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]

What new depravity is this?

“UK supermarkets accused of ‘bombarding’ shoppers with cheap meat”, whispers the Guardian’s Denis Campbell in shock:

Britain’s biggest supermarkets stand accused of “bombarding” shoppers with offers of cheap meat, despite pledging to promote more meat-free diets to improve health and tackle global heating.

They are using money-saving promotions, such as two for the price of one, as a way of “pushing” meat, at odds with moves in the UK and globally for consumers to eat less of it, research found.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are each offering scores of deals every week on meat products such as burgers and sausages to drive sales and boost their profits, according to a report from the

Marketing directors of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons? Apparently not. This disturbing news comes from the…

charity Eating Better. It is an umbrella group representing more than 60 organisations including WWF UK, Greenpeace, public health bodies, dietitians, the RSPCA and food charities.

As Russian troops overrun Chernobyl…

… simultaneously we have achieved peak insanity in the west with this:

I fear some sort of criticality is imminent.

Perhaps we need a “What the actual fuck?” category.

“Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?”

As we all know, Twitter is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. I go there so you won’t have to, and so I can see the funny videos. This tweet by Ashley St Clair has reminded me that the category “funny video” includes more than just cats. It is a 32-second clip from the Capitol riot of exactly a year ago. I disapprove of riots, but it is impossible not to admire the comic timing of every single person in this clip.

Followed by an embarrassed-looking police officer, Shaman Guy walks confidently into the chamber in his fur headdress and very little else: “Heeeeey. Fucking hey, man” (addressed to Capitol police) “Glad to see you guys! You guys are fucking patriots.” (Sees man sitting on carpet nursing his face) “Look at this guy, he’s got covered in blood. God bless you.”
Staff member: “You good sir? Do you need medical attention?”
Man on floor: “I’m good, thank you.”
Staff member: “All right.”
Man on floor, sounding slightly aggrieved at his implied “don’t mention it” being taken literally: “I got shot in the face. I got shot in the face with some kind of plastic bullet”.
Camera pans to the throne or whatever you people call that fancy desk with the flags. Shaman Guy scratches the small of his back and makes to sit down and take the weight off his feet.
Plaintive voice from off screen: “Any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?”
Man on floor: “We will, I been making sure they ain’t disrespectin’ the place.”
A police officer, presumably the person who spoke earlier, comes into view: “OK, just wanna let you guys know this is like the sacredest place”
Man on floor: “I know, I know”.

Tomorrow I will wish peace and goodwill to all men

Today, however…

Though I did kind of like the contemplative thief at 08:16.

Everybody but me probably knows the explanation for this

Sometimes if one does an internet search for the headline of an article, one will find it in several different places on the internet.

For instance the article that Johnathan Pearce linked to in this post, a piece by Gerard Baker for the Wall Street Journal with the title “Biden Emerges as Progressive Government’s Mr. Bad Example” turned up in a site calling itself “Daily News 4 U” which offers “News for you all day” in English, German and Filipino. The headline seems to have lost the final word “example” but apart from that it is the same article.

It could be that the WSJ has a particularly active syndication sales department, I suppose. Though one would think they would get the headline right.

Whether or not the route by which an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 20th December reappeared in Daily News 4 U on 21st December was entirely … homologated, there is no mystery about why a little-known news site would want to re-publish an article by an established columnist alongside lots and lots and lots of articles by columnists from all over the world.

But there is a related phenomenon which I do not understand.

On December 14th an opinion piece by Bret Stephens in the New York Times caused a stir. Its headline was “Biden Should Not Run Again — and He Should Say He Won’t.” The full article is behind a paywall, but here are the opening paragraphs:

Is it a good idea for Joe Biden to run for re-election in 2024? And, if he runs again and wins, would it be good for the United States to have a president who is 86 — the age Biden would be at the end of a second term?

I put these questions bluntly because they need to be discussed candidly, not just whispered constantly.

In the 1980s, it was fair game for reputable reporters to ask whether Ronald Reagan was too old for the presidency, at a time when he was several years younger than Biden is today. Donald Trump’s apparent difficulty holding a glass and his constricted vocabulary repeatedly prompted unflattering speculation about his health, mental and otherwise. And Joe Biden’s memory lapses were a source of mirth among his Democratic primary rivals, at least until he won the nomination.

Yet it’s now considered horrible manners to raise concerns about Biden’s age and health. As if doing so can only play into Trump’s hands. As if the president’s well-being is nobody’s business but his own. As if it doesn’t much matter whether he has the fortitude for the world’s most important job, so long as his aides can adroitly fill the gaps. As if accusations of ageism and a giant shushing sound from media elites can keep the issue off the public mind.

And here is the Uncanny Valley version from an outlet called “Lightlynews.com”:

Is it a good suggestion for Joe Biden to run for re-election in 2024? And, if he runs once more and wins, would it not be good for the United States to have a president who’s 86 — the age Biden can be on the finish of a second time period?

I put these questions bluntly as a result of they must be mentioned candidly, not simply whispered continuously.

In the 1980s, it was honest sport for respected reporters to ask whether or not Ronald Reagan was too previous for the presidency, at a time when he was a number of years youthful than Biden is in the present day. Donald Trump’s obvious issue holding a glass and his constricted vocabulary repeatedly prompted unflattering hypothesis about his well being, psychological and in any other case. And Joe Biden’s reminiscence lapses had been a supply of mirth amongst his Democratic major rivals, a minimum of till he received the nomination.

Yet it’s now thought-about horrible manners to lift considerations about Biden’s age and well being. As if doing so can solely play into Trump’s arms. As if the president’s well-being is no one’s enterprise however his personal. As if it doesn’t a lot matter whether or not he has the fortitude for the world’s most essential job, as long as his aides can adroitly fill the gaps. As if accusations of ageism and a large shushing sound from media elites can preserve the problem off the general public thoughts.

The level of similarity between this and the original is too great to save the publishers from a lawsuit, but let’s be real, the example of the Gerard Baker article and many others suggests that no lawsuit is likely. Why did someone bother to pass this article through the word-grinder, when it is clear they could have just copied the real thing with less trouble and no greater risk?

This was a Guardian article ??? !!!

An article titled…

Abuse, intimidation, death threats: the vicious backlash facing former vegans

…would be no surprise on several sites I read – but to find it in the Guardian!! It’s enough to have me call it the Guardian instead of the Grauniad in the rest of this post. 🙂

The article is more nuanced than its title might suggest. Maybe these apostates just need better advice on vegan diets – advice that might include admitting the odd issue with veganism. Maybe discussion would reclaim them better than hatred. And besides, never forget – being vegan is good for our planet’s health.

But although reading it through gives you all that balance (some might call it ‘balance’), the article starts with specific examples of what its title promises, and reports those who say that, whatever their vegan diet did for Gaia’s health, it did much less than nothing for their own. It also quotes one of the ‘balancing’ people saying veganism is “like a religion” for her.

Analogies to how the trans-mafia treats those with trans-regret, or how a certain actual religion is commanded by its prophet to treat its apostates, occurred to me. If they occurred to Guardian editors, the article does not let on. I could sort-of respect a focus on staying on-topic, especially while enduring the knowledge that allowing the article meant they would occur to readers. There again, I never saw reading the Guardian as helping its readers or editors spot such analogies. But who knows.

ξ Who Must Not Be Named

As explained by the Wikipedia article on the official nomenclature for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the use of letters of the Greek alphabet to refer to the different variants of Covid-19 was chosen by the World Health Organization specifically to avoid referring to variants by their country of origin, as practised by certain naughty former US presidents. We have had the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu and Nu variants.

I guess the WHO didn’t anticipate the list would go past thirteen.

“Omicron variant reaches Britain”, reports today’s Sunday Times.

Only the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet is not Omicron. It’s Xi.

Edit: In the comments TomJ says that actually two letters have been skipped. The variant all the papers were calling “Nu” the day before yesterday was hastily renamed “Omicron”. Allegedly they jumped over “Nu” because it sounds like “new” and they jumped over have “Xi” because it is a common surname, a story to which I might give an iota of credence if it came from someone other than the World Health Organisation. The excellent investigation by the Sunday Times Insight Team, China, the WHO and the power grab that fuelled a pandemic, is unfortunately behind a paywall, but here is an excerpt:

Our investigation reveals today how a concerted campaign over many years by Beijing to grab power inside the WHO appears to have fatally compromised its ability to respond to the crisis. It raises serious concerns about the extent of Beijing’s influence over the WHO and its director-general, and how this undermined the organisation’s capacity — and willingness — to take the steps necessary to avert a global pandemic. Its leadership put China’s economic interests before public health concerns. The results have been nothing short of catastrophic.

The Xi variant, indeed. Pity there isn’t a Greek letter called Pu.

“He told me it was now his apartment because he’s an anarchist and nobody owns anything.”

The indefatigable Andy Ngô reports a little falling out among Antifa comrades Sean Gabriel Lopez and Camillo Masagli:

Mr Lopez, who goes by the name “No$hu”, tweeted at 6:35 PM on Oct 18, 2021:

No$hu
@Noshu4me

Camillo ( who you know as trumpet man) and his girlfriend just tried to overtake my apartment. I let them stay there after they reached out to me from Seattle, telling me that they were houseless and needed help. I paid for their train ticket and gave them my space to stay in.

And at 6:40 PM.

He told me it was now his apartment because he’s an anarchist and nobody owns anything. I asked them to leave, and that only made them more angry. They than [sic] made threats while standing between me and the exit, but I was able to leave that night after letting them calm down.

Not to blow my own trumpet regarding “trumpet man”, but I predicted this ten years ago: “Upon what basis can an Occupy protest ask someone to leave?”

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.