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]

Today’s gloriously Guardian Guardian article

Well, yesterday’s actually. Or the last century’s, or maybe the century before that. Meh, who cares; with these guys everything old is new again but not in a good way. Here is your helping of reheated Grauniad porridge from someone called Rhik Samadder:

Landlords are social parasites. They’re the last people we should be honouring

Yezhov would have been proud of this ‘self-purging’ British Police officer

An unnamed West Yorkshire police officer has managed to attempt to pervert the course of justice by getting himself summonsed for driving an untaxed vehicle, when he accidentally put his own details on a form instead of those of the alleged miscreant, reports the Daily Mail.

Members of West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU) took to Twitter to mock another member of their team who appears to have put his own name on a form rather than the real offender.

I’m pretty sure that a humourless American prosecutor would seize on this as obstruction of justice by wrongly reporting yourself as the ‘perp’, and to be fair, it does seem to have all the necessary elements of causing wasteful employment of police time in UK law.

Our wonderful mini plea-bargain system of fixed penalty notices in the UK allows you to buy off a prosecution, or go to Court and challenge the basis of the ticket and risk conviction.

Whilst the UK may seem more and more like East Germany as time goes by, witness recent police action on free speech, it is heartening that the police are managing to boost their summons rates in a way that cuts out the unfortunate middleman, like the Armenian Orthodox Priest in Soviet Russia who, having a conspiracy beaten out of him by Stalin’s NKVD, managed to name as his co-conspirators every member of his congregation that he had buried in the past 3 years, thus enabling his tormentors to fill their quota with ‘real’ people. At least for now, this is a laughing matter. Should Comrade Yezhov‘s admirers take power, it might not be so nice.

Is this what strong women do these days?

In yesterday’s Guardian Jill Abramson asked,

“Are we seeing signs of a Democratic wave in the primaries?”

The article optimistically discussed the Democrats’ chances in various upcoming US electoral contests, including the next presidential election:

Though winning control of the House of Representatives in 2018 is their focus, my Democratic sources say that there are already 20 credible presidential challengers giving serious thought to opposing Donald Trump in 2020. The list, unsurprisingly, includes a raft of Democratic senators, and, perhaps surprisingly, at least three strong women, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren.

My eyes had been glazing over at the mention of “strong women”. Then I read this:

It’s easy to look at what’s happening in Washington DC and despair. That’s why I carry a little plastic Obama doll in my purse. I pull him out every now and then to remind myself that the United States had a progressive, African American president until very recently. Some people find this strange, but you have to take comfort where you can find it in Donald Trump’s America.

Ms Abramson is “a political columnist for the Guardian. She is visiting lecturer in the English department at Harvard University and a journalist who spent the last 17 years in the most senior editorial positions at the New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor.”

Something of a prototypical strong woman herself, then. And if she wants to carry around a little plastic Obama doll to hug when she feels sad, far be it from me to deny her the right. Though I do not believe I ever went through the phase of needing to have a “blanky” or other “comfort object” constantly around me, many toddlers do. I am sure the right to keep and bear blankies is in the penumbra of the US Constitution somewhere. It just… somehow… is not what I expected of a former bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor. (Visiting Lecturer in the Harvard English department, maybe.) Is that what strong American women (who by definition are all Democrats) do these days? Maybe I’m just out of touch. Maybe it is accepted that among the accoutrements of the modern strong woman is a doll representing a male authority figure that she can clutch for comfort. Maybe New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren all have little plastic Obamas that help them cope with their fears, and that’s OK.

“If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

I just wanted to share this chance-found five year old Observer editorial because it is so gloriously apocalyptic: “If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

Conservative Eurosceptics will be delighted. For them, membership of the EU has contributed to Britain’s protracted depression. Echoing the defeated Tea Party in the United States, they offer Britain a prospectus of becoming like Hong Kong. Minimal protections in the workplace; the chance to develop ourselves as a tax haven;

Sounds great! Alas, not all my countrymen share this inspiring vision of our post-Brexit future, but at least we’re out.

to become Europe’s economic and political renegade, imagining that the EU will be perfectly happy to accept unfair and unregulated competition. To believe this as the route to economic salvation is fanciful indeed.

Instead, it will be a disaster at every level. Britain’s mass car industry will head to low-cost countries that have remained in the EU. Much other manufacturing will follow; Airbus production will migrate to Germany and France. Already, there is massive damage. It was partly because Germany now anticipates Britain leaving the EU that Berlin vetoed BAe’s deal with the defence giant EADS. It did not want Europe’s defence industry to be concentrated in a non-EU member. The financial services industry will be regulated on terms set in Brussels and be powerless to resist. British farmers, who have prospered under the Common Agricultural Policy, will find they become dependent on whatever mean-spirited British system of farm support that replaces it. Farms will survive by industrial farming, devastating the beloved English countryside.

Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy. No Eurosceptic ever complains about the selling of Britain to foreigners, a much greater constraint on our sovereignty than Brussels. Our fiscal and monetary policy will shadow that of the European authorities for fear of an attack on sterling if we do not.

We will be become subcontractor to the world with zero economic sovereignty, a bits-and-pieces economy offering low-paid, transient work to a public unprotected by any kind of social contract because of the disappearance of our tax base.

The best in Britain know this – most in the leadership teams of our main political parties including the Tory party, directors in our top companies, our cultural leaders, our trade union leaders, our universities and some of our public intellectuals. Yet collectively they are silent, bullied and cowed by the overwhelming media might of the Eurosceptics and losing heart because of the single currency crisis. Yet the EU is putting in place mechanisms for the euro’s survival and even its prospering – a rescue and bail-out mechanism, a banking union, closer fiscal co-ordination and more political collaboration. The EU, the euro and the single currency will be here in a decade’s time – our continent’s instruments for managing globalisation and the challenges of the 21st century. We can be the renegade at the margins or playing our part in one of the great projects of our time. Those who believe in Europe need to start speaking out – and urgently.

What is to be done about this blatant sexism?

“I found their disrespect for women very disheartening, perhaps because their overall behavior seems so similar to our own, yet no amount of telling them I’m a professional, responsible, independent adult would change their views.”

What, might you ask, has troubled this person? Let me adumbrate that the writer is (afaik) a woman, remarking on a lack of respect for women, which is not shown to men.

But do not be too concerned, it is not a lack of respect for the particular woman’s professional abilities that drives this, the writer goes on, I parse, for what will be obvious reasons.

…But when the one father in our group approached, they would slink away without putting up a fight. Every time he sat down, they would come bounding back…

So clearly there is sexism going on here. So why isn’t reason working? I have some bad ‘news’ for this disheartened professional.

The disrespectful ones are, it turns out, not going to listen to reason, as they are… baboons (4th answer).

Which gives me an wonderful opportunity to stretch the evolutionary tree and crowbar in Jordan Peterson and Lobsters, watch and treasure, standing up straight with your shoulders back.

We are so happy in Taxlandia

Via Andy Silvester and Guido Fawkes, I have discovered the hottest new thing. From the people who gave you EURODAME, HELP! comes…

Taxlandia!

Does tax build YOUR future? Try it and see!

No, it is not a wind-up. Although from the time it takes to load, you might think it was powered by clockwork.

Later: I set the age level to 9-12 and gave it a trial commensurate with my attention span. Honestly, compared to Eurodame, it ain’t bad. They acknowledge the existence of the Laffer curve, how’s that? Peaks at 50%. Maybe the rampaging kaiju came after I got bored and left.

US Navy: Penis in sky drawn by jet trail was ‘unacceptable’

A display of ‘airmanship‘, the sort, but not the pattern, that was needed in Operation Taxable on D-Day, appears to have fallen on ‘stony ground’ as it were, it looks like a pilot will be having a hard time.

US Navy officials have said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that one of their pilots used a jet’s contrail to draw a penis in the sky.

What else could, or should, he have used? Wider reaction is mixed:

Ramone Duran told the Seattle Times newspaper: “After it made the circles at the bottom, I knew what it was and started laughing.”
But one householder told KREM 2 she was upset about having to explain to her children…

However, the good news is that the Brylcreem Boys beat the Yanks to it:

In August this year, an RAF fighter pilot drew a 35-mile penis on radars monitoring skies over Lincolnshire, England.

Just wondering if they did that in the Cold War, and what the Soviet spy trawlers reported back.

Photo credits: ‘jon’, and, of course, the Secretary of the United States Navy.

The bleeding obvious

Frances Ryan’s Guardian article, “Period poverty is leaving women such as Kerry isolated and ashamed” started off with a call for sympathy which I can answer. It described how a woman called Kerry, bringing up three children (two of them autistic) alone and unwaged, sometimes found herself without even £2 for a box of tampons, and could not bring herself to ask the people at the food bank for them. That is sad. Let us be aware that women can find themselves in this position, and help them in a sensitive way.

Then it got stupid.

It isn’t hard to see why sanitary products are often out of reach. Research shows pads and tampons cost women around £13 every month. Add another £8 for new underwear, and then almost a fiver for pain relief. That means women need to find more than £300 each year for periods – or the equivalent of a fortnight’s rent.

The “pads and tampons” link takes you to that well known scientific journal, the Huffington Post. It claimed that respondents to a survey (I saw no mention of who carried it out or how the sample was selected) on average spent the following “on different areas relating to their period”:

· Pads/tampons/panty-liners/menstrual cups – £13

· New underwear (due to spillages) -£8

· Pain relief – £4.50

· Chocolate/sweets/crisps – £8.50

· Other (magazines/toiletries/DVDs etc.) – £7

Honestly, I could have filled up the remainder of this post without moving my finger from the ? key. “Research shows”?? Chocolates?????? Yeah, I do kinda see that a new DVD, a glossy magazine and a box of choccies can be a comfort when suffering from period pain, but really, we are not talking about desperately needed sanitary essentials here. I also fail to see exactly why one needs new underwear every time there is a spillage. Every time and every month? I mean, sorry to be icky, but things can be washed. Even if there is a substantial group of women who find it unbearable to do anything other than bin bloodstained underwear (heaven knows how they toilet train their kids) they don’t have to spend £8. Tesco sells four pairs of knickers for £4.50. That’s just over a quid a pair.

While we are at Tesco’s, let us look at some of those other prices.

Pain relief £4? Pain relief thirty pence, actually.

Pads/tampons/panty-liners/menstrual cups £13? A “Feminesse” menstrual cup was fairly pricy at £17.10, but the whole point is that it is reusable and lasts for years. When it came to the tampons and pads or towels most women use, and for which Tesco sell their own-brand products, the prices were as follows: Tesco regular tampons 20-pack: 95p. (A pack of twenty is usually enough for one period.) Tesco super tampons 20-pack: also 95p. Maxi regular sanitary towels 10-pack: 23p. Twenty-three pence. Cheap as chips, as the saying goes. Cheaper.

Tesco is not uniquely benevolent. The other major supermarkets and chains like Superdrug are much the same, or even cheaper.

Frances Ryan is supposed to be the Guardian‘s expert on the deprived, the disabled, those failed by the system. I am not one to demand that politicians or journalists know the price of everything in a shopping basket, but you would think she of all people would have looked at that claim of £13 per month as an average for sanitary products and £4.50 for pain relief, and thought, that’s obviously wrong.

Never mind. The average prices claimed for period products in some silly survey and silly Guardian writers believing them are not my point; the actual prices in the most widely used supermarkets are. Period poverty is not worth bothering about. Capitalism has already solved it. When forty sanitary pads can already be purchased for a pound the money the government would have to spend to make them widely available for free is wasted. Worse than wasted; the salaries of umpteen Period Poverty Support Workers will come out of budgets that could – conceivably – have been used to help the poor. Let me put it another way: someone who cannot afford to pay for sanitary towels also cannot afford food. They do need help, urgently. However passing laws and setting up programmes to supply only that small fraction of the help they need that relates to a couple of packs of tampons is incredibly inefficient. If women in crisis need to be given sanitary products, don’t campaign for the government to launch an initiative, take the initiative yourself. There are charities who specialise in exactly that form of aid and will accept donations in kind or in cash.

As a matter of fact although most of the stories I have read on this subject, including the BBC link from Ryan’s article, have headlines that talk as if the problem is period poverty, when I read the stories below the headlines, the real problem far more often seems to be period ignorance or period embarrassment. But the steps needed to help women and girls with these issues do not generate column inches for journalists, photo opportunities for politicians, or outrage for activists.

I have proof

Victoria, British Columbia. August 2017.

The Jews. And the Freemasons. In a conspiracy. Working together. Dear God. It’s all real…

I wish I were reading a happier version of this story

Has anyone else been guiltily transfixed by the mystery of Danish inventor Peter Madsen, his now-sunken submarine, and the missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall? I truly do not wish to make light of the fact that a woman is missing, presumed dead, but I was undeniably fascinated by the whole idea of a crowd-sourced, privately built submarine. In any other circumstances I would have been delighted to learn that such a thing existed.

Here are some news reports on the story:

Danish submarine owner arrested over missing journalist

Submarine in missing journalist case sunk on purpose, Danish police say

Kim Wall and Danish submarine: What we know and what we don’t

Police in Two Countries Searching for Woman Missing Since Sub Sank

When commenting, please bear in mind that a criminal investigation is ongoing – and that all should be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

‘Self-driving car’ actually controlled by man dressed up as a car seat

The Guardian has the story, here.

“Women take things more emotionally”: I bet she was happy when she took them for £360k

The Times today:

‘Clumsy’ sexist remark by BAE Systems manager costs £360,000

A manager’s “clumsy” comment to a secretary that “women take things more emotionally than men” will cost Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer more than £360,000.

BAE Systems argued that the law had gone mad and attacked the payout to Marion Konczak for “a single sexist comment” as “an affront to justice”.

Three appeal court judges ruled yesterday, however, that Mrs Konczak, 62, was due every penny after the manager’s comment led to her having a mental breakdown.

BAE was working on a project for the Royal Saudi Air Force when Mrs Konczak complained that she had been bullied and harassed, including sexually. Her line manager later told her that “women take things more emotionally than men, whilst men tend to forget things and move on”.

The judge opined,

“The basic rule is that a wrongdoer must take his victim as he finds him, eggshell personality and all. That is not inherently unjust.”

Emphasis added. And Lord Justice Underhill might like to reconsider his use of “he” as a generic third person singular pronoun. I expect someone from Diversity will be calling him in for a quiet word in due course. On the other hand, perhaps it becomes acceptable if the alternative suggests that a “victim” with an eggshell personality might conceivably be female?

As a commenter called Geraldine said,

Will this encourage companies to employ more women? The cause of feminism is set back years [e]very time something like this happens. I say this as a woman and old-school feminist.

Somewhere Thomas Sowell wrote that manufacturers in the US avoid building factories in black areas, not because they care what skin colour their workers have, but because the more diverse the workforce the greater the risk of being sued for discrimination.

Added later: In the comments below Umbriel explained why the judge might have used those particular words:

…“eggshell personality” is a legal term, not technically an insult (though, it the shoe fits…). The theory was an extension of earlier doctrine that if, for example, someone smacks another person in the head during an altercation, and the victim happens to have some sort of congenital defect or calcium deficiency, such that their skull shatters and they die, the assailant remains responsible for the damages resulting from their assault even if they couldn’t have anticipated the magnitude of the result. This was dubbed the “Thin Skull Doctrine”. When tort law evolved to apply that principle to the infliction of emotional distress, the corollary was dubbed the “Eggshell Personality Doctrine”.

The problem with said doctrine, of course, is that a thin skull is a thin skull, regardless of the law. “Eggshell Personalities” in contrast, can be expected to proliferate and become ever more brittle the more lucrative they become.

Depressingly true.