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]

An axe age, a sword age, an age when the Beeb admits rent control doesn’t work

“Why rent control isn’t working in Sweden.”

Surely Ragnarok is upon us.

Hello darlin’, which parallel universe you from?

“Vast majority of adults still wearing face masks in public, ONS data shows

Last night, I went to a social event of over a hundred people. No masks. I just walked down the street, went to supermarket, saw maybe 1 in 5 wearing a mask, probably less.

Where is this vast majority? Not where I live, that’s for sure.

WTF is going on?

Samizdata quote of the day

[Overheard on a train in UK]

Passenger 1: “Have you seen what’s happening in South Africa? The authorities have let order completely break down. It’s getting so bad even BBC is starting to show coverage.”

Passenger 2: “Yeah, it’s terrible, Natal is starting to look like Portland.

To call it “Project Cassandra” was hubris

As soon as I saw it I thought of psychohistory. I was not alone, judging from the most recommended comment to this fascinating Guardian article:

‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

An extract:

In one of his last reports to the defence ministry, towards the end of 2019, Wertheimer had drawn attention to an interesting development in the Caucasus. The culture ministry of Azerbaijan had recently supplied libraries in Georgia with books carrying explicit anti-Armenian messages, such as the works of poet Khalil Rza Uluturk. There were signs, he warned, that Azerbaijan was ramping up propaganda efforts in the brewing territorial conflict with its neighbouring former Soviet republic.

War broke out a year later: 6,000 soldiers and civilians died in a six-week battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the war to bolster his strongman image, hailing Armenia’s defeat in December as a “glorious victory”. Russia, traditionally allied with Armenia, successfully leveraged the conflict to consolidate its influence in the region. Germany and the EU, meanwhile, looked on and stayed silent: being able to predict the future is one thing, knowing what to do with the information is another.

Be not afraid… on second thoughts, be afraid. It pays better.

The Metro reports,

NHS receptionist handed £56,000 after being sacked for being afraid of patients

A receptionist at an NHS clinic who was petrified of patients was wrongfully dismissed, a tribunal found.

Sacramenta D’Silva received £56,684 in compensation from Croydon Health Service NHS Trust.

She suffered from public phobia and told managers at the trust’s chest clinic, which she joined in 2003, that she only wanted to work in a back office booking appointments.

But her bosses said her role was public-facing.

Related: “Everyone’s a winner”, a post from last year about another public sector worker who won big at an employment tribunal.

Breaking News: New Covid variant found down the back of PM’s sofa

The spokesman continued, ‘If everyone could keep an eye out for new variants and send any new ones to the Ministry for Scaremongering, Whitehall, that would be very helpful. We still hope to completely unlock the country by 2050.’

Fitzrovia Circle

Readers’ poll: what on earth did Boris mean?

Sky News on Twitter: “Boris Johnson has suggested the world’s leading nations should support a more ‘gender-neutral and feminine’ way of post-COVID economic recovery.”

“Gender neutral and feminine”? Click on the words below* that in your opinion best match what was going through Boris’s tousled head as he said these words.

(a) Pay up, Matt, I did it.

(b) Hey, if Joe can get away with “Those RFA pilots”, I can get away with this.

(c) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Carrie.

(d) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Ursula.

*Nothing will happen when you click. But you will feel better for having expressed yourself.

A dastardly personal attack

I thought it was a photoshop prank when I first read Matt Walsh’s tweet, but this does appear to be a genuine Independent headline: “Rightwing blogger launches gofundme for AOC’s Puerto Rico grandmother in latest personal attack”

In an attempt to shame Ms Ocasio-Cortez, Mr Walsh then started a gofundme to raise money for the congresswoman’s grandmother’s home repairs, paying just under $500 into the fundraiser himself.

Ben Shaprio, another conservative commenter who regularly attacks the congresswoman, also donated $499 and called on other conservative media personalities to do the same.

The fundraiser’s goal of just under $50,000 was met and exceeded by Friday afternoon, currently sitting at just under $60,000.

“Hi @AOC, we are raising money to help your abuela. It’s been inspiring to see the response so far. Can you send me a DM so that I can get the necessary information to ensure that this money makes it to your grandmother? Thank you!” he wrote on Twitter.

So long as the money is transferred as promised, and is transferred without strings attached so that Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s grandmother can turn right round and give it to her granddaughter’s re-election campaign if she wants to, I felt that the Independent‘s description of this as an “attack” was… incomplete.

Just as a discussion point for the libertarian argufiers out there: in what circumstances would giving someone money, or giving their relatives money, actually violate the non-aggression principle?

I thought it was only the other lot who suffered from cognitive dissonance

Facts:

  1. Naomi Wolf is a loony feminist.
  2. James Delingpole is a heroic leader of the resistance.
  3. The heroic leader of the resistance has recorded and published a podcast with the loony feminist.
  4. The loony feminist comes across as sane. I mean really sane. Thoughtful, informed, careful to stick to what she knows and prepared to be honest about what she doesn’t know.

My head hurts. Is this a weird departure from reality? Will the universe will right itself before too long? I hope so, but maybe it isn’t a departure. I am having dark thoughts here, but what if Naomi Wolf has other opinions that are worth listening to? What if other loony feminists have opinions worth listening to? What if some of them are sane? What if a majority are sane? Have I spent a large part of my life being… yernow… wrong?

NatWest hints at its own bankruptcy? Saying it might have to exit the stage in the Scottish play

The bank formerly known as RBS, now called NatWest Bank PLC, has announced that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, it will move to London

Britain’s NatWest would move its headquarters out of Scotland in the event of a vote in favour of independence, its CEO Alison Rose said, only days before parliamentary elections there. State-backed NatWest (NWG.L), which until last year was called Royal Bank of Scotland, has been based for 294 years in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
The reason, something to do with a anti-business culture in an independent Scotland?
“In the event that there was independence for Scotland our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy. And so we would move our registered headquarters, in the event of independence, to London,” Rose told reporters.
This is presumably not meant to be a threat from the majority (c.59%) State-owned bank or playing politics. For a bit of context, the RBS Group changed its name recently to NatWest Group plc with a view to (I presume) burying the RBS brand and plunging a stake through its heart after its unfortunate recent history. NatWest was an English bank acquired by RBS as it ballooned before bursting

I have no doubt that the Chief Executive did not say, and did not mean to say

our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy if we go bust again.‘.

But the latter is what I am hearing. An implicit admission that the bank risks insolvency, and would expect to be bailed out by the UK government at taxpayers’ expense again. The assumption that the bank is at risk of bankruptcy runs through this announcement like letters in a stick of rock.

So England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be the lucky recipient of all these (theoretical) liabilities.

No true Scotsman should fear independence if it means the departure of this fiscal UXB and its liabilities, a chilly modern-day Darién scheme without the disease and bugs.

But why on Earth should anyone in any country want to receive such a cuckoo in the financial nest? It sounds to me that if the bank were utterly worthless, that would be an improvement. Do we need any more evidence of the perils of fractional reserve banking?

Spread the word

“Second translator of Amanda Gorman’s Joe Biden inauguration poem dumped”, reports the Times.

A fresh controversy over translations of the poem read out at President Biden’s inauguration has erupted after a Catalan man said that his version had been rejected because he had the wrong “profile”.

Amanda Gorman’s five-minute poem, The Hill We Climb, was initially commissioned to be translated by Victor Obiols, a 60-year-old Catalan poet and musician. Five thousand copies of the version by Obiol, who has translated works by Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare, were set to be brought out by the Catalan publishing house Univers by April 8.

However, Ester Pujol, of Univers, told the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia that the author’s US agency had subsequently expressed a preference that the translation be done instead by “a woman who is young, an activist and a poet, with experience as a translator and, preferably, African American.” Gorman is 23 and black.

How many African-Americans speak Catalan – at all, let alone to the level required of a professional translator? How many Americans speak Catalan? Most translation agencies insist that their translators work into their native tongue because it is very rare for anyone to gain a command of a second language equal to that of their first. Why do Ms Gorman’s US agents value the nationality of their translator above their having Catalan as their mother tongue? Even if we assume that the only reason Gorman’s agents specified “African-American” was that they have set their autocorrect with that as the replacement for “black”, there still cannot be many people who fulfil all those criteria. There are not many black Catalans. Experienced translators of any race are not likely to be young.

The Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, 29, resigned as translator of Gorman’s work in the Netherlands after criticism that she was not black.

Despite the precedent, the Catalan poet was taken aback by the publisher’s decision. “If I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, black, and a American of the 21st century, then I cannot translate Homer either because I am not an eighth-century BC Greek,” he said. “Nor could I have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.”

The intellectivore

I want you to observe two things about this piece by Simon Jenkins in today’s Guardian:

“Why the Democrats should not impeach Donald Trump”

1) It is quite reasonable, yet Simon Jenkins wrote it.

2) It is obvious that something is consuming the commenters’ reason.

I should have known. Simon Jenkins ate their minds. His opinion pieces are no more than the bait by which he ensnares unfortunate denizens of the mundane universe, who are driven by some primaeval attraction like that of the moth to the flame into commenting at the Guardian website. Once they are thus fatally linked to him across the dimensions, he, or rather it, feasts upon their intellects, leaving them as mindless husks blind to their own political interests who can only repeat with idiot vindictiveness whatever slogan last caught their attention.

Either that or Guardian readers were like that anyway.