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]

Wonderful! Marvellous! Actually to be honest I truly do not give a damn

Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as homosexual!

Wonderful! Marvellous! Actually to be honest I truly do not give a damn.

It might be because it has nothing to do with his job. People can announce what they do with their genitalia all they want, just do not expect me act as if this is something I need celebrate. He can shag goats for all I care, just please, make iTunes better than the steaming pile of poop it became in version 12.

Should homosexuals be given grief? No. Now that we have settled that, please just STFU and run the company like a good little capitalist.

I wonder if all L’Oréal models are required to be vegetarians?

I wonder if all L’Oréal models are required to be vegetarians? Or are is the company actually ok with meat eating models just as long as someone else kill the animals for them? Just curious.

By the way, gazelles make for interesting biltong.

I rather like Kendall Jones

I have been watching with mild interest as a furore brews over a very pleasant looking US huntress called Kendall Jones, posing with a variety of African animals who have snuffed it. And so in this intolerant age in which we live, there are howls of outrage that she dares post pictures of her prey, with demands that facebook ban her.

One might be moved to speculate how many of the people complaining will then go a stuff their faces with factory farmed meat products produced in what are effectively concentration camps for animals, and yet see no irony in their indignant outrage.

No prizes for guessing where my sympathies lie…


Does class have to come into everything, including rock?

I suppose some people who loathe rock festivals and want to pretend how much they enjoy playing the “working class hero” line might sympathise with Bruce Dickinson, who is the front-man for group Iron Maiden, in refusing to play at Glastonbury for it being “middle class”. (He was privately educated, which is ironic.) I normally really like Dickinson (if not his music, at all) due to his being a qualified pilot and having fairly pro-free market, no bullshit, views. And he cannot stand Coldplay and all that dreary stuff, so he must be a good egg overall. But something about all this makes me think, “Fcrissakes, can we just take class out of it and enjoy the music on its merits? Does it always have to have some frickin’ socio-economic agenda?”

Here is the item:

Bruce Dickinson, who attended the private Sharrow Vale boarding school in Sheffield, said the band had no interest in playing there. He said: “In the days when Glasto was an alternative festival it was quite interesting. “Now it’s the most bourgeois thing on the planet. Anywhere Gwyneth Paltrow [the actress] goes and you can live in an air-conditioned yurt is not for me.”

Dickinson, who is also a qualified commercial pilot, said he was glad he was instead playing at hard rock festival, Sonisphere, at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire in July. “We’ll leave the middle classes to do Glastonbury and the rest of the great unwashed will decamp to Knebworth and drink lot of beer and have fun,” he said in an interview. Fellow heavy metal band Metallica are headliner’s at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, which starts next week and is attended by more 100,000 people. Tickets for the event, which sells out in minutes, are £210.

I can see his point about having a raving good time with cheap beer etc. Heck, I went to Le Mans last weekend to watch the 24-hour endurance motor race, which is the petrol-head equivalent of a rock festival with very, very fast cars blasting around a track in central France. There are lots of overweight middle-aged, lower-middle class guys (few women) who attend it, as well as the odd toff, group of rowdy youngsters and so on. I suspect even a few leftie-liberals go, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. Think of Essex man and his European/North American versions all having a great time away from the other half and the kids. My wife stays at home with her friends and would not go there for love or money. And of course it is gloriously loud, vulgar, a hymn to non-PCness. But I don’t worry about the class backgrounds of those who go and would be a pretty sad individual if that sort of issue coloured my enjoyment. This weekend, I am in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot to watch the horses, and it doesn’t get more “upper class” in a cliched way than that.

Can we please, just for once, take the class obsession out of every such event? Please. Pass the champagne.

Wishing friends of liberty an Easter…

…in which delicious rabbits and eggs feature prominently



My yearning need to comment…

The ever splendid Natalie, once described as a ‘ninja librarian’, linked to a couple simply marvellous articles in the Guardian, and I really really wanted to leave a steaming, quivering pile of comment on them both. Alas… both have had their comments closed. So thank goodness we have Samizdata so that I can still share my thoughts with the wider world.

I was particularly taken with the ever dependable S.E. Smith’s article: ‘The people are so beautiful!’ That’s enough of the colonial tourism

While you’re drooling over Indian women in saris at the produce market, are you paying attention to the women organising against mining companies and western intrusions in India? Are you paying attention to the women opposing tourism and fighting objectifying activities in their communities?

Does this not SCREAM OUT for comment? My gratitude to Natalie for finding this positively buoyant paragraph knows no bounds. And so this is what I wanted to say…

It is essential to prevent anything that decreases the places that the ‘socially aware’ can go to feel good about themselves, thus tourism and the money it generates must be stopped. It must be replaced with tax transfers of course, sent directly to the Swiss Bank Accounts of the Mercedes Benz riding local ruling elite.

It should be clear that if poor brown skinned people start thinking they can lift themselves out of poverty via free exchange with willing visitors, they might start concluding they do not actually need the wise councils of the decaf latte drinking western bourgeois left and their NGOs, or even the bourgeois left’s associated third world auxiliaries.

This must not be permitted to occur. Bad things happen when the uppity lumpen proletariat (also known as ‘cashed up bogans’) are permitted to take high carbon cheap flight holidays away from the supervising catchment areas of their Guardian recruited social working betters. Take your eyes of them for a second and they start admiring the local crumpet, not for their picket line organising skills but rather for their agreeable curves! That will never do!

Let that happen and the next thing you know, they start intermarrying and miscegenating, greatly complicating the whole carefully constructed ‘identity politics’ balancing act that keeps statists of both left and right in power in oh so many places.

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. In the same year there was an unexpected result in the Spanish general election, but that could be attributed to the the Madrid train bombings three days earlier and the cowardice shown by the Spanish people in their reaction to the attack.

In the years since then I have had the impression that polls have been getting ever more accurate. But my attention has wandered from politics so my impression might be wrong. In recent months the approaching Scottish independence referendum has rekindled the old flame and I have begun to follow the polls. If you want to know, I am of the Unionist persuasion, but it is one of those questions where my libertarianism isn’t telling me which way to steer; and in this post I am not arguing either way. I am just observing that the polls diverge and wobble much more widely than they seem to for either British or US general elections. Is that because it is a referendum rather than an election? I would expect the simplicity of a yes-or-no referendum to make prediction easier, but polling for the voting system referendum in 2011, while correct about the result, did significantly understate the vote to continue with the First Past the Post system, causing my heart to beat faintly once more to the happy rhythm of 1992.

Here is an interesting article by John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, entitled Scotland’s referendum: can we trust the polls? Mind you, despite being a professor of politics and running a referendum polling blog he does not actually say whether we can or cannot. Quite like old times.

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? ;-)

Weekend Food Porn…


Port soaked duck sausages, maple syrup coated bacon, duck eggs, orange tomatoes grilled with olive oil and fresh basil, baked beans with cracked pepper.

I am sure there is a libertarian angle to all that somewhere.

Scott Wiener on the art and the design of the pizza box

Incoming from Michael J:

God Bless Capitalism.

Read all about:

The Package Saver
The Table Box
The GreenBox
Hell’s Pizza Coffin Box
The Euro Lock Box
The VENTiT Box
Pizza Hut Hot Spot

Read more by buying the book.

The edges of the Old World

IMGP5516Kiev, Ukraine. January 2013

yr_kutaisifebKutaisi, Georgia. January 2013

IMGP5982Batumi, Adjara. January 2013

yr_abkhbridge_febInguri Bridge, January 2013

yr_abh1Sukhomi, Abkhazia. January 2013

yr_yerevanfeb5Yerevan, Armenia. February 2013

yr_alpsfeb38,000 feet. February 2013

yr_belgradeFebBelgrade, Serbia. February 2013

yr_sarajevo3marchSarajevo, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. March 2013

yr_eastsar1Istočno Sarajevo, Republic Srpska. March 2013

yr_vismarchVis Island, Croatia. March 2013

yr_aljadidaaprilAl Jadida, Morocco. April 2013

yir_warsawmayWarsaw, Poland. May 2013

yr_uhguli7Ushguli, Georgia. May 2013

yr_vistulaspitNowa Carczma, Vistula Spit. June 2013

yr_poland1Chełmno, Poland.  June 2013

yr_budapestjulyBudapest, Hungary. July 2013

yr_ljubjulLjubljana, Slovenia. July 2013

yr_bari_julyBari, Italy. July 2013

yr_albjulKsamil, Albania. July 2013

IMGP4681Kerkyra, Greece. July 2013

yr_greecealCorfu Channel. July 2013

yr_skopjejulSkopje, Macedonia. July 2013

yr_sanctSanctuary Cove, Australia. August 2013

yr_asEdinburgh, Scotland. September 2013

dargDarial Gorge. October 2013

yr_noravankNoravank, Armenia. October 2013

yr_gamlaGamla, Georgia. November 2013

yr_katowiceKatowice, Poland. November 2013

yr_sabrosanovSabrosa, Portugal. November 2013

yr_france2Saint-Gingolph, France. November 2013

yr_swizzVillars, Switzerland. November 2013


Inezgane, Morocco. December 2013

yr_laayoune1Laayoune, Western Sahara. December 2013


The Time of the Folded Arms

Last Friday, the latest Brian’s Last Friday came and went, very satisfactorily. Thank you Preston Byrne. Turnout was encouraging and included a couple of new young faces.

Over the summer, it was a bit of an effort rounding up a sufficiency of attenders. In the summer, people are doing other things, outside, away. But I have other thoughts about why this enterprise has been a bit of a struggle to get cranked up again, which is that new (even revived (maybe especially revived)) enterprises do tend to be a bit of a struggle.

Sometimes a new enterprise will catch fire immediately, in a good way I mean. But most require a period of, as it were, rubbing sticks together. Even overnight success seldom happens overnight.

Quite aside from all the particular difficulties associated with your particular enterprise, there is, when you start something new, another process that cuts in, which is that although all the human targets whom you want to be paying attention may want you and your new thing to do well, they will also fear that you and it won’t do well and that you will give up on it and very soon be enthusing about something else entirely, or about nothing at all. So, meanwhile, the best thing for them to do about your new thing, to begin with, is to ignore it.

It’s not that they hope that your thing will die when only a few weeks or months old, merely that they need to be sure that it probably won’t, and that if it does die it does so quickly and without fuss, like a very early rather than a later abortion. They need to know that you are serious about it, before they start contributing, even with such a small thing as showing up for a meeting every month or three. They need to know that you are irrationally committed to the venture, before, rationally, they join in. (Similar processes apply, I note, in the way that animal mating behaviour evolves. Often only what looks like a crazy amount of investment in display will attract commitment. Much of commerce also consists of seemingly excessive displays and commitments.)

Sometimes people put all of the above in the form of the claim that it takes time for your target consumers, attenders, investors, whatever, to hear about your new project or product. That’s often true, of course, but that’s not quite it. What really takes time is for them to start taking it seriously.

With many enterprises, the key question is: Are you willing to do all the work yourself? And to go on doing it? For an irrationally long time? Unless it’s yes across that board, others will fear to join in, because they will fear that they will be depended upon. If they even suspect that the plan is to dump most of the work onto them, as soon as they start joining in in numbers, then they’ll never join in the first place.

I call it the Time of the Folded Arms.

Oh yes, Brian’s Last Fridays. He’s doing them again, is he? Yes I think I heard. Mmm. Ask me about that in a year’s time, if it’s still happening.

All enterprises involve more effort, to start with, than you might think, even tiny enterprises like these meetings of mine. And since my meetings are so tiny, and so twentieth century, might I not soon reckon that the not-so-tiny effort involved in making them work well is excessive, and give up? I have to show that this isn’t so, for success to materialise.

Luckily, I had a very good speaker to kick things off in January, who pulled in a crowd big enough to crowd my small living room. And luckily, a core group of already quite regular attenders straight away found the meetings appealing, although happily it has never been exactly the same people every time. So, it has never been embarrassing. But there have times when I feared that it was about to be. For one particular evening, I called in some favours to ensure non-embarrassment. It turned out that I needn’t have worried about that night either, but I did.

By such means do I demonstrate my irrational commitment to success.

See also this posting from a while back, which proclaims that, following an entirely rational Brian’s Last Friday on November 29th, there will, somewhat irrationally, be another one on December 27th.