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December 2011

Tidings (5)

As the holidays near – and this rickety barge approaches the end of its fifth year afloat - posting will for a while be more intermittent than usual. Subscribing to the blog feed is therefore recommended. As always, thanks for taking the time to comment and for all the donations made towards the upkeep of the barge. Newcomers may wish to rummage through the archives and updated greatest hits, where things like this and this and this are not at all uncommon.

Before heading off to indulge in the traditional festive pastimes, I’ll leave you with some immensely practical wisdom.

Don’t torment the frog:

Continue reading "Tidings (5)" »

Friday Ephemera

“The Little Rooster will wake her up with increasing vibration intensities.” // Your kitchen needs robots. // Art with salt. // What exactly happens when you fall into lava? // Scribbled line people. // Do you pogo? // When octopuses mate, it’s quite confusing. // Ugly Renaissance babies. // Baby echidna. // Brains made of food. // Build your own gingerbread geodesic house. // Devastating explosions. // “Sapphire and Steel have been assigned…” (h/t, MeFi) // Seven-inch insect eats carrots. // Terrarium Christmas tree ornaments. // A mountain walkway that’s made of glass. // And (subtle hint) your host has been known to lift a glass of this.

It’s the Calibre of the People That Impresses Me the Most

Denver’s occupodpeople take umbrage with a Wal-Mart distribution centre and wrestle with some difficult philosophical questions. Among which, “What right do you have to do that?” and “What money have they stolen from you?” And of course the big one, “Why are you doing this?” Readers should also note the exchange around 3:40, in which a champion of the people grapples with the suggestion that he and his comrades are basically forcing their will on others. Then things go downhill.

Update, via the comments:

Continue reading "It’s the Calibre of the People That Impresses Me the Most" »

Elsewhere (53)

Antony Jay, co-creator of Yes, Minister, on the leanings of the BBC:

It would be astonishing if the BBC did not have its own orthodoxy. It has been around for 85 years, recruiting bright graduates, mostly with arts degrees, and deeply involved in current affairs issues and news reporting. And of course for all that time it has been supported by public money. One result of this has been an implicit belief in government funding and government regulation. Another is a remarkable lack of interest in industry and a deep hostility to business and commerce. […] This deep hostility to people and organisations who made and sold things was not of course exclusive to the BBC. It permeated a lot of upper middle class English society (and has not vanished yet). But it was wider and deeper in the BBC than anywhere else, and it is still very much a part of the BBC ethos. Very few of the BBC producers and executives have any real experience of the business world, and as so often happens, this ignorance, far from giving rise to doubt, increases their certainty.

See also Jay’s Confessions of a Reformed BBC Producer

Kevin D Williamson is a fan of Thomas Sowell:

One of the great things about Thomas Sowell is that he, like most nerds, appears to be simply immune to certain social conventions. This is a critical thing about him - because the social conventions of modern intellectual life demand that certain things go studiously unnoticed, that certain subjects not be breached, or breached only in narrow ways approved by the proper authorities. Sowell does not seem to me to be so much a man who intentionally violates intellectual social conventions as a man who does not notice them, because he cannot be bothered to notice them, because he is in hot pursuit of data about one of the many subjects that fascinate his remarkable brain.

Sowell’s failure to avert his eyes from unspeakable details is also in evidence here.

And Theodore Dalrymple looks back on the summer’s opportunist looting:

One rioter told a journalist that his compatriots were fed up with being broke all the time and that he knew people who had absolutely nothing. It is worth pondering what lies behind these words. It is obvious that the rioter considered being broke not merely unpleasant, as we all would, but unjust and anomalous, for it was these qualities that justified the rioting in his mind and led him to suggest that the riots were restitution. Leave aside the Micawberish point that one can be broke on any income whatever if one’s desires fail to align with one’s financial possibilities; it is again obvious that the rioter believed that he had a right not to be broke and that this right was being violated.

When he said that he knew people with “nothing,” he did not mean that he knew homeless, starving people left on the street without clothes to wear or shoes on their feet; none of the rioters was like this, and many looked only too fit for law-abiding citizens’ comfort. Nor did he mean people without hot and cold running water, electricity, a television, a cell phone, health care, and access to schooling. People had a right to such things, and yet they could have them all and still have “nothing,” in his meaning of the word. Somehow, people had a right to something beyond this irreducible “nothing” because this “nothing” was a justification for rioting. So people have a right to more than they have a right to; in other words, they have a right to everything.

However, the Guardian’s Nina Power would have us believe that the looters, muggers and arsonists, the majority of whom had numerous previous convictions, were, in ways never quite made clear, fighting against entitlement. Albeit by robbing children of their clothesassaulting fire-fighters and burning women out of their homes. Yes, it was all about “social justice,” see? And whatever you do, don’t refer to the perpetrators as feral – even those who ganged up on pensioners and beat them to the ground - or you’ll upset Laurie Penny, for whom, “nicking trainers… is a political statement.”

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

Quote of Note

Or, We’re Much Too Fascinating to Register the Comedy:

I’m tempted to talk about the irony of kids taking out student loans to enrol in a class that will “study” why irate college grads who can’t get jobs are camped out in tents complaining about the amount they owe on student loans; but then I think, no, let’s let whole thing play itself out as a piece of cultural performance art and see if anybody involved in the enterprise is self-aware enough to remove him or herself as one of the brush strokes.

Jeff Goldstein, commenting on this thrilling development

New York University will offer a class next semester on Occupy Wall Street… The university’s “Department of Social and Cultural Analysis” will offer a class about the “history and politics of debt and take a deeper look at the economic crisis the movement is protesting.” The undergraduate course: “Cultures and Economies: Occupy Wall Street” will be available next semester and taught by Professor Lisa Duggan.

We learn,

Peter Bearman, professor of sociology at Columbia University, also expressed enthusiasm about the new course. “OWS as a topic of study offers prismatic opportunities to consider the changing shape of inequality in our society and the dynamic processes of repertoire change in social movements globally, from the picket line to the sit-in, to the consideration of life course trajectories, among other themes central to the sociological apprehension of the modern context,” he said.

And if you thought the story wasn’t sufficiently stuffed with inadvertent humour…

Ironically, you would need to be in OWS’s hated “1 percent” to pay the tuition bill at NYU, which was ranked 2nd on the 2011-2012 list of America’s most expensive collegesThe College Board lists per credit hour tuition at $1,159 at NYU.

I suppose it was inevitable. A laughable, profoundly dishonest, narcissisticmovement,” cheered on by leftist academics and their credulous protégés - David Graeber and Priya Gopal, take a bow - becomes a subject for “study” by leftist academics and their credulous protégés.


In the comments, rjmadden wonders whether Professor Duggan will be teaching students about the merits of not wasting money on worthless courses that leave them in debt with little hope of finding a job. He then links to Professor Duggan’s research interests, which include “lesbian and gay studies,” “queer historiographies” and “constructions of whiteness in the United States.” I suspect that sharing such practical advice wouldn’t exactly enhance Professor Duggan’s own career prospects, which depend on students making precisely that mistake.

Update 2:

Continue reading "Quote of Note" »

Reheated (22)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives.

Freeloading and Snobbery.

Leftwing arts establishment claims to be “suppressed,” sneers at the little people, demands free money.

Note the word “suppressed.” Like “dissent,” it’s a tad grandiose. I’m not convinced that the reduction of taxpayer subsidy for loss-making plays qualifies as “suppression.” And reluctant taxpayers please take note: Despite all the years of providing hand-outs, you’re now on the side of the oppressor. That’s gratitude for you.

Where Reason Never Sleeps.

Professor Thomas Thibeault points out error in sexual harassment policy and is fired two days later.

And so “exposing faculty members” to a book about public figures said to deserve the appellation “asshole” – including Bill Clinton and George Bush - can now be construed as “sexual harassment” and grounds for dismissal. Indeed, mere visibility of the book’s title may be taken as evidence of “divisiveness” and intent to oppress.

The Warm Glow of Socialism.

Student protestors somehow, perhaps carefully, miss the larger issue.

Some view “free” higher education as an entitlement warranting violence. But who’s going to pay for this “free” service when its value is increasingly called into question, not least by employers, many of whom point to dramatically lowered standards and ill-prepared graduates? One complaint we hear is that many students will be left with large debt (or theoretical debt) and limited prospects of a suitable job. But if so, doesn’t that call into question the value of what’s being demanded? In the UK there are currently around 20,000 students of fine art, 10,000 philosophy students and 27,000 enthusiasts of media studies. But is there a corresponding economic need? If the investment of time, effort and (other people’s) money doesn’t pay off with a lucrative and fascinating career in the private sector and a return via taxation, then how is the process justified in its present form?

And by all means wade through the greatest hits.

Friday Ephemera

Attention, starfish. Beware the brine icicle. // Owl petting. // Predator and prey. // Inflatable fifteen-foot-long six-legged robot Ant-Roach. // A Lego ball that’s very nearly spherical. // Electromagnetic leak (or what aliens are watching.) // Occupodpeople versus reality. // Desk lamps of note. // If you’re looking for a motorbike… // Bad photographs. // “I can’t think of another pathogenic organism that’s as scary as this one.” // Obviously, the Guild of Evil has a full-size one of these. // And an artificial tornado may well prove useful too. // Don’t tread on me versus tread on everyone. // Saul Bass title design. // Woob: Return to the City.