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]

Samizdata quote of the day

Musk’s act qualified as economic civil disobedience, especially since he expressly offered himself up for arrest and punishment. His ultimate success was a testament to the power of that peaceful strategy for political change. The government probably wanted to avoid the public controversy that would result from jailing someone like Musk.

Dan Sanchez

Bryan Caplan on homeschooling

Homeschooling is in the news a lot these day, for reasons that you already know all about. So, it makes sense to give a plug here to a video interview that Amy Willis of econlin.org did recently with Bryan Caplan, which I just listened to. I got to know Caplan a bit better than before when I attended a lecture he gave last December in London about Poverty and about who’s to blame for it.

This homeschooling conversation, which lasts just under forty minutes, is very commonsensical, I think. Caplan is no zealot for snatching his kids out of school. His one big doctrinal disagreement with regular schooling of the sort his kids were getting is that he reckons maths is more important than schools generally, and his kids’ school in particular, tend to assume.

For Caplan, homeschooling began when his two older sons, twins and introverts, declared themselves to be unhappy with the school they were at. Caplan reckoned he might be able to do better, so they gave it a shot. And it would appear to have worked out well.

His younger and only daughter seems now to be happier going to school, because she likes meeting up with her friends, and because the arts-skewed curriculum appeals to her a lot more than it did to her brothers. She must be suffering a bit now. His younger son, on the other hand, is liking the new stay-at-home regime.

That being a particular thing I take from this conversation: how female-friendly and male-hostile regular schooling of the sort Caplan is talking about seems to have become. Is there a bias in homeschooling numbers between boys and girls being homeschooled? I don’t know, but I bet Caplan does.

Towards the end of their conversation, Willis and Caplan talk about Caplan’s book on education, which is entitled The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money. I guess the guy’s somewhat more doctrinal than he had earlier seemed.

On the other hand, both those twins want to be college professors, and Caplan doesn’t seem to be doing anything to try to stop them.

Seven hundred to one

Via Ed Driscoll of Instapundit, I found this admirably thorough story by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist. Here, she said, are some of CNN’s reports about Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh:

Read the letter Christine Blasey Ford sent accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct,
Post reporter says Kavanaugh accuser was ‘terrified about going public’,
Republican senators weigh in on delaying Kavanaugh vote,
Echoes of Anita Hill in allegations against Kavanaugh,
Dems call for delay of Kavanaugh vote after accuser comes forward, Listen to letter from Kavanaugh’s accuser, and
Washington Post: Kavanaugh accuser comes forward.

These senators could make or break Kavanaugh’s nomination,
The Kavanaugh controversy is a watershed moment for GOP,
Trump stands by Kavanaugh, supports ‘a full process’,
Why the Kavanaugh allegations come at the worst possible time for Republicans,
an interview with the reporter who broke the Post story,
Kellyanne Conway says Kavanaugh’s accuser ‘should not be ignored or insulted’,
a page devoted to a video of Kellyanne Conway’s statement,
Kavanaugh allegations lead to White House scramble,
Lawyer: Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify publicly,
State of play of the Kavanaugh nomination on Capitol Hill,
Joe Biden reacts to Kavanaugh allegation, reviving memories of Anita Hill hearing,
Why sexual assault survivors often don’t come forward,
Why Dianne Feinstein waited to take the Brett Kavanaugh allegations to the FBI,
White House plan to defend Kavanaugh relies heavily on women,
Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford to testify on assault allegations in public Monday,
Anita Hill’s accusations did not hurt public support for Clarence Thomas in ’91,
Republicans and Democrats grapple with Kavanaugh political fallout 7 weeks from midterms,
The power of a named accuser: Kavanaugh’s future now hangs in the balance,
Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school classmate, details high school parties in past writings, and many others.
By September 18, CNN’s participation in the anti-Kavanaugh campaign was even more intense:
Why Kavanaugh should make men question ‘himpathy’,
Dianne Feinstein, elected in the ‘Year of the Woman,’ navigates the politics of #MeToo,
Julia Louis-Dreyfus lends support to Brett Kavanaugh accuser,
Anita Hill: Senate should ‘do better’ than it did in 1991,
Doug Jones: Senate should compel Kavanaugh’s friend to testify,
Kavanaugh nomination descends into chaos,
What happens if Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t testify?,
With Kavanaugh, McConnell’s throne is on the line,
Christine Blasey Ford is risking it all to speak out,
Kavanaugh decision moment: A horrendous act or a monstrous lie,
Emmy attendee shows up with ‘Stop Kavanaugh’ written on her arm,
What The Wall Street Journal gets dead wrong about Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh,
Women hold the key to Kavanaugh — and maybe control of Congress,
Trump on Kavanaugh: ‘This is not a man who deserves this’,
Former classmate of Kavanaugh’s denies being at party in sexual assault allegation,
Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation before testifying,
Sen. Hirono’s message to men: ‘Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing.’,
5 big questions about the Kavanaugh hearing,
Kavanaugh hearing uncertain for Monday as accuser wants FBI to investigate before hearing,
George W. Bush defends Kavanaugh as ‘a fine husband, father, and friend’,
Accuser’s friend: She is nothing but honest,
Reliable Sources: Kavanaugh questions; left and right reactions,
Mark Judge tells Senate he ‘has no memory of alleged’ incident with Kavanaugh,
Read: Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys’ letter requesting FBI investigation, and many others.

Trump calls Kavanaugh ‘an extraordinary man’,
Kavanaugh’s accuser made her move — now Republicans have to choose,
Mazie Hirono: Kavanaugh accuser is hesitating to testify because she’s afraid of a GOP ‘railroad job’,
Trump says he wants to see Kavanaugh’s accuser testify,
6 possible Kavanaugh scenarios, including a Supreme Court vacancy until 2021,
Anita Hill: FBI should investigate Ford’s claim,
Kavanaugh’s accuser says he was drunk at the time. What studies say about alcohol and memory loss,
Kavanaugh accuser’s lawyer: ‘Rush to a hearing is unnecessary’,
Friend of Kavanaugh’s accuser speaks out,
Toobin: If she won’t testify, he gets confirmed,
Reliable Sources: The Supreme Court clock is ticking,
Republicans just made a giant gamble on Brett Kavanaugh,
Collins says ‘it’s not fair’ for Kavanaugh accuser not to testify,
Did Donald Trump just hedge on Brett Kavanaugh’s future?,
McCaskill’s voting against Kavanaugh – and it has nothing to do with the accusations,
Grassley sets Friday deadline to hear back from Kavanaugh accuser,
Garamendi: This is a defining Me Too moment,
Accuser’s lawyer: Rush to hearing unnecessary,
Gillibrand: GOP approach amounts to ‘sham hearing’ on Kavanaugh allegations,
Begala: Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP,
GoFundMe raises more than $100K to help Kavanaugh accuser with security expenses,
Graham wants Kavanaugh vote before midterms

In Hemingway’s report, every one of these is a link. Click ’em and see. There were more, I just got bored of copying them.

And here is all the reporting CNN had done of the very similar allegation against Joe Biden by Tara Reade until yesterday:

Samizdata quote of the day

The 1619 project wasn’t about being right. It wasn’t even about history. It was about pushing an anti-American narrative. It’s best understood as a psywar operation aimed at demoralizing the enemy, in this case the American people.

Glenn Reynolds

One of my favourite places to find SQotDs is in the little summaries of issues that Glenn Reynolds often adds to the links he supplies.

Samizdata quote of the day

At least a few federal agency buildings could be greatly improved by the complete omission of entrances.

Commenter Ferox

Architecture wars

Robinson Meyer tweets:

If most Americans hate architectural abstraction and Mies-inspired modernism, then there’s still a compromise solution. It’s simple: All federal buildings should be designed in the style of India’s National Fisheries Development Board.

Trump has put architecture centre stage in the culture wars. Which will make it all much more interesting. Especially if more creature buildings are built, like the one in the picture above. And especially if they built something like a huge panda building or huge frog building, in Washington.

Eventually, there should be a giant building in Washington, the tallest in town, shaped like Donald Trump. A giant Trump sculpture. That would drain the swamp. They’d all flee in terror.

To be a bit more serious, but only a bit, just think about Trump’s edict, which says that from now on, all Federal Government buildings in the USA must be designed in the “classical” style. No more office blocks looking like multi-story car parks or international space stations. From now on, they’ll have to have a Parthenonic frontage stuck onto them.

Were any such buildings actually to get built, everyone who looks at one of these buildings is going to see … Trump. But all the people who work in government buildings hate Trump from the depths of their tax-dollar-sucking bossy-boots souls. So, they’ll make a huge stink to ensure that no such buildings ever get built. How beautiful is that? The governmental classes will, for the duration of Trump’s reign of architectural terror, expend huge amounts of energy opposing the expansion of the Federal Government.

The more I hear and see of Trump, the more I like him. But I’m talking about America, and what do I know about America? Luckily, we have plenty of commenters who do know about America, because they live there. Gentlemen, start your engines.

I just did a bit of copying and pasting

Of this:

Born in New York City in 1945, Tesler eventually studied computer science at Stanford University before working in the school’s artificial intelligence research lab in the late 1960s. He moved to Xerox in 1973, where he devised the time-saving concepts to cut, copy and paste in computer systems.

“Your workday is easier thanks to his revolutionary ideas,” Xerox tweeted Thursday to honor Tesler.

Oh, it goes far beyond that, for me and surely for many others. My whole life was made possible by this sort of stuff.

With thanks to Instapundit. It’s little postings like this that keep me going back there. If all there was there was politics, I’d keep going back, but surely not so often.

Imagine having to copy out just the two links above, letter by letter, number by number. Absurd.

A BIT LATER: I put together all of the above for my personal blog, but then I thought: this should go to Samizdata. So I copied and pasted it across. Took me about two minutes.

Trump’s predictable triumph…

I have a question for readers who watch US politics more closely than I do these days: given how the process of impeaching a US President works & the nakedly political nature of the whole thing, in view of the cold hard number of Democrats vs. Republicans in the US Senate, what sequence of events did the architects of this venture see that would result in a different outcome?

How could this not have ended in a victory by Trump and vastly increase the chance of him getting re-elected? Anyone care to explain the Democrat gambit? I mean, they must have assumed they could successfully depose the duly elected POTUS when they started this ball rolling, so what am I missing?

Five, six, seven, eight, who do we assassinate?

Please try not to get arrested, but in the shadow of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, might it not be interesting to have a discussion about the rights and wrongs of assassination?

Most states, most of the time, follow a rough convention that important government employees – heads of state, government ministers, top brass et cetera – of State A do not assassinate their counterparts in State B, however wicked those counterparts may be. President Trump has shown himself indifferent to that convention. He could be praised for his courage (including personal courage: his own risk of being assassinated has obviously gone up) or damned for his disregard of the evil consequences that are likely to fall on others. In a world where national leaders target each other, wars are more likely.

Or are they? Did the fact that men like Soleimani could kill minor employees of other governments, not to mention civilians, without much personal risk, actually smooth the path to war? It does seem unjust that those steeped in guilt are sacrosanct while relatively innocent spear-carriers are acceptable targets.

Here is another question for us and anyone watching us to ponder. Many people have argued strongly over the last few hours that President Trump was right to break the convention of the immunity from assassination of senior state employees. But I have heard no one argue against the convention that only senior state employees can order assassinations.

ADDED LATER: In the comments “Chester Draws” made a very relevant point:

There is a convention that political leaders are not killed.

There is also a convention — literally — that embassies are not to be attacked. Iran broke that one first. And then again recently.

That fact alone, that until now the Islamic Republic of Iran got away scot-free with invading an embassy and kidnapping diplomats, made me much more willing to approve the unconventional killing of a representative of that government. Let those who boast that the rules do not apply to them learn that in that case the rules do not apply to them.

On the BBC, persons of no appearance attack Jews in New York

In May, I wrote: “The attacks, and the silence of progressive New York, are utterly appalling.” In ­December, it’s more than appalling. It’s complicit. (Karol Markowicz)

To say that today’s BBC broadcast reports of the latest attacks in New York pivoted swiftly to denouncing generalised “racism and homophobia” in the age of Trump might be called an exaggeration – since to pivot, one must first be pointing in a different direction. But arguably that is unfair, and the beeb’s afternoon and evening news broadcasts did indeed merely swiftly pivot to a more acceptable talking point. Certain omissions, hinted at in this post’s title, assisted that pivot.

How far the BBC is on the same complicit page as against how far they are just unwisely still treating their progressive American friends as trustworthy and sufficient sources of insight, I do not know. My impression was that the beeb covered Corbyn’s little problem in this area a bit less absurdly than what I saw today. It is easier to fool UK viewers about the US than about the UK – and some beeboids do seem to be trying.

I should note that a hint of appearance did appear on the BBC’s website. And, thanks to crime movies, most UK viewers know enough of the geography of New York to realise that Harlem is maybe not the most obvious place for a white-supremacist-style anti-semite to hide out. It will be revealing to see whether coverage becomes more informative – or not.

Does Trump have a case to answer?

I have not been following the Trump impeachment hooha with any great interest but I can’t fail to notice that it is dominating Sky News’s coverage today. Some might say they are doing so to distract attention from their defeat in last week’s general election but I couldn’t possibly comment.

Anyway, I would be grateful if the commentariat could help to bring me up to speed on this. For instance, does Trump have a case to answer? Has he done anything illegal and – more to the point – has he done anything wrong? Perhaps even more to the point, has he done anything that other US presidents – Obama for instance – wouldn’t do?

I can’t help but notice that people I trust have been rather quiet on this.

The Anti-Saloon League is back

“Prohibition showed bans can be good for us”, writes David Aaronovitch in the Times. Unironically. He means it. He thinks Prohibition was good and wants it back. I suppose it was ever thus; it is like the way that when the people who remember the last banking crash die the banks start crazy lending again.

Mr Aaronovitch writes,

Your mental charge sheet against prohibition may well include the accusation that it didn’t get rid of drinking but sent it underground; that the resulting appetite for “bootlegged” liquor led to the rise of organised criminal syndicates, Al Capone, the mob and the St Valentine’s Day massacre; that it helped to make corrupt hypocrites out of public servants; that the rich were able to indulge while the poor were criminalised.

Why yes, it does.

And after just a few years the Americans saw what a disaster it was and repealed it. It may not improve your view of it to know that the Ku Klux Klan were very much in favour of prohibition.

That does not surprise me.

Strangely though, the one question that almost no one seems to ask of this epic public health measure is whether or not it actually improved public health. Yet it doesn’t take much digging into the available statistics to discover that it did — quite a lot, in fact.

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to all kinds of adverse health conditions. The most obvious is alcoholic cirrhosis (or scarring) of the liver. In 1911 the death rate for cirrhosis among American men was nearly 30 per 100,000. By 1929 that had been reduced by more than 30 per cent. Registered admissions to mental hospitals for psychosis linked to alcohol more than halved. Even by 1933, when Volstead was revoked, alcohol consumption had gone down by a third since pre-prohibition. Whatever Mark Twain may have written, prohibition saved many, many lives.

The commenters made several good points to contradict that assertion. Some pointed out that in the same period alcohol consumption also went down other countries, including the UK, where alcohol continued to be legal. Bryan Dale said, “If prohibition reduced alcohol consumption by a third that can hardly be called a success. It was supposed to eliminate it entirely after all. With 2/3 as much alcohol being illegally consumed as had been done legally before prohibition, the impact on respect for the law must have been dreadful.” Others described well-stocked drinks cabinets in modern Saudi Arabia, or the way that the type of alcohol consumed shifts from beer to spirits when it must be sold and transported illegally.

I expect readers of this site can supply many other historical and factual arguments. All I will say is that there is a void at the heart of the passage I quoted above. Mr Aaronovitch never even questions the assumption that it is for him and people like him to decide what other human beings may or may not put in their own bodies.