Another classic sentence, this time from the Guardian’s Jill Filipovic, who tells us:
Somehow, big food companies have convinced us that drinking a 32oz soda is a matter of personal liberty, and that the government has no place in regulating how much liquid sugar can be sold in a single container.
Apparently those evil food companies have – somehow, nefariously - made some of us consider the proper role of the state and whether it should have any business telling people what size beverage they may drink while watching a three-hour film in the local multiplex. Yes, that must be it. How else can we explain the fact that not everyone agrees with Jill Filipovic?
The government is “waging naked class war,” says the Guardian’s Owen Hatherley. Can leftwing pop music avert catastrophe?
Making vaguely alternative pop music is, it seems, all but impossible without indefinite subsidy, an Arts Council grant, a subsidised spell at art school and a bohemian squat to call your own. Yes, these young titans of the left need the state to make them edgy and countercultural. And there can be no better use for taxpayers’ money than indulging would-be pop stars while they become “class conscious” and find themselves, musically. However long it takes.
If what these educators want sounds a bit like grooming, a little predatory, that’s because it is.
The problem is that adversarial role-play, like that of leftist academics Furr and Garelick, has little to do with reason, refutation or how the world actually is. It does, however, have a great deal to do with how those concerned wish to seem. In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination or paranoia may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of exploitation and injustice have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untutored eye. Thus, the rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t.
San Francisco’s radical nudists are remarkably needy. Your children must, simply must, see their genitals.
Imagine you’re out shopping with the kids in tow and having to weave your way through large groups of unattractive men waving their tackle at you. One doesn’t have to have “unrealistic issues of body shame” to find the exhibitionism tiresome or inappropriate. And the denials of any sexual aspect are also unconvincing, especially given that so many of the participants are enthusiasts of fetish clubs and websites catering to people who like public sex and scandalising others, and for whom the whole point is to have an audience, whether titillated or repelled. It’s rather like how the people at last year’s ‘protest’ claimed they just wanted to be left alone - while squealing for attention on a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection.
George Monbiot encounters the exotic underclass. Things go badly wrong.
Maybe George wrote the article to show us how difficult it is to be virtuous, indeed heroic, at least as he conceives such things. I suspect, though, that any moral lesson is quite different from the one intended. You see, George believes in sharing, by which of course he means taking other people’s stuff. Yet he’s remarkably unprepared for that favour being returned. Say, by two burly chaps with neck tattoos and ill-tempered dogs. And as these burly chaps were members of a “marginalised group,” and therefore righteous by default, George was expecting noble savages. Alas, ‘twas not to be.
His party’s view of the spending question is, indeed, ingeniously delusional. The Democrat leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has said, “It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem.” (I love that “almost”.) Her party whip, Steny Hoyer, asserted that the country does not have a spending problem at all – it simply has a “paying-for problem.” (Imagine your teenage child explaining that he needs an advance on his allowance, not because he has spent too much money but because, for some peculiar reason, he just can’t pay for everything he has bought.)
The annual “deficit” has been over a trillion for every year of Obama’s presidency. The cumulative deficits have, in fact (to use a quaint expression), increased the national debt by $6 trillion. Yet Obama claims Washington has “reduced the deficit” by $2.5 trillion and all we need to do is “finish the job.” Presumably this is a reference to allegedly agreed deficit reductions over the next decade, or quarter-century, or whatever. In other words, Obama has saved $2.5 trillion of Magical Fairyland money, which happily frees him up to talk about the really critical issues like high-speed rail and green-energy solutions. […] Maybe it’s just me, but the whole joint seems to be seizing up these days: The more “activist” Big Government gets, the more inactive the nation at large.
In the modern welfare state, a vote becomes a license to take what others create - and these others include generations yet unborn.
And Brian Micklethwait is reading Madsen Pirie’s Think Tank: The Story of the Adam Smith Institute. He quotes the following, on the subject of state-run telephony in the late 1970s:
We needed a telephone and a photocopier. We were told by the Post Office, which ran the state monopoly telephone service, that there was a fourteen-month wait to have a line and phone installed. We somehow bargained them into doing it within six weeks by pointing out that our predecessors in the building had used a switchboard with four separate telephone numbers, one for each of the companies that had used the place, and all we wanted to do was to reactive one line. Until the GPO engineers came, we had to conduct all the new Institute’s business from the public call box on the corner, and we ensured we kept a ready supply of coins for the purpose.
One of our friends, telephoning family in South Africa, was surprised when a telephone engineer entered the conversation to say that because the call did not sound urgent, he was disconnecting it. The union had ‘blacked’ non-urgent calls to South Africa, and its members monitored private calls to enforce it.
As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.
Time for another classic sentence from the Guardian. And so, via Julia, let’s bathe in the mental radiance of VJD Smith, a “feminist mother of two who works in publishing”:
As a teen anorexic, I found diet yoghurt ads hard enough. I don’t know how I’d defend myself from the everyday body hatred now.
These days you don’t even have to buy a magazine to absorb the body hatred.
Stoicism and a sense of proportion are not standard fare at the left’s national newspaper, and so we also get quite a bit of this:
This evening, shopping at Sainsbury’s, I was greeted by the following headlines, in bold capitals and at eye level, as I entered the store: WEIGHT TORMENT (New! magazine), OUR BODY WARS (Star), BODY PANICS! (Heat)… The very existence of these things can mess with your head. You can try to avert your eyes as you head for the fruit and veg but if you look back once – sneak even the slightest glance – all this can send you straight to the cake counter for yet another miserable pre-starvation-diet binge.
Such crippling intrigue, all at eye level. In bold capitals, even.
Ms Smith, a grown woman, has yet to embrace the incredibly radical solution of not being interested in Heat magazine, which is, I think, a little odd. For a grown woman. Such magazines, and their readers, were ridiculed 20 years ago in Absolutely Fabulous. And it is, after all, quite possible to breeze round the local supermarket without finding oneself emotionally gripped by the latest travails of Kerry Katona or the Kardashian sisters, none of whom I could reliably identify, or by the latest breathless opinion on hemlines, weight loss or pubic waxing. And yet many of the Guardian’s supposedly sophisticated and freethinking columnists - feminists, even - find not being interested inexplicably difficult.
Apologies to readers whose comments failed to materialise over the last couple of days; apparently it was due to the TypePad spam filter having a fit of random hypersensitivity. It also blocked your esteemed host, which is sort of funny. Now. If anyone still has trouble with their comments, do email me.
Chris Snowdon on the dishonesty of ‘minimum price’ lobbyists and the prohibitionist tendency:
There is much more that could be said about this thinly veiled piece of lobbying. The inexplicable lack of a control group, for example, or the mystery of why official hospital records were not enough for the authors - instead they created their own “estimates” of how many people died. But the bottom line is that these people are lying with statistics. The result - and almost certainly the intention - of their study is to make people believe that fewer people died of alcohol-related diseases in British Columbia between 2002-09 as a result of minimum pricing. “Nearly a third” fewer in fact.
The apocalyptic pessimist… believes that the end of the world is nigh, and secretly is rather pleased about it. If he is of a scientific bent, he does the following: he takes an undesirable trend and projects it indefinitely into the future until whatever is the object of the trend destroys the world. For example, he might take the fact that Staphylococci reproduce exponentially on a Petri dish to mean that, within the week, the entire biosphere will consist of Staphylococci and nothing else. Man will be crushed under the weight of bacteria. Paul Ehrlich is of that ilk. His belief in the end of the world precedes his belief in any particular cause of it.
A mistake that the Institute for Centrifugal Research works tirelessly to correct. The ICR’s “pioneering achievements in the realms of brain manipulation, excessive G-Force and prenatal simulations” are illustrated, quite vividly, in Till Nowak’s short documentary, presented below. I beg you, please, wait for the ‘wedding cake’ amusement ride.
A video compendium of conceptual performance and physical theatre. Contains nudity, writhing and vegetable slurry.
Magdalena Chowaniec, Amanda Piña and Daniel Zimmermann perform Neuer Wiener Bioaktionismus: “Three young Viennese artists/dancers from Chile, Poland and Switzerland translate the actionist mystery into a vegetarian orgy in which dead carrots take the place of the massacred lamb. A portrait of our time.”
The Observer’s Elizabeth Day asks, “Should artists have to work?”
Stipends allowed Bettina Camilla Vestergaard to travel to Los Angeles and spend six months sitting in her car at taxpayers’ expense while “exploring collective identity” in ways never quite made clear. Oh, and doing a spot of shopping. For art, of course. After sufficient time had been spent idling and, as she puts it, “slowly but surely reducing my mental activity to a purposeless series of meaningless events,” Ms Vestergaard struck upon a deep and fearsome idea. Specifically, to let strangers deface her car with inane marker pen graffiti. This radical feat allegedly “explored” how “identity and gender is constituted in public space.” Though, again, the details are somewhat sketchy. The freewheeling disposal of other people’s earnings also allowed Ms Vestergaard to film herself and her friends looking bored, tearing up grass and pondering the evils of capitalism. And, in an all too brief moment of awareness, wondering if what they do is actually any good and worth anyone’s attention. The resulting videos, all bankrolled by the Danish taxpayer and showing highlights of four days’ artistic inactivity, have been available online for over a year and have to date attracted zero comments and no discernible traffic except via this blog.
Meet Joan Brady: novelist, umbrage-taker, colossal hypocrite.
Corporations, see, are wicked. They “chew us up and spit us out,” and how could anyone with a soul want to be part of that - especially an artist like Joan Brady, for whom purity is everything? Of course, this being the Guardian, Ms Brady’s display of indignation is just a tad selective. Despite the author’s outrage, I somehow doubt that Whitbread will be getting their prize money back. I think we can also assume that our morally lofty wordsmith won’t be withdrawing her novels from Waterstones and Amazon, both of which have no doubt aroused very similar umbrage from many small booksellers. And it’s perhaps worth noting that Ms Brady’s latest novel, The Blue Death, is published by Simon & Schuster, an imposing division of that even more imposing multinational corporation, CBS.