Previous month:
November 2012
Next month:
January 2013

December 2012

Monbiot and the Morlocks

In which the Guardian’s George Monbiot encounters the underclass and shows how his worldview is quite different from yours: 

A group of us had occupied a piece of land on St George’s Hill in Surrey... Our aim had been to rekindle interest in land reform. It had been going well – we had placated the police, started to generate plenty of public interest – when two young lads with brindled Staffordshire bull terriers arrived in an old removals van. Everyone was welcome at the site and, as they were travellers, one of the groups marginalised by the concentration of control and ownership of land in Britain, we went out of our way to accommodate them. They must have thought they had died and gone to heaven. 

Almost as soon as they arrived they began twocking stuff. A radio journalist left his equipment in his hire car. They smashed the side window. Someone saw them bundling the kit, wrapped in a stolen sleeping bag, into their lorry. There was a confrontation – handwringing appeals to reason on one side, pugnacious defiance on the other – which eventually led to the equipment being handed back. They wound their dogs up, making them snap and snarl at the other occupiers. At night they roamed the camp, staffies straining at the leash, cans of Special Brew in their free hands, shouting “fucking hippies, we’re going to burn you in your tents!” 

We had no idea how to handle them without offending our agonised liberal consciences. They saw this and exploited it ruthlessly. Eventually the police solved the problem for us. Most of the cars parked at a nearby attraction had had their windows smashed and radios stolen, and someone had followed their lorry back to our site. As they were led away, my anarchist beliefs battled my bourgeois instincts, and lost.

Do read the whole thing. It brings a tear to the eye. And tune in next week when George tries to reason with the tattooed Neanderthal burgling his house.  

Update, via the comments:

What’s almost – almost – touching is the implied revelation, i.e., that members of Designated Victim Groups, with which Guardianistas feel obliged to side whatever the particulars, can in fact be obnoxious and predatory scumbags. Apparently this thought hadn’t previously occurred to George and, by golly, the news troubles him. All of which suggests a well-rehearsed imperviousness to reality. One Guardian reader praises Mr Monbiot for his “refreshing honesty,” which rather gives the game away. Maybe George wrote the article to show us how difficult it is to be virtuous, indeed heroic, at least as he conceives such things. I suspect, though, that any moral lesson is quite different from the one intended. You see, George believes in sharing, by which of course he means taking other people’s stuff. Yet he’s remarkably unprepared for that favour being returned. Say, by two burly chaps with neck tattoos and ill-tempered dogs. And as these burly chaps were members of a “marginalised group,” and therefore righteous by default, George was expecting noble savages. Alas, ‘twas not to be.

For more of George’s ideological crises, see here and here

Update 2:

Oh dear. Mr Monbiot is now being assailed on Twitter for writing such a “racist” article. However, the people doing the chastising – including an indignant, self-described “agitator” - have yet to explain exactly why the article is racist, despite being asked. One of the chastisers is a “Marxist, knitter and student of critical theory.”

Our moral and intellectual betters, obviously.

Tidings (6)

Or, Six Years of Blogging and I Still Don’t Have One of These:

A birdsong machine, circa 1890. (h/t, Cmeej.) 

As usual, posting will be intermittent over the holidays and readers are advised to subscribe to the blog feed, which will alert you to anything new. Thanks for another five thousand or so comments this year, some of which have been much more interesting than the actual posts. And particular thanks to all those who’ve made PayPal donations to help keep this rickety barge afloat. Much appreciated. Newcomers are invited to rummage through the archives and greatest hits, where you’ll find, among other things, the thrill of public nudity, the warm glow of socialist compassion and humility, and coverage of the loftiest, most high-minded arts

To you and yours, a very good one. 

Friday Ephemera

“Tennis star buys world’s supply of donkey cheese.” // Ducks cross motorway. // Arthur Scargill menswear. // Bill Whittle on unserious people. // Self-dramatizing narcissism. // Offensively hot peanut butter. // The International Banana Museum. // Inside Amazon. // Festive decorations. // The full-body sweater you’ve always wanted. // “For a fee and a stool sample, the curious can find out what’s living in their intestine.” // Solar-powered plant thirst detector. // Page turning contraption using (among other things) a hairdryer and a hamster. (h/t, Ace) // At last, a Nüdifier app. // “We have a very good system to detect penis drawings.”

And Now Some Film News

Actor Sir Terence Stamp remembers the Seventies and playing a supervillain from the planet Krypton: 

For me, it was my comeback movie. I’d been out of work for eight years and living in India.... When I walked onto that set I’d been in an ashram for a year, learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation. I was rechanneling the life-force and I hadn’t been working, and when I walked on the set, it seemed like everyone was asleep, but I was so, so ready. The only guy who was really up for it was Brando - he totally understood where I was coming from. 

Via here, via Anna.

It’s Politically Radical Sex, Not Ordinary Mortal Sex

A librarian replies to a comment piece in the Daily Californian:

Please don’t fuck in the library. I work here. My staff works here. 

The piece in question is by UC Berkeley student Nadia Cho, who seems to believe she’s very edgy and progressive. In fact, it’s difficult to overstate just how edgy and progressive our columnist believes she is: 

We decided that, out of the millions of books in the library, the shelves full of books on religion seemed like the best place to fuck. 

How incredibly, desperately transgressive. Ms Cho gleefully explains that she and her companions are “desecrating” buildings with their “perverse ways.” You see, the sex she’s having is much more radical than yours, and therefore more important. 

The risk of getting caught is what makes having sex in public so exciting. Without that, there wouldn’t be any novelty in doing it. 

Indeed. And what’s the point of exhibitionist psychodrama without an audience? We’ve been here before, I think.  

Thankfully, the author also obliges with some practical tips: 

It’s best to have some empty shelves toward the bottom so that you can climb them and feel like Spider-Man while your partner penetrates you standing up. 


It’s probably not a good idea to ejaculate in public places — just saying. 

Of course it’s not just a matter of sexual abandon and incriminating evidence. It’s political too. Very political: 

Berkeley is the best place to explore your sexuality. Our school is a predominantly safe and accepting space with many places, people and resources to help you discover your sexual self. It is the place where I learned what it means to be queer, to recognise the presence of patriarchy, to attempt polyamory and to become more confident in my sexuality so I could go ahead with new experiences — attending naked parties and orgies and writing a sex column, just to name a few. 

Tuition fees well spent, then. 

Continue reading "It’s Politically Radical Sex, Not Ordinary Mortal Sex" »

Reheated (30)

For newcomers, four more items from the archives.

The Arts, They Ennoble

Leotard, heels and coloured puke. It’s a vision of loveliness. 

In this 34-minute milestone of cultural enrichment, Ms Brown “explores the relationship between music and performance art via self-induced vomiting.” The word explores is of course obligatory and, given the context, entirely devoid of meaning. Unless we’re to believe that the fruits of this alleged mental activity will redefine human knowledge and shake the world when finally, dramatically revealed to the public. 

Insufficiently Prole.  

The Observer’s Barbara Ellen oozes socialist benevolence. 

While any use of the term chav is denounced by Ms Ellen as bullying, “posh-bashing” is considered protest and an artform. This is the logic of identity politics, according to which, you must always treat people as social categories, as examples of some put-upon victim group, or conversely, some notional oppressor group. To which, various contradictory and patronising assumptions must be applied regardless of the particulars in any given instance. By this reckoning, when opportunist oiks at my old comprehensive school picked on a new arrival who was well-spoken, polite and somewhat studious, the people doing the bullying were righteous, entitled and “responding to oppression.” Their shoving and sneering was apparently “an instinctive protest against inequality.” But my calling them oiks for doing so is practically a hate-crime. You see how it works?

The Cost of Purity.  

“Shut up,” they explained. 

Actually, some of our budding intellectuals do declare their censorious urges out loud and in public, as if such urges confirmed their own unassailable righteousness: “We no longer need to listen,” say these mighty radical thinkers. Nor will they permit others to listen to ideas and arguments they, our betters, deem improper - on our behalf, of course. Let’s not forget the equally progressive efforts to shape young minds at Queen’s University, which decided that students’ private lunchtime discussions were in need of monitoring by hired eavesdroppers called “dialogue facilitators.” Eavesdroppers whose uninvited “interventions” would “encourage discussion of social justice issues” and “issues of social identity, power and privilege,” as defined by them and whether welcome or not. “Positive spaces and mindsets” would of course be created. 

Playing in the Dirt with Occupy

Bongos, bombs and ersatz farming. 

Here we have a movement whose “non-hierarchical” founder says Occupy is “about antagonising people and slapping them around a little bit.” A movement whose favoured “non-violent” tactics rely on mobs and coercion - and the moral anonymity that mobs make possible. A movement that’s explicitly premised on the seizure and violation of other people’s property, and which measures its impact by the disruption and distress it inflicts on others. And oh yes. A movement whose cheerleaders tell us that mobbing random retailers and intimidating their customers is “a perfectly justifiable form of protest.” And whose apologists and hagiographers have told us, repeatedly, that they “have no problem with principled, thought-through political violence,” that property damage is “not the same thing as violence,” and that setting fire to occupied buildings isn’t “real” violence. For members of this movement to then affect “shock” when that same thinking is taken one notch further requires colossal dishonesty. But hey, that’s who these people are.

There’s more to be had in the greatest hits

Elsewhere (80)

Mark Steyn on the cost of Big Government:

The problem facing the United States government is that it spends over a trillion dollars a year that it doesn’t have. If you want to make that number go away, you need either to reduce spending or to increase revenue… We already have a more severely redistributive taxation system than Europe in which the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans pay 70 percent of income tax while the poorest 20 percent shoulder just three-fifths of one percent… Yet Obama now wishes “the rich” to pay their “fair share” — presumably 80 or 90 percent. After all, as Warren Buffett pointed out in the New York Times this week, the Forbes 400 richest Americans have a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion. That sounds a lot, and once upon a time it was. But today, if you confiscated every penny the Forbes 400 have, it would be enough to cover just over one year’s federal deficit. And after that you’re back to square one. It’s not that “the rich” aren’t paying their “fair share,” it’s that America isn’t. A majority of the electorate has voted itself a size of government it’s not willing to pay for. 

A couple of years back, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute calculated that, if Washington were to increase every single tax by 30 percent, it would be enough to balance the books — in 25 years. If you were to raise taxes by 50 percent, it would be enough to fund our entitlement liabilities — just our current ones, not our future liabilities, which would require further increases. This is the scale of course correction needed. If you don’t want that, you need to cut spending — like Harry Reid’s been doing. “Now remember, we’ve already done more than a billion dollars’ worth of cuts,” he bragged the other day. “So we need to get some credit for that.” Wow! A billion dollars’ worth of cuts! Washington borrows $188 million every hour. So, if Reid took over five hours to negotiate those “cuts,” it was a complete waste of time. So are most of the “plans.” Any “debt-reduction plan” that doesn’t address at least $1.3 trillion a year is, in fact, a debt-increase plan.

Related, the trajectory of socialism in cartoon form. Also, Thomas Sowell on taxes and fairness. And of course this.  

Victor Davis Hanson ponders the American left:  

Weighing over 250 pounds, not rickets, is a national plague. Riots target sneaker stores, not food bins. Sandra Fluke naturally became the epitome of frustrated liberal-mandated equality. We are to believe that an upscale white law student, who by choice enrols at a Catholic university, is deprived because her university will not pay for her condoms or abortion pills. Her cell phone no doubt costs more than a year’s supply of prophylactics. The result is psychodrama, not class struggle, as liberals strain to find ways in which America is Les Misérables rather than the Kardashians, plagued by this obsession to step in and make everyone (except themselves) the same. 

And Claire Berlinski, mentioned previously here, reviews Bruce Bawer’s The Victims Revolution - The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind

In what must be reckoned a martyrdom operation, Bawer has spent countless hours not only reading the collective oeuvre of the leading luminaries in Black, Women’s, Gender, Queer, Fat, and Chicano Studies, but also travelling America to attend their conferences. At a gathering of the Cultural Studies Association at the University of California, Berkeley, for instance, Bawer encounters the young Michele, who’s “like, a grad student at UC Davis?” She’s “sort of reviving a Gramscian-style Marxism,” involving the idea that global warming is “sort of, like, a crisis, in the human relationship to nature?” Bawer claims that his heart goes out to her. (His heart is bigger than mine.)

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