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]

Oh no! We might not have to overthrow capitalism after all

“Climate change: Trees ‘most effective solution’ for warming” reports the BBC.

Researchers say an area the size of the US is available for planting trees around the world, and this could have a dramatic impact on climate change.

The study shows that the space available for trees is far greater than previously thought, and would reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 25%.

The authors say that this is the most effective climate change solution available to the world right now.

But other researchers say the new study is “too good to be true”.

I do not know enough to say whether this paper by scientists at the Swiss science and technology university ETH Zurich really is too good to be true. But the paper was published in the respected journal Science, and seems to be being taken seriously by the scientific establishment.

I cannot help remembering that when Tony Abbott was Leader of the Opposition in Australia and he suggested the planting of twenty million trees as a climate change mitigation measure, he was roundly mocked.

It is a measure of how cynical I have become about the entire field that my first thought when I read this report was “why are they letting this be said now?”. Do not let us be consumed by cynicism: the answer to that might honestly be “because that seems to be the way the latest research is pointing”. It would be nice if so. Planting a lot of trees would hurt fewer people than almost any other massive state-backed programme I can envisage.

Samizdata quote of the day

How can an organisation claim it does not discriminate on the grounds of religion – which is a set of beliefs – and then fire someone for expressing those beliefs outside the organisation?

Tim Newman

“It was billed as the climate change election, and the climate lost.”

So says the first line of the Guardian‘s report on the unexpected victory of Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition party in the Australian federal election.

The election was framed as a great climate showdown. The Coalition has held power over a tumultuous six years, which has seen it topple two prime ministers and suffer from catastrophic infighting, largely over energy policy, as the party has been unable to agree on taking action on the climate crisis, or even agree as to its reality.

The Labor party, which proposed introducing a target of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030, said the difference between the parties’ policies on the climate crisis was “night and day, black and white”.

As I have said once or twice before, my level of belief in CAGW is two-and-a-half letters to the left of most people here. If you are curious, “CAGW” stands for Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, though as of yesterday the Guardian‘s style guide has changed “Global warming” to “Global heating”. Yes, a rebranding exercise. All that is needed now is a shiny new logo and twitter handle and success is assured. After all it worked for The Independent Group Change UK The Remain Alliance For Change UK.

What with this result in Australia and the French gilets jaunes movement born out of anger at a carbon tax on fuel, does anyone else get the impression that the latest burst of upping the political ante on climate change works splendidly right up to the moment when it meets the voters?

For those who do truly believe that the peril of global warm.. heating is imminent and severe, it is time to get real. It is time to face the fact that drastic changes in lifestyle are necessary; that sacrifices are going to have to be made.

Yes, it is time to drop your enjoyable revolutionary delusions and face the fact that if climate change mitigation is to happen at all it will be done within the capitalist system.

Samizdata quote of the day

Forty-one were killed at the Dean Ave. mosque, the first one that was targeted, where the murderer had plenty of time and at one point returned to his vehicle to reload. There were only seven killed at the Linwood mosque because one of the worshippers was armed.

– John Hinderaker, Observations on Christchurch, referencing this article in the New Zealand Herald. (Via Instapundit.)

Edit: When I read the NZ Herald report quoted by John Hinderaker it said the following:

A second shooting happened at a mosque in the Linwood area of the city.

One Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots around 1.45 pm.

A well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fired two shots at them as they sped off.

He was heard telling police officers he was firing in “self defence”.

However as Hinderaker said in his very next sentence, “Early reports of catastrophic events like these always turn out to be wrong in some respects” and several later accounts such as this one in the UK Telegraph say that a worshipper, Abdul Aziz, grabbed one of the killer’s own abandoned weapons, tried to fire it but found it empty, but then used it to smash Tarrant’s windscreen. (Tarrant had gone back to his car to get more weapons or ammunition.) The Telegraph and other sources quote Mr Aziz as saying that it was because the windscreen shattered that Tarrant got scared. I presume Tarrant thought the gun had been fired and could be used against him, since I cannot see why the threat of being hit with a blunt object would cause an armed man in the middle of a murder spree to break it off and flee.

Thanks to SkippyTony and John Galt for pointing this out. As John Galt says, “Presumably the now disarmed New Zealand public should go looking for guns dropped by active shooters in future events.”

Those awful Americans and their guns. Not like civilised New Zealanders.

The Times reports:

Online stalker who flew round the world shot by girl’s mother

A 25-year-old man who flew 9,000 miles from New Zealand to see an American teenager he had met online was shot by her mother as he was breaking into their house.

Troy Skinner was armed with a pocket knife, pepper spray and duct tape when he began battering doors and smashed a window at the family’s home, detectives in Virginia said. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a critical condition after being shot twice, once in the neck, but was expected to survive.

Sheriff James Agnew, of Goochland County, said: “The manner in which he attempted to enter that home in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him, the only inference is that he had very bad intent. He was not invited here, he was not expected here. He had been told the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him.”

Mr Skinner had struck up a relationship with the 14-year-old girl on a video gamers’ chat app called Discord about four months ago, the sheriff said. The app says that it is a place for people who “love playing games” to share “relationships, memories, and laughs”.

Mr Skinner decided to travel halfway across the world to see her when she tried to break things off. He had taken three flights and a long interstate bus trip to get to her house. “This was not random. This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned,” the sheriff said.

And

The mother told police that she was at home painting with her two teenage daughters when Mr Skinner came to the door. She refused to open it, but he then went around the back and tried to break down a rear door with a concrete block from their garden.

The girl’s mother warned him several times that she was armed with a handgun and she opened fire when he smashed a glass panel and started reaching inside to try to open it by the latch.

My apologies to readers from New Zealand. The sarcasm of my title was just a rhetorical device to make a particular point. Of course I am aware that this type of madman can arise in any country. The roles could easily be reversed, with an American obsessive armed with knife, pepper spray and duct tape trying to break into the house of a fourteen year old New Zealand girl.

Of course given that in New Zealand, as in the UK,

Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense.

…if this had taken place in New Zealand or the UK the mother would have had no gun and the girl would have been raped and murdered.

Samizdata quote of the day

Key to the party’s operations in Australia is collapsing the categories of Chinese Communist Party, China, and the Chinese people into a single organic whole—until the point where the party can be dropped from polite conversation altogether. The conflation means that critics of the party’s activities can be readily caricatured and attacked as anti-China, anti-Chinese, and Sinophobic—labels that polarize and kill productive conversation. And it is only a short logical step to claim all ethnic Chinese people as “sons and daughters of the motherland,” regardless of citizenship.

John Garnaut

Bondi – beyond the Pale! And ‘Judenrein’?

In the deep Australian winter, comes a chilling judgment from the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, a plan to build a synagogue is refused by a planning authority, partly on the ground that it presents an unacceptable risk to neighbours, due to the threat of terrorist attack.

In New South Wales, the Local Authority objected to the proposed development with a ‘Contention 3’, which was tested in proceedings before the Land and Environment Court.

Site Suitability
3. The proposed development should be refused as the site is not suitable for
the proposed synagogue use as the Preliminary Threat and Risk Analysis relied on by the Applicant raises concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the Synagogue, nearby residents, motorists and pedestrians in Wellington Street and the physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties.

And the Court found against the Friends of Refugees from Eastern Europe, who wished to build a synagogue:

Who bears the onus of proof?

Having found that Contention 3 identifies a potential unacceptable risk of threat and there is a factual basis for the contention, the onus to address the contention rests with the applicant.
Is the evidence of Mr Rothchild sufficient to address Contention 3?

For reasons set out in the previous paragraphs I do not accept that Mr Rothchild has provided sufficient evidence to address Contention 3.

So, as we can’t keep you safe, you can’t build on your own land. I have long wondered how long it would take Lefties to use planning law to well, enforce a policy of ‘Separate Development‘, that well-known Lefty plan from elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, now swept away.

It is a judgment that presumes that the State cannot uphold the law (and in that it may be right!). It also has an indirect consequence of pointing to something like the ‘Pale of Settlement‘ of Tsarist Russia, where the law determined where Jews may or may not live, but here, live freely. To be fair to those Tsars, others apart from Jews had restrictions on their movements and residence, but that is not to excuse them. And to be fair to the Court, they are not targeting Jews, just simply upholding the law, following precedence perhaps, or even orders. The same could happen to Christians next, all you need to do is terrorise them, it seems.

In my understanding, ‘beyond the Pale‘ derived from English settlement in Ireland going out beyond the protection of the law. Ironically, here the law says that under it, you are beyond its protection, at least if you are an observant Jew, or near to one.

I have some modest, tongue-in-cheek suggestions for these unsafe Antipodeans:

1. Re-submit the application but ask to build a mosque, church or temple.

2. Offer to become Crypto-Jews, like those of Belmonte in Portugal, who finally felt safe and ‘came out’ in 1917 (rather poor timing given looming events in Germany, but thankfully they remained safe) having hidden their faith for centuries.

3. Build a proper Ghetto like Venice, and with a few canals you might have a tourist attraction, and wait for Napoleon to liberate you.

Advance Australia Fair.

Footnote (edit): This council is in the Federal constituency of Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Edit: 10th August 2017 H/T to Confused Old Misfit below: The Daily Mail reports that the Council have now agreed to the Synagogue being built. I wonder why?

“The Setting of Their Leftist Suns”

I loved the title of this autobiographical article by Tim Blair, describing how he came to turn away from the left wing views of his youth.*

Tell your personal stories of political evolution, in any direction.

*Basically he can’t keep his mouth shut.

Great moments in public sector IT procurement

The public health system of the Australian state of Queensland required a new payroll system. In 2007, a contract was issued to IBM to provide a new system for $6.19 million Australian dollars.

The resulting system did not work, and went over budget by $1.1 billion. Yes, read that again.

In 2013, the Queensland government was “considering” sacking the bureaucrats responsible for mismanaging the contract. Since then, there has been no publicity concerning any actual sackings. Read that how you will.

For pity’s sake, separate giving succour from accepting migrants

The drowned body of little Aylan Kurdi is on front pages all over the world. His surname and the name of his home town, Kobani, tell the story of why his family were so desperate to leave their homeland.

What can be done to stop this happening, as the Middle East burns? What should be done? In the long term – God only knows.

But we don’t have to know. In the short term there is something we can do which has a proven record of saving lives in a similar situation.

Could Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ policy solve Europe’s migrant crisis?

When the bodies of asylum seekers en route to Australia washed up on the shores of Christmas Island in 2010 everyone was in agreement that something needed to be done.

Five years later Australia has implemented one of the harshest border policies in the world. It is characterised by three core points: turning or towing back boats of asylum seekers at sea; forcing asylum seekers to live in detention centres across the Pacific in Nauru and Papua New Guinea; and guaranteeing they will never be resettled in Australia.

Dozens of would-be migrants are reported to have drowned between Libya and Sicily, the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean this spring. The increasing numbers making the perilous journey on overloaded boats has brought the issue of migration into Europe to a head. But what can be done about it?

Prime minister Tony Abbott is now making a clarion call to Europe, where crisis meetings have taken place following the deaths of over 800 migrants in the Mediterranean this week. The only way to stop deaths at sea, he told reporters this week, “is in fact, to stop the boats”.

They were stopped.

Building a camp – a decent camp – and putting all those attempting illegal entry in it does not satisfy either side of the immigration debate. But at least it could be tolerated by both sides and might stop the bodies floating in on every tide. To use an unhappy metaphor, it would keep the floodgates closed by showing that taking ship with a people smuggler is not a successful strategy to get to the West. To work this policy would require both sides to acknowledge very clearly that doing this for now implies absolutely nothing about what the permanent policy on refugees and/or migrants should be.

Samizdata quote of the day

Much like Germany has been forced to grapple with its past — it can neither ignore it, nor celebrate it — Australia’s treatment of Julia Gillard should never be hidden, and certainly not for reasons such as “Everyone hates Julia Gillard”.

Caroline Zielinksi, quoted by Tim Blair.

What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?

Intrigued by the possibility of some hitherto unknown Polynesian/Celtic linguistic cross-fertilisation, I clicked on this YouTube video clip.

Watching it saddened me. Intrepid sailors though they were, the ancestors of the Maori people never made it to Wales. The Welsh did reach New Zealand, but in steamships rather than coracles. Bidding farewell to a pair of outré alt-hist scenarios was not the reason for my sadness, however. What depressed me about this video was that, like almost every other discussion of preserving minority languages that I have ever seen, it was fixated on compulsion.

According to the video, an excerpt from a New Zealand TV programme, what Maori and Welsh have in common is that they are only kept going by forcing people to speak them and ain’t that wonderful. One minute into the clip, the commentary says,

“Four New Zealand teachers on a British Council “Linking Minds” scholarship were given a chance to see how compulsion is helping to save the Welsh language, Cymraeg, from extinction.”

Just after that one of the teachers, Nichola McCall, says to camera,

“The Welsh people have used law to support the use of the language, used it to build its status, used it to change public opinion. I think the law has really encouraged or helped education to do what it’s doing with the language, to help with its revival, to help bring it equal status with the English language here.”

Later on Ann Keane, Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales says at 3:24,

“If you live in Wales then you are entitled to learn something about its culture, its history and to learn something of its language.”

Who could object to that? I could, because she is using the word “entitled” in an Orwellian sense that I first noticed being used among educational opinion-formers when I was a teacher a quarter of a century ago. In Educratese “you are entitled to do this” means “you are not entitled not to do this”. Ms Keane continues:

“The time was right in Wales to bring Welsh in as a compulsory, as a mandatory, part of the National Curriculum in 1990.”

Emphasis added. The use of locutions such as “the time was right” or “the situation demanded” to describe how a law came to be passed is another trick of speech I have long hated. It makes it sound as if, rather than one more-powerful bunch of humans forcing another less-powerful bunch to do their bidding, it all happened by the irresistible pressure of some force of nature.

Just to reinforce that “entitled” is being used in this particular and deceptive sense, the commentator purrs approvingly:

“Ann believes all peoples living in Wales and New Zealand are entitled as citizens to learn the language of the land”.

This is immediately followed at 3:59 by Professor Mac Giolla Chriost of Cardiff University, who says that he thinks:

“the arguments for compulsion are much more powerful and convincing than the arguments against compulsion.”

We never get to learn what the arguments against compulsion are, so this claim is difficult to judge. The professor continues:

“There are very good arguments for making sure that all young people in New Zealand are allowed access to Maori as a part of their national identity . . . the only way of doing that, then, is compulsion.”

“Allowed access to Maori,” is another variant of “entitled to learn Maori” or “have the right to learn Maori”. As used here all of them actually mean “will be forced to learn Maori”. It just sounds prettier if a pose is maintained that someone – probably an Englishman in imperialist headgear – is trying to stop eager pupils from learning Maori or Welsh, and the “right” or “entitlement” or “demand for access” is being asserted against such oppression. I do not know about New Zealand but that picture of Anglophone oppression was certainly true of Wales at one time, although most accounts of cruel practices such as the Welsh Not skirt around the fact that its use was supported by Welsh-speaking parents who saw English as the route to prosperity for their children. My late mother-in-law, for whom Welsh was the much-loved “language of the hearth”, confirmed to me that it was common in her childhood for Welsh-speaking parents to discourage the Welsh speech of their children. Few would have wished to punish Welsh in the home by means of the hairbrush or the belt, but plenty were happy to have the teacher do it in school, where they did not have to see their child cry. No doubt many African parents nowadays make the same calculation.

→ Continue reading: What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?