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]

Tea Time!

It is my understanding there are now five hundred cities on the tea party list. I hope all good Samizdata readers (or at least that subset of which resides in the middle half of the North American continent) get out their signs and show their anger this coming April 15th!

The ‘Main Stream Media’, as Glenn Reynolds approximately put it, will be hiring extra people that day to do the hard graft journalistic work of ignoring the nationwide demonstrations by hundreds to thousands of people in what may well be one for the Guinness records. There may be the largest number of simultaneous demonstrations in American history on Tax Day 2009.

It actually does not matter that MSM will be absent as no one pays any attention to them any more any way. I can literally not remember the last time I read a ‘dead tree’ newspaper. I do not even own a working TV anymore. I doubt I am alone. They are irrelevant and obsolete.

I you want coverage, go to Pajamas TV. I would not be surprised if Reason TV covered some of it as well. For daily information, keep an eye on Glenn Reynolds.

I will not be on that side of the Atlantic in time for the fun, but I do have a few sign suggestions. (Some are mine and some are golden oldies):

“I’m Capitalist and I’m Proud!”

“Go Galt!”

“Screw the Welfare State!”

“Legalize Freedom!”

“Pelosi Go Home!”

“The Mafia would steal less!”

“Taxation is Theft”

“Smash the State!”

Feel free suggest other sign ideas for the tea partiers!

Later: I have recently been exchanging email with J Neil Schulman and that reminds me of how prophetic his 1979 Prometheus award winning novel Alongside Night is of current events, even if we are only in the prequel stages of his story.

Airborne laser ground test

I just picked this up form a Jane’s newsletter:

US announces successful tests of Airborne Laser
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully fired multiple long-duration blasts of the Northrop Grumman high-energy Airborne Laser (ABL) during ground tests, the company announced on 19 February. The tests for the Boeing 747-400F-based ballistic missile defence system lasted up to three seconds each and were concluded on 12 February

This is good progress, but I am still waiting for the real test: shooting down an ICBM in flight.

A spot of freelance quantitative easing

I will certainly not be the only one now pointing out the similarity between what this gang of counterfeiters got up to, and British government policy. The biggest difference between the two groups of transgressors is in the scale of it. Our government’s currency printing binge will be on a far more grandiose scale.

Broadband imaging chips are coming

Way back in 1994 or thereabouts I wrote in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society about future applications of nanotechnology on spacecraft to get sensing in depth across all wavelengths in all directions at once. Well, it looks like we are getting there:

Beyond the realm of CMOS and CCD image sensors, SiOnyx Inc. is developing a new material called “black silicon.” The company believes the material will lead to a new class of image sensors that are 100 times more sensitive than conventional silicon, detect energy from the ultraviolet to the short-wave infrared bands, operate at very low voltage levels, and can be made in extremely thin 0.5-µm forms (Fig. 5). Most importantly, the material is compatible with existing CMOS processing methods.

“This is a brand new material that is compatible with the largest manufacturing infrastructure of the world,” says Stephen Saylor, SiOnyx’s president and CEO.

I am guessing that ‘black silicon’ might be carbon nanotube technology or it might simply be an array that is so good at sucking up light that it appears black due to lack of wasted reflected photons. Whatever the case, I believe this is just the start of the sort of sensors I would like to see on spacecraft.

I’m mad as hell – April 15 2009 Yellfest

Kentucky Liz, one of our commentariat noted:

Actually, the “mad as hell” scene from the movie Network is circulating like wildfire on facebook. An old college buddy and I were joking around and cooked up a cockamamie idea to have the same screamfest, but when to do it? Tax Day! April 15, noon ET and equivalent times in other time zones. Noon ET–the politicians and financiers more likely to be out for lunch, to witness people pouring into the streets screaming.

Here’s a link to this facebook group/event, please join us, especially Amurricans. Should appeal to the tea party crowd so active nowadays!

The face book page is here

It somehow seems fitting to have a good scream on Rape Day…

Samizdata quote of the day

“Those who are incapable of earning our respect often end up demanding it.”

– A commenter called Chris on this blog post.

Civilian conscription in the US – could it happen in the UK?

Diana Hsieh, amongst others, is justifiably outraged at the move in the US Congress to move towards an expansion of the Americorps programme, making it compulsory for all young people in the US to participate in it. It is a form of conscription, which while it may not involve an explicit military role, is nevertheless a form of draft.

Ideas, either good or very bad, have a habit of travelling across the Atlantic to the UK. I’d be willing to bet that if, say, David Cameron is the next prime minister, he will look favourably upon such ideas. It fits in well with his dreary, authortarian/paternalist version of conservatism. In fact, the worse the economic situation gets, the more likely that states will try such ideas out. And no doubt the social alarmists will latch on to such ideas as a way to address problems of violent youths and so forth.

Timothy Sandefur
says the US legislation is clearly unconstitutional.

Ezra Levant on how the right not to be offended has been trumping real human rights in Canada

That Daniel Hannan video has been making all the news in my part of the blogosphere during the last day or two (and I wrote that before I had seen the previous posting right here), but here is some more video worth paying attention to. Yes, it’s our old friend Ezra Levant. Many of us have already, thanks to an earlier posting here by Perry de Havilland directing us toweards the relevant YouTubery, had the extreme pleasure of seeing Levant sticking it to someone he doesn’t like. In this latest performance, we see and hear him talking with a guy who is very clearly on his side, and who makes numerous admiring mentions of Levant’s new book.

The performance is divided into five bits, and I started up bit one to just hear a short sample, to just generally get a clearer idea of what kind of a guy Levant is. But so engaging and entertaining was Levant’s performance that I ended up watching all five bits, right through. Maybe you won’t find yourself wanting to do what I did, but maybe you will.

What I liked was that I was able to learn more not just about Levant’s character and presence, but also about the various cases he talks about, and has been blogging about, month after month. But the problem with reading these stories on Levant’s blog is that once you lose the thread of some particular yarn, you are liable never to pick it up again. In this latest video performance, Levant is telling his various stories about some of the cases he has investigated, or some of the nonsense that he has himself had to battle against, to an audience which, he has to assume, has not heard anything about them before. For me, that was a whole lot easier to follow.

A politician speaks out – how dare he?

The Labour blogger Tom Harris is upset that the Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, dared – oh the impertinence! – to attack Gordon Brown the other day. The horror. A politician attacks another politician and about policies too – what is the world coming to? But as Alex Massie puts it, this is tosh, and Mr Harris, if he has any self respect, must surely know it. It also makes me wonder what Mr Harris thinks MEPs should do, or if they have any rights at all to criticise leaders of the countries whence they come?

I have often watched, in recent times, Labour ministers berate opposition politicians for “playing politics” for having the temerity to criticise some policy or other. This is a totalitarian mindset. In an adversarial system such as the Anglosphere one, rhetorical combat and debate is all part of the system and a necessary part, as well. It is probably also a sign of how the ruling UK Labour Party is now frightened that, when confronted with an example of blazing eloquence by a European MP like Mr Hannan, the best that NuLab can do is moan about the MP’s “lack of patriotism”.

At this blog, over the years, we have argued long and hard about the dire state of the Tory Party and the sort of people that have advanced within. I am sure that libertarian purists will be able to unearth unflattering political details about Mr Hannan. But in the current environment, his speech – now a YouTube phenomenon – is like a dash of brandy to a half-drowned man. I hope it galvanizes his colleagues to follow suit.

When it comes to drowning, the gurgling guy you see vanishing beneath the waves is Gordon Brown. Developments such as the insufficient bids for UK government bonds suggest the end is now very close.

Samizdata quote of the day

What the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four could never have predicted is that the citizens would subject themselves to the scrutiny of the cameras voluntarily. The deeper threat to human dignity in 2009 is not state surveillance but pathological exhibitionism. In so many respects, what Orwell foretold has come to pass — with the crucial difference that it has been embraced by consumers not imposed upon them by the totalitarian state.

The Spectator.

Jim Rogers on the financial crisis

Some of his enthusiasm for commodities may have taken a bit of a hammering of late, but I always enjoy what this much-travelled man has to say. He’s a free marketeer with a nice, engaging way of putting his argument across. Take a look at this interview if you have some time.

A resignation letter

This letter from a highly pissed-off AIG senior staffer is worth reading. My own take is that if an employee, under an agreed contract, gets paid a sum of money that later attracts the evil eye of the political class and that money is retrospectively seized, then the rule of law is crumbling. Admittedly, it has been crumbling for some time. I note that those who berated the former Bush administration for its high-handed treatment of legal principles are less noisy about Mr Obama’s own behaviour or that of his colleagues in Congress.

I have been reading Amity Shlaes’ interesting book about the Great Depression, and among the many themes of the book is how FDR, in order to whip up support for his measures, sent his legal attack dogs after various people associated, in his eyes, with the excesses of the preceding boom years. In particular, his victims included the likes of Andrew Mellon. History repeats itself: when politicians run out of money, the easiest option is to bash the rich, bleat about “tax havens”, and the like. We are seeing that now. And of course the politicians are getting away with it so far because they calculate, probably rightly, that the broad public cannot be interested or is not sympathetic.

To get the public interested, we have to figure out how this sort of looter behaviour by those in public office can be shown to be dangerous to the average Joe. That is not straightforward, but a bit of thinking is needed. Today, talking to a friend of mine who works in the City, he pointed out that as a result of the mass bailouts and the central bank’s printing of money, a spendthrift who had a 100 per cent mortgage is being subsidised by a careful, elderly saver who is now struggling, say, to pay for a nursing home. By drawing attention to these sort of regressive transfers from the careful to the spendthrift, and from the productive to the unproductive, we can get the message across. And yes, Mr Cameron, that means support for cutting spending and taxes.

Update: Alex Singleton, who also blogs here, points out that the vandalism to the house of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, can be indirectly blamed on the government for encouraging hatred of bankers. I am not sure that Gordon Brown can be directly blamed but in his usual, cowardly fashion, he has found it convenient to pin the blame for the crisis on private banks rather than accept that the crisis was in large part driven by recklessly cheap credit as set, ultimately, by central -state – banks.

This is becoming increasingly ugly. Demonstrations are planned in the City to coincide with the totally pointless G20 gabfest in early April. Someone might actually get killed or seriously hurt.

Update: Mark Steyn’s Orange County Register article about the AIG issue confirms what I now fear, that Mr Obama is, even at the most basic level, unfit to hold executive office. And Joe Biden is just down the corridor…..