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]

A Poem of Two Chancellors

Regular commenter Niall Kilmartin started writing this poem as part of the Erdogan poetry competition but found his thoughts turning in a different direction:


        A Poem of Two Chancellors

Though Erdogan is just the man to merit mocking poetry,
Another leader claims my pen, a graver cause is troubling me:
I write of Merkel’s acts because they do not cause me levity.
Oh Angela, was Adolf’s far-from-noble dream once also thine?
I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein
(And these days PC tells the Jews it’s hate speech if they dare to whine).
“The best man for the job? Why, choose a woman!” – that’s a bitter joke
When calling doubters ‘Nazis’ is the means by which you meanly cloak
What kind of ‘refugees’ are brought by all this ‘kindness’ you invoke.
We know they’re really migrants since we see they mostly are young men.
We know young men commit most crimes in any group – it follows, then,
That their rate (high enough at home), must here be multiplied again.
Think you, if most of them don’t kill, it will not be like World War Two?
(When, as you know, most Germans did not personally kill a Jew;
When most are scared or hate-filled, acts of killing only need a few.)
Now each one missed by Hitler will be hissed or spoken of likewise
By migrants who care not if they are heard by one, percentage-wise
from that subgroup who won’t just talk but will make sure that that Jew dies.
At least I can be glad most Jews you rule can flee abroad (absurd
that they’ll be refugees for real – and so will be by you ignored).
A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.
Oh Angela, was Adolf’s far-from-noble dream once also thine?
I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein.


These two lines made the poem for me:

A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.

Over-fearful? I would be glad to think so. I usually do think so. But the quickest of internet searches throws up recent news stories like this one from Spiegel Online International, “Skepticism of German-Israeli Friendship Growing in Berlin”, and this one from Deutsche Welle (DW), “Immigrants Beyond the Law”. The latter story says that migrants from warzones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are not particularly criminal but says, ‘It is a completely different story with immigrants from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia though. “Activity quotas” for North Africans are no less than 40 percent.’ Wow. You would never guess from the strapline and first few paragraphs of the DW story that it contained such a statistic as that. Such evasion is typical and does much to increase mistrust.

Discussion point: Is the Klingon language copyrightable in US law? Should it be?

As linked to by two different posters at Instapundit and semi-reformed Trekkies everywhere, Paramount Pictures, in the course of a claim against the makers of a film set in the Star Trek universe, are claiming to own the copyright on the Klingon language. Thirty years ago linguist Marc Okrand was hired to take the snatches of made-up Klingon dialogue in the early Star Trek movies and flesh it out into a useable language. This he did. The idea took off and all sorts of people since then have learned Klingon to some degree for fun and intellectual stimulation.

A press release from the Language Creation Society says,

We firmly believe that conlangers should receive credit for their work. Specific works describing a conlang, such as the Klingon Dictionary, Living Language Dothraki, or Ithkuil website are creative works in their own right, entitled to full legal protection. So are works that are in a conlang, such as Klingon Hamlet, Esperanto poetry, Ithkuil music, and Verdurian stories.

However, a constructed language itself is not protected, and should not be. Copyright law is simply too blunt a tool for this.
Allowing copyright claims to a language would create a monopoly on use extending far beyond what is needed to protect the original work or to claim credit for the language’s creation. The potential threat of a lawsuit for merely using a conlang, or creating new works to make it more accessible, has a chilling effect; it makes conlangers, poets, authors, educators, and others less likely to build on and enjoy each others’ work, to the detriment of conlanging in general.

We believe that everyone has the right to use any language — including conlangs — without having to ask anyone’s permission. We hope that our participation in this lawsuit will help to make this belief into legal precedent.

Marc Randazza’s diverting amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Language Creation society is here.

I’m not going to do it. I AM NOT going to do it. I am not going to say “Qapla’!”

Except I just did. You will have deduced that I am sympathetic to one side of the case. But there is another. Property rights matter. Why should a bunch of flakes and dilettantes reap what another sowed? Why shouldn’t they pay a fee, in person or under licence, for the privilege of using Klingon just as they pay, directly or indirectly, to use a computer program? Let’s discuss this like Klingons. Which need not necessarily mean with a bat’leth.

Bill Whittle slays it

I have met Bill, and he is splendid chap to put it mildly. But I clearly need to watch him more closely because a few days ago he revealed himself to be a man of hitherto unguessed talents. He is a… rapper!

Do not forget what today is…

Ten of these

yir_toledo1Toledo, Spain. January 2015

yir_riga2Riga, Latvia. January 2015

yir_athens3Athens. Greece. February 2015

yir_baalbekBaalbek, Lebanon. February 2015

yir_parisParis, France. March 2015

yir_brusselsBrussels. March 2015

yir_liege22Liege, Wallonia. March 2015

yir_nm12Kelmis, Former condominium of Neutral Moresenet. March 2015

yir_ned33Vaals, Netherlands. March 2015

yir_aachen8Aachen, Germany. March 2015

yir_eupen7Eupen, German Speaking Community of Belgium. March 2015

yir_PomerolPomerol, France. April 2015

yir_krakKraków, Poland. May 2015

yir_slovRužomberok, Slovakia. May 2015

yir_lithuaNida, Lithuania. June 2015

yir_leipajaLiepaja, Latvia. June 2015

yir_szezSzczecin, Poland. June 2015

yir_hering3Heringsdorf, Germany. June 2015

yir_hamburgBad Segeberg, Germany. July 2015

yir_brussels2Brussels. July 2015

yir_antwerpAntwerp, Flanders. July 2015

yir_BaarleBaarle-Nassau/Barle Hertog, Netherlands/Belgium. July 2015

yir_bredaBreda, Netherlands. July 2015

yir_vvVama Veche, Romania. August 2015

yir_bulgDurankulak, Bulgaria. August 2015

yir_norwayVikøyri, Norway. August 2015

yir_targuTârgu Mureș, Romania. September

yir_ediEdinburgh, Scotland. September 2015

yir_berlinTempelhof, Berlin, Germany. October 2015

ir_iomRamsay, Isle of Man. October 2015

yir_stmalo2St Malo, France. October 2015

yir_istanbulIstanbul, Turkey. November 2015

yir_slov1Tatranská Lomnica, Slovakia.November 2015

yir_malmoMalmo, Sweden. December 2015

yir_copen1Copenhagen, Denmark. December 2015

yir_shang2Shanghai, China. December 2015

Not much time for blogging


I am away in foreign parts and thus there may be delays in moderation and content…

Lee Jussim on stereotypes

Claire Lehmann describes some of the work of contrarian social psychologist Lee Jussim:

It appears that descriptive stereotypes are a crutch to lean on when we have no other information about a person. When we gain additional insights into people, these stereotypes are no longer useful. And there is now a body of evidence to suggest that stereotypes are not as fixed, unchangeable and inflexible as they’ve historically been portrayed to be.

So, it would appear that “we” make use of stereotypes exactly as I make use of stereotypes (or as I try to), as crude first approximations, rather than as the last word. Bigotry, it has always seemed to me, means not having no prejudices, but rather having prejudices which you are unwilling to alter, when faced with circumstances which do not fit your prejudices. And it seems that “we” think like that also.

Good to know. My thanks to Bishop Hill for telling me about this piece.

Having written all of the above (apart from the thanks to Bishop Hill), I see that the previous posting here is also about stereotyping.

And how about adding a freehold property qualification too…

In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

The idea, in those Vietnam War years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.

But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.

This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good.

Glenn Reynolds

Well you did ask for this!

This is just too good not to share :D


So… will the extraterrestrials be Ferengi?

When the aliens stop trifling with crop circles, bumpkin abduction, and indelicate probes and finally introduce themselves to the rest of humanity, will they turn out to be partisans of central planning, interventionism, or unhampered markets?

B.K. Marcus

Because things are far too serious at the moment…

Here I am, sitting in Arkham, eating pungent octopus salad left overs and looking at the wife as she gets uglier and more fish-like by the day, pining for her home town of Innsmouth. Meanwhile, across the ocean, all my limey chums seem to be sharing a collective freak-out over dodging an Ed Miliband shaped bullet. It is all depressingly… serious.

So I was going to write something really interesting about Japan, just to change the subject…

… and when I remember what I was going to write, I will let you know.

Wrong, wrong, wrongety-wrong, wrongbert, wrongble and wrong

A little over a year ago I asked the following question:

Has the day come when election polls are nearly always right?

Famously, in the last US presidential election, Nate Silver correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. His prediction for the election before that was correct for 49 out of 50 states.

Both times, I had hoped it would turn out otherwise. My hopes had been a little higher than they should have been because of the residual glow from the Shy Tory factor, first exhibited to a dramatic extent in the 1992 UK general election and still apparent, though in lesser degree, for several elections after that. I had known about that factor in my guts before that election, from listening to people on the tube, and had correctly guessed the final result would be more Conservative than the polls claimed. As the results came in I did not rejoice that the Government would be Conservative, but I did rejoice that the Chattering Classes had been confounded, their bubble burst, their conversational hegemony broken open and their flary-nostrilled noses put out of joint. Yeah.

Unfortunately not-yeah since then. I haven’t eaten a hearty post-election breakfast with schadenfreude sauce about the polls for many a year now. George Bush winning in 2004 was splendid fun, of course, but it was no great surprise to anyone who had been paying attention. The polls had given him a consistent small lead for months before the election.

Betteridge’s law of headlines strikes again. That day had not come. The polls in the General Election of 2015 were wrong, wrong, wrongety-wrong, wrongbert, wrongble and wrong.*

As was I, but least I had the nous to put in a question mark.

So, elections just got interesting again. Goody! But none of the articles I have yet seen adequately explain why the Shy Tory effect was successfully allowed for by the pollsters in the UK General Elections between 1992 and 2015, only to burst forth again now, nor why political polling in the US has generally managed to factor in Shy Republicans just fine. Except for the 2014 midterms.

The one place where the UK polling companies did fairly well this time round was Scotland, although they still underestimated the scale of the SNP’s triumph. Wishful thinking led me to suppose that the estimates being chucked around of 48 seats for the SNP were exaggerated; in the event they were too cautious. Going back to 2011, it is part of Scottish Nationalist mythology that the victory of the SNP in the Holyrood election of 2011 was completely unpredicted by the polls. However the very last polls were quite close to the actual result when it came to the constituency vote, but much less close when it came to the regional vote in the Scottish Parliament’s semi-proportional voting system. Probably the polls recorded a shift of opinion in the last few weeks of the campaign, which is all you can ask of them. When you think about it, polls cannot predict anything; the people who look at them do that. The final polls for the Scottish referendum were out by a not-bad 5% or so, in the usual direction of underestimating the small-c conservative side.

All in all, a British or American polling company attempting to sell its wares to interested political parties or news organizations on May 6th 2015 could have made a fair case that they were on top of the Shy Tory problem. So what happened on May 7th? What will happen on November 8th 2016, and will we have any idea beforehand?

*This is funny but nothing to do with this post. Americans and people under 50: don’t ask.