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]

Parkinson’s Other Law suggests that now might be the right time to sell your Amazon shares

I see that Instapundit has become aware of Parkinson’s Other Law, the one about custom-built headquarters buildings. This is the law that says that any organisation which builds itself a brand new headquarters building is heading for disaster.

Instapundit links to a Wired piece about Apple’s new mega HQ, which does indeed look like a recipe for corporate disaster. This new Apple enormity looks a lot like the GCHQ building in Cheltenham, which was completed in 2003, after that organisation had participated successfully in two major wars – WW2 and Cold. But that Apple scheme has been around for a while. The latest HQ building news comes courtesy of Amazon:

AmazonHQ

Pity. I really like Amazon. I hope its death throes are prolonged enough not to derange me too much. I hope, that is to say, that in the near future, it is Amazon’s shareholders who suffer most of whatever Amazonian grief is about to erupt. However, I do fear that if, as a result of a share price collapse, Amazon then tries to be profitable, this might hurt us now-very-happy customers quite badly too.

Immediately after the Dezeen piece linked to above, about the new Amazon HQ, there came another piece, about a new Twitter HQ. But, although suspiciously well designed (hence it being noticed by Dezeen), this is to be in an already existing building that used to be a furniture store. This is the right way to contrive a new headquarters building, if you really must have such a thing at all.

Innocent until proven male

We have a challenger! First it was “No smoke without fire”. Then “We will never know what really happened that night” became the passive-aggressive hint of choice for the modern feminist forced to contemplate a man somehow left unconvicted of rape despite being accused of it.

Now there is a fresh new contender. Diane Roberts!

Does the Heisman Trophy still stand for integrity after Jameis Winston’s win?
Although allegations of the football player committing rape resulted in no charges, we should reconsider who we call a hero.

It is probable that Diane Roberts did not write that standfirst. She definitely wrote this:

Much as we want to think we know Jameis Winston, we don’t. Maybe what happened that night was consensual, just like his lawyer says. Maybe it wasn’t. We don’t know. Nobody knows, except Jameis Winston and that young woman. There will always be a bruise on this glorious season of big scores and big awards, always an asterisk. And in Florida somewhere, there is a woman who’s not famous and who still maintains she was raped.

Yet it is Snowden who is the indicted fugitive…

A US Federal Court has found against the NSA’s ‘Orwellian’ mass surveillance on the grounds it is probably unconstitutional… yeah no kidding.

So… even if the NSA’s programme of indiscriminate data mining is shut down (yeah right), will a large number of people… hell… will anyone actually go to jail for this blatantly illegal project? Will anyone even lose their jobs? I would not hold my breath on that score if I were you.

In the meantime, Snowden remains an indicted fugitive for revealing what a court has now ruled unconstitutional.

Apocalypse. Saw. Oblivion. The NHS.

The Sanctuary

Visit the Alton Towers Resort from 16 March and experience The Sanctuary, a terrifying scare maze!

The Sanctuary has been closed to patients for almost 50 years, but appointments are now being taken at the newly opened establishment as a controlling force, known only as the Ministry of Joy launches a series of trials, recruiting advocates for its new 2013 project. What starts out as a rejuvenating check up at The Sanctuary soon takes a turn for the worse.

Will you make it out with a smile on your face?

I like the Festival of Britain style graphics on the first link.

What does it mean that a theme park horror ride takes its inspiration from the visual style of a public information film issued by the Ministry of Information circa 1946?

But?

The headline above Allister Heath’s latest over at City A.M. reads as follows:

America is slashing spending – but its economy is still growing

By “spending” Heath, or Heath’s headline writer in the event that it’s not Heath, means government spending.

We’ll know we’re really winning when headlines like that one replace the “but” with an “and”.

Samizdata quote of the day – special JFK anniversary edition

The King of Camelot was killed by a commie loser. The impossibility of processing that drove the left crazy, and they still can’t face it.

- Glenn Reynolds, who clearly enjoys annoying conspiracy theorists, as I do. Meanwhile, Janet Daley reflects on what it was like to be a Kennedy supporter back in the early 1960s.

If you like your health plan you can…

An entertaining story from the Guardian:

Obamacare website developers rush to fix bug suggesting hacking methods

Flaw in Affordable Care Act site records hack attempts through its search box and re-presents code as autocomplete options

Fools and their futile appeals

White Sun of the Desert writes on Obamacare.

Parallels between the soft evils of the modern UK or US and the monstrous twentieth century dictatorships do not usually appeal to me for reasons I need not rehearse. However I think that in this post Tim Newman has made an acute psychological comparison.

Time to appeal to the vozhd.

Ivory poaching and the law of supply and demand

Ivory is valuable and this leads to poaching (which is another way of saying ‘seeking more supplies of rare ivory’).

So…

The US government had decided to reduce the global supply of ivory by destroying six tonnes of the stuff.

“These stockpiles of ivory fuel the demand,” said Dan Ashe, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “We need to crush the stores of ivory worldwide.”

And when supply is reduced, what happens to prices and therefore the motive to secure new supplies?

Surely if they wanted to reduce the incentive to poach ivory, rather than crushing their stockpile, they should have flooded the market with it. But of course Dan Ashe and his ilk work for governments and thus know nothing of this ‘economics’ malarkey.

Hi, I’m Bill Clinton and I’m here to help

“The insurance companies simply do not offer those plans that are being cancelled. And there’s no way they can reformulate them in the 30 days available. And anyway, killing off those plans was the whole point of the design change. They wanted to destroy “insurance” as a concept in health care and to move to something much more like pre-paid health care. Thus plans that had high deductibles (ie, catastrophic plans, aka insurance instead of assurance) had to be banned. This isn’t a mistake, an error, a flaw in the plan, it was one of the very points of it all.”

- Tim Worstall, commenting on calls by former US president Bill Clinton for efforts to be made to prevent insurance firms scrapping medical cover in the US, and hence save the face of the current Obama administration. When a politician as crooked as Clinton is seen trying to come to the rescue, you are, in non-technical terms, up shit creek sans paddling device. (Actually, given how things are going, Clinton’s era was a veritable golden age, although let’s not forget that his own “Hillarycare” reforms were shot down by the-then Congress.)

Noonan nails Obamacare

In my previous posting here I asked: What if there is a real collective disaster? Well, from what I’ve been reading, in the US of A now, they’ve got one. Not a day now goes by when I don’t thank the universe that I won’t have to navigate my way through Obamacare, or anything like it, any time soon.

I particularly liked this comment on it, from Peggy Noonan:

I bet America hopes the websites never work so they never have to enroll.

SQotD has already been taken, but had it not been …

I also liked the comment from a few days back (sorry don’t recall where) to the effect that the most secure thing about Obamacare is that not even the hackers are able to get into it long enough to steal anything.

A few years back, whenever one of us Brits here had a moan about the state of things in Britain, American commenters would chime in with invitations to us to give up on dear old doomed, doomed Britain, and come and live in the land of the free. There’s been less of that sort of commenting lately.

Trying to be the world’s tax collector is going to bite the US in the bum eventually

The Obama administration has performed the unique trick of alienating the majority of our most important allies, while at the same time causing America to be viewed as a patsy by its enemies…..The situation is bound to get worse now that the administration has taken the position that most financial institutions outside the United States are conspiring to help Americans and others avoid U.S. taxes and, thus, is attempting to require all of these foreign financial institutions to report to — and, in effect, become agents of — the Internal Revenue Service. A global revolt is brewing against the United States for being an international financial bully. The consequences of this revolt are likely to be extremely damaging and long-lasting to the nation

This is by Richard W Rahn, of the Cato Institute.

The United States has been threatening to criminally indict nonresident foreign bank executives for not complying with U.S. tax law, even in cases when the banks were not operating in this country or violating their own nation’s tax laws. This is causing great resentment, as one would expect. Each country has the right to its own tax and financial-privacy laws, whether the United States agrees or not.

Europe and most other countries prohibit capital punishment. What if other nations started indicting and imprisoning our federal or state government officials, including judges when they traveled outside of the country, for carrying out the death penalty? The point is, if the United States tries to enforce its laws on non-Americans working and living outside of the U.S. for acts that are not criminal in their home countries, it will put all Americans at risk if other countries start to retaliate, which is very likely, given the increased anger over U.S. actions.

And this:

The administration has the unmitigated gall to insult others by assuring foreign governments that all the sensitive financial information collected will be kept confidential. If the administration continues on this reckless and irresponsible course, the next president of the United States may well be forced to make an “apology” tour to most of the world’s countries for wrecking the world economy

I suppose it would be rather droll to watch the Light-bringer take to Air Force One to go on a tour grovelling to various nations for spying on them as well as putting the corrupt IRS in charge of the globe’s economy. But it isn’t going to happen under this administration, given the utter shamelessness of those involved in it. And yet those of us outside the US cannot afford to strike too many poses, since I have no doubt that given half a chance, countries in the EU, and the likes of Russia and China, would love to try to enforce extra-territorial legislation such as the US tax code if they could do so. America is not unique in this disastrous course; what is happening is that, given its still-large economic muscle, the US can do this. Most investment firms, for instance, will have some exposure to the US market to some degree and it is very hard to ignore the country. In some ways, though, the US drive, via legislation as described in the article, is a reflection in some ways of US weakness. The country is out of money, and is doing anything it can short of military invasion to get it (it could be argued that that country’s actions against Switzerland are bordering on force).

A small country behaving like this would be told, in so many words, to fuck off.