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]

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The government has published this UK gas supply explainer.

There has recently been widespread media coverage of wholesale gas prices, and the effect this could have on household energy bills. The impact on certain areas of industry, and its ability to continue production, has also attracted attention.

This explainer sets out the background to the issue and the action the government is taking to protect the UK’s energy supply, industry, and consumers.

Natural gas prices have been steadily rising across the globe this year for a number of reasons. This has affected Europe, including the UK, as well as other countries around the world.

Later, the author of the “explainer” reassures us consumers that energy prices may not go up as much as one might expect:

The high wholesale gas prices that are currently visible may not be the actual prices being paid by all consumers.

This is because major energy suppliers purchase much of their wholesale supplies many months in advance, giving protection to them and their customers from short-term price spikes.

The Energy Price Cap is also in place to protect millions of customers from the sudden increases in global gas prices this winter. Despite the rising costs of wholesale energy, the cap still saves 15 million households up to £100 a year.

Isn’t it nice that the government protects consumers by stopping energy firms passing on price rises?

Completely unrelated: Four more small energy firms could go bust next week, the BBC reports.

Some of you may remember that the Bishop Hill blog used to cover climate and energy issues in a moderate and well-informed way. Unless I missed the announcement of a move, that blog does not seem to have been active since 2019. However I recently found that the Bishop is on Twitter, one of the few reasons left to visit that horrible place.

“The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes”

How will South Australia’s home quarantine trial work?

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the trial would be expanded to international travellers in “subsequent weeks”, making it a national first.

Those in home-based quarantine will need to download an app, developed by the South Australian Government, to prove they are staying home while required to.

People wanting to return to South Australia and home quarantine will have to apply to SA Health.

They will have to prove they have a place to isolate during their quarantine period and must also be fully vaccinated.

Those who are approved will have to download the South Australian Government home quarantine app, which uses geo-location and facial recognition software to track those in quarantine.

The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes.

The report is by Sara Garcia and Rory McClaren of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, via “Australia Traded Away Too Much Liberty” by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic and (for the second time in two days) Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

Far from being ashamed of this Orwellian project, Premier Steven Marshall says “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”

Samizdata quote of the day

The deforestation statistics are startling to anybody who listens only to green activists. In 2018 a team from the University of Maryland concluded: ‘We show that – contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally – tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km². That’s 7 percent more forest globally than in 1982. New forests have been planted and old ones have regenerated naturally, as the footprint of farming shrinks, thanks to better yields.

Matt Ridley in the print version of The Spectator, article titled Viral misinformation.

Samizdata quote of the day

A landmark study that endorsed a simple way to curb cheating is going to be retracted nearly a decade later after a group of scientists found that it relied on faked data.

– Stephanie Lee, writing A big study about honesty turns out to be based on fake data. I admit that I LOL’ed.

Next time someone tells you about The Science™, just because it is from a peer-reviewed & duly published paper does not necessarily make it true.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Politicians have spent trillions of dollars subsidizing renewable energy with no effect on climate. Nuclear power, which would sharply reduce CO2, is taboo among the greens. Innovation in developing low-cost natural gas, which substitutes for coal, may have done more than any government policy to reduce U.S. emissions. Yet President Biden wants to crush the gas industry with regulation. The IPCC report doesn’t justify putting the U.S. economy into the hands of government. A sensible climate policy will continue to monitor trends, while allowing a free economy to find solutions and build the wealth that will allow for adaptation and amelioration if the worst happens. This lacks the drama of the Apocalypse, but it will better serve the world.”

Wall Street Journal, responding to the latest IPCC report on global warming (aka climate change).

Lockdowns probably don’t work because the alternative scenario they supposedly protect against isn’t real

Lockdowns are claimed to be “effective” against a modelled counter-factual of mass deaths if they aren’t done. If the counter-factual is wrong then lockdowns by definition cannot be “effective”. And we know the counter-factuals are very wrong because model predictions keep being falsified, over and over, most recently with UK freedom day. Note that all the models for COVID at the start were predicting a single giant wave. They couldn’t predict anything else because they assumed only lockdowns can stop epidemics and that otherwise a virus will simply keep spreading exponentially until 100% of the population has been infected. With no understanding of natural immunity, nor for how long SARS-CoV-2 had really been spreading in the population before mass testing started, they had to make this assumption in order to make predictions, but it renders their model useless. They ended up confidently asserting nonsensical scenarios on the back of very incomplete scientific understanding, something which our broken and brainwashed society was totally unable to push back against.

So: lockdowns probably don’t work because the alternative scenario they supposedly protect against isn’t real, because they’re based on bad understandings of probability and biology, and because the germ theory on which lockdown theory rests appears to be incomplete. And underneath it all, because the “experts” who push this theory know no more about viruses or disease than you or I do.

Norman Powers, in a comment under an article with a somewhat different article rather different topic Will Trump bring down DeSantis?

Samizdata quote of the day

If the peer reviewer at one journal says no to a scientific study, the researchers will generally move on to another, less prestigious journal, and will keep going like that until they can get the study published. There are so many journals that everything gets published somewhere in the end, no matter of how poor quality.

The whole system of peer-review builds on trust. The guiding principle is the idea that bad studies will be caught out over the long term, because when other people try to replicate the results, they won’t be able to.

There are two big problems with this line of thinking. The first is that scientific studies are expensive, so they often don’t get replicated, especially if they are big studies of drugs. For the most part, no-one but the drug company itself has the cash resources to do a follow-up study to make sure that the results are reliable. And if the drug company has done one study which shows a good effect, it won’t want to risk doing a second study that might show a weaker effect.

The second problem is that follow-up studies aren’t exciting. Being first is cool, and generates lots of media attention. Being second is boring. No-one cares about the people who re-did a study and determined that the results actually held up to scrutiny.

Sebastian Rushworth, writing about How to understand scientific studies (in health and medicine)

Samizdata quote of the day

[The scientific establishment has always had a tendency] “to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma and expelling heretics and blasphemers.”

Matt Ridley

Deleting the weather report to make the rain go away

“Facebook axes team over far-right data”, says the Times.

Facebook has disbanded one of its teams after the data they produced suggested that far-right commentators outperformed all other users.

Facebook executives, including Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, became concerned that the CrowdTangle tool was being used by journalists to produce embarrassing evidence that right-wing content was read more than anything else on the platform.

The analytics tool is owned by Facebook but is available to the public. It is one of the only ways for users to measure how well a post is doing in terms of being shared, commented on, liked or receiving a reaction emoji.

Clegg, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs, told colleagues last September that he was concerned “our own tools are helping journos to consolidate the wrong narrative”, according to The New York Times.

CrowdTangle’s data showed that in the US the links posted on Facebook to other websites which got the most engagement was to content by right-wing commentators such as Ben Shapiro and the Fox News host Sean Hannity, and to right-wing sites including Breitbart and Newsmax.

A commenter called LucasTheCat gave me the title for this post when they responded, “This is strange for two reasons – none of the commentators listed are what I would consider to be ‘far right’ and isn’t removing the report – the same as taking the weather report out of your paper – because you don’t like the weather – or am I missing something?”

By the way, the idea that Nick Clegg was released on the world deliberately is a fringe conspiracy theory that Facebook has rightly banned. The current theory is that he was accidentally leaked from an insufficiently secured British political system.

The future works, just as it is being stolen from us, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is now real

The future of the flying car is finally arriving, a flying car, the AirCar, has completed a test flight between two airports in Slovakia, reports the BBC.

This wonderful development brought to us by Professor Stefan Klein (the article has a short video showing the car flying etc.) is not yet licensed to fly, and given the caution around aviation, such approval may be a long way off, but it is technically possible now, almost a century after the English Electric Wren which was seen as a rival to the emergent motor car. To think that within around 31 years, English Electric would build the Lightning is simply mind-boggling.

However, this fantastic development runs on a petrol engine, has an airborne range of c. 1,000 km (625 miles) and can cruise at 170km/h (c.106 mph), at 8,200 feet (pressurisation not an option at the moment it seems). Imagine the liberty of flight, in your garage, the horror of unrestricted travel, no speed cameras, the Left’s (and the State’s) hatred of mobility and autonomy will shine like the fiery pits of Hell.

Two passengers, provided that they don’t weigh more than 31 stone. Let physics limit your weight, not the government.

Dr Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”.

but there is obviously a cautionary note:

“I have to admit that this looks really cool – but I’ve got a hundred questions about certification,” Dr Wright said.
“Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident.
“I can’t wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.”

With a 600 mile range, a self-fly/drive break on the Continent would be a breeze. Short-haul aviation is pointless in such a world, as are inflexible trains (HS2 etc.), even car hire. Bring it on.

To call it “Project Cassandra” was hubris

As soon as I saw it I thought of psychohistory. I was not alone, judging from the most recommended comment to this fascinating Guardian article:

‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

An extract:

In one of his last reports to the defence ministry, towards the end of 2019, Wertheimer had drawn attention to an interesting development in the Caucasus. The culture ministry of Azerbaijan had recently supplied libraries in Georgia with books carrying explicit anti-Armenian messages, such as the works of poet Khalil Rza Uluturk. There were signs, he warned, that Azerbaijan was ramping up propaganda efforts in the brewing territorial conflict with its neighbouring former Soviet republic.

War broke out a year later: 6,000 soldiers and civilians died in a six-week battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the war to bolster his strongman image, hailing Armenia’s defeat in December as a “glorious victory”. Russia, traditionally allied with Armenia, successfully leveraged the conflict to consolidate its influence in the region. Germany and the EU, meanwhile, looked on and stayed silent: being able to predict the future is one thing, knowing what to do with the information is another.

Samizdata quote of the day

And frankly, a lot of what DARPA did was crap, like SDI. They had successes, but if you spend decades doing research projects some are going to work. The question is whether this works better than leaving money in the pockets of the likes of Dyson and Bezos, or whether the government should take a shot.

The UK version doesn’t have a government customer. It’s being led by the department of business, energy and industrial strategy who are some of the most worthless of all bureaucrats in government. People like Amanda Solloway are going to pick the person to lead this. Do you want someone who thinks HS2 is a super great idea selecting the person who is going to pick where to direct blue sky research?

Tim Worstall