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]

Google bomb

verb. To intentionally insert words or phrases into as many blogs as possible to increase the ranking on the Google search engine. Held by some to be a form of ‘meme war’.

(coined by Adam Mathes)

What about people who bomb abortion clinics in America?

When reading on the internet about Islamic terrorism, commenters often mention that there is also terrorism by Christian fundamentalists in America, where there have been bombings of abortion clinics and shootings of abortion providers.

How prevalent is this form of American domestic terrorism? In recent years there have been round about 15,000 – 20,000 murders in total per year in the US. How many of these were of abortion providers?

Guess now. Scribble your answer down.

If you had asked me a few months ago I would have said three or four murders per year.

Considered over the last
…continue What about people who bomb abortion clinics in America?

Why you can be a free speech absolutist and still think the presidents of Harvard, MIT and UPenn should resign in disgrace

David Burge explains all:

Fun facts:

(A) calling for genocide against Jews, if not delivered to incite a mob to violence, is 100% Constitutionally protected speech- only in the sense it can't be punished by government.

(B) You are not the government, you are a cowardly college administrator and in no… https://t.co/1MYvTm5gz0

— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) December 7, 2023

I am confident David Burge, a.k.a. Iowahawk, will forgive me if I put the text of his tweet below in case something happens to it:

David Burge @iowahawkblog Fun facts:

(A) calling for genocide
…continue Why you can be a free speech absolutist and still think the presidents of Harvard, MIT and UPenn should resign in disgrace

A sad walk around Berlin

Our late colleague and friend Brian Micklethwait was very good at making people think. In particular he was very good at making me think, and even at times making me write. Often he would say something interesting that would make me write something as a response that I would never think to write for any other reason, and this blog, his own blog and its predecessors are full of articles and comments that were responses to things he started me thinking about. He had a tendency to repost my comments as articles when he found them particularly interesting, and many
…continue A sad walk around Berlin

A thought experiment on how private road owners would deal with the threat of terrorism

When dealing with complex political issues I often find it useful to ask myself what would happen in the absence of the state. This is not because I think that the glorious libertarian revolution is just around the corner but because such an exercise can at least give us some clues as to what the state should be doing in the here and now.

So, what do I mean by private roads? Roads where the owners may decide who uses them, under what circumstances and have the means to enforce their decisions. The type of ownership could include purely commercial
…continue A thought experiment on how private road owners would deal with the threat of terrorism

A little less lobbying, a little more curing, please

“Join thousands of Dryathletes dropping the drink this January and raising money to help beat cancer sooner”, says Cancer Research UK. What bilge. Abstaining from alcohol for a month does nothing and is nothing. Absent real problems, anyone can just drink exactly what they want whenever they want. That anyone takes seriously the pretence that deciding not to drink for a while is an act of effort comparable to training for an athletics event only indicates how low standards of achievement have sunk. People should be expected to grow a spine and take responsibility for their decisions as a matter
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There might be some truth in this …

“the jihadist movement that ultimately spawned Daesh is far closer to the spirit of internationalism and solidarity that drove the International Brigades than Cameron’s bombing campaign”

… given that the International Brigades fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War were Communists who followed Stalin’s line, which was to ruthlessly suppress rival militias such as the Trotskyist POUM in which George Orwell found himself by accident. Once I would have believed that the Spanish Civil War was simply a trial run for WWII with the Republicans as the Allies and the Fascists as the Axis. Nothing will make
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Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

The following content was posted by Radley Balko to Facebook — I claim no credit for it. I would normally have just linked to it, but links to Facebook content are often a bit fragile, and this is perhaps one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen for a while and deserves wider viewing.

Now improved! Edited to add headlines from March through July!

Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

As Gene Healy put it, “Never before have so many been so intimidated by so few with so little
…continue Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

Some Brittany holiday snaps

Earlier this week I got back from a week in Brittany. During the first few days of my stay, I and the friends I was staying with visited the island of Belle Ile. Their daughter is my god-daughter, and she was singing (very well) in a classical singing festival that happens in Belle Ile every year.

While in Belle Ile we also enjoyed other sorts of music making. In particular, at midday, in the fish market of Belle Ile’s biggest town, La Palais, we listened to a small beat combo called, as I later learned from the small print in
…continue Some Brittany holiday snaps

Samizdata quote of the day

This inscription is carved onto the Memorial to those who died serving in Bomber Command during World War II.

The memorial was unveiled by the Queen just under a week ago, on June 28th. It is at Hyde Park Corner, in London, at the western end of Green Park. I photographed it this afternoon.

The age of steam powered transport

A Brief History of the Age of Steam: The Power That Drove The Industrial Revolution Thomas Crump Carroll & Graff, 2007, 370pp., paperback, $15.95 (but now much less – I got my copy for £3.99 in a remainder shop)

The best thing about this book from my British point of view is that it does not focus only on British events and circumstances. It surveys the entire world, as best it can in the space it allows itself. In most other stuff I can recall reading about the history of the steam engine, Newcomen, Watt and Trevithick, the British pioneers
…continue The age of steam powered transport

Being beastly about FDR and the Keynesian narrative

One of the recent themes of this blog’s authors has been to challenge, and hopefully demolish, the “narrative” of how the current crisis proves the weaknesses of “unregulated capitalism” (I could be far ruder than that but I am not a swearblogger). Another, related theme that we try to plug away at is to show how previous acts of interventionism, with politicians playing the role of strong hero on a big white horse, have failed or if they have “worked”, been by-products of massive state mobilisation for war.

Prime exhibit: the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When I was
…continue Being beastly about FDR and the Keynesian narrative