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]


Alert readers may have noticed that the default category, here at New Samizdata (it wasn’t like this at Old Samizdata) for all postings (i.e. if we forget to put in proper categories), is: Hippos. This is because our Dear Leader has a fondness for hippos. This means that I am constantly on the look-out for hippos in the shops of London.

It also means that I have been wanting to do a posting here that really is about hippos, ever since New Samizdata got into its stride. I didn’t just want to find some hippos. I wanted then to write here about them.

Easier said than done, because you might be surprised at how hard hippos are to come by in London. I would have thought that hippos would be as popular as dinosaurs, pigs, cows, horses, dogs, cats (small and big), and maybe even as popular as teddy bears. But no. Hippos seem not to figure in the manufacturing plans of most toy, model or miniature animal makers.

So, it was a happy moment when, while wandering about in South East London last month, I chanced upon a sort of ornaments/antiques/junk shop which was, in among much else, selling these:


How much is this hippo?, I asked, waving one at the lady at the desk. Fifty P, she replied. Then, perhaps mistaking my stunned amazement at how cheap the hippo was for a desire to haggle, she added: You can have three for a quid. Done, I said. Three. I should have bought all the hippos they had. Later, surprise surprise, I found the words “MADE IN CHINA” printed on the stick-on label next to those little hippo feat. The label also said: “FUNTIME GIFTS LTD.”, but I could find no mention of any hippos here.

They are very poorly done hippos, I have to admit. They are made of foam rubber, with a smooth skin that is then painted, with unfortunate results for the paint if you squeeze the hippo there. Already, one of them in particular has many small cracks in its paintwork. But no matter. Score.

Have you noticed how, with gift giving these days, the cheaper it is, the better? Any fool can get his friend a great hippo, if he is willing for his bank account to take a comparably great hit. But the gift you really want is one that is just what you want, but which the giver found, rather than merely threw money at. It’s the thought and the effort that counts, more than ever, as getting your hands on mere stuff gets easier and easier, what with it all being made in China now for next to nothing, and then brought to you by supertanker, ditto. But maybe that’s just me. Comments on that?

Yes, they are still in their cellophane wrappings. It is for Original Perry to unwrap them, not me.

LATER (with the cellophane gone):


The four of them seem very happy, wouldn’t you say?

The year is almost gone


We at Samizdata will be onto the champagne soon, but it is gingerbread hippos for now.

Not much blogging tonight because…

…there is a party celebrating a half century (not out), at Samizdata HQ tonight.


The company was delightful…


…the booze plentiful…


…the gifts were exceedingly creative

Samizdata party in pictures

On Saturday various Samizdata team members and associates descended upon HQ for copious amounts of wine, chilli and cheese.


The party commences.


The goddess Elena holds fort.


Samizdata’s infamous bar.


Tomas Kohl drops in on us from the Czech Republic.


China’s hottest export.


There’s something important on the computer.


Readers of Brian’s blog are surging.


The Briffas – Peter Briffa is the purveyor of the fine Public Interest blog.


By 3:30am, everyone had fallen asleep apart from the guardian hippo.

Attention Singapore readers

I am presently doing a littlle travel on (or perhaps off) the Malayan peninsula prior to Christmas in Australia. Right now I am in Penang, and as always there is much to write about, but I do not alas presently have time to write it. So, a few photographs. Also, I shall be back in Singapore from this evening, and I am free on Thursday evening. If we have any Singapore readers who feel like meeting up for a drink, or dinner, or perhaps even some air conditioned indoor prawning, please let me know, preferably by leaving a comment at the end of this post.





Do I find it cool that I can look at high resolution satellite images of my current location on a tiny battery operated hand-held device while sitting in a coffee shop in Penang? Hell yes.