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]

Do you like being treated like a child?

Who owns you?

Here’s your new ID card – for you, £25

Everyone in Britain will have to pay around £25 for a compulsory identity card under proposals being put to the cabinet by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.

The “smart” card will identify the holder using iris-recognition technology. Failure to carry the card will not be an offence but police will be able to order people to present it at a police station.

So, you won’t need to carry the card with you at all time. How is that going to help the ‘fightagainstterrorism’? Ah, the terrorists will just report to a police station to show off their hi-tech faked ID cards…

The charge is aimed at overcoming resistance to the scheme from the Treasury. Until now Cabinet support for a national compulsory identity card has been outweighed by the Treasury, which has objected to footing the estimated £1.6 billion bill.

Notice how the main reason that ID cards have not been introduced is that the Treasury opposed the £1.6 billion bill. Concerns for privacy or individual rights? Blank stares around the Cabinet meeting table…

While forcing people to pay for the card could add to the anticipated objections from human rights campaigners, Mr Blunkett believes that concern about national security is sufficient to ensure that individuals will be prepared to bear the cost.

Damn, the one time Mr Blunkett uses the word individual is to charge him the cost of extending governments reach over the individual.

Senior figures in the Cabinet strongly support the plan for the card, which would use a microchip to hold details including age, place of birth, home address and a personal number to identify the holder. It is also hoped that the card could be used to entitle the holder to a range of state benefits, thereby cutting benefit fraud.

Mr Blunkett discussed his plan for a national ID card with Tom Ridge, the head of the US Department of Homeland Security, at a meeting in Washington earlier this month. Mr Blunkett agreed to develop a joint programme, using the same technology, with the US, which has already agreed a similar protocol with Canada.

US and Canada?! Anglosphere, help!

Iraq ponders meaning of freedom

A report from AP about how Iraqis are trying to learn what it means to be free after more than thirty years of tyranny under Saddam. Apperently, more than 60 percent of Iraqis were born after Ba’athist party took power and it takes more than absence of Saddam and his henchmen to make sense of the alien concept of freedom.

“No one knows what freedom means. When were born, we opened our eyes to Saddam and everything was forbidden. Our life was all about fear.” Salima al-Majali, 29.

“Freedom means that Saddam is no longer around.” Firas al-Dujaili, a 28-year-old doctor.

“The word freedom is a strange word to us because we don’t believe in it,” Ali al-Daham, 25.

“There is nothing called freedom in Iraq. There’s only terror, prison.” Jasim al-Dujaili, 27 who spent four years of his childhood in jail as part of a collective punishment of his rebellious village.

“I couldn’t teach the students the truth, I was unable to tell them that we were ruled by a dictator. If I did, my neck would be on the line.” Wijda Khalidi, 37, a high school teacher.

“All we have known is war, war and war. Everything was forbidden.” 30-year-old Suad al-Daham, a Shiite Muslim.

“Freedom means to travel, to get the job I want, to study in the college I want.” Ahmed al-Samarai, 28.

Digital ID tags coming to euro notes

The European Central Bank (ECB) is in talks with Hitachi Ltd. about embedding radio tags in euro bank notes to prevent counterfeiting of euros.

The ECB is deeply concerned about counterfeiting and money laundering and is said to be looking at radio tag technology. Last year, Greek authorities were confronted with of 2,411 counterfeiting cases and seized 4,776 counterfeit bank notes while authorities in Poland nabbed a gang suspected of making and putting over a million fake euros into circulation.

To add to the problem, businesses also find it hard to judge a note’s authenticity as current equipment cannot tell between bogus currency and old notes with worn-out security marks. Among the security features in current euros are threads visible under ultraviolet light.

According to Prianka Chopra, an analyst with market research firm Frost and Sullivan the main objective is to determine the authenticity of money and to
stop counterfeits.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags also have the ability of recording information such as details of the transactions the paper note has been involved in. It would, therefore, also prevent money-laundering, make it possible to track illegal transactions and even prevent kidnappers demanding unmarked bills.

Besides acting as a digital watermark, the use of radio chips could speed up routine bank processes such as counting. With such tags, a stack of notes can be passed through a reader with the sum added in a split-second, similar to how inventory is tracked in an RFID-based system.

Hitachi is developing noncontact chips for use in bank notes and other paper documents, Kantaro Tanii, confirmed the company’s corporate communications manager for Europe. Hitachi’s Web site describes a 0.4-mm by 0.4-mm by 60-micron radio frequency identification chip, called the Mu Chip, that works in the 2.45-GHz frequency band and has a 128-bit ROM for storing its identity number. It was originally conceived as a bank-note-tracking device but could also be used in passports, driver’s licenses and other official documents.

New age cinema

[SCENE 26. Int. LUCY’s bedroom. Night.]

Open on shot of bedroom wall opposite the bed. There is a large mirror hanging on the wall. In the mirror we can see the reflection of LUCY and JOHN making wild, passionate love in the bed. Camera turns down and pans across bedroom floor, past assorted clothes discarded hastily in the fenzy of mutual lust. LUCY’s cries of climax drown out JOHN’s heaving grunts. Camera closes in on bed as JOHN rolls over. Both are glistening with sweat and breathless.

LUCY: That… that was… fantastic!

JOHN: Yeah… great. You were great.

LUCY: Do you know what I want now?

JOHN: What?

LUCY opens the top drawer of her bedside table and produces two large carrots.

LUCY: Want one?

JOHN: Oh, you bet.

LUCY hands one carrot to JOHN who begins to munch it manfully. LUCY nibbles her carrot, savouring the little bites.

LUCY: Mmmmm… I just have to have a carrot after sex.

JOHN: Yeah. Nothing beats a post-coital munch.

LUCY: So, am I going to see you again?

JOHN: Well, now that Sheila and I have split up… I reckon so.

LUCY: Why did you two split up anyway?

JOHN stops eating his carrot and looks away, trying to hide his shame.

JOHN: She… she was a celery-freak!!!


Duncan’s Laws

There are many pleasurable benefits in writing for a blog such as this, not least of is revelling in the quality of our readership. This being the case, I can think of no finer endorsement of our efforts than that we attract thinkers and writers of the calibre of Andy Duncan, a regular reader who has produced an analysis of the strategy behind the EU project that I cannot possibly leave languishing at the bottom of a heap of comments where it currently resides.

Andy’s hypothesis is so startlingly good, not just because of the thought that has gone into it but also because he admits to having once been a ‘creature of the night’. We can therefore safely assume that he knows whereof he speaks. So let him speak:

    I’m unsure as to your political orientation, but if you were a follower of Karl Marx’s fallback idea of creating a social democratic Utopia, via the ballot box rather than via the bullet in the back of the neck, how would you do it? Putting my devout Marxist hat on, (and I was such an idiot, until well after my 30th year), this is how I would do it:

    Marxist Hat ON

  • I would base myself in my philosophical homeland of Germany and France, the roaming ground of Hegel, Marx, Napoleon, Kant, Sartre, and other assorted violent destroyers and idiots.
  • I would pretend to be democratic, having seen honest revolutionaries fail in Russia and elsewhere.
  • I would slowly subvert democracy, steal or distort the language of liberty to throw off my accusers and enemies, and gradually form an unspoken aristocracy of fellow travellers. What better than to call this a “liberal” elite, to really turn white into black, and make two plus two equal five? 🙂
  • I would gradually raise taxes, intervene, cause capitalist failure through regulation, thereby allowing myself the excuse to interfere even further, raise even more taxes, etc, etc, until at least half of the economy was in my hands (though 40% will do nicely).

→ Continue reading: Duncan’s Laws

There are collectives and there are… COLLECTIVES

David Carr asked:

If there are any talented graphic designers out there perhaps they might want to grasp this opportunity to design a symbol that will, from now on, represent the ‘Country formerly known as Britain’.

…and sure enough, a reply has come from the arse end of the Anglosphere.

Oh joy.

Samizdata slogan of the day

There are just as many guns as there were before, except now people are angry that they have become criminals if they try to protect themselves, when American soldiers are more interested in protecting themselves than us.
a trader selling weapons covertly in Sadr City, a Shia slum about the effect of sending the trade underground after the drive against gun markets in Baghdad last week.

Crozier visions

I suppose that to many Samizdata readers the quotes below will be old news. But it was newsworthy news to Patrick Crozier when he wrote it, and it was news to me when I read it about two days ago. I realise that two days in blog time is a lifetime, but I think this double titbit may still have enough pep left in it to be worth recycling here in full. I hope so.

Two bits of news today (or at least news to me today) suggest that there’s going to be a hell of a battle between rival blog management systems.

First up is Movable Type who are introducing a new system called TypePad. This will be a sort of Movable Type Lite with the additional features of a template design facility and inclusive hosting. The idea is to appeal to the casual ie not very technical blogger and bearing in mind that the lack of templates and fact you have to find your own host are the very things that put people off switching to Movable Type it would appear that they could be on to something.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Blogger is hitting back with Dano, the Blogger that works ie a Blogger where the archives don’t do a runner every five minutes. I assume that they will lick their archives problem which should prevent a haemorraging of customers but that still leaves the problem of lack of flexibility which the introduction of no more than about five new tags will do little to alleviate.

So, to sum up, MT are going to compete on Blogger’s ground of being easy to use and Blogger are going to compete on MT’s ground of actually working. Things are about to get very interesting in the Blogosphere

And the morals of that are, I suppose, (a) that if you are still with Blogger and you are a technophobe, give them a few more months to fix their archiving nonsense; and (b) that blogging as a whole is about to conquer the known universe, or they wouldn’t be fighting over it like this.

Patrick has been quietly writing things at CrozierVision, but hasn’t been telling anybody. What I’ve been telling him is: stick with your two blogs, CrozierVision and Transport Blog, and help the rest of us sort ourselves out. Transport Blog is slowly improving its regularity and broadening its scope, now that Patrick is being assisted by a handful of Transport Blog occasionals: me, Michael Jennings, David Farrer, with more to come I expect. It is slowly becoming a group blog. I wonder where he got that idea from.

Patrick and I have been collaborating on the look of my two blogs, starting with the Education one. It has taken me months to persuade some blog-techno-savvy person to sit next to me in my kitchen and press buttons for me while I strode about making aesthetic judgements, because it has taken months for Patrick to decide that being blog-techno-savvy is what he does, but finally it has happened.

The verdict so far is: a few like it and the antis have stayed quiet. Which is as it should be. I made it clear that I was only in the market for compliments and would be ignoring all complaints.

The London-and-surrounding-areas blogosphere is showing no signs of running of out steam.

Samizdata slogan of the day

A Message to the British People:

Jacques Chirac wants to thank you
for saving France on the beaches of Normandy
by giving you
10% unemployment
the Napoleonic code
a Franco-Belgian style military defense

vive le UK


European devolution

In the last few days Britain has been depicted as the Paradise (soon to be) Lost in the clutches of the Federasts. Hope has been expressed that the British public may stir eventually and oppose Blair’s finishing touches on handing over the country’s sovereignty. The word “bovine” has been mentioned in descriptions of the UK public and the adjective is excruciatingly close to the truth.

Only with a public as sleepy and ‘tolerant’ of the destructive antics of its politicians and bureaucrats as the British public has been, a particular breed of Homo politicus characteristic to these isles could have evolved.

The species, known as Bureaucrat idioticus can be found in most governmental bodies, with highest density around local councils. In the last 50 years, it has adapted to a change in its original natural habitat from large forested ministerial departments to smaller, murkier quango marshlands.

It belongs to a larger family of Homo collectivicus, sub-group Homo nonsensicus, indigenous to Great Britain, a genetic dead-end variation on Homo socialist (see below).

However, the most famous branch of Homo collectivicus family is Homo communist, spread around the globe in the last century but currently experiencing an evolutionary hiatus.

The ubiquitous Homo socialist, another influential branch, occupies the same evolutionary niche in its biological family as the cockroach in the insect family. Finally, the recently prospering Homo transnationalis has made some headway to the top levels of the British public institutions, the Government and the Courts.

In the last decade, the Bureaucrat idioticus has been inter-breeding with Bureaucrat corruptus (its continental variety, as well as with its closely related Bureaucrat sanctimonis), which resulted in a virulent Bureaucrat federalis whilst facilitating deeper and wider entrenchment of Homo transnationalis in Great Britain.

Oh, we are so ready for the EU primeval soup!

Note: The ‘family tree’ for Homo Liberalis (original meaning) to follow.

Once more, with FLAIR

In case our esteemed readership has not yet heard of FLAIR (the Far-Left Alliance of Indignant Revisionists) I have the pleasure to relay an interview taken from its case files.

The interview was conducted by Barry Fest, a long-time associate and one-time student of Brummagem Groat, who agreed to interview his erstwhile mentor on behalf of FLAIR. The occasion was the publication of Dr. Groat’s latest book, I Dunno: The Working Person’s Guide to Postmodern Relativism by the Belverton University Press. Dr. Groat is professor emeritus of Talkmatics at Belverton.

An Interview with the Relativist

FLAIR: Thank you for your time today, Dr. Groat. I’d like first to ask you about the subtitle of your new book, “The Working Person’s Guide to Postmodern Relativism.” Why does the working person need a guide such as this?

GROAT: For too long the working person has played victim foot soldier for the corporate conglomerates and their Pentagon enablers. Whenever the corpagon has wanted to go to war to protect profits, it has used absolutes – most notoriously the absolutes of “right” and “wrong” – to persuade the working persons of one nation to take up arms against the working persons of another. And whenever working persons have seemed ready to establish a government for working persons, the interested powers have eliminated the threat by appealing to the absolutes embedded, like post-hypnotic suggestions, in the subconscious of the working person. The rote inculcation of these absolutes is performed at an early age by traditional family units, which act as manufacturing plants for the corpagon’s future pawns and patsys.

The result is that by the time the working person is old enough to actually start working, he is a thrall of these absolutes and does not even know it.

I Dunno is intended to persuade the working person that he is better off without absolutes. – What we in the West consider right and wrong is not what everyone else in the world considers right and wrong. I try to make it plain that, in fact, one man’s wrong is another man’s right. Until working persons learn to accept this they will continue in their roles as ad hoc button men for their corporate bosses.

FLAIR: At what point did you realize there was a need to convince Joe – if you’ll pardon the colloquialism – Sixpack of the need to trade in his old absolutes for new ones?

GROAT: I’ve always – Wait a minute, I think you may be missing a very important point. It isn’t that this so-called Joe Sixpack needs newer or what you might even call better absolutes. He needs to discard the notion of absolutes entirely.

FLAIR: And what is the most compelling reason for him to do that?

GROAT: As I said, it will be impossible for him to find that his notions of right and wrong will be accepted by everyone. A notion of virtue produced by the Western process of reason will not be accepted in those societies that reject reason. – And how can you have a universal truth that is not endorsed universally? The Westerner, and that includes the working person, needs to take another approach: the approach I describe in I Dunno.

For the full text of the interview visit The Radical Capitalist.