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]

Leaders and nations

“So Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Reid are all on Air Force One. Suddenly it malfunctions and crashes. Who survives? America.”

From a commenter on this item.

Actually, the logic applies to most countries and their governments. Parts of our MSM like to believe that if the leader of X or Y has a problem, dies or whatever, that the nation will be plunged into chaos. Not so; it is a mark of a healthy country that the passing of a leader, even in tragic circumstances such as those affecting Poland recently, is not a massive blow to the country per se.

Tangentially, this book by Gene Healy about the “cult” of the modern presidency is worth reading.

Samizdata quote of the day

I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound – if I can remember any of the damn things.

– Dorothy Parker

Disturbing parallels

“Which former president does Barack Obama most resemble? When it comes to handling oil spills, the answer is Richard Nixon. Like our current president, Nixon too presided over a major offshore oil blowout—the three million gallon Santa Barbara spill of 1969. And, like Mr. Obama, Nixon responded by whipping up anti-oil sentiment and passing a sweeping moratorium on drilling. This parallel is important to keep in mind, because Nixon’s reaction helped cause the worst energy crisis in American history.”

Alex Epstein.

Alas, the rest of the article is behind the WSJ subscriber firewall (I wonder how that is working out for Mr Murdoch, Ed).

Journalist Peter Fenn takes incompetence to new depths

Rand Simberg pointed out this article. The level of incompetence shown by ‘professional journalist’ Peter Fenn is simply breathtaking to those who know the subject matter.

When I read something like this, it lowers my already sub-basement level of trust in professional media. If they are this bad on things where I know what is going on, what might they be feeding me in areas where I lack such inside knowledge?

It is really quite scary.

Samizdata quote of the day

Guests can no longer carry guns and/or ammunition on flights to or from Indonesia.

– One of the terms and conditions found in the fine print when booking a flight on the splendid Air Asia. This is, of course, an outrage.

By the way, when did “customers” or “passengers” turn into “guests”? Surely “clients” was bad enough?

Are you sure this is what you mean?

Bucharest, Romania, August 2010

State sponsored happy slapping and/or incitement to violence

A simply astonishing story from Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch: Smokers harrassed – with the encouragement of a school, and the co-operation of the police

On one perfectly reasonable reading of this story, “harrassed” is too mild a term. The correct word is “assaulted”. I am no lawyer, but this looks to me as though it could involve multiple crimes – not just assault but also theft, and encouraging minors to commit assault and theft, if those are separate charges.

Outrageously the fagins here are not underworld characters but the Hundred of Hoo Comprehensive School in Medway (cute name, shame about the Special Measures), Kent Police, and something called “A Better Medway”, described as “a joint initiative between the council and NHS Medway that encourages healthy living”. “A Better Medway” part-funded the project, paying for filming equipment.

According to This is Kent, quoted by Alex Deane, the first few filmed attacks featured stooges and then they went on to “other people”. I can’t quite figure out whether or not the”other people” were members of the public who participated voluntarily as “extras” in an admitted fiction or whether they were real victims. My spidey-senses are a-tingle with the suspicion of some hasty re-writing of history after hostile attention; the comments to the sycophantic This is Kent piece are gratifyingly hostile. Also, the video admiringly profiled in Kent Online has now been removed by the user.

Irrespective of whether the videos are real or fake, videos that show apparent assaults in an approving manner incite others to commit similar assaults on smokers for real.

Indeed, they incite others to commit any other type of assault that the attackers may deem is good for the victims. The law, of course, forbids people to rip the veils off Muslim women who go about swathed – though at least as many people the veils offensive as find cigarettes offensive, and there is a reasonable case to be made – as reasonable as the case for doing good by force being made by the Ciggy Busters – that having their veils ripped off might do them good in the end and help them kick the masking habit. The law also forbids incitement to such assaults. If I were to make a “burqa busters” video the police would be round in an instant, and the defence that everyone involved was only acting would cut no ice with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Why should not that law also apply in this case?

Samizdata quote of the day

Head Start, which provides preschool programs to poor families, is a prime example of the Senate committee’s true attitude toward evidence-based decision-making. In January, the Health and Human Services Department released a study of Head Start’s overall impact. The conclusions were disturbing. By the end of first grade, the study found, Head Start graduates were doing no better than students who didn’t attend Head Start. “No significant impacts were found for math skills, pre-writing, children’s promotion, or teacher report of children’s school accomplishments or abilities in any year,” the report concluded.

And how did the Senate panel react to this dismal evidence? They set aside $8.2 billion for Head Start in 2011, almost a billion dollars more than in 2010. Of course, the fact that Congress spends billions of dollars each year on unproven programs does not itself argue that the government should start spending hundreds of millions of new dollars on new unproven programs. But it does undercut the argument that federal education dollars should be reserved only for conclusively proven initiatives.

– Paul Tough in an op-ed in the New York Times.

…via Steve Sailer, who comments:

That’s pretty funny when you stop and think about it.

Samizdata quote of the day

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America’s eight years in Vietnam. During the onslaught, which began 10 Septembers ago, Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner. Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take “risks for peace.”

George Will.

Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education, Education

The A-Level pass rate has risen for the 28th successive year.

Debasing the coinage. It’s what governments do.

Of pork and progress

Business partner Rand Simberg has this to say about the attempts of Congress to design pork propelled rockets. The only practical idea in the lot is the BFR from SpaceX, and that (in my opinion) only if a market of 500 Metric Tons or so a year materializes.

Samizdata quote of the day

As someone who has consistently been in favor of in-your-face attempts to offend Muslims (e.g., “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”), I can’t very well advocate any governmental effort (or any violent effort by other parties) to prevent the building of this in-your-face attempt to offend non-Muslim Americans. But to suggest that this center is not provocative, and that Americans should not see it as such, insults my intelligence. There is no right to NOT be offended, but we have every right to be offended, and to protest loudly to that effect.

– Commenter Gene