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]

“In none of these places were any human remains unearthed.”

You have probably heard the shocking story, reported worldwide, of the discovery of mass graves in Canada containing the bodies of what were then called Indian and are now called First Nations children sent to residential schools.

What you heard was exactly that, a story. It is not true.

Canada’s National Post carries an important and well-researched article by Terry Glavin: “The year of the graves: How the world’s media got it wrong on residential school graves”.

As for the most recent uproars: not a single mass grave was discovered in Canada last year. The several sites of unmarked graves that captured international headlines were either already-known cemeteries, or they remain sites of speculation even now, unverified as genuine grave sites. Not a single child among the 3,201 children on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 registry of residential school deaths was located in any of these places. In none of these places were any human remains unearthed.

Mr Gavin rightly acknowledges that the treatment of these children was shameful. It was denounced as such a full century ago:

…it was exactly 100 years ago this year that Peter Henderson Bryce, the former medical inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs, published a shocking account of the federal government’s indifference to deaths from infectious diseases and heartless neglect in the Indian residential schools. The 24-page booklet was titled, “The Story of a National Crime: Being an Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada; The Wards of The Nation, Our Allies in the Revolutionary War, Our Brothers-in-Arms in the Great War.”

The passage of a century has added other charges to the heartless neglect that Peter Henderson Bryce denounced. Beatings and sexual abuse were common at these schools, most of which were run on behalf of the government by the Catholic church. Their openly-stated purpose, at least at first, was to strip away the children’s native languages and cultures. While not every child’s experience was bad, the policy of taking children away from their parents en masse to be compulsorily educated in the majority culture was a monstrous act of repression.

The historical facts were not dramatic enough for the media. Perhaps not maliciously, but certainly recklessly, they promoted a different story, a new story:

The “discovery” of unmarked graves at the Marieval cemetery was one of the most dramatic front-page sensations that circled the world last summer. The June 24 headline in the Washington Post was typical: Hundreds of Graves Found at Former Residential School for Indigenous Children in Canada. The number of graves reportedly discovered: 751.

Except that’s not what happened.

The Cowessess people noted from the outset that they didn’t discover any graves; the crosses and headstones had gone missing under disputed circumstances decades earlier, and ground-penetrating radar had been brought in to enumerate and pinpoint the location of each burial. Cowesses Chief Cadmus Delorme told CBC News: “This is a Roman Catholic grave site. It’s not a residential school grave site.”

The predictable result of the sensationalist reporting of this and other grave sites was a wave of church burnings and vandalism that in any other context would have been called “hate crimes” but in Canada are known as “protests”. (Official Canadian terminology inverts the previous meanings of these two terms – peaceful protests for unapproved causes are deemed to be hate crimes and suppressed by force, as the disabled Indigenous woman trampled by police horses at the truckers’ Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa could tell you.) I know from reading the comments to many of these news stories that an awful lot of people got the impression that the children buried in these graveyards were murdered. That might simply be because many people are happy to comment on newspaper stories they have not read past the headline, or it might be that some reporters do not work very hard to dispel misunderstandings that will get them more clicks, or it might be due to the existence of a full-blown conspiracy theory to that effect. Mr Glavin links to this piece by Frances Widdowson that describes how Kevin Annett, a defrocked United Church Minister,

…has been disseminating the stories of Combes and others about the residential schools for about 25 years. One of these stories, recounted by Annett, claimed that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip took a group of students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) on a picnic and then abducted them. Thorough fact-checking has shown that the Royals did not even travel to Kamloops in 1964.

While the Queen Elizabeth abduction story probably would be regarded with skepticism by most, many similar improbable accounts of “murders” and “missing children” are being repeated by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc “Knowledge Keepers” and are now accepted as “truth.” Knowledge Keepers, after all, cannot be questioned, because to do so would be perceived as “disrespectful.” This raises questions about the extent to which the “oral tellings” of the Knowledge Keepers, which have been provided as evidence for the existence of “secret burials” at KIRS, have been influenced by the lurid stories circulating over the past 25 years. These stories were given additional momentum in May 2021 and are now firmly ensconced within the Canadian consciousness.

Passing the port from left to right at the Science Fiction Writers of America dinner

“Dammit, Clive, don’t be a bloody fool. Think of your wife. And the children. And the regiment.”

It was a British thing. One passed the port from right to left. When in a moment of madness poor, doomed Clive passed the port to the right, there was only one way to atone.

Back in 1979 when that episode of Ripping Yarns came out, I expect our colonial cousins were amused at our former belief that right-to-left was fine yet left-to-right was abominable. Such absurd stress on an insignificant difference in the manner of performing an everyday action!

The Yanks of 1979 laughed at Brits of 1979 laughing at Brits of 1879. The Yanks of 2022 say, “Hold my beer.”

Jim Treacher retweeted this from “Undoomed”:

Read their statement and was like: Holy shit, what did she do? Did she drop N-bombs on stage while wearing a white hood and setting a cross on fire??

Undoomed is referring to the following statement by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) on the removal of the author Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference.

Click on Undoomed’s link to find out what Mercedes Lackey actually did. Dashed bad show. Off you go, Mercedes.

Give us power. We won’t use it, honest.

“Bill C-11 would give CRTC power over user-generated content, but it won’t use it: chair”, reports CityNews Ottawa.

The chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says a federal bill would give it power to regulate user-generated content, such as homemade videos posted on YouTube.

But Ian Scott predicted at a House of Commons committee that this would never happen as the broadcast regulator has no interest in overseeing content produced by individuals.

Even so, critics of the online-streaming bill have seized on his remarks, saying they contradict assurances by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez that it would not give the regulator power over homemade content, such as cat or cooking videos.

Bill C-11, now going through Parliament, would update Canada’s Broadcasting Act and give the CRTC power to regulate online platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify and TikTok, along with traditional broadcasters. It would make digital platforms promote Canadian content, including films, music videos and TV programs, and contribute financially to their creation.

Scott Benzie, executive director of Digital First Canada, said the CRTC chair confirmed what digital-first creators have been saying since the bill was published. They have warned it could give the regulator power over their work, including posts by comedians, animators and gamers on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch.

Hat tip: Michael Geist via Ezra Levant.

Give us power. We won’t use it, honest. We just want to keep it to look at. [Checks notes] No, not even to look at. We have no interest in overseeing content produced by individuals. Really, if that doesn’t reassure you I don’t know what will. We are so chilled that power bores us. Now hand it over.

“By refusing to take part in this collective operation”

Idrissa Gueye is a Senegalese footballer who plays for his country and for the French side Paris Saint-Germain.

On Sunday 15th May, Paris Saint-Germain played Montpellier. On that day, players in the French Ligue 1 were meant to wear football jerseys with the numbers in LGBT rainbow colours in order to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. Unexpectedly, Mr Gueye did not play in that match. So far as I can find out with my limited ability to search news reports in French, he has not said why he sat out the match, but it is widely believed that it was because he felt that it would be incompatible with his religious beliefs to wear a shirt in Pride colours. He is a practising Muslim.

Via Paul Embery, I found this quotation from a letter that the FFF (Fédération Française de Football / French Football Federation) sent to Mr Gueye on May 17th:

“There are two possibilities, either these allegations are unfounded and we invite you to speak out without delay to silence these rumours. For example, we invite you to accompany your message by a photo of yourself wearing said shirt.”

“Or the rumours are true. In this case we invite you to realise the impact of your act, and the grave error committed. The fight against discrimination towards different minorities, whoever they might be, is a vital fight for all times. Whether it’s skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, or any other difference, all discrimination is based on the same principle which is rejection of the other because they are different from the majority.”

“By refusing to take part in this collective operation, you are effectively validating discriminatory behaviour, and rejection of the other, and not just against the LGBTQI+ community. The impact of football on society and the capacity for footballers to be a role model for those who admire them gives us all a particular responsibility.”

The report and translation come from the website Get French Football News. It says that it is quoting a story from the French sports paper L’Equipe. I believe the original L’Equipe story is this: “Le Conseil national de l’éthique de la FFF a écrit à Idrissa Gueye (PSG)” The headline means, “The National Ethics Council of the FFF has written to Idrissa Gueye (PSG)”.

One does not have to share Mr Gueye’s religious beliefs, or his (probable) opinions on LGBT issues, to see something sinister in this demand that he make a display of loyalty to prove his “innocence” of a charge that he did not participate in what is effectively the visual equivalent of compelled speech.

Why do they bother? They say Gueye must get himself photographed in a rainbow shirt because he’s a footballer and thus allegedly a role model. But such gestures of solidarity are inspiring only if they are known to be sincere. No one is going to be inspired to rethink their prejudices regarding gay people if and when Idrissa makes some obviously reluctant gesture of support.

“Disrupting traditional standards of what grant making in philanthropy looks like”

I should never have tried to say the Daily Mail‘s headline detailing the founder of Black Lives Matter’s dodgy deals all in one go.

REVEALED: BLM founder Patrisse Cullors paid her baby father $970,000 for ‘creative services’, her brother $840,000 for security, a fellow director $2.1m and reimbursed the organization $73,000 for a charter flight

But not all the sums were so high:

She paid the foundation an additional $390 over her uses of the 6,500 square-foot Studio City property for two private events.

The chair of BLM’s board of Directors, Cicley Gay, had this to say:

‘We are decolonizing philanthropy,’ Gay said. ‘We, as a board, are charged with disrupting traditional standards of what grant making in philanthropy looks like. It means investing in black communities, trusting them with their dollars.’

I am sure BLM will have no trouble trusting black communities with the last few dollars left over once the organisation has taken its cut.

Convinced governments have massive cash reserves they’re keeping from you just to be evil?

Then you will LOVE this ABSOLUTELY FREE (and gloriously 70’s K-Tel) video brought to you by “Mercurius”, “SNP Economics Explained”. It isn’t just for Scotland. It works for YOUR government, too, GUARANTEED.

Because everything is easily solved by pledging more money.
No tax rises required.
No cuts to other services.
No need to set the conditions for a growing economy to take in more tax.
A fairer society means pledging to pay for everything, absolutely FREE
It’s that easy!
Have a £5,000 cash injection every day.
Hell, why not have £10,000?
Now that’s compassionate!

A formula for failure

There is a shortage of baby milk in the US. Few fears are more primal than that of not being able to feed your baby. Parents across America are stressed and angry. (Some people, however, find the situation amusing.) One of the many reasons to like unbridled capitalism is that by reducing scarcity it reduces conflict. Whenever there is a shortage people become angry when they see others getting what they cannot get.

“Texas governor criticises Biden administration for giving baby formula to migrant children”, writes the Independent. There are several things worth discussing there. It would be unconscionable not to give formula to children who need it, but the knowledge that “Uncle Sam will provide” probably is a factor attracting illegal immigrants to the US, including children both accompanied and unaccompanied. The consequences of that can be horrible.

However the thing that struck me most about this story was tucked away as background information:

A recall of formula produced at a Michigan manufacturing facility – along with a Covid-19-fuelled supply chain issues – has made formula difficult for families to find, or subject to purchase limits in stores, after manufacturers shut down and warehouse stocks were recalled but not replaced. US formula is largely monopolised, with stringent regulations on imports; shortages from the recall are compounded by demand among a handful of companies relying on the same fragile supply chain.

President Biden has called on federal agencies to help address the shortages, including easing rules that manufacturers must follow for their products to be eligible under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, which supports low-income families.

Few dare argue when “stringent regulations on imports” and “rules that manufacturers must follow” are introduced under the cry of “We must protect the children!” Yet now that the children are being protected half to death, these measures seem astonishingly hard to remove.

Update: Eric Boehm of Reason magazine has more detail: America’s Trade and Regulatory Policies Have Contributed to the Baby Formula Shortage

Thanks to strict FDA regulations and oppressive tariffs, America is already largely dependent on only domestic suppliers for infant formula: America exports far more than it imports every year.

That’s exactly the situation the economic nationalist want in all industries—and we’re now seeing exactly how that can go wrong. Cutting off foreign trade and protecting domestic suppliers can make a country more vulnerable to unexpected supply problems, not more resilient.

The Matrix Preloaded

I thought that after most of a lifetime reading science fiction and alternate history I knew all the ways Hitler could have won World War II if just one little thing had turned out differently, but I had never heard of this one:

Onthisday.com for May 12th included this entry:

1941 Konrad Zuse presents the Z3, the world’s first working programmable, fully automatic computer, in Berlin

W-w-what? Straight to Wikipedia I went. Here is the entry for the Z3:

The Z3 was completed in Berlin in 1941. It was not considered vital, so it was never put into everyday operation. Based on the work of the German aerodynamics engineer Hans Georg Küssner (known for the Küssner effect), a “Program to Compute a Complex Matrix”[b] was written and used to solve wing flutter problems. Zuse asked the German government for funding to replace the relays with fully electronic switches, but funding was denied during World War II since such development was deemed “not war-important”.

The original Z3 was destroyed on 21 December 1943 during an Allied bombardment of Berlin.

Well, good. While it is interesting to speculate on how the development of the computer might have been different, it sounds like the Lord guided the bomb-aimer’s hand on that occasion.

Anyone know, how close did they come?

Can you guess what Lufthansa is talking about here?

This is possibly the most weaselly statement since the coppers interviewed the Chief Weasel after the retaking of Toad Hall.

Statement of May 10, 2022 on the denied boarding of passengers on flight LH 1334

On May 4, a large number of booked passengers were denied boarding on their onward flight with LH 1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest. Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.

While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests.

We apologize to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offense caused and personal impact.
Lufthansa and its employees stand behind the goal of connecting people and cultures worldwide. Diversity and equal opportunity are core values for our company and our corporate culture. What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values.

My challenge to readers is to guess without sight of the internet what the “large group” had in common that caused them to be denied boarding – they were not flying together – and exactly what the “non compliant guests” were non-compliant about. Winners will be awarded the sought-after title of Wieselbeobachtersmeister, or something with most of the same syllables anyway.

Actually I do not find this sort of thing funny. Weasels are cute. Lufthansa’s behaviour was not cute, it was shameful, and they deserve to pay the heavy price they will pay.

But…

I also believe that the payment should come from the airline being boycotted by all decent people and/or from them being sued until they have no more Sitzfleisch left for their egregious breach of contract, not from the German or American governments. The proliferation of laws against every tiny, even unintentional, manifestation of this sort of thing has atrophied people’s own sense of its gross wrongness. They can’t see it in themselves. The Lufthansa representative on the scene was apologetic, but firm. She probably congratulated herself on a difficult job well done.

Edit: Originally I included no links in this post in order to make the guessing game more fun. But on second thoughts I ought to credit Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, where I first read about this. No peeking.

How not to change minds on abortion

Last December Meghan McArdle tweeted,

“Looking at abortion opinion, it’s actually quite striking how little men and women differ on this question. The whole pro-life is about men telling women what to do with their bodies” schtick simply isn’t grounded in reality . . . Men are more likely to self-id as pro-life, and women as pro-choice, but when you drill down into specifics, it’s clear this stems from differences in labeling quite similar views.

She backed up her opinion with a link to this article by the polling organisation Gallup: “Abortion Trends by Gender”.

On specific questions relating to abortion, the opinions of American women and men were amazingly close. For instance, in this detailed survey from 2012, 71.5% of men and 69.4% of women said abortion should be legal if there is a strong possibility of a serious fetal defect, and 43.1% of men and 43.3% of women said abortion be legal for married women who don’t want more children.

Opinion has also been remarkably consistent over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1995 60% of Americans thought that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Now it’s 61%. In 1995 38% of Americans thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. In 2022 it is 37%.

Why are the lines so flat? Over the same period church attendance has dropped. Support for other ideas once considered the preserve of the radical left, such as gay marriage, has steeply increased. The standing joke is that the Right won on economics and the Left won on culture. So why did the Left’s advance falter on that one issue?

By the way, although I talk about abortion as a left-right issue, because it certainly is one in US politics and to a lesser extent in politics across the Anglosphere, in this post I am not making an argument for or against abortion. If you wish to read my slightly indecisive thoughts on the issue you can do so here: “Thinking aloud on a mountainside”.

I am just interested in the Left’s relative failure to change the minds of Americans on abortion when in the same period it did so well in changing minds (including mine) on issues usually bundled with abortion.

I think it was because in the US and the UK, the pro-choice side almost never engaged with what their opponents actually believed. Over the years I must have read hundreds of Guardian articles on abortion, mostly in its US section because abortion is such a live issue there. I do not recall a single one that argued against the main sticking point of the pro-life side, namely that abortion takes a human life – let alone argued for it. On other issues the Guardian would occasionally let the odd Conservative or other non-progressive have their say about fossil fuels or the nuclear deterrent or whatever, and would often feature writers who, while left wing themselves, at least knew enough of the right wing view to argue against it. However when it came to abortion the line always was, and judging from Twitter in the last few days, still is, that opposition to abortion arises (a) only from men and (b) only from men who wish to control women’s bodies.

It works, a bit. Some men who read that will decide that they do not want to be that sort of man, others will decide that they do not want to be thought to be that sort of man. But an argument that does not even acknowledge the existence of female opponents of abortion will obviously not change their minds. Nor will silence reassure women who are not firmly pro or anti. If the Left will not talk to them about their doubts, then by definition the only arguments they hear will come from the other side.

How about male opponents of abortion and/or men who are not sure what they think? In most cases they simply will not feel that this charge that they want to control women’s bodies has any relevance to them. It’s like being accused of bank robbery when the most you’ve done is put non-recyclables in the recycling bin. Or like being accused in the modern fashion of misogyny rather than sexism: a conscientious man might examine himself and admit that some unjustified assumptions about women might be lurking in his subconscious, but that does not mean he hates women. All in all, that way of presenting the abortion argument is great for firing up those who already agree, but ensures that practically no women’s minds will be changed, and few men’s.

The above “model” is just my supposition, of course. But the remarkable stability of US opinion on abortion over decades is a fact that needs explaining, and that would explain it.

When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army it means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.

What a difference a year makes: the green dream dies in Sri Lanka

April 2021:

“Sri Lanka will become first country to be free of chemical fertilizer”, the Sri Lankan news website News First reported:

COLOMBO (News 1st); President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has stated that he will take up the challenge in making Sri Lanka the first country in the world to eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers without reversing any of the steps that have been taken.

The absence of any country in the world that has eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers is not an obstacle to achieving the goal, President Rajapaksa noted.

The President urged all to unite to educate the farmer and create a healthy generation at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (29) to raise awareness on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and the ban on such imports.

“The government must guarantee the right of the people to a non-toxic diet to produce a healthy and productive citizen,” said the President.

April 2022:

“How Sri Lanka’s shift to organic farming left it in the manure,” reports the Times:

What turned Sri Lanka’s economic situation from difficult to catastrophic was the decision by the Rajapaksa government to implement a nationwide ban on synthetic fertiliser. It was made not at the behest of neoliberal economists doing the bidding of global capital, but rather on the advice of environmentalists in the name of sustainable agriculture.

[…]

But that strategy backfired in spectacular fashion. Domestic rice production fell by 14 per cent from 2021 to 2022, forcing the nation, long self-sufficient in rice production, to import hundreds of millions of dollars of rice and more than eroding all of the savings from ceasing fertiliser imports. On top of that, the ban decimated tea production, leading to a $425 million economic loss to the industry in its first six months of implementation. Tea, one of the nation’s primary crops, is a key source of its total export income, making a bad foreign exchange situation far worse.