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]

An ‘insanity’ of Belgians?

The fact Belgian newspapers want it to be harder to find the content they put on the internet is weird (why bother having an on-line presence at all then?), the fact they went to court to force Google to stop driving traffic to their sites is bizarre, the fact a Belgian court found against Google is insane.

Testing for the impact of a bird flu pandemic

This seems like a good idea

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is to hold a six-week exercise to test the resilience of the UK’s financial institutions to an avian flu pandemic.

Starting on 13 October, some 60 banks, insurance firms and other financial businesses will take part.

The exercise will look at a number of factors including how firms could cope with a greatly reduced workforce

Yes, I know that we free market purists might argue as to why we need a big regulator like Britain’s FSA to set this up, but even in the absence of such a body, smart businesses would be looking to stress-test their systems against a potential serious problem like avian flu. And it is serious. Naysayers may jest about how much effort was expended on the Y2K technology issue (remember that?) but I am encouraged that these sorts of issues are taken seriously. The health of the London-centred financial system is critical, not just to the British economy, but to the wider trading system as well.

Tyler Cowen, hardly a scaremonger, has thoughts about possible preparations that should be taken.

Samizdata quote of the day

Unless there is a serious updating of copyright law to recognize the changing technological environment, the law becomes an ass.

– Lynne Brindley, CEO, British Library in British Library calls for digital copyright action

Reportage from Moonbat Media

Moonbat Media have some good pictures from Saturday’s demonstration in Manchester by the usual suspects… plus some coverage of an incident where Reza Moradi and a friend were removed by Stop The War organisers because they staged a counter-protest, interrupted Tony Benn’s speech. Check it out.

Samizdata quote of the day

“What was going through your head during that second engagement?” a journalist asks me at a press conference the next day.
“A rocket-propelled grenade,” I say.
Private Johnson Beharry VC

‘Isaac Schrödinger’ – fear and loathing in the land of the pure

Much is made of bogus asylum seekers (with considerable justification) but in truth, the basic principle of countries in the west being a haven for those who are oppressed for reasons of their belief is a very righteous one indeed.

And that brings me to the case of ‘Isaac Shrödinger’, the pseudonymous Pakistan born ex-Muslim blogger who is currently seeking asylum in Canada. If ever there was something I would like to see more of in the west, it is ex-Muslims, apostates if you like, who are willing to talk about Islam and say it the way it is.

Read his article and perhaps do as I have done and drop your mouse heavily on his PayPal button to help with his legal expenses… it will give you some serious blogospherical karma points.

Blair non-fan club announcement

Those Samizdata readers who like to see Blair attacked, but do not read The Guardian paper edition – which I guess includes most of you – are missing a treat this Monday morning. Have a look at the NO2ID website, and enjoy a very crisp piece of advertising created for the campaign pro bono*. I am glad to say that the Guardian is distributed in bulk to Labour Conference delegates.


* PS – But not, unfortunately, inserted by the Grauniad pro bono. If you want to see more of this sort of thing, then you know the words of St Bob.

PPS – I did not put in any picture for copyright reasons. Perry put in the version from the Mail, which is a crude mock-up. So I have changed it back to the original version, by linking to the properly licensed copy on the NO2ID website. The Daily Mail’s crop and bland retouching destroys the entire intention and subtlety of the adveritisement.

This is completely insane

So now before British police will carry out raids on Muslim terror suspects, they will consult with a group of Muslim ‘community leaders’ before acting (i.e. they will in effect ask permission from the same people who have so conspicuously failed to prevent the need for such raids in the first place). And of course one can only wonder at the potential for the targets of such raids being tipped off.

So tell me, did the Metropolitan Police ask for permission from, oh I dunno, the Catholic Church maybe, before raiding possible IRA terrorist suspects in London for fear of upsetting the delicate sensibilities of the UK’s Irish community?

This is beyond parody.

The madmen rant, and no-one seems to bother

There is a military coup in Thailand, a crazed leader of Iran denying the Holocaust and prattling about the return of the “12 Iman”; a Venezuelan demogague brandishes the work of terrorist sympathiser Noam Chomsky; there are riots in the streets of Hungary, a major hedge fund loses billions in the gas market.

What do the world’s economic markets do in response to all this? Well, as historian Niall Ferguson notes, they do remarkably little:

The price of crude oil for November delivery fell 5 per cent last week, even as Messrs Ahmadinejad and Chávez were holding their rant-fest. On news of the coup in Bangkok, the Thai currency declined by little more than 1 per cent against the dollar – nothing compared with its spectacular gyrations during the Asian crisis of 1997. Investors in the Hungarian stock market are not having a great year, it’s true, but recent political events have barely registered. If you invested in Budapest two years ago, you have still nearly doubled your money.

To see just how far politics and economics have parted ways, just consider which of the world’s stock markets have done best so far this year. In pole position is Morocco (up 58 per cent in dollar terms since January 1). Next is none other than Mr Chávez’s Venezuela, up 49 per cent. In third place is Indonesia, where three Christian men were executed on Friday for their part in sectarian violence, sparking riots (34 per cent). Russia, where it is bankers who get the bullet, is not far behind on 32 per cent.

He goes on to argue:

investors are continuing to mistake liquidity for security. Despite the much-trumpeted tightening of interest rates by the world’s principal central banks, the reality is that monetary expansion has barely slowed. In Britain, for example, the broad money measure M4 grew at an annual rate of 13 per cent in July, a remarkable figure. Money may be dearer, but it is still amazingly plentiful. That seems to be encouraging a rather cavalier approach to risk assessment.

So it would seem.

Ructions in New Zealand

Brian Scurfield brings some interesting developments in New Zealand to our attention

You might like to keep an eye on New Zealand politics, where a classic shit fight is taking place. And it was all started by Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton, who is suing the NZ government for misappropriation of taxpayer money during election campaigning of 2005. For some background information check out Darnton vs. Clark, Not PC & David Farrar

Having misappropriated taxpayer money and facing a lawsuit, the New Zealand government now wants to ram through legislation validating their thievery. To divert attention, they threatened to dish the dirt on opposition MPs, resulting in the exposure of an affair by the opposition leader. The dirt has come right back at them, however, with allegations that the PM’s husband is gay and that her marriage is one of convenience. Entering into the equation, also, are Exclusive Brethren who may have been snooping on the Prime Minister and tales of the government hiring private investigators to snoop on the opposition.

While I do not give a damn about either the Prime Minister’s or the Leader of the Opposition’s personal lives, the amount of dirt being dished is an indication that the New Zealand government is in serious trouble.
In Hungary, when governments lie, people riot. In Thailand, the tanks roll in. What will happen in New Zealand? For the government has not only lied, it has also stolen taxpayer money to win an election.

“Allegations of corruption are intolerable in a Western liberal democracy.”
– Helen Clark, NZ Prime Minister

No, [Mrs.] Clark. Corruption is intolerable. When allegations of corruption are intolerable, it is no longer a Western liberal democracy

The 18 Doughty Street Channel

I wish these guys all the very best of luck in breaking the lock of the mainstream media on broadcast television in Britain and political coverage in particular. I am not sure if this outfit is going to feature a lot in my viewing habits, though. Given that I have to look at current affairs news quite a bit as part of my day job in London’s financial centre, I actually deliberately avoid too much of the same when I get home, preferring to read a book, go to the gym, see a movie or just hang out with my lovely wife. But for the political trainspotters out there, this sort of venture should be a boon.

My only carp at this stage is why choose such a dull name? Maybe there is some sort of perverse appeal about it.

Bad times in Brazil

There is a long and detailed report in the London Times today about the scale of gangland and police violence in Brazil’s Sao Paulo. If ever there was an account ramming home the distance between the image of Brazil as a fun-loving, sun-soaked nation and a country of enormous social and economic problems, this surely is it.

Brazil is one of those country’s that I would love to visit some day (I am a bit of a nut about Brazilian music). But stuff like this does not exactly get me rushing to get on the aircraft.