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]

In defence of all-{insert variable of choice} clubs

The Guardian is all a-froth because the Garrick Club, one of the historic gentlemen’s clubs of London, is still, well, a club for gentlemen as opposed to ladies.

In response, the Telegraph’s William Sitwell advocates for freedom of association:

“All-male members’ clubs reflect our natural tribal desires – get over it or get your own”.

… that central charge of archaic, sexist exclusion is nonsense. First because of the idea that there is something wrong with men wanting to be in the company of other men.

It is possible to be a decent male member of society – who champions equal opportunities in the workplace, changes nappies, generally strives to be a domestic god and is (joyfully) surrounded by women and small children at home – and, at the same time, enjoy a lunch with the boys. In the same way that others might want to hang out at the golf club, or in the snooker room. Or similarly how members of the LGBTQ+ community might wish to hang out in a club or bar or pub with their folk, or players in an all-female hockey team might wish to spend an evening with each other sipping champagne in a hot tub.

Humans are tribal, gravitating towards those whom they look, act, feel and sound like. But that is not incongruous with supporting positive discrimination in society, promoting the visualisation of minorities in fashion or policing or politics.

For the values that represent you formally are not necessarily jettisoned when you’re having fun. Which is what clubs are for.

Help me make an inspirational poster

Taking a Christmas break from my customary snarkiness, I mean this without irony. I would like to make one of those motivational posters with an inspirational quotation or slogan on it. The slogan would express an idea that I already believe strongly, only I have not yet found the best way to express it.

The starting point is a slogan that has many variants, but the version I saw first and like best is:

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was always yours. If it does not, it never was.”

Knowing my audience, I shall link to the demotivational version as well. It’s a quote from B.J. Novak, who was probably a ray of sunshine until he played the temp in the American version of The Office.

So, the slogan for which I reach is similar to that one (the motivational version, not Novak’s), but is about acceptance rather than love. Something like:

“If you seek acceptance, don’t demand it, ask for it. If the other person says yes, you know you are truly and freely accepted. If they say no,

Then what? I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if it’s even a good idea to mention the consequences of the other person saying “no”. I suppose I could say “better to be aware they do not accept you than to be deceived by them feigning acceptance out of fear, which will probably lead to them stabbing you in the back whenever they get the chance”, but that one’s a bit of a downer to put on a poster. The point I really want to make is that true acceptance cannot be had if the person being asked to do the accepting does not have the option to say “no”.

The reason I seek a more pithy way to express this sentiment than anything I have come up so far is that, as I said a few years back in a post called “To knock on the door is better than booting it in”, “Like some warrior cultures of old, the grievance culture holds getting what you want by asking or peaceably trading to be fit only for slaves. The superior person does not ask for what they want; they demand it.” This attitude is culturally dominant in both senses.

I can see why this disastrous misapprehension arose. There are circumstances where the only moral course is to demand one’s just rights as rights, with not the slightest hint of pleading. But there can be no right to be accepted, just as there can be no right to be loved.

‘¡Afuera!’ – Presidente-elegido Milei on the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture

Probably the most important man of the 21st Century, if only for his potential to do good, Argentine President-elect (as I write) Javier Milei sat down with Tucker Carlson for an interview, (excerpt provided) at which he discussed the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture amongst other points (that socialists are evil and think they are ‘God’). The interview was done with Mr Carlson asking questions in English and Señor Milei’s replies in Spanish are sub-titled (accurately I would add) and presumably interpreted in real time.

This segment is just over 9 minutes long, and it is well worth watching. We have all the indications that he is the real deal, he says that he is prepared to die for his beliefs, let us wish him a long and productive life and Presidency.

Keeping you safe from travelling on the Hogwarts Express

“End of the line? Harry Potter train waits for ruling on Hogwarts route”, reports the BBC.

Steam journeys on the Harry Potter railway line could grind to a halt if a challenge to safety rules fails.

West Coast Railways (WCR), which operates the heritage route, challenged demands for central locking systems to be fitted to the carriage doors.

The owners of the Jacobite – which appeared as the Hogwarts Express in the boy wizard films – said implementing the new measures could cost £7m.

A judgement on the judicial review is expected in January.

The train operates on the West Highland Line on one of Scotland’s most iconic railway routes – from Fort William to Mallaig – from March to October.

It crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which became an attraction for a new generation of tourists after being featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

About 750 people per day travel to the end of the line at Mallaig every day in the peak season, with many more visitors travelling to the area to see the train go past.

What is the actual danger for any given person in using the same sort of carriage for one there-and-back journey (with a steward present on every coach) as I and millions of others used unsupervised every day for years on end? Minuscule, of course. Given that no one takes this journey because they must – it is all done purely for fun, because lots of people young and old love historic trains, Harry Potter, or both – why can’t they ask the people who choose to make the journey whether they consent to take this tiny risk?

Answer: because safetyists get their fun from making sure no one else has any. I mean that close to literally. No one whose goal was actually making people meaningfully safer would spend five minutes on this particular risk. But there is satisfaction to be had in controlling others, especially if you can tell yourself that you are overriding their own judgement of what they want to do for their own good.

Samizdata quote of the day – It’s such a monumentally stupid idea…

Ban tobacco in the UK, and you will simply divert uncountable millions in untaxed moneys into the pockets of criminals, while cigarette smoking will barely decline at all – in fact, I’d take a small wager that the smuggled product will be cheaper after the ban than the legal product was before. It’s such a monumentally stupid idea, I can’t imagine for a minute that the government won’t eagerly embrace it.

Llamas

In which I praise an article by Simon Jenkins praising the SNP

“Scottish politicians have the courage to decriminalise drugs, but Westminster is too timid to let them” – Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian.

Returning from Htrae, I have to say that the SNP’s courage was the courage of desperation. Scotland has had the highest rate of drugs death in Europe for years.

While it seems likely that the problem in many countries is worse than official figures suggest, Scotland’s drug-related death rate is by far the highest.

It is more than three and a half times that of England and Wales.

It is said that when it comes to addiction to alcohol or drugs, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can recover. I think this can be true of legislators’ attempts to find a solution for drug addition as much as for drug addiction itself. The Scottish National Party has not seen the light, it has merely run out of other options. And given that the SNP’s longstanding stance on alcohol contradicts its new position on drugs, they’ll probably make etizolam compulsory the day they raise the minimum price of alcohol to infinity.

Nonetheless, I think this is a good move on the part of the Scottish Government. I do not think it will solve Scotland’s drug problem. I do not think anything will solve Scotland’s drug problem, or humanity’s drug problem. I merely think it will work less badly than the strategy of prohibition, which Scotland and the UK as a whole has been trying for my entire lifetime without success.

Why chocolate cake does not exist

I like the style of this guy Gaius:

Readers are invited to supply Modualwoman with a list of other nations whose cultures are nonexistent because they have been influenced by foreign persons and ideas at any point in their history. I am sure she will want to tell them this herself. While she’s at it, she can inform everyone in Britain whose ancestors came here more recently than 1714 that they are still foreigners whatever their passport says.

When Wokes and Racists Actually Agree on Everything.

Samizdata quote of the day – Libertarian MIA edition

For three years, I’ve been reluctant to say anything about the elephant in the room, the near-complete failure of libertarians to stand up to the lockdown and mandate regime. It was a moment in history that was tailor-made for them. Everything in their training taught them to be suspicious of government power and relentless in the defense of liberty.

Instead they mostly went silent. Worse, they became the Praetorian Guard of the lockdown Caesars, giving them cover when they deserved it least. The “radical” libertarians defaulted to a completely conventional careerism, even to the point of manufacturing rationales for terrible attacks on the most vulnerable.

Jeffrey Tucker

How to disable emergency government alerts on your mobile phone

Android users (may be somewhat different on different makes of phone).

iPhone users.

Because if the Covid years have proven anything, only a crazed conspiracy theorist would believe governments would think nothing of using heightened fear to induce mass formation psychosis, thereby hugely increasing its power over every aspect of life, right?

I predict it will eventually be illegal to turn off such ‘warnings’ and phone makers will make it impossible, but then I am just a crazed conspiracy theorist 😉

Why are some forms of surgical body modification legal and others illegal?

“Two men admit removing body parts in ‘eunuch maker’ case”, reports the Guardian.

Two men have admitted removing body parts of a man who is accused of carrying out castrations and broadcasting the footage on his “eunuch maker” website.

Nathan Arnold, 48, a nurse from South Kensington, west London, admitted the partial removal of Marius Gustavson’s nipple in the summer of 2019.

Damien Byrnes, 35, from Tottenham, north London, admitted removing Gustavson’s penis on 18 February 2017.

Gustavson, who is originally from Norway, is said to have been the ringleader in a conspiracy involving up to 29 offences of extreme body modifications, the removal of body parts, the trade in body parts and the uploading of videos.

Given that these people were all consenting adults, I do not understand why their actions (other than the theft of the anaesthetic) should be a criminal offence, particularly as surgical operations to remove people’s penises are legal in male to female sex change operations. Does it make a difference in principle whether the appearance aimed for when surgically removing a penis is female or eunuchoid?

My question is not designed to provoke the reaction “Of course it should be legal to do this, just as it is legal to perform sex change operations”. Nor is it designed to provoke the reaction “Of course it should be illegal to perform sex change operations, just as it is illegal to do this.” I can see reasonable justification for saying that changing someone’s body to be like lots of other people’s bodies is much more likely to go well than changing their body to a form few others have. By “go well”, I mean be likely to increase the wellbeing of the person upon whom the operation is performed, or be less likely to decrease it, and also to go well in the same ways that any surgical operation is judged a success or a failure.

Related earlier Samizdata posts:

Discussion point: circumcision from October 2013.

Discussion point: can children consent to puberty blockers? What about other drastic treatments? from October 2020.

If you feel moved to comment, please seek neither to be offended nor to offend, and try not to get hung up by questions of terminology.

If Twitter let me give half-likes, I’d have been willing to make it 165½

The tweet with the “165 Likes” to “1.1M Views” ratio is this one from Sarah Jones, senior writer for Intelligencer:

It links to this article:

Children Are Not Property

The idea that underlies the right-wing campaign for “parents’ rights.

The confusingly written subheading suggests that the idea that children are not property underlies the right-wing campaign for <scarequotes> “parents’ rights” </scarequotes>. In fact, Ms Jones’s article argues that parents are wrong to consider their children to be their property. It is true that some parents do think they own their children in the manner of property, and those parents are wrong to do so. For that I bestow my 0.5 of a “Like”, or would if Twitter let me. On second thoughts, make that a quarter-Like, because although words about the separate individuality and personhood of children flow out of Ms Jones in a flood, she concludes by saying the parents are not responsible for their children because the state is:

Children aren’t private property, then, but a public responsibility. To expand our democratic project to children is to grant them the security the right seeks to deny them: education, health care, shelter, food. A better America begins with the child.

Along the way to giving votes to children and children to the demos, she throws in the first few headlines she got by googling the word “children” as proofiness that Republicans think they own their kids:

→ Continue reading: If Twitter let me give half-likes, I’d have been willing to make it 165½

Who would be a landlord in Ireland when they could Airbnb?

There is much anger in Ireland over the country’s ongoing housing crisis. The Dail put in place an eviction ban over the winter. It got them some good headlines for a while, but the ban had the usual effect of driving smaller landlords out of the market, making the crisis worse. The ban is due to expire on 31st March. This will result in many people being evicted simultaneously on 1st April. Reddit Ireland is outraged. Here is a thread titled “Disgraceful” about how many Airbnb properties are available compared to how few long term rental properties. In fact the comparison is false. As a commenter called “Th0rHere” says, “Airbnb shows listings even when booked (to make future bookings possible). Daft [a property website] shows only available places to rent right now, as your not going to advertise place to rent if it’s already being rented. These numbers are not comparable.”

Even so, it is true that an awful lot of Irish properties that used to be let to long term tenants are now given over to Airbnb. I have posted about the issue a couple of times. Why is this happening? Why would anyone choose the constant work and uncertainty of letting out their property as an Airbnb over the stability of having a long term tenant?

On that same “Disgraceful” thread, a Reddit Ireland commenter called “RestrepoDoc2” explained why:

If I was a property owner with an apartment or flat in a popular tourist area I’d have to weigh up the benefits of renting to someone on a long term rental compared to short term lets on Airbnb.

I can’t really come up with any benefits of a long term rental agreement other than less property management logistics ie. getting cleaners in, checking the property for damage or stolen items between guests and providing keys, codes etc.

The benefits of Airbnb to the property owner are nearly too abundant to outline in any real detail but just off the top of my head.

Security of your property, card details and passport details held by Airbnb, guest history, can meet them in person. Any antisocial behaviour in the property can be dealt with by local police as they can enter your property with your permission and make people leave (I assume).

You can rent it out as suits you, can stay in it when you want, store your property in a locked storage room there, let family or friends stay in it sometimes. You can do repair work or refurbishment when you want.

You don’t have to worry about if a tenant has job security, you don’t have to tiptoe around the subject of HAP or any disabilities a prospective tenant might declare to you at a viewing. You don’t have to consider arranging inspections of your property by RTB agents. You don’t need to pay for a professionally drawn up rental agreement, or drafted legal letters in case of non payment, damage to property, refusal to allow reasonable access for inspection, anti-social behaviour, notifications in writing of rent increases or end of tenancy etc. Then there’s the rent a mob crowds like CATU being legitimised by attention seeking opposition party TDs and local councillors. They will literally turn up to intimidate any property owner once a dispute is raised by a tenant whether they’re refusing to pay rent, squatting, changing the locks of your property etc.

There’s been several local councillors and a partially state funded organisation in Threshold literally advising people to break the law by refusing to move out of someone’s property even when given relevant notice and for permitted reasons. This is forcing property owners to seek a court order which could take another year etc. With the upcoming vote about extending the eviction ban and talk of further infringing on property owners rights. Realistically it may soon not even be possible to sell your property, to move a family member or yourself into the property, to carry out refurbishments on your own property.

Basically it would be madness to choose to provide a long term rental lease to somebody. Instead of fixing that mess of a situation caused by government intervention, they are trying to ban Airbnb or regulate it out of existence.

RestrepoDoc2’s comment got 3 upvotes, one of which was mine.

A comment from “Irish_drunkard” saying, “We banned Uber because it would effect our taxi business, why can’t we ban AirBNB?” got 985 upvotes.