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

It is untrue that the fires are historically huge or unprecedented. NASA says the Amazon fires are ‘slightly below average this year’. Many are pointing out that we are witnessing the highest number of fires in the Amazon for seven years. But as meteorologist Jesse Ferrell reports, prior to 2012 there were many years in which the Amazon had worse fires than this year’s: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010. As Ferrell says, there are always fires on Earth: ‘Thousands of fires are continually burning across the Earth every day of every year, and they always have.’ The idea that what is currently happening in the Amazon is shockingly unusual or apocalyptic or proof of man’s fascistic disdain for his environment is an entirely politicised interpretation of a perfectly normal event.

Brendan O’Neill

You’ve heard of precrime. Meet preantipathy.

The concept of “Precrime” was introduced to the world by the science fiction author Philip K Dick, whose dystopian 1956 short story Minority Report became a film in 2002 and reality in 2020 according to precogs working for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

“New law needed to take on far-right extremism, says Blair thinktank”

A new law allowing for hate groups to be designated and punished before they turn to violence is needed in order to tackle far-right extremists, according to a report by Tony Blair’s thinktank, which also seeks powers to ban marches and media appearances.

Generation Identity, a racist movement that promotes a conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced by non-whites in Europe, would be among the groups targeted by new legislation, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change report said.

The law could sit alongside proscription powers, banning groups concerned with terrorism, but would not be directly linked to violence or terrorism. Rather, it would designate hate groups as organisations that spread intolerance and antipathy towards people of a different race, religion, gender or nationality, the report said.

Antipathy? They want to introduce laws that “sit alongside” the laws (sinister enough themselves) that ban groups suspected of plotting acts of terrorism before they have actually committed a crime, including the crime of conspiracy. Only these new laws would pre-emptively ban groups who might want to spread a strong feeling of dislike before they did anything about it.

The authors acknowledge that the issue of linking violent and nonviolent extremism is contentious and steps would need to be taken to protect free speech.

Very droll.

The Starhopper has landed

Last night, SpaceX completed a 150m hop test of the Starhopper test article for the upcoming Starship spacecraft. (Recall that Starhopper is basically a water tower with a rocket engine at the bottom.)

This may not look impressive to an untrained eye. After all, SpaceX has been landing rockets like this for a while. However, bear in mind what you are watching. This is a vehicle the size of a large townhouse (it’s 20m tall) being balanced at a single point at its base, and it isn’t so much as wobbling. (That’s much like keeping a water bottle balanced with your index finger.) Said house-sized object is then seamlessly translated upwards and over, and rotated at the same time, before landing perfectly. It’s propelled by the world’s first full flow staged combustion engine to actually fly — an engine burning methane, a relatively new fuel for rockets that has never before been used for real flights either.

Yes, SpaceX makes it look like getting a rocket to hover is easy. However, it isn’t even remotely easy.

This test makes it ever more likely that prototypes of Starship/Superheavy are going to be in flight tests of their own within the next couple of years. That, in turn, makes the era of affordable spaceflight ever closer. Recall that a fully reusable spacecraft means at least a two order of magnitude reduction in launch costs.

So, this minute long flight is a critical step towards the day where humans live permanently off the Earth. We at the Miskatonic University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics will continue to monitor and report as future Starship test flights occur.

A logical danger in PC illogic

(Normal service – i.e. prose – will be resumed promptly. I promised a follow-up poem about its being too easy to rebut the race scammers – or ‘race hustlers’ as is, I believe, the US term. Here it is.)

ADVICE TO A CAMPUS RADICAL

When true statements are uttered by those you despise,
It’s not logical (nor helpful, narrative-wise)
To shout “racist”, as if hearers will not realise
That from true factual statements do not follow lies.

Don’t unwittingly justify what you oppose,
by discarding all logic for wokeness, like those
intellectuals lacking in intellect who
‘prove’ some true facts are racist (so racism’s true?).

When exam results don’t match what you want them to,
When too few of the prize winners have the ‘right’ hue,
Do not claim that it’s racist to add two and two:
“Mathematics is racist!” says “Racism’s true”.

If school discipline policies are colour-blind
and offender percentage results in each kind
are unequal, don’t say that is racist to do:
saying “colour-blind’s racist” says “racism’s true”.

That slavery is ancient, you should not deny,
Nor that blacks sold the blacks that white traders did buy,
Nor that one culture banned it and forced others to,
Nor that these truths aren’t racist (else racism’s true).

Falsifiable claims enforced by a loud few
Do not silence the minds whose mouths dare not argue;
Best let doubters weed errors in free speech review.
Don’t say free speech is racist; free speech finds what’s true.

Sadly, say what I like about freedom of speech.
How ‘respect’ means first hearing the viewpoint of each,
And how more diverse thoughts could expand your thought’s reach,
Your thought is:   we listen, while you alone teach.

When you welcome illegals, but back of the queue
Is where you put the Copt, Venezuelan or Jew
(anti-‘Zionist’ immigrants being welcome too)
It appears that some racism’s OK by you.

Know from false ideologies, falsehood derives:
You’ll be spreading the hatred, you claiming the lives.
If you war against truths then you will evil do,
For no truth can be racist – else racism’s true.

Discussion point: which little Guardian to believe?

Cartoons depict a character wrestling with his conscience by placing a little devil on one shoulder whispering sweet temptations into one ear while a little angel urges rectitude from the other side.

The Guardian says,

The Guardian view on 16-year-old soldiers: armies are for adults

But as Guido points out, the Guardian also says,

The Guardian view on the voting age: time to lower it to 16

Which little Guardian is the angel, which the devil?

I could have just asked you at what age you think children should become adults, but the two little Guardians united to demand their moment of fame. Perhaps both of them should be ignored and there should be no fixed age of adulthood. History provides no guide. From the twelve year old boys who served as “powder monkeys” during naval battles in the age of sail, to the Roman man who remained under the authority of his father for as long as the latter lived, every extreme of custom has seemed natural to those that lived under it.

Are there any oddities of law relating to the age at which young people can first do a given activity that particularly annoy you?

Can you see any way in which fourteen year olds could be stopped from buying hard drugs without the use of law? Or do you dispute that they should be stopped at all?

Samizdata quote of the day

You don’t have to be a fan of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and spiked certainly isn’t, to feel deeply uncomfortable with the Western outrage over his policy on the rainforest. Observers claim the Amazon is experiencing its highest number of fires since records began. That those records only began in 2013 should give the Western hysterics pause for thought – this isn’t the historically unprecedented End of Days event they claim it is. There are always fires in the Amazon, some started by nature, others by human beings logging or clearing land for farming. Some of the current fires were started by people who need wood or land – how dare they! – while others are just part of the natural cycle.

Brendan O’Neill

How we are saved from limiting ourselves

“First ads banned for contravening UK gender stereotyping rules”, reported the Guardian some days ago.

Two television ads, one featuring new dads bungling comically while looking after their babies and the other a woman sitting next to a pram, have become the first to be banned under new rules designed to reduce gender stereotyping.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ads for Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen, following complaints from the public that they perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

The new rules, introduced at the beginning of the year, ban the depiction of men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities to help stop “limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take”.

… by limiting what they are permitted to see and making their life decisions for them.

Too Easy to Rebut the PC Ta-Nehisi / NYT

The long-suffering readers of this blog know that, like Bilbo Baggins, I occasionally inflict poetry upon you (in deference to this blog’s free speech convictions, I also allow the word ‘doggerel’ 🙂 ).

Whether this poem says anything my prose did not say, I leave to readers, but since Ta-Nehisi is being echoed by Democrat candidates, and the NYT is promising to write essay after essay “demonstrating that nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery”, how can we avoid restating truths as they reiterate their lies? In pursuit of variety, I therefore offer as poem some thoughts mostly already expressed in prose. (If commenters know other ways of restating timeless truths to resist the fashionable lies of this time, by all means say.)

When white traders sought a profit in black endless tribal wars,
Where the winners sold the losers, pinioned in their slave collars,
Then the winners were the losers, left behind in Africa,
From the losers came the winners, free men in America.

If you thought that reparations were owed you by those you blame
Then the past you should have had, you would endeavour to reclaim –
Live with offspring of keen sellers, whence your captured forebears came,
Quit the nation that stopped buying, if you thought it owned the shame –

Since a man who claims repayment from a country where he’ll stay,
Clutching eagerly its passport (to live there, not go away),
Knows the winners don’t descend from those who won a tribal war;
He, descendant of the losers, knows he is today’s victor.

For we all have ancestors, and all have some who had it rough.
‘Fixing’ that would have no end, quite cause enough to say “Enough!”.
But to insolently claim repayment for great benefit,
When the losers are long dead, and in world terms you’re doing great,

When you say your country owes you yet remain its citizen,
Shows you don’t think you, today, inherit loss from way back then.
Better not repay your country with your self-indulgent hate,
But rejoice its negroes prosper as it is again made great.

That it is in one way too easy to rebut these idiots – that the antifa woke mob have a power in their fists and in their administrators’ and media-friends’ fraud that they do not have in their heads – prompts me to write parables and poems to make it interesting. But since we believe diversity of thought is the only diversity of value, ‘too easy’ has its dangers – those words are not just in my title for the rhyme. But that must await my next poem.

Meanwhile (reverting to prose), the whole NYT Ta-Nehisian project is like observing that in the 1850s, while a majority of free U.S. blacks were literate and literacy passed easily from them to slaves, a majority of US slaves were not literate – at a time when the large majority of the world’s people were not literate. It is only because the US population was exceptionally literate for its time that one has any basis for complaint. And southern slaveowners worried about slave literacy only because, in the exceptional US, a literate slave might read that all men were endowed with inalienable rights – and then read a map showing routes northwards – which was not a danger in the unexceptional parts of the world.

(This is another of my “Less economy of truth, please” posts – maybe I should make a tag.)

No, slavery did not make America, or the West, richer

US economic historian Deidre McCloskey debunks the claims – which I see have been given fresh impetus by the New York Times recently – that since the very earliest days of the colonies, slavery has been one of the main things that made America rich. This claim draws on a zero-sum mentality: the only way to raise living standards is squeezing surplus value out of workers against their will (to put it in Marxian terms). In other words, the claim goes against the classical liberal argument that slavery is ultimately not just wicked – which it is – but also economically stupid, because free labour is more productive than unfree labour. The more options people have about where and on what they work, the bigger the pie is. And even those small number of folk who get rich on slavery (but where did they get the guns and the whips and the land to use to jail said slaves?) could and did get even richer had they not been slavers. (There is also the ever-present fear that slavers must have that sooner or later there will be a revolt, in which said slavers get killed.)

The whole article is first class and I strongly recommend it. She takes issue with the “King Cotton” school of history that has gained some recent traction. Bookmark this article for when some apologist for coercion trots out the old line that no “great civilisation” ever existed without slavery. Quite simply, it is bullshit.

Here is another report about the NYT project (the NYT is behind a paywall, and I cannot be arsed to subscribe to a publication likely to damage my blood pressure).

Mercedes benz with the prevailing wind

The Mail can be a little sensationalist sometimes. I am hoping that some of our well informed and technically aware commenters will tell me that the following story is ridiculous:

How ALL cars could spy on you like Mercedes by 2022: EU plan could see location-tracking devices fitted in new vehicles despite privacy concerns

All new cars could be fitted with devices to track down drivers that are speeding, driving irresponsibly or have fallen behind on finance payments, under controversial new plans.

From 2022 the EU wants all cars made inside the Union to feature location-tracking devices so they can monitor speed, driving behaviour and whether motorists are using safety features properly.

The black boxes have sparked a privacy row with drivers concerned they are ‘being watched’, as trackers can be activated without their knowledge.

Yesterday Mercedes was at the centre of the uproar after bosses admitted all new and used cars sold by them are fitted with trackers.

A silly and alarmist piece, right? What is being proposed is beyond the capacity of current technology, surely? Not to mention legally out of the question, irrespective of whether Britain is in or out of the EU. That’s right, isn’t it, guys? Guys?

What is Modern Monetary Theory?

I commend this to samizdata readers, one in a series by Tim Worstall apparently:

Modern Monetary Theory is, in one sense, just reality. In the other and more important discussion MMT is a simple ignorance of the original question being asked.

Hit the link, read the whole thing.

Humanitarian Combat Fatigue

Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a boat that had been in the mediterranean rescuing migrants – not one of the PC frauds that are the final stage of the people-smuggling operation, determined to land the ‘rescued’ in Europe or not at all, but just would-be humanitarian rescuers and returners.

What I was unprepared to learn about was something that sounded a bit like combat fatigue – the kind when a man says vehemently “I don’t want to talk about it”, and two hours later can’t stop talking about it. The people-smugglers pack them in, so the engine room is always crowded – maybe with those who did not pay or promise as much as others, maybe with those who were rashly eager, boarded first and got sent below, or maybe randomly. The ventilation is never adequate, and the people-smugglers never care, so typically half are dead by the time they are intercepted. I think the man who didn’t want to talk about it and couldn’t stop talking about it had cleared one too many such scenes – or maybe several too many.

Such accounts reinforce the impression I get from anecdotes on samizdata or elsewhere.

– Firstly, this is a commercial operation in which the people labelled ‘refugees’ are indeed really migrants but they are also more (or do I mean less?) than that. They are a commodity – a collaborating (and also pressured and deceived) commodity.

– Secondly, it is news to me if this aspect gets on the mainstream news. Is it just me (maybe it is – maybe I’ve missed watching counter-examples), or does mainstream media news consistently obscure this basic aspect of the migrant operation?