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]

Roseanne Barr denounces the regressive media

Quite a few days ago now, Roseanne Barr tweeted this:

The liberal media is an absolute joke – they no longer provide real news or information. They have made it their ultimate goal to undermine our dually elected president everyday. I encourage real Americans to find other reliable sources for their news and share their information.

It seems that Roseanne is copying the technique pioneered by her “dually” elected President of the USA, by including grammatical and spelling mistakes in her tweets, thereby getting these tweets noticed and written about by pedants like me, who would probably have had nothing to say about them had they been more properly phrased.

Even better would be if she had misspelt duly as “duelly”. Imagine POTUS being chosen by literal single combat. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have won that either. (By the way, how do you not misspell “misspell”? Misspell doesn’t seem right. But miss-spell doesn’t seem right either.)

See also: The liberal media “is” an absolute joke. Should be “are”, surely.

On a more serious verbal point, I personally don’t like the way Roseanne Barr calls them the “liberal” media. I don’t like either “liberal” or “progressive” to describe people who seem to have no sane idea of what liberty or progress actually are.

But at least Roseanne Barr refrains from calling these media the “mainstream” media. This is a usage I am starting seriously to dislike. It attributes to these very particular media a cultural dominance that they did once possess, but no longer do. “Mainstream” says to me that any other media only have significance if they are tributaries of this main stream. But now, other streams can find their own way directly to the great sea that is public opinion, with no help from that still supposedly “main” stream at all.

I will now elaborate on what I mean.

→ Continue reading: Roseanne Barr denounces the regressive media

Anyone know how the new EU internet censorship & link tax law will affect the UK?

According to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware, in one week’s time I might no longer be able to link to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware and quote him like I’m about to do. Or have I misunderstood? I hope I have, because this sounds serious:

EU Expected To Pass Censorship Machines, Link Tax On June 20

As soon as June 20, next week, the European Parliament will vote a draft legislation proposed by the European Commission (EU’s executive body). Critics have attacked the proposal as being quite extreme because it could impact many digital industries too severely.

Censorship Machines (Article 13)

One of the biggest issues with the new EU copyright reform proposal is the Article 13, which mandates that websites that accept user content (anything from videos to online comments) must have an “upload filter” that would block all copyrighted content that’s uploaded by users. Critics, such as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda, have also called upload filters “censorship machines.”

Under the censorship machine proposal, companies would be required to get a license for any copyrighted content that is uploaded to their site by its users. In other words, websites would be liable for any content their users upload to the site. It goes without saying that this could significantly hamper innovation on the internet.

For instance, YouTube or a site like it, probably wouldn’t even exist today if the site would have been liable for what users uploaded from day one.

Link Tax (Article 11)

The “link tax” proposal in Article 11 of the copyright reform directive is another idea that’s not just seemingly bad, but it has also failed in countries such as Spain and Germany, where it has already been attempted. Instead of getting companies such as Google or other publishers to pay for the links, or article excerpts and previews, those companies simply stopped linking to content coming from Germany and Spain.

To make matters worse, the EC will allow EU member states to decide for themselves how the link tax should work. This seems contrary to the Commission’s “Digital Single Market” objective, because it will create significant complexity for all online publishers operating in the EU. They will have to abide by all the different copyright rules in the 27 member states. Existing fragmented copyright laws in the EU is one of the reasons why services such as Netflix took so long to arrive in most European countries, too.

Reda believes that a link tax would significantly reduce the number of hyperlinks we see on the web, which means websites will be much less connected to each other. Additionally, the link tax could boost fake news, because real publishers may require others to pay for linking to its content, but fake news operations evidently will not. These groups will want their content to be spread as easily as possible.

Reda also said that the link tax would be in violation of the Berne Convention, which guarantees news websites the right to quote articles and “press summaries.”

I have heard of Julia Reda MEP before. She sits with the Greens in the EU Parliament but don’t hold that against her; she is actually a member of the Pirate Party. She is fighting the good fight.

Samizdata quote of the day

A media that taught us to mock authority and culture was unprepared for the day when the audience would mock their authority and their culture.

wretchardthecat

Press freedom lives another day

Earlier today the Press Gazette reported,

Guardian distances itself from ‘anti-press’ Data Protection Bill amendments which would exclude title from paying punitive legal costs

Peers’ Section 40 amendments to the bill, which would see publishers pay both sides’ legal costs in data protection disputes, win or lose, have been slammed by many publishers as “anti-press”.

Guardian News and Media has said it has written to all MPs making clear that it disagrees with “attempts to impose a selective sanction on the media” ahead of a Commons vote later today.

MPs will vote on an amendment, tabled by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, this afternoon.

As it stands, news organisations signed up to a state-sponsored regulator – currently only Impress – would avoid the cost penalties.

You did read that right. Tom Watson’s amendment to Section 40 would have meant that newspapers refusing to join Max Moseley’s pet* regulator Impress would have been liable for costs when sued for libel even if they won the case. In recent years the Guardian has not often lived up to its name. But I am glad to note that even they balked at such blatant perversion of the justice system.

In the event Watson declined to put his amendment to a vote, and Ed Miliband’s less shameless but still repressive amendment regarding a second Leveson enquiry into press regulation was defeated.

Perhaps that’s the end of it, perhaps not. This monster has been apparently killed before but did not stay dead. I do not know what stage of the horror movie we are at.

*Impress is funded by Mosley. As is Watson.

Armed self-defence in the UK: apparently crossbows are OK

“Armed gang pick on the wrong gran as she fires CROSSBOW at masked men who kicked down her door”, reports the Daily Mirror.

A woman has told how she shot at a machete-wielding intruder with a CROSSBOW when a gang burst into her home and attacked her family.

Anji Rhys, 49, said she sprang into action when masked raiders kicked down her door in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, after apparently mistaking it for a drugs den.

Ex-Thai boxer Anji, who is reportedly a grandmother, grabbed her crossbow, which she dubs Manstopper, and shot one thug during the horrifying ordeal.

Anji keeps the bow on a wall inside the house to protect her family which include her partner Rebecca, son Dillon and elderly mum Lilian.

The so-called survivalist, who possesses an arsenal of weapons inside her home, was reportedly watching TV when the yobs entered her home and pinned down her son.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to read that this lady was able to protect herself and her family. But I am mystified by the supportive tone of the Mirror reporter, and of most of the comments, when exactly the same sequence of events but involving a gun-wielding grandma in the US instead of a crossbow-wielding one in the UK would have been dismissed as NRA propaganda and further evidence of the lunacy and barbarism of Americans in their “love affair with the gun”.

One giant leap for womynkind

“How does it feel,” asks Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, while arguing that the first human on Mars should be a woman, “to watch a person of your gender set foot on a faraway celestial body for the first time? Could you write to me, men, and let me know?”

I was only a child on the one and only occasion that a man has set foot on another celestial body for the first time, but I can answer her question. It felt amazing. Though I didn’t watch the moon landing live (my parents were not the sort to let their young children stay up until three in the morning even to watch history being made), along with much of humanity I watched the footage avidly the next day. I looked up at the moon and thought, there are people there. It sparked a lifelong interest in space. For years I had a perfectly serious ambition to be an astronaut. Who knows, in this era of renewed progress in spaceflight technology, maybe I’ll live long enough to do it simply by buying a ticket. And if I do, it will be the fulfilment of a dream that started with that one small step for a man.

At this point the alert reader might object that as I am female and Neil Armstrong was male I have never watched a person of my gender setting foot on a celestial body for the first time. But that does not stop me answering the question. You see, the splendour of that moment had nothing whatsoever to do with Armstrong being male and everything to do with him being human.

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

Facebook isn’t a monopoly and doesn’t need an anti-trust hit or regulation

I have been a user of Facebook for about a decade now and, to some degree, have grown weary of it. To some extent I have become worn down by the constant flow of outrage and venting on its pages from friends and acquaintances, and have started to see more signs of this sort of behaviour myself. I think Facebook is starting to become toxic, so I decided yesterday to go on a Facebook sabbatical, and do old fashioned stuff like read books, tend to my terrace garden and get out and about a lot more instead. And I suspect I’m not unique.

These thoughts of mine come up because there is mounting pressure, it seems, for lawmakers in Washington DC or other places to “do something” about Facebook following revelations about the use/misuse of users’ private data. My brief take on this is that anyone using Facebook should assume as a starting point that they are on a public forum, and exercise due care and attention. (I don’t use its messenger function and prefer Whatsapp instead, or indeed, good old email.) And no-one is forcing me to use Facebook. It may be inconvenient in some ways to give it the cold shoulder, but no more.

With that in mind I reject this sort of argument, in the Wall Street Journal, which ought to know better:

Facebook Inc.’s climb to the pinnacle of business success was nurtured by a grand policy experiment: that a light regulatory touch would turbocharge innovation and make consumers wealthier and happier. Companies who mistreated their customers would succumb to competitors, or be punished with rules already on the books.

The events of the last few months suggest the experiment may have run its course. It has left Facebook effectively an unregulated monopoly and despite founder Mark Zuckerberg’s latest apologies, the company has little economic incentive to change its ways. Its business is to sell its users’ attention to advertisers and thus it must keep pushing the boundaries on privacy, while the paucity of competition limits the consequences if it goes too far. If policy makers want to change that calculus—a big if—they will either have to enact tougher regulation, or use antitrust authority to nurture more competition.

There is no need to re-run the mistaken anti-trust wars against the Standard Oils or Microsofts of the past (both largely unjustified). Facebook will, unless it changes significantly in my view, be threatened most effectively by competition, as has been the case down the decades. The cycle is always the same: we are told that a firm is “too big” or a monopolist and that something must be done about it; and about the same time, new competitors and business models are taking form so that by the time the government action occurs, the new business models are already pushing into the field. This is the classic “creative destruction” of the free market and I don’t expect the situation with Facebook to be any different from earlier business episodes.

One final thought: the complaints about Facebook, a social media platform that was born in US higher education dorm-rooms, has all the trappings of a classic “First World” problem. In Syria, North Korea or Venezuela, I doubt very much that the locals’ main concerns are about people saying mean things on Facebook.

Here is a good take on the issue by Robert Tracinski.

It seems the Atlantic Monthly doesn’t want diversity after all

I’ve spent my entire adult life in an academic and media environment that put a premium on shocking the conservative conscience. Advocate for the most barbaric abortion practices? Fine. Celebrate an artist who dips a crucifix in urine? Cool. Decry 9/11 first responders as “not human” because of white supremacy? Intriguing. But the marketplace of ideas isn’t for the faint of heart, and good conservatives learn to simultaneously defend the culture of free speech while also fighting hard to build a culture of virtue and respect.

David French, writing about former National Review writer Kevin D Williamson, who committed the heinous crime several years ago in a podcast (Mad Dogs and Englishmen) of saying something nasty about abortions. (Whether he was right on this issue is not the issue here; the point is that the Atlantic Monthly hired a guy on the conservative side of the political spectrum, including one who has attacked the alt-right, the excesses of Trump, etc, but to no avail.) And this is the rub: no matter how subtle, nuanced or intelligent you are, if you offend against the prevailing social justice agenda, or offend someone, that’s it. Kaput, goodbye, exit followed by a large bear. The AM has now fired Williamson. That was quick.

I should add straight away that the Atlantic Monthly is entitled, as a private firm, to hire and fire whom it wants, for whatever reason, though of course that magazine, given its left-liberal ethos, presumably supports state interference with property rights and voluntary contracts (such as support for affirmative action, etc). And people are equally free to ignore its output and read something else. But something about this affair, which may only interest the media in-crowd, tells us that there are now very severe limits to the breadth and tolerance of “liberals” in the West (and it remains a tragedy that that word has been so distorted as to mean the opposite of what it may have meant in the past). Also, it is useful to have media outlets where people of very different outlooks can gain access to ideas they might not otherwise encounter, if only to train their intellectual muscles in much the same way that I try and keep strong by lifting barbells in the gym. The Balkanisation of opinion gets worse.

Some readers will remember the case of John Derbyshire who wrote what in my view was a blatantly racist comment for a magazine and, as he was a columnist for National Review (ironically, as this was where Williamson used to work), was sacked by editor Rich Lowry. The Derbyshire piece was awful; Lowry was entitled to fire a columnist if he wanted to do so, but then again, it is important for some arguments to be aired, even if they are terrible, so that people get the practice of refuting them. (John Stuart Mill, the 19th Century liberal, argued that this is why censorship is so bad because people lose the habit of making good arguments.)

It is not even as if Williamson has been blocked or banned like an internet troll for the offence of filling comment threads with abusive remarks, threats, or hi-jacking discussions to promote some very different agenda. (The editors of this blog, and others, have had to kick out some nutters and abusive people over the years, just as I have blocked people from my social media feeds, in the same way that I would kick out a party guest who urinates on the floor.)

It is necessary to state that Williamson ultimately hasn’t had his freedom violated and he can and no doubt will get work somewhere else. In this age of blogs and new media outlets, it is harder than before to silence views, although some of the recent developments at Facebook etc suggest a worry that social media is becoming an intolerant echo chamber.

The editor of the Atlantic Monthly isn’t a tyrant, but speaking as a media person myself, I think he has made a serious mistake by losing a fine writer, even if I don’t always like what he writes (if Williamson has a fault he can come across as a bit of a snob). Also, in explaining the decision, I get the impression that the Atlantic Monthly has reinforced the notion I have that many so-called “feminists” today aren’t the doughty fighters for equality of old, but actually playing to the idea that women quiver with fear at the very mention of ideas they don’t like. Apparently, the very notion that Williamson was a columnist was traumatic to some women.

This month’s quota

February 23 2018:

Do male climate change ‘sceptics’ have a problem with women? – Bob Ward

I posted about it here.

March 28 2018:

‘It’s a Very Male-Dominated Space’: Welcome to the Sexist World of Brexit and Climate Science Denial – Christine Ottery

And I’m posting about it here.

While we’re at it, why not gas the dog?

Mark Meechan a.k.a. “Count Dankula”, the man who imperilled us all by making a funny video of a little dog lifting its paw like a Nazi salute, has been found guilty of a crime under the Communications Act 2003 at Airdrie Sheriff Court.

If we are handing out punishments to obvious non-Nazis for doing stuff that reminds people of Nazis I don’t see why that Seig-Heiling pug should get away scot-free.

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.