Previous month:
January 2011
Next month:
March 2011

February 2011

Reheated (17)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives.

I’m Other, Subsidise Me.

Omar Kholeif is professionally ethnic and terribly oppressed. Though by what he doesn’t say.

Mr Kholeif doesn’t mention any first-hand experience of vocational or artistic exclusion based on ethnicity, or any similar experience had by anyone known to him, which seems an odd omission as it might have made his argument a little more convincing. In fact, the only discernible obstacles he mentions are the limited market value of his chosen skills and the preferences of his own parents.

It Pays To Be Unobvious.

When clarity is “conservative” and evidence is unhip.

Occasionally, Judith Butler’s politics are aired relatively free of question-begging jargon, thus revealing her radicalism to the lower, uninitiated castes. As, for instance, at a 2006 UC Berkeley “Teach-In Against America’s Wars,” during which the professor claimed that it’s “extremely important” to “understand” Hamas and Hizballah as “social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left” and so, by implication, deserving of support. Readers may find it odd that students are being encouraged to express solidarity with totalitarian terrorist movements that set booby traps in schools and boast of using children as human shields, and whose stated goals include the Islamic “conquest” of the free world, the “obliteration” of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people. However, such statements achieve a facsimile of sense if one understands that the object is to be both politically radical and morally unobvious.

At Last, Socialist Football.

Some kids play better than others. This simply will not do.

Note that “an opportunity to play” doesn’t seem to entail playing as well as you can. And I’m not quite clear how penalising competence squares with the professed ideals of sportsmanship. However, there is some encouraging news. The handbook helpfully urges talented teams to avoid the risk of forfeiture by “reducing the number of players on the field” and “kicking with the weaker foot.”

Take a big stick to the greatest hits.

Friday Ephemera

Human towers teeter, Tarragona, Spain. // Coyote Falls. // DARPA’s robot hummingbird spies on ne’er-do-wells. // The relative sizes of moons, planets and stars. // Space suit of the week. // “Nobody wins a nuclear war.” But “success” is possible. // The 100 best British films? // Urban photography. // A not-so-brief history of house music. (h/t, MeFi) // Ode to the Eighties. // Onion ring mints. (h/t, Chastity Darling) // Bacon toothpaste. // Imposing bunkers of WWII. // Macro kingdom. // Dismal gigs. // Victimhood has advantages. // It’s a money clip, it’s a knife. // And via Peter Risdon: Muammar al-Gaddafi, man of fashion.

Elsewhere (31)

Jonathan Tobin on Wisconsin, double standards and the New York Times.

The portrayal of the unions and their Democratic Party allies, who have attempted not so much to defeat the Republican program but to prevent the legislature from even meeting to vote, as the progressive movement that represents the will of the people is absurd. […] Contrary to the Times, the governor of Wisconsin and the Republicans in the legislature there are not the moral equivalent of Tunisian or Egyptian autocrats. They were voted into office by the people and what they are doing is exactly what they promised the electorate they would do once they gained office. It is the unions and the Democrats who are the reactionary defenders of an untenable and frankly undemocratic status quo, not the Republicans who advocate change.

Heresy Corner on the statist ‘radicalism’ of UK Uncut.

In many English villages there was a tradition known as “rough music.” If a resident had offended against the suffocating norms of rural life - typically a local woman who had begun an irregular sexual liaison - the neighbours would gather night after night under her window banging pots and pans. People would blow horns and shout insults. Effigies of the guilty parties would be paraded through the streets and then burnt. Eventually they would be forced to leave. Rough music was anarchic, democratic (or at least demotic), legally dubious and, at least in appearance, had the spontaneity and anti-authoritarianism of a popular revolt. But the message was resolutely reactionary and conformist.

UK Uncut’s demonstrators share rough music’s self-righteousness and have equally “conservative” aims - shoring up a threatened social model based on high state spending in which the highest expression of morality consists in handing over your money to the government… By choosing tax-avoidance as its Big Issue, the group expresses an abiding and paradoxical attachment to the conventional political institutions, a belief that if the state is no longer central then at least it should be, that its irrelevance is something to be regretted, because the best way to restore balance to politics and to society is to make sure that politicians get More Of Our Money.

And Guido Fawkes has a question for Alan Rusbridger.

What Guido and many confused Guardian readers would like to know is how the use of these opaque investment vehicles is compatible with the public positions taken by the [Guardian Media Group] newspapers and even members of the board. Will Hutton for example is a former editor of the Observer who sits alongside Alan Rusbridger on the board of the Scott Trust Foundation. Is Hutton, a noted campaigner against hedge funds, comfortable with GMG having hundreds of millions in assets both offshore and invested in hedge funds? Are the perennially loss making Guardian newspaper’s columnists like Polly Toynbee happy to have their six-figure salaries paid out of the profits of hedge fund raids on the currencies of emerging market countries? Isn’t it about time the Guardian’s senior executives explained openly and honestly to its readers how it really survives despite losing money every year?

As usual, feel free to add your own.

More Stoicism in the Guardian

Time for another classic sentence, care of Dea Birkett, who tells us, quite emphatically

This is cultural apartheid.


In another place, when one section of society was condemned to a different, less attractive, unseen entrance it was called apartheid.

What, you ask, has caused Ms Birkett’s lava stream of umbrage?

We used to be able to enter by the same door as every other visitor. But when work on the Tate’s £215m extension began last year, overnight all the disabled parking bays were removed. Instead, disabled visitors and their families can park at the rear and use the staff entrance.

Ah. A temporary inconvenience due to building work at Tate Modern. Which, I think you’ll agree, is just like the townships of 1970s South Africa. A quick call to the gallery reveals what Ms Birkett takes care not to disclose. On completion of the work, Tate Modern will be able to offer its disabled patrons enhanced parking facilities – double those available prior to building work - and swifter, more convenient access to the galleries. During the upgrade, provision is hardly threadbare. However, as regular readers will know, victimhood is a competitive business in the pages of the Guardian and wild overstatement is an art form in itself. 

Update, via the comments:

Readers may wonder whether Ms Birkett is being sincere, albeit delusional, or just indulging in theatre and hoping no-one notices. She has, however, managed to avoid addressing any factual corrections from her readers and has instead turned on them, saying: “As so often is the case, it’s shocking to see such hatred against people with disabilities.” Despite being asked, repeatedly, to point to examples of this alleged “hatred” - none of which I could find - Ms Birkett has chosen not to oblige. Such is her righteousness. I can’t help thinking the article tells us more about the author than any hardship she experiences while perusing art, let alone “cultural apartheid.” For instance, Ms Birkett tells us, “Building work is not an excuse to remove access - and that is what happened.” But as the gallery points out and as many of her readers have noted, that’s simply not true. Wheelchair access is temporarily less convenient, and when the building work is done it will be much more convenient than it previously has been. Shocking as it may sound, the Tate isn’t trying to discourage or belittle its disabled customers, whose needs are catered to rather admirably

Casually contradicting herself, Ms Birkett adds, “Access isn’t only about getting in a building, it’s about feeling welcome. If you’re sent to the back door, you don’t feel welcome.” 

Yes, it’s Bethlehem all over again.

Friday Ephemera

The average face, by country. Make your own. (h/t, TDK) // The origins of Coke. // Tree house retreat, Costa Rica. // Uncontacted tribes. // In Bb 2.0. // Slebs. // Snow Blind. // London’s bollards. // Beneath New York. // Abode of note. // Peter Wood on politics in the classroom and the higher education bubble. // My touchscreen is bigger than yours. // Hairdryers of yore. // Magazine cover captions. Readers may spot a subtle theme. // The joys of symmetry. // Japanese snow monsters. // Near the Arctic, food ain’t cheap. // The economics of Star Wars. // Then and now. // How Watson works. (h/t, Mark Charters) // The time is.

Friday Ephemera

Steve Rogers gets buff, fights Nazis. // Steve Reich’s Clapping Music as performed by Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. // Seahorses being born. // Hand-painted chocolate ladybirds. // Chocolate heart. // There are microbes on your cheese. // The catacombs of Paris. // Cockpit panoramas. (h/t, MeFi) // Unseen Star Trek. // Half-pound gummi bear on a stick. // Mechanised shoes make piss-poor art. // Snowflakes and microscopy. // Microscopy and alcohol. // Objects, exploded. // The future isn’t what it used to be. // The apologetic robber. //X-Men rebooted. // “Researchers have managed to make an entire paper clip invisible.”

Sparkly Bits

Further to recent comments regarding Laurie Penny and her struggles with reality, let’s turn to the New Statesman, where, thanks to Laurie, “pop culture and radical politics” are given a “feminist twist.” 

This latest trend shows that female sexual shame remains big business.

Which heinous trend would this be? Why, vajazzling, of course:

The burgeoning celebrity craze for shaving, denuding and perfuming one’s intimate area before applying gemstones in a variety of approved girly patterns. The end result resembles a raw chicken breast covered in glitter.

It’s not for everyone, then.

As the name implies, this one is just for the girls - nobody, so far, has suggested that men’s sexual equipment is unacceptable if it doesn’t taste like cake and sparkle like a disco ball.

Ah. I fear some presumptuous rote feminism may be lurking in the bushes. As it were. But wait a minute. Who’s suggesting that an unadorned ladygarden is now “unacceptable”? Are husbands and boyfriends nationwide lecturing on the woes of unglittered panty parts? Do the manufacturers of vajazzling kits put ominous hints of inadequacy on their packaging? (Incidentally, any male readers in search of a sequinned sack or other “dickoration” will find suitable products online, and New York’s Completely Bare Spa does, I’m told, oblige.) 

Surely it can’t catch on. Surely, no matter how ludicrous, painful and expensive consumer culture’s intervention in our sex lives becomes, nobody is disgusted enough by their own normal genitals that they would rather look like they’ve just been prepped for surgery by Dr Bling. Or are they?

I hate to be a nuisance, but I do have more questions. How, exactly, does “consumer culture” – i.e., a faintly silly fashion product – intervene in “our” sex lives? Aren’t vajazzling kits bought by women voluntarily - for amusement possibly? Are women everywhere, or anywhere, being coerced into vajazzling - and if so, by whom? And why should we assume – apparently based on nothing – that the obvious motives are insecurity and self-disgust?

Suddenly, my teenage friends are popping off to get vajazzled.

Thank goodness for Laurie’s friends, to whom she turns, conveniently, whenever evidence is needed. No doubt they too are mere playthings of the all-powerful vajazzling conglomerates.

Continue reading "Sparkly Bits" »

Behold My Testimonials

As this blog is now four years old - and despite conventions of modesty and good taste - I thought I’d air some of the kind words aimed this way during that period. (The unkind words, a much longer and more expressive list, can wait for another day.)

One of my favourite blogospherical institutions is David Thompson’s Friday Ephemera. No matter what else may be happening in the world, there, every Friday, they are... A couple of clicks will get me to things like... a horse in a car... a sex toys chess set... a cat with bionic legs... (Brian Micklethwait, Samizdata.)

Brilliantly analytical stuff. Go there now. (Libertarian Alliance.)  

Particularly astute. (FIRE.)

Inestimably wonderful... Thompson has the Olympian detachment to see the posturing of radical academics for what it is. (Pirate Ballerina.)

David Thompson has done yeoman work in documenting some of the worst excesses of PC thought disorders in education. (Shrinkwrapped.)

Cool, cultured and cynical. (Fabian Tassano, Mediocracy.)

Brilliant skewering. (Nick M, Counting Cats in Zanzibar.)  

Intelligent, funny and very sharp. (Paul Saxton.)  

If you’re my kind of conservative, you should really be reading David Thompson (this post is a killer), who was pointed out to me, strangely enough, by none other than Canada’s favourite pinko, Dr Dawg.  (Olaf Raskolnikov, Prairie Wrangler.)  

David Thompson, a British ‘muscular liberal’ commentator (on the right, where I sit, although he objects to that description), runs one of the most elegant blogs in the ‘sphere, truly a thing of beauty. I agree with barely a word the man says, but he says it so well. (Dr Dawg.)

David Thompson’s blog is a consistently interesting read, but where I think he really outdoes himself is with his weekly ‘Friday Ephemera’ slot. Today is no exception; you can meet the man who’s collected his own navel fluff since 1984 (and see pics of 25 years of lint and the jars he stores them in); video of the International Space Station, eerily floating 360 km above the camera; a rundown on the world’s most impressive bank vaults; and a mirror made of wood. Actually made of wood... Utterly sound, consistently fascinating, never predictable. (Mr Eugenides.)  

The artful, applied essence of incisive, muscular, game-changing ridicule. You could spend a year of weekends in his archives. (EBD, Small Dead Animals.)   

Oh, and during his time at Protein WisdomDan Collins saw fit to compare your host, favourably, with Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather catsuit - a comparison that has more than once robbed me of a good night’s sleep. If you’ve found this rickety barge at all entertaining over the last four years, please note that it’s kept afloat not by advertising or a secret private fortune, but by PayPal donations. Feel free to browse the archives, the ephemera and the updated greatest hits.

And thank you.

Friday Ephemera

Skeletons made of light. // “How large would they be in the sky?” // Storm on Saturn. // Ann Althouse has shrunk. // Neutrino observatory under Mount Kamioka, Japan. // Pilots, scripts and pitches - from BSG and Doctor Who to The West Wing. (h/t, MeFi) // A whole heap of John Wayne films. // Zombies, robots, aliens. // Portable death ray. // Grow Cannon. // There are things inside your belly button. // Nostrils. // Wristwatch of note. // Residence of note. // The uterus piñata. // The UK explained for readers overseas. Look, we’re complicated, okay? // The complete McBain. (h/t, MirandaM) // 22 manly uses for an Altoids tin.