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]

Samizdata quote of the day

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and cockwomble, has decided to introduce a soda tax in his restaurants “to send a powerful and strong message to government”. He claims that he will give money raised to the state-funded sock-puppet charity Sustain, who are agitating for a soft drinks tax that will cost taxpayers £1 billion a year. If Oliver feels so strongly about fizzy drinks he could simply stop selling them, but that would hit his bottom line so he’d rather gouge his customers to fund a campaign for a state-sanctioned ‘level playing field’ that will rip off his competitors’ customers too.

Christopher Snowdon

47 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fair enough, he’s running a private business that I am not forced to sustain, if he wants to add a forceable charity donation if someone chooses to buy a soda in his shitty restaurant then I have no problem with that as long as he makes it clear on the menu and actually DOES make the donation.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    John Galt, absolutely right.

  • Fraser Orr

    I am with John Galt on this. I think this is perfectly fine, he can charge whatever he wants for soda, and do whatever he wants with the money. If he wants to advertise this specific transaction then good for him. Even if what he does with it is support a cause I think is stupid.

    This is about as different from a tax as chalk is from cheese.

  • Paul Marks

    First the state (and the “fashionable” people) said that people drinking booze was wrong.

    Now they are saying drinking non booze is wrong.

    “But it will shorten your life”.

    So what?

  • Mr Ed

    Quite why a restauranteur should wish to subject his customers to agitprop is a mystery, but it is his restaurant and his risk. In the late 1990s, Michael Wharton of the Telegraph noticed that the Blair government was putting agitprop into the Rotal Parks. ‘Is there to be no escape?’ He asked rhetorically.

    But, is it a moral crime to fund a sock-puppet charity of this sort? And when the revolution comes, will it be adjudged to be an actual crime?

  • The worst thing is calling it ‘soda’. Come off it, mate.

  • Michael Jennings

    He can charge what he likes, and do whatever he likes with the money. And he can be a self-important sanctimonious tosser – and oh Lord is he that.

  • pete

    Seems a sensible business move to me. All that ethical tosh attracts young, high disposable income types.

  • This is about as different from a tax as chalk is from cheese.

    Huh? The original linked article was not calling for Jamie Oliver to be imprisoned, banned or beaten up, so… what are you talking about?

    The article was suggesting people should not do business with this turd because he supports non-volunarty government interference (real tax) with what people choose to eat.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Selling sugared fizzy drinks in an upscale restaurant is a bit like putting spam on top of lobster thermidore aux crevettes with a mornay sauce:
    Other than that, what the other commenters said: he’s free to set the price, and to make a fool of himself in the way he uses the profits thereof.

  • Cal

    +1 Perry. Snowden doesn’t say that Oliver shouldn’t be allowed to add extra bills in his own restaurant. He’s just pointing out that Oliver is a hypocritical turd with objectionable statist views.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I went into his Bluewater restaurant and did not enjoy the experience, overpriced and underwhelming is all I can say, if his other places are similar I would avoid.

    Interestingly his menu at Union Jacks in Covent Garden only shows “fizzy drinks” as being homemade rather than the corporatist variety, rather ironic that he concocts his own overpriced sugary drink and then says its the customer’s fault for buying it!

    I also notice that fruit juices are on the drinks menu, which normally contain just as much sugar, I wonder if he’ll be targeting those, but perhaps the old canard of fruit=healthy will prevail.

  • The worst thing is calling it ‘soda’. Come off it, mate.

    Apologies – currently reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and just regurgitated the patois.

  • “Cockwomble” I like the sound of this, but can anyone explain what it actually means ?


  • “Cockwomble”

    Male-directed insult. Also describes the tendency to rummage in your underwear massaging ones genitals as if looking for litter to pick up (hence womble )

    Look at that guy. He is such a cockwomble.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Happy Tachyon Day!!!
    This is the day I choose to announce my great physical discovery- that Tachyons (and Tardyons) are an inevitable part of everything!
    (This is a bit off-topic, but I don’t know where else to put it, and some readers here are very interested in science and science fiction, so here goes! Also, Oliver’s article seems to be a ‘spin’ on his prices, and physical spin is part of my idea, so hang on!)
    Relativity is in trouble. It cannot take quantum effects into account, even though both quantum effects and relativity are successful theories. Whilst mulling over radios and the way they interfere with each other if they are tuned to the same wavelength, i realised that every sense is related to radiation, because we never touch the objects that we see or ‘touch’- we just bump up against their electric fields which interact and interfere with our own electric fields put out by our atoms.
    So reality is what we interact with, through emitted particles. Therefore, how could we ever interact with tachyons? Our particles are not equipped to interact with anything travelling at speeds different to light-speed, so any such particles would be undetectable- but not impossible by the nature of reality! (Neutrinos can barely be detected, but they exist.)
    If, in a black hole, quanta were forced together, they might be forced to combine the speed-limit factor- and become Tachyons, immune to the gravity going at light-speed! Like a water-molecule which is stressed by sunlight on the Ocean’s surface, until it becomes vapour and escapes from the liquid level of existence, able to travel much faster in air.
    If eight electrons were fused into one electron of double diameter to our electrons, the spin of such an electron would be double the spin of our electrons- AND I believe this would mean that it emits energy at double the speed of light! The spin value of all particles literally ejects energy at the rate of spin!
    And particles can only accept radiation which matches their own rate of spin. So we are all only aware of matter if it has the same spin-speed as ourselves. However, black holes distort traditional Relativity, proving that spin rates can be changed. and if we can find another way to increase the spin rate of all the particles in a spaceship, then tachyon speeds are likely.
    And Relativity would be conserved- for whatever speed you assign to C, you relate to particles which travel at that rate. A 2C particle would measure all radiation which it can interact with as having a speed of… 2C, it’s own speed of spin! And it would interact with non-2C particles, so no time-travel paradoxes would occur.
    E=MXCsquared. The X stands for any whole number, with one as our current ‘normal’ Universe. Sorry, Einstein, but something had to be changed.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Please change ‘it would interact with’ to ‘it wouldn’t interact with’ in the sentence dealing with 2C particles.

  • Plamus

    If eight electrons were fused into one electron of double diameter to our electrons, the spin of such an electron would be double the spin of our electrons- AND I believe this would mean that it emits energy at double the speed of light!

    Nick, are you drunk, or high, or have you been hacked, or is this some high-level trolling? Unlike what you believe, physics does not work this way. First of all, electrons are fermions, and have a spin of 1/2. “double the spin of our electrons” is nonsense, as particles with integer spins are bosons, a completely different animal.

    The spin value of all particles literally ejects energy at the rate of spin!

    Second of all, only elementary particles with spin of 1/2 and 1 are known to exist (and one 0, if you consider the Higgs proven to exist, plus one 2, the theoretical gravitons). Bosons do not emit energy at twice the the rate (whatever that means) of fermions.

    And particles can only accept radiation which matches their own rate of spin.

    The can you explain how electrons, with a spin of 1/2, happily absorb and emit photons, with a spin of 1?

    Why am I even bothering?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland
    > Huh? The original linked article was not calling for Jamie Oliver to be imprisoned,

    The OP called it a “soda tax” which it is not, it is nothing like a tax. I might add the later description of him “gouging” consumers is equally wrong. It is not “gouging” to add a little political activism to your menu, irrespective of whether you agree with the cause. Of course, don’t do business with his restaurants is a perfectly legitimate response too.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    I was using spin in the common-sense term, not whatever it means in the world of physics. And I still think that the speed of radiation is determined by the speed of rotation of the source, just as in spinning tops today. If you get onto a spinning roundabout, and fail to hold on, you will be ejected from it at its’ own rate of speed.
    And I think that my other explanations of interference do make sense. And I think that this approach would be a way of quantizing Relativity.
    Do you have a better approach?

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Incidentally, when physicists use the term half-spin, does that mean that particles never fully rotate in a complete circle? If not, then what?

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Tax” — Mr. Snowdon means “surcharge.”

    Personally, I wouldn’t volunteer to send a dime to any Official (or Officially Unofficial) Government Charity, so I will be avoiding Mr. Oliver’s places of business on principle.

    The nice thing about it is that this will be an easy program to carry out, since I’m really not within swimming distance of the joint.

  • It doesn’t matter what one believe, reality is real.

  • Thomas Fuller

    Master Bates, that profound insight into the human condition wins today’s Internetz.

  • Ann K

    Unfamiliar with “cockwomble” but will start adding it in conversations immediately!

  • Yes, it’s not what he’s doing in his restaurants that’s wrong, it’s his support of state violence.

    Most people are in favour of some sort of state violence, but Jamie Oliver is, weirdly, in a position of influence and power, so is worth boycotting because of it.

  • Mr. Fuller,

    I do believe that I have one for tomorrow:

    Reality doesn’t go away.

  • Laird

    I hadn’t seen the word “cockwomble” before, either (although the meaning is fairly evident from the context), so I googled it. What I found was this: “Person possessing properties of striking idiocy”. So far, so good. But what I found really interesting was the “related entries”: David Cameron, Jeremy Hunt, Ed Milliband.


  • Watchman

    Comments here are reassuring – most commentators believe that people can do what the hell they like (however stupid) in running their own affairs.

    A few seem to suggest that we should perhaps consider not doing business with this one example of the people who can do what they like, although nothing as silly as proposing a boycott (so not trying to presurise anyone else into making their own decision).

    And some seem to be distracted by some silly non-physics…

    So Samizdata continues to exist. And common sense and silliness remain in the correct places.

  • Greytop

    “to send a powerful and strong message to government”

    I think the mockney overestimates the impact of his actions on HM government. In fact, there is every chance they will take not the slightest notice.

    Considerbaly less, I suspect, than his famous involvement with school dinners:


  • llamas

    For the American audience –

    ‘Womble’ – children’s book and TV character of the 1970s, notable chiefly for its habit of collecting and recycling refuse.



  • Sigivald

    Oliver is a preening hack, and plays loose enough with the truth that I consider him basically dishonest (see his “squamishness = morality” play with “pink goo”).

    (And I agree – to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, “I’ll believe it’s super important when he acts like it is” and refuses to sell soda himself.

    He’s a Kommissar in a chef’s hat.)

  • llamas

    Regarding Jamie Oliver and his involvement with school dinners – UK readers may not be aware that he tried this jape in the US as well, trying to impose his bizarre foodways on the innocent infants of Huntington, West Virginia.

    The interesting part of the story is why he failed (miserably). A big part of the reason that he failed is that he was forever falling afoul of the USDA (ie Federal) regulations that govern the content and makeup of school lunches. No matter how many times the school-lunch program administrator tried to patiently explain to him that these were federal regulations that they had to comply with to keep their program funding coming, he just didn’t seem to get it.

    Still doesn’t, apparently. He doesn’t seem to have made the connection that the state that he is trying to encourage to tax and burden what he considers to be ‘bad’ foods, is perfectly-capable and really-quite-willing to promote and encourage the consumption of those very-same ‘bad’ foods, if the political winds blow the right way. The government that can tax your soda one day, can tax your arugula the next. He has apparently not yet digested the message that, if you let politicians decide what can be bought and sold, and for how much, the first things to be bought and sold will be (altogether now, kiddies) politicians. His ideas about nutrition don’t mean squat to them.



  • I await with bated breath the day when this self-important ur-chef decides to do a similar thing with butter.

  • llamas

    @ Kim du Toit, who wrote:

    I await with baSted breath the day when this self-important ur-chef decides to do a similar thing with butter.

    There, FIFY.



  • Fraser Orr

    > ‘Womble’ – children’s book and TV character of the 1970s, notable chiefly for its habit of collecting and recycling refuse.

    Yes and much missed given that they were a private organization who tried to make the world a better place by just, you know, doing it rather than campaigning for the government to make other people do it, and also to take the trash and convert it into something useful, which is to say use the profit motive to generate a greater good. What a bunch of furry little free marketers they were…

    For your entertainment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feLDAys0v-c

    I am told Mike Batt’s career never quite recovered.

  • lucklucky

    Rob Fisher said it all. This action is only to ask for statist intervention.

  • Mr Ed

    By inflating the price of ‘pop’ to use a neutral term 🙂 Mr Oliver is thereby increasing the relative attraction of purchasing alcoholic beverages in his establishment. Is he contributing to the epidemic of liver disease, premature deaths and gender-based domestic violence amonst his patrons by this?

    Sorry, my predictive text seems to have run away with itself there. Of course, why should he not*, in a free country?

    * if you believe that customers have no free will.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    In a curious way, Plamus reinforces my point. Spin values seem fixed, so what fixes them? Could an extreme environment change one value, and thus change others? If we drop the assumption that C is the only possible value of photons in a vacuum, and assume that we are only tuned to emit and absorb the value that we accept as normal, wouldn’t that be progress?
    Unfortunately for science fiction types, whilst this might yield tachyon spacecraft, the faster energy MUST mean a faster rate of living. The only way to travel would be by using tachyons AND hybernation to reach stars in just a few weeks, so we’d only see the start and end of journeys. Not as much fun, but practical.

  • Fred the Fourth

    As a denizen of USENET from the beginning, and therefore experienced in interpreting on-line presentations of novel physical theories, let me congratulate Mr. Gray on having made NO ADVANCES AT ALL in that realm.
    Thank you.
    PS: M. du Toit, always nice to see you around.

  • Ian Bennett

    “I am told Mike Batt’s career never quite recovered.”

    I’m not so sure. He made at least three excellent solo albums (aided by the LSO and several high-profile rock and pop musicians), and went on to discover Vanessa-Mae, Katie Melua and Bond.

    Incidentally, I have all four of the Wombles’ albums and they are actually very good, in terms of the songwriting and musicianship. The Rick Wakeman pastiche is particularly good.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser, thanks for the video. Cute! :>)

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Thank you, Fred. Your official announcements mean a lot to me. So no hope for a Nobel prize, you reckon? I should sell my Oslo ticket? Say lavvee, or something.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    And a final revelation- the speed of light would always be measured at it’s current value!
    If you could tune into a universe with a 100 times light limit, your own reactions would be 100 times faster, so your second would be 1/100th that of Earth! The speed of radiation coming towards you would then seem the same as from Earth! Only the landscape would give you a clue that you were anywhere different.

  • Mr Ed

    What a bunch of furry little free marketers they were…

    Well, I thought that Uncle Bulgaria was an obvious Warsaw Pact agent, probably sent to murder Georgi Markov, and they were there to kick-start enviro-loonyness. And they kept picking up the tin foil I wanted to line my hat with.

  • Rational Plan

    Hmm will he then have different prices for diet fizzy drinks then? If the evil is sugar then that must hold true. I hope his menus have prominent calorie counts. Any discounts for salads? Whats his position on puddings. Will waiters have to judge whether his customers are over weight and start telling them, ‘No pudding for you then, you fat bastard’ How about banning people who cant have over 40 inch waist, or can’t carry off a fitted jacket? Why not just plaster a sign across your restaurant saying no fat bastards allowed. You are all evil and will go hell.

    Right I’ll stick to boring old Pizza Express, a nice middle class chain that has no celebrities to support and the only charity surcharge is a £1 on the Venezia pizza to support the protection and restoration of Venice.

  • mojo

    “Soft drinks tax”? These people are insane.