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January 2012

Friday Ephemera

Amuse small children with this giant inflatable spider puppet. // Lionel Richie’s Hello remixed by Matthijs Vlot. // Couples, vacuum-packed for freshness. // Shaolin kung fu monks. // Can you match the colours? // How to spoil your cat. // Small girl and lion. // A very loud snoring dormouse. // Painting in haste. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) // 48 years of Doctor Who and it’s not getting any better. // If Beavis and Butt-Head were real. // Bill Whittle on presidential iconography. // Every home needs a pile of huge woollen pebbles. // And then there’s the giant camera of which the legends foretold. // “That’s the mistake that Karl Marx made.” 


How to massively improve the songs of Depeche Mode:

Oh, there’s more.

Because Artists Are So Dangerous

Speaking of Bettina Camilla Vestergaard, whose radical freeloading thrilled us so, here’s a more recent project of her devising, from August 2010. Decenter II was a “park intervention,” the purpose of which was to  “reinterpret Decenter, an artist colony set up by Danish author Elsa Gress and painter Clifford Wright at Marienborg Manor in the 1970s” and which offered “an uninhibited space for creative thought and action.”

Here we see Elsa Gress (seated) and Clifford Wright (cloaked) with some of their protégés:

Decenter 4

And here’s a lively artistic happening:  

Continue reading "Because Artists Are So Dangerous" »

Reheated (23)

Yes, I know. Posting has been sparse and I’ve been neglecting you terribly. But trust me, it’s all in a good cause and normal service should resume shortly. Meanwhile, here are few items from the archives. There is, as you’ll see, a common theme.

But it’s Clean if it’s Taken by Force.

The modesty of the art world’s subsidy-seeking caste.

Clearly, recidivist anti-capitalists showing us how to live deserve better than this. They deserve more public subsidy. It’s vital work. Art institutions must not take donations from companies of which some artists may disapprove. That would be wicked and insidious. Instead, those institutions should encourage the state to take money from the taxpayer, forcibly, and give it to artists and projects of which the taxpayer may disapprove. That would be virtuous and clean, apparently.

Is That Your Hand in My Pocket?

Playwright Jonathan Holmes thinks he’s heroic and so you owe him money.

Note how the prospect of reducing coercive public subsidy is framed rather grandly as “censorship” of artists - and by implication an attack on democracy itself. No other genuine motive could possibly exist. Those who would rather keep a little more of their own earnings and choose for themselves which art forms they indulge are clearly monsters. We’ve heard this pompous guff before of course, as when Hanif Kureishi and the Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington conjured a world in which artistic “dissent” was being “suppressed” by suggestions that artists might actually consider earning a living. […] Mr Holmes would have us believe that he’s “speaking truth to power.” But one has to wonder who has more power in the current funding formulation. The taxpayer, who is forced to bankroll projects regardless of personal interest or objection, or those who take the taxpayer’s money and expect to go on doing so?

Here, Let Me Lick Those Tears.

Oh, don’t be so mean. Artists have special needs. 

Readers will no doubt recall the Danish artist Bettina Camilla Vestergaard, whose benefactors include the Danish Arts Council, the Arts Grants Committee Sweden, the Danish Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Council of Aarhus. Ms Vestergaard used her government stipend to spend six months in Los Angeles pondering “identity and gender” and working on an “intervention in public space”: “My first three months primarily consisted of passing time in residential Hollywood, sitting alone in my car, shopping and getting fuel.”

And do poke through the bushes of the greatest hits.

Elsewhere (55)

Chris Snowdon, author of The Spirit Level Delusion, spends an evening with the New Economics Foundation:

The NEF recently revived its idea of restricting working hours to 21 hours per week as a means of creating full employment and achieving the work-life balance that is so cherished by wealthy, middle-aged academics. This idea - which can be most charitably described as ‘eye-catching’ - revolves around ‘redistributing time’ to deal with ‘time poverty.’ The twist is that, unlike with income redistribution, it is the indolent poor who will be the ones handing over their spare time to the over-worked rich in this zero-sum, leisure-heavy Shangri-La. […]

A bit of banker-bashing yielded the one and only round of applause of the night after an elderly gentleman asked how a reduced economy is supposed to pay for geriatric services. [Professor Robert] Skidelsky side-stepped the question by diverting the discussion towards the evergreen issue of bankers’ bonuses... Never mind. It was all good sport and it took our minds off the fact that several hundred reasonably intelligent people were sitting in a room discussing the prospect of making people happier by halving their incomes.

Tim Worstall on the same:

They also recommend that we do more of our own housework, make and mend more, darn socks and so on. Essentially, live as the poor of our grandparents’ time did… The NEF are quite deliberately insisting that we turn our backs on the division and specialisation of labour and go back to doing everything, ourselves, in our own households. This isn’t just perverse or stupid, it’s ignorant.

I particularly like Chris’ observation that some contributors were happy to ignore the data presented on their own charts, busying themselves instead with a collective denunciation of advertising, which apparently should either be taxed or, if possible, banned altogether. (No doubt George Monbiot would approve, given his stated belief that “advertising is a pox on the planet… driving us towards destruction.”) Newcomers should note that the NEF thrilled us with their socialist brainstorming not too long ago. Oh, how they brainstormed. Oh, how we laughed.

Via Ross, House of Dumb mulls the morality of Ken Loach:

Nothing sums up the demented nature of the modern left better than a soi-disant socialist party that supports taxing janitors in Leeds to give money to millionaire luvvies in London, so they can make films about how folk in Yorkshire are ignorant bigots.

For more, see thisthis and this.

And Tim also tackles the great question of our time:

Why isn’t there a Grindr for lesbians?

By all means add your own.

Friday Ephemera

The animated Kubrick. // Bookshop reorganised. // The museum of bags. // GPS with “avoid ghetto” function. // Grandma’s robot companion. // Made of straws. // Unorthodox kiting. // Cave of note. // To tenderise meat. // Mere rope cannot hold Mr Houdini. // They’re gaining on us. // Following photons at a trillion frames-per-second. // Pingu versus The Thing. // “The mole’s most distinctive feature is a circle of 22 mobile, pink, fleshy tentacles at the end of the snout.” // Every home should have a glow-in-the-dark crowbar. // What happens to your luggage. // Try a glass of this. // Then watch a live South Pole webcam. Gripping stuff.

Elsewhere (54)

Tim Worstall on poverty redefined

One benefit, recall, just one benefit that this family receives, is to be cut from a little under median full time wages to a little under median full time wages after tax. From £23,000 a year to £18,000 a year. This one benefit is to be cut - and recall that this benefit is received free of all taxation - to median pre-tax individual income. They’re getting more in one benefit alone than the average person going out to work in the country sees in their paycheque. After this cut. There are all sorts of ways one could describe this situation but poverty ain’t one of them. That housing benefit alone, after the cut - yes, even with family size of four - puts them in the top 17% of the world’s income distribution.

See also Guido, who asks, “Where is the social justice in paying welfare benefits to people that are higher than the majority of the tax paying working people’s take home pay?” And remember, this modest cap on housing benefit is denounced by Laurie Penny as “a Final Solution [of] the urban poor.”

Armed and Dangerous on varieties of anti-intellectualism

Even where the intelligentsia has not attached itself to totalising political ideologies, the effects of its belief in its own superiority have been consistent. Technocratic, credentialist and statist – the intelligentsia perpetually urges us to cede control of our lives to the smart people, the educated ones, the experts, the selected elite – if not the intellectuals, then the bureaucratic machines guided by intellectuals. There’s a nearly extinct political tendency called “clericalism” which held that society should be guided by priests, considered as a disinterested non-hereditary elite with better education and morality than possessed by mere laypeople. The intelligentsia’s political instincts can be best described as a sort of neo-clericalism in which education substitutes for ordination.

Some common shortcomings of our tenured intelligentsia are illustrated in this: Iowa Professor Shocked To Discover He’s In Iowa. Note how the professor’s imagined sophistication is churlish, presumptuous and parochial. It’s a pattern we’ve seen beforeMore than once.

And Bill Whittle presents a voters’ guide to Republicans (and the benevolence of the left):

According to Democrats, we Republicans are greedy because we’re in favour of low taxes and limited government. We think you should surrender as little of your freedom to the government as possible and you should be entitled to keep as much of your money as you possibly can. We think you’re entitled to the rewards of your own work. We also think you know how to spend your own money better than the government, which wants to take as much of it as possible. So, as you can clearly see, we Republicans - who don’t want your money - are greedy, and the people who do want to take all of your money, the Democrats, are benign and generous. Just ask them.

As always, feel free to add your own items of interest in the comments.