?

And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.

This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.

Now:

It’s a ‘Shoeish conspiracy’: Twitter mocks British Muslim campaigner after he claims MOSSAD sneaked into his home and stole a single shoe

A British Muslim campaigner faced online ridicule after he claimed ‘Zionists’ had sneaked into his home and stolen a single shoe.

In a public Facebook post, Asghar Bukhari, a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, said someone had tried to intimidate him by taking his footwear as he slept.

He wrote: the ‘game was simple – to make me feel vulnerable in my own home’, before adding ‘it is not the first time I have heard this happening’.

And it won’t be the last time, brother. Mossad high command are hopping mad that their agent only got the one shoe.

Free meat today?

I keep seeing rumours on the interwebs that I can get free meat today! As a long standing member of People for Eating Tasty Animals, I want to know where I can get my free meat so I can double up on the usual helping of animal protein! At first I thought it was a joke but everyone seems to be making it so maybe not.

This land is our land

“Mary Berry’s family is flogging my mum’s old home for £800,000 – but they can’t sell our memories”

Outrageous! Relatives of a famous person are crassly selling the house where Rebecca Hardy’s grandparents once lived! In the 1950s. OK, Ms Hardy herself never lived in this house, or even entered it. But she has often looked at it. Although her grandparents did not formally own the house as such, as it came with her grandfather’s job as a minister of the local chapel, I think that qualifies as a sort of spiritual ownership, don’t you?

To be fair Rebecca Hardy almost certainly did not write that subhead herself. On the other hand the unknown subeditor has caught rather well the spirit of a woman awakening to political consciousness that hers are a people dispossessed:

When I was 18, I spent one summer working as a chambermaid in the nearby Gara Rock hotel, and I can remember how even back in the late 80s people complained about what was happening in Salcombe. I remember the hotel occupants too, in their boating shoes and Breton tops, and how I served them cream teas and eavesdropped on their conversations as they muttered about the costs of mooring their yachts. “Well, we’ve bloody well worked for it,” one particularly well-dressed lady said. As if no one else had.

For all her hands calloused from teenage waitressing and more recently being “a freelance journalist and author who writes mostly about food, health and wellbeing”, Ms Hardy’s tone reminds me irresistibly of an exiled Russian aristocrat circa 1980 wistfully unfolding the yellowed title deeds of the family estates confiscated by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Except that the Berry relatives did not actually storm the front doors as the elder Hardys fled down a secret tunnel. It was more that they bought the house from someone else who bought it from someone else who bought it from the chapel. Anyway, what with them being related to a person on TV, the bastards, and house prices having gone up something shocking there was definitely some oppression going on there somewhere.

They don’t make ’em like that any more

“NYC Under Water from Climate Change By June 2015!”

As a bonus, the first talking head on the 2008 video clip is Peter Gleick, a liar.

On the other hand, you can be a liar without being wrong and wrong without being a liar. Prediction is tricky. I am still three-quarters half willing to be convinced that significant, although not catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming is happening. But supporters of this hypothesis have to explain why we should believe them this time when they were so confidently wrong last time.