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]

Stackoverflow and pronouns

Stackoverflow is a website so focused on getting good technical answers to good technical questions that thank-you notes are removed because they are noise. And yet somehow there is now a 17 point FAQ about the gender pronoun rules recently added to the code of conduct. Says one response:

I am all in favor of wanting to be respected, I really do, but this is the most overhead to “don’t be mean” I have ever seen.

Another takes aim at the people who run the web site:

Putting identity politics front-and-center in what is supposed to be a neutral, objective Q&A environment promotes division and strife, not inclusion, and more importantly, it distracts from the primary mission of these sites: getting good answers to good questions. Our values reject it.

If you truly value your community, that means respecting the community’s values, not attempting to impose new and incompatible ones by fiat. Your values are out of alignment with the values of the community you are supporting. Please fix them.

Another points out that too many rules do not help:

I would very much like if we could all get along. We have rules and moderators because in a big community, there’ll always be a few participants who can’t get along. But increasingly, getting along is against the rules.

One of two things is going on.

  • This is just people on the Internet arguing because they can and anyone with things to get done will simply ignore them.
  • This is an example of an attempt to infiltrate and change a community, and the resistance to this attempt.

See also: Linux and its code of conduct.

The Way into the Planned Economy

If anyone can suddenly get a loan with a negative interest rate, then it is to be expected that the credit demand will get out of hand. To prevent this from happening, the ECB will have to resort to credit rationing: It determines in advance how many new loans it wishes to hand out, and then allocates this amount of credit. The credit market no longer decides who gets what and when and on what terms and conditions; those decisions are made by the ECB.

According to which criteria should loans be allocated? Should anyone who asks for credit get something? Should employment-intensive economic sectors be favored? Should the new loans only go to ‘the industries of the future’? Should weakening industries be supported with additional credit? Or should Southern Europe get more than Northern Europe? These questions already indicate that the planned economy is established through a policy of negative interest rates.

More than ever it will be the ECB that reigns over credit: It will effectively determine what will be financed and produced and where and when; it will determine who will be in a position to buy and consume on credit. As a central planning authority, the ECB — or the groups that greatly influence its decisions — determines everything: which industries will be promoted or suppressed; which economies are allowed to grow stronger than others; which national commercial banks are allowed to survive and which are not. Welcome to the planned economy in the Eurozone!

Thorsten Polleit

Samizdata quote of the day

(The IEA) have declined the Guardian’s invitation to delete books, reject their polemical assertions, and are publishing this piece in response. We regard their inquiry and improper suggestion as both an attempt to mislead their readers, and as strong evidence of a growing and dangerous trend in public discourse on climate change to stifle debate, delegitimise dissent, and wilfully confuse matters of science with matters of policy, by denying uncertainty and trade-offs.

Andy Mayer

Samizdata quote of the day

The argument being that post-WWII we put in place those global economic regulators. Bretton Woods, the IMF, the World Bank and so on. Now we should do so again. Simply because it’s obvious that there should be global economic regulation from the centre.

Obviously.

Except that’s to miss the point of the past 40 years. We did indeed have those global institutions. And the poor countries didn’t grow. Then we started – this global neoliberalism – to use market processes and the poor countries did grow. We are enjoying that delight of falling global inequality as a result. The progressive eradication of absolute poverty. We actually have, in place right now, the correct economic policies that is.

But, obviously, because it is just obvious that there must be a Fat Controller, we must reinstitute the failed policies we’ve proven wrong just because. Thus this current call. Climate change is only the excuse here.

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

We dare not be honest if we cannot speak privately.

– Matthew Parris

Samizdata quote of the day

The ASI has renewed its call for British passport holders in Hong Kong to be given the full rights of British citizens, including the right to settle here. If this were to be done, the People’s Republic would denounce it as post-colonialist interference, but it might well make them tread more carefully.

Madsen Pirie

Samizdata quote of the day

That doesn’t actually address the problem, does it? Humans are status seekers – as with most mammals to be honest. So, if we’re not going to use the production of value for others as our status to seek then how much better or worse off are we all going to be with some other metric?

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

The welfare model suffers from a fatal flaw: over time, welfare as a right is bound to erode personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. The mutual self-interest that drives successful capitalist societies is replaced by clientelism and dependency. Something for something is replaced by something for nothing. But instead of acknowledging the flaws in the model, generations of politicians have expanded the remit and reach of the state.

Creative Destruction

Samizdata quote of the day

Nor does the authoritarian personality want anyone else to have freedom. This is because if other people are free to do as they please, they too are capable of bringing disorder into your life through actions which you cannot control. Such sentiments become especially pronounced when we encounter those who do not look or act like us, and who can trigger acute anxieties about what their intentions.

In Nazi Germany, the specter of Jewish and foreign conspiracies was constantly invoked to generate anxiety and a sense of chaotic disintegration. Jewish Germans and foreign elements were blamed for everything that went wrong in society, leading the Nazi party to demand ever more power, and to impose ever greater restrictions on the population to combat their influence. As Slavoj Zizek often points out, this even included making transparently self-contradictory claims about these foreign elements. Jews were simultaneously presented as both sub-human and in control of a vast conspiracy to control the globe. They were both insignificant and a massive threat to German hegemony. Any reasonably individuated person would notice this contradiction and insist that no rational person can accept it. But in a society where even thinking in a manner which did not conform to the interests of the totalitarian party could result in one’s imprisonment and destruction, who would dare express such opinions?

– Mat McManus, The Frankfurt School and the Allure of Submission

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

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.

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