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]

German border controls – things ain’t what they used to be…the ‘Dodendraad’

Recent events in Germany may have led some to ask if Germany still controls its borders. Well of course the German Federation does, it had an entire Border Police Force, the Bundesgrenzschutz to do that, and it has quietly been building a Federal Police Force by merging the Railway Police with the Border Police. However, the German Federal State does not seem to regard border control as that much of a priority.

It wasn’t always thus for German governments, we all know about the Berlin Wall, or the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart‘, an example of German bureaucracy showing some resolve as to who crosses its borders. The Wall was of course, the weak point in the East German border, although technically it did not divide the Germanies, but the Allied Occupation Zones from the Soviet Zone and from the DDR, and for most of the time, there was no point fleeing to comradely Poland or brotherly Czechoslovakia, but that changed in the late 1980s. At the Berlin Wall, some 138 deaths have been recorded, there may have been many more.

But there was a more deadly border defence put in place by a German state, Imperial Germany, it was called the Dodendraad, a lethal electric fence, the implementation of which left, by one estimate, around 850 people killed, other reports say around 2,000 – 3,000 people were killed, including shootings etc. at the fence. You may well say ‘It doesn’t quite sound German‘, and you would be right. It wasn’t even ‘protecting’ Germany’s border, but someone else’s. The Dodendraad (Wire of Death) was put along the frontier between occupied Belgium and the Netherlands in the First World War, as a means of controlling movement over the frontier. A frontier that had two peoples with effectively one language joined by trade and family, and separated by murderous force. The Wire did not cover all of the Belgian/Dutch border, as the Kaiser did not violate Dutch neutrality by seeking to place it around Baarle-Hertog’s many borders with Baarle-Nassau.

The task facing the Imperial Army was demanding, there were no Belgian power stations to power the 2,000 Volt wires along the over 200 miles of the fence, as Belgium (we are told) had no power grid at that time.

Around the clock there was a guard every fifty up to one hundred and fifty metres. At nighttime the number of border guards was doubled, there were also more patrols. German soldiers were ordered to fire immediately after every unanswered warming. Yet they were not allowed to fire in the direction of The Netherlands. The soldiers walked from one switching cottage to the next one, returning when they met with a colleague halfways.

For the poor border Belgians, life was grim:

Placing the wire of death made it impossible to enter The Netherlands. Border traffic was reduced. For inhabitants of the border region this was a painful ordeal as their friends and relatives very often lived in both countries. All traffic to The Netherlands was forbidden or required a strict German control. Whether one could visit a relative or a friend on the other side of the border, depended on the arbitrary decision of the local commander who might – or might not – grant a written (and paid for) permit to leave the country for just a few hours or days. Belgians had to leave the country through a specific gate and had to enter again through the same gate, subject to scrutinous control and registration. If one failed to return in time from a visit to e.g. a sick relative, one simply risked having family members imprisoned or you were forced to pay a heavy fine.

So even before the Germans sent Lenin to Russia to found and then electrify the Soviet Union, they had built a model death strip that many a socialist thinking about the good old days of East Germany could have been proud of.

Driverless cars have accidents, they aren’t anarchic enough!

Autonews reports that programmers working on driverless cars have found that having made them perfectly law-abiding, unable to commit traffic infractions, the result is that they have double the accident rate of driven cars, as they cannot cope with the anarchic driving of humans.

They obey the law all the time, as in, without exception. This may sound like the right way to program a robot to drive a car, but good luck trying to merge onto a chaotic, jam-packed highway with traffic flying along well above the speed limit. It tends not to work out well.

As the accidents have piled up — all minor scrape-ups for now — the arguments among programmers at places like Google Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University are heating up: Should they teach the cars how to commit infractions from time to time to stay out of trouble?

“It’s a constant debate inside our group,” said Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab in Pittsburgh. “And we have basically decided to stick to the speed limit. But when you go out and drive the speed limit on the highway, pretty much everybody on the road is just zipping past you. And I would be one of those people.”

Undaunted by collisions with reality, the diagnosis is that the problem is human driving.

Driverless vehicles have never been at fault, the study found: They’re usually hit from behind in slow-speed crashes by inattentive or aggressive humans unaccustomed to machine motorists that always follow the rules and proceed with caution.

Or might it be, as a libertarian might say, that government rules setting arbitrary speed limits create conditions where collisions are more likely?

Police advice on how to react to a terrorist attack -run, hide and tell…

In the UK, there is now some police advice in a video on what to do in the unlikely event of getting caught up in a terrorist attack. The first tip is to run, the next is to hide, phone the police if you can and say where you are, and wait for the armed police to turn up, and when they do, try not to get shot by them by waving your hands around too quickly.

For those unfamiliar with hiding from armed killers, the video suggests.

“The best hiding place with protection from gunfire will have a substantial physical barrier between you and the attacker.”

Another handy tip is:

“Insist others come with you, but don’t let their indecision slow you down,” the video says.

A fuller version of the video is here.

Well that’s made it all fairly clear then. The video is pretty much what you might have expected. As Bob Geldof put it in ‘I don’t like Mondays‘ ‘…And the lesson for today is how to die…’.

Truth be told, the advice is realistic given the legal situation in the UK. Do our friends in Texas have a different take on what to do?

‘No offence’ – in Northern Ireland…

Thirteen members of a Loyalist marching band, the Young Conway Volunteers, have had their criminal convictions for ‘doing a provocative act likely to cause public disorder or a breach of the peacequashed after the Public Prosecutor agreed not to oppose their appeals.

The non-offence occurred after the marching band found themselves marching in a circle outside St Patrick’s Church (Catholic) in north Belfast, whilst playing (allegedly aggravated by hostility) a tune alleged to have been ‘the Famine Song’ with the presumably catchy refrain ‘The famine’s over, why don’t you go home?‘, but what they said was the Beach Boys ‘Sloop John B‘ (reportedly an easy mistake to make, the basic tune is widely used). How this was proved at the original trial when they presumably were playing a tune on instruments and not singing was not made clear.

Although now acquitted, the band members agreed to be bound over to keep the peace for 2 years (not a conviction but a promise of good behaviour, breach of which could lead to a 7 day jail term).

Whilst this acquittal in the face of ‘hate legislation’ is certainly a good thing for liberty, I note the apologetic tone of the response of the Orange Lodge, which presumably has some connection to the band:

In a statement, The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast welcomed the successful appeal.

“We are glad that justice has finally been achieved for these band members who had been wrongly vilified by the media and nationalism,” it said.
“There never was an intent to cause offence.”

One might ask what on Earth were they marching for if not to ‘cause offence‘ (in the subjective sense) on 12th July by their celebration of the lifting of the siege of Londonderry? To say that there was ‘no intent to cause offence‘ appears to concede that offence was caused, rather than taken or even perhaps rejoiced in as an opportunity to throw the legal machinery of the State at the band.

Why not say that this legislation is oppressive, tyrannical and makes the law itself a politicised weapon, a sword, not a shield?

To me as an Englishman, the whole shebang seems utterly alien, the intolerance and fanaticism on both poles of the Ulster divide mark them as having more in common with each other than with insipid, fundamentally apolitical England. Whether or not that is a good thing for Northern Ireland, or for England, may in the long run be another matter.

Please dig up Oliver Cromwell – again

The late regicide and Lord Protector was dug up after the Restoration, along with some others, for a posthumous ‘execution’. Well perhaps it will be time again to dig him up and restore him as the Lord Protector, should Prince Charles succeed to the Throne.

The Heir to the Throne has weighed in on Syria, echoing Charlotte Church’s comments on Climate Change being a driver of the conflict.

“We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem because, it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move.
We’re now facing a real possibility of nature’s bank going bust

“And there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.”

Asked if there was a direct link between climate change, conflict and terrorism, he added: “It’s only in the last few years that the Pentagon have actually started to pay attention to this.

Quite, and who has been running the Pentagon in the last few years, and what was it that happened in Hama in 1982?

For me, it is not the stating of views but the sheer smug partisanship that makes it difficult to see the worth of a Monarch when accidents of history give us the prospect of this person as a King, even though he would almost certainly be a powerless cypher, like President Kallinin, who, weeping with grief and powerlessness, signed the papers to send his wife to the GULAG as Stalin looked on.

Perhaps the Queen’s sense of duty, and memories of the Abdication Crisis and her father’s unexpected and reportedly unwelcome advancement have given her a fear of openly meddling in politics that perhaps her son lacks. The pantomime horse of a Corbyn Prime Minister to a King Charles III (albeit I would hope that the PoW takes a more auspicious regal name, such as Cnut) might well lead to matters coming to a head.

Un nouvel ami

French police are now allowed to carry their guns when off duty. But why stop there? I would like to have seen more bullets going the other way in Paris. I don’t happen to agree with his recent posts about immigration, but Vox Day is wondering about how to defend against terror attacks, and it applies to all criminal shooting sprees. The goodies vastly outnumber them so the baddies should not have it so easy. The first step is to allow people to defend themselves. What I do not know is how willing to do it people would be.

Taranto – a kick in the balls for Mussolini – 75 years ago tonight

I doubt that many realise that it was on 11th November 1940 that the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy struck a blow at Royal Fascist Italy’s Navy that may well have slowed the march of the Axis powers in the Mediterranean and marked the first check on their advance after the fall of France. The operation, called ‘Operation Judgment‘, involved two waves of Fairey Swordfish biplanes (almost certainly the slowest surprise air attack of WW2 apart perhaps from the springing of Mussolini) attacking the Italian fleet at Taranto harbour on the ‘heel’ of Italy. The outcome was that the Italian surface fleet was severely reduced in capability, and the remnants moved further up the peninsula to Naples, thereby limiting their capability to interfere with British shipping in the Mediterranean and to re-inforce North Africa. British casualties were 2 aircraft lost, 2 men killed, 2 PoWs. The Italians lost one battleship, and had 2 battleships and 2 cruisers heavily damaged.

The raid had been planned for Trafalgar Day, 21st October, but was put back due to a fire, fittingly enough to Armistice Day. A Swordfish also went on to cripple the Bismarck, and later in the War they accounted for 22 U-boats. Not a bad record at all.

It has been speculated that this raid inspired the Japanese to use air power at Pearl Harbor, but perhaps emboldened would be a better term, after all, it is not as if Japan wasn’t gearing up for something by this time. The anniversary of the raid has attracted some comment, a piece here in the American Thinker (an organ of which I know little), but pointing out that it actually makes sense to attack your enemies, not to wait for them to attack you. I particularly liked this part:

Third, fight to win, and winning means destroying the power of those who hate us. Had the Second World War been, instead of a continuous struggle, a series of peace talks and ceasefires and diplomatic pussyfooting, it is certain that Hitler would never have lost. Democracies naturally loathe war and yearn for peace, but evil regimes who control their subject peoples can maintain war fever indefinitely.

You might think that that author had some people from the present-day in mind.

And for those brave men of the Fleet Air Arm, flying in open cockpits at night against a major enemy harbour, I shall raise a glass of prosecco tonight, to sink something Italian.

A welcome slap in the face from the Magistracy for the Education nomenklatura

A gentleman living on the Isle of Wight took his school-age daughter on holiday to Florida in term time. The child’s absence from school was noted…

The Local Education Authority issued him with a fixed-penalty notice for £60, for failing to ensure that his child attended school regularly. He refused to pay this ‘penalty’ (a bureaucratic alternative to prosecution). The ‘fine’ was doubled (by the bureaucrats) to £120, he refused to pay, so he was summonsed to the Magistrates’ Court by the authority to face a charge under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 (from John Major’s time).

Sure enough, he argued, my daughter wasn’t in school, big deal. The offence was not made out. Here is the wording in question.

Offence: failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil.

(1)If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence.

So, for those (many) parents harassed, threatened and fined by bureaucrats, they have been acting as if the law required total attendance at school.

The rule of law has prevailed, the offence was not made out, on the prosecution’s case, the case failed. What troubles me is that I find that, in England in 2015, refreshing.

But as Mrs Thatcher once said ‘Just rejoice at that news!‘.

Samizdata quote of the day

I believe current dogma is that men and women are absolutely and completely identical except men are bastards.

– Samizdata commenter “Ellen”

Choose your sex, choose your race, choose your weapons

I cannot now remember any more than the general sense of a comment that was deleted by the moderators to this Guardian article:

Rihanna calls Rachel Dolezal ‘a bit of a hero’

(Dolezal, you may recall, was a white woman who pretended to be a black woman. Rihanna is a popular musical performer.)

But the general sense of the deleted comment was similar to these comments, as yet unmolested:

Changing race pales into insignificance compared to changing sex, but everyone who thinks ‘correctly’ pretends the later is possible and that the result is absolutely valid; it’s about time a famous cis-African spoke up on behalf of trans-African rights.”

If you accept that Bruce/Caitlin Jenner is female I don’t see what’s wrong with accepting that Rachel Dolezal is black. Who are we to question her identity?”

Totally agree. I don’t get it – if we can choose our sex based on what we ‘feel’ we identify with, despite physical biology, then why not for race?”

If a man thinks he’s a woman and must henceforth be referred to as “she,” then why can’t a white woman be considered black if that’s what she thinks she is? Watching the Left grapple with this (cheering on one, while ridiculing the other) was an absolute treat.”

Being a libertarian is, well, very liberating. I do not have to contort myself to fit through the very oddly shaped hoop that demands acceptance of a man transitioning to a woman and demands condemnation of a white person transitioning to black. My exact attitude can remain in a state of Heisenbergian uncertainty. Everyone could be this happy if they could just drop the demand for public acquiescence. Yet it appears they cannot. The assertion that race is objective and gender subjective is so important to some people that an assertion to the contrary must be expunged by the Guardian‘s guardians of public decency. That gives me an idea. We can settle this once and for all in a manner acceptable to progressives and conservatives alike. Never mind having dissent expunged by the moderators, expunge it in blood. Let him, her or xem who will assert that he, she or xe will prove his, her or xir chosen gender and race upon the dead body of anyone denying it by the traditional means of trial by combat. That will get respect.

An unsolicited response – Barrister blows off Solicitor after ‘compliment’

A previously private exchange of messages on LinkedIn between a barrister*, Charlotte Proudman, and a solicitor*, Alexander Carter-Silk, disparate in age, has erupted into a ‘scandal’ after the barrister took umbrage at the solicitor’s comment on her photo, which he described as ‘stunning’. Not as stunning as her response, it seems, which we are told, set off a ‘Twitter storm’.

Miss Proudman said she found the message “offensive” as she was LinkedIn for “business purposes” and not “to be objectified by sexist men”.

She said: “The eroticisation of women’s physical appearance is a way of exercising power over women.
“Unacceptable and misogynic behaviour. Think twice before sending another woman (half your age) such a sexist message.”

It appears that she ‘connected’ with him on LinkedIn, he viewed her profile and made the offending comment, and she appears to be reporting Mr Carter-Silk for professional misconduct.

The Telegraph has piled in with some allegations about Ms Proudman having what one might call an ‘agenda’, being a member of the Fabian Society, and a feminist opposed to equality with men.

Earlier this year she used the left-wing website Left Foot Forward to explain that she was a campaigner for feminism, not equality, because: “Men live and work in a brutal society, which is maintained through stratified social order based on ritual humiliation, gentleman’s clubs, fights, rites of passage, sexism, and banter.
“When women enter the male realm whether law, politics, or a construction site, they find themselves in a repugnant world in which their only means of survival is by undergoing a fundamental transformation leaving them with little opportunity to make any change.”
If men and women were truly equal, she said, “men’s genitals would be sliced up” in the same way that some women are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
She added: “Equality is harmful to women and most men, as they are required to replicate behaviours that are degrading and dehumanising.”

Some have suggested that the barrister may have ruined her career, after all, barristers work in the main comes from solicitors, and the message one might take from this is that if you offend Ms Proudperson, she would have no hesitation in seeking to a) disregard any convention as to privacy and confidence in communications and b) seek to publicise your wrong-doing as widely as possible, as part of her ‘jihad’ against misogyny. However, it should be pointed out that she was merely seeking to campaign against the ‘objectification’ of women by men, and no one should conflate private and public, indeed her Twitter feed appears to recognise the risk she runs, and frankly I suspect that she will be the ‘poor man’s Mrs Clooney go-to right-on lawyer of choice’ for a while, or perhaps in a while when she actually starts practising.

Will endure misogynistic backlash that accompanies calling out sexism in hope it encourages at least 1 woman2feel she doesn’t need 2 take it

Ms Proudman’s rationale for connecting with the solicitor appears to have been to make professional contacts, even though she is not actually practicing at the Bar as she is doing a Ph.D at Cambridge on law, er, female genital mutilation.

And there I was thinking that LinkedIn was for recruitment consultants to fish around for prospective clients.

Now what if the solicitor accuses the barrister of sexism, after all, would she have reacted in the same way and taken the same steps had a woman of a similar age and standing to the man provided such a comment on her photo? Not to have done so would smack of ‘disparate treatment’, a cardinal sin to the true SJW.

Is this not an indication that Twitter is, as someone called Stewart Lee said: “The Stasi for the Angry Birds Generation“?

And Lenin was reputed to have said ‘We must teach the children to hate.‘. A lesson that appears to have been well-taught and well-learned.

* For those unfamiliar, the English legal profession is divided into barristers, who do in the main courtroom advocacy and specialist advice, and solicitors (who, unlike Mr Carter-Silk) in the main solicit barristers for their clients and pay them to argue a case in court, and do the preparation work for cases etc.

Eric Raymond needs you

Eric Raymond is the reason I’m here. He’s the guy I found while learning about Linux who gave a name to my vague sense of injustice at having to pay tax and taught me that a libertarian is a thing. Googling “libertarian UK” after reading his web site is how I found Samizdata, and found out that there were libertarians on my doorstep. He taught me that anarcho-capitalism is a thing. And that it’s okay to like guns. And that it does not make me some sort of lefty for enjoying messing about with Free Software. He explained the economics of it and gave it a better name: Open Source. And he’s out there propagandising, and making some of the software that keeps civilization ticking and not being hacked. And his code is all over the place and you probably use quite a lot of it every day.

But he has a problem.

First, Obamacare killed my wife’s full-time job and the health insurance that came with it. Then Obamacare drove personal health insurance costs into the stratosphere, so I now pay more per month on it than I do for my mortgage. $973 a month is what it costs us to go to a doctor, which is ridiculous and every politician who voted for this disaster should be hung from a lamppost. Until it’s repealed or collapses, though, the money has to come from somewhere.

You get more of the things you encourage. I think ESR needs to be encouraged. And luckily, you can, via his Patreon page.

Also, on his blog post about Patreon, there is some interesting discussion about Obamacare:

Petro says:

People are shocked when I tell them what the “bronze” plan costs a family of 4 for insurance that has insane deductibles (it looks like they went up to 5k/person 10k/family) they are shocked.

PapayaSF adds:

It’s darkly ironic that one of the original arguments for Obamacare’s outlawing of inexpensive “junk insurance policies” was that many had deductibles that were “too high.” So now we’ve got expensive policies with high deductibles that are too high…

ESR explains his wife’s job loss:

The short version is that Obamacare mandates have added so much to an employer’s overhead for anyone full-time that the full-time job is being effectively abolished. Even professionals like lawyers are being fired to be replaced with contractors who have to buy their health insurance a la carte.

It’s a double whammy – first Obamacare destroys secure employment, then it saddles people living hand-to-mouth with ruinously high costs. Our health-insurance premiums are higher than our mortgage.