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]

You gotta hand it to him…

…Mark Goddard of Newton Abbot in Devon is not a man afraid to take his medical destiny into his own hands hand.

Man builds home-made guillotine and chops off hand after doctors refuse to amputate

Mark Goddard has been in constant pain since he was involved in a motorbike crash 16 years ago.

But after an unsuccessful two-year campaign to have his nerve shattered hand surgically removed, he decided to do it himself.

He rigged up a home-made guillotine using an axe with a weight strapped to it, to ensure it would have enough power to amputate his hand.

The first blow sliced though the bone but didn’t sever all the tendons, leaving his hand hanging off a bloodied stump.

He then used a surgeon’s scalpel to cut through the remaining tissues before dropping the remains into a bin, which he later filled with charcoal and set alight – in order to prevent his hand being re-attached.

That was the Express. The Mirror adds some more details:

Dad refused NHS operation builds GUILLOTINE to amputate his own hand – but it still hurts

Mark spent two weeks designing the guillotine and ensured his wife and son were out before he severed his hand.

He tied two tourniquets above his forearm to reduce blood flow and had a first aid kit nearby.

Mark wants a device called a spinal stimulator implanted into his back to ease the nerve pain.

He said he was “reasonably hopeful” his wish would be granted after receiving a more sympathetic hearing from doctors and psychiatrists in the wake of his dramatic protest two weeks ago.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: “Police received a call from the ambulance service to say a man had cut his hand off.

“We were concerned he might have a knife and be a risk to himself or others.

“Units attended and upon arrival a 44-year-old man had indeed cut his hand off. He was otherwise rational.

While it is not the place of the police to criticise the behaviour of citizens who have remained within the law, it would be a harsh judge who held it against the police spokesman quoted that the placement of his penultimate word did imbue his observations with a slightly ironical tone.

I totally support Mr Goddard’s right to do as he pleases with his own body, sympathise with the suffering that led him to take such a desperate measure, applaud the practical and rational way he went about it, and very much hope that the NHS will be persuaded to take his pain seriously in future, but I am not sure I would recommend his method. Hands up who thinks it was a good idea? (Er, not you, Mark.)

The little wooden ball looks so happy

Why I wuvs capitalism, part Umpteen Hundred and Two.

No. 6: Bach on a Japanese forest xylophone. It’s actually a mobile phone advert.

OMG it appears I am a feminist!

There is an article on the Grauniad site called ‘Men – if you’re not a feminist, it’s fine, just move on’ which was rather amusing.

My position is no one, male or female, should have any statutory right to maternity or paternity leave, and indeed an employee should not expect it unless they negotiated for that with their employer.

So it seems that as I favour equality in maternity and paternity leave, I am a feminist according to some commenters! Who knew? ;-)

Kill a man and you go to jail… kill 45 million and you get commemorated in souvenir shops

People in Shaoshan in China, the birthplace of Chairman Mao, are making good money selling keepsakes of history’s most prolific mass murderer. I find it odd that the BBC reporter doing a little video on that somehow neglected to ask “why are you selling souvenirs of a man responsible for murdering tens of millions of your fellow Chinese people?”

Actually I think we all know why that question never got asked.

Clearly Braunau am Inn in Austria is missing a trick.

The ideal gift for the person who has everything

From the world of Star Wars.

Maybe Samizdata’s own Paul Marks could get one and send a death ray in the general direction of the Economist.

Sunday night strangeness: why does an academic book about fruit flies cost $23,698,655.93 on Amazon?

Michael Eisen is a biologist, who studies the fruit fly drosophila with especial interest as nearly all biologists appear to do for some reason some of our learned readers will, I hope, explain to me. In his own words,

A few weeks ago a postdoc in my lab logged on to Amazon to buy the lab an extra copy of Peter Lawrence’s The Making of a Fly – a classic work in developmental biology that we – and most other Drosophila developmental biologists – consult regularly. The book, published in 1992, is out of print. But Amazon listed 17 copies for sale: 15 used from $35.54, and 2 new from $1,730,045.91 (+$3.99 shipping).

And the price was rising steeply almost as he watched. Why? I had often wondered this myself. Not that the development of the fruit fly has generally been my first choice for a riveting read, but I did once come gulpingly close to pressing the “Buy now with 1-Click” button for Connie Long’s Easy Guide to Sewing Linings before noticing just in time that it was going for more than two hundred pounds. It is now down to a mere £86 new / £44 used. I was kind of hoping for under £10. I am an idle waster who noted the strangeness and passed on; Doctor Eisen is a research scientist. He duly researched and explained all.

Saturday night strangeness – Hitler before his Downfall

The bloke who posted this describes it as,’The same scene everyone knows, except it is from a film called “Hitler: The Last Ten Days” starring Alec Guinness.’ Presumably both this film and Der Untergang followed Traudl Junge’s diaries quite closely for this scene.

Samizdata quote of the day

We are the ones, we militants without a strategy of emancipation, who are (and who have been for some time now) the real aphasics! And it is not the sympathetic and unavoidable language of movementist democracy that will save us.

- Professor Alain Badiou, in an article arguing that “We need to rediscover the language of Communism.”

Samizdata quote of the day

The odds of people dying in a terrorist attack obviously are still a lot lower than in a car accident, unfortunately.

- President of the USA Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, speaking on the Jay Leno show

Imagine it’s 2013, when New Labour has grown old

Guy Lodge and Jessica Asato looked ahead ten years, ten years ago.

Imagine it’s 2013 and the pendulum of the electoral cycle has finally swept the Labour Party out of office. What might be the legacies of three terms of a New Labour government and what would be the direction of the Labour Party in opposition?

Contrary to expectations, Labour’s record on public services will be quite good. In health, waiting lists will be practically non-existent, patients will be able to choose when to see their GP and where to go to hospital, and towards the end of the third term the recruitment drives of the early 2000s will pay off as shortages of key medical staff begin to ease.


It will be widely thought that the Labour Government missed a key opportunity to totally reshape the life opportunities of children by failing to introduce universal childcare and early years education, despite the obvious success of SureStart.


The main achievement in foreign policy for Labour will be membership of the Euro; narrowly won after holding a referendum on the back of a third term win. The EU will also agree to reform the Common Agricultural Policy after successful campaigning by an ever-growing trade justice movement supported by the UK government. Disparities between economic growth in developing and rich countries will continue to widen, however, and peacekeeping and conflict resolution will become more important as global insecurity escalates. Global warming and sustainability will also begin to make more of an impact on the public’s consciousness forcing Labour to rediscover its environmental soul.


The Labour Party will still be going strong in 2013, though radically altered in outlook and shape. With EU enlargement transnational political parties might be established, sharing ideals in common at the European level, but acting independently at home. If Labour were to eventually split with the unions over public service modernisation, state funding of political parties would become necessary and the character of the party would change.

That last line might yet prove to be a quite good prediction.

In 2003 Guy Lodge was Chair of the Young Fabians and Jessica Asato was a researcher at the Social Market Foundation. Nowadays Guy Lodge is Associate Director for Politics and Power at the IPPR thinktank and Jessica Asato is prospective Parliamentary candidate for Norwich North and political adviser to Tessa Jowell MP.

Samizdata quote of the day

Finally! A politician I have no hesitation endorsing and who, if I lived there, I would actually vote for!

- Perry de Havilland at a ruinous piss up get together of thoughtful political analysts.

The Color Purple, faded

Prize-winning author Alice Walker gives support to David Icke on Desert Island Discs.

Not a headline you see very often.

For those that don’t know, Alice Walker is a “an American author, poet, womanist, and activist”, Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC radio programme in which celebrities say which eight records (look it up) they would take with them to a desert island (I suppose the gramophone must be one of those wind-up ones), and David Icke is a former Green Party spokesman who believes that, among others, the Queen, President George H. W. Bush, President George W. Bush, Al Gore and Boxcar Willie are really twelve-foot alien lizards.