Monday, June 26, 2006

Samizdata blow goats

It always amazes me that I don't read Samizdata more often, because they are generally on my side. But then I actually read Samizdata and realise that they are as much of a bunch of wankers as The Daily Kos. Which is sad really, because they are held up as one of the institutions of the right-blogging world.

Unfortunately, whilst much of their stuff is good, some members of Samizdata—and more of their writings—are shit. Too much of it is pointless, arable guff that even a single goat would gain little nutrition from.

Let us take this little exchange between James Waterton and myself. Pointlessly ungracious crap. They were late on a story failed to follow up sufficiently on a story and got entirely the wrong end of the stick. They were then deeply silly about it.

But what do expect when these people describe themselves thusly?
The Samizdata people are a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property. Amongst our many crimes is a sense of humour and the intermittent use of British spelling.

We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, libertarians, extropians, futurists, 'Porcupines', Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.

This is, of course, unnecessarily prolix; it should read
The Samizdata people are another bunch of high-minded, holier-than-thou, elitist cunts with little on their mind apart from wine-bars, fucking and publicity.

They would all like to be politicians which is the only reason that they aren't keen on this lot. Most of them have the same contempt for those outside their own circle that journalists, politicians and freemasons do. Fear them. Raaaaaaaaargh!

Almost every time that I read their rubbishy, PR-oriented spiel I feel like I have just immersed myself in raw sewage. James Waterton's snide remarks simply emphasise their inadequacy. But, then, he's in Oz, so what do you expect...?

Oh, and while we are about it, I would happily subscribe to their RSS feed if I could find the fucker anywhere on their site; obviously they don't want you to read it. Which suits me fine.


Katy Newton said...

That comments exchange sort of reminds me of that bit in the TV series Gladiator when the contestant and Gladiator got up on the podiums and started hitting each other with what looked like giant cotton buds.

The only mystery from my point of view is why, if you were able to find their RSS feed, you would be interested in subscribing to it?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Because every time that there is a full moon, their madness occasionally turns to vague sanity and, once their turgid writing is converted brought to Strange Stuff's attention, one can occasionally glean some sense from their pompous ramblings.


Bill said...


They have a perfectly good feeds, which I have been using for many months. I checked the blog just now and you can find the links in the left column, if you care to look.

I agree with some of your comments about Samizdata - I tend to look at what they write only from time to time, it's certainly not a regular read, any more than your little rants are ;)

Devil's Kitchen said...


Whoops, yes, I have found them now; however, like the usual advertising, PR toss which personifies their site, the feed slinks aren't obvious: they are hidden away in a way that looks good but is crap to find...


Anonymous said...

DK, come on! This is hardly a revelation...

Anonymous said...

Ps, your prolix was spot on!!!

Toque said...

Use Firefox and you'll see the feed as an orange button in the address bar - I syndicate it on Witanagemot

Michael Rock said...

I have their rss feed but, in all honesty, they are rubbish at commenting on up-to-date issues.

I don't think that's their bag though, if you look at their annual get together post it's basically a one-of-us-love-fest.

Less speed more haste seems their motto.

If anyone else hasn't noticed Verity,a prolific commentor, has been spreading her wings.

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure why you bothered...

But, then, I had a very strange conversation with them last year. It was all to do with bats. Yes, bats. The original post was bemoaning state intrusion in the form of regulations protecting bats should they nest in one's attic.

As a couple of us pointed out, bats don't as a general rule, carry rabies and they don't understand property rights (wildlife generally doesn't, so taking them to task over trespass is a bit pointless). What you do, is get the bat people in and they remove them for you - there is no need for guns...

I sort of gave up when I realised that these guys wanted to use guns.

mbe - I find Verity far too vitriolic, quick to misinterpret and insult to bother with following her development.

Tristan said...

My sentiments exactly.
I read the posts, they often have something interesting to say, and if I'm particularly interested and forgot about the last time I read the comments I do so, but despite a few considered contributers I come away thinking 'what wankers'.

They are just as narrow-minded and self-righteous as the prats at Daily KOS.

Michael Rock said...


We're almost making the same point; if Verity is scouring the net for a new home then Samizdata must be really going down the pan.

Anonymous said...

Another pretentious bunch who insist on a light on dark format for their pages. Makes the text body a pain to read and any small print illegible. But it looks so kooool and edgy doesn't it (not). Didn't all those "underground" papers in the 60's use the same trick - till they went bankrupt due to spending all the sales receipts on printing ink?

Blognor Regis said...

Verity got the boot because she was deeply annoying and kept pissing people off. If you want black on white click the print version button like so:


Anonymous said...

I read the posts, they often have something interesting to say, and if I'm particularly interested and forgot about the last time I read the comments I do so, but despite a few considered contributers I come away thinking 'what wankers'.

Yes, its the comments that irritate rather than the posts themselves. I have a particular liking for Guy Herbert's writing.

Verity got the boot because she was deeply annoying and kept pissing people off.

Took long enough ;) There were occasions when I almost felt prompted to respond, but stopped short by reminding myself that reasoning with the unreasonable is an unreasonable proposition.

Blognor Regis said...

Longrider, see here.

MatGB said...

PJ; I prefer white text on dark background, I find it much easier to read, another case of YMMV I guess.

I've had the feed running for ages (for the same reason I have Leninology), while they may be a bit sanctimonious and blinkered, when they have a point, they can sometimes come up with something good. Mostly it's bullshit, but sometimes it's worth a bit of effort, besides, partial feed means I can simply scroll past.

Every so often, I comment. Most recently, I had a discussion with Perry on socialism; he was using a very weird definition so I questioned what he meant. Apparently, socialism is always evil, always. Unless it's a Kibbutz, in which case it's ok, despite being socialist, because it's not coercive. When pointing out that there are different forms of socialism and what exactly he's talking about, he seemed to get confused, contradict himself, then tell me I was wrong on a point of fact I know well.

I probably won't comment again for awhile. Shame, it has reach, and does look good.

Devil's Kitchen said...


As a matter of fact, designing for ease of reading is entirely different on print and web. As a designer for both, I try to take these into account.

The best site for reading that I have found is Daring Fireball. The point in not light on dark or dark on light; it is the contrast between the two.

Print is only a reflection; when reading onscreen, photons are fired directly at the eyes. Thus the considrations are different. On print, good contrast works well. On the web, low contrast and with the majority of the screen dark, actually makes (for most people) easier reading.


Anonymous said...

I am told, by someone who prepares on-screen training material for a living, that the best combination is green text on a black background as it is the least tiring on the eyes.

Blognor Regis said...

Most recently, I had a discussion with Perry on socialism; Yes I saw that. I'll bet in his long years of libertarian agitation Perry's never been collared by a bright eyed bushy tailed advocate of socialism before. You must have made his week.

he was using a very weird definition so I questioned what he meant.

He was using the definition that most people use. "Centralised government that plans and controls the economy." That's the same definition that caused DK to flick you off when you brought up the same subject here a few weeks ago!

I'm guessing here of course, but I reckon you're in the throws of of cognitive dissonance. You've realised that "proper" socialism is an iron teddy bear, a wolf in sheeps' clothing, and you're trying to rope *voluntary* rather than force backed collectivist ways of organising a business or village to your listing raft before it keels over entirely.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Were that the case, Amstrad would still be making computers...! ;-)


Anonymous said...

Er, the Apple II I used back in the eighties had a black screen with green text, too - and I believe Apple are still making computers... aren't they?

In all seriousness, this guy had a point. He prepared all of the track safety training material using this colour scheme and it worked extremely well. The final result was both professional and easy on the eye.

Would I use it for web design? No. For training materials? Probably, given my positive experience so far.

Devil's Kitchen said...


The Apple Mac II or the Lisa II? As I recall, you could alter the screen colour on the Mac II...

I wasn't being entirely serious; just having a private dig at the irritating Alan Sugar. You are right about that combo, though; I use it when doing Terminal coding because it is easy to see what one is doing...


Anonymous said...

That's a good question. It was in 1983 - so a long time ago. Does that help? Somewhere on it, it must have said Apple II because that is what sticks in my mind, but that mind is somewhat older now and memories dim with age... I don't recall being able to alter the screen colour. Anyway, I was far too busy creating incidence of expenditure spreadsheets on something called Visicalc.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Actually, I would imagine that it was one of these (which were neither Lisa nor Mac...)

Apple do indeed make computers, but they only make Macs these days (which, as I recall, had a black and white screen)...

This is a pointless argument, eh?


Anonymous said...

That looks like it.

I'm not sure it qualifies as an argument - unless you want to cough up £10, then you can have an argument.

MatGB said...

But Mark, that's a catch all that isn't advocated. Given he said he had no problem with Kibbutz, which are explicitly organised as socialist collectives that compete within a market, his utter rejection of all forms of socialism is a contradiction.

No sane person advocates nationalisation, but market socialism is about competition. Given that it's a valid form of socialism within effective definitions, and Perry said it was ok as long as you can compete, his (and your) definition is off.

There's no dissonance in my preferences, I advocate socialist businesses competing within a market, and if the market isn't rigged, I suspect that the socialist institutions would out-compete the privately ownes bodies. No enforced collectivism, just let the best system of ownership win.

Also; his assertion John Lewis isn't owned and operated as a socialist body is another of those "it isn't State Socialism therefore it must be something else" dismissals. It's owned and managed collectively by its workers, the very definition of market socialism. Essentially, people don't see socialism when it works, as it must be "something else". Markets work, competing collectives work. No dissonance there.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Mat, That's all very well but some people may not want to get involved at that level. You should have seen how suspicious my employee's were when I gifted them shares in the company; they suspected that I was attempting to shaft them in some way.


Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh, and while we are about it, John Lewis is not "socialist". The staff do not "run" the company anymore than public shareholders do. Yes, they get a small benefit if the company does well, but it is not really any more "socialist" than any other private company.


MatGB said...

The 64,000 Partners of John Lewis and Waitrose don't merely have the satisfaction of working for a good business - they have the enjoyment of owning it.
The employees own the company as equal partners. That's pretty much my definition of employee ownership. If the employees own the business equally, then it can be described as socialist. That's what JS Mill argued for. If'n you want to call it something else, fine, give me a label that works, and we'll accept that as a synonym for market socialism...

You don't need direct management to be a workers co-operative, you need to own it and have a say in the management. They have a fairly democratic management structure though, and a fairly strong say.

Works for me. Like I said; it's succesful, it works. It can't therefore be socialist, as everyone knows socialism doesn't work. Dismissive bollox. Irrelevent anyway, even if JL isn't 'socialist', it's not the only example of market socialism that works, and there are many different types. That's the beauty of the idea; competition is good.

Blognor Regis said...

Give me a label that works:



we'll accept that as a synonym for market socialism...
Easy with the *we* there. has ONE single mention of the word 'socialist':

The cooperative movement often has links and associations with Green politics or Socialist politics, with socially responsible investing, and with the social enterprise movement.

That's it.

MatGB said...

Yup, used that already, competing workers co-operatives. The co-operative movement is at heart a form of socialism, and grew out of the same ideals, which is why the Coperative party is still part of the Labour movement in Britain (which is a great shame, as the corporatism of Blair is the antithesis of local cooperatives).

Citing wikipedia as a valid source to prove an argument is always an interesing tactic; should I go edit the article to put in a bit more about the roots of the movement, maybe quote what JS Mill said about it?

Thing is, co-ops aren't the only form of ownership that can be defined as socialist within a market context, so it doesn't work as a catch-all, you need to include mutuals, partnerships etc as well.

Blognor Regis said...

God I'm really bored now.

The thing is that's really really great. If some firms want to operate this way then that's terrific, best of luck. It seems to me you want all firms to operate in this way, but what if some don't think it's right for them? Will your latent socialist tendency overwhelm your perestroika like dilution, cause your veins to bulge before you force them to organise themselves in the one-size-fits all way that you think is better?

So can you actually get sacked from John Lewis then? Surely someone is the manager and someone else wipes the floors, or do they take turns?

Guido Fawkes said...

Samizdata is my blogging alma mater. If it wasn't for the fact that Perry got bored with my drunken ramblings and Iraq heresy I wouldn't have started my own blog.

Samizdata is what it is, and it appeals to it's own market.

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