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]

Swatted by Siri

“How a personal trainer’s smart watch caused 15 armed police officers to turn up to his Sydney gym while he was teaching a client”Daily Mail.

Apparently, Jaime Alleyne, who is a a Muay Thai and boxing trainer, called out “one, one, two” followed by “good shot” to a client he was sparring with. He was not wearing his smart watch but it was still active – and 112 is one of the Australian emergency phone numbers. Mr Alleyne said, “Next minute about 15 officers including undercovers showed up, with several ambulances parked out the front, and that’s when I started bricking myself.”

He would have had no need to fear an over-zealous response from the UK emergency services. They would still be waiting for a risk assessment.

You were entirely in the tank, Jacinda

‘Jacinda Ardern has announced she will quit as New Zealand prime minister ahead of this year’s election, saying she no longer has “enough in the tank” to lead’, reports the BBC.

‘Ms Ardern choked up as she detailed how six “challenging” years in the job had taken a toll

Labour Party MPs will vote to find her replacement on Sunday.

The shock announcement comes as polling indicates the party faces a difficult path to re-election on 14 October.’

The only shock was that she chose to jump rather than be pushed. Still, she can comfort herself with the thought that though her support inside New Zealand may have diminished, she remains much esteemed by the great and good worldwide.

He who pays the piper says when the tune stops

“Canada wrestles with euthanasia for the mentally ill”, reports the BBC. Actually, the headline starts with the question “Who can die?” to which I would have thought the answer was obvious. But while death undoubtedly comes to us all eventually, when the state pays for healthcare it pays the state to make death come sooner:

… last autumn, authorities launched an investigation after at least four veterans were prompted to consider Maid [the acronym for Canada’s medical assistance in dying programme] by a Veterans Affairs case worker, who now no longer works for the department. In one instance, veteran and paralympian Christine Gauthier said she was offered the option by the employee after she asked for a wheelchair ramp to be installed in her home.

An industry that despises its customers, and I don’t mean Hollywood

I shall miss the Times. My subscription only has a few weeks left to run. I cancelled it because it is no longer permitted to comment under a pseudonym. Will I still see interesting little stories like this when I make my hejira to the Telegraph? “French cinema is full of flops, says former culture minister Roselyne Bachelot”

In an extraordinary attack, Roselyne Bachelot, who was replaced last May after two years in President Macron’s cabinet, has settled her score with an arts establishment with which she had clashed. The highly subsidised film industry is her chief target in her memoirs, 682 Days — The Hypocrites’ Ball.

To ensure France’s “cultural exception”, the film industry is “stuffed with money” allowing it turn out more films than anywhere else in Europe, but its members complain endlessly about their conditions, she writes.

“The famous ‘cultural exception’ allows very many French films ‘not to find their public’, as they say politely, or more explicitly, to be flops,” she writes. “This system also guarantees lead actors to earn fabulous fees, three or four times higher than actors in the American independent cinema.”

The system, which includes direct subsidies, tax breaks and advances on box office earnings, pours hundreds of millions of euros a year into production, “creating an assisted economy that hardly cares about the tastes of spectators and is even contemptuous of popular, profitable films,” she added.

Good stuff, but do not assume that she has seen the light about the enervating effect of state subsidy. An article I found in an outlet new to me, The Fashion Vibes, said:

However, she [Mme* Bachelot] denied that her comments about the film’s financing implied that she felt France was pouring too much government money into the film.

“Oh no! It makes perfect sense to continue it. If France is the only European country with a film industry which in turn feeds an industry on the platforms, it is because of the policy we have had since 1946 , since the creation of the National Cinema Center (CNC),” she said. We must keep it.”

*I had better be careful to use the correct title – Madame Bachelot herself was instrumental in the banning of the term “Mademoiselle” from French government documents. I have no objection to that, so long as the “ban” is limited to being an instruction to civil servants.

The circuit breaks

In the Times, Giles Coren explains why he has pulled the plug on his electric car.

As I watch my family strike out on foot across the fields into driving rain and gathering darkness, my wife holding each child’s hand, our new year plans in ruins, while I do what I can to make our dead car safe before abandoning it a mile short of home, full of luggage on a country lane, it occurs to me not for the first time that if we are going to save the planet we will have to find another way. Because electric cars are not the answer.

Yes, it’s the Jaguar again. My doomed bloody £65,000 iPace that has done nothing but fail at everything it was supposed to do for more than two years now, completely dead this time, its lifeless corpse blocking the single-track road.

I can’t even roll it to a safer spot because it can’t be put in neutral. For when an electric car dies, it dies hard. And then lies there as big and grey and not-going-anywhere as the poacher-slain bull elephant I once saw rotting by a roadside in northern Kenya. Just a bit less smelly.

Not that this is unusual. Since I bought my eco dream car in late 2020, in a deluded Thunbergian frenzy, it has spent more time off the road than on it, beached at the dealership for months at a time on account of innumerable electrical calamities, while I galumph around in the big diesel “courtesy cars” they send me under the terms of the warranty.

But this time I don’t want one. And I don’t want my own car back either. I have asked the guys who sold it to me to sell it again, as soon as it is fixed, to the first mug who walks into the shop. Because I am going back to petrol while there is still time.

A message from Niall Kilmartin’s widow

My husband and I are currently staying with Niall’s widow. Though she describes herself as not one for comments, she has long been a Samizdata reader. She asked me to say how comforting it was to read the replies to the post announcing his death. She described it as “a real joy” to her to see how highly Samizdata readers and posters regarded Niall’s writing.

Niall’s actual cause of death was an aortic dissection which led to a stroke. Evidently he had had an aortic aneurysm without knowing about it. In these times it is perhaps worth saying that Niall had received the original two Covid vaccines, but chose not to have the autumn booster, so that cannot have been the cause of death.

I do not want to end this post by focussing on the medical details. Niall’s wife asked me to let you know about a little detail that is much more representative of his life: Niall’s computer was open at Samizdata when he died.

British political tweeting

Y’know, for a minute I hesitated to post this when I am feeling such sadness over Niall’s death. Then I thought, don’t be daft, woman, he’d have enjoyed it. In particular, as a lover of Scottish, English and British history and the complicated interactions between the three categories, he would have liked Gawain Towler’s comment to Lawrence Whittaker’s tweet: “Enough time to get married I guess.”

Niall Kilmartin has died

A couple of hours ago, Niall Kilmartin’s wife telephoned me with terrible news. Last night, Niall suffered a heart attack and a stroke. He was rushed to hospital but died during the night. Niall was my dear friend for more than forty years, a friend to my husband for even longer, and to my children for all their lives.

I know he valued Samizdata immensely. Read the comments that he made yesterday to my previous post. As ever they are full of wonderful scholarship and commitment to truth. I can hardly make myself believe that we will not continue the conversation in this life.

May he rest in peace.

A young Frenchwoman says “I don’t like America that much”

Allowing for the fact that she is speaking a language foreign to her, I think she has a point.

A speakeasy for archaeologists

“Stone Age Herbalist” is a pseudonym adopted out of necessity by someone who wants to practise an activity condemned by respectable society: scientific archaeology. Their piece for Unherd is called “The Rise of Archaeologists Anonymous”.

Why do these academics seek to do in secret what they used to do openly in the universities? Because academic archaeology has changed:

Historian Wolf Liebeschuetz and archaeologist Sebastian Brather, to pick on just two, have both firmly insisted that archaeology must not, and cannot, be used to trace migrations or identify different ethnic groups in prehistory. To quote from Liebeschuetz’s 2015 book, East and West in Late Antiquity: “Archaeology can trace cultural diffusion, but it cannot be used to distinguish between peoples, and should not be used to trace migration. Arguments from language and etymology are irrelevant.”

At a stroke, this line of reasoning would essentially abolish several centuries of work unravelling the thread of movements and evolution of the Indo-European peoples and languages, not to mention the post-Roman Germanic Migration Period, Anglo-Saxon invasions, Polynesian and Bantu Expansions and almost all major changes in the human record.

and

This became clearer than ever following the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which saw archaeology departments and professional bodies across the world fall over themselves to pledge curriculum “decolonisation” and an explicit commitment to politicising the discipline. To quote from the “’The Future of Archaeology Is Antiracist’: Archaeology in the Time of Black Lives Matter”, published in American Antiquity:

“Consequently, Black archaeology has been and must remain purposeful in practice. It rejects research and practices defined in sterile, binary terms of objective-subjective positionality. Archaeology at historic Black sites must be conducted with an explicit politics… To the field of archaeology, it serves as a moral guide with the potential to elucidate historical wrongs and explore forms of contemporary redress.”

Progressivism, the shield against Covid

This tweet by “the Rabbit Hole” is possibly the most damning, and the funniest, single image of media double standards I have ever seen:

In case someone else buys Twitter and it goes away, the image shows matched pairs of headlines from Vox, the Washington Post, Forbes, ABC News, the Insider, CNN, CNBC, the New York Times, the Verge and the AP. Every one of these outlets decided to run essentially the same pair of stories a few months apart. Taking but two examples,

The Insider said “Don’t blame Black Lives Matter protests for the spike in coronavirus cases across the US” and “The Capitol insurrection seems to have caused a superspreader event among lawmakers. Some Republicans refused to mask up.”

The Verge said, “Blaming protesters for COVID-19 spread ignores the bigger threats to health” and “COVID-19 cases in the Capitol are only the tip of the iceberg.”

And so on for the rest of them.

I can remember a time when if separate reports written by many different journalists in a whole bunch of famous newspapers and TV channels all said the same thing, it made me more likely to believe them.

Arrested for her thoughts

This video of a woman called Isabel Vaughan-Spruce being arrested for praying silently in Birmingham has gone viral. The version to which I link is from the Daily Caller. I have written my own transcription of the dialogue below. It differs from the subtitles provided by the Daily Caller in minor ways, mostly related to British police and legal terminology.

*

“Um, before I ask you any questions about what’s going on today, I have to caution you, which is just your rights, which is you do not have to say anything. It may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. What are you here for today?”
“Physically, I’m just standing here.”
“OK. Why here of all places? I know you don’t live nearby.”
“But this is an abortion centre.”
“OK. That’s why you’re stood here – because you standing here is part of a protest?”
“No. I’m not protesting.”
“Are you praying?”
“I might be praying in my head, not out loud.”

“So, I’ll ask once more, will you voluntarily come with us now to the police station for me to ask you some questions about today and other days where there are allegations that you’ve broken Public Spaces Protection Orders?”
“If I’ve got a choice, then no.”
“OK, well, then you’re under arrest upon suspicion of failing to comply with the Public Spaces Protection Order, which is under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. Now, I caution you again, you do not have to say anything. You may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand the caution?”
“I do, yes.”
“Your arrest is necessary in order for a prompt and effective investigation
into the offence. What that means is that I can ask you some questions [inaudible phrase]. I also have to protect vulnerable people, mainly service users, in the building. OK, so will you come please now to the police station. You’ll get booked in front of the custody sergeant, and then if you want a solicitor, you can have a solicitor [inaudible phrase]. OK? I don’t intend to handcuff you, but obviously my colleague will search you because we’re going to get into a police car and I need to make sure that you don’t have anything you could use to harm us or you could use to [inaudible phrase]”

*

She was then searched by a policewoman. I doubt the policeman was really that worried that Ms Vaughan-Spruce might harm him or his female colleague. To be fair to him, he was reasonably polite and even sounded a bit embarrassed. However he made it quite clear that the question he had to ask in order to decide whether to arrest her was whether she was silently praying, i.e. what was going on in her mind. He would not have had to ask if she had been praying out loud.

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