David Thompson
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November 12, 2007

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Ian

How does this criticism square up with the last edition, which showed a car coming last in a race between bike, boat, public transport and chelsea tractor, to get from one side of London to the other.

I think the lost point of the speed camera was how much effort you need to actually be able to beat one (a professional racing driver, 2 miles of straight road and a £45,000 TVR Tuscan), it therefore proved quite the opposite, that you might think your little Honda Civic is fast because it has blue LEDs on the windscreen washer jets, but don't try it on with speed cameras.

David

Ian,

Missing the point appears to serve Monbiot’s worldview, which, I guess, is why he misses it so often. In this instance, his worldview seems to hinge on a belief that Top Gear is some kind of terrible corrupting influence on people less discriminating then himself.

Ian

In the same edition as the London race I mentioned, it was the turn of Simon Cowell to attempt to claim his trophy on the new "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car", the exchange between him and Clarkson is worth watching simply because Cowell manages to put Clarkson down in such a way it is unbelievably cringe worthy, like a lamb standing up to a tiger.

The fact is that Cowell knows his own industry far better than Clarkson knows his, in fact, Cowell knows about cars better than Clarkson, he drives better than Clarkson, has owned more cars than Clarkson, and is better looking and fitter than (similarly aged) Clarkson, all these points are delivered precisely as retorts, if you are an anti-Clarksonite, and can actually stand Cowell, then it is comedy gold.

At the end, Cowell manages to give Clarkson some due, saying he is funnier, and breaks ice by beating Gordon Ramsey into second place and saying now all he needs is now an Englishman in number 10 as well, to Clarkson's appreciative clapping.

They end with a big manly hug.

What this has to do with Monbiot ? The answer is that Clarkson is a buffoon, but he's a funny buffoon and his job is entertainment, he doesn't care and at least he's got a foothold in the real world, meeting real people.

Monbiot, in his current guise, is also a buffoon, but he's not funny, he's just a waste of air milling up controversy where it does not exist like all scumbag journalists of his ilk.

A previous edition showed Clarkson trying to cross Botswana in a Lancia Beta, the car developed an electric fault in a remote village and Clarkson had to turn to some local wallah to fix it, thus explains the depth of Clarksons mechanical knowledge, buffoonery at it's best, you really have to wonder how Monbiot sees this as a threat.

David

Ian,

I don’t think Monbiot’s pronounced objection to the programme, and to Clarkson in particular, is explicable in purely rational terms. As you say, the programme is hardly a source of moral corruption. It’s buffoonish and fun, as much for its general attitude as for the extraordinary cars or farcical stunts. Maybe it’s because the show is unapologetically masculine in tone, and uninhibited by the small dishonesties that so preoccupy some people. There’s also a chance the ill-feeling is personal in nature. I recall some BBC radio phone-in in which Clarkson and Monbiot exchanged heated views. Monbiot came off by far the worst and appeared priggish, pretentious and whiny. Which, of course, he is.

Matt M

I saw this and thought of you:

http://www.cracked.com/article_15667_5-most-unintentionally-hilarious-comic-strips.html

(Well, the 'Friday Ephemera' to be more precise.)

David

Excellent. The silver-haired angel of death, Mary Worth, is a personal favourite.

N. O'Brain

I'd like to horsewhip Monbiot.

And I would, too, if I had a horse.

Rosie

As for me, a militant cyclist, I would like to see Jeremy Clarkson being forced to pedal a rickshaw carrying old feminists on nostalgia visits to Greenham Common. The speed cameras will be altered so that if he fell below 10 mph Al Gore would be added to the load.

David

N.O’Brain and Rosie,

Either of those scenarios would be worth a prime time slot. Perhaps we should write letters. “Dear BBC…”

Incidentally, what’s a “militant” cyclist? Does it involve special tyres, or a particular peddling technique?

georges

Err, I think it means ignoring red lights and driving on the pavement.

AntiCitizenOne

I cycle every day to and from work, but I don't have the bike identity problem that Rosie has.

London is more hilly than it looks!

Rosie

"Err, I think it means ignoring red lights and driving on the pavement." No, that's the extremist wing that I entirely disassociate myself from. It's an old vulgar error to fall into, confusing the militant cyclist and the lawless cyclist.

A militant cyclist plans for the day when the internal combusting monstrosities that have destroyed cities and countryside not to mention making economies dependent on oil are smashed and refashioned into spokes and cross bars.

David

“…the internal combusting monstrosities that have destroyed cities and countryside…”

Gosh. I’d better check whether the Audi’s atomic blasters need recharging. What with all those cities and grassy hillocks now rendered unto dust.

Rosie

"Gosh. I’d better check whether the Audi’s atomic blasters need recharging. What with all those cities and grassy hillocks now rendered unto dust. "

Typical petrolheaded missing the point, David. And seeking to undermine by ridicule. And an Audi! That's a girl's car.

David

Rosie,

“Typical petrolheaded missing the point, David. And seeking to undermine by ridicule.”

Well, your statement was rather ridiculous – “destroyed” being such a strong word – and hence the ridicule. I’d actually assumed you were joking. Regarding the point that’s being missed, perhaps you’d care to explain exactly how “internal combusting monstrosities… have *destroyed* cities and countryside”?

AntiCitizenOne

If anything is destroying things for cyclists it's bendy buses in London's capital.

Murray Love

"It clearly isn’t enough for Monbiot that his own worldview is reflected widely across the media. The fact that a single hour of airtime should defy his prejudices is, it seems, an intolerable irritation."

Slightly off-topic, but when I read this I couldn't help thinking of the frothing that media outlets like Fox News provoke. It's not enough for lefties that they're in charge of the great majority of influential media outlets like CNN, the BBC, the Guardian, the NYT, and so on; the very presence of a (not particularly consistently) conservative-leaning media source causes them to become unhinged.

And as for this silliness:

"A militant cyclist plans for the day when the internal combusting monstrosities that have destroyed cities and countryside not to mention making economies dependent on oil are smashed and refashioned into spokes and cross bars."

As a long-term cyclist, let me just say: Hell is other cyclists. Compared to them, most motor vehicles are models of reassuring predictability.

David

Murray Love,

Well, my point above is that lurid overstatement doesn’t make a position more truthful. (See Monbiot’s columns for any number of bombastic examples.) The language of annihilation and impending apocalypse is used a little too readily. Overwrought language may gratify the emotions of the author and make *them* believe what they say, but others may grow suspicious, and with good reason. Perhaps we should try to reserve apocalyptic terminology for the real thing, should it materialise.

I think the tendency to overstate in this way is, for many, a feature of wanting to appear oppositional or “fighting the power” or whatever. “Only I stand against the forces of darkness,” etc. More on that below (see last paragraph):

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/11/radical-darling.html

Chris Allen

"I would like to see Jeremy Clarkson being forced to pedal a rickshaw carrying old feminists on nostalgia visits to Greenham Common."

Hmmm. I think it would be much more fun to see the fat old minge-munchers from the "Peace Camp" buried UNDER Greenham Common.

Better yet, all that flab would make excellent runway ballast for Nuke carrying Stealth Bombers.

Rosie

I was overstating for comic effect as that remark about an Audi being a girl's car should have told you.

However, I would say that the daily commute on the cycle would turn anyone militant. In the fifteen or so minutes it takes there will be usually one petrolhead who through inattention, incompetence or frustration who will come close to causing you injury.

As when after a suicide bombing they do surveys and find that about 10 or 20% who don't do the bombing rather approve of it so you assume that 10 or 20% of the dirty-air makers would like you to be removed off the road, with all necessary force.

As for destruction to the cities – have you seen Birmingham lately? Or where they shoved motorways through Glasgow?

David

Rosie,

“As for destruction to the cities – have you seen Birmingham lately? Or where they shoved motorways through Glasgow?”

Much as I understand the irritations of congestion, careless driving, etc, I tend to think of roads and traffic as being part of what cities are. Or, if you prefer, as part of what cities do. As for latently homicidal motorists, I’d guess the percentage is roughly the same as for any other mode of travel. Except, of course, balloonists. They’re all bastards, obviously.

The Thin Man

Rosie

Get over yourself. Transport based on the internal combustion engine has produced incalculable benefits to modern society. Transport hasn't destroyed cities - it has helped BUILD them.

Just because you believe that man and his machines are an evil that must be opposed (and violently opposed, judging by your use of the epithet "militant" and your recourse to analogy with suicide bombers) does not make it so.

Economies "smashed".... so what you are saying is that in order to placate YOUR loathing of cars, we should shut down the economy and plunge millions of Britons into poverty. How very enlightened of you. How very rebellious of you.

"the daily commute on the cycle would turn anyone militant" - actually no it wouldn't. I know many people who cycle to work and they do not exhibit this "militant" tendency. You would appear to be suffering from the cycle equivalent of road rage.

"10 or 20% of the dirty-air makers would like you to be removed off the road, with all necessary force" - this is a paranoid delusion. 10 - 20% of drivers are not engaged in some great scheme to remove cyclists. Drivers are individuals, just like you, who sometimes make mistakes. They really are not out to get you.

Take care Rosie - judging from your comments here, I suspect that you may be well on the way to a tinfoil hat.

TDK

As another person who cycles when I can and uses the train when I can't (and I don't live in London) can I add my penny worth.

Most cyclists I know complain about cars. So do I. I regard it much like we complain about customers when we work in a business or about patients when we work in a hospital. In fact drivers complain about other drivers. On the train tonight people grumbled about the trains. It's normal to complain about the petty and sometimes not so petty irritations that we deal with on a daily basis. It's a mark of our shared experience much like complaining about the weather. Most cyclists I know, will acknowledge that even if they assert that they would like to see cars banned, it isn't remotely serious, it's venting steam. But Rosie seems to have gone way beyond this.

10-20% of the general population do not approve of suicide bombing. At worst 10-20% of a 3-4% minority approve. These aren't random people. They not only share a certain ideology, they hold a particular non-negotiable variant of that ideology.

Apart from a tiny number number of psychopaths most big evil is done by ideologues. People who assume that because only they know the truth and the light, that gives them sanction to demand conformity from the unenlightened masses, and the right to use force if they don't comply. Perhaps the right to crush people who have the effrontery to drive after the prophets have spoken. The right to shackle them to carts to transport the party faithful. Greens are not the first to advocate a return to year zero.

I guess Rosie jokes, but her arguments seemed to be based upon emotional outbursts backed up by a poor grasp of basic facts. A religious zeal if you like.

Rosie

"Just because you believe that man and his machines are an evil that must be opposed"

Thin man:- a bicycle is a machine, and one of elegant and economic design. I am ready to eulogise it and the men who designed and developed it any day.

For further reading on bicycles vs cars you can try this link:- http://rosiebell.typepad.com/rosiebell/2007/11/cyclists-fight.html

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