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

Progressive mythology always demands a socialist valhalla; a nation to be idealised and held up as an inspiration. For years, Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden, played this role. The stereotype was never entirely accurate; Scandinavian social democracy is a far cry from full-throated socialism, yet it remained influential. In the face of the pandemic, however, the tables have turned; now it is the libertarian Right who are lining up to applaud Swedish exceptionalism, while progressives liken their controversial strategy to a form of eugenics. With Sweden consigned to the naughty step, the Left needs a new country to fetishise, and they have alighted on New Zealand.

Madeline Grant.

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ecks

    Is there NO will to resist left in NZ? Fucking camps? Is that cunt Jacaranda Vagina-Dentata and the short 4-eyed little shite who does her talking really that powerful? WTF is going on down there?

  • Sweden was certainly a (welcome) surprise to me.

    In the middle ages, Iceland missed the first round of ‘the great mortality’ – so suffered doubly when the Black Death returned. New Zealand is a sparsely-populated island so remote that the no human beings arrived there till circa 1300 AD!! Maybe a vaccine or a treatment will soon end the issue for all of us. If not then, as with Venezuela and other countries the left praise early and forget later, New Zealand has some ChiComCold history still to write.

  • Aetius

    The Scottish nationalists of the SNP were big on fetishising small usually left leaning countries for a long time. Interestingly, they never fetishised Switzerland, Israel or Finland. These days they just obsess about getting a second independence referendum.

  • Chester Draws

    Because Labour is in power in NZ, the Left in other countries think it must be like their Left. Well it isn’t.

    NZ Labour run budget surpluses. Helen Clark’s government paid back a huge chunk of debt, and Jacinda would have too if Covid hadn’t come along. It was quite amusing to watch teachers striking against a Labour led government when they hadn’t under a National one.

    The government sector in NZ is tiny compared to most Western countries (being almost entirely security, health and education — and even then there is a private sector for health and education).

    Not that long ago NZ was the darling of the Right, with it’s “rock star” economy and deregulation. And, actually, not much has changed since then — because while Jacinda is very popular, her government hasn’t managed to do anything at all.

    And, if a vaccine doesn’t come along, Jacinda’s gamble of closing the borders tight shut is going to look like a spectacular own goal. Very slowly people are starting to realise that safety comes at a massive cost.

  • Mr Ed

    Socialist Valhallas tend to be far enough away not to be accessible (in case people try to test it) and preferably exotic, so that a direct comparison with one’s own county is not realistic, and difficulties can be hidden under translation problems. So far they have had:

    Mussolini’s Italy (in the early days)

    The Soviet Union (Walter Duranty, Beatrice and Sidney Webb etc.)

    Nazi Germany (eulogised by John Maynard Keynes in 1936 for its economics)

    Red China (for the stalwarts)

    Cuba (its problems are due to the US embargo, obviously, but if the US rips off Third World countries by trade, this should have made it richer).

    Yugoslavia (1970s, multi-ethnic, not too aggressive militarily)

    Chile early 1970s (until Pinochet removed the Allende government already declared illegal by the Chilean Congress)

    Nicaragua (early 1980s)

    Sweden (1980s) for those who are a bit soft, they had abandoned compulsory sterilisation only in the 1970s.

    Venezuela (still hanging in there)

    Syria (for its Ba’athist socialism and secularism, a bit niche).


    There is also mythologising about the Paris Commune and other murderous cults.

    The countries that don’t seem to qualify as Valhallas might include: North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Guyana, Hoxha’s Albania with its ban on beards, Grenada in the run-up to 25th October 1983 and Gaddafi’s Libya. Nor did Ataturk’s Turkey with its official doctrine of Statism and its secularism. Laos and Vietnam seem to be overlooked too.

    As for New Zealand, I want to see some stats and data before I accept this small government thing. Now when I see New Zealand on apple packets in the supermarket, I recoil.

    At the end of the day, in every socialist there is a Münster Anabaptist (non-peaceful) waiting to burst out, of which we see an echo in Portland, Oregon in these days.

  • Bruce Hoult

    I don’t know what people think is happening in NZ. It feels pretty weird to be fetishized by both the authoritarian left and the gun-toting survivalist right at the same time.

    After almost four years working for a multinational in Moscow (three years living there) and two years working for a Silicon Valley startup (one year living there) I got laid off in February and after surveying the world and local situations pretty quickly decided to return to NZ. I bought my tickets on February 23. By that time things were already out of control in Italy (especially Milan) so it was clear it was only a matter of time for other places.

    I had a fair level of confidence that the practical good sense generally shown by politicians of all side in both New Zealand and Australia would allow them to avoid the worst of it. Plus their natural defensibility.

    I got to NZ on the third day of “COVID Alert Level 4” which was, to be fair, pretty tough. Only supermarkets and pharmacies and fuel stations were open, and those with controlled numbers inside and 2m separation queues outside. You were not supposed to go more than approximately walking range from home. You were however free to walk on the beach or forest or moors (if we had any), or sit on park benches, as long as you maintained 2m distance from people you were not living with.

    We were shocked at video emerging from the UK of the police hassling people who were doing perfectly safe things.

    After 33 days Alert Level 4 was reduced to Level 3.

    We didn’t know it at the time, but as it turns out COVID-19 had already been totally eliminated from the community. The last case of unidentified community transmission had already occurred. It just took a while for the authorities to believe the evidence of their widespread testing.

    In Level 3 any business could open which was able to operate which could maintain physical distancing between staff and between staff and customers. This included takeaway (cooked) food, which had been banned under Level 4. We were free to travel “within the region”, or in other words “don’t go to another city”. We could meet with friends in groups of up to 10 people.

    On the first day of Level 3 I took delivery of a new Honda 250 motorcycle which I had bought via email while still in California. Wheels at last!

    We remained in Level 3 for 16 days.

    On May 14 we went to Level 2. In Level 2 *all* business can open, including cinemas, bars, restaurants but with larger than normal distancing, and with a visitor register. (Bar opening was initially delayed another four or five days). Travel is allowed anywhere in the country. Buses and trains and ferries and planes are operating.

    On the first day of Level 2 I took an uber into the city, hired a car, drove to another city (to Napier from Wellington), ate dinner in a restaurant on the way, and stayed in a motel. None of those had been allowed for the previous 52 days.

    The next morning I met someone who had a car for sale (“2008 Subaru Outback 2.5XT eyesight” with 87000 km for the curious), test drove it, bought it, and drove it to Wellington.

    [Side note: in NZ the car buying process consists of the seller going on to a web site, entering their and the buyer’s license details and the car number plate and declaring they have sold it. The buyer then goes to the same web site, enters similar details (including where to send the new registration papers to) and pays an $8 fee. The end.]

    A few days later I drove to the other end of the North Island to look for somewhere to rent in the Bay of Islands or similar area while looking for a house or land to buy in that area. Here’s the place I found 10 days later: http://hoult.org/riwhi I then made several trips back and forth, moving many of my things from storage in Wellington.

    Once NZ moved to Level 2 on May 14 we had fewer restrictions than Sweden. It is really not onerous. It barely affects normal live.

    We moved to Level 1 26 days later on June 9. Level 1 is life exactly the same as before COVID within the country. The only restriction is the 14 day quarantine at the international border.

    90% of NZ has been in Level 2 or Level 1 since May 14, and remains today in Level 2 (for 13 days so far).

    Again: Level 2 is fewer restrictions than Sweden.

    After four people in a family in Auckland returned positive test results on August 11 Auckland region moved to Level 3 at noon the next day, meaning most could not go to work or school, and they could not leave the region. That’s an area 130 km in extent from Wellsford to Pukekohe. The rest of NZ moved to Level 2.

    It was announced yesterday that the outbreak has been contained and Auckland will be moving down to Level 2 at midnight on Sunday, that is after 18.5 days in Level 3.

    There are currently 129 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, 19 of which are cases caught in quarantine at the border and 110 from the Auckland outbreak (built up over a period of two weeks).

    Prior to the August 11 test results, New Zealand went 103 days without a case in the community.

    I think I hardly need to remind people that the UK currently has around 1000 new cases a day (equivalent to 15 in NZ) and has never dropped below 350. The US currently has 35000 to 50000 new cases a day which is equivalent to 100 to 150 a day in New Zealand. Our worst single day in early April was 89. The US has never dropped below 16000.

    New Zealand remains at a total of 22 COVID deaths. Ever.

    Sadly, chances are this may increase by one or two, as there are now three people in ICU.

    I suppose there are three aspects of the last six months that should be considered: 1) control of the epidemic; 2) damage to the economy; 3) violation of people’s rights.

    1) I think there is no question NZ (and Australia too) have been very successful. NZ has had 4.4 deaths per million people, UK 615, USA 550, Sweden 550. Australia was the same as NZ until the current Melbourne outbreak, now it is up to 20/million. In NZ and Australia there are statistically zero excess deaths compared to an average year. This is not at all the case in the UK or US. The UK is running at overall 30% more deaths from all causes than in a normal year, and in April weekly deaths were double normal.

    There have been mistakes. I think NZ should have introduced Level 3 and 4 maybe three or four weeks earlier, not when there were already 200 cases and the first death. That would still be two or three weeks after I had enough information to decide to abandon California. I believe if this had been done the time in Level 4 could have been much shorter and perhaps 80% or 90% of the deaths avoided, and the damage to the economy much smaller.

    Likewise, Australia should have reacted much more quickly to their recent Melbourne outbreak. NZ got that right with the Auckland outbreak, reacting immediately.

    I think the lowering of COVID alert levels could safely have been quickly — even though it was already among the fastest in the world. But it’s forgivable given limited information, especially the first time.

    There have been screw-ups in the border quarantine system. People leaving their hotel and going to a supermarket. People *entering* a quarantine hotel to hug a friend. Reportedly people in quarantine mingling. (I was in one of these hotels when I returned from the US in early April — I stayed strictly in my room the entire time I was there). Quarantine staff never having been tested when the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, and the Director General of Health had all assured us (and apparently believed themselves) that they were being tested regularly.

    All of this calls into question whether we should depend on unaccountable bureaucrats and government employees for uncontested provision of such a critical function as quarantine. We would never do that with other critical things such as growing or distributing food.

    The remaining problem is that the border quarantine capacity needs to be vastly scaled up in capacity allowing both more NZ citizens to return, and also non-NZers willing to do it user-pays to come. The price for providing such services should be set (probably subsidized for citizens returning home once) at a level at which private providers are eager to do it, and are able to pay high enough wages to attract good quality staff. Government can provide quality checks, of course.

    2) damage to the economy.

    According to a chart in The Economist, NZ is forecast to have about a 9% GDP hit this year. I’m not sure about that. The March quarter was down 1.6% but that was before the full impact. It’s still three weeks until the June quarter figures will be released.

    Anyway, by the Economist figures, this is a little worse than Australia 5%, USA 7%, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway all around 6% give or take. But quite a lot better than UK, Italy, Spain at around 12%.

    The vastly lower human cost in New Zealand and Australia have not come at big cost to the economy relative to other countries. No one is getting away without economic damage this year, and that includes Sweden.

    There is no question that NZ’s Level 4 is very damaging to the economy. But we’ve had only 33 days of that in the last 180 days. Level 1 and 2 are virtually indistinguishable from normal, and even Level 3 (37 days in Auckland, 19 days elsewhere) is estimated to have 85% of normal economic activity.

    3) violation of rights.

    Even as a somewhat objectivist somewhat libertarian I think that it’s entirely within the proper domain of government to protect us from foreign threats, whether military or a pandemic.

    With the exception of the 33 days of Level 4 from March 26 to April 27 the NZ touch has been relatively light compared to what I’ve seen overseas.

    There has been a court decision that in the first nine days of Level 4 the restrictions imposed exceeded the legal authority of the Department of Health. However, if the Director General had simply made a later declaration earlier they would have had the legal authority.

    Overall, I am fully supportive of the strategy of somewhat strong restrictions to quickly eliminate the virus and then QUICKLY RETURN TO NORMAL LIFE.

    I can only only imagine the hell it has been for my friends and ex-colleagues in Moscow and San Francisco to live until continuous “shelter in place” restrictions for the last six months while we’ve had three months of near normalcy in New Zealand.

  • Mr Ecks

    Bruce Holt–thank you for the info.

    UK and world figs are lying bullshit.

    UK dead from ONLY C19 ie prev healthy taken to death by C19=1390 NHS own figures. Only 305 under 60. Approx 1700 people die each day in UK. Not even one days death total. Comparable with a mildly bad winter flu. In the sense that every flu carries off 500 to 2000 -ish people who wouldn’t normally seem like good candidates to die –but who do.

    HK flu 1968 killed 80,000 and we didn’t even blink.

    In short “deadly pandemic” is lying bullshit. So NONE of the Covid Capers have ever been needed.

    And as for the toothy commie and her camps–the very symbology of that shows what a stupid cow she is.

    And ANZACs should still be revolving. The entire virus freak show is a power grab and lots of world political scum need to be jailed or better yet dead as punishment.

    If the people of NZ don’t see “camps” as a reason to depose and destroy Vagina-Dentata then you need a re-think. And your guns back.

  • Bruce Hoult wrote:

    I got to NZ on the third day of “COVID Alert Level 4” which was, to be fair, pretty tough. Only supermarkets and pharmacies and fuel stations were open,

    The media was open too, fomenting panic, wasn’t it? Force media under lockdown 23 hours a day like everybody else (and that means turning the transmitters off), and see how fast the thinking on lockdown restrictions changes.

    Not that I as an American think it would fly under the US constitution, but then the Supreme Court signed off on pretty severe restrictions on churches here despite the First Amendment.

  • Pete

    I’ve followed Samizdata for years without commenting but felt I should post a response to Bruce Hoult’s NZ message. I’ve been anti-Jacinda on broad ideological grounds and that will have coloured my perception of what’s happening in NZ. However, when the facts change I like to think I can change my mind and Bruce has given an account of apparent competence rather than “obvious” stupidity. Thanks!

    Interesting to see how you reopen tourism to the required level – unless of course the Covid wave has passed worldwide and we’re back in the territory of a nasty but manageable virus.

    Having persuaded the world that Armageddon is coming Governments now need to talk people down from the ledge. Not sure there is the will to do that.

  • Bruce Hoult

    It’s very difficult to know the true number of people who have died as a result of COVID-19. Definitely there is all kinds of miscounting — in both directions — and different countries are not comparable.

    What you can’t argue with, however, is total deaths from all causes. Someone is either dead or else they are not. Pretty black and white.

    In England and Wales from Jan 1 2020 until Aug 7 2020 there were 389,008 deaths which is 52,737 (13.5%) more than the five year average.

    I don’t know where to find the actual yearly data so I can calculate the standard deviation, but it’s usually reasonable for such statistics to assume a Poisson distribution as a first approximation, in which case the standard deviation is the square root of the mean i.e. 580. It’s probably not far off. If anyone has the actual data for five or more years feel free to give it.

    Which makes 52737 excess deaths a full *ninety* standard deviations above the average.

    The probability of that happening for no reason is as close to zero as it is possible to get. Something real has happened, no question. Social scientists and climatologists count two standard deviations as significant. Much more serious nuclear physicists counted five standard deviations as enough to announce proof of detection of the Higgs boson.

    Ninety standard deviations is just mind boggling.

    Similarly, weeks in late March to early May were having up to double the usual number of deaths. The average is around 10000, which by the same method makes 100 a good guess for the standard deviation. The actual deviations (excess weekly deaths) were 6000, 8000, 10000 — again sixty or a hundred standard deviations from the average.

    It’s bogus to say more people died in the flu of 1968 or 1918 or something. Our standards have changed since then. We would not today tolerate the road deaths we had then, or the kids drowning, or people dying from electric shocks or fires in the home.

    You are perfectly free to argue that the government response has been wrong — too harsh or too soft — or that politicians are making political hay from it. Of course they are.

    Claims that’s it’s not real, not dangerous, or is all propaganda and a hoax are simply crap.

  • Mr Ecks

    25000 odd LD-caused deaths –folk too scared to go to A&E with chest pains or left it too late. 50,000+ people should have turned up at A&E APRIL-JULY who didn’t. So 25000 might be an under-estimate.

    20,000 odd who would have died anyway because old and ill but who (supposedly given the 40 % error rate of tests + false positive if had cold/flu in prev months) tested positive for C19 –ie a few virus –and the test tests for DNA remnant of the destroyed C19 virus. In short died WITH not FROM C198.

    Ord flu victims. The liars that be want us to believe the UK had only 4000 winter flu deaths this year.–yeah cos rest were counted as C19. And with summer flu still killing more than supposed C19. Say 10 to 15 000 victims deceitfully counted as C19.

    And finally 8000 lies from the Public Health England–discovered to date. False counting, counting NO tests as YES, claiming deaths from almost anything as C19.You name it the lying bastards were into it.

    Yes Bruce –something did happen. Worldwide panic–both natural and deliberately stoked. By lies and deceit.

    Don’t know full NZ situation but the Toothy bitch has likely been lying to you as well.

    Also I already said that the 1390 fig of people who died ONLY from C19 –nothing else wrong with them– is the NHS’s own. They are certainly lying bastards–but 100% in service of their “deadly pandemic” crap –I see NO reason why they would lie AGAINST their own corrupt cause.

  • Thanks for your on-the-ground NZ experience report, Bruce (Bruce Hoult, August 25, 2020 at 7:35 am) and NZ politics Chester (Chester Draws, August 25, 2020 at 6:16 am). This kind of information is useful.

    It’s very difficult to know the true number of people who have died as a result of COVID-19. Definitely there is all kinds of miscounting — in both directions — and different countries are not comparable. (Bruce Hoult, August 25, 2020 at 9:38 am)

    No argument there. Before 8000 was lopped off the UK viral-death figures, I was estimating our excess-deaths ratio as 2/3 virus, 1/3 lockdown. (If you calculated remaining months-and-years of time lost, not just lives, the ratio shifts to suggest lockdown caused more of the excess, but of course some who lost elective treatments had precisely the (co-)morbidities that marked the viral dead – the healthy do not need hospital.) That took no account of non-virus deaths averted by lockdown – assessing how reduced work accidents matched increase home-decorating accidents was far beyond the little time I devoted to it.

    It’s bogus to say more people died in the flu of 1968 or 1918 or something. Our standards have changed since then. We would not today tolerate the road deaths we had then, or the kids drowning, or people dying from electric shocks or fires in the home.

    It’s not ‘bogus’ for those who think modern society may have flaws to contrast the courage with which past pandemics were faced with the cowardice of today. Incrementally improving road safety over decades, for example, does not shut down the economy or social interactions – indeed, maybe analysis would suggest the sums spent on it were recovered in merely economic terms. I don’t see analysis of the UK lockdown having the same hope – or indeed any hope – of being other than a net cost, economic, psychological, societal.

  • Snorri Godhi

    When i insist that the modern Western diet causes brain damage, i am fully aware of sounding like General Jack D. Ripper.

    And yet i go on about it. Why? For one reason (not the only reason), because every day i read about things that can only be explained by collective insanity. On the BBC, on Instapundit, and (not regularly every day) on Samizdata.

    There is no question that “progressives” provide more evidence of brain damage than the rest of us. However, “conservatives” and “libertarians” also often disappoint me with their delusional insanity.

    One such instance is the enthusiasm for the Swedish response to the Xi virus. That is almost as insane as the “progressive” enthusiasm for the Cuomo response to the virus. It is, however, much more insane than any enthusiasm for the New Zealand response to the virus. That should have been evident even before reading Bruce Hoult’s comments, just by looking at the population fatality rate in New Zealand.

  • Mr Ecks

    If memory serves Snorri you were one of the “mega-death starts next week” mob who plagued these pages back in April etc. We’re still waiting.

    You were wrong then and your are wrong now.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Mr Ecks: your memory is further evidence of the brain damaging effects of the British diet.

  • bobby b

    “For one reason (not the only reason), because every day i read about things that can only be explained by collective insanity.”

    It’s not insanity. It’s irrationality. There’s a difference.

    People are so invested in their “side” in this polarized time that they’re cheerleading for stupid things. The only way in an imperfect world to insist that your side is perfect is through irrationality.

    (This is not an argument against your view of diet, which still intrigues me.)

  • Snorri Godhi (August 25, 2020 at 9:19 pm), Nazi and Communist states stand as evidence against the idea of modern western diet being a required cause of political insanity.

    The Communist states (all of them) could be cited as evidence that famine diet causes it – but that suggestion could be criticised as reversing cause and effect.

    Sweden (who’d have thought it of them 🙂 ) made a different choice as regards liberty versus lockdown – and so provides a valuable ‘control’ example to assess the more common choice. The word ‘insanity’ for their outcome seems bizarrely strong even from a critical PoV (and quite uncalled for to me). Here on samizdata, home of people reluctant to sacrifice liberty and suspicious of the excuses by which that sacrifice is justified, there is naturally interest in this example. No regrettable diet is required to explain that.

    As regards New Zealand, I refer you to my first comment: New Zealand is so remote it was not settled by humans until circa 1300 AD. This obviously confounds comparing the absolute quality of its government’s handling with others. I’m glad to know the loss of liberty was less than one might have imagined.

  • Paul Marks

    Things have gone full circle.

    Before the First Word War New Zealand was held up as the socialist paradise.

    This was always a bit of a stretch – after all “1 in 5 men in New Zealand are either employed by the state, or are getting benefits from the state” means that 4 out of 5 were NOT.

    But certainly by, say, American standards government spending and dependence was very high in New Zealand – they had copied Bismark’s Germany before Britain did.

    Sweden had very low levels of regulations and government spending and taxation – relative to the size of its economy, but then it did go a big mad (not really from the 1930s onwards – more from the 1960s onwards).

    Sweden almost went bankrupt in the 1970s and 1980s – but then dragged itself back.

    New Zealand also almost went bust- but then did indeed follow more free market policies.

    However, not this Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand – this New Zealand Prime Minister is very bad.

    The lady was hitting freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms (using the excuse of an Australian mass murderer who targeted Muslims) long before Covid 19 gave the lady the perfect excuse to indulge all her fantasies of total domination.

    Basically a “Miss Whiplash” personality – and a lot of the voters seem to like it. “Whip us more Mistress! We are your slaves!”

    Humans are odd creatures.

  • Paul Marks

    The media do seem to be rather bad in New Zealand – in Oz there is Sky News (still owned by Mr Murdoch and actually good) – but in New Zealand?

    I remember a couple of conservative Canadians saying that New Zealand was even worse than Canada and Australia when it came to Freedom of Speech – they could not even find a hall that would let them speak.

    Why did Sweden NOT lockdown?

    Partly a good epidemiologist in a key position – individuals do matter.

    But also the Swedish Constitution does not allow general lockdowns – the government can “lock down” certain people or business enterprises, but it has to prove that this specific individual person or business is a danger – that they, specifically, are a danger.

    This is very different from demented powers that most governments have

    I wish Antoine Clarke was still about – he always used to say that Constitutions were important.

  • Paul Marks

    Places do change – for example South Dakota used to have an income tax and state owned companies. It was a Progressive State – now it is a very Conservative State.

    Still the Pine Ridge Reservation (indeed most of the Reservations) is still very Progressive – communally owned land and lots of “free” stuff.

    The results are terrible – the Progressive Reservations are terrible places for life expectancy and so on.

    When the left attack South Dakota for infant mortality, life expectancy and so on – they always “forget” to mention that it is the Progressive Reservations (with their communalism) that are bad.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall: wake up! lots of countries made “a different choice as regards liberty versus lockdown”; and of those countries, Sweden has fared by far the worst.

    What is most insane, is NOT what the Swedes did: that is just borderline insane. What is blatantly insane, is opponents of lockdown taking the WORST performing no-lockdown country as a model.

    (Much the same could be said of NY State: of all jurisdictions implementing a full lockdown, NY fared the worst — except for NJ, and that can be blamed on Cuomo+DeBlasio. And yet, lots of insane people praise Cuomo’s handling of the crisis.)

  • Snorri Godhi


    The only way in an imperfect world to insist that your side is perfect is through irrationality.

    I can agree with that; but as to your assertion that irrationality can be distinguished from insanity, i reply that much depends on your concept of insanity.

    My concept of insanity is vaguely Darwinist: an insane idea or behavior is any idea/behavior that compromises the thinker/agent’s life, liberty, private property, pursuit of happiness, or chances of reproduction. (I acknowledge that i am myself insane by such a stringent criterion.)
    It follows that irrationality is always insane, although not all insanity is due to irrationality.

    As for my view on diet: it is based mainly on my own experience of first cutting out cereal grains and refined sugars, later cutting out seed oils and segregating keto meals from vegan meals. Every aspect of my health has improved, but it is my mental health that would keep me going even if i knew that i would lose years of my life with this diet.

  • Snorri Godhi


    Before the First Word War New Zealand was held up as the socialist paradise.

    Not just before ww1. I browsed through a book of Scandinavian history, written in the 1970s, and in the last chapter, the author boasted that the Scandinavian countries have become welfare states comparable to the UK and New Zealand. That just goes to show how much perceptions can change. (Both perceptions of the UK and New Zealand, and of the desirability of a welfare state.)

    I thought of commenting on this yesterday, but decided that there were more urgent matters to comment on. Paul gave me the opportunity to comment on this anyway!

  • lots of countries made “a different choice as regards liberty versus lockdown”; and of those countries, Sweden has fared by far the worst. (Snorri Godhi, August 26, 2020 at 7:55 pm)

    Name(s), please: I’m happy to have examples of combining liberty with competent pandemic handling.

    Sweden is, as I said, a control – it’s far from perfectly comparable with the UK but it is closer than say, some African country where lockdowns are far too expensive a luxury and unknown debatable factors (e.g. plenty of outdoor sunlight vitamin D) combine with the fact that many of those with co-morbidities had already died of them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Name(s), please: I’m happy to have examples of combining liberty with competent pandemic handling.

    Estonia, except for the island of Saaremaa.

    I might be wrong on some of the following, but i’ll stick my neck out:
    All Nordic countries except Sweden.
    The Netherlands.
    Several US States.
    Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore.
    New Zealand except for a single month of lockdown. (and not as insane a lockdown as in the UK, see Bruce Hoult above.)

    There are probably many more. Just look at population fatality rates: when they are an order of magnitude lower than Sweden, my guess is that they have implemented mild measures early on, and as a consequence they had no need of a full lockdown. And nearly every country in the world has PFRs lower than Sweden.

    –Not that i kept track of every European country, but i know of only a few that implemented a full lockdown:
    the UK;
    My guess is that they all failed to act early. Italy and the UK certainly failed.