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]

Is Omarova evil (and stupid) or stupid (and evil)?

In 1989, Boris Yeltsin visited a supermarket in Texas (in the past, such things were reported even in the NYT):

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people.”

Not so Biden’s candidate for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova. Biden chose her because she would be “the first woman and person of color” to serve in that role, but that would not be her only ‘first’. In that same year of 1989, she graduated from Moscow State University on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. She thought the Soviet system superior to capitalism then, and thirty years later, she still believes:

“Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best’.” (Omarova, 2019, quoted here)

She’s also outright hostile to the idea of supply and demand determining the likes of salaries and product prices, preferring instead to see the federal government — the state — set such values.

I say ‘also’ in the paragraph above, but my question in this post is: does she know how much socialism relies on the second when ‘achieving’ the first?

“The beauty of this system was that an NKVD man could receive twelve times what a doctor did and the doctor didn’t know it. The doctor knew what the NKVD man was paid, which was the same as he was, but he didn’t know what the NKVD man could buy with it.”

You didn’t have to be in the communist secret police to discover how a state that controlled distribution could match equal pay for interrogators and doctors to unequal reward. In Stalin’s day, an earlier defector (Kravchenko, ‘I Chose Freedom’) thought that, as regards the very highest ranks of this system,

not one Russian in a thousand suspected that such abundant shops existed

but he discovered for himself that, although

as department head in the sovnarkom, I did not earn half as much as I used to earn in industry, and I received none of the administrative bonuses that factory administrators awarded themselves,

the amount he was paid meant little, because what mattered was

the shops in which you were permitted to buy.

His new post gave him access to certain additional outlets – outlets which might still have looked shabby if compared to Yetsin’s Texas supermarket, but which would have looked as wonderful to ordinary Russians as that supermarket did to Yeltsin, had they been allowed inside.

By 1989, far more than one Russian in a thousand knew this – and so did some visiting foreigners. A women I met at Oxford had spent months on a course in the Soviet Union about five years earlier than Omarova – an unusual course where the foreigners lived like the Russian students, shopping in the same outlets. She had her Yeltsin moment upon her return: “When I went into Sainsbury’s, I burst into tears.” (her exact words).

IIUC, Omarova would have lived better on a Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship – would have had access to some of the special suppliers most Russian students had to do without -although their stipends were probably much the same in rouble terms. What I wonder is, does she know how much socialism’s on-paper ‘elimination’ of pay-gaps (gender and otherwise) depends on control of distribution, or is her enthusiasm for both simply the effect of swallowing the whole ideological package? Is she as thick as a brick (as we say in Britain), or is she as thick as two short planks (as we also say in Britain)? Is she useful, and idiotic only with the deep absurdity of desiring to be useful to such a cause, or is she a useful idiot of a shallower kind?

“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?”

This doesn’t help

Some guys called “disclose.tv” sent this tweet:

NEW – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require employers to record worker side effects from #COVID19 vaccination.

I do not know anything about disclose.tv but the link does seem to take you to the Coronavirus FAQs page of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Scroll down the page to the heading “Vaccine Related”. The text of the answer is as described in the tweet.

Many libertarians argue that OSHA’s reporting requirements have long since ceased to be aimed at preserving public health. Most government bureaucracies become parasites eventually. Their purpose is to feed. But if it is justified to force businesses to report side effects of vaccinations in general, how can that justification suddenly stop applying now of all times? The pandemic is the very time when it is most important that all relevant information reaches the community of scientists.

I have been vaccinated against Covid-19 (both jabs AstraZeneca if you want to know). I believe that for most people the risk of side effects from being vaccinated against Covid-19 is much less than the risk of Covid itself. But my confidence that adverse effects from vaccines are rare is shaken by the thought that maybe not all of them are being reported. If that disturbs me, with my fairly high starting level of trust, you can be sure that it terrifies those who were vaccine-hesitant to start with.

Merrick Garland and the Babski Bunty

‘Babski Bunty’ translates as ‘Women’s Rebellions’ – but don’t expect to find too many accounts of them in radical feminist writings. The history of an actual rebellion movement against men with guns (and considerable will to use them), by women inspired by a traditional female motive and using a female-adapted method, is not what the politically correct want US children taught – not least because the men those women resisted served the original PC movement. (The phrase ‘Political Correctness’ first arose in 1930s western intellectuals’ whitewashing of communist atrocities.)

In 1929, a complex mixture of rage, fear and folly launched the communist party on its collectivisation of Russian agriculture. They’d long planned to do it. Now they would do it quickly and completely – so they thought. The urban intellectuals who planned it knew almost nothing of how Russia’s men farmed their land – but they knew absolutely nothing of the women’s role. So they planned to take control of the grain from the fields, putting the farmers’ claim firmly second in line after the state’s – but as for the trivial additional issue of the dairy products from the cow (or there might be a couple) in the byre by the house, it never even occurred to them that there was anyone to be put second. The grain would feed the state, with the farmers getting what was left over. The dairy products would earn export capital (insofar as dairy was not ‘rationalised’ out of existence in farms whose function was ‘obviously’ arable).

In traditional Ukrainian and Russian arable agriculture, the fields were the men’s business (women helped at harvest). Any supplementing animals living by the house were their wives’ business – wives who particularly relied on the milk, butter and cheese to nourish ther growing children. As the party activists were launched on their hasty campaign with its even increasing collectivisation targets, what had been invisible to planners in Moscow swiftly became horrifyingly visible to mothers on the farm. What enraged the men, as they saw their whole way of life replaced with one they found vastly inferior, was to their wives an immediate and direct threat not merely to their role but also to their offspring. Thus it was that the astonished and largely uncomprehending activists found themselves facing especially uncooperative peasant women.

Thousands of women were shot, or sent to the gulag from which very very few emerged alive 25 years later, but as what the activists came to call “women’s rebellions” spread from their Ukrainian origins into the Don, the Kuban and Russia proper, the scale left the communist authorities somewhat at a loss. All resistance was labelled ‘terrorism’, of course, but a few of the more perceptive activists came to understand the tactics the women were using. Women jeered and jostled the village’s activists while others undid the collectivisation structure by breaking into stores, retrieving farm tools that had been seized, etc. The men’s role was to stand back, coming to the women’s defence if and only if the activists violently attacked them but otherwise not getting overtly involved.

This tactic aimed at avoiding intervention of armed forces, and it was successful.

(It was often successful, not always.) An activist’s male pride was frequently reluctant to beg that a sizable secret police or army formation be swiftly dispatched to save him – from a crowd of loud-mouthed women. It could be hard to make these (genuinely!) mostly peaceful protests sound urgent enough to an official at the end of a phone line. The in-parallel ‘terrorist’ offences against ‘the property of the socialist state’ (i.e. people reclaiming their property that the activists had ‘collectivised’ the week before) were harder to reverse than the initial unwarned seizure had been (especially if a crowd of women was crowding round the activists who were searching for it). Thus, a non-trivial proportion of many a collectivised farm’s economy was in effect privatised again.

Thanks to a lot of brave resistance from both sexes (the women’s rebellions being a significant part), Stalin found it necessary to publish his ‘Dizzy with Success’ Pravda article at the end of March 1930, explaining (in the usual utterly-deceitful soviet style) that some activists had been ‘too eager’ and the collectivisation drive was being paused. Some activists tried hard to prevent the peasants learning of it while others wrote enraged letters to Stalin, correctly pointing out that they’d done what he’d told them to, and foolishly not realising that the methods communists eagerly applied to peasants could also be applied to communists themselves. (Some of these letters got published – 40 years later.) Women’s rebellions played an even larger role in forcing bitterly-resisting activists to let the peasants act on Stalin’s temporarily-gentler public line.

That was then, this is now. In the US, woke teacher activists are more eager to repeat this history than to teach it. Merrick Garland (Biden’s attorney general) also seems more interested in imitating it than in learning from it. Indeed, I’m not at all sure either the teacher-activists or Merrick even know it.

So now, as then, there is a need for tactics to resist the onrushing politically-correct programme. Today’s US differs a lot from communist Russia of nearly a century ago (thank God!). But I offer US citizens this distant analogy for whatever ideas it might inspire in its unduped women and in men willing to defend them.

There is a darker analogy. Stalin threw his ‘Dizzy with Success’ activists under the bus because he had belatedly realised that a much more carefully prepared attack was needed. In 1932-34, by killing enough Ukrainians to meet the UN definition of genocide (and lots of Russians and others), the communists succeeded in imposing the collective farm system. The crop shrank markedly, but Stalin saw this as an acceptable price to pay for the state’s having control of it. The quantity and quality of education is not as tangible as the size of a grain harvest – but even if it were, I don’t think the wokesters shrinking it would care. Last time, this tactic brought only a pause, not victory. A pause would be better than nothing, but Churchill warned people rejoicing over Dunkirk that wars are not won just by making your enemies pause in their advance.

Laughing apart

Ten men acting together can make a hundred thousand tremble apart.

Three weeks ago Saturday, the FBI were out in undercover force at the ‘JusticeForJan6th’ rally – and looking lonely, since everyone from Trump to the proud boys had worked out it was a false flag operation. But precisely because the ‘demonstrators’ physically present were so overwhelmingly and obviously fake, the large virtual attendance in cyberspace was much entertained, with more mirth being had at the expense of some (overt) police who were a bit slow to realise that the guy they were arresting was yet another under(not-very-much)cover Fed.

None of which alters the fact that that the right “peaceably to assemble” for political protest is bifurcating. One side knows it need only be ‘mostly peaceful’ while the other knows that assembling at all can bring speedy arrest followed by long-delayed trial.

Ten oh-so-obvious undercover FBI agents are good for a laugh, but they still made those who mocked them laugh apart. Chanting “F*** Joe Biden” (“Let’s Go Brandon” 🙂 ) in a sports stadium is one way to laugh together, but it reminds me of the chariot racing clubs in the Roman and Byzantine empires – those ancient ‘blues’ and ‘greens’ chariot fans acquired strong political overtones because assembling for an overtly political purpose was forbidden.

Sunday afternoon funnies

The world is going to hell in a eco-friendly handbasket, but the sun just broke through the clouds where I am, so here are a couple of things I recently found in the intertubes that made me laugh.

Ayn Rand’s Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone

Hero: Someone had ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ paged at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit)

The whole “Let’s go, Brandon” phenomenon is a hoot. It’s inspiring to witness these hip young rebels sticking it to The Man while avoiding profanity. Remember when it was left wingers who used their wit to sneak under the censors’ radar?

—————————

Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday asks,

What are they hiding? At the start of Covid many scientists believed it likely leaked from Wuhan lab – until a conference call with Patrick Vallance changed their minds. We asked for his emails about the call. This is what we got . . .

Redacted letters

Preventing the truth

prevent, (verb) from latin prevene (pre vene): (literal meaning) to go before; (in modern usage) to hinder, to obstruct, to block, …

If you count yet again a stack of ballots, some valid but others not, what number do you get? The same as before, of course.

I foresaw from the moment the Arizona audit was scheduled that the first trivial task of the auditors would be merely to count all the ballots and observe the same 10,000-odd lead for Biden as before – after all, they could hardly count the votes that went missing before reaching the count in the first place*. The point of the audit was to see whether any of the ballots that were counted were demonstrably unsafe.

The media likewise foresaw these things. And both I and the media foresaw that even after all the vigorous non-cooperation of Maricopa county election officials and others, the auditors might still find more than 10,000 unsafe ballots (several times more in the event). So I foresaw the media would have a story prepared for dismissing this. (As David Burge remarked, modern journalism is about covering important stories – “with a pillow; till they stop moving”.)

What I did not foresee with quite the crystal clarity that it has this morning, is that their prepared story would be to treat the utterly predictable fact of the combined safe and unsafe ballots totalling to the same numbers as before as news. And I feel slow for not foreseeing how inevitably they would do that. After all, if your long-prepared headline is “Arizona audit confirms Biden win”, what else could you write beneath it?

The modern meaning of prevent makes amusingly unfortunate the over-literal translation of the old prayer, “O Lord, prevent us in all our doings”, as if Jesus’ job, like that of a modern mask Karen, was to rush around spotting anyone planning to have fun, so as to stop them before fun could even start. When it comes to our joyless media, however, I think we need to be better at preventing them (old sense – and then modern if, as so often, their plan is to lie, cheat and steal their way into power over us).

P.S. (FYI, Internet Health Warning)
* Within a short time of the asterisked link above first appearing a couple of weeks ago, attempts to reach it became apt to raise a maximum severity “This website appears to be trying to steal your data” warning. I feel sure the ‘Behind the Black’ website itself was not – but who knows, it could be some behind-the-scenes black-op was trying to steal the data of those who linked to that post, or someone wanted to discourage people from reading it. The warning no longer appears, so the black-op is over, or has improved its ability to run silently, or it was just another of those never-to-be-explained events the web throws up from time-to-time.

All the other links in my post above have always behaved normally for me.

The carers

I am not usually one for issuing trigger warnings, but this video of an unhappy two year old child is genuinely disturbing:

New York, where two-year-olds are forced to wear masks all day in nursery.

I have a single memory – a three second “video clip” of my brother’s fourth birthday – that I can confidently date as having happened before I was three. Humans do not seem to lay down recoverable memories of most of what happens to them before the age of four or so. Yet a child’s experiences in those early years have a profound effect on their later personality. That little boy will probably never remember that he tried again and again to push away the damp thing that made it hard to breathe but that his carers, with pitiless good cheer, always forced it back on. But he will have learned the lesson of the powerless. You are weak, they are strong. Crying and protesting do not help.

I am told that in Muslim societies where women must go fully veiled it is difficult to get the little girls into their coverings at first. But even they wait until the girls are at least five.

California voting – an anecdote

Yesterday, I was chatting to a Californian friend. He described his experience of voting in the recall election.

He was sent a postal ballot – a ballot and an envelope to return it in. He had not asked for it and did not want it but got it anyway. His wife was also sent one and what I say below applies to her as well.

Both envelope and ballot had serial numbers printed on them – and they were sequential: the return envelope’s serial number differed by one from its ballot’s serial number. (His wife’s likewise, so it seemed to be a pattern.) This gave him some concerns.

  • As the state had posted the serial-numbered ballot specifically to him, it sure looked like, after the election, the authorities would be able to tell how he’d voted. In a state where expressing a heterodox thought can be career-ending, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that the state would never dream of recording the serial-to-address data, let alone exploiting it afterwards (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).
  • As the envelope and ballot serials had this simple sequential relationship, it sure looked like anyone who saw the returned envelope (which had to have his name and address on it), would be able to deduce the serial of his ballot. In a state where the operation of the law can make defying antifa more dangerous to you than to them, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that no such person would later be able to get access to the ballots or their scanned data to relate his name and address to his vote (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).
  • As there was no secrecy sleeve, it sure looked like whoever ripped the envelope open to get the ballot during the count would have a hard time not seeing his name, address and vote all at once anyway. In a state where supporting the wrong party can lead to unequal application of the law, this was a little worrying. Of course, he could have chosen to trust the Governor’s assurance that the electoral staff would be unable to record or memorise such information (if the Governor had given that specific assurance, but he did not recall whether Newsom had clearly promised that as such).

After thinking about this, he went to the local polling station on election day to try and get a ballot from them and put it in the ballot box the old-fashioned way. Wisely, he took the postal ballot with him, knowing they should – and in this case probably would – want to see it destroyed. Unwisely, he filled it in beforehand in case they refused to let him vote the old fashioned way (so that, in that case, he could at least put the postal ballot straight into the box, thus cutting some intermediaries out of the insecure loop, without making a second visit). He gave me a vivid word-picture of the crossed-arms, blocking-the-way lady in change of the polling place when he made his request. They did not absolutely refuse, but it was made clear to him that the first thing to happen would be his postal vote being torn open and carefully examined before its destruction. Cursing himself for the ‘forethought’ of filling it in “in case”, he decided that that would destroy the point of the exercise, which was to cast a secret ballot – though he did wonder by then whether, despite his studiously-meek demeanour, the lady felt any more doubt of whom he was voting for than he felt of whom she was voting for. So in the end he used it as the state intended he should.

I report this wholly anecdotal case (just two ballots and one polling station) because I know my friend is describing his own experience accurately and the details surprised me. When the Nazis tried to find out which Germans voted ‘no’ in Hitler’s plebiscites, they put serial numbers on the ballots – but they did so secretly, by using a typewriter without a ribbon to make an invisible impression that could be recovered later, and then had a very hard time arranging for the appropriate invisibly-serial-numbered ballot to be given to the appropriate suspected voter when he or she showed up at the polling place. How they would have loved the simplicity of being able to send openly-serial-numbered ballots by post.

I do not know whether my friend’s experience represents much of California’s voting, but, like him and his wife, I am just a little worried to learn that it represents any of it.

The healing power of media lies

I’ve been in hospital over the last few days for a long-planned operation. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the Los Angeles Times for its part in my recovery. After my op, for a while my blood pressure was worryingly low. The doctors and nurses, bless ’em, think that it was a blood transfusion that got my blood pressure back up again. Nope. It was all down to fact that America’s fifth largest newspaper, founded in 1881, is but the skin of its former self inhabited by creatures reminiscent of the ichneumon wasp, a parasite that devours its host from the inside.

As Megan Fox writes at P J Media:

Under the headline “LAPD is investigating altercation involving Larry Elder at Venice Homeless Encampment,” the Times ran a photo (seen below) that makes it look like Elder is slapping a woman. This is a complete fabrication and not at all what really happened. Instead, it was a white woman in a gorilla mask hurling an egg at Elder. This photo that the Times used is of Elder greeting a woman in the crowd. The woman actually commented on the Times tweet to hold the paper accountable for this hideous lie. “Are you kidding me?” wrote Soledad Ursua. “You use this picture to make it look like [Larry Elder] is slapping me? He was attacked by a white female wearing a Gorilla Mask. Are you covering for racists? Disgusting.”

Widening college enrollment gap between men and women

From the Wall Street Journal:

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5 per cent, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71 per cent of the decline. This education gap, which holds at both two- and four-year colleges, has been slowly widening for 40 years. The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65 per cent of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59 per cent of men during the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Assuming that there is some connection between having a higher education qualification and pay (that connection is not by any means set in stone) then if this trend continues, not only will it eliminate any alleged “pay gap” to the detriment of women, but push it another way. Of course, it might be that some US men have worked out that college in many ways is a waste of their time, a cesspit of wokery and pointless diversions, and they’d be better off learning code, or industrial welding, or something that doesn’t saddle them with big debts.

Even so, the male/female college attendance gap in the US, and quite possibly in a few other nations, appears to be one of those stories that very clearly pushes against a standard narrative of how the cards are stacked in favour of we toxic males and that therefore this needs to be fixed in some way. In my day job, I routinely get lots of emails from banks, wealth managers and other firms going on about the wonders of diversity, etc, and rarely, if ever, is this college attendance point brought up. I have raised it once or twice with people, and it gets a sort of muffled response, if at all.

A few more paragraphs from the WSJ article, which is behind a paywall:

Over the course of their working lives, American college graduates earn more than a million dollars beyond those with only a high-school diploma, and a university diploma is required for many jobs as well as most professions, technical work and positions of influence.

Yet skyrocketing education costs have made college more risky today than for past generations, potentially saddling graduates in lower-paying careers—as well as those who drop out—with student loans they can’t repay.

Social science researchers cite distractions and obstacles to education that weigh more on boys and young men, including videogames, pornography, increased fatherlessness and cases of overdiagnosis of boyhood restlessness and related medications.

Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school.