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April 2014

Widgets and Sundries

For reasons that escape me, the Amazon US search widget was making the blog inaccessible for readers using Chrome or Firefox. I’ve removed the offending item and replaced it with a text link just like this one, below the Amazon UK widget, top right, which seems to work fine. Again, my thanks to all who are using the widgets and links to do their shopping, each time earning a small fee for me at no extra cost to you. It’s much appreciated. Obviously I quiver in anticipation at the prospect of your comments, but it’s the filthy lucre that keeps this barge afloat.

No Refunds, No Credit Note (2)

Further to this discussion, and this one, here’s Kingsley Amis in 1985, describing the Arts Council

Grants and bursaries from this detestable and destructive body in effect pay producers, painters, writers and such in advance. This is a straight invitation to them to sod the public, whose ticket money they are no longer obliged to attract, and to seek the more immediate approval of their colleagues and friends instead… Thus an organisation created to foster art and bring it to the public turns out to be damaging to art and cutting it off from the public.

And not coincidentally, we have a situation in which the supply of artists dwarfs the actual demand and in which the supposed patrons – taxpayers – are being billed for a product they all too often don’t want and didn’t ask for. Because ostentatiously leftwing dirt relocation and the tearing up of grass, along with the state funding of buskers, hookers and non-existent poetry, is now regarded by some as part of the welfare state. It’s what some grown men and women aspire to do with their time. And with the money you had to earn.

As noted previously, many times, there’s an air of grandiose entitlement, an urge to circumvent indefinitely the preferences of the public, who are nonetheless expected to serve as patrons, albeit patrons with no say in how or on whom their earnings are spent. And no right to ask for a refund should things go badly wrong. And so despite the obligatory egalitarian blather, what comes to mind is a caste system, in which the lumpen taxpayer is forced to bankroll self-anointed Brahmins, our cultural superiors, who profess their modish leftism while extolling the virtues of a non-reciprocal and parasitic relationship.


In the comments Sam points us to the latest from Polly Toynbee, in which she ostensibly counsels against the disdain shown by her peers for the new culture minister. Yes, he’s a Tory, and from a working class background. Oh, the indignity. But needs must. And note that Polly’s objection to the casual snobbery of her fellow Guardianistas is merely tactical:

The arts world didn’t react well to the appointment of the former banker Sajid Javid. Several writers led the great rumble of artistic disdain toward the new culture secretary… This seems to me a mistake, more likely to have Javid reaching for his revolver than falling for the charms of culture. Worse, the public might think it smacks of a familiar elitism that suggests the mysteries of the arts are not for the uninitiated.

So perhaps Mr Javid can yet be saved by his betters, despite the heathen’s lack of an “artistic hinterland,” as determined by Ms Toynbee. Readers may be entertained by Polly’s trademark fumbling with numbers and reliance on the fanciful, often baffling claims of Arts Council literature. Though if you’re pushed for time, commenter Charlie Suet points out that the Guardian’s foremost columnist is essentially “asserting that because The King’s Speech made money, we should subsidise mime artists in Brighton.” 

Marxist Revolution Delayed Again

Due to a copyright squabble among our would-be overlords

A radical publishing house, Lawrence & Wishart, which at one time was connected to Great Britain’s Communist Party, is demanding the removal from the Marxists Internet Archive of the Marx-Engels Collected Works — hardcover books that sell for up to $50 a pop… “What they are doing is actually restricting the masses’ ability to get these writings because they found a potential revenue flow by digitising the works themselves and selling some product to universities,” [said David Walters, a volunteer]. “We think it’s the opposite of a Marxist approach.”

From the comments there, this tickled me: 

It seems counterproductive, in that you may have to live with capitalism in day to day affairs, but you would think the one item that you would work towards absolutely free, society ownership of is the instruction manual for making your desired mode of existence come to fruition, when that mode of existence depends on an informed, versed-in-Marxist-theory populace.

I think what made me laugh is the word “populace.” In my experience, the most willing readers of Marx and Engels, practically the only readers, are credulous middle-class college students, especially those with obnoxious personalities

Via Instapundit

Friday Ephemera

Why animals aren’t round. // At last, a table for cats. // Dog barks at self barking at self. // Because you’ve always wanted bottled meat. // Bondage furniture looks uncomfortable. // First you must be burly. // Incoming objects. // Our astronauts will look fabulous. // 320° Licht. // Animated Liberians. // On handling bread. // Orson Welles’ sketchbook, 1955. // I didn’t know this was done freehand. // Westeros and other territories. // Texas storm. // 30 years of westerns condensed into an hour. // 75 years of Marvel. // Stinky candles. // Judgmental maps. (h/t, Paul Brady) // Just answer the question. // The view from inside various musical instruments. // And finally, take a moment to imagine the possibilities

But Beauty Is So Hard

Via Kate and lifted from the comments here, some more “public” art, chosen by our betters to make us better people:

“The question of beauty has been brought up a lot in this debate, which is a really provocative and sometimes problematic conversation,” she said. “I don’t think all work that is made in a public setting should necessarily be made with the mandate of making a space more beautiful.”

The locals, however, don’t seem terribly impressed

The artist in question, Keeley Haftner, describes her work as “emerging through notions of tradition, satire, gender, archive, labour, and transience.” Readers will be thrilled to discover that Ms Haftner’s previous efforts are no less colossal in their scope and profundity. Behold, for instance, this. If further evidence of greatness is required, there’s also the following 2012 performance piece, happily captured on video. The explanatory text reads,

In the video Waste Warrior Eats Apple, the protagonist (a ‘waste warrior’) attempts to consume an apple grown from petroleum products, having evolved out of a waste-induced Saskatchewan apocalypse. Eating an apple has long stood for female inadequacy – Eve’s original sin, the golden apple of coveted perpetual youth, the envy-inspired poisoning of young Snow White. But this warrior projects forward with an act of forced evolution, attempting to sustain herself on the very source of both female and human destruction.

Ponder that while you watch. And no skipping to the end. 

Continue reading "But Beauty Is So Hard" »

Elsewhere (120)

Daniel Shuchman on the left’s latest Great White Hope, Thomas Piketty: 

Mr Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at “$500,000 or $1 million.” This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply “to put an end to such incomes.” It will also be necessary to impose a 50%-60% tax rate on incomes as low as $200,000 to develop “the meagre US social state.” There must be an annual wealth tax as high as 10% on the largest fortunes and a one-time assessment as high as 20% on much lower levels of existing wealth. He breezily assures us that none of this would reduce economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship or innovation.

Mr Piketty also writes things like this. Let that one sink in for a moment. And Instapundit reminds us that the threshold for “earning too much” is very often, rather conveniently, “just above what a two-earner journalist or academic couple can plausibly make.”

Caleb Bonham on the things you can be taught in a creative writing class: 

A professor at Eastern Connecticut State University was caught on audio telling his class that Republicans will close colleges if they prevail in 2014 and that “racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people” want to suppress the liberal vote. In a four-minute recording of a classroom lecture Professor Brent Terry is heard strongly suggesting that conservatives are greedy racists who want to suppress the vote of anyone who might vote liberal. 

Readers may wish to revisit this bewildering screed from the first day of another creative writing class. 

And Theodore Dalrymple on productivity and its enemies: 

There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself. There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward. More to be feared even than the secret sadist, however, is the person who genuinely believes in the intrinsic value and even indispensability of his absurd task. He is as dangerous as any true believer.

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

Friday Ephemera

Of course my ice cubes are sculpted to order. What is this, the Dark Ages? // Days of future past. // Flight attendant relaxes passengers. // That’s not pole-dancing, this is pole-dancing. // For granny’s birthday card, some Tom of Finland stamps. // Recharge your smartphone in 30 seconds. // Children baffled by ancient technology. // Your Body During Adolescence, (1955). // Algae-eating robot. // Watching the watchmakers. // Wall dogs with strong stomachs. // One father’s Saturday mornings. // “He would sing us an entire string arrangement.” // Jet engine snowboarding. // “Over 3-4 days the brain will fill with ice.” // Moonshine. // Vittles. // Lovely, lovely snails. // And finally, well, you can’t fault his ambition

When the Onion is Redundant

Ace’s headline pretty much sums it up

Selfless Crusader Against Income Inequality to Heroically Accept $225,000 for Nine Months of Sub-Part-Time Work from State-Funded Organisation to Occasionally Give a Few Quotes About the Scourge of Income Inequality.

Hiring Paul Krugman, a Guardian contributor and the left-leaning owner of this humble abode, is part of the City University of New York’s latest “inequality initiative.” Mr Krugman’s will be “a modest role” with no teaching or supervision commitments. In fact, neither party seems able to define what, exactly, that “modest role” will be. Hence the salary of $25,000 per month

Update, via the comments:

Continue reading "When the Onion is Redundant" »

Elsewhere (119)

Further to the Dartmouth “micro-aggression” saga, Victor Davis Hanson notes the comforts and privilege of our campus role-players:   

President Hanlon apparently felt the students’ pain of what they had called “micro-aggressions,” or the day-to-day psychodramatic angst that these young elites feel are their own versions of the world of the Wal-Mart checker, the roofer in Delano who nails in 105 degree August heat, or the tractor driver who has disked half-mile long rows day in and day out on the farm. If you have never done such things, and you have $60,000 a year to spend on Dartmouth, then I suppose you could conceivably dream up a micro-aggression of being tortured to read ‘women’ for womyn, or having to use either the boys’ or girls’ bathroom…

They and their faculties enjoy privileges undreamed of by 99.9% of the population. DeVry and Phoenix trade schools cannot afford to offer Dartmouth-like race, class, and gender courses to contextualise their accounting, computer programming and nursing programmes because none of their students have the cash for such psychodramatic indulgences. Our aggrieved .01% can play act that they are embattled, precisely because free market capitalism gave them those dramatic opportunities in a way unknown in Mexico or the Congo.

And as we’ve seen, the longer and more ostentatiously this role-play is indulged, the more bonkers it becomes. Seven years of it can really leave a person beyond the reach of reason

Larry Sand on children’s education versus teachers’ job security: 

In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained ‘permanence’ [tenure] lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance. Is it possible that Golden State teachers are that good? Such an astronomical permanence rate doesn’t square with the performance of California’s fourth- and eighth-graders, whose scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests persistently rank near the bottom.

And Steven Malanga notes some more academic high-mindedness: 

Readers can perhaps get a sense of the current state of the anthropology field by considering the most absurd claim against [Napoleon] Chagnon: that he was a McCarthyite. The evidence for this was little more than [an] observation that Chagnon grew up in the 1950s in a rural area of Michigan, where “anti-Communist feeling ran high, and where Senator Joseph McCarthy enjoyed strong support.” Critics also sniped at Chagnon for being… “a free-market advocate.”

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