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March 2007
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May 2007

April 2007

Friday Ephemera

The Atomic Cannon circa 1952. Fired first atomic artillery shell, range 7 miles. 20 were made, none used in battle. More here. Footage of Atomic Cannon in action here. // Great bus stops of the Soviet Union, photographed by Christopher Herwig. Not uniform and dreary, but quirky and bizarre. Though perhaps a little spartan. // Car Park time lapse. Oddly compelling. // Easy… Mind the, er... // First time landing. A little rough at the edges. // The Nintendo Museum. I still use one of these. // Rosie O’Donnell thinks fire melting steel “defies physics.” Steelworkers, welders, and makers of fine cutlery are, understandably, shocked by this news. Thankfully, the people at Popular Mechanics know more than Rosie does. About most things, I’d imagine. // George Monbiot flies, urges others not to. Going on holiday by plane is “morally unacceptable.” Hyperbole and hypocrisy still okay, apparently. // BBC avoids “alienating” its “anti-war” audience by cancelling drama based on real life soldier’s heroism. // Islamists and Communists link arms, regret founding of United States. Islamic Party of Britain would also like to murder gay people. Communist position on this unclear. // Islamist mob says “Our movement is peaceful.” Demands abolition of ‘vice’ or “thousands will retaliate with suicide attacks.” (H/T, B&W) // A bizarre vagina dentata solution to sexual assault. “Worn internally, its hollow interior is lined with 25 razor-sharp teeth.” More here. // Scott Wade, dust artist. Dirty car as canvas. (H/T, OnePlusOneEqualsThree) // Grand Canyon Skywalk. Can support 70 tons and withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake. Glass-bottomed, naturally. More here. // Alan Moore ponders smut, at length. “Our impulse towards pornography has been with us since thumbs were first opposable.” Discuss. // Yes, the spandex is snug, but clunky retro armour makes a fanboy tingle. // Chuck Norris Action Jeans! “Unique hidden gusset.” Only $19.95. // Panoramic vista from the top of Everest, as seen by roughly 1000 climbers. (Scroll right for full effect.) // Hexagonal clouds at Saturn’s northern pole. Clouds rotate, stay hexagonal. Cause unknown. // Saturn’s south pole is quite strange too. What with the giant Earth-sized vortex. // And finally, a stirring polka, courtesy of Cartman. You’ll feel better for it.


Foucault and the Ayatollah

In light of recent posts, and various responses to them, I thought I’d highlight this article, The Philosopher and the Ayatollah, by Wesley Yang. Yang documents Michel Foucault’s dalliance with Islamist fanaticism and his enthusiasm for a “perfectly unified collective will.”

“Foucault never considers the rights of women in Islam until his very last disillusioned missive, in May 1979. When an Iranian woman living in exile in Paris wrote a letter… castigating Foucault for his uncritical support of [the Khomeini revolution], he airily dismissed her claims as anti-Muslim hate-mongering.”

The piece was published a couple of years ago, but it seems relevant and fairly symbolic of what’s been discussed here in the last couple of days. Not least because it conveys Foucault’s contrarian posturing, his bizarre lack of realism, and, above all, his stunted moral sense – attributes shared by many of his PoMo peers at the time and, currently, by much of the political left. As, for instance, when the Socialist Worker published a piece by Loretta Napoleoni, claiming jihadist terrorism is “the new anti-imperialist ideology” and fawning over Musab al-Zarqawi’s “kindness” and “determination.” For other examples of practised unrealism, see here, here, here and here.

Yang's article is worth reading in full. I’m pretty sure one or two modern parallels can be drawn.


On PoMo Contradiction

In responding to yesterday’s post on Carolyn Guertin, several commenters noted the contradictions that arise in various strands of PoMo theorising and its political connotations. These contradictions are often summarised as: “All cultures are equal in merit, but the West is uniquely oppressive, imperialist and corrupting. All values are subjective, but sexism, racism and imperialism are definitely evil and must be struggled against.” With these contradictions in mind, I thought I’d post a brief extract from an interview with Stephen Hicks, author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault:

“If all you want to do is destroy, it doesn't matter to you if the words you use contradict each other… I sometimes think of an analogy here to a stereotypically unscrupulous lawyer who will use any argument, even one that contradicts one he's already made, if he thinks it will be rhetorically useful in convincing a jury. If one is driven by anti-capitalism, then one knows that attacking technology harms capitalism and one knows that attacking unequal distribution harms capitalism. So who cares if those two arguments contradict each other? You're harming capitalism!”

As most of the major figures in politicised postmodernism have favoured various forms of collectivism, anti-capitalism and deranged authoritarianism, it’s easy to see how the argument above might apply. Relativistic arguments may be used against the enemy – to flatten hierarchies, for instance - but they’re less readily applied to the collectivist or reactionary politics that PoMo enthusiasts so often advance. (Thus, sceptics among us might suspect the relativism is actually a ruse to further an absolutist agenda.)

If one’s ‘work’ is based on being oppositional – or being seen to be oppositional - against capitalism, racism, sexism, imperialism (real or imagined), white male patriarchy, etc, then liberties can, and probably will, be taken. Attempts to fathom truth, or to be consistent, meaningful and accurate, can, and probably will, be dispensed with in order to advance The Great Cause. (Or The Great Oppositional Posture, depending on one’s scepticism.) And it’s worth noting that in Criticism and Social Change, the left-wing theorist, Frank Lentricchia, announced that the postmodern movement “seeks not to find the foundation and conditions of truth, but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.” Achieved, one might suppose, even at the cost of truth.


Peddling Stupidity

Or, the postmodern scholarship of “radical cyber-feminist” Carolyn Guertin.   

“Postmodern prose is perhaps best approached as an exercise in posturing and phonetics, of couching slim and trite observations in needlessly Byzantine language… Efforts to fathom deep meaning, or, very often, meaning of any kind, are generally exhausting and rarely rewarded. More often, what you’ll find is essentially a pile of language, carefully disorganised so as to obscure a lack of content.”

Carolyn_guertin_3Thanks to the blogging psychoanalyst, Shrinkwrapped, I came across a doctoral dissertation called, rather implausibly, Quantum Feminist Mnemotechnics: the Archival Text, Digital Narrative and the Limits of Memory. The work in question, by “radical cyber-feminist” Carolyn G. Guertin, is apparently the basis of a forthcoming book of the same name. Faced with such an imposing title, one can practically hear the boundaries of human knowledge squealing as they expand. Naturally, I had to find out more.

On visiting Guertin’s website, I discovered that the author is a Senior McLuhan Fellow in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto. As a “scholar of women’s art and literature and new media arts,” Dr Guertin also shapes young minds at the Universities of Athabasca and Guelph, Canada, and is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and events across Europe. Her works, I learned, have been published “in print, online and in real space.”

Space crops up quite a bit in Guertin’s dissertation, as do various mathematical, quantum mechanical and geometric terms, the bulk of which are misused in a series of strained and incoherent metaphors. In keeping with many purveyors of postmodern theorising, Guertin has been careful to appropriate fragments of scientific terminology that sound fashionable and exciting, and uses them with no apparent regard for their meaning or relevance. (Entanglement and Hilbert Space are mentioned casually, with no explanation, and for no discernible reason.) Consequently, it’s difficult to fathom the author’s supposed intention, or to determine exactly how far short of that objective her efforts have fallen. Instead, we’re presented with what amounts to a collage of grandiose jargon, habitual non sequitur and unrelated subject matter – including feminism, web browsing and space-time curvature - bolted together by little more than chutzpah:

Continue reading "Peddling Stupidity" »


Friday Ephemera

BT courtesy call goes horribly, horribly wrong. // Tokyoplastic’s bizarre promo video for Zune. Things blink. Buttocks clench. Download here. It’s worth it. // For funksters of a certain age, old school hip-hop flyers. “Jazzy Jay and a Catholic High School Throwdown!” // The golden age of romance comics. An emotional rollercoaster. // Objects of desire: Japanese sake bottles. (H/T, OnePlusOneEqualsThree) // Norman Geras on a lust for ladies’ shoes. “Abd-el-Gowd targeted well-shod women in London, in most cases getting away with a single shoe, but once making off with a pair.” // When girls fight crime. // Spot the subliminal message. // Just in case you missed it. // How to protect your secret identity. Be sure to wait for the end. // 60,000 years of human history, compressed somewhat. // The history of Tupperware. Boxed in Tupperware, naturally. // Magnetic levitation in action. Behold the maglev frog. Works on strawberries, too. // Still a magnificent beast, the SR-71. // Sonic boom made visible. // More visible booming here. // Richard Dawkins on postmodern flummery and the bamboozling of readers. “Clarity would expose a lack of content.” Amen, brother. // Sam Harris talks to evangelist Rick Warren; encounters evasion, incoherence, dishonesty, bonkersdom. (H/T, B&W) // Staggering Hypocrisy at Guardian Shock. “Do you like money?” More here. // Duncan Wilson’s post-it note wallpaper. // Zubbles. Like bubbles, but coloured. // Juggling. Like throwing, but better. // Jean Cocteau gets lively with the Dan Parrish Orchestra, La Toison d’Or. (1929)


Greatest Hits, Sort Of

For newcomers, some popular items. In chronological order. 

 

2007

Al-Guardian & the Brotherhood. Secrets, lies and vicarious titillation. 

PoMo, Terry Eagleton & Che Guevara T-Shirts. A discussion with Ophelia Benson on irrationalism and the left.

Islam’s Hagiographer. Karen Armstrong acts casual, rewrites history.

Phantom Guilt Syndrome. Self-loathing 101.

Art Bollocks Revisited. Postmodern gibberish and political lockstep.

Peddling Stupidity. “Radical cyber-feminist” Carolyn Guertin is mocked, quite a lot.

For the Love of God. Islam, women and dissent; death threats and piety. 

The Floating Phallus. Autoerotic flummery disguised as education.

Egalitarian Epistemology. “Feminist empiricism” and the goddess of smallpox.

Shaping Young Minds. Seattle socialists outlaw Lego and “eliminate bias.”

 

2008

A Conspicuous Omission. Faisal al Yafai’s cartoon causality and passive-aggressive claptrap.

Fire Starters. Thinking is incendiary. So stop it at once.

What to Think, Not How. A review of Indoctrinate U.

Tears and Role-Play. When one type of identity politics collides with another. Cue victimhood poker.

Naming the Devil. The intimate flaw of Islam is its founder. And dishonesty won’t change that.

The Guardian Position. Jakob Illeborg wants to defend free society by abandoning it.

Being Reasonable. Intruders, small children and “reasonable force.”

Let’s Play Bamboozle! Hiding bias with postmodern bafflegab.

The Greater Good (2). Arabella Weir passes among the proles, hoping to be noticed.

Womanier Stuff. Oh, the insights to be found in Women’s Studies discussion groups.

Rebellion, Revisited. Your children’s education and their teachers’ politics. 

A Mighty Intervention. Bettina Camilla Vestergaard suffers for her art at public expense.

Insufficiently Sensitive. A university student reads a history book in his own time. And is punished for it. 

 

2009:

The Voice of Conscience. The wild imaginings of Mr John Pilger.

Construct Unstuck. The urge to reproduce is an oppressive social construct. So is upper body strength, apparently.

Behold My Virtue (3). Sunny Hundal waves his eco-credentials. Sniggering ensues.

Postmodernism Unpeeled. A discussion with Dr Stephen Hicks.

Thrashing the Hegemon. Fearless artist José Carlos Teixeira gives Western society the thrashing it deserves.

Freeloading and Snobbery. Arts establishment claims to be “suppressed,” sneers at the little people, demands free money.

Avert Your Eyes. George Monbiot surrenders to the madness.

Uprising. “Penile imperialism” and obligatory lesbianism. A video history of radical feminism.

Every Bit as Hobbled. Christina Hoff Sommers highlights inaccuracies in feminist textbooks. The Sisterhood takes umbrage. 

Moral Inertia. Anti-social behaviour and the weight of doing nothing.

Where Reason Never Sleeps. Professor Thomas Thibeault points out error in sexual harassment policy and is fired two days later.

Don’t Bother Me With Details. Linda Bellos is much too superior to do things like research.

The Master’s Tools. Heterosex is rape, virginity is oppression, dildos reinforce The Patriarchy. A feminist guru ruminates.

I Sense a Malign Presence. Meet Jane Elliott: “diversity” pioneer and Witchfinder General for the modern age.

Intellectual Life. The literary left in all its glory.

The Privileges of Piety. The Archbishop of Canterbury, a palace-dwelling lefty, wants to save you from your earnings. 

Artists for Gaia. Concerned artists sail north at public expense. Gas is released courageously.

The Wrong Kind of Rich. Toynbee and Rusbridger deserve hefty salaries. Unlike you.

 

2010:

A Great Big Socialist Heart. Kevin McKenna rails against private education and reveals more than he intends.

The Monbiot Fatwa. The cowardice, displacement and moral exhibitionism of Mr George Monbiot.

I Don’t Deserve This Shabby Treatment. The staggering vainglory of the academic left, part 203.

Comedy Economics. Leftwing think tank will improve your lives by making you poor and controlling your time.

Is That Your Hand In My Pocket? Playwright Jonathan Holmes thinks he’s heroic and so you owe him money.

Fringe Theatre. Vegan advocate of “militant action” is victim of “militant action” and gets terribly upset.

They Have No Politics. The mighty Bidisha doesn’t comprehend how people could disagree with her.

Unlearning Whiteness. Teaching pretentious self-contempt. Evidence be damned. 

The Crushing Patriarchy, Episode 12. Bidisha sees “cultural femicide” everywhere, descends into madness.

The Flow of Ideas. Professor Sharra Vostral exposes the humble tampon as an “artefact of control.”

When Activists Hallucinate. Innocuous graduation card spreads subliminal gangsta racism. According to idiots.

At Last, Socialist Football. Some kids play better than others. This simply will not do.

Overlords. On egalitarian superiority. In order to fix us, someone has to be in charge.

Just Thwarted Sperm. Amanda Marcotte tells menfolk which feelings they’re allowed to have.

Some Guardian Nuance. Priyamvada Gopal denounces Western modernity, excuses Taliban, loses grip.

I’m Other, Subsidise Me. Omar Kholeif is professionally ethnic and terribly oppressed. Though by what he doesn’t say. 

You Are Privileged to Witness Just How Brilliant I Am. Conceptual artists reach bottom of barrel. Omar Kholeif swoons.

The Sound of Wringing (2). Theo Hobson sticks pins into his eyes, rhetorically.

Dissident Academic Feels the Warmth of Social Justice. Or, “if you expose our student indoctrination policy we will punish you.”

An Instrument of Choice. Melanie McDonagh’s feminist rationale for fraud, dishonesty and extortion.

Like Fun, But Less So. Leo Hickman recoils from fireworks and brandishes his veg box.

New Tyranny Detected. Lara Pawson rails against “heteronormative privilege” and “the tyranny of coupledom.”

Unveiled, New Definitions of Violence and Civilisation. Being insufficiently leftwing now constitutes “violence.”

MilneWorld (4). Meet the new paymaster of the British left.

Above Them, Only Sky. The Guardian pines for radical pop stars. Like the peacenik who bankrolled the IRA.

The Warm Glow of Socialism. Student protestors somehow, perhaps carefully, miss the larger issue.

How Not to Make the Case for Public Subsidy. Art students denounce economic realism, brandish Derrida. Adam Harper swoons.

 

2011:

New Crisis Detected. Does your home have a spare room? George Monbiot wants to make you “pay for the privilege.” 

The Penny Hasn’t Dropped. Laurie Penny’s world is a heteronormative police state that’s brutal, intolerant and also on fire. 

Sparkly Bits. Laurie Penny rails against the menace of pubic glitter.

Techno, Annotated. Goa/psytrance is being repressed! The vital scholarship of Dr Graham St John.

My Tribe’s Violence Doesn’t Count, Okay? Radical Guardianistas indulge in threats, projection and double standards. 

Ignorant Teachers, A New Socialist Ideal. Knowledge and competence are outmoded and unfair, says philosopher Nina Power. 

Because Men Have Abortions Too. The world-shaking insights of gender trendsetter Jos Truitt.

I’m Not Condoning Violence, But... When “being heard” means being obeyed. A lesson in leftist euphemism.

The Impervious Toynbee. Well-heeled leftist struggles with reality. Also, logic. 

Socialist Hearts Are Just Bigger Than Ours. Zoe Williams objects to philanthropy. Because giving money away “creates inequality.”

All Pop Music Will Henceforth Be Terrible. Socialist pop music is apparently impossible without taxpayer subsidy.  

It’s Protest So It’s Righteous. Alexander Vasudevan says radical people are entitled to “seize” your property.

Ambient Truth. Made-up facts will do just as well.

Meanwhile, in the Arts. Liquidised carrots, moths and bras, and a fat, naked narcissist jumps around in talc.

The Riots, Summarised. Thugs prey on children, torch occupied buildings and assault fire-fighters. The delusional left gets giddy.

New, Leftwing Physics Discovered. Passive overeating is a pandemic, says Professor Boyd Swinburn. People must be punished.

We’re Compensating You for That Face. Not everyone is good-looking. Affirmative action now!

Militantly Nude. A San Francisco “nude-in” reveals more than intended.

Worth Every Penny. Laurie Penny champions Arts Council-funded dirt relocation. It’s vital for “social progress.”

Remember, Kids. Socialism is the Opposite of Greed. Socialism always attracts the smart ones.

Don’t Be So Mean to the Titans of Tomorrow. Stop laughing at Occupy. They’re really, really radical. It’s a “new world order.”

The Occupod People Will Save Us. Occupiers blather, stab, shit on streets. Leftist media swoons.

It’s the Calibre of the People That Impresses Me the Most. Meet Occupy Denver’s Idiot Hat Guy. A radical thinker, a precious flower.

 

2012:

Because Artists Are So Dangerous. Bettina Camilla Vestergaard denounces free market, makes hilariously bad art.

Terrorising Coffee Drinkers for the Greater GoodGuardian hearts Occupier. Said Occupier hearts smashing other people’s stuff. 

Crotch Funk as Art. Five narcissists attempt to fill their transparent plastic overalls with body odour. For art. 

No Ego Whatsoever, Just an Urge to Control. Ken Loach is countercultural. And so you should be forced to give him your money. 

Towers of Learning. David Horowitz explains the pathologies of leftist academia. From counterfactual history to the thug veto.

They Exist on a Higher Plane, You See. Visual art “is not about looking at things.” It’s about the aching cleverness of blank sheets of paper. 

When Scolding is the Payoff for All That Piety and AngstGuardian education journalist sends daughter to private school. Hysteria ensues. 

The Pure Ones Will Guide Us. Jean Brady: novelist, umbrage-taker, colossal hypocrite.

You’ll Notice They All Wear Shoes. Or, “Mommy, What’s a Cock Ring?”

On Fungal Matters. A black man buys truffles. The Guardian is thrilled.

It’s Politically Radical Sex, Not Ordinary Mortal Sex. Ms Nadio Cho: student, titan, radical shagger.

Monbiot and the Morlocks. George encounters the noble savage. Things go badly wrong.

 

2013:

Just Don’t Call it a Hustle. Liz Forgan burns your money because, well, she can.

Our Brightest Minds. Meet Arun Smith, the ideal self-satisfied product of a leftist education.

The Incident. The unspeakable mental horror of a partly-chewed Pop-Tart.

Racist Hair. Don’t colonise my black essence with your white racist hair.

Because Socialism is Never About Envy and Spite. The Guardian’s Michele Hanson wishes fear and misery on people she doesn’t know.

Bearing Down, Radically. Artist Mikala Dwyer is “challenging taboos” by inviting dancers to shit onstage. “It’s a wonderful, powerful work.”

Will No-One Think of the Artists? “Employment should be optional,” says Godfrey Moase, who wants $30,000 a year just for being fabulous.

I’m Sorry, But Your Utopia is Just a Little Creepy. Parents should make sacrifices. Not for their children. Of their children. 

Headdesk, She Replied. If mugged, don’t call the police. That would be proof of your racism and “white privilege.”

Two Balls Bad, No Balls Good. The Guardian’s Mike Power denounces the barbecue patriarchy, where pleasure is impossible.

Responding to Semen, BelatedlyGuardian writer fights tube masturbation with bad performance art.

Her Unspeakable Woes. Icess Fernandez Rojas isn’t being “validated” by her spellcheck software. Something must be done. 

Sweating from the Effort. Excrement and feminism, together at last.

Not Hearing His Own. The deep socialist wisdom of Mr Owen Hatherley. Verily, he will lead us to the light. 

Three Snippets from One Paper. Apocalyptic poetry, Fair Trade carrot cake and the patriarchy of fracking. The Guardian in miniature.

Improving Us From Above. Leftwing academics want to save us from all those nice things they enjoy and that we shouldn’t want. 

Get Them While They’re Soft and Yielding. On the first day of class, Professor William Penn lets his students know what his politics are. 

Clinging to the Teats. Gender studies lecturer Hila Shachar doesn’t think the public should have any say in how its money is spent.

Diversity and Inclusion. To be cultivated, obviously, with racial segregation.

I Don’t Think She’s Handling the Menopause Very Well. A performance artist and author of “porno-erotic texts” struggles with middle age. 

Wolf, They Cried. “Hate crime” hoaxes and campus complicity. Because a lie will do just fine. 

The Cupcake Menace. Tiny cakes are exploitative, demeaning and emotionally crippling, says the Guardian’s Matt Seaton.  

Because Art is the Fourth Emergency Service. Writer rails against the indignity of not being given money he hasn’t actually earned. 

Don’t Oppress Me With Your Commas. Tomorrow’s intellectuals protest against the racist “microaggressions” of corrected punctuation. 

Because Lying and Resenting Is What Angels Do. When there isn’t enough racism to justify your pre-booked outrage, make some up.

It’s a Fascist Groove Thang. Students display their moral credentials by trapping staff, vandalising property and setting bins on fire.

The Needs of Artists. Meet Ms Casey Jenkins, Australia’s foremost exponent of vaginal knitting. 

 

2014:

The Humble Among Us. Novelist Brigid Delaney wants a nicer flat. You, taxpayer, come hither.

A Dining Room Comedy. Oh no. A plate with food on it. The exquisite mealtime sorrows of the Guardianista male. 

Pearl-Clutching Pornographers. Campus feminists combat “male-centricity” by rubbing eggs on their naked bodies. 

The Roar of Enlightened Manhood. A Guardian-reading student is baffled by the world. Why won’t all men copy him?

Scenes of Extended Fretting. Mr Leo Hickman has a mangetout moment. Self-flagellation ensues.

Their Mighty Brains Will Save Us. The Guardian unveils its sassy and eclectic trainee journalists. Just don’t laugh at their biographies.

When the Onion is Redundant. Paul Krugman and Polly Toynbee are awfully concerned by how much you earn. Themselves, not so much.

But Beauty Is So Hard. Taxpayer-funded artist Keeley Haftner deposits garbage on street, is bewildered by lack of gratitude.

Your Masculinity Must Be Abolished. The thrilling moral radicalism of Ms Lierre Keith. 

Something About the Tone. Urban Studies lecturer frets about the unequal distribution of litter, suggests bulldozing Belgravia. For the poor.

The Crushing Patriarchy, Sporting Edition. The Guardian’s Silvia Murray Wakefield is distressed by the World Cup. Incoherently, of course. 

The Patriarchy Made Me Do It. Laurie Penny is confused again. Huge chunks of rhetoric fall from the sky.

I Hammer Culture into Your Tiny Minds. Radical artists deploy “guerrilla performance piece.” Passers-by remain unmoved.

Well, Soil is Sort of Brown. Your furniture is a racist proxy, says sociology lecturer. Also, Gardeners’ Question Time.

Spider-Man’s Unwell Cousin. Performance artist faffs about, wraps head in yarn. It’s a daring “infiltration in public space.”

Please Don’t Dump Your Garbage on the Roadside. Performance art duo “create a space to think critically” by bashing themselves with pillows.

He’s a Fan of Laurie Penny, You Know. The economics editor Of Channel 4 News imagines his utopia.

But Does it Massage the Buttocks? Every student needs a $13,000 vibrating nap machine.

The Wrong Colour Buttocks. The Guardian’s Yomi Adegoke ponders the politics of prosthetic comedy bottoms.

Because Waitrose Eats Your Soul. Felicity Lawrence and Deborah Orr tighten their moral corsets, comedy ensues. 

Flatter, Mythologize, Rinse, Repeat. Laurie Penny is marginalised, “marked as other,” and also a cyborg.

We Mustn’t let the Poor Have Nice Things. Millionaire socialist denounces cheap food.

Hush, Art is Happening. Artist and educator Marilyn Arsem rails against democracy, squashes fruit in protest.

Meanwhile, on the Battlefield of Facial Hair. Beards “glorify behaviours typical of people in white hegemonies.”

Great Subtlety of Mind. Professor’s sculpture leaves students “traumatised” and in need of counselling. 

Chewing the Scenery for Social Justice. Student activist is emotionally devastated by two-letter word previously unknown to her.

 

2015:

Ladies First. In Professor Judy Haiven’s classes, male students learn their place in the progressive pecking order.

Art, Wigs and the Wearing of Pants. Ms Eames Armstrong, a performance artist, improves Shakespeare.

A Life Without Art, How Barren That Would be. Performance art students shake our tiny minds with three hours of radical pavement mopping.

Uncanny Powers Are a Feminist Issue. “Young, creative, politically engaged women” are fighting “patriarchal conditioning” with Tarot cards. 

Are You Not Feeling the Positive Vibrations? Students attempt to cultivate “positive vibes” with luminous teepee. Arguments ensue.

We Need More Cushions. “Safe space” deemed unsafe due to radical poetry.

Uterus Rising. Genitals are the most vital qualification for presidential office. The searing moral insights of Ms Deborah Orr.

Wherever Possible, Avoid Mad People. Students “harmed” and “negatively impacted” by insufficiently sensitive buffet.

Just Surrender to the Will of Clever People. Reading to your children causes “unfair disadvantage.” Leftist academic asks, “Should it be allowed?”

Such Details are Beneath Her. In which we marvel at the outpourings of Polly Toynbee.

High Maintenance. How to date a brown feminist.

Answers on a Postcard, Please. The Guardian’s Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett asks, “Are we too selfish to live like hippies?”

You May Clap When Moved. Performance artist ends war, poverty, “oppressive discourses.” By amplifying his clothes.

How Dare You Hold on to Your Wallet. Artist Zoë Coombs Marr complains about how bloody hard it is to screw the taxpayer. 

Strange Construal. In which socialists misremember The Good Life, a 1970s sitcom.

Achieving Collapse. Eco-radicals Deep Green Resistance struggle with reality and the concept of time.

My Kingdom for a Time Machine. Fifty-something radical yearns for the “good old days of the feminist collective.”

Feel the Racial Healing. Aisha Mirza bemoans the “psychic burden” of living among white people, which is worse than being mugged. 

Nostalgie de la Butch. The Patriarchy has ruined lesbianism, says Julie Bindel.

Undone By Her Radical ‘Do. A “white grrl with dreadlocks” atones for her “whiteness” and “appropriated” hair.

Do Not Date Bedlamites. Melissa Fabello’s interracial dating advice is excruciatingly neurotic.

Diary of a Hunter-Gatherer. The Guardian’s George Monbiot waves a dead, twitching squirrel at bewildered children.

When Starbucks is a Hate-Crime Scene. Brace yourselves for the concept of sweat-shaming. 

Always Winter, Never Christmas. The inconsolable sadness of the Guardian’s Michele Hanson.

Think Good Thoughts. Politically correct? You can’t say that.

Those Baby Blues. “Non-binary” parent Dorian Stripe struggles with biology.

The Final Outrage. The Guardian’s Osman Faruqi wants someone else to pay for his leisure activities. Nationalise Twitter, says he.

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Branded HeadphonesRacist black students run riot with impunity, are applauded by staff.

The Mouthing of BollocksFeminist Rachel Kuo tells us how to order takeaway in a suitably fretful and intersectional manner.

Unseen EnergiesNon-binary being Kris Nelson is radically feminist. And also a witch. Feel her positive energy.

Never Knowingly UnderstatedLaurie Penny tells us that expectations of coherence are “a great way of shutting down dissent.”

But I Am Not AndrogynousSilpa Kovvali insists that gendered pronouns should be abolished. Everyone is a “they.”

 

2016:

Today’s Word Is ChutzpahLiving in Glasgow for a year is art says taxpayer-funded artist who lives in Glasgow.

She Does All This For Us, You KnowPerformance artist Sandrine Schaefer “collaborates” with hand-dryers and automatic doors.

Slacking for Social JusticeRiyad A Shahjahan says punctuality and competence are racist and oppressive.

And This Is Your Brain On FeminismMeghan Murphy wants “a curfew for men” and “an end to masculinity.” “It makes sense,” says she.

At All Times, DignityThe staggering vainglory of the academic left, part 404.

Is Your Bacon Sandwich Oppressing Women? “Does feminism require vegetarianism?” asks feminist philosopher Celia Edell.

A Performance Art SamplerDrooling, doomed horticulture and terribly radical fatness.

Lofty BeingsFeminist “creative” Katherine Garcia attempts to justify her sub-optimal life choices. Things go badly wrong.

You Can Either Concur Or AgreeWhen leftists gather at Edinburgh University, please don’t shake your head.

Unhappy CamperFeminist says we aren’t feeling enough compassion for narcissists, psychopaths and pathological liars. Like her.

He’s Being Rugged And We Can’t Have That. Transvestite potter denounces masculinity as “useless” and “counter-productive.” 

See How Their Agonies Catch The Light. We must spend more time fretting about “gender non-conforming Indigenous people with disabilities.”

She Leans. Laurie Penny “leans towards anarcho-communism.” And so your money is hers.

The Dunning-Kruger Diaries. The “emerging talents” of Eames Armstrong and Matthew Ryan Rossetti.

Lifestyle Advice. Laurie Penny says her suitors are of no more importance than her books.

Feign Diabetes, It’s The Only Way. The Guardian’s Sarah Marsh is being oppressed by free cake.

Fat We Can Fix, The Excuses Are Trickier. Feminist of girth says not being fat makes you complicit in her oppression.

You’re Doing It All Wrong. Josefin Hedlund wants to correct your erotic preferences and make them egalitarian. For “social justice.”

Just Don’t Get It On The Sofa. Menstrual activist Iris Josephina Verstappen bleeds down her legs and waits to be applauded.

Free Hits. Punching teachers in the face is how black students “engage in learning.” What, you didn’t know?

An Intellectual Being. Melissa Fabello is a feminist intellectual. How dare you question her?

Do Not Feed The Narcissists. If you talk back, they’ll get angry. If you sit quietly, they’ll get angry. If you applaud them, they’ll get angry.

But Not All Feminists, Apparently. Attention, all men, everywhere. There’s something fundamentally wrong with you.

Don’t Oppress My People With Your White Devil Science. Magic negroes throw lightning at their enemies.

A Mere Sliver Of His Brilliance. Performance artist Philip Fryer explores “queer identity” in terribly radical ways.

They Say It All Belongs To Them. Berkeley students prove how not-at-all-racist they are by abusing random white people.

An Intellectual Being Rides Again. Empowered feminist Melissa Fabello once again faces the trauma of People Who Disagree With Her.

We Can’t Promise Not To Hit You. The Clown Quarter of academia is the left’s proving ground. And that should worry you.

Poverty And How To Get There. The first step is leftist vanity.

Totes Hardcore. The left-leaning Mic magazine celebrates post-election hysteria and the “true insurgence” of really bad tattoos.

An Eighteen-Year Project. Proud feminist Polly Dunning shares her parenting advice, and reveals more than she intends.

 

2017: 

It’s Almost As If One Were An Excuse For The Other. It’s interesting just how often “social justice” activism looks a lot like sociopathy.

Fashionable Malice. “White fragility” and the Kafkatrapping left.

Bad Medicine. At the University of Washington, Tacoma, black students are told that grammar is racist and irrelevant.

She’s Seething With Empowerment. Polite man holds door open for woman. Woman starts screaming.

The Patriarchy Sits On Her Chest. Feminist philosopher Celia Edell struggles with alleged sexism in academia, and also competence.

Turf War. Charles Murray attempts to speak on campus. A riot ensues.

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Big Hooped Earrings. In which we learn that winged eyeliner is “an everyday act of resistance.”

Insufficiently Swiped. Immense, frustrated love machine Caleb Luna wonders why his Grindr profile attracts so little interest. 

Imagine The Picnics. Emily Zak wants us to know that fresh air and countryside are, like everything else, terribly oppressive.

But Why Aren’t People Rushing To Buy My Art? Deep thought, shifting paradigms and heads wrapped in meat.

And The Wonders You Can Do. Performance artist Sarah Hill creates work that is “cathartically dialogical” and a “temporal historical rupture.” 

It’s A Feast For The Senses. “Artist, healer and dancer” Shizu Homma “interrogates the human condition.”

Mother’s Milk. Feminist Jody Allard humiliates her own teenage sons for being white and male, and therefore potential rapists.

All Types. But Not Yours, Obviously. Skylar Baker-Jordan is a gender studies graduate. Words fall from his mouth.

And Lo, There Came A Great Bunching Of The Panties. Google software developer states facts, gets fired, mass dishonesty ensues.

The Psychology of “Social Justice” Is A Thing To Behold. Professor advises students to say “fuck you” to potential employers. 

Excruciatingly Woke. Educator Alice Ristroph watches a total eclipse and sees only racism.

They Come To Teach Us. Polite man encounters Mao-lings. Mao-lings lose their minds, scream abuse, then assault him.

The Wrong Neighbours. When one type of pretentious grievance collides with another, it’s a costly business.

A Rustling In The Bushes. “We talk erotically to plants,” say the ecosexuals. Then the clothes come off.

We Can Only Aspire To Their Mental Heights. Educator champions the looting of trainers, while the law-abiding shelter from a hurricane.

Pantomime. A balding, middle-aged transvestite, a sociology lecturer, wishes to confuse your children.

A Balanced Individual. Anti-capitalist lecturer hopes that his students get murdered.

The Educators Of Tomorrow. Teaching assistant Stephanie McKellopp signals her wokeness by ignoring white male students.

You Mustn’t Stop The Hysteria. Any hint of consequences for thuggery by students is “racist” and “unfair,” says professor of education. 

Panic Sweeps Nation. Not being aroused by camp, effeminate men is damning proof of “misogynist attitudes” and “toxic masculinity.”

The Absurd And The Sinister Aren’t Mutually Exclusive. The sadistic, fever-dream world of leftist educators, caught on tape.

The Clown Quarter Now Has An Engineering Division. Expectations of competence are racist and oppressive, says Dr Donna Riley.

 

2018: 

Slacking For Social Justice, Part Two. Laziness is “a political stance,” and incompetence is empowering. Says leftist educator. 

Among The Little People. Feminist and educator Dr Jane Bone ponders “problematic” furniture, hears it speak.

Quick, Men. To The Escape Pods. Feminist fight club is “a mode of resistance,” a thing to behold.

She’ll Ruin The Leather. Sandrine Schaefer presents her buttocks to the world.

Space Travel Is Patriarchy And Therefore Bad. Says Women’s Studies educator.

Zombie Movie. Jordan Peterson tries to speak at Queen’s University, Ontario. Mao-ling psychodrama ensues.

A Giant Stone In The Sky. A short, rather lovely film by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. 

It’s A Fractal indignation. When someone sneezes, don’t say “Bless you.” That’s problematic and oppressive.

Burning Question. “Can pot make you a better parent?” asks the Guardian.

Today We JuxtaposeGuardian champions Teen Vogue as the future of woke publishing. Sales immediately plummet.

Modern Manners. Professor Melina Abdullah is a “womanist and truth-teller.” Words fall from her mouth.

The Laurie Penny Chronicles. A compendium of inadvertent comedy. A cautionary tale.

Happy Meal. Woke history professor James Livingston eats burger, exults in racial hatred.

Rise Of The Bedlamites. When your fascinating brownness trumps other people’s opening hours.

Know Your Readership (2). Ms Ixty Quintanilla rages against Trump, channels her ancestral spirituality, pushes against trees.

How Dare You Not Feel Oppressed. Minority students reject victimhood narrative. Sociology professor calls them racist.  

Because Random People Must Be Punished. Apparently, the way to make people compassionate is to gleefully screw them over.

It Was Raining Outside And They Were Promised Sandwiches. Nika López “establishes an intimate relationship” with a pile of dirt.

How To Impress Your Boss, An Intersectional Guide. Minority employees shouldn’t have to do their jobs or be at all reliable.

Clown Quarter Contagion. At Birmingham University, a taxpayer-funded programme to make white staff “feel uncomfortable.”

Land Of The Giants. Diabetes and incontinence equals “body positivity.” In the Guardian, obviously.

I Axe You. Sounding dim and barely literate is something to be encouraged. At universities.

The Perils Of Jogging. The Guardian’s Zoe Williams warns that exercise “makes you rightwing.”

She’s Very Tired, You Know. Intersectional narcissist takes umbrage at being quoted by other intersectional narcissists.

Weepy And Hysterical. Philosophy professor apologises, at length, for his own heterosexuality.

Loving Themselves. Fat feminist students fight the patriarchy by gorging on doughnuts and thick, liquid pudding.

One For The Ladies. A Guardian writer tries his hand at saucy celebrity news. Things take a strange turn.

Not Boldly, Then. Politically-corrected space exploration. Two feminists opine.

Hear The Lamentations Of Unstable Leftist Women. Their marriages failed, and it’s all Trump’s fault.

Bad Souls And Bedlamites. Seattle’s sociopathic left invoke trauma of being observed. Death threats ensue.  

Free Lollies. Six-year-olds should vote, says leftist academic.

Your Failure To Enthuse Is Violence, Apparently. Roy G Guzmán is oppressed by the “violence” of people not liking his poetry.

 

2019:

Old Photo Seen, Umbrage Ensues. Woke poet sees photo of coal miners, denounces “blackface,” fears for his safety.

Zack Is Upset. “Proud SJW” thinks women shouldn’t defend themselves against muggers.

The Dunning-Kruger Diaries, Part Two. Angeliki Chiado Tsoli does performance art, quite badly.

When Bitches Gather. The unhappy world of intersectional knitting.

Trump, Erection, And A Lack Thereof. “Post-Trump sex disorder” is a thing, apparently. Lefties hardest hit.

World Of Woo. Pretentious ethno-masochist Dr Deborah Cohan rails against the “tendrils of white supremacy.”

An Artistic Interlude. The creative, um, feats of Mr Claude Boudeau.

Your Standards Are Holding You Back. Brooklynite lefties launch socialist-only dating platform. Things do not go well.

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Public Libraries. Woke librarian denounces “so-called ‘knowledge’” of pale people. 

Her Loveliness Revealed. Threaten your parents with never seeing grandchildren. It’s the progressive way.

The Other Heartbeat Isn’t Yours. Feminist “theorist” says abortion, via drugs or dismemberment, is a form of “anti-violence.”

Zack Ford Is A Grown Man. No, really. He is.

Think Big, Badly. Lose weight, or topple Western civilisation? It’s the fat person’s eternal dilemma.

Can You Spell ‘Bedlamite’? We mustn’t judge competence of writing when grading papers, says Dr Asao Inoue. 

The Blurting. A leftist compulsion is pondered.

Titans Walk Among Us. Fearless masked leftists harass the elderly and disabled, congratulate selves.

Trust Me, I’m A Witchdoctor. Ngaree Blow denounces Western medicine as “outdated.” Champions use of bush dung.

The Unspanked. Meet the new intellectuals of the left.

It’s Petty When It Happens To Someone ElseAtlantic columnist Lauren Smiley avoids reality via rhetorical limbo-dancing.

A Stupefying Vanity. In which we attempt to define the contortions of “social justice.”

 

 

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Logos of a Bygone Age

Andrew Wiseman’s Television Room hosts an archive of restored TV logos and station idents, spanning 1936 to the present day. It’s ideal for students of TV history, nostalgia buffs and those with an ironic appreciation of tat from simpler times. Fans of the subject can savour the fascistic overtones of the early BBC and stare in awe at Harlech TV’s monstrous Op-Art mayhem. Others can thrill to the arrival of colour, experiments with tartan, and Kenny Everett's enormous breasts rising from the Thames. The site also hosts a collection of vintage test cards and clocks that we, as loyal viewers, have come to know and love.

Bbc_logo  Anglia_tv  Thames_kenny_everett  Bbc_1985

For more, see Transdiffusion and the Harlech House of Graphics.


Beginnings

When I think of memorable openings to books, one in particular springs to mind. Celia Green’s The Human Evasion is difficult to summarise or adequately explain, which is, I think, part of its charm. Actually, the word ‘charm’ may have misleading connotations, as The Human Evasion is the antithesis of whimsical reassurance as generally conceived. First published in 1969 and subsequently translated into Dutch, German and Italian, The Human Evasion is the most widely read of Green’s books and is perhaps the most ambiguous. Insofar as it’s possible to summarise the book, it’s a rumination on the human predicament in the face of uncertainty and, specifically, on how contemporary thinking entails a number of profound dishonesties and quite mad ideas. Written with striking clarity and the darkest possible humour, The Human Evasion is both funny and disturbing in more or less equal measure. It begins like this:

“On the face of it, there is something rather strange about human psychology. Human beings live in a state of mind called ‘sanity’ on a small planet in space. They are not quite sure whether the space around them is infinite or not (either way it is unthinkable). If they think about time, they find it is inconceivable that it had a beginning. It is also inconceivable that it did not have a beginning. Thoughts of this kind are not disturbing to ‘sanity’, which is obviously a remarkable phenomenon and deserves more recognition.”

More here and here. Update: Thanks to Fabian in the comments, the entire book can be read online here.


Dangerous Excuses

Over at Bloody Scott, Dan Collins links to this article by Tawfik Hamid, a former member of the jihadist terror group, Jemaah Islamiya. Hamid now lives in the West and calls for reform within Islam. The article is definitely worth reading in full, but I’ll highlight some points of particular relevance:

“Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it... It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence… The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Sharia. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts.”

“It is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Sharia's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism… What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western ‘progressives’ pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror... All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.”

Tawfik Hamid is the author of The Roots of Jihad. His writing and audio material can be found at his website.


Wonderland Revisited

Following yesterday’s post about efforts to propagate the reassuring fiction that Islam and terrorism are in no way related, the following item seems relevant. The UN Human Rights Council may claim that highlighting the spread of jihadist ideology is a “defamation” of Islam, but one has to ask when the HRC plans to tell that to the believers featured below, who, it seems, take a different view. The following clip from Channel 4 News demonstrates a familiar blurring of piety, violence and coercion at one of Pakistan’s growing number of radical madrassas. In this case, Pakistan’s largest girls’ madrassa, Jamia Hafsa, is sited just streets away from the centre of government in Islamabad. Despite the HRC's pronouncements, readers may struggle to find a sufficiently clear and reassuring line between four-year-old girls being schooled in radical Islam and older girls at the same school brandishing bamboo clubs, beating women, abducting police officers, and appointing themselves arbiters of virtue and vice.

It’s worth noting that Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the madrassa’s deputy head, is seen making comforting, if implausible, comparisons between the Taliban and Rudy Giuliani, and is then seen five years earlier declaring violent jihad against those who ousted the Taliban and allowed almost four million exiled Muslims to return to their homes. Ghazi’s rejection of democracy and his admiration for bin Laden, along with an enthusiasm for firearms, Sharia and the killing of US soldiers, has been reported elsewhere. But perhaps we should avert our eyes and pretend such things simply do not happen, ever, and pretend that registering otherwise is an act of wilful “defamation.” And perhaps we should make great efforts to ignore other unflattering evidence, however dramatic it may be, and pretend, with increasing urgency, that things are other than they are.

Update: More here.


Wonderland

Apologies for the tardy post. I had been planning to comment on reports that several schools have avoided teaching about the Holocaust and the Crusades on grounds that some Muslim pupils would be “offended” because “balanced treatment of the topic would have directly challenged what was taught in some local mosques.” Thankfully, the Department of Education and Skills report, titled Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, is dealt with over at the Daily Ablution.

I will, however, highlight news that material on the Holocaust has in one case been omitted “for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils.” And I’ll leave readers to ponder how that less-than-heroic stance relates to broader efforts by the UN Human Rights Council to silence “defamation of religion” – or, more accurately, to silence statements of fact regarding one religion in particular. The HRC has passed a resolution expressing “deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.”

Oddly, this “deep concern” is not directed at the numerous clerics, institutions and freelance jihadists who pointedly use Muhammad’s own example as their mandate for terrorism, violence and human rights violations, but at those who have the temerity to oppose such things and who highlight their obvious origins in Islamic history and theology. Robert Spencer has more here and here, and Norman Geras makes a rather important observation here. Note the HRC's opportunist conflation of ideology and race, and the assertion of a fictitious right not to be viewed dimly for one's beliefs, regardless of what they entail. Including, presumably, the aforementioned terrorism, violence and human rights violations. It’s heartening to know that the HRC’s solution to Islamist atrocity and thuggery is to turn on those who think there ought to be less of it. And all in the name of sensitivity, no less. Welcome to Wonderland.

Update: More here and here.