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]

I read it as “digital collar”

From the White House website:

President Biden often summarizes his vision for America in one word: Possibilities. A “digital dollar” may seem far-fetched, but modern technology could make it a real possibility.

A United States central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be a digital form of the U.S. dollar. While the U.S. has not yet decided whether it will pursue a CBDC, the U.S. has been closely examining the implications of, and options for, issuing a CBDC. If the U.S. pursued a CBDC, there could be many possible benefits, such as facilitating efficient and low-cost transactions, fostering greater access to the financial system, boosting economic growth, and supporting the continued centrality of the U.S. within the international financial system. However, a U.S. CBDC could also introduce a variety of risks, as it might affect everything ranging from the stability of the financial system to the protection of sensitive data.

To be fair, these remarks by Dr. Alondra Nelson, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Alexander Macgillivray, Principal Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer, and Nik Marda, Policy Advisor do acknowledge the existence of risks:

For example, these objectives state that a U.S. CBDC system should expand equitable access to the financial system, preserve the role of physical cash, and only collect data that is strictly necessary.

Given the record of the FBI, the CIA and the NSA, I would put very little faith in their definition of “strictly necessary” as a shield against the US government spying on its citizens.

The riding list

All twelve of the firefighters who were working in my husband’s firehouse died on 9/11. The “riding list,” handwritten in chalk, listing all the men who were on duty that day, still hangs on the firehouse wall, forever preserved in glass. Engine 40 Ladder 35 #NeverForget

– Janice Dean

Samizdata quote of the day

Mr. Biden forgives half-a-trillion dollars in student debt without the assent of Congress. White House aides collude with tech platforms to silence dissenting voices on Covid. His regulators stretch the law beyond previous understanding to impose more control over the private economy. And that’s before they get the votes to break the Senate filibuster, add new U.S. states, override 50 state voting laws, and pack the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden has become his foe’s polarizing mirror image. It is exactly what he promised as a candidate he wouldn’t do.

Wall Street Journal ($), from which I have quoted quite a lot lately.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The U.S. could have set an example for the world through innovation. Instead the government chose to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to achieve no noticeable climate benefit.”

Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal ($).

Can you see the parallels between Saigon and Kabul now, Mr President?

Reporter #1: “Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?”

President Biden: “No. It is not. Because you have the Afghan troops have 300,000 – well-equipped- as well equipped as any army in the world – and an air force – against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable”

Reporter #2: “Mr President, thank you very much. Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse.”

Pres. Biden: “That is not true.”

Reporter: “Is it – Can you please clarify what they have told you about whether that will happen or not.”

Pres. Biden: “That is not true. They did not reach that conclusion.”

Reporter: “So what is the level of confidence that they have that it will not collapse?”

Pres. Biden: “The Afghan government, the leadership, has to come together. They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place.”

Reporter: “Do you see any parallels with this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam? With some people feeling…”

Pres. Biden: “None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy. Six if I’m not mistaken.”

“The Taliban is not the South – the North Vietnamese army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

– President Joe Biden, press briefing, 8th July 2021. Kabul fell on 15th August.

From Guido Fawkes’ post of 16th August 2021, “Biden’s tragically optimistic Afghanistan press briefing shows lack of intelligence”

Salman Rushdie stabbed on stage in New York, condition unknown

“What’s on your mind?” asks the WordPress dashboard at the top of the little box where you put your content. This. This is on my mind. Salman Rushdie getting stabbed. Back in the 1990s I bought a copy of The Satanic Verses as a contribution to his security costs. I’ve read it, and Midnight’s Children, and found them memorable but they were not books to which I wished to return. I thought all that stuff about the Iranian fatwa had faded away. I guess not.

Edit: “I’m literally a communist” Ash Sarkar sinks to the occasion:

Don’t have anything particularly clearheaded to say, but the stabbing of Salman Rushdie (though it has decades-old origins) alongside the campaign of threats and intimidation against drag queens in the US makes it feel like a very grim, dangerous time for artistic expression.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Schumer-Manchin won’t reduce inflation, won’t reduce the budget deficit, and it won’t reduce the world’s temperature. What it will do is transfer some $369 billion from taxpayers and drug companies to the pockets of green energy businesses and investors. It will tighten the hold that politicians have on the allocation of capital, as they pick winners and losers with their grants and tax credits. Everyone will get a nice warm feeling as they pretend they are cooling the climate.”

Wall Street Journal ($), commenting on the latest abomination to pass through the House of Representatives. It points that the supposedly “green” parts of this bill will, according to Danish “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, reduce the estimated global temperature rise at the end of this century by all of 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit in the optimistic [United Nations scenario] case. And meanwhile China proceeds apace with building coal-fired power stations.

Cultural appropriation alert: ‘English understatement’ detected in New York

Readers of this blog know that I sometimes use the writing style called ‘English understatement’ – and though I’m Scottish, I’m also British and have a claim to it. So when I read

“a homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.”

I definitely felt my culture was being appropriated.

However, I’m not sure whom to accuse. Instapundit referred me to Liberty Unyielding, who prefaced their quote of it with ‘As the New York Times notes,’, and the NYT may just be quoting the remark of the nurse practitioner who ran the intake interview at the shelter. She obeyed her supervisor’s order to admit the recently-paroled-yet-again-as-now-harmless and even more recently reclassified-as-now-female Harvey, but even after the murder of Susan Leyden (whose body parts were so chopped up and miscellaneously discarded that determining her gender identity, never mind her identity, may have taken the pathologist some time), it could be the nurse thought it prudent to express her agenda-questioning doubts only in this very cautiously-phrased way. So I’m not clear whom I should demand be cancelled by Twitter, Facebook and everyone else.

Meanwhile, I clearly have to work harder on my English understatement skills if I am to keep our culture distinct from the one across the pond. In the good old days when Trump was in the White House, there was no doubt which side of the Atlantic stood for understatement and which didn’t, but it now appears that when the cabal stole the election they also stole that clarity. I am working as best I can to recreate it, and welcome in advance any commenter’s constructive critique of how well or otherwise I’m succeeding.

BTW, I wasn’t looking, still less hoping, for occasion to write more posts like this one – but that’s not the only thing in the last two years that I was not looking or hoping for.

Thomas Sowell: The gun control farce

Professor Sowell wrote this article in 2016. Little has changed since then, except that I doubt that today’s Associated Press would dare publish it.

Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?

That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser through the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.

But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data?

Samizdata quote of the day save draft publish

‘End Of Quote, Repeat The Line’: Biden Reads Teleprompter Instructions Out Loud During Speech

With Joe more voicemail than man and Boris only just clinging to the wreckage, at least the Anglosphere is demonstrating that it can get by without anyone in charge. Though we have much to learn before we can challenge the true masters of the art of doing without a government.

This is the age of the fact checker

Politico on Twitter said,

Clarence Thomas claimed in a dissenting opinion that Covid vaccines are derived from the cells of “aborted children.”

No Covid vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses.

2,061 Retweets. 1,537 Quote Tweets. 5,676 Likes. Dozens of sneering replies.

And two egregious falsehoods in one tweet.

As Egon Alter (@AlterEgon75) put it in their reply,

This is a gross mischaracterization of Thomas’ words.

HE is not making the claim, the plaintiffs in the case are.

And he said they object because aborted fetus cells were used in the development of the vaccine, which your reporting verifies, not that the vaccine contains them.

UPDATE:

You can see a screenshot of Justice Thomas’s exact words in this tweet from AGHamilton29. Thomas said,

They object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.

Firstly, note that he is paraphrasing the opinion of the petitioners, not giving his own opinion. Secondly, note that the petitioners themselves did not claim that the vaccines were made from aborted foetuses, they claim that foetal cells were used in the development process, which they were. As one would expect from a judge, Thomas has noted this crucial distinction.

Again via the estimable AGHamilton29, I see that it was not just Politico spreading this false story.

Axios: Clarence Thomas suggests COVID vaccines are made with “aborted children”

NBC News: Justice Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are made with cells from ‘aborted children’

Of course, once the fake news seed is sown, it sprouts up everywhere.

The Daily Mail: Clarence Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are created with cells of ‘aborted children’ in dissent on SCOTUS decision upholding New York state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

The Independent: Clarence Thomas wrongly suggests ‘aborted children’ cells are used in Covid vaccines

SECOND UPDATE: The Politico tweet has now been disappeared, and the story to which it linked corrected. It is now mostly accurate and completely pointless, a breathless account of a Supreme Court judge doing a normal part of his job.

It pays to argue against what your opponents actually believe

They say that the Earth’s magnetic poles swap places every few hundred thousand years.

“Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court ends constitutional right to abortion”, reports the BBC.

A miracle or a catastrophe, take your pick, but how did this happen after half a century in which Roe and Wade were the fixed poles by which the compass of the American abortion debate could be set? It is bad form for me to quote myself, but in this post, “How not to change minds on abortion”, I made the point about as well as I am ever likely to:

…in the US and the UK, the pro-choice side almost never engaged with what their opponents actually believed. Over the years I must have read hundreds of Guardian articles on abortion, mostly in its US section because abortion is such a live issue there. I do not recall a single one that argued against the main sticking point of the pro-life side, namely that abortion takes a human life – let alone argued for it. On other issues the Guardian would occasionally let the odd Conservative or other non-progressive have their say about fossil fuels or the nuclear deterrent or whatever, and would often feature writers who, while left wing themselves, at least knew enough of the right wing view to argue against it. However when it came to abortion the line always was, and judging from Twitter in the last few days, still is, that opposition to abortion arises (a) only from men and (b) only from men who wish to control women’s bodies.

It works, a bit. Some men who read that will decide that they do not want to be that sort of man, others will decide that they do not want to be thought to be that sort of man. But an argument that does not even acknowledge the existence of female opponents of abortion will obviously not change their minds. Nor will silence reassure women who are not firmly pro or anti. If the Left will not talk to them about their doubts, then by definition the only arguments they hear will come from the other side.

Related post: It pays to brief your own side properly. I might make a series of “It pays to…” posts.