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April 2011

I’m Not Condoning Violence, But…

“Activist” Sam Allen has a way with words. Which is handy, given that she’s the spokesperson for the ‘No Tesco in Stokes Croft’ campaign. The campaigners have taken exception to the building of a Tesco supermarket, citing concern for local businesses, the environment and workers’ rights. Other concerns include deforestation and the selling of cheap food. Both of which are bad.

She says,

Our objections clearly outlined how opening this Tesco store would pose a threat to public safety. Our community is well known for having people who, if they are silenced, will act in a way that will ensure they will be heard.

Note the rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It’s quite bold. Being “silenced” is apparently indistinguishable from not being agreed with, and “being heard” now entails being obeyed. If the opening of a supermarket seems an unlikely cause of bomb-making, rioting and hospitalisation, those “public safety” issues can be seen quite vividly in the videos linked below: 

There are groups within our community that are prepared to break the law if their voices are squashed and not heard.”

Whose street?” “Our street!

Needless to say, Ms Allen’s view isn’t shared by all local residents, one of whom adds the following comment to the campaigners’ website:

Tesco was badly needed in Stokes Croft. There’s nothing even close in the area and most of the local silent majority welcomed its arrival. Those anarchists with their pseudo socialist ideology decided to ruin the area for everyone else trying to get on with their lives.

Another adds,

No-one’s going to force you to shop at Tesco; if the decision to open a store there is as unpopular as you say it is, it won’t be open for long.

Indeed. If the overwhelming majority of residents share Ms Allen’s piety, as she would have us believe, then there’s no obvious reason to set about destroying someone else’s property while expecting other locals to pay the subsequent bill for policing and repairs. If anything, the readiness to threaten and vandalise suggests a fear of being revealed as something much less edifying. However, such views aren’t exactly welcome on the campaigners’ website:

Please fuck off and die screaming of cancer you Zionist parasite scumbags.

Tesco was of course founded by John Edward Cohen.

Continue reading "I’m Not Condoning Violence, But…" »

Friday Ephemera

This penguin likes being tickled. // Run, children, run, there’s a dinosaur on the loose. // Because all dogs love bacon-scented bubbles. // While ladies like bacon roses. // A museum of handbags and purses. (h/t, MeFi) // The miniature crossbow you’ve always wanted. // How animals become meat. // The human Spirograph. // Human Tetris. // A miniature orchestra and other little paper people. // The Post Office railway. (h/t, Rob Read) // “Social justice.” // Star Wars: The Musical, 1996. // The view from Everest. // The skies in Spain. // And because it’s Friday… Goats being herded by monkeys riding dogs. It’s a thing, apparently.

Elsewhere (36)

David French on the lowering of higher education:  

If you have college for all but don’t dumb down the standards, the dropout rate will stagger the imagination. If you have college for all and lower standards so that most can earn a degree, then you devalue college by transforming it into something more like a longer and (much) more expensive high school. So then the high-achievers will feel an even greater imperative to go to the next level. High school becomes middle school, college becomes high school, graduate school becomes college, and our prolonged adolescence continues and worsens.

KC Johnson revisits the reality-bending scholarship of “post-structuralist teacher-critic leftist” Wahneema Lubiano:  

For Lubiano, “altering reality within the sphere of influence of a dominant culture instead of simply representing it complicates the discourse.” But, of course, “altering reality” allows the scholar to read into the text whatever preconceptions (about the pervasiveness of racism, in the case of Lubiano’s dissertation) he or she brings. Who needs evidence when you can simply “alter reality”? Lubiano isn’t worried about such a problem, in any case, because her dissertation’s approach allows her to move beyond the great enemy of the contemporary academy: “assumptions that hide their dependence upon white, European and American, middle-class contexts.”

Readers will recall that Lubiano rails against the “hegemony” of “Western rationality,” which, she tells us, “marginalises other ways of thinking about the world.” The professor – tenured at an elite university - is apparently “physically traumatised and psychologically assaulted” by, among other things, global capitalism. 

And Fabian Tassano on ersatz subversion

I don’t wish to argue about my precise political preferences, and I suppose it’s fairly obvious that I’m no great fan of socialism. But what I write in this area is determined by what I experience as being the dominant ideology - every society has one, of course. This happens to be leftist as far as British culture goes, and has been at least as far back as when I was at college (the eighties). Even in the heyday of Thatcherism it seemed fairly obvious that the intelligentsia was dominated by people who despised the Right. […] The worst sort of dominant ideology is the kind which portrays itself as not dominant but counter-cultural, like the present one. (See pseudo-iconoclasmpseudo-challenge, etc. Also note the similarities with communist regimes which try to use the notion of being in a perpetual state of revolution against the bourgeoisie.) As it says on the back of the Mediocracy book: Subversion as counterculture is inspiring, subversion as dogma is obnoxious.

The perpetual revolution against the bourgeoisie can be seen in its full glory here. “By doing this I can give ideological assistance to the people.”

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

Strictly speaking, this isn’t supposed to happen. // Flight recorder remnants. // The Kim Jong-Il tongue scraper. (h/t, Chastity Darling) // Treehouse mansion. // Carved bananas. // The new Bugatti sedan. // Abandoned theatres. // Bee station. // I think I can see my house from here. // Cats and dolphins, an uneasy relationship. // The journey of a coffee bean. // Virtual pottery. // The 16 greatest cities in human history. (h/t, Peter Horne) // Chinese bureaucrats dislike time-travel dramas. (h/t, MeFi) // Give to the Red Cross Japan Appeal and receive some fine free music. // And via Peter Risdon, the new sound of Shatner.

Because Men Have Abortions Too

AC1 and the mighty Iowahawk steer us to an item of possible interest over at Feministing, where ideological extremity is the currency of status, and where Lori Adelman tells us,

Why I won’t be talking about abortion as a “women’s issue” anymore.

Readers hoping that the issue might be opened up as one also involving the male partners of women who choose abortion will, I fear, be disappointed. The ladies at Feministing have repeatedly made their feelings on that subject quite clear. Male grief at the loss of a child-to-be is - and can only be - “inauthentic,” “illegitimate” and an artefact of the all-powerful patriarchy. For a man to feel he has lost a child due to his partner’s termination is “appalling,” a “fantasy” and not to be “pandered” to.

Instead, Ms Adelman has stumbled across something much more pressing. Something that is,

Tangible, practical, and incredibly straightforward that we can all start doing right now to strengthen our trans activism and our reproductive justice work.

Those practical and straightforward steps include,

Stop saying and stop thinking that abortion is a women’s issue. That’s it. Pretty simple right? But incredibly important.

Why so, you ask?

Cause, the thing is, it’s not just women that have abortions

She is of course referring to the world-shaking insights of activist and gender trendsetter Jos Truitt, whose ponderings reveal,

Trans men have abortions. Gender queer people have abortions. Two spirit people have abortions. People who do not fit into the box of ‘woman’ have abortions. That’s the reality we live in.

Reality is a subject to which Ms Truitt refers on more than one occasion. Hers, though, appears to have features not commonly recognised: 

Continue reading "Because Men Have Abortions Too" »

Friday Ephemera

The museum of snake charmer imagery. // Catch spiders with impunity. // Tarkovsky’s polaroids. // Cardboard Hasselblad. // At last, a beer holster. // Life-size horse puppet. // Historical maps. // How to hide your aircraft plant in wartime. (h/t, Dr Westerhaus) // Aerial photographs. (h/t, Peter Horne) // Secret garden. // Dads on vacation. // Juggling quadrocopters. // Mark Steyn on the politics of cowboy poetry recitals. Parts 1 and 2. (h/t, DB) // So how much extra tax would you volunteer to pay? // Cannabis Culture. (h/t, rjmadden) // Assorted LSD documentaries. “It dissolves in your mind as well as your mouth.” // Laughing owls.

Ignorant Teachers, a New Socialist Ideal

Your host has an article posted over at Minding the Campus. It expands on a few themes that may be familiar to regulars here.

Natural variations in cognitive ability, unlike those in musicality or athleticism, are a thorn in the paw of devout egalitarians. Avid readers of the Guardian’s arts and music pages would no doubt feel free to delight in the prowess of, say, Helen Mirren or Pinchas Zukerman without believing that everyone they passed on the street could with training do the same. It seems that only intelligence attracts contrarian manoeuvring.

The latest example of which comes via Fabian Tassano, author of Mediocracy: Inversions and Deceptions in an Egalitarian Culture. Tassano steers us to the claims of senior philosophy lecturer and Guardian contributor Dr Nina Power, who insists, apparently based on nothing, that “everyone has the potential to understand everything,” and that equality of intelligence is “something to be presupposed” because – well, just because  - “everyone is equally intelligent.”

Dr Power’s assertions are bold and her reasoning unobvious, indeed difficult to detect - thus meeting the key criteria of Very Deep Thought. She refers to the French postmodernist Jacques Rancière, whose “axiomatic assertion of the equality of intelligence” is, we’re told, “one of the most important ideas of the past decade.” On what basis Rancière felt entitled to make such claims - and why Dr Power sees fit to agree with them - remains somewhat mysterious. Dr Power does, however, cite fellow philosopher Peter Hallward, who tells us, “Everyone has the same intelligence, and differences in knowledge are simply a matter of opportunity and motivation. On the basis of this assumption, superior knowledge ceases to be a necessary qualification of the teacher, just as the process of explanation… ceases to be an integral part of teaching.”  

On this, Dr Power elaborates, highlighting another benefit of the egalitarian ideal: “In principle then, there is no reason why a teacher is smarter than his or her student, or why educators shouldn’t be able to learn alongside pupils in a shared ignorance.” 

Knowledge, competence and the ability to explain – none of these things will be needed in our socialist utopia. Children will simply inhale education or absorb it through osmosis. On reflection, a couple of the teachers at my old comprehensive were particularly unskilled at explaining their thinking and struggled to remember facts. At the time I had no idea this would soon be regarded as a cutting-edge educational strategy.

The full article is here

Elsewhere (35)

Anton Howes pays a visit to a London squat:  

I had expected people struggling to get by and occupying someone else’s property as a last resort, but the iPods and laptops suggested otherwise… Given they professed to have reclaimed the place for the people, I tried to explore. However, I was stopped when trying to go upstairs: it was apparently “private.” I complained that this surely contradicted the whole justification for occupation but was told, “If you’re going to be like that, you can fuck off then.”

It seems the slogan “property is theft” has quietly been modified to something a little more honest, if scarcely less stupid:  “Your property is theft. Mine is out of bounds.” 

Heresy Corner on blame, condescension and burning Qur’ans:  

One might as well blame the 9/11 hijackers, or the rioters against the Danish cartoons, without whose actions it would never have occurred to Mr Jones that the Qur’an was a book worth burning. By all means criticise the Qur’an-burning if you disapprove of it on grounds such as respect for religion or for the feelings of believers. But to condemn it on the grounds that it incites violence betrays severe moral confusion.

Of the kind explored at length here and here.

And Quentin Letts casts an eye over Arts Council spending:  

In the past five years, the Arts Council, which has been through six restructurings since 1993, has spent more than £300,000 on public opinion research. In 2009, it spent £100,000 on media monitoring and £107,000 on legal fees (down from £455,000 in 2008). Some £50,000 was blown on office Christmas parties in two years. Christmas cards accounted for another £22,000 in 2009. The spending has been like something out of The Great Gatsby. Arts Council buildings cost £2.7 million a year to rent, while latest figures show an annual administration spend of £48 million. Oh, and 20 staff had ‘diversity’ in their job titles last year, while almost 40 had ‘communication’ on their business cards. All of this money has been spent before a single play, a single concert or a single exhibition was staged.

Arts Council chair and noted Guardianista Liz Forgan has taken great exception to Mr Letts’ piece, in particular his reference to the organisation’s “multicultural nomenklatura of senior lieutenants.” As Guido Fawkes notes, Ms Forgan is now demanding “‘sincere and personal apologies’ to the entire Arts Council board and senior management team for suggesting that they might have been token appointments who won their jobs on anything but open competition.” Which may not be the soundest footing for public umbrage, given that the Arts Council and its protégés openly celebrate taxpayer-funded racial favouritism.

Friday Ephemera

Miracle breakthrough in spilled condiment relocation. // The brass knuckle tenderiser. (h/t, Chastity Darling) // A beard of toothpicks. // At last, a waterproof notepad. // Make your own chocolate Creme Eggs. (h/t, TDK) // Cloud wave. (h/t, Dr Westerhaus) // Can yours do this? // A house that looks like Hitler. // Starlings imitate hedgehog. // Artificial bird. // Bugs and mites up close. // The last word in infant fancy dress? // Bender hat. // A brief history of web browsers. // Comb jellies, butterflies and other beasts of the sea. // The Grand Canyon of Mars. // The sand is coming. // And I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here.