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]

There is always hope!

No Parliament can repeal the laws of economics. Whilst, to quote Hirohito ‘We must endure the unendurable.‘, there is a real Prester John in the faraway land of Argentina, where a zero weekly inflation rate in food prices has been registered for the first time in 30 years, and a truly libertarian President is doing great things.

So let us adapt and cherry-pick the words of Winston Churchill:

…And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, it will carry on, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old…‘.

But if that doesn’t come to pass, it will just be more of the same, faster, until what can’t carry on any longer, doesn’t.

An Øresund odyssey

The Sage of Kettering and I have been on another trip, this time to Copenhagen, obliging the self-loathing poster of that poster, with flits over the Øresund to Malmö and to Helsingborg in Sweden. On landing in Copenhagen’s pleasant airport, we immediately leave Denmark for Sweden by train, taking in the well-known bridge, onto which we emerge after a few minutes in a tunnel. It is an impressive piece of engineering. Bizarrely, well, to anyone from the UK, it was finished in time and within budget despite them finding over 20 WW2 bombs. At our first stop just over the bridge, the sign announces a check by the Swedish border guard, but nothing materialises.

We then emerge into central Malmö late lunchtime. It is all rather pleasant, none of this violence one hears about. Malmö, soon to host the Eurovision Song Contest, is a fine enough city, thinking back, reminiscent of Liverpool in some ways but without the decay seen today. There are many fine buildings, testament to a prosperous late 19th century.

We have a lunch of meatballs and beer at Gustav Adolphus square, outside in April,

before going to pay our respects at the Raoul Wallenberg park.

On the way back, we see a group of four police officers challenge some youths in the middle of a square.

The architecture here is mainly modern, but with lots of little gems.

In the Old Town core (Gamla Stan) it certainly has a nice feel to it.

→ Continue reading: An Øresund odyssey

A magnificent work of Swedish engineering – a pulse jet powered sledge on a frozen lake

This is c. 7 years old, but it is quite marvellous and a tribute to the great tradition of engineering in Sweden. A video done by a Swedish chap who built himself a pulse-jet powered sledge or ‘ice boat’ to run around on frozen lakes. It is basically a V1 doodlebug-type engine on a frame, with some seats and steering. What strikes me is the need for some form of suspension.

I have set the video where it has its first ‘ice road test’.

‘¡Afuera!’ – Presidente-elegido Milei on the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture

Probably the most important man of the 21st Century, if only for his potential to do good, Argentine President-elect (as I write) Javier Milei sat down with Tucker Carlson for an interview, (excerpt provided) at which he discussed the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture amongst other points (that socialists are evil and think they are ‘God’). The interview was done with Mr Carlson asking questions in English and Señor Milei’s replies in Spanish are sub-titled (accurately I would add) and presumably interpreted in real time.

This segment is just over 9 minutes long, and it is well worth watching. We have all the indications that he is the real deal, he says that he is prepared to die for his beliefs, let us wish him a long and productive life and Presidency.

A film explaining the monetary system, from The Cobden Centre

The good folk at The Cobden Centre have put together a very good documentary to explain how the fiat money system works, and has some suggestions as to what to do about it. At the instigation of the Sage of Kettering, (full disclosure, his cousin made it), here it is.

I have watched it and it is very good. Ex Nihilo: The Truth about Money. My only quibble is that it repeatedly refers to banks creating money out of thin air, but there is some substance to ‘thin air’, which, after all, can sustain respiration and hold up aircraft.

The British Government is going to hijack your phone…

We are now forewarned that the British government has chosen St. George’s Day, 23rd April 2023, to trial a new ‘alert’ system by sending alerts to the phones of everyone in the UK. It seems that you have to interact with the phone to stop it blaring a siren-like noise at you, and so acknowledge this impertinence.

However, not all phones can receive these ‘alerts’. The functionality is limited:

Compatible mobile phones and other devices

Make sure your device has all the latest software updates.

Emergency alerts work on:

iPhones running iOS 14.5 or later
Android phones and tablets running Android 11 or later
If you have an earlier version of Android, you may still be able to receive alerts. To check, search your device settings for ‘emergency alerts’.

But you can turn off these alerts on your phone (if you are socially-unfriendly):

You can opt out of emergency alerts, but you should keep them switched on for your own safety.

To opt out:

Search your settings for ‘emergency alerts’.
Turn off ‘severe alerts’ and ‘extreme alerts’.
If you still get alerts, contact your device manufacturer for help.

Blimey, something the government acknowledges that it can’t help me with, is this a first?

But what, pray, is this all for?

You may get alerts about:

severe flooding
fires
extreme weather

One might hope that severe flooding and fires would be incompatible, but perhaps with the climate emergency, Mr Sunak will set the Thames on fire.

And the form of this message?

It ain’t half hot, Mum!

Not exactly:

What happens when you get an emergency alert

Your mobile phone or tablet may:

make a loud siren-like sound, even if it’s set on silent
vibrate
read out the alert
The sound and vibration will last for about 10 seconds.

An alert will include a phone number or a link to the GOV.UK website for more information.

OK, but what should I do if I get an ‘alert’?

What you need to do

When you get an alert, stop what you’re doing and follow the instructions in the alert.

But does this apply to say, surgeons in an operating theatre? This is not mentioned.

And wait, what if I am…

If you’re driving or riding when you get an alert

You should not read or otherwise respond to an emergency alert whilst driving or riding a motorcycle.
If you are driving, you should continue to drive and not respond to the noise or attempt to pick up the mobile phone and deal with the message.
Find somewhere safe and legal to stop before reading the message. If there is nowhere safe or legal to stop close by, and nobody else is in the vehicle to read the alert, tune into live radio and wait for bulletins until you can find somewhere safe and legal to stop.
It is illegal to use a hand-held device while driving or riding.

Well at least that’s clear…

What is the legal basis for the government taking this power, and why is this not explained?

And presumably, if there’s someone running amok with knives or guns, this won’t be part of the alert system, when it might actually be unexpected, unlike the weather.

I can see where this is going. It will eventually be used to warn people that Nigel Farage is making a speech locally and that they should stay indoors and not follow the event on social media.

Sorry, I was being overly cynical there, I have seen this:

If you cannot receive emergency alerts

If you do not have a compatible device, you’ll still be informed about an emergency. The emergency services have other ways to warn you when there is a threat to life.

Emergency alerts will not replace local news, radio, television or social media.

That’s good to know, I had been wondering if it would. And I am pleased to hear that I won’t be getting messages from Robert Spencer if there is a certain type of rare incident in the locality. Then again, what if there is a hippo on the loose? Is there a template alert message for that, if not, why not? Are you seriously trying to protect us? Will it sound if there is, say, an unexpected landing on a beach by persons unknown?

Around 35 years ago, the late Auberon Waugh said that people only go into politics for the pleasure of pressing switches and watching us all jump. This figure of speech has become reality.

A helpful Finnish instructional video from 1979

Dear all,

As we wind down for Christmas, it is important to ensure that we keep ourselves safe, and I have found this wonderful but short instructional video, purportedly from Finland c. 1979, helpfully showing how to open a door correctly. I would recommend turning on the English subtitles for most of us, but other subtitles are available for those of us unable to understand the wonderful Finnish language.

I have a nagging feeling that this might have been a parody of ‘health and safety’ instructional videos, but if that was its aim, it has failed miserably to stem the tide.

The Queen indirectly honours Dr Shipman

HM The Queen today presented the George Cross, the UK’s highest award for bravery not in the face of the enemy, to the National Health Service, (for the response to the covid pandemic etc.), surely making the NHS Eisenstein’s ‘mass hero’ of our age. This is the third ‘collective’ award (one not to a real person – living or dead) in the history of this medal, founded by her father in 1940; the other recipients being the island of Malta for the bravery of the populace in what seems to me to have been ‘in the face of the enemy‘ as being bombed for years by the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe wasn’t just that, what was it?; and the other was the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was scrapped and given the George Cross as a consolation. However, one of the Palace bureaucrats celebrating the award is quoted as below:
Lt Col Michael Vernon, comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s office with responsibility for organising ceremonial events, said: “This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
So being snarky, that includes perhaps the most prolific individual murderer in British history, Dr Harold Shipman, a GP fond of polishing off his elderly patients, for free. And of course, this gushing tribute necessarily covers former nurse and convicted murderer Beverley Allitt, who also did not charge her victims. But of course, there have been systemic issues, like the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal. But looking at it in the balance, it seems that the NHS deserves its honour, despite being a bureaucratic abstraction, and an expensive and ineffective one at that. I seem to recall the Army being drafted in during the coronavirus pandemic to (give the impression that the government could) do something about the appalling logistics in the NHS. And now the token medal is going on tour, a holy relic, as if a modern-day equivalent to the bones of a saint:
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard paid tribute to those who worked on the front line and said the vaccine programme saved hundreds of thousands of lives. She told the Queen that the medal will go on a tour of the NHS before a permanent home is found.
Is it heresy to say that honours don’t really exist? That an honour is just a piece of cloth and metal, with a document relating to it? That veneration of medals is simply absurd, it is simply reflective of the opinion of a committee, the absurdity of it made evident here for all to see. And, if you are to think of honours, not deeds, as somehow noteworthy, let us not forget that the first time that the Queen awarded a George Cross, it was to the widow of Flight-Lieutenant John Quinton, who gave away his only parachute after a mid-air collision. If you wish to measure the decline of this nation under (but not, I say, due to) Elizabeth II of England, I of Scotland, compare the two awards and all that happened in-between. Can we please stop pretending that the State can make things not what they really are?

Turkey – circling the drain with a gold grab

Little noticed in the UK media, reports from a financial vlogger Joe Blogs (that is his handle) on Turkey tells us that the government is ‘asking’ citizens to hand over their gold and foreign currency, at a time of 50% inflation, but citizens will get Lira in return.  There are 30,000 gold shops in Turkey and five major refineries. Do not worry that Erdogan is a (not so) covert Islamist, he is first and foremost a Keynesian.

The Turkish government is not simply standing by and watching as the Lira inflates away, the government has cut tax on food from 8% to 1%, and this in the context of a currency crisis, the lira falling 44% in 2021 against foreign currencies. So they know that cutting taxes eases burdens on people. Unfortunately, Atatürk’s doctrine of ‘statism‘ lingers, with lots of Turks employed by the State.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Finance Minister has been in the UK and reported had a ‘fantastic‘ meeting with potential investors. And the goverment is determined to keep on down this path, telling the private banks to step up their efforts to help by handing over foreign currency deposits. (Doubtless this is all voluntary).

Here is a graph of recent Turkish inflation rates. Are we going to be seeing a ‘crack-up boom’ in real time any week now? Turkey is reportedly informally dollarising, with over 50% of transactions in Turkey in dollars (Why not the Euro?).

I can’t help thinking that in the UK, the government is looking at Turkey with envious eyes, dreaming of taking steps to inflate away what remains of our prosperity and to seize our assets.

And it is not all bad from the Turkish government, they have changed the name of the country in a re-branding exercise, changing it from ‘Turkey’ to ‘Türkiye’, apparently to avoid confusion with the bird of the same name.

Joe Blogs also has some interesting coverage on the Chinese property conglomerate Evergrande, and the efforts of a US Hedge Fund to take ownership of collateral in Hong Kong.

The future works, just as it is being stolen from us, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is now real

The future of the flying car is finally arriving, a flying car, the AirCar, has completed a test flight between two airports in Slovakia, reports the BBC.

This wonderful development brought to us by Professor Stefan Klein (the article has a short video showing the car flying etc.) is not yet licensed to fly, and given the caution around aviation, such approval may be a long way off, but it is technically possible now, almost a century after the English Electric Wren which was seen as a rival to the emergent motor car. To think that within around 31 years, English Electric would build the Lightning is simply mind-boggling.

However, this fantastic development runs on a petrol engine, has an airborne range of c. 1,000 km (625 miles) and can cruise at 170km/h (c.106 mph), at 8,200 feet (pressurisation not an option at the moment it seems). Imagine the liberty of flight, in your garage, the horror of unrestricted travel, no speed cameras, the Left’s (and the State’s) hatred of mobility and autonomy will shine like the fiery pits of Hell.

Two passengers, provided that they don’t weigh more than 31 stone. Let physics limit your weight, not the government.

Dr Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”.

but there is obviously a cautionary note:

“I have to admit that this looks really cool – but I’ve got a hundred questions about certification,” Dr Wright said.
“Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident.
“I can’t wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.”

With a 600 mile range, a self-fly/drive break on the Continent would be a breeze. Short-haul aviation is pointless in such a world, as are inflexible trains (HS2 etc.), even car hire. Bring it on.

NatWest hints at its own bankruptcy? Saying it might have to exit the stage in the Scottish play

The bank formerly known as RBS, now called NatWest Bank PLC, has announced that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, it will move to London

Britain’s NatWest would move its headquarters out of Scotland in the event of a vote in favour of independence, its CEO Alison Rose said, only days before parliamentary elections there. State-backed NatWest (NWG.L), which until last year was called Royal Bank of Scotland, has been based for 294 years in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
The reason, something to do with a anti-business culture in an independent Scotland?
“In the event that there was independence for Scotland our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy. And so we would move our registered headquarters, in the event of independence, to London,” Rose told reporters.
This is presumably not meant to be a threat from the majority (c.59%) State-owned bank or playing politics. For a bit of context, the RBS Group changed its name recently to NatWest Group plc with a view to (I presume) burying the RBS brand and plunging a stake through its heart after its unfortunate recent history. NatWest was an English bank acquired by RBS as it ballooned before bursting

I have no doubt that the Chief Executive did not say, and did not mean to say

our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy if we go bust again.‘.

But the latter is what I am hearing. An implicit admission that the bank risks insolvency, and would expect to be bailed out by the UK government at taxpayers’ expense again. The assumption that the bank is at risk of bankruptcy runs through this announcement like letters in a stick of rock.

So England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be the lucky recipient of all these (theoretical) liabilities.

No true Scotsman should fear independence if it means the departure of this fiscal UXB and its liabilities, a chilly modern-day Darién scheme without the disease and bugs.

But why on Earth should anyone in any country want to receive such a cuckoo in the financial nest? It sounds to me that if the bank were utterly worthless, that would be an improvement. Do we need any more evidence of the perils of fractional reserve banking?

Judicial quotes of the year – Justice Neil Gorsuch

“…we may not shelter in place when the Constitution is under attack. Things never go well when we do.”

Justice Gorsuch in ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN, NEW YORK v. ANDREW M. CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK. The Supreme Court has injuncted pending trial Cuomo’s executive order restricting religious observance in New York, noting that although the original order had been changed since the proceedings started (a device to make the litigation moot), that actually made it more important, as a defence against arbitrary state power.

Now, just as this Court was preparing to act on their applications, the Governor loosened his restrictions, all while continuing to assert the power to tighten them again anytime as conditions warrant. So if we dismissed this case, nothing would prevent the Governor from reinstating the challenged restrictions tomorrow. And by the time a new challenge might work its way to us, he could just change them again. The Governor has fought this case at every step of the way. To turn away religious leaders bringing meritorious claims just because the Governor decided to hit the “off ” switch in the shadow of our review would be, in my view, just another sacrifice of fundamental rights in the name of judicial modesty.

The judgment of Gorsuch is full of robust language, such as:

It is time—past time—to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.

Bear in mind that here, the Keep Britain Free judicial review was thrown out at the English High Court partly on the basis that by the time the court heard it, the restrictions had changed (whilst the power to impose them remained). This is now under (leisurely) appeal in the English Court of Appeal. How nice it would be to have an appellate court in the country that could produce such robust defences of liberty and the rule of law, e.g.

Even if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical.

And a splendid dig:

Even if judges may impose emergency restrictions on rights that some of them have found hiding in the Constitution’s penumbras, it does not follow that the same fate should befall the textually explicit right to religious exercise.

And this:

Nothing in Jacobson purported to address, let alone approve, such serious and long-lasting intrusions into settled constitutional rights. In fact, Jacobson explained that the challenged law survived only because it did not “contravene the Constitution of the United States” or “infringe any right granted or secured by that instrument.” Id., at 25.
Tellingly no Justice now disputes any of these points. Nor does any Justice seek to explain why anything other than our usual constitutional standards should apply during the current pandemic.

Whilst the United States Supreme Court is so constituted, there is hope for the Republic, even though this was a 5-4 victory. Meanwhile in the UK, any hope of help from the courts is a deranged fantasy. But the courts may serve a purpose in demonstrating that point.