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]

Something (to talk about) for the weekend

Lists of wisdom culled from half a lifetime of banging around doing this and that are all the rage on the Internet just now, and why not? They can be a good laugh, and coming from libertarians they can even smuggle bits of the libertarian meta-context into the mainstream of polite society. So here are some of my bits of attempted wisdom of this sort, in no particular order:

(a) The importance of a country is inversely proportional to the splendour of its postage stamps.

(b) Nothing ever happens in rooms with matching chairs.

(c) Nothing guarantees the ruin of a large institution more certainly than the construction for it and by it of an architecturally magnificent custom-built headquarters. (I got this many years ago from a book by the famous Professor C. Northcote “work expands to fill the time available for its completion” Parkinson. But two questions: What was the Enron HQ like? And: How come Microsoft is still staggering onwards?)

(d) Speculative booms spike and begin their plunge downwards at the exact moment that the rule which all the suckers were following (“being a Lloyds name is a license to print money” (see (c) above), “you’ll never lose if you buy bricks and mortar”, “get your money into dotcoms, mate”, etc.) gets to me.

(e) Movies advertised with quotes in big letters from movie critics, rather than the names in big letters of movie stars, are best avoided.

(f) Any movie described by a movie critic as containing no ideas is packed with ideas, but of a kind that the movie critic disapproves of.

(g) “Courageux” is the French for stupid.

(h) Anything described as “the new rock and roll” is not now very big, and is about to get smaller.

(i) “Interesting” is English for stupid. (Well maybe not always, but it is when my mother says it.)

(j) Bad food is bad for you. Good food is good for you. To avoid doing bad to yourself when you eat bad food, eat an equal amount of good food, thus cancelling out the badness of the bad food. (This one is untrue. Sorry about that (see (m) below).)

(j) Whenever an “alternative” view is promised, it will be the same damn view as the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that …

(k) Whenever anyone says “there is no question of ” whatever it is, it means that there is and someone has just asked it.

(l) Actually following your dream is fine, but avoid using these words out loud. “Following your dream” is American for stupid.

(m) “Sorry” is the English for, well, pretty much anything an English person happens to be thinking. It seldom means that he’s sorry (see (j) above), although it does sometimes.

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