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]

Consent and the Space Cadets

Yesterday something reminded me of the Space Cadets:

The series described itself as the most elaborate hoax perpetrated in television history. The title is a comical reference to the slang phrase, which is used to describe vacuous, gullible fools, untethered to reality (compare airhead).[citation needed] It was not clear if the contestants were aware of the show’s title, although a whiteboard in the ‘barracks’ had “Space Cadettes” [sic] written on it during one of the parties organised in the facility.

A group of twelve contestants (who answered an advert looking for “thrill seekers”) were selected to become the first British televised space tourists, including going to Russia to train as cosmonauts at the “Space Tourist Agency of Russia” (STAR) military base, with the series culminating in a group of four embarking on a five-day space mission in low Earth orbit. The show and space mission contained aspects of Reality TV, including hidden cameras, soundproofed ‘video diary’ rooms and group dormitories.

However, the show was in fact an elaborate practical joke, described by Commissioning Editor Angela Jain as “Candid Camera live in space” and claimed by Channel 4 to have cost roughly £5million. Unknown to the “space cadets”, they were not in Russia at all, but at Bentwaters Parks (formerly RAF Bentwaters, a USAF airfield from 1951 to 1993) in Suffolk staffed by costumed actors, and the “space trip” was entirely fake, complete with a wooden “shuttle” and actor “pilots”. Indeed, during the shooting of Space Cadets, smokers amongst the production crew were given Russian cigarettes to smoke in case any of the cadets discovered the butts. The production crew went so far as to replace lightswitches and electrical outlets in the barracks with Russian standard. In addition, three of the Cadets were actors, included to misdirect any suspicious cadets and to help reinforce the illusion.

At the time I talked about it a great deal, as everybody did, but I could not watch it for more than a few seconds at a time. Too close to home. On discovering that it was a hoax one of the cadets said, “I was planning my speech about achieving my childhood dreams. I’m a little bit broken-hearted.” I was a little bit broken-hearted for her. I, too, had grown up dreaming of space. The cruellest aspect of the show was that it made clear to the world that the cadets had been selected for their credulity and lack of scientific knowledge. Like many of those reading this I would have “failed” that particular test. But let us not put on airs; it is proverbial among scammers that there is good hunting to be had among educated people who think they could never be fooled by anything.

Why am I still thinking about these nine innocents sold a pup when a whole decade has gone by? Millions agree to take jobs and find them not as advertised. Billions agree to take spouses and find them not as advertised. Such is the way of the world. At least the cadets were handsomely paid. Enough, I assume, to head off any lawsuits about breach of contract – and I would imagine that those contracts were written by clever lawyers in the first place. If the cadets had been the type to read every sub-clause in a contract they would not have been chosen to be filmed larking around in a wooden replica spaceship allegedly equipped with gravity generators.

My memory was triggered (not, like, triggered triggered; just triggered) by all the talk now about consent. I am not thinking primarily about sexual consent, although that is relevant, but about the increasing sensitivity around posting any photographs and films of people without their permission. This new sensitivity isn’t just politically correct wailing. Brian Micklethwait of this parish finds it entirely consistent with his libertarian principles to take care to hide the faces of ordinary people he photographs, as he mentions here, even as he points out that the case is different for public figures. The world has changed. The internet never forgets a name. It is getting closer to never forgetting a face. When the cadets signed their contracts that wasn’t so obvious.

And then they came for Instapundit…

First they came for Robert Stacey McCain but I had no idea who he was…
Then they came for Milo but I had no idea who he was either and anyway, he had silly hair…
Then they came for Instapundit…

A little earlier today Instapundit’s Twitter account got blocked. Due to Twitter’s Orwellian… no, Kafkaesque censorship policy it was not initially clear which tweet or tweets had earned Twitter’s ire. There was certainly no question of Glen Reynolds (Instapundit’s webmaster) being allowed to defend himself. At least not to Twitter – to the rest of the world Reynolds is most robust.

This is serious stuff. Instapundit was one of the original blogs. Although I was not present at it’s conception, my belief is that if it hadn’t been for Instapundit there wouldn’t have been a Samizdata. Certainly, Instapundit blazed a trail for hundreds, if not thousands of others and crucially Reynolds is not a nutter. If they can ban him they can ban us all.

Worse still, it is not as if Twitter is alone. It is remarkable how quickly internet stalwarts like Google, Facebook and Twitter have gone from being dynamic, “don’t be evil”, believers in freedom to being fully paid up members of the bansturbationary elite.

The question is what do we do now? Rob attempted to answer this very question earlier this week and I am happy to give gab.ai a go. The key question is if anyone else is prepared to. These things need critical mass and right-wingers are not known for engaging in collective action.

Like many I had high hopes for the internet. I thought it would lead to a renaissance of freedom. Instead it is quickly coming to resemble the very MSM I hoped it would check. And what have we got to show for our 15 years or so of being able to say what we think?

Samizdata quote of the day

If you see FRENCH MAN ARRESTED AFTER BOMB ATROCITY as a BBC website headline, you know that there might have been a bomb, there might have been an atrocity, and the person arrested was probably a man. But you can be quite sure he wasn’t French.

Lee Moore

1916’s summer blockbuster

In 1916 Geoffrey Malins, a cinematographer, toured the Western Front filming what he saw. The footage was edited into an hour-long film that was shown in British cinemas. The Battle of the Somme was an extraordinary success with some estimating that it was the most watched movie in British history. Clips from it still regularly turn up when TV people want to refer to the war.

But it didn’t please everyone. The Dean of Durham has this to say:

I beg leave respectfully to enter a protest against an entertainment which wounds the heart and violates the very sanctities of bereavement.

The bereaved – or at least some of them – had different ideas:

Well, I have lost a son in battle, and I have seen the Somme films twice. I am going to see them again. I want to know what was the life, and the life-in-death, that our dear ones endured, and to be with them again in their great adventure.

My guess is that the Dean of Durham is referring above all to one particular scene; that scene, the famous scene, the one we are all familiar with, the one that above all others has come to represent the First World War. This one:

Sadly, I wasn't able to track down the actual clip which has more evidence of fakery but even in this frame the puniness of the barbed wire and the lack of large packs suggest this was shot some distance from the front.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to track down the actual clip which has more evidence of fakery but even in this frame the puniness of the barbed wire and the lack of large packs suggest this was shot some distance from the front.

Which is a pity. Because it is a fake.

Hillary Clinton has said, and I quote, “I believe in white supremacy”

I have proof! Here she is saying exactly those words on video!

Do you think that might possibly be unfair? Do you think that quotation might possibly have been taken out of context by some malicious person?

It is fair by Hillary Clinton’s own standards. Here is another video of Hillary Clinton talking about Nigel Farage yesterday. At 0:25 seconds, she says that he has

“… said women are, and I quote, ‘worth less’ than men”

What Farage actually said can be seen on this video from Sky News. He said,

“In many, many cases women make different choices in life to the ones men make, simply for biological reasons. A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off – she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won’t be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio.”

Insofar as what Farage said does include the words “women”, “worth” and “less”, Clinton’s quote is accurate.

Because I aspire to higher standards than Ms Clinton, here are her “white supremacy” remarks in context. The relevant part starts at 0:30 seconds. She is arguing against school vouchers and in the course of that imagines a situation where a parent comes and says, “I want to send my child to the school of the church of the white supremacy” (or possibly “supremacists”).

While on the subject of words in context, take a look at this report from the Guardian that gives a reasonably full account of what Mr Farage actually said that became Mrs Clinton’s

“Farage has called for a bar on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and services”

The Guardian is disapproving but makes clear that the proposed bar was temporary and excluded emergency medical care:

Farage said it was a “difficult” issue and that it was not a manifesto pledge. But he said his personal view was that immigrants would only bring their dependants after a period of time and after that he would not envisage their children being allowed to go straight into state schools.

The What We Stand For section of Ukip’s website says: “Immigrants must financially support themselves and their dependants for five years. This means private health insurance (except emergency medical care), education and housing – they should pay into the pot before they take out of it.”

I might have saved myself all this sniping and simply said that Hillary Clinton was under fire for lying again.

What are we to make of the Power of the Daleks?

One of the fun parts of growing up is the realisation that Doctor Who serials that you watched as a child are in fact analogies of contemporary political situations. Frontier in Space is about the Cold War. The Sea Devils is about Northern Ireland. The Planet of the Daleks is about Vietnam. The Mutants is about Rhodesia. Curse of Peladon is about joining the EU and Monster of Peladon is about what happens when you do.

But what of Power of the Daleks? I am sure it’s about something but I just can’t figure it out. Here’s a synopsis:

The colonists come across a small group of migrants who appear to have fled from some great disaster. The colonists shelter them and provide nourishment. The migrants start doing small jobs around the colony.

Sadly far from being grateful to the colonists for getting them back on the their feet – or skirts as it is in this case – the migrants turn out to be wedded to an ideology that regards themselves as superior and all other forms of life as candidates for either slavery or extermination.

The colonists for their part are divided between the revolutionaries and non-revolutionaries. The revolutionaries reckon that they can use the migrants to gain power. While the two factions are busy fighting amongst themselves, the migrants are busy multiplying and becoming ever stronger. Eventually, they are in a position to embark on a campaign of conquest and extermination.

All six episodes of Power of the Daleks are “missing” from the BBC archives (see here for some of the details). Somehow, I suspect the BBC is not too bothered about that.

An enterprising migrant

An enterprising migrant

Charlie Hebdo once again seeks to sooth the savage beast

The people at Charlie Hebdo may be a bunch of benighted lefties with only the most tenuous grasp on reality, but they sure know how to thrown a party! Nice to see folks taking it all in calmly.

→ Continue reading: Charlie Hebdo once again seeks to sooth the savage beast

Vít Jedlička talks Liberland to Libertarian Home

Last night I attended Libertarian Home’s first Thursday of the month meeting, at which the speaker was Vít Jedlička:

JedlickaMeeting1

Jedlička is a libertarian politician. Maybe you think that’s a contradiction, but if we libertarians are to score any victories out there in the big wide world, we must have such people, and the very least we can do is listen to what they say, and, assuming we like the approximate sound of it, we should back them up and beat ours drums for them, even as we nitpick about details, tactics, principles, etc.

I did zero homework for this meeting, and have done extremely little since, so many of those reading this will know a lot more about this man than I do. All I can now offer is a few thoughts about how he came across to me last night, and about what he definitely is – but also probably is not – achieving.

Jedlička is trying to establish a small country, called Liberland. He has found a small chink in the armour of the state system, in the form of a small, unclaimed patch of territory between Serbia and Croatia. He and his collaborators have moved into it, and have declared it to be a state.

Jedlička is careful to call what is happening out there in Liberland a minimal rather than non-existent state. After all, if only to defend itself against the rest of the state system, most notably the state of Croatia, Liberland needs something very like a state apparatus itself. There’s a lot of ducking and weaving going on.

Jedlička struck me as a guy who, unlike some libertarians I could mention, including some who have become involved in schemes for new libertarian countries, well understands the difference between how the world ought to be, and how it actually is. When asked how he planned to stop this or that attack on Liberland, he did not descend into libertarian rant-mode about how such attacks would be wicked. Of course they’d be wicked. That wasn’t the question. Instead, he frankly acknowledged that this enterprise may not work. He presented it as very much a load-fire-take-aim, fear-the-worst-and-try-to-prepare-for-it but hope-for-the-best sort of an enterprise.

Why then, the air of breezy optimism that Jedlička exuded all evening? Why the sense that at least something was definitely being accomplished, even if Liberland itself soon or eventually gets snuffed out? One word answer: publicity.

→ Continue reading: Vít Jedlička talks Liberland to Libertarian Home

Samizdata quote of the day

Perusing the NME’s sad, stuffy, small-c conservative freakout over this big change in British politics got me thinking: Brexit is actually the most rock’n’roll thing to have happened in a generation. What we have here is ordinary people, including vast swathes of the working class, saying ‘No’ to the status quo, sticking two fingers up at an aloof elite, channelling Rotten and Vicious to say screw you (or something rather tastier) to that illiberal, risk-averse layer of bureaucracy in Brussels. It makes the student radicals of the 60s and even the anarchic punks of the 70s look like rank amateurs in comparison. Sure, those guys might have waved flowers against the Vietnam War or put safety pins through their snouts, but did they send the political class, the chattering class and the business elite into an existential tailspin by delivering a severe sucker punch to these people’s favourite institution? No, they didn’t. Brexit did, though.

Brendan O’Neill

Venezuela: an evolving story

Misreporting Venezuela’s economy – Mark Weisbrot, writing for the Guardian in September 2010

Venezuela’s devaluation doom-mongers – Mark Weisbrot, writing for the Guardian in March 2013

Sorry, Venezuela haters: this economy is not the Greece of Latin America – Mark Weisbrot, writing for the Guardian in November 2013

For some reason Mr Weisbrot has not written much for the Guardian comment pages on the subject of Venezuela recently, but to its credit the Guardian has covered developments in that country in the news pages:

‘At least 35,000’ Venezuelans cross border to Colombia to buy food and medicine – a story from the Associated Press appearing in the Guardian on 17 July 2016.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans poured into neighbouring Colombia to buy food and medicine on Saturday after authorities briefly opened the border that has been closed for almost a year.

A similar measure last week led to dramatic scenes of the elderly and mothers storming Colombian supermarkets and highlighted how daily life has deteriorated for millions in Venezuela, where the economy has been in a freefall since the 2014 crash in oil prices.

I should have believed what I saw in the streets with my own eyes

I have been in Dover for the last week and a bit, and it is like a different world compared to my usual haunts in London (and by the way, I heartily recommend the Allotment restaurant).

And as I walked down the street wearing my LEAVE badge, I was constantly getting nods of approval or thumbs up gestures from complete strangers. As I headed back to London yesterday, the chap sitting behind me patted me on the shoulder and launched into a friendly diatribe about “accountable government!”, and the driver of the bus (rail replacement service actually) grinned broadly and gave me a thumbs up as I entered the vehicle! And I found myself doing the same to others when I saw them wearing a similar badge.

And yet the media was constantly telling me we had already lost, and we might as well not bother, and thus I went to bed last night with a heavy heart.

I should have believed what I saw in the streets with my own eyes, and not what I read in the media.

Well, I dunno

The pro-Remain Daily Mirror has an odd choice for its front page:

Mirror front page referendum

Update: Mr Ed has suggested the following caption:

“THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY GOES”

I know what the Mirror is trying to say, but what with “REMAIN” being in capitals and larger type, the instant impression that it gives to me is that REMAIN is a deep dark hole sucking the hapless voter inwards to destruction. A valiant effort by the Leave mole in the Mirror graphics department, but judging by the final polls, it may not be enough. But don’t let the polls cause you to give up and not bother voting: the pattern has been that phone polls tended towards Remain and online polls towards Leave. I attribute this to “Shy Leavers” being put off from disclosing their true intentions to a possibly disapproving human being, particularly since the murder of Jo Cox. I could, of course, be wrong in this supposition. But it is worth a go.

My final Referendum thought? It’s one you could share with undecided left-wingers. A Leave win would increase the chance of Labour winning the next election, an outcome I do not want. But better a thousand times a party with the wrong policies in power for a few years in a system where we retain the power to throw them out next time than being sucked past the event horizon of the European Union, where all votes are votes for ever closer union.