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]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Lootings are becoming a common occurrence in Venezuela, as the country’s food shortage resulted in yet another reported incident of violence in a supermarket—this time in the Luvebras Automarket located in the La Florida Province of Caracas. Videos posted to social media showed desperate people falling over each other trying to get bags of rice. One user claimed the looting occurred because it is difficult to get cereal, and so people ‘broke down the doors and damaged infrastructure.”

Robert Tracinski

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A meeting of minds

Famous actor Mel Gibson said, “Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”, but give him a break, he was drunk at the time. And he was sorry afterwards, like he always is.

Famous director Ken Loach was presumably sober and certainly unapologetic when he said, “If there has been a rise [in anti-semitism] I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.”

What a wonderful coming-together this ceremony yesterday must have been:

Cannes 2016: Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake wins Palme d’Or

Accepting the festival’s top prize from actor Mel Gibson, Loach said: “We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible.

“The world we live in is at a dangerous point right now. We are in the grip of a dangerous project of austerity driven by ideas that we call neo-liberalism that have brought us to near catastrophe.”

Gibson to present, Loach to receive this prize: the judges’ choice at the world’s leading film festival.

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“We should all know by now”

Bernard Thompson, in a piece for the pro-independence Scottish website Newsnet.scot, makes the case for repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act of 2012: Offensive Behaviour: the case for the SNP repealing their own act.

He writes,

Opponents of the Act – none more so than the campaign group Fans Against Criminalisation – have been vociferous in their condemnation of the legislation.

And they have been joined by a host of academics and media figures. Human rights group Liberty have expressed concern that: “the broadly framed offences in this Act will unnecessarily sweep up individuals exercising their right to free speech who have no intention to commit or incite a criminal offence and in the event do not do so.”

And

The Act does not simply ban “the singing of sectarian songs” but also: – “other behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive…

“…behaviour [that] would be likely to incite public disorder”, even if ‘persons likely to be incited to public disorder are not present or are not present in sufficient numbers’.”

We can offer all sort of examples of behaviour that might offend a “reasonable person” but, for brevity, we may note that the Act banned Frankie Boyle (or recordings of his material) from being played wherever a tenuous connection to a football match could be established. Not so rugby matches.

In defending the Act, after someone wearing a tee-shirt supportive of Palestine drew police attention, SNP MSP John Mason even went so far as to say that wearing a Yes badge should be considered unacceptable while watching football.

“We should all know by now expressing political views is no longer acceptable at football matches.”

Mr Mason was apparently not questioned on whether wearing a poppy could be considered to be expressing a political view, and we can only speculate as to how objecting to a poppy might be viewed.

When reading that quote from John Mason MSP the old cliché about the “Nanny State” came alive again.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Trigger Warning began by identifying two phenomena of the modern age. One is the free-speech fraud, whereby every politician and public figure makes ritualistic displays of support for free speech ‘in principle’, before adding the ‘buts’ that allow them to attack and undermine that priceless freedom in practice. These double standards were on graphic display across the Western world after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January 2015.

The other is what the book calls ‘the silent war on free speech’. It is silent not because its proponents are quiet – they are anything but. This is a silent war because few people (outside the online IS supporters’ club) will openly admit that they are against free speech. Instead, the silent war is posed not as an attack on freedom of speech at all, but as a worthy assault on the evils of hate speech and incitement. It is presented not as a blow against liberty, but as a defence of rights. For example, the right of students to feel comfortable in a campus Safe Space. And, most importantly, everywhere from the internet to the universities, the right to be protected from offensive words and images.

Mick Hume

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A BBC journalist is detained in brotherly North Korea

The BBC’s Japan Correspondent, Mr Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, has written about his (thankfully brief) detention in North Korea after covering the visit of three Nobel Laureates. Working for the Socialist Monster clearly did not impress the North Koreans.

He tells us that he was asked if he thought that Koreans spoke like dogs, after he wrote that a North Korean official ‘barked’ at him. He was asked if he thought Koreans were ugly, as he referred to an official as ‘grim-faced’. He could not have known that he would only be detained for 10 hours, which is a shorter time than some get in jail for not paying the TV licence and a resultant fine.

His ordeal developed with an ominous introduction:

Two of our old minders now appeared at the door.
“We are taking you to meet with the relevant organs,” they proclaimed. “All will become clear.”

It did not become clear, as his surreal interrogation showed (emphasis added).

“Do you think Korean people are ugly?” the older man asked.
“No,” I answered.
“Do you think Korean people have voices like dogs?”
“No,” I answered again.
“Then why do you write these things?!” he shouted.

I was confused. What could they mean? One of the articles was presented to me, the offending passage circled in black marker pen:
“The grim-faced customs officer is wearing one of those slightly ridiculous oversized military caps that they were so fond of in the Soviet Union. It makes the slightly built North Korean in his baggy uniform comically top heavy. “Open,” he grunts, pointing at my mobile phone. I dutifully punch in the passcode. He grabs it back and goes immediately to photos. He scrolls through pictures of my children skiing, Japanese cherry blossom, the Hong Kong skyline. Apparently satisfied he turns to my suitcase. “Books?” he barks. No, no books. “Movies?” No, no movies. I am sent off to another desk where a much less gruff lady is already looking through my laptop.”

It turned out that his interrogators construed his prose as ‘grim-faced’ = ‘ugly’ and took ‘barks’ literally. Odd really, as I assumed that they had eaten all the dogs in North Korea in the 1990s famine.

His theory as to why he was detained in quite simple:

Why did they choose to detain and expel me? My best guess is that someone high up decided my reporting had endangered the success of the Nobel laureates’ visit. Pyongyang yearns for recognition. Their trip was of great importance to the government. The three Nobel laureates were shown the very best of the country. They met its brightest students. Our coverage was a threat to that plan, and an example needed to be made.

He was very much luckier than any Korean and many Westerners detained in North Korea.

And those three Nobel Laureates’ visit? How smart do you have to be to better understand North Korea?

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A ‘Ghastliness’ of Luvvies implores us to Remain in the EU

As if Brexit the Movie needed a counter, news reaches us of what appears to be a co-ordinated campaign amongst the ‘Luvvies’ (an affectionate (?) term for those who act or have acted for a living etc.) to implore us to remain in the EU.

By their friends shall ye know them.

“Britain is not just stronger in Europe, it is more imaginative and more creative, and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.”

Well that is quite a remarkable claim. Would Shakespeare have produced better plays if the Spanish Armada had won? Have the Luvvies unleashed a Hellburner into the Leave campaign’s flotilla of arguments?

Who said anything about ‘walking away‘? Aren’t we quite happy where geography has put us?

But there is reputedly an economic angle:

Alan Johnson, chair of the Labour In for Britain campaign, said leaving the EU would mean higher tariffs on exports and digital and creative industries were “better off with the UK in EU” with access to the single market.

Good luck with tariffs on theatrical productions, and streaming.

A bit of balance in the article from Lord (Michael) Dobbs, a Conservative peer and author.

“Culture owes nothing to committees.
“Ancient Greece was the birthplace of our civilisation yet today, because of the EU’s appalling policies, streets that were once filled with the world’s greatest philosophers and playwrights are choked with desperate beggars and mountains of rotting rubbish.
“These are the realities of the EU. It’s failing. The dream is dead. We need to move on.”

I’m sure that Soviet and East German Culture owed a lot to the Central Committee, but let’s not go there.

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“Wherever this is”

The Shadow Europe minister, Pat Glass, has had a bad day. According to “Politics Home”:

A Labour MP has apologised after branding a voter a “horrible racist” while campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

Pat Glass, the Shadow Europe Minister, also said she was “never coming back” to Sawley in Derbyshire, after an exchange with a member of the public about immigration.

According to BBC Radio Derby, the unnamed voter had referred to a Polish family living in the town as “scroungers”.

Ms Glass told the station: “The very first person I come to was a horrible racist. I’m never coming back to wherever this is.”

Following criticism of her remarks, the MP said: “The comments I made were inappropriate and I regret them. Concerns about immigration are entirely valid and it’s important that politicians engage with them.

“I apologise to the people living in Sawley for any offence I have caused.”

The row has echoes of Gordon Brown infamously being caught during the 2010 election campaign branding Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” after she challenged him on immigration from Eastern Europe.

Echoes of Gordon Brown’s encounter with Gillian Duffy it might have, but this was not a case of an “open mic”. Ms Glass did not have Gordon Brown’s excuse: like Emily Thornberry, she chose to say what she did to a mass audience. [Later edit: Commenter Cal has pointed out that accounts differ on that point. She may have thought the interview was over. But as Cal also says, it’s revealing that she felt free to express herself in those terms to BBC reporters.]

I would guess that the insult to Sawley, and by extension to all those places like Sawley that parliamentarians never visit except when a vote draws near, is a bigger vote loser than insulting one man. She made it clear that the stops on her campaign trail mean so little to her that she could not even be bothered to remember their names. Anyone who has been embarrassed by forgetting a name might have some sympathy with that, until Ms Glass compounds the offence by making it clear that she regards her presence in such a place as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.

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Samizdata quote of the day

The academics see the rise of anti-politics as a problem. The inherent premise being that more politics will be good for us. Therefore the low popular opinion of politicians makes political action more difficult. Guido thinks this is a good thing, that the low esteem in which politicians are held is reasonable, people have made a more realistic appraisal of the nature of those who seek to rule over us. Politicians complain that they feel beset by the media and hostile voters because 72% of people see them as self-serving. Good. People should not be afraid of politicians, politicians should be afraid of the people.

Guido Fawkes

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Thought of the day…

It is quite possible the REMAIN side will win the vote regarding the UK’s membership of the sclerotic regulatory suicide club called the EU. This would be a horrendous outcome in my view, but there is something to keep in mind. The EU will be rocked by crisis in the future, that is a certainly, because it is intrinsically unstable. And that means even if the UK is still an EU member when that happens, the LEAVE/REMAIN vote can also happen again.

They have to win every single time.

We only have to win once.

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J K Rowling – echoing Voltaire

I have never read or taken an interest in Harry Potter, I only bought one such book as a requested present for a young family member, for which I apologise. However, J K Rowling, Labour donor, renowned author and Cybernat 5-minute hate subject, has gone up in my estimation as she stood up for Donald Trump’s right to visit the UK, echoing the attitude of Voltaire.

‘I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there.’
The best-selling author said that Trump’s freedom to make ‘bigoted’ remarks, ‘protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine.’
She warned that attempts to repeal any of those freedoms, however well intentioned, means ‘we have set foot upon a road with only one destination.’

We know what that destination is. She goes on.

Rowling explained that if she was to back a travel ban of Trump, because of his offensive comments, then she would have ‘no moral grounds on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the right for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes.’
‘If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand along tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification,’ she added.

Such a pity about the working, as my maths teachers used to say, but positive sentiments in favour of liberty and openness to debate are welcome and refreshing, albeit depressingly scarce in public debate.

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Cryptography is good

Stack Exchange is a site, or a collection of sites, where people post questions on various subjects, other people post answers and yet others vote on whether they like both the questions and the answers. High-voted posts “float to the top of the heap”. Here is a post from the “Information Security” stack exchange that recently “trended” as one of the most popular questions overall: How to explain that “Cryptography is good” to non-techie friends. And here are extracts from the two topmost answers in terms of votes:

“If lack of encryption allows FBI to catch terrorists, then lack of encryption allows criminals to loot your emails and plunder your bank account.”

The rational point here is that technology is morally neutral. Encryption does not work differently depending on whether the attacker is morally right and the defender morally wrong, or vice versa.

and

I would take their argument and replace “cryptography” with “locks and keys on our houses” and see if they still agree:

If more terrorists and criminals would be caught by not having locks and keys on our houses, I would not blame warrantless searches by government and companies in our homes.

I know little of cryptography, but those arguments seem good to me.

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The ‘Clownocracy’ – modern Britain on show

A couple of unrelated incidents, and a political milestone all in the news today appear to me to sum up the ascendency of the ‘clown class’ in modern Britain, where personal responsibility and personal dignity appear to be outmoded notions.

Firstly, after a bomb scare led to the abandonment of the last football match of the Premier League season between Manchester United and Bournemouth, it appears to have turned out that the realistic but inert suspect device found just before kick-off was in fact a practice bomb left by a company engaged to plant suspect devices as part of a security drill. But this was only found out long after the event and after the Army had carried out a controlled explosion on the device.

What part of counting them all out and counting them all in was too hard to organise? Did no one remember the drill?

Secondly, it appears that a senior woman police officer in Greater Manchester Police has been suspended after attending a conference on Women in Policing.

Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe has been suspended after the alleged “inappropriate behaviour” following a reported row with Superintendent Sarah Jackson.

The pair are said to have become embroiled in a “loud disagreement” over who had the “best boobs” while attending the Senior Women In Policing conference.

Quite how this would be a breach of police discipline, even if the alleged incident happened, is not immediately clear. However, ACC Sutcliffe has been reported as saying:

“I’ve nothing to say. This is an incredibly stressful time.”

Thereby immediately contradicting herself. And grammarians may ponder if she ought to have said ‘better boobs’ rather than ‘best’ as surely the comparative applies, rather than the superlative?

But if this is a stressful time, what on Earth are you doing in policing? Try something really stressful, like bomb disposal, like Lt-Cdr John Bridge GC GM and bar. He would have come in handy at Old Trafford yesterday.

And finally, Natalie Bennett is not going to stand for re-election as Leader of the Green Party when her term expires. So the party memorably described as ‘Communism for middle-class women’ will have a new leader. So the Schadenfreudefest of Ms Bennett being interviewed (very softly I think) on any topic may no longer be repeated so as to expose the Greens for what they stand for, banning anything that they can think of. This of course may be a negative development in terms of the political landscape, but why didn’t she either resign at the time or stand on her record?

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