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]

I knew who Dominic Frisby was before I knew who Elon Musk was

I only really cemented in my head which of those Billionaires Having Something To Do With the Internet Elon Musk was in February 2018, when he sent his Tesla Roadster into space. I loved him for that, but fell out of love a few months later over Musk’s behaviour towards Vernon Unsworth. Since then, my regard for Mr Musk has crept up again. It’s nice having freedom of speech on the internet back. I now – and I do know how sad this is – follow him on Xitter or whatever it’s called these days.

In contrast, I have been reading about Dominic Frisby on Samizdata as an financial writer, economist, film-maker, singer and comedian since early 2014.

Elon Musk has finally caught up with us.

In defence of all-{insert variable of choice} clubs

The Guardian is all a-froth because the Garrick Club, one of the historic gentlemen’s clubs of London, is still, well, a club for gentlemen as opposed to ladies.

In response, the Telegraph’s William Sitwell advocates for freedom of association:

“All-male members’ clubs reflect our natural tribal desires – get over it or get your own”.

… that central charge of archaic, sexist exclusion is nonsense. First because of the idea that there is something wrong with men wanting to be in the company of other men.

It is possible to be a decent male member of society – who champions equal opportunities in the workplace, changes nappies, generally strives to be a domestic god and is (joyfully) surrounded by women and small children at home – and, at the same time, enjoy a lunch with the boys. In the same way that others might want to hang out at the golf club, or in the snooker room. Or similarly how members of the LGBTQ+ community might wish to hang out in a club or bar or pub with their folk, or players in an all-female hockey team might wish to spend an evening with each other sipping champagne in a hot tub.

Humans are tribal, gravitating towards those whom they look, act, feel and sound like. But that is not incongruous with supporting positive discrimination in society, promoting the visualisation of minorities in fashion or policing or politics.

For the values that represent you formally are not necessarily jettisoned when you’re having fun. Which is what clubs are for.

Landlord MPs are about to destroy the Renters Reform Bill. Good for them.

Almost a third of Tory MPs trying to weaken tenant protection bill are landlords, the Guardian complained almost a month ago. Landlord MPs leave Gove’s rental reform bill ‘close to collapse’, the Telegraph reported yesterday.

Good for them for killing Gove’s Bill, and I care not a whit that they are doing it because killing the Bill would be good for them. Adam Smith explained all that in The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

“The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable. They consume little more than the poor; and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency,….they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life which would have been made had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants; and thus, without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.”

Gove’s so-called reform would have been very bad for tenants. The Telegraph article explains a few of the many reasons why:

Critics argue that it is not only landlords who stand to lose out. The black mark on a tenant’s record following a court judgment would prevent many from finding somewhere else to live, according to another landlord Tory MP backing the amendments.

He said: “An inadvertent consequence of abolishing section 21 [no-fault evictions] is the risk of tenants who fall into arrears getting a court judgment against their name and ending up on the streets.

“Local authorities won’t help them and this will only add to the homelessness problem.

“The advantage to tenants of section 21 is that it’s no-fault, so even if they haven’t paid that won’t get written down.”

Jessica Parry, a partner at law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, said that as well as increasing the risk of homelessness, forcing evictions through the courts would end up costing tenants more.

She added: “Currently, landlords just write off arrears if they evict a tenant. Now landlords will claim arrears as they’re going to court anyway.

“[Going to court] will be slow. If a tenant stops paying it could take a year to get the property back. It’s a massive risk for landlords.

“From a tenant’s point of view, there are already supply and demand issues – not enough housing – and if you put landlords off it’s only going to make that worse.”

This is a real Police Scotland campaign aimed at adults

Have you met the hate monster?

Have you met the Hate Monster?
The Hate Monster, represents that feeling some people get when they are frustrated and angry and take it out on others, because they feel like they need to show they are better than them. In other words, they commit a hate crime.

The Hate Monster loves it when you get angry. He weighs you down till you end up targeting someone, just because they look or act different to you.

When you’re feeling insecure or angry, the Hate Monster feeds on that.

Why do some people let the Hate Monster in?
We know that young men aged 18-30 are most likely to commit hate crime, particularly those from socially excluded communities who are heavily influenced by their peers.

They may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement.

Hurt people, hurt people
Committing hate crime is strongly linked to a range of risk factors including economic deprivation, adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse and under-employment. Those who grow up in abusive environments can become addicted to conflict.

Don’t let the Hate Monster rule your life
If you have committed or feel you are at risk of committing a hate crime, remember, it doesn’t make you feel better. Maybe for a moment, but in the end, you feel worse. The hate lingers. It can really mess up your life in other ways too, like when it comes to things like finding a job. A police record for hate crime is not a good look on anyone.

Go on, be good to yourself. Don’t feed the Hate Monster.

Watch award-winning stand-up, Liam Farrelly, lead a discussion about the impact of hate.

What to do if you see the hate monster
If you experience hate crime, report it.

If you are a witness to hate crime, report it.

Find out more about the different ways you can make a report.

The official hate monster video would have been perfectly acceptable for primary schools to show to pupils in their PSHE lessons. But if Police Scotland’s idea of a message for adults is “The Hate Monster loves it when you get angry”, I dread to think what the kids’ version is like…

I tawt I taw a hatey monster!

I did! I did! I taw a hatey monster!

Hatey watey monster said hatey tings. Hatey monster said bad tings ’bout all lotsa peepuw coz of pwotected kawactewistic. Hatey monster said, “They may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement.”

Starship has launched successfully

SpaceX launches Starship rocket at third attempt, reports the BBC. This happened about 25 minutes ago.

Pessimist that I am, I did not want to watch the launch in case it blew up again. So far, it hasn’t.

UPDATE: OK, now it has. But it got a lot further than last time.

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”, writes David Collins in the Telegraph.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is threatening his most tyrannical attack on freedom yet through his government’s proposed Online Harms Act (currently Bill C-63). Brought to you by the same farcically-named “Liberal” party who froze the bank accounts of the truckers who protested vaccine-mandates, the OHA is the government’s overzealous attempt to promote online safety.

The proposed legislation supposedly achieves this by requiring operators of social media services to adequately mitigate the risk that their users will be exposed to harmful content through measures such as publishing standards of online conduct, providing blocking tools and ways to flag and label harmful content. The OHA would create a Digital Safety Commission to administer and enforce its rules along with a Digital Safety Office to support social media users and advocate for online safety. These agencies can investigate complaints, summon people to testify in hearings and to produce records. Costs of all this will be paid by unspecified charges on social media platforms, presumably contemplating Canada’s planned Digital Services Tax on big tech platforms.

Most controversially, the OHA’s provisions on posting hateful content would require amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code as well as its Human Rights Act. While the victims of online “hate” may be comforted by tough new penalties, the changes are radical, particularly a new hate crime offence which can lead to life imprisonment. Worryingly, the criminal provisions of the OHA would give judges the ability to put people under house arrest because they might commit a hate crime in the future. The potential criminal could also be made to wear an electronic tag if the Attorney General requests it.

Emphasis added. The phrase “Canada’s descent into tyranny” comes across as hyperbole until you get to the bit about putting people under house arrest because they might commit a crime in future.

Craig Foster has won the victory over himself

The captain of the Australian women’s football team, Sam Kerr, is awaiting trial in the UK on a charge of “racially aggravated harassment” for allegedly calling a London police officer a “stupid white bastard”.

Craig Foster, a prominent former player for the Australian national team, the Socceroos, intially said that Kerr should resign if convicted, because racism is bad.

*

“Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself.”

*

“Craig Foster apologises to Sam Kerr after arguing her alleged remark to UK police officer was racist”, reports the Guardian.

Foster last week urged Football Australia to strip Kerr of the Matildas captaincy if the allegation was proven, to make a stand against racism. He said: “Interpersonal racism against a white person … is still racism.”

But on Saturday he explained that he had changed his mind.

“Like many, I mistakenly thought that comments that referenced any colour and were discriminatory, demeaning or hostile were a form of racism. I apologise to Sam for that mistake,” Foster wrote on X.

“Judging from the coverage, comments and conversations we’re all having, every day, there were major gaps in knowledge about how to deal with situations where the descriptor ‘white’ is used in a derogatory way.

“As many experts and leading anti-racism groups have pointed out, interpersonal comments can be offensive, abusive or inappropriate, however, racism can only be perpetrated against a marginalised person or group, which anti-racism frameworks are specifically designed to protect.”

Four points:

1) Anyone believe Craig Foster’s claim that he thought calling someone a “white bastard” was racist until “experts and leading anti-racism groups” told him otherwise? His apology was so obviously made under pressure that it came across almost as parody.

2) Calling someone a “white bastard” is racist. Obviously.

3) Calling someone a “white bastard” is not “racially aggravated harassment”. It was just words. It must be annoying being a cop and having people insult you quite often, but the only difference between this and a thousand other drunken outbursts is that the presence of the word “white” enabled the cop concerned to slap a ridiculous charge on Kerr.

4) I have a low opinion of the conduct of all of Sam Kerr, Craig Foster and the police officer.

“The regulatory superpower at work, protecting 300m people from the terrors of Google maps”

Tim Newman, making sure that the EU’s work is appreciated as it should be:

The “DMA” to which Pauline refers is the EU’s Digital Markets Act. There is more commentary from Kevin A. Bryan here.

How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day?

The name of the woman being led into captivity in this picture is Naama Levy. The photo was taken to celebrate her capture.

Sadly, this was not a namecheck

Matt Taibbi: “America enters the samizdat era”

It is a sobering description of how the world went from this:

Ten years ago PBS did a feature that quoted a Russian radio personality calling Samizdat the “precursor to the Internet.” Sadly this is no longer accurate. Even a decade ago Internet platforms were mechanical wonders brimming with anarchic energy whose ability to transport ideas to millions virally and across borders made episodes like the Arab Spring possible. Governments rightly trembled before the destabilizing potential of tools like Twitter, whose founders as recently as 2012 defiantly insisted they would remain “neutral” on content control, seeing themselves as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”

to this:

The Internet, in other words, was being transformed from a system for exchanging forbidden or dissenting ideas, like Samizdat, to a system for imposing top-down control over information and narrative, a GozIzdat. Worse, while the Soviets had to rely on primitive surveillance technologies, like the mandatory registration of typewriters, the Internet offered breathtaking new surveillance capability, allowing authorities to detect thoughtcrime by algorithm and instantaneously disenfranchise those on the wrong side of the information paradigm, stripping them of the ability to raise money or conduct business or communicate at all.

(Hat tip: Instapundit. Like us at Samizdata, Glenn Reynolds has watched this change happen over the time he has been blogging.)

Take a chainsaw to rent control, watch rents fall

I cannot add to this article by Fran Ivens in the Telegraph: “How Argentina’s ‘chainsaw man’ Javier Milei slashed rents by 20pc”

Rents in Argentina have fallen 20pc since President Javier Milei scrapped a “destructive” cap for landlords in December.

Under four-year rent controls, landlords fled the market in their thousands and rents increased 286pc, fuelling an even deeper housing crisis.

Since the legislation was scrapped, rents have fallen and the number of properties that are available for rent has increased significantly, according to industry body the Argentine Real Estate Chamber.

The drastic change in outlook for the country’s rental market adds further weight to arguments that even with the aim of reducing the burden on renters, rent caps often have the opposite effect.

The rules, introduced in 2020 by then-president Alberto Fernández, included a mandatory lease term of three years and a limit on rent to an average growth rate of the consumer price index and the wage index. This cap was set by the central bank.

Even before the new legislation came into force, the effect was significant. Unsure of how much and when they would be able to increase rents, landlords hiked their pieces to try and avoid being caught out.

Worsening the situation, 45pc of landlords decided to sell their properties in the wake of the announcement significantly reducing the amount of accommodation on offer and further pushing up prices.

In the 12 months to February 2024, rents increased 286.7pc in Buenos Aires, according to rental platform Zonaprop. There was also a currency aggravation. While many use dollars in Argentina as a hedge against the peso that has been losing value, the law mandated that rental payment must be in the local currency.

Over the past five years, the Argentinian peso’s value against the dollar has decreased by around 95pc.

Another reminder of why anonymity is sometimes necessary, this time from Sweden

I missed this article when it came out in the Observer (the Guardian‘s Sunday sister-paper) three weeks ago: ‘People are scared’: “Sweden’s freedom of information laws lead to wave of deadly bombings”

In a night in September, as summer was turning to autumn, Soha Saad dozed off on the sofa as she stayed up late studying. The 24-year-old, who lived in a quiet village near the Swedish university town of Uppsala with her parents and siblings, had recently graduated as a teacher, a career she was passionate about, and had big dreams for the future.

But in the early hours of the morning, all of that hope came to an end. An explosion ripped through their home, removing the windows and walls, and ending Soha’s life.

She is not thought to have been the intended target of September’s bomb attack – reports at the time said it could have been a neighbour related to a gang member – but was an innocent victim with no connections to gang violence.

With typical cowardice, the Observer article does not mention that the sharp increase in violence in Sweden is almost entirely driven by immigrants, mostly from the Middle East, and to a lesser extent from the Balkans. How does anyone think a problem can be solved if it cannot even be mentioned? In other respects, Miranda Bryant’s article was a good piece of journalism, highlighting how something that was for centuries considered a valuable freedom in Swedish society has become dangerous for many:

In recent years, Sweden has been caught in the grip of escalating gang conflict involving shootings and explosions – largely driven by drug trafficking, involving firearms and bombs. September was the worst month for fatal shootings in Sweden since 2016, with 11 deaths, and 2023 saw the most explosions per year to date.

The Moderate party-run coalition – supported by the far-right Sweden Democrats – have pledged to take action by sending more young people to prison and giving police more powers to search people and vehicles. But with younger and younger people being pulled into crime, turning them into “child soldiers”, the violence is showing little sign of stopping.

The explosions – usually targeting rival gang members and their families – often contain dynamite or gunpowder-based substances, according to police. Hand grenades have also been used.

In most countries, tracking down the address of a potential victim could be a laborious process. But not in Sweden, where it is possible to find out the address and personal details of just about anybody with a single Google search. Experts say criminals are being greatly helped by a 248-year-old law, forming part of Sweden’s constitution.

The 1776 freedom of the press act (tryckfrihetsförordningen) – a revered feature of Swedish society that gives everyone access to official records – marked the world’s first law regulating the right to free speech; the documents are protected on Unesco’s Memory of the World register.

“Public access to information is a fundamental principle in Sweden’s form of government,” according to the Swedish Institute for Human Rights (SIHR). “One of the fundamental laws, the Freedom of the Press Act, contains provisions on the right to access official documents. According to this rule all documents available at an authority are in principle open for the public.”

I can see why Swedes want to keep their traditional tryckfrihetsförordningen. My previous post mentioned the “Streisand Effect” with very little sympathy for Barbra Streisand’s famously counter-productive effort to keep information about her residence out of the public domain. Maybe I should have shown more. Being a libertarian does not oblige me to defend to the hilt everything which has the word “freedom” on it, and it does seem to me that, given how much easier it is for a criminal to track down a victim nowadays than it was in 1776, the freedom not to have one’s name appear in public government records ought be given more weight in Sweden and elsewhere.