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]

The Scarlet Letter

Although Boris’ letter is written in the most friendly and amiable manner towards Emmanuel and the EU generally, and its references to earlier discussions between them are phrased in a very positive way, I can make a guess at why Boris thought continuing the discussion somewhat more in the public gaze was a good idea. I can likewise make a guess at why this allowing the public a look at what is happening made Macron furious enough to cancel today the meetings agreed to yesterday.

However that is not the point of my post (but commenters are welcome to spread themselves on that subject if they wish). I want to discuss the letter itself. Overtly, everything in it is about the wicked people smugglers and their poor trafficked victims. I was reminded of ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric, typically eager to focus blame on evil pushers, not victimised addicts.

In the war on drugs, that way of looking at things is not always and only spin.

– I knew a woman whose life took a very different turn from anything she’d expected. She chanced to encounter a young drug addict – let’s call her Moira (not her name) in this post – whose family and friends, after trying very hard, had finally despaired of her. It became indisputably clear to my friend that either someone would work a miracle or Moira would be dead within a few months at most. Where ninety-nine in a hundred would have walked by on the other side, my friend took Moira into her own house and gave her that unconditional love that is so very much more often preached than practised. A few months later, Moira was clean – and stayed so. My friend went back to her old life, thinking, “that was weird” – but less than a year later she was confronted by a family quite literally on their knees before her, begging her to do for their daughter the miracle she had achieved for Moira. They were not the last to do so. Thus, gradually, not intending it, she discovered her vocation was to redeem drug addicts, one at a time. She had her successes and her failures. In the end, she become someone whom social work directors and suchlike government figures consulted – though she seemed to feel her hard-won, very tough-minded experience was more apt to shock than to change their fashionable theories.

– For years, a former neighbour went with his evangelical church group into Glasgow on Saturday nights, offering coffee and food, and encouragement to get out of that life, to any hookers-cum-addicts willing to visit their bus. There were funny incidents – one girl (still in her hooker’s outfit) came to his church, threw her arms around him and kissed him, gushing about how he had (physically and morally) saved her. “Does you wife know about this kind of thing?”, asked a staid member of the congregation. There were horrible incidents. Week after week, one girl came to argue them down, to tell the other girls not to fall for all this Jesus stuff. Then, one evening, when others were momentarily elsewhere, she quietly told him, “I know you think I’m horrible and hopeless, but actually I am listening”. A week later, she was dead – murdered. She was a nobody in her world – but knew too much to be let leave it. Where my friend thought he’d been urging her to resist temptation and failing – actually, she’d been fighting the temptation to risk trying.

These of course, are the exceptions – the miracles. We all know who else populate the drug addict world: people who give convincing impressions of having sold their souls and paid up; misery that loves company and inflicts it with psychopathic indifference; people who stopped being victims long ago. In between, there are those who are simultaneously both. One Saturday night, an honest policeman asked my old neighbour, “Why do you waste your time on such people?” – and had no lack of illustrative examples.

It’s the same in the people-trafficked world. The trafficked are a complicit commodity – and you can place great emphasis on both those words. This guy came to the UK to loot the welfare state and steal the rest of what he’d promised to his traffickers – knowing that his family back in Syria were his traffickers’ security. When being caught delayed his ability to pay them, they pimped out his wife and kids – whereupon he gave a strong proof that he was genuinely upset about that. Like some German officer late in WWII, aware that too swift a surrender might be revenged on his family, or some Soviet cold-war agent of influence who knew with certainty what Stalin would do to his family if he defected, the trafficked can be simultaneously enemies of the UK and victims of its more powerful enemies.

With that background under our belt, let’s return to the letter. I don’t care for the cautious deference Boris’ phrasing shows to “right-think” (i.e. left-think), with all the blame thrown on the traffickers and none on the illegal migrants. But the letter does challenge the far filthier PC narrative of ‘asylum seekers’, with the true nature of this political, commercial and above-all criminal operation not even mentioned to deny it, but just insolently ignored. Against that, I welcome the publicity Macron’s tantrum will give Boris’ letter. It’s a step towards wider understanding; may it start a journey.

Vaccines: some seek confidence, others a confidence trick

A dailysceptic article on the phenomenon of negative vaccine efficacy points out how routinely analysts still assume an efficacy minimum of zero, despite some negative vaccine efficacy examples having been well researched.

However what most caught my attention was this.

Nonetheless, despite my harsh words about IFR education above, we must acknowledge that the UKHSA is so far standing by the basic moral and foundational principles of public statistics. Their answer to the confounders and denominators debate is clearly written, straightforward, reasonable and ends by saying:

We believe that transparency – coupled with explanation – remains the best way to deal with misinformation.

That’s absolutely true. The deep exploration of obscure but important topics by independent parties is possible in the U.K. largely because the HSA is not only publishing statistics in both raw and processed forms, but has continued to do so even in the face of pressure tactics from organisations like Full Fact and the so-called Office for Statistical Regulation (whose contribution to these matters has so far been quite worthless). England is one of the very few countries in the world in which this level of conversation is possible, as most public health agencies have long ago decided not to trust the population with raw data in useful form. While the outcomes may or may not be “increasing vaccine confidence in this country and worldwide”, as the HSA goes on to say, there are actually things more important than vaccines that people need confidence in – like government and society itself. Trustworthy and rigorously debated government statistics are a fundamental pillar on which democratic legitimacy and thus social stability rests. Other parts of the world should learn from the British government’s example.

One such other part of the world is the USA. The FDA wants to keep its Pfizer vaccine approval data under wraps until 2076. They took 108 days to approve, but would like another 20,000 days before we can check their work.

To be sure, the context is different. Last year, they were deciding whether the data supported letting Americans take the vaccine. This year, the issue is whether the data supports forcing Americans to take the vaccine.

If they thought that research to justify denying choice should meet a higher standard than research to justify allowing choice, I’d understand. A woman I know in the States teaches pre-calc to students over the web, under the aegis of a teaching company that also does US-government-funded work. She has a platelets issue that makes her reluctant to take the vaccine, but her employers have told her the US government insists that all their employees be vaccinated – even those who only ever teach remotely from their homes. I can see you’d need many days of data analysis to extract a justification for that!

Sadly, I fear it is their lack of statistical justification that they are hiding.

Halleluyah! Antiviral drugs are coming (and remember, Don’t mention Ivermectin!)

Now the UK has approved an anti-viral drug, early treatment is on the official agenda (on this side of the pond at least). Also on this side of the pond is a Dr John Campbell, whose amiable video manner (like his bedside manner, I expect) avoids overawing his audience with the impression that he already knows everything, so need never be told anything. It’s a manner he seems to think some ‘fact-checkers’ could use. ‘Alternative Facts’ is the title of his video response to Facebook’s putting a…

Missing Context

Independent fact-checkers say this could mislead people.

…warning on the video he made last week about similarities between the pharmacodynamic mechanism of Ivermectin and that of the new Pfizer antiviral.

He learned of the ‘misleading’ fact-check (the misleading ‘fact-check’) from some followers who tried to share his earlier video on Facebook. After reviewing how, uh, ‘well’ qualified the fact-checkers were, he follows Natalie’s wise advice to brief his side properly, giving the fact-checkers a tick or half-mark wherever he can, before moving good-humouredly to reasons why it was nevertheless a bit arrogant of them to call it a fact-check.

To see the video, click this link and then the ‘Alternative Facts’ icon (second along in the list as of today). You can turn on auto-generated subtitles if you prefer reading to hearing, but if you like mild dry English humour you may be happy enough to listen to him.

Boris’ speech of welcome to COP26 delegates

Fellow world leaders and others, we meet at a grave time. I’ve consulted the extinction clock, which chronicles the tireless work of those who alert us to the dangers of climate change, and clearly there is no cause for levity.

Firstly, let me welcome you all to this conference on the dangers of Global Warming caused by our abuse of fossil fuels. I hope each of you had a good flight. Joe Biden tells me he can’t recall seeing any ice beneath him as Air Force One flew over the Arctic – no surprise there, as we were warned it would be ice-free all summer from 2017, and have no ice in the month of September from 2015, and be ice-free all year round from September 2016. As regards delegates from the central US, I’m sorry the Hoover dam has spent all of 2021 as a dry hole, but console yourselves with the reflection that it has not produced a drop of drinking water or electricity since the end of 2016, so it makes little difference.

Secondly, let me reassure you that the heavy rain of the last few days does not mean Glasgow is about to drown from a combination of rising sea levels and extreme weather events. It was very sad when London and other British cities vanished beneath the waves at the end of December 2019, but this effect of climate change was well-predicted beforehand, so I’m glad to welcome people who surely despise as much as I do any so-called supporters of the climate cause who spent December 2019 complaining about my election and Brexit instead. But while we know that climate change is making extreme weather events (heavy rain in Glasgow, for example) more common, I observe that only some notorious science deniers are claiming that anything apocalyptically bad could happen during this conference.

Now to the agenda: item one, apologies for absence.

– No-one from the Maldives can be with us because those beautiful islands vanished beneath the sea at the end of 2018. My grief when that happened would have been greater still, had not the islanders already died of thirst after climate change exhausted their supplies of fresh water at the end of 1991. (And if they had survived these earlier disasters, they would surely have perished in the tropical climate catastrophe of 2020.)

– Similarly, we have no delegates from the city of Adelaide, which ran out of drinking water at the end of March 2009 (or was it the end of December 2007?). Looking on the antipodean bright side, at least their fellow countrymen were well-warned that (since June 2020) snow in the ‘Australian Alps’ has been almost as unknown as it is to British children born since 2000, so any Australian delegates who like skiing were spared the temptation to choose Australian snow over Scottish rain. (Australians can condole with the Swiss and Austrian delegates – all their glaciers disappeared last December.)

Item two: what can we do about climate change? Sadly, nothing. I have it on the authority of Prince Charles himself that the deadline for taking action, after which global warming became irreversible, expired in January of this year, and I can only wonder at the royal optimism which set it as recently as that. As a Tory, I of course ridiculed the last Labour PM’s assertion that action on global warming would be too late unless done before December 8, 2009 (five months before he had to face his first and only election!). Since then, however, so many warnings (from figures of great authority in the climate change consensus) have expired that it would be ridiculous in me to dispute His Royal Highness’ assurance that time was most definitely up on January 24th, given that it was definitely up a good six months earlier (June 28, 2020), everyone having been thrown out of the last chance saloon half a year before that (December 1, 2019), after the final opportunity to do anything about it went by a good six weeks earlier (October 16, 2019). And let’s face it: all these warnings were hopeful almost to the point of being deniers, since we all know time had already run out back in September 14, 2016 – or May 24, 2016 – and we passed the “point of no return” in December 2014.

So let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we fry.

Because they will take them

Not long ago, a committee for determining who receives a prestigious annual American Geophysical Union award was reconstructed to be more diverse (especially, more representative of those who who had “been very vocal” about the need for such diversity).

To the new committee’s dismay, however, the membership had apparently not been reconstructed enough in all fields. As per the usual process, peer-submitted candidates were whittled down to a shortlist of the five best in each field and submitted to the committee, but in one field:

Every nominee on the list was a white man. “That was kind of a bit of a showstopper for me,” said Helen Fricker, a glaciologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the five committee members. (quoted from a Scientific American article)

The same statistical techniques that the field’s researchers use in their work could have been used to show this was not so very surprising, but the reconstructed committee members did not see it that way. They refused to choose any of the five.

The resolution of this is ongoing but I think we know something about the person (I use this word advisedly) who will (probably) ultimately ‘win’. My post is to say we know something else about them as well – something that an (in)famous man explained about how his yet more (in)famous boss chose people.

“The wicked, who have something on their conscience, are obliging, quick to hear threats, because they know how it’s done, and for booty. You can offer them things, because they will take them.” (Hermann Goering to his lawyer at Nuremberg)

Who will consent to receive an award that is ostensibly for skill in science, knowing that their peers in the field (peers who have, incidentally, chosen a woman for the award in the past) think them less worthy of it than five or more candidates passed over for being the wrong race and sex? Answer: someone woke enough to take it on those terms. So, while the proportion of women and men of colour in the field of ice science is relatively low, I offer the speculation – or rather, the moral hope – that it prove neither so low nor so corrupt that the one who agrees to take the award will necessarily be the one judged worthiest within that subgroup by their peers.

In other words, I hope the one who takes it will indeed belong to a minority – the minority of those who can be offered such things because they will take them.

Is Omarova evil (and stupid) or stupid (and evil)?

In 1989, Boris Yeltsin visited a supermarket in Texas (in the past, such things were reported even in the NYT):

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people.”

Not so Biden’s candidate for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova. Biden chose her because she would be “the first woman and person of color” to serve in that role, but that would not be her only ‘first’. In that same year of 1989, she graduated from Moscow State University on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. She thought the Soviet system superior to capitalism then, and thirty years later, she still believes:

“Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best’.” (Omarova, 2019, quoted here)

She’s also outright hostile to the idea of supply and demand determining the likes of salaries and product prices, preferring instead to see the federal government — the state — set such values.

I say ‘also’ in the paragraph above, but my question in this post is: does she know how much socialism relies on the second when ‘achieving’ the first?

“The beauty of this system was that an NKVD man could receive twelve times what a doctor did and the doctor didn’t know it. The doctor knew what the NKVD man was paid, which was the same as he was, but he didn’t know what the NKVD man could buy with it.”

You didn’t have to be in the communist secret police to discover how a state that controlled distribution could match equal pay for interrogators and doctors to unequal reward. In Stalin’s day, an earlier defector (Kravchenko, ‘I Chose Freedom’) thought that, as regards the very highest ranks of this system,

not one Russian in a thousand suspected that such abundant shops existed

but he discovered for himself that, although

as department head in the sovnarkom, I did not earn half as much as I used to earn in industry, and I received none of the administrative bonuses that factory administrators awarded themselves,

the amount he was paid meant little, because what mattered was

the shops in which you were permitted to buy.

His new post gave him access to certain additional outlets – outlets which might still have looked shabby if compared to Yetsin’s Texas supermarket, but which would have looked as wonderful to ordinary Russians as that supermarket did to Yeltsin, had they been allowed inside.

By 1989, far more than one Russian in a thousand knew this – and so did some visiting foreigners. A women I met at Oxford had spent months on a course in the Soviet Union about five years earlier than Omarova – an unusual course where the foreigners lived like the Russian students, shopping in the same outlets. She had her Yeltsin moment upon her return: “When I went into Sainsbury’s, I burst into tears.” (her exact words).

IIUC, Omarova would have lived better on a Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship – would have had access to some of the special suppliers most Russian students had to do without – although their stipends were probably much the same in rouble terms. What I wonder is, does she know how much socialism’s on-paper ‘elimination’ of pay-gaps (gender and otherwise) depends on control of distribution, or is her enthusiasm for both simply the effect of swallowing the whole ideological package? Is she as thick as a brick (as we say in Britain), or is she as thick as two short planks (as we also say in Britain)? Is she useful, and idiotic only with the deep absurdity of desiring to be useful to such a cause, or is she a useful idiot of a shallower kind?

Merrick Garland and the Babski Bunty

‘Babski Bunty’ translates as ‘Women’s Rebellions’ – but don’t expect to find too many accounts of them in radical feminist writings. The history of an actual rebellion movement against men with guns (and considerable will to use them), by women inspired by a traditional female motive and using a female-adapted method, is not what the politically correct want US children taught – not least because the men those women resisted served the original PC movement. (The phrase ‘Political Correctness’ first arose in 1930s western intellectuals’ whitewashing of communist atrocities.)

In 1929, a complex mixture of rage, fear and folly launched the communist party on its collectivisation of Russian agriculture. They’d long planned to do it. Now they would do it quickly and completely – so they thought. The urban intellectuals who planned it knew almost nothing of how Russia’s men farmed their land – but they knew absolutely nothing of the women’s role. So they planned to take control of the grain from the fields, putting the farmers’ claim firmly second in line after the state’s – but as for the trivial additional issue of the dairy products from the cow (or there might be a couple) in the byre by the house, it never even occurred to them that there was anyone to be put second. The grain would feed the state, with the farmers getting what was left over. The dairy products would earn export capital (insofar as dairy was not ‘rationalised’ out of existence in farms whose function was ‘obviously’ arable).

In traditional Ukrainian and Russian arable agriculture, the fields were the men’s business (women helped at harvest). Any supplementing animals living by the house were their wives’ business – wives who particularly relied on the milk, butter and cheese to nourish ther growing children. As the party activists were launched on their hasty campaign with its even increasing collectivisation targets, what had been invisible to planners in Moscow swiftly became horrifyingly visible to mothers on the farm. What enraged the men, as they saw their whole way of life replaced with one they found vastly inferior, was to their wives an immediate and direct threat not merely to their role but also to their offspring. Thus it was that the astonished and largely uncomprehending activists found themselves facing especially uncooperative peasant women.

Thousands of women were shot, or sent to the gulag from which very very few emerged alive 25 years later, but as what the activists came to call “women’s rebellions” spread from their Ukrainian origins into the Don, the Kuban and Russia proper, the scale left the communist authorities somewhat at a loss. All resistance was labelled ‘terrorism’, of course, but a few of the more perceptive activists came to understand the tactics the women were using. Women jeered and jostled the village’s activists while others undid the collectivisation structure by breaking into stores, retrieving farm tools that had been seized, etc. The men’s role was to stand back, coming to the women’s defence if and only if the activists violently attacked them but otherwise not getting overtly involved.

This tactic aimed at avoiding intervention of armed forces, and it was successful.

(It was often successful, not always.) An activist’s male pride was frequently reluctant to beg that a sizable secret police or army formation be swiftly dispatched to save him – from a crowd of loud-mouthed women. It could be hard to make these (genuinely!) mostly peaceful protests sound urgent enough to an official at the end of a phone line. The in-parallel ‘terrorist’ offences against ‘the property of the socialist state’ (i.e. people reclaiming their property that the activists had ‘collectivised’ the week before) were harder to reverse than the initial unwarned seizure had been (especially if a crowd of women was crowding round the activists who were searching for it). Thus, a non-trivial proportion of many a collectivised farm’s economy was in effect privatised again.

Thanks to a lot of brave resistance from both sexes (the women’s rebellions being a significant part), Stalin found it necessary to publish his ‘Dizzy with Success’ Pravda article at the end of March 1930, explaining (in the usual utterly-deceitful soviet style) that some activists had been ‘too eager’ and the collectivisation drive was being paused. Some activists tried hard to prevent the peasants learning of it while others wrote enraged letters to Stalin, correctly pointing out that they’d done what he’d told them to, and foolishly not realising that the methods communists eagerly applied to peasants could also be applied to communists themselves. (Some of these letters got published – 40 years later.) Women’s rebellions played an even larger role in forcing bitterly-resisting activists to let the peasants act on Stalin’s temporarily-gentler public line.

That was then, this is now. In the US, woke teacher activists are more eager to repeat this history than to teach it. Merrick Garland (Biden’s attorney general) also seems more interested in imitating it than in learning from it. Indeed, I’m not at all sure either the teacher-activists or Merrick even know it.

So now, as then, there is a need for tactics to resist the onrushing politically-correct programme. Today’s US differs a lot from communist Russia of nearly a century ago (thank God!). But I offer US citizens this distant analogy for whatever ideas it might inspire in its unduped women and in men willing to defend them.

There is a darker analogy. Stalin threw his ‘Dizzy with Success’ activists under the bus because he had belatedly realised that a much more carefully prepared attack was needed. In 1932-34, by killing enough Ukrainians to meet the UN definition of genocide (and lots of Russians and others), the communists succeeded in imposing the collective farm system. The crop shrank markedly, but Stalin saw this as an acceptable price to pay for the state’s having control of it. The quantity and quality of education is not as tangible as the size of a grain harvest – but even if it were, I don’t think the wokesters shrinking it would care. Last time, this tactic brought only a pause, not victory. A pause would be better than nothing, but Churchill warned people rejoicing over Dunkirk that wars are not won just by making your enemies pause in their advance.

Laughing apart

Ten men acting together can make a hundred thousand tremble apart.

Three weeks ago Saturday, the FBI were out in undercover force at the ‘JusticeForJan6th’ rally – and looking lonely, since everyone from Trump to the proud boys had worked out it was a false flag operation. But precisely because the ‘demonstrators’ physically present were so overwhelmingly and obviously fake, the large virtual attendance in cyberspace was much entertained, with more mirth being had at the expense of some (overt) police who were a bit slow to realise that the guy they were arresting was yet another under(not-very-much)cover Fed.

None of which alters the fact that that the right “peaceably to assemble” for political protest is bifurcating. One side knows it need only be ‘mostly peaceful’ while the other knows that assembling at all can bring speedy arrest followed by long-delayed trial.

Ten oh-so-obvious undercover FBI agents are good for a laugh, but they still made those who mocked them laugh apart. Chanting “F*** Joe Biden” (“Let’s Go Brandon” 🙂 ) in a sports stadium is one way to laugh together, but it reminds me of the chariot racing clubs in the Roman and Byzantine empires – those ancient ‘blues’ and ‘greens’ chariot fans acquired strong political overtones because assembling for an overtly political purpose was forbidden.

Preventing the truth

prevent, (verb) from latin prevene (pre vene): (literal meaning) to go before; (in modern usage) to hinder, to obstruct, to block, …

If you count yet again a stack of ballots, some valid but others not, what number do you get? The same as before, of course.

I foresaw from the moment the Arizona audit was scheduled that the first trivial task of the auditors would be merely to count all the ballots and observe the same 10,000-odd lead for Biden as before – after all, they could hardly count the votes that went missing before reaching the count in the first place*. The point of the audit was to see whether any of the ballots that were counted were demonstrably unsafe.

The media likewise foresaw these things. And both I and the media foresaw that even after all the vigorous non-cooperation of Maricopa county election officials and others, the auditors might still find more than 10,000 unsafe ballots (several times more in the event). So I foresaw the media would have a story prepared for dismissing this. (As David Burge remarked, modern journalism is about covering important stories – “with a pillow; till they stop moving”.)

What I did not foresee with quite the crystal clarity that it has this morning, is that their prepared story would be to treat the utterly predictable fact of the combined safe and unsafe ballots totalling to the same numbers as before as news. And I feel slow for not foreseeing how inevitably they would do that. After all, if your long-prepared headline is “Arizona audit confirms Biden win”, what else could you write beneath it?

The modern meaning of prevent makes amusingly unfortunate the over-literal translation of the old prayer, “O Lord, prevent us in all our doings”, as if Jesus’ job, like that of a modern mask Karen, was to rush around spotting anyone planning to have fun, so as to stop them before fun could even start. When it comes to our joyless media, however, I think we need to be better at preventing them (old sense – and then modern if, as so often, their plan is to lie, cheat and steal their way into power over us).

P.S. (FYI, Internet Health Warning)
* Within a short time of the asterisked link above first appearing a couple of weeks ago, attempts to reach it became apt to raise a maximum severity “This website appears to be trying to steal your data” warning. I feel sure the ‘Behind the Black’ website itself was not – but who knows, it could be some behind-the-scenes black-op was trying to steal the data of those who linked to that post, or someone wanted to discourage people from reading it. The warning no longer appears, so the black-op is over, or has improved its ability to run silently, or it was just another of those never-to-be-explained events the web throws up from time-to-time.

All the other links in my post above have always behaved normally for me.

Sweden – “portal into the future” ?

The woke seek total victory and total defeat – which I long ago predicted they would get, albeit maybe delphically. But an interesting article in Unherd describes the latest state reached in Sweden’s dry-run of woke cancel culture as “an uneasy ceasefire”.

It started as all-out culture war.

With the benefit of hindsight, immigration now appears not as a question important in and of itself, but as a form of wedge corresponding to a very particular political moment of establishment fear and anger at parts of their own electorate.

But six years on,

While the deplorables are still mocked, there is no bite to it anymore. SD voters are no longer at risk of having their careers cancelled. In 2021, an unspoken attitude of ”don’t ask, don’t tell” prevails.

In the areas in Stockholm where most of the country’s journalists live, it is probably less awkward to openly admit to sympathising with SD on immigration than it is to proudly proclaim that Sweden is far from full and ought to take in at least a million more Afghans in the next couple of years.

How have the SD, the Swedish lovers of free speech, the heterodoxians like the article’s author, achieved this (I hear you begging me to say 🙂 )? Well, in large part at least, the article thinks they (we) haven’t. It is due to

the belated discovery that these consequences of immigration are in fact very real, and that methods of ”shaping the narrative” cannot really change material reality.

More critically, there is the realisation that nobody — certainly not middle class progressives — wants to live with those consequences at all.

It was not of course a belated discovery for Sweden’s “deplorables”, but I predict they will be treated as Edmund Burke was over two centuries ago. By the time the woke of his day were unable to avoid seeing that the French revolution was as unpleasant as Burke had predicted, they knew he was ‘already’ a enemy of it ‘anyway’ – so they dismissed him as just an accidentally-right stopped clock they could go on despising. Sweden’s deplorables will be called ‘stopped clocks’ by Sweden’s woke because they warned of danger beforehand, not after it became undeniable, just as Donald Trump is a ‘stopped clock’ to many who are falling out of love with Biden, but not with their own self-identity as clever, compassionate and politically far-sighted. The woke find forgiving deplorables for being deplorable very hard – but forgiving deplorables for being right when the woke are wrong is much harder.

Read the whole article – it will repay you.

California voting – an anecdote

Yesterday, I was chatting to a Californian friend. He described his experience of voting in the recall election.

He was sent a postal ballot – a ballot and an envelope to return it in. He had not asked for it and did not want it but got it anyway. His wife was also sent one and what I say below applies to her as well.

Both envelope and ballot had serial numbers printed on them – and they were sequential: the return envelope’s serial number differed by one from its ballot’s serial number. (His wife’s likewise, so it seemed to be a pattern.) This gave him some concerns.

  • As the state had posted the serial-numbered ballot specifically to him, it sure looked like, after the election, the authorities would be able to tell how he’d voted. In a state where expressing a heterodox thought can be career-ending, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that the state would never dream of recording the serial-to-address data, let alone exploiting it afterwards (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).
  • As the envelope and ballot serials had this simple sequential relationship, it sure looked like anyone who saw the returned envelope (which had to have his name and address on it), would be able to deduce the serial of his ballot. In a state where the operation of the law can make defying antifa more dangerous to you than to them, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that no such person would later be able to get access to the ballots or their scanned data to relate his name and address to his vote (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).
  • As there was no secrecy sleeve, it sure looked like whoever ripped the envelope open to get the ballot during the count would have a hard time not seeing his name, address and vote all at once anyway. In a state where supporting the wrong party can lead to unequal application of the law, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that the electoral staff would be unable to record or memorise such information (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).

After thinking about this, he went to the local polling station on election day to try and get a ballot from them and put it in the ballot box the old-fashioned way. Wisely, he took the postal ballot with him, knowing they should – and in this case probably would – want to see it destroyed. Unwisely, he filled it in beforehand in case they refused to let him vote the old fashioned way (so that, in that case, he could at least put the postal ballot straight into the box, thus cutting some intermediaries out of the insecure loop, without making a second visit). He gave me a vivid word-picture of the crossed-arms, blocking-the-way lady in change of the polling place when he made his request. They did not absolutely refuse, but it was made clear to him that the first thing to happen would be his postal vote being torn open and carefully examined before its destruction. Cursing himself for the ‘forethought’ of filling it in “in case”, he decided that that would destroy the point of the exercise, which was to cast a secret ballot – though he did wonder by then whether, despite his studiously-meek demeanour, the lady felt any more doubt of whom he was voting for than he felt of whom she was voting for. So in the end he used it as the state intended he should.

I report this wholly anecdotal case (just two ballots and one polling station) because I know my friend is describing his own experience accurately and the details surprised me. When the Nazis tried to find out which Germans voted ‘no’ in Hitler’s plebiscites, they put serial numbers on the ballots – but they did so secretly, by using a typewriter without a ribbon to make an invisible impression that could be recovered later, and then had a very hard time arranging for the appropriate invisibly-serial-numbered ballot to be given to the appropriate suspected voter when he or she showed up at the polling place. How they would have loved the simplicity of being able to send openly-serial-numbered ballots by post.

I do not know whether my friend’s experience represents much of California’s voting, but, like him and his wife, I am just a little worried to learn that it represents any of it.

Beware the prepared PC put-down

“But despite that [her years of experience]”, the lady said, “I still had to get re-certified. It started with an equality and diversity test, and I got the first question wrong.”

“Everyone does”, said the other lady. “They ask you what equality means and the first answer in the list is ‘Equal treatment’ but the right answer is ‘Equal outcomes’. If you question it, they tell you that if you give two women the same leaflet in English but one of them speaks English and the other speaks Farsi then that’s equal treatment but not equal outcomes.”

Many retired doctors or nurses offered to help during the pandemic, only to discover there were bureaucratic hoops to jump through before they would be allowed to do so. Arguably, this was a pity from the point of view of health in the UK, but as a man once said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste – whereas time in a crisis apparently isn’t.

The lesson I took from this conversation is that the politically correct are trained to see you coming, so have their put-downs ready. Diversity training for us commoners may include being on the receiving end of those put-downs. Diversity training for the trainers includes being ready with them.

“I prefer questions that cannot be answered to answers that cannot be questioned.” (Richard Feynman)

On the road from the culture of free speech to that of

“Shut Up”, he explained

there is a country of answers we’re being trained not to question through the use of put-downs they’re trained to use if we dare to.

Commenters are invited to report any such put-downs they’ve met, any pithy rejoinders to such would-be-conversation-ending put-downs that they know of, and of course their thoughts.