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November 2011

Elsewhere (52)

KC Johnson encounters more protesting intellectuals

According to the New York Times, organisers “were protesting not only tuition increases [of $300 per year] but also the university’s push for a public-private partnership,” such as the $1.4 billion in private philanthropy that [City University of New York] has received this year. Of course, if the university received no private support, either tuition bills would have to increase dramatically or services, including the number of faculty, would need to be slashed dramatically. But logic doesn’t appear to be a strong suit of “OccupyCUNY.”

Note the hostility to private and commercial philanthropy, i.e. money given voluntarily, and the simultaneous belief that using money taken forcibly via punitive taxation is a much more righteous endeavour. Apparently, funding by coercion makes the protestors’ education virtuous, or at least more satisfying. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before, of course. Note too the standard “occupy” traits – arrogance, unrealism and a passive-aggressive disregard for the safety and rights of others. Why, it’s almost as if socialism were a license for neoteny and spite.

Charles Kadlec ponders the unspoken meaning of “social justice”:

The OWS movement demonstrates that “social justice” is based on unjust policies similar to those they condemn. The protestors rightfully assail the bailouts of banks and Wall Street executives, but their solution is more of the same including bailouts for student loans and individuals who took out mortgages on houses they could not afford.

In truth, the OWS protestors are only skirmishing over the distribution of the spoils system they claim to abhor. Their demands for higher tax rates on the “1%” show their desire to join those who pillage through the power of government. They call it “social justice.” But its credo is the same as the crony capitalists who exploit the American people through government handouts: Both seek to use political power to satisfy their needs by taking the income of others rather than through voluntary exchanges. In each case, its true name is “greed.”

And Mark Steyn is unimpressed by U.S. budget “cuts”: 

In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling (and, by the way, that’s the wrong way of looking at it: more accurately, we’re lowering the debt abyss), John Boehner bragged that he’d got a deal for “a real, enforceable cut” of supposedly $7 billion from fiscal year 2012. After running the numbers themselves, the Congressional Budget Office said it only cut $1 billion from FY 2012. Which of these numbers is accurate?

The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn’t have every hour of every day. So, if it’s $1 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes to roast a 20-pound stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government’s already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it’s $7 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back. Bonus question: How “real” and “enforceable” are all those real, enforceable cuts? By the time the relevant bill passed the Senate earlier this month, the 2012 austerity budget with its brutal, savage cuts to government services actually increased spending by $10 billion.

As usual, feel free to add your own in the comments.

Hush, Our Betters Are Speaking

It’s about antagonising people and slapping them around a little bit and waking them up to reality.

So says Kalle Lasn, editor of the anti-capitalist magazine Adbusters and inspiration for Occupy Wall Street. He and his OccupodPeople are slapping us around for our own good. It’s altruism, see - because they care - and it’s the only way we’ll learn.

Mr Lasn also shares his views on Christmas, the build-up to which he hopes to disrupt with a mix of flashmobs, “rabble-rousing,” sit-ins and other yuletide obstruction:

[Christmas] has been an empty, soulless kind of ritual that very, very few people  enjoy.

He’s therefore giving us “a new way of thinking about the holidays.” He, or rather his minions, will “occupy the paradigm” and “occupy our minds.” Yes, they will save us from Christmas. With sit-ins and mobs in shops. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, here’s a video of an attempted flashmob “occupation” from earlier this year, in which protestors, some of whom were masked, invaded and eventually shut down a Boots store in Oxford Street. One protestor was arrested for suspected criminal damage, at which point other protestors tried to overpower the arresting female officer in an attempt to prevent the arrest. Despite repeated instructions to step back, a scuffle ensued, during which at least three protestors ended up with CS spray in their faces. The protestors inevitably accused the police of being “violent,” “heavy-handed” and “disproportionate.” The views of the store’s owner and customers were, sadly, unclear:  

Continue reading "Hush, Our Betters Are Speaking" »

Elsewhere (51)

Heather Mac Donald on the moochers of Zuccotti Park:

While the number of people who commandeered Zuccotti Park was pathetically small - several hundred a night - compared with the weight of media attention lavished upon them, their sense of entitlement to take other people’s property, whether public or private, is unfortunately widespread… The demand by student participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests that they be allowed to welsh on their student loans simply because they don’t want to pay them displays a similar sense of royal privilege over other people’s property - in this case, the assets of taxpayers who extended the loans.

As regular readers will know, seizing and demanding other people’s stuff is, among some, a very fashionable idea.

Silvia Morandotti shares a cautionary tale and some simple lessons. Among which, “Higher taxes mean bigger government, not lower deficits.” And, “Nations reach a point of no return when the number of people mooching off government exceeds the number of people producing.”

And John Sexton parses the vanity of Kalle Lasn, whose idea to “occupy” Wall Street has now become embarrassing: 

Why should [taxpayers] have to subsidise some kid’s desire to study 20th century protest movements? Answer: They shouldn’t. Lasn’s entire move is about getting someone else to pay for the society he envisions… You cannot take over private property, irritate the neighbourhood with drumming day and night, put local business out of business, allow crime and violence to flourish in a cop free zone that is unsafe for women, and then demand that the city endlessly spend millions to deal with your nonsense… People are already sick of it. And that’s why cities around the country are tossing these camps out of public spaces so they can once again be for the public, not for the tiny fraction of a percent of naïve dopes that read [his] magazine.

Whenever you read a statement by an OccupodPerson, look for the signature traits: Arrogance, vindictiveness and utter self-involvement. You may be surprised just how often they crop up.

As usual, feel free to add your own.

Friday Ephemera

Measuring explosive duck erections. Make a donation and advance science! (h/t, Jim Cambias) // The museum of the modern snowglobe. // Baby teeth and adult teeth. // Wombat in a tea cup. // Pig-shaped pork. // On eating insects. // The hazards of running shoes. // HumanForm, a flexible phone. // Fenella Fielding’s voice. (h/t, Stephen)  // The Iron Lady. // Stuttgart City Library. // The submerged cars of Thailand’s Honda factory. // Cheese cube. // Approaching bridges in a different way. // Burglary in the webcam age (but with a happy ending). // A brief history of beer. // Vodka-soaked tampons are the new thing, apparently.

The OccupodPeople Will Save Us

Via EBD, meet Daniel Johnson, Saskatchewan Green Party candidate and full-time OccupodPerson: “Occupy has no leaders. We run on a consensus based thing, though there are kind of… certain people whose ideas get followed more than others.”

Spare a moment too for this union liaison and Portland Occupodder who wants to “see human beings come together” and “interact with one another.” You see, he’s “tired of differentialities.” However, this touchy-feely soul “couldn’t care two fucks about what happens if, you know, we have another Great Depression.” So his requests for more intimate interaction may not appeal to everyone:

Continue reading "The OccupodPeople Will Save Us" »

Friday Ephemera

The starlings of Rome. // Surfing, Matrix-style. // This is exactly why I’ve never had a moustache. // How to relocate a sedated rhino. (h/t, Ka-Ching!) // The perpetual dilemma of Michael Moore. // Mythical injustice. // Unfolding apartment. // The interactive periodic table of swearing. // Why “social science” is disreputable. // Nature wants to eat you. (h/t, R. Sherman) // “If there’s one speech about the climate debate worth reading in your lifetime, this is it.” // GroundBot. // Outgrowing Marxism. // The explosions of Michael Bay. // The 10 best villains in literature? // Truckstopping. // TasteSpotting. // Following the reindeer.

A Better World (2)

Another one for the pile marked passive-aggressive, from Occupy Portland. It’s a long clip but instructive, and as things progress, unpleasantly tense. I can’t help thinking it captures the, er, flavour of so much of what we’ve seen. There’s something for everyone. An ineffectual pacifist who arrives too late, fails to calm the situation then walks away; vacant stoners; and a belligerent onlooker who also wants to play the passive-aggressive game. Note how Masked Raving Guy says, “We are the 99% and we don’t want you in our society!” (That’s because he’s “trying to bring back democracy,” see?) Masked Raving Guy is ostensibly angry about how his fellow protestors have been depicted, i.e., as incoherent and aggressive. “We don’t want any violence,” screams he, while going out of his way to be provocative and physically intimidating.

I’m guessing his reflection doesn’t please him.


Continue reading "A Better World (2)" »

Thuggery and Squalor is New and Exciting

Further to this extended post on the Occupy phenomenon, here’s a brief update on the “movement” that, according to Laurie Penny, “is trying to do something so profoundly new and exciting with politics.”

Occupy Wall Street seems to be spiralling even deeper into farce – and is now a crime-ridden “sliver of madness, a leaderless bazaar,” according to Candice Giove of the New York Post, who stayed overnight and lived to regret it. The Great Utopian Project in Zuccotti Park now has its own “rape-free zones,” which suggests exactly the kind of problem you think it suggests, and, in suitably Orwellian style, some opinion-management issues have apparently arisen. Though at least they don’t yet have a serious hair and body lice problem, as is the case at Occupy Portland.

Occupy Denver has coughed up the usual parade of people with issues, with banners telling us that the “business world needs to be eradicated” and “killing billionaires” is the way forward. Among the more notable participants was Orange Neckerchief Guy – named Frankie Roper – who arrived at the protest wearing painted-on “injuries” and then set about harassing police officers, verbally and physically, in the hope of provoking “brutality” and thus achieving martyrdom. When this initial bid failed, Mr Roper resorted to pushing one passing officer from his motorbike. Roper promptly ran away, being as he is so radical and brave, but was soon wrestled to the ground and arrested by the officer he’d assaulted a few seconds earlier. Naturally, there followed much collective indignation and mutterings of brutality.

Meanwhile, Occupy Eureka brings us the joys of public defecation and dirty protest, and Occupy Boston is apparently “deteriorating” amid crack dealing, drunkenness and fights. Protestors in Boston also found time to “occupy” the Israeli consulate, chanting “Intifada! Intifada!” and further north, Occupy Vancouver can boast its first “confirmed fatality.” At Occupy DC, where violence erupted again, some protestors saw fit to bring small children to use as shields and doorstops, a move that takes radical leftwing parenting to a whole new level. At the same site, protestors harassed female reporters, held a wheelchair-bound woman captive and pushed elderly ladies down concrete steps, all of which obviously signal the last word in radical piety.

Readers may struggle to understand the mindset of people who find it acceptable to jostle and intimidate elderly ladies who are just trying to get home. Just as they may struggle to empathise with people who find it entertaining to trap and intimidate a woman in a wheelchair. I scarcely need to point out that none of the protestors stopped to help either of the elderly women who’d been knocked over. Instead, these titans of tomorrow kept on chanting and feeling righteous about themselves.


Re the videos of violence and physical intimidation linked in the post above, it’s worth noting the following comments by Ace:  

The media likes to claim these demonstrations are ‘mostly’ non-violent. But every mob persists because of the implied -- and often express -- threat that violence will ensue if police attempt to disperse them. Before the elderly woman is pushed to the ground for the crime of attending a conference the mob doesn’t support, the mob indulges in a joyous spree of menace and intimidation. They gleefully block a car, driven by a guy with a 2-year-old in the back seat, just trying to get home, because they want to make their physical capacity to harm other people known. They get in the face of a couple with what looks like a four year old and a pre-toddler, to let them know the mob has power over them. They get up into people’s faces with menacing gestures -- hands flashed quickly to people’s faces, a pantomime of violence -- to let them know the mob can hurt them, the moment it wishes to.

The point about “pacifist” protestors implying mob violence should anyone dare to challenge them is illustrated in the update to this.

Update 2:

Continue reading "Thuggery and Squalor is New and Exciting" »

Friday Ephemera

Attention fitness enthusiasts, the Tug Toner has arrived. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) // Man mistakes moon for UFO. // Levitating lampshade. // Apartment block of note. // It’s a decommissioned nuclear bunker, it’s a luxury home. // Clouds, lots of clouds. // Criminal penguins. // Assorted ceramic dildos. (h/t, Phil Radmall) // Don’t stop ‘til you see smoke. // Smoke like this. // “Spiders, as it happens, can often be identified by their genitalia.” // Just bacon. // Vegas, ’62. (h/t, EBD) // The guardian of the hole. (h/t, Julia) // Great questions of our time, #621. // Here’s something else not everyone can do. // And beware the big bad wolf.