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]

Geopolitical beer!

I assume Obama Beer makes you fart a lot and tell an endless stream of porkies.

Samizdata wat of the day

From the end of a BBC news article:

More than 500 Britons are believed to have travelled to join IS.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the UK government’s position was “probably going to lead to accusations of double standards”.

He said if Britons went to Syria and were suspected of trying to join IS they would get their “collar felt at Heathrow” – but there “seems to be a silence about people going to fight on the other side”.

Wat.

You might have thought decades of Ba’athist tyranny caused the war in Syria… WRONG!

Nope, it was not decades of murderous repressive Ba’athist socialism under the Assad family that caused the civil war in Syria, it was…

Climate change!

Say what?

And what is more, climate change has caused my cat to sing Sondheim at night. Climate change has made my tea taste bitter if brewed after 8 am. Climate change has created inequality amongst llamas in the Atacama Desert. Climate change has caused Putin’s man-boobs (daddaries?) to itch so much it drove him to invade Crimea. I defy anyone to prove scientifically these things are not true because the science is settled. Or something like that.

Oh the humanity… I mean huge manatee!

One night in Beirut

image

 

There’s nothing funnier than an electronic billboard showing a Windows error message, so obviously I stop to take a photo.

A man comes up behind me. It is a solider in fatigues with a gun. “No photo”. This is a little tiresome. I attempt to point out that I am attempting to take a photo of a billboard, and what possible security risk could this be, but (as always) this is futile. Also, do you have any idea how easy it would be for me to take a photo of *anything* with modern technology without you realising it? But I know the rules, and they are rules. I accede and walk on. There are various security barriers and roadblocks nearby, so there is sensitive stuff nearby – government buildings, I think.

I block further, there are more security barriers, a guard post, and a soldier on duty. I am unsure I am allowed to walk down the road. I point down the road and beckon to the soldier, politely. “It’s okay to walk down there?”.

“Oh, sur.. Where are you from?”

“Australia”.

“O wow”. (Excitement). “I love Australia. Where Australia?”

“Sydney”.

“Oh, great!!!!. I was in Granville”.

(Fairly nondescript westerly but not extreme westerly suburb of Sydney, probably best known to me as the location of Australia’s worst rail disaster in the 1970. Perfectly pleasant place).

“Yeah, man. Granville”

“Where are you going?”. He now wants to give me directions. I wasn’t asking for directions – just wanting to know if he would stop me if I tried to walk down the street. However, if he wants to give me directions, I’ll let him give me directions. “Monot street”.

“Oh, about 200 metres that way. Have a great time”.

“You too. Come to Australia again some time”.

“Yeah. But I’m in the army. Fuck man!!!!”.

(He holds up his palm. I give him a high five). “Yeah. You’re in the army. Fuck man”. Explaining that I am completely opposed to compulsory military service as a matter of high principle and I therefore completely support his feelings would probably be excessive.

I go on my way, hoping that the safety was firmly in place on his rifle throughout all this.

This is what they call a whinge-whinge scenario

Tesco come, Tesco go, John Harris whinges either way. Here he was writing in the Guardian in August 2011:

Supermarket sweep

In Britain a new Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s or Asda opens every other day. But across the country people are battling the relentless march of the ‘Big Four’. John Harris, who has taken up the fight himself, reports

And here is John Harris writing in the Guardian in February 2015:

‘We feel betrayed': the towns abandoned by Tesco

Tesco’s profits crisis means that plans for 49 shiny new stores have been ditched. Where does that leave places such as Kirkby, Bridgwater and Wolverhampton, where regeneration schemes linked to the supermarket chain now lie in ruins?

There is a fair point to be made relating to the bad effects on a town of endless shilly-shallying about whether a supermarket will be built, but John Harris isn’t making it. One of the commenters, DrRic55, is:

Seems this is less about Tesco, and more a grubby and poor quality class of local politicians.

I know from my old line of work how eyes light up at the mention of Section 106 agreements, and all manor of pet projects appear to be funded – sometimes assisting and enabling the development, sometimes nothing to do with it.

If we didn’t have such ridiculous planning laws the private sector would get on and build where there was demand. Instead we have a system not far off bribery of the local bureaucrats, and endless consultations that drag on forever. If you want to see another effect, look at the state of housebuilding in the UK.

Tesco has obviously failed in some pretty big ways, but I can’t help but see the dead hand of local government all over these disasters.

Contracts with gagging clauses

A hotel has a policy of charging guests an extra £100 if they leave a bad review of the hotel on any website. Should the state permit individuals to enter into such a contract?

When a couple was so charged, they went and talked to the press. “What happened to freedom of speech?”, they asked.

John Greenbank, north trading standards area manager, said it was a “novel” way to prevent bad reviews.

He said: “I have worked for trading standards for many years and have never seen anything like this. The hotel management clearly thinks they have come up with a novel way to prevent bad reviews, however we believe this could be deemed an unfair trading practice.”

The beautiful thing is that the state turns out to be completely redundant in this case. Things did not work out so well for the hotel, and it now serves as a terrible warning for anyone else with similar ideas. Now its reputation is trashed on Trip Advisor because of freedom of speech. And because The Internet. Though I do wonder about libel…

Using a Playstation controller to fire a machinegun in combat… no, really!

Talk about ingenuity! That thing does not looks very RPG-resistant, so it very wisely has a top mounted camera so it can fire from behind cover!

But guys, it is an improvised armoured ambulance, not a ‘tank’.

The alchemy is settled!

The words “climate change” have taken on occult significance.

Chant “the science is settled, the science is settled, the science is settled” over and over again, whilst arranging an arcane pattern on the ground with a ritually blessed hockey stick inscribed with the words “Gaia” and “Al Gore”, and if you do that on a solstice, the spirit of Karl Marx will appear!

There is no other explanation for some of the gonzo articles that get written.

Bono

Bono is annoying. This was supposed to be a post in which I gloated about how, if I had an iPhone, I would be making use of the U2 removal tool, too, the story being that Apple gave away the latest U2 album for free and enough people complained that they had to offer a way to remove it.

And I would support my argument with stupid Bono quotes. But it turns out he is harder to pin down than that.

If globalisation means a better life for more people, we’re all in favour of it. If it means a better life for less people, we’re all against it.

Non-commital but hard to disagree with. And then there is this analysis:

While Bono has become synonymous with campaigns such as Drop the Debt that fit his right-on rock star image, he also has a well-developed sense of how capitalism works. U2 has acquired a business empire with an estimated worth of nearly (EU)700m. Much of that is due to their artistic talent, but a substantial portion has come from careful management of business opportunities.

Bono’s idea for helping the Third World involves the destruction of trade barriers and protectionism, and investment in the development of self-sustaining businesses. His economic instincts are pro-globalisation, but in a perfectly sensible business way. One of his big ideas to help the Third World, the launch of the ethical brand Product Red, with partners such as Motorola, Gap and Giorgio Armani, is based firmly on capitalist principles.

That is from an article criticising him for tax avoidance, of all things.

I am almost starting to like him. It is very annoying. Still, I do sympathise with @twitflup via The Daily Poke:

Just woken up to find U2 downstairs watching TV and eating my biscuits. Will their presumptions that I want them in my life ever end?

The invasion proceeds according to plan

thames_hippo

Our Chavez, who art in heaven

Progressive Venezuela has rediscovered the benefits of Emperor worship:

“Venezuelan Socialists rewrite Lord’s Prayer: ‘Our Chavez, who art in heaven'”

No doubt, like Claudius, the Divine Hugo will be worshipped by the more gullible among the British tribesmen. As Seneca wrote in the Apocolocyntosis,

Is it not enough that he has a temple in Britain, that savages worship him and pray to him as a god, so that they may find a fool to have mercy upon them?”