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David Thompson
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March 11, 2014

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AC1

" you pick up a plastic-wrapped packet of mangetout in a supermarket, fleetingly dwell on their food miles or the likely exploitative wage of the Kenyan farmer who grew them"

Much better to let that Kenyan farmer die starving in poverty for your purity.

Chris S.

Really, shouldn't these people be taking vows of poverty and joining monasteries and convents? If not that then maybe a slow boat to somewhere where the "problem" of housing and electricity will no longer tempt them?

They could be living ethically pure, but likely miserable, lives if they really chose to. But they don't. And that's very telling.

David

Much better to let that Kenyan farmer die starving in poverty for your purity.

Well, quite. Because not buying the goods of poor people will help them out no end. It’s basic science.

But then, Mr Hickman is not only prone to “mangetout moments” and agonising in the aisles, he also frets about how to take the family on holiday to Umbria without committing the sin of buying a cheap flight, or any flight, or even hiring a car. And so he opts for an uncomfortable and hugely expensive train journey and lots of yomping with kids in tow. Which of course means carrying a baby around for hours on end in the sweltering Umbrian heat. Thus attracting judgmental looks from the locals and mutterings of child endangerment.

sackcloth and ashes

'Much better to let that Kenyan farmer die starving in poverty for your purity'.

Well if he honestly gave a fuck, he'd campaign for an end to the CAP and other acts of protectionism which prevent African farmers from competing on the world market fairly, thereby earning a decent wage, and also helping to pull their countries out of aid dependence and poverty.

But no. Let's just emote and use a dying rag of a newspaper to show the world how 'caring' we are.

Wanker.

Joan

And debates on whether roadkill could be an alternative ethical food source for Guardianistas who “hate waste.” Those “chewy dilemmas” that bedevil us all.

Snork!

Ten
...and shuffle towards the next aisle.

Shuffle. Head bowed. In a relentless, crushing black shame that can know no mortal release.

That being, you know, what eating peas produced by commerce can do to a man.

Ten
Having a child is one of the worst things you can do, environmentally speaking.

If Gaia fells a tree on a world without conscious awareness, does it make a moral statement?

Well, as the shaman used to say, man is the dream of the dolphin.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Spam filtered :(

I'm also worried I may be a robot, because those Captchas are hard.

David

Steve 2,

There’s nothing snarled in the spam filter. Try again?

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Thanks David. How odd, it did say "your comment has been posted".

I thought mangetout was French for "my pleasure". Apparently it's some sort of pretentious vegetable, which I didn't know because for ethical reasons I don't speak French and never eat anything without a face.

Eating vegetables is immoral and cruel to animals, because vegetable farming displaces habitats for cows, sheep, pigs, chicken, and turkey twizzlers. Without animal farming many species of domesticated livestock would simply go extinct, like the dodo or the cornetto.

Vegetarianism is an unhealthy lifestyle that promotes aggression in humans as their bodies are starved of the essential nutrients found in steak and their malnourished brains eat themselves. It's why vegetarians usually look pale and smell of wee and have the pinched, unhappy look of a man who is riding a bicycle over rough terrain without a seat.

It's also why the more extreme veggies and vegans are militant leftwing loonies. You never hear of meat eaters trying to bomb plant science labs. And you rarely see meat eaters getting henna tattoos or facial piercings. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, for those reasons I have made a bold moral decision to eat as many animals as I can get my hands on, except my cat, Lady Purrington, who enthusiastically if misguidedly tried to show her support for carnivorianism by eating a crunchy bumblebee.

For every lentil stew consumed by the veggies, I will eat a chicken wing. For every miserable tofu stick they eat, I shall devour a plate of delicious veal. For every mangetout they cram into their festering maws, Lady Purrington will delicately nibble a bowl of Sheba.

And if any upset soy-slurpers should come to my house to complain, the last sound they ever hear before my attack kitty pounces off her cat tree to maul them will be me saying "Nice to MEAT you!".

Because you don't mess with cat owners.

Jimmy

People who talk about having children as if it is some sort of ethical faux par should do us all a big favour...

David

Sackcloth,

Well if he honestly gave a fuck, he’d campaign for an end to the CAP and other acts of protectionism…

I doubt it’s about caring at all, just the usual ‘mirror-signal-manoeuvre’ routine. Admire self in mirror, signal piety to others, manoeuvre above those less pious.

Connor

those pangs of consumer guilt that wash over us,

Nope. Never had those.

*Looks at credit card statement*

Neither has my wife.

David Gillies

I never really saw the point of mangetout (I like my peas grown up) but the idea that their purchase constitutes some sort of moral dilemma is so other-worldly that I cannot wrap my head around it. This is childish angst on an almost fractal level. It must be so tiring being Leo Hickman. All that posturing is liable to throw one's back out.

David

those pangs of consumer guilt that wash over us,

It’s a defining Guardianista trait – the paranormal “we,” always speaking for the rest of us. And given what so many of them say, it’s hard to take that as a compliment.

dicentra

Perhaps if they wanted truly to expunge their guilt they could splurge one last time on a plane ticket to relocate permanently to Madagascar, where every day they could WALK to an open-air market and buy ratty, unwashed foodstuffs from the farmers themselves.

the usual ‘mirror-signal-manoeuvre’ routine. Admire self in mirror, signal piety to others, manoeuvre above those less pious.

Oh hey. That works out to "MSM."

Hal

The primary problem with an absolutely strict diet of nothing but vegan or vegetarian is that once you run out of them you're going to have to go back to other forms of meat.

Col. Milquetoast

Having a child is one of the worst things you can do, environmentally speaking.

That's my justification for eating veal.

Sin Bad

Steve 2: Steveageddon, I've been a vegetarian for 18 years. Raced in Tough Mudder last year, Spartan Sprint this year and other sundry silly hurty events. No tattoos, henna or otherwise, and the only piercing is in the ear - it was the fashion in the 80s. Don't think I'm too unhealthy in spite of the lentils, but thanks for your concern.

Jexter

I'm sure I'd like vegans a whole lot more if they weren't such a bugger to peel.

Sandman

The most ethical act one can commit, apparently, is to turn off all your electricity, walk out into the woods, dig a deep hole, and compost yourself.

pst314

"Really, shouldn't these people be taking vows of poverty and joining monasteries and convents?"

Would those be monasteries and convents where the inmates toil all day in the fields, growing their own food? Or would they be the kind where the inmates spend all their days having beatific visions of the politically correct life, while outsiders work hard to be able to pay for their food...and shelter...and medical care...and...? /rhetorical question :-)

Spiny Norman

As long as you have a house, mains power and a vehicle you cannot be living ethically.

Well, when I say "house", it was just a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin...

Sin Bad

We were evicted from our hole in the ground.

David

One Guardian reader regards the 70s sitcom The Good Life as some kind of moral lodestone:

Listen to Tom on one of his speeches to see how far ahead they were… Whilst the funny bit is watching Tom and Barbara struggle, they are treated the most sympathetically, and usually prevail in the end. Nothing better illustrates how little progress we have really made in nearly 40 years towards a more sustainable society.

Which is an odd thing to say, as Tom and Barbara’s experiment in “self-sufficiency” wasn’t at all self-sufficient. They don’t prevail in the end, not on their own terms. Every other week the couple’s survival is dependent on the neighbours’ car, the neighbours’ chequebook, the neighbours’ unpaid labour, a favour of some kind. And of course they’re dependent on the bourgeois infrastructure maintained by all those people who haven’t adopted a similarly ‘ecological’ lifestyle. Precisely because it doesn’t work.

And insofar as the series has a feel-good tone, it has little to do with ‘green’ living or “self-sufficiency.” It’s much more about the fact that, despite Tom and Barbara’s bad choices and continual mooching, and despite Margot’s imperious snobbery, the neighbours remain friends. If anything, the terribly bourgeois Margot and Jerry are the more plausible moral heroes, given all that they have to put up with and how often they, not Tom’s “principles,” save the day.

[ Edited. ]

Jimmy

Very much agreed, David. And I do like that show.

David

Jimmy,

Very much agreed, David. And I do like that show.

I watched a couple of episodes again recently and Margot’s imperiousness still cracks me up. In fact, it’s the hinge for most of the best jokes. But it’s odd how some people can take the series as an affirmation of eco-noodling. The Goods only survive, and then just barely, because of their genuinely self-supporting neighbours – the use of Jerry’s chequebook being a running gag.

sackcloth and ashes

I wonder how much the outcome of each episode of 'The Good Life' depends on the fact that (a) Margot - despite her airs and graces - is essentially a decent person and (b) Jerry would quite like to shag Barbara?

David

Heh.

Henry

Having a child is one of the worst things you can do, environmentally speaking

Just supposing there were places in the world - with somewhat different cultures than our own - that had a much higher birthrate than that of white British people, which is rather modest.

Suppose that were true, would the Guardianista who wrote the above sentence care to go over and lecture them about it in exactly that tone of voice?

Probably not, because Guardianistas worry about imperialist attitudes. Things is: lecturing British people enough might persuade them to avoid procreating (if successful there will be none of us left) but it won't stop everyone else gleefully reproducing.

So do we risk accusations of imperialism and tell everyone else to stop having kids, or do we mindlessly self-destruct to no meaningful purpose?

Non PC thought for the day

Rob

This is the real 'Affluenza': the mental illness of wealthy upper middle class socialists projecting their guilt and self-loathing onto others who'd quite fancy owning a fraction of what Hickman et all posess.

As summarised above: Wanker.

R. Sherman

Having a child is one of the worst things you can do, environmentally speaking.

It's lost on these idiots that in most countries lots of children are necessary to support parents in their dotage. It's only the modern industrial society which enables people to survive with fewer children. Also lost is the fact that having fewer children who will one day have careers and pay taxes decreases the sustainability of all those marvelous social programs Guardian readers are fond of.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Hi Sin Bad

"I've been a vegetarian for 18 years."

You have my condolences. :( I think it's a crime that we have all these charity drives for peckish people in Africa when we have people at home who are being deprived of bacon. Just £2 a month could tranform the lives of British vegetarians with regular transfusions of Greggs sausage rolls.

"Raced in Tough Mudder last year, Spartan Sprint this year and other sundry silly hurty events."

Whereas I had steak. I think we both know who's winning.

"No tattoos, henna or otherwise, and the only piercing is in the ear - it was the fashion in the 80s."

It was a regrettable fad. Only pirates and famous rappers can pull off the male earring. I'm not good on boats and my rapping career as "Vanilla Steve" was cut cruelly short when the tape stopped while I was performing in a charity gig at the local old folks home. I tried segueing into an impromptu comedy routine about Dr. Harold Shipman, but that just seemed to make things worse.

I've never seen so many angry geriatrics since Last Of The Summer Wine was cancelled, let me tell you. It's a good job the elderly aren't quick on their feet.

So I've never been drawn in to the anything-goes pansexual libertine world of earrings for blokes, but good luck to you. It's a slippery slope though. One minute you're getting an ear pierced and, before you know it, you're in some godawful suburban key party hosted by The Krankies, playing Connect Four in the nude while crying.

That's not the life for me. No way, Jose.

Andi Lucas

It's a slippery slope though. One minute you're getting an ear pierced and, before you know it, you're in some godawful suburban key party hosted by The Krankies, playing Connect Four in the nude while crying.

Thankyou Mr. Steve, you've just made my day. I don't think I've laughed so hard since... well, since the actual revelations about the Krankies being swingers. I was mortally disappointed that Viz (normally the only publication on the planet to take an interest in the continued existence Krankies) failed to exploit the comic potential thereof, and you've just made up for it. Fan - Dabi - Dozi!

sackcloth and ashes

'One minute you're getting an ear pierced and, before you know it, you're in some godawful suburban key party hosted by The Krankies, playing Connect Four in the nude while crying'.

Congratulations, sir. You have just won the internet.

Jimmy

*looks up Krankies on Google Image

Oh lord...

dicentra

Fan - Dabi - Dozi

This means nothing to me, even though I did look up the Krankies (double yikes). Even a catchphrase has to mean something.

Mags

If anything, the terribly bourgeois Margot and Jerry are the more plausible moral heroes, given all that they have to put up with and how often they, not Tom’s “principles,” save the day.

Well said, Mr T.

Sanity Inspector

I'd like to follow him to wherever it is he buys his leftist hairshirts, and ask if he knows where they come from. Or not, as possibly his head may explode.

David

Regarding The Good Life, I also spotted this from the Spectator, which notes, among other things, that Margot’s character also spoke to a constituency, perhaps more so than the Goods:

A house-proud Boudicea who wasn’t scared to speak her mind or knock her neighbours’ heads together, Margot was both heroic and ridiculous — Mrs [Thatcher] writ small. ‘I’m not a complete woman,’ Margot tells Tom. ‘I haven’t got a sense of humour.’ A harridan with a heart of gold, she voiced a growing frustration with ineptitude and apathy (‘There was a time in this country when a date promised was a date honoured,’ she told tardy tradesmen), which would eventually sweep her parliamentary doppelganger into Downing Street…

With their muddy dungarees and baggy jumpers, and their self-inflicted bourgeois poverty, Tom and Barbara Good looked like Chablis socialists… Yet in their own muddled way, Tom and Barbara also anticipated the Thatcherite revolution. Tom leaves a steady job to be his own boss and start his own business (albeit an extremely inefficient one). They’re happy to scrounge off the Leadbetters, but they have no expectation that the state ought to provide.

Which in turn prompted this reply from a disgruntled lefty:

First of all, the heroes of The Good Life are Tom and Barbara - a couple who have given up the rat race and acquisitiveness to live off the land. Quite the opposite of Thatcherism and more in-line with the green movement than any other ideology… Margot's petty-bourgeois conservatism and social climbing usually lead her into ending up looking ridiculous… And that’s precisely the kind of idea that The Good Life was clearly proposing a sustainable and non-greedy alternative to.

Again, it’s interesting just how often the series is construed as somehow being a validation of eco-mentalism or of leftism in general. For some, the Goods are an exemplar, a “non-greedy alternative” to bourgeois life, despite their attempt at “self-sufficiency” only being remotely possible because of previous bourgeois habits - a paid-off mortgage, a comfortable low-crime neighbourhood with lots of greenery, and well-heeled neighbours who are forever on tap when crises loom. Every week.

WTP

So what do you suppose the intent of the writers or BBC were in presenting this show? Would it have worked if Keith/Eddington were the Goods and Kendal/Briers the Leadbetters?

David

So what do you suppose the intent of the writers or BBC were in presenting this show?

To make people laugh, hopefully. But it was hardly a biting satire of social norms or a glowing recommendation of alternative living. I don’t remember any obvious or deliberate political angle to the series. The only political comments I can recall come from Margot when she chides tardy workmen, decries falling standards or threatens to write stern letters about something or other.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Andi Lucas and Sackcloth and Ashes -

Thank you :)

I was as surprised as the Krankies were that their terrifying revelations didn't lead to a sudden upswing in their popularity. You'd think they'd have been invited onto Celebrity Big Brother, or at least Sex Box. But despite the baffling popularity of The Only Way is Essex, it seems the British public can only stomach so much.

Researchers are busily trying to find children's TV presenters from the 80's who weren't creepy. The wholesome Andi Peters was an obvious candidate, but I hear Edd the Duck is set to release a tell-all autobiography about his life of hell in the broom cupboard :(

WTP

The only political comments I can recall come from Margot when she chides tardy workmen, decries falling standards or threatens to write stern letters about something or other.

Yes, but to whom is the average viewer likely to relate? To the poor embattled workman or the snooty rich lady? Yes, you and I who are more likely to hire out our manual labor feel Margot's pain. But I think most people would identify with the workman. The comment you quote further up above from the disgruntled lefty sounds like the sort of take I used to hear all the time in my college days. And still do today from similar intellectualish people all growed up yet still beholden to their forever young selves. You and I see the lefty as obtuse, but the general attitude I recall from such people is those of us who see it our way are the obtuse ones. That is why I'm curious as to the politics of the writers and the BBC. Surely the BBC of today would have been driving a political point. I have no context for the BBC of the pre-Thatcher 70's. Was it as similar?

Also, that show appeared on PBS here in the US when I was an impressionable high school lad. The cute blonde perky Felicia Kendal could have turned me commie, nazi, muslim, criminal, hell maybe even gay were she so inclined. OK that latter is quite a stretch but ooooh what I wouldn't have done should she have so much as glanced my way. Hence my question as to roles reversal, but basically I'm curious as to the possibility Kendal was the selling point to enable a level of "fairness" in contrasting the two lifestyles while at the same time making the otherwise silly eco-friendly lifestyle more appealing.

David

WTP,

But I think most people would identify with the workman.

Actually – and despite her being a terrible snob - Margot was a largely endearing figure and often voiced irritations that I’d imagine viewers of the 1970s could very much relate to – say, regarding unreliable workmen, officious bureaucrats, trades unions, etc. Always delivered in a grandiose, almost operatic manner, but not without a grain of truth. Britain in the 70s wasn’t a particularly happy place. For instance, just getting a phone line - from the state’s monopoly provider - could take well over a year.

Surely the BBC of today would have been driving a political point. I have no context for the BBC of the pre-Thatcher 70’s. Was it as similar?

I was a child so I don’t recall. I’d have to revisit lots of 1970s TV, which isn’t exactly tempting.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

WTP - a much better sitcom also starring the great Paul Eddington was "Yes Minister".

It's such a small-c conservative show I'm surprised the BBC allowed it to be made. No wonder Mrs Thatcher was a fan.

Of recent TV fare, in its relentless downbeat cynicism about modern life and mores "Peep Show" is possibly the most (only?) right-of-centre comedy programme being made for British TV.

Andi Lucas

I was as surprised as the Krankies were that their terrifying revelations didn't lead to a sudden upswing in their popularity. You'd think they'd have been invited onto Celebrity Big Brother, or at least Sex Box. But despite the baffling popularity of The Only Way is Essex, it seems the British public can only stomach so much.

Perhaps there was an understandable fear that if it was allowed to work for the Krankies, a bandwagon would start among desperate 'comedy' has-beens and we would see increasingly lurid revelations involving the Chuckle Brothers, Jimmy Cricket and Bernie Clifton and his Comedy Ostrich...

I'm not sure that I'll be able to sleep soundly tonight. :(

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Andi - you make an excellent point. For once, perhaps kind and benevolent TV executives prevented children from being traumatised.

I'd forgotten all about Oswald the Ostrich. Tonight he'll no doubt appear in my ovaltine-fuelled fever dreams alongside Orville and Emu and that spooky clown from the BBC 2 test card, entreating me in a voice that buzzes like a thousand flies to come and play with them, come and play with them forever.

WTP

Steve-o, Yes I was much the fan of YM. I still like to reference some of the scenes to people today. The bit with Sir Humphrey and Sir Bernard regarding National Service was priceless and explains much of what I've seen in the way Dems/GOP switch sides on issues today. It did seem small-c conservative in so far as Hacker seemed to favor getting government out of people's way, yet (just going by memory here, haven't seen it in over 20 years) it seemed he was almost always foiled. I do distinctly recall an episode where Sir Humphrey was beaten. The fact that I recall that one episode reinforces my recollection.

David,
I was a child so I don’t recall. I’d have to revisit lots of 1970s TV, which isn’t exactly tempting.
Yes, but when you consider those of us on this side of the pond who grew up in households without cable tv, UK shows on PBS were our saving grace. In fact, I now have an itch to revisit such myself as everything over here lately seems to be about real-life singing and dancing rednecks cleaning out storage bins and taking the items to a pawn shop in Vegas which then makes its way back to Georgia for the amusement of some tiny terror called Honey Boo-boo. Count your blessings.

David

Count your blessings.

Heh. The grass is always greener, etc., and it’s funny what can seem exotic from far away. I’ve been watching Fast N’ Loud recently, and before that Sons of Guns. Oh, and something called Airplane Repo.

And I’ll thank you not to judge me.

Hal

Well, Marx did have a lot of very important and quite correct statements.

A child of five would understand this.

billm99uk

I wonder how much the outcome of each episode of 'The Good Life' depends on the fact that (a) Margot - despite her airs and graces - is essentially a decent person and (b) Jerry would quite like to shag Barbara?

(b) is entirely forgivable though. In the 70's pretty much every heterosexual male in the country wanted to shag Barbara, myself included.

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