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]

Thou shalt not blaspheme against the True Faith

Someone posted this on Twitter…

And Twitter suspended their account. Thou shalt not blaspheme against the True Faith.

Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

Tegnell was aided by another worthy candidate to share the Nobel, Johan Giesecke, who had formerly held Tegnell’s job and served during the pandemic as an advisor to the Swedish public health agency. Decades earlier, he had recruited Tegnell to the agency because he admired the young doctor’s willingness to speak his mind regardless of political consequences. In early March 2020, as leaders across Europe were closing schools, Giesecke sent his protégé an email with a sentence in Latin. It was a famous piece of fatherly advice sent in 1648 by the Swedish statesman Axel Oxenstierna to reassure a son worried about holding his own in negotiations with foreign leaders. An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur: “Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”

The quote is from an article (h/t instapundit) that starts

The frontrunner for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize … is the World Health Organization. It’s hard to imagine a worse choice. (Okay, Vladimir Putin.)

Most of the world ignored Tegnell and Giesecke, but they had equivalents in Florida. Those Floridans may have known Count Oxenstierna’s remark. But it’s more probable they knew what John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson on July 9th, 1813.

“While all other sciences have advanced, that of Government is at a stand … little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.”

Clearly they also knew that science bureaucrats are a lot more like bureaucrats than like scientists – not advancing science but at a stand as to how to apply it for anyone’s benefit but their own.

If Boris Johnson had listened to the Swedes instead of Professor Neil Ferguson and suchlike, he would still be prime minister. Boris (and Dominic Cummings too!) should have remembered what Dominic saw during the Brexit campaign.

Most people in politics are, whether they know it or not, much more comfortable with failing conventionally than risking the social stigma of behaving unconventionally.

It made a strange end to his career that, after getting his dream job by winning unconventionally, Boris then lost it as a delayed side-effect of failing conventionally. Fate offered him his longed-for Churchill moment – whereupon Boris let the Swedes, not the Brits save themselves by their exertions, and give the world their example: not something I would have predicted before I first saw it.

A Modest Proposal for containing Monkeypox

The WHO has proclaimed Monkeypox a global health emergency.

A major study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that Monkeypox is being driven overwhelmingly by sex between men. Yesterday the CDC reported the first two child monkeypox cases in the US:

“California toddler and an infant in D.C. were likely infected by ‘household contacts’ and both had contact with gay or bisexual men, CDC chief says”

Although the report is consistent with the study, I suspect Ian Miles Cheong thinks the phrase “between men may be understating the age range involved. “Are we allowed to ask any questions?”, he tweeted – to which the literal answer may be ‘no’, since Twitter has announced it will censor those who use the word ‘Groomers’, and I suggest the question Ian has not (yet) asked might involve that word.

However, I have a question – a modest proposal (and it truly is modest, as it would be dishonestly vain of me to pretend it was my idea; I owe it all to the inspiration of Professor Neil Ferguson and Dr Fauci).

Why don’t we just ban male homosexual sex – for three weeks “to Flatten the Curve” or fifteen days “to Slow the Spread” or whatever period sounds good? (How long hardly matters, provided it’s long enough to prepare a case for banning it for a lot longer. Here again, I must modestly disclaim all inventiveness of my own. I owe the idea of banning briefly, then using that time to get the ban extended to Dr Deborah Birx.)

Of course, such regulations reduce liberty – but surely global health experts have established beyond question these last two years that liberty can and should be sacrificed whenever the WHO declares a global health emergency.

Of course, Sweden claimed they would (and did) get a better outcome through doing much less by regulation, leaving far more of the distancing and restraint decisions to individual discretion – but the health authorities and media of most of the rest of the western political world treated the idea as ridiculous then, and do not call themselves ridiculous now.

So I put it to my readers that it would be absurd for those who guided us through the last pandemic not to enact my modest proposal for handling this one (especially as the rules would be easier to draft, since I’ve a vague notion that there’s an old law that could be revived to ban this unhealthy behaviour).

So who was Britain’s Dr Birx?

Although it is already being offered at 50% off, I feel so reluctant to put money in the pocket of Dr Birx that I will delay reading her new book until I see a remaindered copy on a charity bookstall.

Meanwhile, I recommend reading the whole of this and then also this (h/t instapundit) for some rather important information about the attitudes of one of the not-very-scientific science bureaucrats who brought lockdown to the USA. Here is a tiny sample.

No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude.

Decide to lockdown first, find justification later. I resist the urge to add quote after quote; read the two complementary – but very uncomplimentary 🙂 – reviews of her book at the links above!

In Britain, it was ‘three weeks to flatten the curve’, not two weeks, but in both countries somewhat reluctant chief executives were persuaded, against their instincts, to go along with it – and with extending it. (Both Trump and Boris would probably still be safely in office if they had refused.)

Birx wittingly and unwittingly reveals much. Boris will soon have some spare time for reflection and for writing another book. Will he – will anyone – tell us more about the Birxing of the UK?

The Queen indirectly honours Dr Shipman

HM The Queen today presented the George Cross, the UK’s highest award for bravery not in the face of the enemy, to the National Health Service, (for the response to the covid pandemic etc.), surely making the NHS Eisenstein’s ‘mass hero’ of our age. This is the third ‘collective’ award (one not to a real person – living or dead) in the history of this medal, founded by her father in 1940; the other recipients being the island of Malta for the bravery of the populace in what seems to me to have been ‘in the face of the enemy‘ as being bombed for years by the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe wasn’t just that, what was it?; and the other was the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was scrapped and given the George Cross as a consolation. However, one of the Palace bureaucrats celebrating the award is quoted as below:
Lt Col Michael Vernon, comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s office with responsibility for organising ceremonial events, said: “This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
So being snarky, that includes perhaps the most prolific individual murderer in British history, Dr Harold Shipman, a GP fond of polishing off his elderly patients, for free. And of course, this gushing tribute necessarily covers former nurse and convicted murderer Beverley Allitt, who also did not charge her victims. But of course, there have been systemic issues, like the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal. But looking at it in the balance, it seems that the NHS deserves its honour, despite being a bureaucratic abstraction, and an expensive and ineffective one at that. I seem to recall the Army being drafted in during the coronavirus pandemic to (give the impression that the government could) do something about the appalling logistics in the NHS. And now the token medal is going on tour, a holy relic, as if a modern-day equivalent to the bones of a saint:
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard paid tribute to those who worked on the front line and said the vaccine programme saved hundreds of thousands of lives. She told the Queen that the medal will go on a tour of the NHS before a permanent home is found.
Is it heresy to say that honours don’t really exist? That an honour is just a piece of cloth and metal, with a document relating to it? That veneration of medals is simply absurd, it is simply reflective of the opinion of a committee, the absurdity of it made evident here for all to see. And, if you are to think of honours, not deeds, as somehow noteworthy, let us not forget that the first time that the Queen awarded a George Cross, it was to the widow of Flight-Lieutenant John Quinton, who gave away his only parachute after a mid-air collision. If you wish to measure the decline of this nation under (but not, I say, due to) Elizabeth II of England, I of Scotland, compare the two awards and all that happened in-between. Can we please stop pretending that the State can make things not what they really are?

Samizdata word for today: paraprofessional

their paramilitary character must be understood in connection with other professional party organisations, such as those for teachers, lawyers, physicians, students, university professors, technicians and workers. All these were primarily duplicates of existing non-totalitarian professional societies, paraprofessional as the stormtroopers were paramilitary. … None of these institutions had more professional value than the imitation of the army represented by the stormtroopers, but together they created a perfect world of appearances in which every reality in the non-totalitarian world was slavishly duplicated in the form of humbug. (Hannah Arendt, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’)

After seizing power, the Nazi party ‘coordinated’ all the existing professional organisations they had already duplicated. Sometimes the party organisation was the direct instrument of ‘coordination’ but at other times it could be just the threat – the ‘coordinated’ organisation could survive and even thrive if it outdid its party rival in zeal for “working towards the fuhrer”. For people and for the organisations they led, out-radicalising your rival was key to survival.

David Burge described today’s ‘coordination’ technique in fewer words: Identify a respected institution. Kill it. Gut it. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

Each organisation they gain helps the paraprofessionals conquer the next. In the US, coordinating education helped them coordinate the media step by step. The death of standards in those two then assisted coordinating some electoral processes, which in turn is now enabling more vigorous work on coordinating the military – and much else.

Meanwhile, the trains themselves may not run on time but those who run them are well-coordinated. If your bank is not doing much for your wealth, then it’s probably doing wonders for your pronouns. Medical organisations march in coordinated lockstep, from the psychologists to the pharmacists; even your pet had better get used to the care of a coordinated vet. And I could write so much more.

Paraprofessional: I think it is a word we need again today. And, like Hannah Arendt, I think its relationship to ‘paramilitary’ needs to be understood.

“Biting and hitting, overwhelmed around large groups of other children”

“Evidence grows of lockdown harm to the young. But we act as if nothing happened”, writes Martha Gill in the Guardian.

I had been beginning to forget that the Guardian occasionally publishes good journalism that expresses opinions outside the comfort zone of its readers. Ms Gill’s previous work had not led me to expect this example of exactly that to come from her. She writes,

Then there are the very young. During the pandemic, parents spoke heartbreakingly of having to tell toddlers to stay away from others and not to hug their friends. In May, research published by the Education Endowment Foundation claimed that lockdown had affected England’s youngest children worst of all. Four- and five-year-olds were starting school far behind, biting and hitting, overwhelmed around large groups of other children and unable to settle and learn.

It came of necessity, perhaps, but we need to admit it. From 2020 to 2021, we conducted a mass experiment on the young. In recent history, there is perhaps just one comparison point: evacuation during the Second World War. Only it’s the opposite experiment. In 1939, children were sent away from their parents. In the past two years, they have been shut up with them.

and

Lockdown Britain had all the aesthetics of fictional big-state dystopias – the empty city squares, the mass-testing centres, the tape around park benches, the twitching curtains of neighbours who would love the chance to report you to the police. It was easy to see then that something bad and lasting might be happening to us all. But the unworldly, futuristic atmosphere disappeared as infections cleared up – and life has mostly snapped back to normal.

But we have to remember what we did. Keeping a generation of children away from their classrooms and friends felt unnatural and harmful, because it was unnatural and harmful. We should at least be collecting far more data on the matter than we seem to be doing. We have, after all, done the experiment. Now we must bother with the results.

Samizdata quote of the day save draft publish

‘End Of Quote, Repeat The Line’: Biden Reads Teleprompter Instructions Out Loud During Speech

With Joe more voicemail than man and Boris only just clinging to the wreckage, at least the Anglosphere is demonstrating that it can get by without anyone in charge. Though we have much to learn before we can challenge the true masters of the art of doing without a government.

This is the age of the fact checker

Politico on Twitter said,

Clarence Thomas claimed in a dissenting opinion that Covid vaccines are derived from the cells of “aborted children.”

No Covid vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses.

2,061 Retweets. 1,537 Quote Tweets. 5,676 Likes. Dozens of sneering replies.

And two egregious falsehoods in one tweet.

As Egon Alter (@AlterEgon75) put it in their reply,

This is a gross mischaracterization of Thomas’ words.

HE is not making the claim, the plaintiffs in the case are.

And he said they object because aborted fetus cells were used in the development of the vaccine, which your reporting verifies, not that the vaccine contains them.

UPDATE:

You can see a screenshot of Justice Thomas’s exact words in this tweet from AGHamilton29. Thomas said,

They object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.

Firstly, note that he is paraphrasing the opinion of the petitioners, not giving his own opinion. Secondly, note that the petitioners themselves did not claim that the vaccines were made from aborted foetuses, they claim that foetal cells were used in the development process, which they were. As one would expect from a judge, Thomas has noted this crucial distinction.

Again via the estimable AGHamilton29, I see that it was not just Politico spreading this false story.

Axios: Clarence Thomas suggests COVID vaccines are made with “aborted children”

NBC News: Justice Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are made with cells from ‘aborted children’

Of course, once the fake news seed is sown, it sprouts up everywhere.

The Daily Mail: Clarence Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are created with cells of ‘aborted children’ in dissent on SCOTUS decision upholding New York state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

The Independent: Clarence Thomas wrongly suggests ‘aborted children’ cells are used in Covid vaccines

SECOND UPDATE: The Politico tweet has now been disappeared, and the story to which it linked corrected. It is now mostly accurate and completely pointless, a breathless account of a Supreme Court judge doing a normal part of his job.

Banishing the demon drink from Wales

My late mother-in-law used to tell a funny story about how, when she was a child in Wales during the 1930s, she was taken to the doctor. Her mother feared there must be something terribly wrong with her because she did not like tea. Why, she wouldn’t even take a cup with when the minister visited!

Wales is a different place now.

Sale of coffee and tea to under 16s could be banned in Wales

An end to medical progress

Mark Johnson writes about ‘Health misinformation’: the latest addition to the Online Safety Bill

… we have seen Big Tech increasingly taking on the role of online speech police in recent years. During the coronavirus era, this reached new extremes. At the beginning of the pandemic, Facebook took the step of removing content which promoted face masks as a tool to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Yet within a short space of time, the medical consensus on masks changed. But rather than acknowledge that it was wrong, Facebook flipped its position and censored in the other direction. A high-profile example saw Facebook label, discredit and suppress an article in The Spectator, written by the Oxford academic Carl Heneghan, disputing the efficacy of masks. What grounds or competency Silicon Valley’s fact-checkers had to overrule reasoned arguments by a Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine remains to be seen.

This approach is a direct threat to the epistemic process, so central to the free and open development of knowledge and ideas in liberal democracies. The fact that not even academics can escape this kind of truth arbitration speaks volumes.

Censorship is indeed a threat to the epistemic process, and one that is not limited to the UK. The threat is particularly dire in the field of medicine, where progress depends on a flow of information about the symptoms of illnesses and the efficacy of treatments coming in from patients and doctors.

Related: Facebook’s hired “fact checkers” versus the British Medical Journal.

Bret Weinstein: I will be vindicated over Covid

Highly recommended