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]

Il est tout au sujet d’huile

Those of you who still think that US foreign policy is a tool of commercial oil interests, might be advised to look away now:

The former president of Elf Aquitaine testified Monday that the French oil giant paid about $5 million to French political parties during his leadership — including to President Jacques Chirac’s former party.

Loik Le Floch-Prigent said nearly all the money went to Chirac’s former party until then-President Francois Mitterrand, a Socialist, demanded the cash be spread to both sides of the political spectrum. Chirac, a conservative, succeeded Mitterrand as president in 1995.

But hang on a minute, I thought it was George Bush who was supposed to be up to his neck in oil industry slush funds??!!

“We absolutely needed French politicians who supported us,” Le Floch-Prigent testified. “There were politicians who didn’t want to favor Elf … We had to keep them quiet, to have them on our side.”

But surely European politics is driven by high-minded ideals of social justice? I don’t know, it’s all too much, it really is. How many more cherished myths are going to be put to the sword by reality?

Good news! The casualties are mounting

…no, that does not mean what you think.

The casualties in question are Fox New Channel reporter and all round buffoon Geraldo Rivera, who has been booted out of Iraq by the military for the committing the cardinal sin of any war correspondent… he revealed sensitive information live on television. It is interesting how the CCN article I spotted this in buries the fact en-passant at the bottom of a much larger article. My Grandmother had pretty much the perfect summation of our ol’ buddy Geraldo back in December 2001.

The other casualty is Peter Arnett who has been fired by NBC/MSNBC for being a ‘useful idiot’.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the world is back running in well oiled grooves… now if only the same thing would happen to the odious Robert Fisk.

Two perspectives…

This has been posted on the Command Post:

British backtrack over general

We had a misidentification of the rank of the officer concerned,” Group Capt. Al Lockwood said on Monday. “What I can say today is – and can confirm – that we have five senior Iraqi officers as prisoners of war.

And this on the Inn of the Last Home

British Backtrack Over General

In related news, a Moroccan troop transport backed over a colonel today, leaving him with multiple injuries and contusions. It was believed monkeys were at the wheel of the transport which was last seen heading to the sea to pick up some errant dolphins. A visiting foreign ambassador was quoted as saying, “When will monkeys ever learn to use rear-view mirrors?”.

France has lodged a protest with the UN.

I just love the blogosphere…

Samizdata slogan of the day

There is an old Arab saying I’m hearing more and more from Iraqis, I will side with my brother against my cousin, but with my cousin against the foreigners.
– Paul Wood on BBC Reporters’ Log, 11:51GMT

Little Bobby Fisk

A true story about Little Bobby Fisk that deserves extensive spreading across the blogosphere.

Many years ago, in the mists of pre-history, or as they say here in Australia, back when the blacks were bad, a little boy called Robert Fisk thought he’d become a journalist and tell the truth to the world. You and I know that never happened, and time is running out for him to repent his sins. To show that he’s always been an arrogant, self-opinionated prick, I present the following – Robert Fisk and the Magic Roadblock.

Full story here, thanks to Tom Paine of Silent Running.

The American Voice in Britain

One of the strangest things to have happened to twentieth century Britain is that pop music done by British people is almost all of it now sung in an American accent. It really is very peculiar to watch, say, the Frank Skinner TV show here in Britain, and to watch a man (Frank Skinner) as English as the House of Lords or an Ealing comedy sing the song “Fun Time Franky” as “Fern Tum Frankair”. Then he finishes singing the song, and goes back to talking in his normal midlands English voice, and no one present, not a single solitary person, thinks that this is in the slightest bit odd. Me, I find it very odd indeed.

There are a very few, very eccentric British pop singers who sing with their real accents. The Proclaimers (“I would walk five hundred miles …”) not only hailed from Scotland. You could actually tell this by listening to them sing.

Many Irish singers sound Irish, as opposed to American, although the Irish accent is well on the way to being American, to my English ears. For example that loathsome humanoid who sings at the front of The Pogues, the one whose teeth make my teeth look like Julia Roberts’ teeth – he sings like an Irishman rather than an American. Or he used to. I like to think that he’s dead now.
→ Continue reading: The American Voice in Britain

Protestors with a porpoise

The tranquil, family atmosphere of ‘Ocean-World’ was rudely interrupted today as ‘peace activists’ stormed the aquarium during the dolphin display in what they described as ‘direct action against war’.

Dressed as Japanese Fisherman and waving tuna nets, the protestors surrounded the dolphin tank chanting “baby-killers” and “No attack on Iraq” as the performing dolphins, Cocoa and Buddy, were ushered back into their pen by their handlers.

Eventually, security guards managed to remove the protestors from the aquarium enabling the show to resume.

One of the protestors said afterwards:

“We’re against dolphins, man…cos, like…dolphins are…like…stupid”.

The dolphins handler confirmed that neither of the animals was in any way harmed and that they would both still be available to assist the military if required.

Keep the home pyres burning

I want to know how long Tony Blair reckons on dragging out this unjust and illegitimate war of aggression?

I am speaking, of course, about his war on British prosperity:

One in five firms is planning to get rid of staff to help pay for new rises in National Insurance Contributions, according to a business lobby.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that small and medium-sized companies would be hardest hit with one-third saying they expected job cuts as a direct result of the rise.

After years of being softened up by the constant bombardment, we are now about one week away from the ‘big push’. The government has maintained its tactic of destroying key strategic targets such as industry, manufacturing and finance.

“The Chancellor could not have picked a worse time to introduce this increase,” said BCC President Isabella Moore.

“Those companies that are not looking to cut jobs are intending to cut wages, investment or research. Their only other option is to increase debt.

“This could be the final nail in the coffin for some businesses,” she warned.

And quite right too! The British public simply cannot be trusted with these Weapons of Mass Distribution!

About one in 10 firms told the BCC they had considered or were considering relocating their operations to another country.

As predicted, large sections of the enemy forces are deserting. After all, who wants to fight just so they can keep some of the money they work hard to earn?

When asked what the government could do to improve productivity in the UK, most said that tax and regulation should be reduced.


Meanwhile, a Whitehall spokesperson has denied reports that the government intends to continue prosecuting this war until the besieged British taxpayers realise that they cannot possibly win and just surrender en masse.

E-mail and culture

Nigel Meek is a British libertarian, a Samizdata reader and an executive officer with both the Libertarian Alliance and the Society for Individual Freedom.

I work in a state-sector Further Education college in the London suburbs. Most of our students are 16 to 19 year old full-timers taking A-levels or vocational equivalents, but we also have a large number of part-time adult students, mostly doing evening classes of one sort or another. We have a fair number of overseas students, and indeed enough of them to warrant the College employing a part-time International Students’ Officer.

One of my jobs is as the first point of contact with people submitting general email enquiries to the College. Mostly these are requests for prospectuses or other straightforward matters that I can deal with myself. Sometimes I have to pass them on to others.

It took me some time to realise – or at least to hypothesise – how illustrative emails were about the differing cultures that people come from. Emails from youngsters wanting a full-time prospectus are nowadays often written in mobile phone text language and/or are simply semi-literate. Emails from adults wanting a part-time prospectus are often just old-fashioned letters – “Dear Sir/Madam, blah blah blah, Yours faithfully” – sent via a new medium. The point is that in either case they tend to be quite short and direct: This is who I am, where I live, and what I want.

Emails – and indeed still the occasional letter – from overseas are often very different. And by ‘overseas’ I mean a very limited number of countries that between them supply the majority of such enquiries to the College: Pakistan, Nigeria, and The Gambia. The most noticeable feature about them is the quite astonishingly flowery, sycophantic, and obsequious tone in which they are often written. “Esteemed Sir, I have heard about your outstanding institution from many sources… It will fulfil a dream for me to come there… I would be truly honoured if you would provide me with information… Your humble servant…” I make this up by way of example, but believe me, it does not begin to do justice to how some of them are written.

At first, I thought that this was merely a rather quaint, if excessive, courtesy. It took me some time to consider that there might be another interpretation, and one that if correct offers an insight into the nature of the societies from which the authors come – and therefore also about our own. → Continue reading: E-mail and culture

Even Arab News says that Iraqis are terrified of Saddam.

This is amazing, considering the source. Arab News war correspondent Essam Al-Ghalib reports that Iraqis who chanted pro-Saddam slogans told him privately that they only did so out of fear of the massacre that would follow if Saddam’s rule were to return to their area. He says he heard the same sentiments many times.

Kudos to Essam Al-Ghalib for reporting things that will make him very unpopular at home. His willingness to do so is a good sign for the future of the Arab press.

I found the link in Joanne Jacobs’ blog. If the permalink is bust, try the general link here.

The sun shines in Dublin – Ireland 6 England 42 – Grand Slam England

That’s not just a metaphor, let me tell you. Many is the England rugby team to have been ground into the mud of Ireland. After a several happy games scampering about in the sunshine of southern England, or Wales, or even in Paris, England then go to Dublin, try to carry on throwing the ball about, drop a few scoring passes, start to worry, drop some more passes, encourage the crowd, who yell at the Irish team, who then score an interception try, or a breakaway, or some such oddity, and suddenly it’s only five more minutes left and Ireland are leading by a handful of points and that’s how it stays.

But not today. The sun is shining, and England are leading by 30-6, three tries to nil. Ireland may get one try, or even two. They won’t get four. The England defence looks impenetrable. Grand Slam England. Ireland have been good for longish periods, but England have been better.

I’ve been taping it, and pacing about chez moi doing displacement activities. How did all that washing up get done?

Yep. There she blows. Greenwood scores an interception try. Ireland 6 England 35. Greenwood actually ran away from the posts, to make the conversion kick for Jonny Wilkinson harder and Wilkinson just missed it. Greenwood is like that. He often thinks about how to celebrate before actually scoring, and I remember England’s Napoleonic little scrum-half Matt Dawson giving the giant Greenwood a severe talking-to for being a bit exuberant when celebrating another try before he’d completed the formality of actually scoring it.

And in the middle of all this, my brother pops by with some books he thought I might like to have, including – wonder of wonders – a copy of Terence Kealey’s The Economic Laws of Scientific Research, which I have been seeking vainly for months, ever since I heard Kealey speak at a conference. I don’t remember telling Pete I wanted this. It’s a beautiful day in London town.

England are pressing and look like scoring again. Yes! Try by Dan Luger. Five tries to nothing. Unbelievable. “Nobody said it would be a stroll like this, but England have strolled.” 40-6. Five-nil. And Wilkinson won’t miss this conversion. No he doesn’t. Final whistle. Ireland 6 England 42. Now I can watch the tape of it, secure in the knowledge of a happy ending, like a Meg Ryan movie. Moral: don’t count your chickens before they hatch, and they’ll hatch. Then count them.

Well, if Jennings can wallow in the Aussies winning the cricket, I can wallow in this.

I wonder if Saddam Hussein is a rugby fan.

The era of compressed expectation

Ten days onto the offensive, it is clear that the Wehrmacht is exactly where the French want them, as evidenced by their pause to refuel their tanks and rearm with more ammunition.

We are told by various reporters that the war is bogging down. that casualties are ‘heavy’, that Iraqi resistance is ‘stiff’. We hear that thing are going badly and the allied military leaders have miscalculated.

Yet although the allied forces have taken loses, for sure, and each of those is a tragedy, the cold facts are that in military and historical terms, UK and US casualties have been insignificant, trivial in fact.

The allies have overrun a huge chunk of Iraq, killing thousands of Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary militia, smashing the Ba’athist Socialist infrastructure of repression and hammering targets of military importance at will. The fact that not everything has gone the way UK and US planners expected will not be an earth shattering surprise to them as there is a well known military axiom that they will all be very familar with: “no plan ever survives contact with the enemy”.

It seems that any war which does not result in single figure losses and which is not over in time to not interfere with the screening of the Oscars is going to be deemed a ‘catastrophe’ by a media which knows nothing about either military affairs or history. The British took 58,000 casualties (one third of them killed) on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. That is what ‘heavy casualties’ means.