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]

Another Detlev Schlichter video

Last Tuesday Detlev Schlichter gave another talk, one of several that he is doing around now in various parts of the world, on Paper Money Collapse. Last Tuesday’s talk was organised by the Adam Smith Institute. I attended this talk and can vouch for the fact that the audience was such that it was standing room only by the time it started, partly thanks (or so I was told the following day) to this City AM report of an interview that they recently did with Schlichter.

This talk is now available for viewing on video, a fact which I learned at Libertarian Home, thanks to a posting there by Andy Janes, who describes it as having been “very impressive, if terrifying”. Indeed. You can watch it there. It lasts just under fifty minutes.

Samizdata quote of the day

“For what it’s worth, I have yet to meet a British eurosceptic who is enjoying the economic turmoil on our doorstep. It is plainly in our interest that the eurozone-which takes 40 per cent of our exports, and comprises our allies and friends-should flourish. That’s precisely why we are alarmed at the readiness of eurocrats to sacrifice their peoples’ prosperity so as to keep their monetary union together. Not that Norman Davies is much interested in what eurosceptics actually think. One of the oddities of the whole debate is that euroenthusiastic commentators who are quick to spot prejudice in others when it comes to racism, sexism or xenophobia are quite unable to detect it in themselves when it comes to people who don’t share their Weltanschauung. (By the way, Professor Davies, one uses nouvel before a masculine noun beginning with a vowel – le nouvel an, but le nouveau franc. When loftily dismissing people as anti-Europeans, it’s a good idea to get your own French right.)”

Daniel Hannan, MEP, having a go, among others, at the historian Norman Davies.

Out of context!

Nice comment at the Bishop’s, on this, about “Climategate 2”, from “simon” (4:35pm):

I so hate it when my vicar quotes from the Bible. I can’t take such quotes seriously as they are out of context.

Perhaps the institution of the Samizdata quote of the day should be abolished. Time and time again, we here quote quotes, out of context.

Not all of the snippets that are now doing the rounds of the anti-CAGW blogosphere strike me as being as damning as some of them are. But, if anyone chooses to wonder about the degree of wickedness revealed by any particular snippet, it is the work of a moment for that person to find the context, this being one of the features of the internet. Provided, in presenting your preferred snippet, you supply the means of inspecting its context, then you have at least supplied the means by which your interpretation of the snippet may be challenged. And some of the snippets are very damning indeed.

If you are caught saying you are guilty only half as many times as the prosecution lawyer says you have been caught, that still makes you guilty.

Earlier in the thread, Viv Evans (4:02pm) says:

This ‘out-of-context’ excuse is favoured and generally used by shifty politicians who try to defend their misdeeds.

Indeed. And shifty politicians is exactly what these people are.

I trust that simon and Viv Evans will forgive me for quoting them out of context.

As the eurozone crisis rolls on, let’s talk about Bigness

It is hard to keep up with the unfolding events of the eurozone debt crisis. Earlier this week, the auction by the German government of 10-year bonds, which is an event normally garnering only specialist coverage, made big news. It was, in the words of several news-sites, a disaster, with only some of the paper being bought.

With impeccable timing, therefore, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the UK-based free market think tank, held a panel debate last night around the question of whether the euro has a future. And an interesting collection of folk were on display: Prof Philip Booth, Editorial & Programme Director, IEA; William Cash, Conservative MP for Stone and a long-standing eurosceptic and loather of most things around the European Union; Ed Conway, Economics Editor, Sky News, Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, and finally, and in my view, most memorably, John Stevens, a former member of the European Parliament.

Stevens was memorable because, while he made some good arguments (such as that return to the drachma would cause severe problems for the Greeks in some ways), he also repeated a mistaken old argument that I occasionally hear from pro-EU/euro types.

The argument goes something like this: Small states (like the old city-states of Italy or wherever) cannot thrive on their own and need to be part of a bigger country. The European Union enables its members to punch with a heavier weight than alone. The old glories of Renaissance Italy only serve as a reminder of how small states lose their edge to bigger entities. And with China and India on the rampage, we need to stick together, despite the odd problem of making the project work.

Okay, that is a bit of a paraphrase, but in essentials that is what Stevens said last night. Like others in the audience, I smelled something a bit fishy about it. For a start, is it really the case that the prosperity of small states/principalities/whatever – like 15th Century Milan – could not be sustained alone and that these places had to merge or be taken over by a much bigger entity in order to survive? (It is not as if modern Italy, which was only unified 150 years ago, is an economic colossus as a result of said unification). Take Hong Kong, for instance. In geographic terms, it is tiny compared with the Chinese mainland and for reasons most Samizdata regulars will be familiar with, Hong Kong has been one of the great economic success stories since the Second World War. (For sure, it was a British colony until 1997 but plenty of other places were colonies and they did not thrive). The same goes for Singapore. Or to travel back in time a bit: the UK – hardly a big country – Switzerland (ditto) or the Netherlands. In the latter example, the Dutch were so lacking in room that rather than conquer a bunch of neighbours, they reclaimed land from the sea. The Swiss seem to be doing rather well, despite the pressures on their discreet banking sector. In fact, places such as Switzerland are a standing reproach to Transnational Progressivists generally.

And in any event, what all these examples of economically successful small states show is that they can survive and thrive so long as they can trade in a global marketplace, exploiting a wide division of labour. It is not necessary – pace Stevens and his allies – to create a centralised institution such as the EU or anything else in order for this trading to occur. So long as different jurisdictions recognise each other’s rules, trade can proceed. In that sense, any regulatory system that takes hold is a “bottom-up” phenomenon, not one imposed from above.

It should also be noted that if, by any chance, the eurozone does fracture, with some of the “northern” euro member countries operating a stronger currency than in the “south”, then this might ultimately work to the benefit of the people for whom the single currency was purportedly designed: the citizens of EU member states.

As an aside, I was pleased that Prof Booth last night pointed out that for economic liberals/libertarians, the issue that really counts is whether the arrangements we arrive at really do mean more, rather than less, movement of goods, services and people. Or, in other words, more freedom, period. No classical liberal can be happy at the prospect of a eurozone collapse being followed by a descent into autarky, protectionism and xenophobia.

Here, by the way, is an interesting book on the folly of empires.

Samizdata quote of the day

Are Ridley Scott’s falling petals, which he seems to like so much that he puts them in his films over and over again, anything more than a way to gussy up the triumph of oligarchy, corporate capital and globalisation?

– Rick Moody, in a Guardian article entitled Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood

At last – Whit Stillman is back with a new movie

One of the Chicago Boyz, the one who goes by the name “onparkstreet”, recently posted a question that I had pretty much given up asking myself at all regularly: Where Have You Been Whit Stillman?

He links to this, where we encounter the news that, wherever Whit Stillman may have been for the last decade (while apparently failing to finish other movies) he is now back in business, with a new, completed and ready-to-view movie called Damsels in Distress. I’m about a month behind the news on this, but frankly, I don’t pay much attention to the latest movies any more, so I’m not that surprised that it took me this long to learn of Stillman’s return.

A movie which apparently stars four girls doesn’t much appeal to me. I tend to prefer chick flicks to implausibly violent costume dramas set either in a violent past or a violent future, but I like my chick flicks not to be too chicky, so to speak. I like men to join in and do occasional manly things, like hit one another and lie and be unaware of people’s feelings, in among all the chick chat. In Metropolitan, Stillman’s first movie and my favourite of his, blows and loud insults are exchanged, in among all that witty dialogue with its deftly constructed sentences which begin, continue and then end, just as if someone had written them out beforehand. In Barcelona someone has his eye shot out.

But how much damage are four damsels going to do to anyone? How often will they give me a rest from girls being receptive to each others’ feelings, and get the plot motoring properly by injecting relieving doses of insensitivity and uncaringness?

I will definitely make a point of seeing this latest Stillman movie, and judging by what is said in postings like this, I may quite enjoy it, and maybe enjoy it a lot. Nevertheless, I will be hoping for it to be more enjoyable than I will be fearing it to be.

And this is a surprise?

A Janes email newsletter this week reports that:

Israel retains strike option as IAEA strips away Iranian nuclear facade
Israel plans to give the international community time to draft and impose a series of tough sanctions against Iran in relation to its nuclear programme but has not ruled out the possibility of pre-emptive military action at a later date, Jane’s understands from senior government officials. Their comments followed the 8 November publication of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report expressing concern based on mounting evidence that Iran is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, conducting research and tests that are only relevant for the design of a weapon

Next thing you know, they will discover that Israel has teeth enough to respond to an attack or threat… in kind.

Contact lenses that double up as computer screens

Another for the Ain’t Capitalism Great collection:

Thanks to the advent of smart phone technologies, many of us already carry the internet with us everywhere we go. But now, scientists have created the world’s first wirelessly powered, computerized contact lens with an integrated LED display. That’s right – the same access to information afforded us by the technology in our pockets could soon come to us via devices that rest directly on our corneas.


By wearing a pair of such lenses, you could presumably receive stuff in 3D.

Inevitably, a lot more work will be needed to turn this dream into a reality. But, you know, … wow!

Samizdata quote of the day

“At times, Gingrich, who’s written more than 150 book reviews on Amazon.com, sounds like a guy who read way too much during a long prison stretch.”

Gene Healy. He’s not a fan.

Upon what basis can an Occupy protest ask someone to leave?

… because “This is private property” or any other version of “You have no right to be here” are open to some fairly obvious ripostes.
“We were here first” – “Er, not quite first. The actual owners of the space were there before you.”
“We are the 99%” – “We’re poorer than you, you middle class ****-ers”
“We represent the 99%” – “Who voted for you, then?”
“We are the official accredited Occupiers” – “We refuse to be defined by your oppressive structures, and hereby declare ourselves to be Occupying this Occupation!”

I have been reading the minutes of the General Assembly of the Occupy protesters who have taken over the empty UBS bank building in Sun Street, Hackney. One area of concern does seem to be people “abusing the space”.

If people want to stay over night (sleep-overs) they need (1) to be part of a working group (2) They need to have an on-going task that warrants their stay. There will be ‘monitors’ to make sure sleep-overs are not abusing the space. Individuals that stay over and are found to not be working will be given one warning before being asked to leave.

And if they say no, what then? When a warning is given, it must be a warning of something. Presumably it is a warning that the bigger group of Occupiers will eject the smaller group of Occupiers – because they can.

Unless, of course, they can’t. If a fight develops, what then? Call the cops? Problem with that.

More climate emails

Watts Up With That: “They’re real and they’re spectacular!” Scroll down to find the bit torrent link to the FOIA2011.zip file, though it is not working for me right now.

Leo Hickman in the Guardian: not happy.

James Delingpole in the Telegraph: happy.

Beethoven’s Ninth – before and after

I have already quoted from and commented on The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824 a couple of times here. Now I’ve read it. Unless I’m being paid to read a book, I only read it to the end if I’m enjoying it, so point one to make about this book is that I wasn’t paid to read it. Samizdata writers and readers are not brought together by a shared fascination for classical music and the world in which it was created and had its first impact, so I don’t know if you would also enjoy reading this book. But I can say a bit about why I did.

I know Beethoven’s music, and the Ninth Symphony in particular, quite well, possessing as I do a large classical CD collection containing lots of Beethoven and more than a few recordings of the Ninth. A painlessly entertaining way to learn more about classical music in general, and Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony in particular, is, for me, always welcome. This book was painless partly because it is all written in a language I can easily follow, English. Many books about classical music use lots of musical notation. I can just about decipher such symbols, but seldom with the fluency that is necessary immediately to get the points an author is trying to make with them. Sachs could easily have peppered his text with such hieroglyphics, having himself been a conductor before he became a writer. He did not. He relied on words. He also avoids using Italian words, saying very loud rather than fortissimo, and so on.

This book is also painless in being quite short. 225 pages, including all the extras. I’m a slow reader, so that, for me, was another plus. → Continue reading: Beethoven’s Ninth – before and after