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]

What was that stuck on?

I know what you are thinking. A piece of modern art type photography fit only for the Turner Prize and the dustbin. Here are a bunch of London pavement shapes that mean nothing, photographed by me this afternoon, outside a pub in Warwick Way, not far from where I live. No story here.

But click on the picture and it turns out there is a story in this picture after all.

But, I wonder what it was.

A ‘win’ for the bad guys

A truly vile act by animal ‘rights’ thugs has had the effect they wanted: a farm will stop breeding guinea pigs for research experiments in the hope that the corpse of the owner’s grandmother, dug up and stolen by these ‘heroes’, will now be returned to her grave. In their considerable history of despicable behaviour, this was a new low.

I hope the state does its job and tracks down those responsible (I have my doubts) but there are some insults so dire that were I in the position of the Hall family, I would feel justified doing quite literally anything to find those responsible. I for one would not be prepared to share a planet with them. These animal rights thugs have shown that the courts are not the only way to compel people to do things against their will and courts are also not the only way to get justice. A truly dreadful affair and a reminder of the contempt with which these ‘activists’ should be treated.

Samizdata quote of the day

We spent all this money to do things legally and right, and all the sudden it becomes illegal to do something legal
Nick Mari

The state is not your friend, Nick.

On the Offensive

The Muslim Council of Britain has demanded a public apology from the BBC over the broadcasting of a Panorama programme last night which they have castigated as a “travesty“. A quick glance at their statement throws light upon their concerns, namely, that the programme aims to undermine the Islamic faith by presenting imams as extremists and that it is designed to “sabotage” the political participation of Muslims in the British mainstream. The most telling quote is,

It seems that to qualify as so-called ‘moderates’ Muslims are required to remain silent about Israeli crimes in Palestine, otherwise they are automatically labelled as ‘extremists’.

The refutation of the MCB’s position is clear. In a society which values free debate, the Muslim Council of Britain should engage with the issues raised. Instead, they have imported the arguments prevalent in the Middle East, which damns all criticism as a Zionist conspiracy designed to undermine Islam. Muslims do not have to remain quiet about Israeli actions that they perceive as criminal. The problem lies with those who justify terror and the deaths of innocents by referring to Israeli actions and tarring every Jew and Israeli Arab with ‘collective guilt’.

This rhetoric is not new, but the platform that Muslim political institutions are gaining in the mainstream media provides a testament to the paradox that they are increasingly confident and increasingly defensive. The popular demonstrations of the anti-war movement and the dividends reaped from the flanking alliance that Muslim organisations arranged with the hard left has gained the political wing of Islam legislative promises such as the outlawing of statements that are deemed offensive. By rubbishing the Panorama programme, the Muslim Council of Britain wishes to build upon these achievements by narrowing the public discussion of Islam in the mainstream media and excising a ‘critical school’ that does not accept their arguments or values.

The terrorist attacks of July 7th have proved to be an opportunity for Muslim organisations regarded as ‘mainstream’. Their spokesmen have been co-opted into government programmes providing channels of communication and extra sources of patronage. However, the terrorist attacks have also raised the profile of these spokesmen. Buoyed by the popularity of the anti-war movement, they have overestimated the depth of support for their views in Middle Britain, confusing the liberals who marched against the Iraqi war with the hard left. That is why we hear the overconfidence of Muslim anti-Zionists in our midst and a growing realisation in certain parts of the Labour Party that members of the Muslim Council of Britain hold illiberal views.

Samizdata quote of the day

There is no “tolerance”, there are only changing fashions in intolerance.
Mark Steyn

Depressing news from The Guardian

Gustave Le Bon would have something to say about this. He’d point to the sugestibility of the emotionally aroused crowd:

Almost three-quarters of the public believe that it is right to give up civil liberties to improve our security against terrorist attacks.

A Guardian/ICM poll published today shows that 73% of respondents back the trade-off, with only 17% rejecting it outright. The results provide evidence of public support for Tony Blair’s anti-terrorist reforms which he unveiled before leaving on his summer holiday earlier this month.

Full article here.

I simply do not accept there is a trade-off to be had. Our liberty is our safety.

The world is replete with counterexamples to the trade-off twitch. (One cannot call it a theory.)

Take Saudi Arabia. Civil liberty does not exist there. It is an alien concept, and, in common with other alien concepts, banned. There is no protection of citizen from state, and no limit to the actions that can be taken.

Yet terrorism is in robust health. The Kingdom’s official figures for the last two years (which one would expect to paint the rosiest picture) are 129 dead and 720 injured among civilians and security forces. More than twice Britain’s casualties among a population that may be around a third of ours–reliable figures on anything Saudi being hard to come by. (They probably have significantly more police, too.)

It is such a good thing that we can trust the police…

We were told that the CCTV footage of the fatal incident was not available because the media from the cameras had been removed before the shooting so that detectives could examine them for clues relating to the failed 21/7 bombings.

Not so. The tapes were ‘blank’.

According to the print edition of tonight’s Evening Standard:

Senior Tube sources have told the Evening Standard that three CCTV cameras trained on the platform at Stockwell station were in full working order. The source spoke out after it emerged that police had returned the tapes taken from the cameras saying” “These are no good to us. They are blank.”

A station log book has no reported faults concerning the CCTV cameras which would have been expected to record the crucial moments as Mr. de Menezes approach the train on 22 July.

Ok, so the cameras were working but the tapes are…blank. Of course just because everything else the authorities have said (the victim ran from the police, he was wearing an unseasonable padded jacket, he jumped the ticket barriers, he was not restrained when he was shot dead) has been a lie, we should not jump to the conclusion that the videos from these fully functional cameras were blank because some member of The Plod put them in a machine and pressed ‘ERASE’, right? I mean, without any evidence that would be jumping to conclusions, right?

Desert Islam’s rapid march

I am sure many of you have heard the joke: An Arab meets one of the screenwriters from Star Trek and says “Hey, how come there are no Muslims on the Starship Enterprise?” The screenwriter replies “Because the story is set in the future.”

But many of the most puritanical and intolerant Muslims have their eyes very much on the future. Over on the Social Affairs Unit‘s blog, William Ridgeway has writen an interesting piece called “Those Drunken, Whoring Saudis: Desert Islam’s problem with women”:

Encroaching modernity has resulted in an increase in the place and power of Desert Islam in everyday society. Contrary to widespread Western beliefs about the trajectory of the Middle East as a hesitant but inevitable climb to liberal democracy, the region is actually going the other way – fast. Academics call this “Islamicisation”, the spread of radical Shi’a and Wahhabi beliefs and practices throughout the region. Because of this trend, the Middle East one sees nowadays is nothing like it was, say, fifty years ago. Around the 1950s, about the time oil was being discovered in the Gulf, many Muslim nations were relatively liberal by today’s standards. Alcohol flowed freely, women went uncovered and there was lively public debate about “Ataturk’s way”, the separation of Islam and state, modernisation, and dialogue with the West. The Middle East seemed to be going in the right direction.

Saudi oil changed all that.

I still think in the long run secular western civilisation will crush radical Islam under its sheer weight but it is an interesting article. Read the whole thing.

France menaced by frogs

France has been attacked by an infestation of frogs! I know, the metaphors are even now exploding inside your head.

A campaign in France to exterminate frogs may sound like the beginning of a civil war, but these are no ordinary frogs.

The frogs are big, inedible, and Californian!

Since the frogs were first released, as a joke, on a private pond near Libourne in 1968, they have colonised ponds, lakes, marshes and gravel pits all over the département of the Gironde. They have been found in the Landes area to the south and in the Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and Loir-et-Cher départements, further north.

Some joke.

It turns out that the only way to kill these fearsome and deeply un-French frogs is to shoot them.

Has Britain just joined China in creating panoptic internet survaillance?

I have just heard a rumour from a usually reliable source that effective either yesterday or today, the UK state has put on-line some system by which all access to the internet in the UK now goes through a government server system to enable them to monitor, well, everything you do on-line. Is the UK state now rivaling China in its efforts to control and monitor its subject people?

Has anyone else heard anything about this?

‘Star quality’?

The FT paper edition for 20th/21st August has feature on some of its writers sitting some of this years’ A-level exams. Though a stock sort of piece, this much the best of its type I’ve read and is full of insights, most provided by the examiners they involved in the exercise.

For example, here’s Matthew Lumby of the QCA:

A lot of people think that in an essay question you are just judged on content and style when in fact the markers will be looking for a number of specific things.

What else is there?

Meanwhile officialdom ensures some people will embrace ID controls with gratitude

Spiked carries a fascinating, if frightening, piece by Charles Pither, a private doctor, on the invasive requirements of galloping regulation on those working in the healthcare sector. Just being able to check and list their employees (and their own) slave-number online will no doubt come as a relief.

What I hadn’t appreciated, until the man came to make his inspection, was all the personal data that we needed to keep for our staff (in a locked cabinet, of course). Two references, a recent photo, a copy of their passport, copies of their qualification certificates, a curriculum vitae with explanations for any gaps, a copy of their contract and job description.

Including the cleaner? Yes, including the cleaner. ‘It’s not me who makes the regulations’, said the man from the HCC. ‘The onus is on you to comply with the statutory requirements as set out in the standards of care regulations.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

What’s most disturbing is how suddenly these bureaucratic personal checks have sprung up, and how it has happened with no resistence. The Health Care Commission was created by the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, and started its interfering on April 1st 2004. The Criminal Records Bureau was established under the Police Act 1997, but its functions have been rapidly widened, in legislation on children, education, financial services, and health, but also notably by a series of Exceptions Orders to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Acts that have made the idea of a spent conviction (an old, minor one you need not acknowledge) pretty much obsolete. The operative Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations are dated 2002.

Never mind 1890, it would be nice to get the British state back to the size it was in 1990.