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]

A scary Guardian article, somewhat neutralised by a mole among the sub-editors

Let us salute the heroic secret agent at the Guardian who subverted this quietly sinister article by giving it a brazenly sinister title and undid most of its power to persuade at a stroke: Don’t give climate change heretics an easy ride.

Fun as it is to play Galileo, the author, an Oxford academic called Jay Griffiths, is not calling for the Holy Office to resume work against climate “deniers”. Oh no, she’s far too nice and British for that sort of thing. She reveres democracy:

One more thing is required of academia: to play its role right at the heart of democracy. Being adequately informed is a democratic duty, just as the vote is a democratic right. A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy. Society needs the expertise of academics in the most important issues: climate science above all.


I would propose a system of certification for media articles in which there is a clear issue of social responsibility – a kitemark of quality assurance. It would be awarded by teams of academics, and be given to the article, not the journalist, recognising the facts, not the sometimes spurious credibility of being a “personality”. It would be awarded when the article is accurate, using reliable sources and peer reviewed studies. There already exists the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which answers journalists’ questions to help them achieve accuracy. A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy.Accuracy must not only be achieved, but be seen to have been achieved.

The certification should be voluntary.

I am relieved that she saw fit to add that it should be voluntary, but even with that, there is a whiff of early Dolores Umbridge here. “A misinformed electorate, voting without knowledge, is not a true democracy.” The modern tendency to make a god of democracy has its own dangers, but it is still the least worst form of government – and a democracy is not denatured by a misinformed electorate, or any other sort of wrong electorate. That’s the point of democracy, actually.

In so far as Jay Griffiths’ proposal is not merely the class interest of an academic talking, I suspect that it is another eddy in the same current of opinion that has led Michael Mann to sue Mark Steyn for libel.

Samizdata quote of the day

Not so long ago, politicians in both Britain and America were preparing for a political realignment. Labour was readying itself not just for defeat but annihilation, and the biggest surprise on election night was how many of its MPs were left still standing. Obama’s 2008 victory was accompanied by hubristic talk of a new Democrat era – but Republicans were back to take control of the House of Representatives two years later. The global debt crisis has created problems too big for any government, Left or Right, to solve easily. As a result, incumbents everywhere are vulnerable – and politics is becoming thrillingly unpredictable.

Fraser Nelson, who apparently has only just noticed which lizard get elected for being the lesser evil does not actually matter all that much when the choice is between getting fucked by Lizard A or buggered by Lizard B.

Up for sale

Whenever someone says that “things were better/worse in my day, or back in the year Zog”, it is always good to ask for specifics. And over at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, which focuses on legal issues, they ask this:

“….–can you think of other things (along the lines of marriage and indentured servitude) where things used to be for sale (expressly or implicitly) and today they are not?”

Some of the comments are hilarious. One guy points out that you cannot pay to watch dwarf tossing any more, at least not legally. I guess not.

The Prince of Darkness complains about “uncorroborated, undigested and unmediated news”

I was tempted to make this, by Peter Mandelson, today’s SQotD, but I might be misunderstood as agreeing with it. As it is, of course, I share the glee that Guido (to whom thanks) feels about it.


The bigger question is how the domestic media market can be made economic and subject to any form of regulation in an era when, a click away, there is access to information that respects no national boundaries and the laws of no single national parliament or the basic standards of conventional journalism. It is hard to see how some of the best-known sources of quality English-language journalism – the Times, New York Times, the Guardian spring to mind – will ever make money again. We come to grips with the fact that the internet is giving public access to uncorroborated, undigested and unmediated news, all in the name of free speech, is becoming one of the defining issues of the 21st century.

Indeed it is.

And I love the idea of “information that respects no national boundaries”. In the old days information used to be far more respectful.

The world has become a pretty grim place of late. This Mandy moan cheered me up no end.

Rape is not a laughing matter

“In all of this, something has been forgotten: that real-life rape, unlike sex, is always a serious business. If a man is falsely accused, it has the power to wreck his life. If a woman – or indeed a man – is the victim, it can do the same thing. We certainly hear a lot about “free speech” from those who will go to the wall for their right to make light of sexual violence. But rape is the opposite of freedom: it means that the victim wasn’t free to say “no” and be heard. I’m not arguing that people should go to prison simply for saying ignorant or unfunny things about rape. Yet free speech also means you can openly deride certain comedians or directors; you can choose not to buy a DVD or go to a show; you can walk out, turn over, or heckle. On this at least, we’ve all got the freedom to decide when it’s time to stop. Maybe it’s time more of us started using it.”

Jenny McCartney, who has been distinctly unimpressed by a recent trend in making light of rape, both of the actual and alleged forms. No-one who is genuinely interested in defending liberty should do so, in my view.

Detlev Schlichter is back from his holiday …

And he returns to find the state of the world slightly worse. Things were, of course, pretty bad to begin with, so that’s like Hell being slightly hotter.

The idea that all this monetary madness is only temporary, only to help us get out of the crisis, and that the central banks have an ‘exit strategy’ – a term that I have not heard or seen in any discussion of central bank policy since spring of 2011! – is getting less tenable by the day. There is no exit strategy. Not in the US, not in the UK, not in the Euro Zone.

Calling Mitt Romney. Don’t worry about losing. Worry about winning.

Samizdata spacefaring quote of the day

“The next four days were a period torn out of the world’s usual context, like a breathing spell with a sweep of clean air piercing mankind’s lethargic suffocation. For thirty years or longer, the newspapers had featured nothing but disasters, catastrophes, betrayals, the shrinking stature of men, the sordid mess of a collapsing civilisation; their voice had become a long, sustained whine, the megaphone of failure, like the sound of an oriental bazaar where leprous beggars, of spirit or matter, compete for attention by displaying their sores. Now, for once, the newspapers were announcing a human achievement, were reporting on a human triumph, were reminding us that man still exists and functions as a man.”

Ayn Rand, from her essay, “Apollo 11”, taken from The Voice of Reason, page 167.

Neil Armstrong, gone, but never to be forgotten.

Here is a nice documentary about Armstrong which nicely captured his love of flying and science.

The right answers to the right question – Steve Baker MP and the Ron Paul tendency

My favourite MP in Britain is Steven Baker, and he has a very interesting take on the Left. His attitude is not: “Wrong answers, you idiots!” It is: “Good question!” The question being, along the lines of: “What the hell is happening?!?!”, and Steve Baker’s answer being variations on the theme of Austrianism. Government-controlled money ruining us. Sort out the money, and take the financial bad news that will come with a return to monetary sanity. Then: progress! Tim Evans has a recent piece up at the Cobden Centre blog in which he adopts exactly this approach:

While such conclusions are wrong, they are at least borne of people starting to try and articulate the right question.

The comments on this are mostly full of scorn (most especially those from Paul Marks). Maybe good question, but bad answers, is their line.

Does it accomplish anything to try to insert Austrianism into mainstream British political debate in this way, on the back of a basically Leftist campaign of anti-capitalist scorn and outrage? My sense is: in Parliament, maybe. When trying to get a hearing on the BBC, definitely. Elsewhere, maybe not. I used to think this was a great tactic. Now, I’m genuinely unsure. Is it really possible to try to hijack someone else’s spiel like this? Well, the answer is: maybe it is possible. Like I say, I am genuinely unsure. Steve Baker and his Cobden centre supporters (I am one) have done lots of media spots, in which they have taken this line. Maybe the Cobden Centre narrative just awaits another bout of British financial turmoil to take centre stage in Britain.

Meanwhile, my eye was caught by a couple of passing remarks about similar arguments in the USA, both of which suggest that a similar tactic in the USA to that adopted by Steve Baker MP, over here, may already be working well, over there.

Exhibit one is from a piece about an economic model of the forthcoming Presidential election, which is almost entirely about the relative fortunes of Dems (very bad) and Repubs (very promising). But right at the end of the report there is this:

Bicker and Berry also did not factor in third party candidates, such as Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, who Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated polling firm, has noted could significantly diminish Obama’s chances of winning New Mexico.

Note that. Here’s a libertarian taking votes from Obama. This must be another manifestation of that new and improved two-party system that Instapundit posted about recently.

And then this morning, I was struck by this comment, on this piece, which is about some Democrat supporting interlopers at the Republican convention, one of whom is a Ron Paul supporter. The commenter (comment number 8 by “stmarks” at 9.25pm on Aug 25 – forgive the comment-standard spelling and grammar) says, in among a lot of other stuff about conservatives and liberals, this about Ron Paul supporters:

… And I am convinced 90% of these Ronnies [Ron Paul worshipers] are ex-democrats who are too ashamed to admit so, but still hates GOP with a burning passion.

I freely admit that I may be reading far too much into two tiny snippets of comment. (I am posting this here in order to find out more about that.) But, what these snippets, snippets though they are, tell me is that Austrianist arguments (such as those of the Ron Paul camp most definitely are) are making headway in the USA, and are drawing people away from pro-government and anti-capitalist answers towards anti-government and pro-capitalist answers. Democrats, at least some Democrats, are morphing into Ron Paulites.

A generation of people who regard the Republicans as most emphatically part of the problem are staying anti-Republican, and accordingly pro-Democrat if that’s the only option they are offered. But if someone comes to them, as Ron Paul supporters did during the early stages of the Occupy Movement, saying: “You are right about the problem! The banks are indeed screwed! But let us tell you who screwed them and how to unscrew them. The government screwed the banks, and the way to unscrew the banks is to get the government out of the banking business” … well, that cuts some ice. “We believe this stuff because we believe it. We are only Republicans tactically, insofar as we can push them in our direction. To join us, you do not have to be a Republican.”

Learn more about the Paulist influence on the Republicans by looking at the comments on this recent posting by me here about the Tea Party.

So maybe Steve Baker’s approach is entirely right, and I am just being impatient.

LATER: See also this on the Tea Party, and of course: this on giving libertarianism a ‘left hook’.

LATER (via Guido): In Paul they trust ….

Doctor Theatre

I just did a recorded interview (for the Cobden Centre) with Patrick Crozier, and experienced the mystery that is Doctor Theatre. This is when you are ill, but performing. For the duration of the performance, the illness goes into a state of voluntary liquidation. As soon as the performance ends, back comes the illness.

I still have the remnants of a cough. When talking at all volubly, I have to stop from time to time, to cough. Except that during this performance, I did not cough once. As soon as the official part of the conversation stopped, I coughed, and Patrick said: that’s the first time you coughed during this entire conversation.

I talked about all this happening before it happened, with another friend. I thought that might spook it. But no. It happened exactly as predicted.

As to whether the conversation I had with Patrick, without coughing, was any good and at all worth listening to, that’s another matter entirely.

3D printing won’t be domesticated any time soon (but then again how it might)

The internet has a standing order from me to send me any news stories it has about 3D printing, and I am beginning to get a feel for how this story is playing out. (Maybe, what do I know?, etc.)

My first guess was that 3D printers are something like laser printers, which would accordingly soon enter all our homes, but I now think that’s wrong. 3D printing is not an enhancement of domesticity, or not yet. It is already, and has been for quite a few years, a technological development technique, and it is now morphing into a manufacturing technique, which is what most of the news stories are about. Here’s this new thing they are making with 3D printing! Wow!

But it’s “they” who are doing this. Only a minority of people reading or hearing these stories now want to get their hands on this kit themselves. If there is a parallel with personal computing, then 3D printing is still at the stage when mad techno-hippies were buying the first cheap (-ish) computers to play with in their dad’s garages, and learning how to program them, circa 1977(?). The only – although it was one hell of an “only” – killer app there was for those first small computers in those early days was if you wanted to learn how a computer worked.

Consider the following news story, from the Daily Mail. It seems that someone somewhere has worked out how to “print” a new kind of bikini, out of 3D nylon. Many may be excited by this story, such as women seeking nicer bikinis, and men needing a techno-excuse for drooling over the female bodies involved in advertising the bikinis, but while there may be a small stampede to the bikini shop to buy such new garments, this story will surely not cause any stampede to techno-stores to buy bikini-printers.

I wrote everything else in this posting before reading this piece by Ryan Whitwam, but he says pretty much what I say here. → Continue reading: 3D printing won’t be domesticated any time soon (but then again how it might)

Soros buys into Man U

I seem to recall someone (one of our commenters here?) saying that George Soros is the nearest thing in reality to a James Bond villain.

So I guess we now know which football team we here do not now support.

Well played Everton.

Benjamin Kerstein explains Noam Chomsky

If you believe – as in: if you believe that if you went into it thoroughly you believe that you would believe – that Noam Chomsky is a monster, but have better things to do with your life than wade through all the disgustingness that would prove it, then this is the interview you should read.

My thanks to David Thompson.