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February 2016


The Ladybird Guide to Leftwing People. From the chapter Leftwing People Are Funny:

Leftwing people have “enlightened comedians” who make jokes on “panel games.” These are broadcast on the television and BBC Radio 4. The enlightened comedians make people laugh at rightwing people, whom they consider stupid. In the olden days, comedians made jokes about Irish people, but these comedians weren’t clever like the enlightened comedians.

Instead of the Irish people, the enlightened comedians make jokes about working-class people. Because they care, they use special words like “Glaswegians,” “Sun readers” and “UKIP supporters,” so the working-class people will not notice.

Working-class people do funny things like drinking Monster energy drinks, eating Haribos and watching television. This is funny and the enlightened comedians are helpful because they point at them and laugh, so we know who to laugh at as well. It is very funny and we all laugh because we are enlightened too.

Oh, there’s more. Via Christopher Snowdon

Friday Ephemera

Miracle engineering breakthrough. (h/t, Liz) // This is how the robot uprising starts. // Real estate of note. // House spider embryo. // The Shadow stalks his prey. // Frozen lake ice pile-up. // Californian topiaries. // Earplugs of note. // Upbeat Vader. // A video catalogue of every known vertical landing jet aircraft. // A brief history of the shopping trolley. // Beer keg of note. // Good question. // Minefield. // The north-east megalopolis. // “A Hawaiian mushroom that allegedly induces orgasms in women who sniff it.” // I don’t think we’re alone in the snow. // Nine things you (probably) didn’t know about The Silence of the Lambs, from casting could-have-beens to impressive prosthetic nipples. // And finally, expertly, a three-year-old girl reaches in deep and delivers a baby lamb.

Unwise Counsel

In news that will shock no-one, Laurie Penny is once again unhappy. Today we find her telling the world that, “People are not poor because they… made bad choices. People are poor because capital requires a surplus population.”

This of course is the same Laurie Penny who tells her followers to “Fuck social mobility. Fuck money. Fuck marriage, mortgage, monogamy and every other small ugly ambition.” And who urged her readers to “destroy marriage,” to reject romantic love as “a systemic lie,” to champion “polyamory,” and to wage “war” on capitalism. Because employers can’t resist job applicants who want to wage “war” on capitalism. And shunning monogamous coupledom and opting instead for unstable family structures, or no family structure, and sneering at bourgeois values and conventional avenues of advancement, these things couldn’t possibly have sub-optimal consequences, could they? They couldn’t possibly be bad choices.

Laurie and her followers are also being outraged by a Telegraph article by Frank Field, who dares to mention the fact that two parents are generally more able to cope and less dependent on the state - and less likely to be poor and to stay poor - than single parents. And so Laurie’s Twitter circle of 19-year-old students and self-styled misfits are now telling each other how “angry” the article makes them. Presumably on grounds that one mustn’t acknowledge the fact that poverty is very often caused, and prolonged, by a series of bad choices.

Of course Laurie has the considerable advantage of being raised, comfortably, in a stable family by two middle-class parents with the terribly bourgeois values she now claims to hold in contempt. If instead she’d been raised in keeping with her own professed standards – say, by a disaffected single parent with multiple transient partners and no lifelong commitment - I somehow doubt she’d have been able to spend time at Wadham College finding herself politically and playing “riot girl.” In effect, and like so many of her type, our leftist guru is coasting on the legacy of values that served her well but which she claims to despise and urges others to reject.

Assembled from comments following this

Sweet Sorrows

Ace ruminates on leftist piety as a kind of status signalling

I’ve heard it called “Luxurious Concerns.” That is, your concerns mark your social status. If your concerns are about keeping your job, paying your rent, or whether your kids’ school is any damn good, you’re worried about Big Things, and therefore you are marked as a Struggling Person. Only those who have really made it -- who are at the top of the economic and social order -- have the luxury of worrying about the Small Things. And if you worry about the Very Small Things, or indeed the Microscopic Things, then, well and truly, you have arrived… If you can’t afford a Luxury Car, or a Luxury Apartment, you can at least adorn yourself with Luxury Worries. It’s very cheap. Easy, too… Our modern class of intellectually-insecure social climbers are posing as connoisseurs of offensiveness. 

See also Kristian Niemietz and Daniel Hannan on the same. 

The attempt to cultivate pretentious guilt and pretentious indignation, and to balance grief and umbrage on a very tiny thing, the tinier the better, is of course a Guardian staple. It gives the left’s national organ its distinctive tone - that tinny, unconvincing high-pitched whine. Affecting woe, especially improbable woe, is how many leftwing columnists signal their position in their own moral hierarchy, relative to you, the heathen rabble. As I said some time ago

It’s important to understand these are not just lapses in logic or random fits of insincerity; these outpourings are displays – of class and moral elevation. Which is why they persist, despite getting knottier and ever more absurd. Crudely summarised, it goes something like this: “I am better than you because I pretend to feel worse.” 

And this is why, for instance, a tearful Theo Hobson tells us, “There is no excuse for failing to feel liberal guilt about race and class.” Because until “this problematic world” has been purged of all vice and inequity, however unrelated to your own behaviour, a heavy, heavy heart must be worn on the sleeve. How else will people know how superior you are? According to Mr Hobson, if you aren’t ostentatiously fretting about the eating of meat and “affluent lifestyles endangering the planet,” and if you aren’t “anxious about your status as a comfy bourgeoisie” and ashamed of earning more than some other random person, then there must be something wrong with you. And so you should feel guilty for not feeling guilty about things you shouldn’t feel guilty about. It’s the Guardian way.

Continue reading "Sweet Sorrows" »

Is Your Bacon Sandwich Oppressing Women?

And so, breathless with anticipation, we return to the pages of Everyday Feminism, where questions of cosmic import are chewed over, and where Celia Edell, a self-described “24-year-old feminist philosopher interested in social justice,” shares the many things learned by her over many, many years. The great and pressing issues that weigh upon her mind:  

Does feminism require vegetarianism? This is something I am asked about often.

Often. Because, 

Vegetarians and vegans sometimes go around telling meat-eaters whether their eating habits are consistent with their feminist beliefs.

Imagine the parties. The time must fly.

The main argument you will likely hear in favour of feminist vegetarianism is that of linked oppression. Basically the idea is that women are consistently objectified in a morally problematic way that is very similar to the way animals are objectified.

You see, great feminist thinkers have insisted that “female animals are particularly oppressed” because “we consume animal products which must come from female bodies (i.e., milk and eggs)” and “this can be understood as a type of male domination of female bodies.” And so, obviously,

Many feminist theorists have therefore recommended that refraining from consuming animals and their products is a necessary step toward undercutting patriarchal power. It will not only benefit non-human animals, but also work to undermine the entire system [that] disadvantages women.

The mechanism here is, unsurprisingly, somewhat unclear. Possibly because enthusiasts of truck stop bacon butties rarely give much weight to the ponderings of “feminist theorists.” Even theorists who imagine that a liking for bacon or steak, or even the humble cheese sandwich, reinforces “the same system… which positions women as lesser than men.” However, Ms Edell is more temperate in her views, because,  

Animals and women are exploited quite differently in the patriarchy.

At which point, readers may wish to imagine a world in which feminist theorists are ascendant, patriarchy has been smashed and rendered unto dust, and womenfolk, being wise and inherently benign, shun the exploitation of animals altogether, living instead on a diet of compassion and self-righteousness. However, it turns out that on a practical level, building a meat-free, dairy-free utopia is fraught with agonising, due to the “many intersecting issues which complicate these decisions”:

Some people cannot eat a vegan or vegetarian diet as it is triggering for their eating disorder.

Continue reading "Is Your Bacon Sandwich Oppressing Women?" »

But Work Is So Hard And Indignation Is Easy

Lifted from the comments following this and somewhat pertinent, from the pages of the student newspaper of Brown University

“There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” said David, an undergraduate whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity. Throughout the year, he has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus. His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health… David spent numerous hours organising demonstrations with fellow activists. Meanwhile, he struggled to balance his classes and social life with the activism to which he feels so dedicated. Stressors and triggers flooded his life constantly, he said.

Poor lamb. All those triggers. Perhaps someone should take our stressed-out little warrior to one side and explain to him, quite firmly, that neither his parents nor the taxpayer are forking out $60,000 a year for a narcissistic clown to piss about playing activist by railing against phantom “oppression” and non-existent “violence” in one of the most cosseting environments in human history.


Speaking of students who’d rather be acting out fantasies of oppression than preparing for exams, let’s not forget the Oberlin student activist Della Kurzer-Zlotnick, who was emotionally devastated by a two-letter word that was apparently unknown to her, and which she later described as “violent and triggering language.”

The word, by the way, was no.

Friday Ephemera

“Surrender yourself to a poignant experience of body odour.” // Interactive wave simulator. (h/t, Things) // Your virtual reality girlfriend is a swimsuit model. // 3D-printed tissue transplants. // The thrill of wallpaper, 1968. // The thrill of clock-making. // Watchmen comic panels sorted by brightness. // The herbivorous butcher. 100% vegan. // A beginner’s guide to landing a Boeing 737 in an emergency. // A brief history of Roland electronic instruments. // Tread carefully on the island of feral rabbits. // Vibrundies. // How couples meet. // The chemistry of Camembert. // Because you’ve always wanted to watch someone eating old military survival rations. // 85,000 historical films, 1896-1976. // Herding sheep. // And I think that means he likes it. That, or he’s trying to fly. 

My Air Horn Proves My Righteousness

No doubt inspired by this defining moment in intellectual discourse, Milo Yiannopoulos is continuing his tour of US campuses. Last night the venue was the University of Minnesota, where Milo was joined by Christina Hoff Sommers, whose work has been mentioned here previously, to have a debate optimistically titled Calm Down: Restoring Common Sense to Feminism. Needless to say, the event was lively, with several short-lived attempts at disruption, including chants of “You’re an asshole,” raised middle fingers, and repeated brandishing of air horns, including one, clutched by a male feminist, that failed to launch and instead emitted a feeble whine, much to the amusement of both speakers and the audience. 

Have air horn, therefore piety

I’d imagine full video of the event will materialise later today. Meanwhile, it’s perhaps worth pointing out that while the “social justice” protestors favoured the standard ritual of drowning out dissent with klaxons and repetitive shouted slogans that bordered on incomprehensible, those being protested against articulated a case, invited questions and had a discussion

Photo of the three wise men by Leila Navidi.

Update: Full video of the event is available hereThe Q&A starts around 45:35

Oh, and filmed outside afterwards, Air Horn Warrior #2 (pictured above) shares his feelings with passers-by.

Elsewhere (189)

Mark Steyn on the power and indecency of the ‘progressive’ narrative: 

It is remarkable how easily vast numbers of people now accept that truth is subordinate to the needs of ideological conformity - as we saw in Europe on New Year’s Eve, when politicians, police and press colluded to cover up mass sexual assault - and, as their cover-up unravelled, self-described progressives and feminists indignantly insisted that the cover-up had been the correct call. In the end, the official lies will cost you your world.

Janice Fiamengo on mythical “privilege” and its mandatory confession: 

The idea of a bunch of PhDs in astronomy having to publicly confess their sinful [male] “privilege” at the opening session of a radio astronomy research conference is shockingly indicative of ideological totalitarianism.

Related: Daphne Patai on the normalisation of bad ideas.  

Josh Gelernter follows the twisted logic of “cultural appropriation”: 

History’s first recorded sandwich was invented by the Jewish sage Hillel, who proposed celebrating Passover by eating the commemorative sacrifice of lamb sandwiched between two soft pieces of matzoh — which reminded Jews of the exodus — along with bitter herbs, to remind them of slavery. Jews [should therefore] demand that non-Jews renounce sandwiches… Of course, it was a Christian — Newton — who discovered Newtonian physics, and a Jew — Einstein — who discovered relativistic physics. Jews and Christians invented the majority of modern medicine and the majority of advanced mathematics. The automobile was invented by the Jew Siegfried Marcus, and the airplane by the Christian Wright brothers, who were the sons of an Evangelical bishop. Christians and Jews [should therefore] demand that young leftists renounce science, medicine and transportation.

And further to the Great Kimono Outrage of 2015, Franklin Einspruch mingles with the cultural authoritarians: 

The goal of Decolonise Our Museums and related efforts is not to end prejudice. It is to remain in a permanent state of antagonism around issues of identity. [Protestor, Xtina] Wang essentially admitted this when she said that it was an American thing to want to come up with a “final solution” to these problems. 

On Twitter, Franklin has been attempting a civil debate with the authoritarians in question. So far, I can’t say the exchange has been mutually enlightening, but you do have to admire his patience

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

The Egalitarian Retail Experience

In the land of happy-clappy twenty-first century socialism

Venezuela’s opposition legislature has declared a “nutritional emergency,” proclaiming that the country simply does not have enough food to feed its population. The move comes after years of socialist rationing and shortages that forced millions to wait on lines lasting as long as six hours for a pint of milk, a bag of flour, or carton of cooking oil.

However, a plan has been devised by the nation’s intellectuals:

Last month, President Maduro insisted that those struggling to find basic foods should develop urban farming skills, claiming that all the eggs eaten in his household come from chickens he and First Lady Cilia Flores own.

Citizens living in urban apartment buildings are reminded that

Anyone can have their productive orchard and you can produce lemon, tomato, pepper, have your egg-laying hens.

So everything’s fine, basically. Just as it was in Moscow, circa 1990, where proletarian laughter echoed down the aisles of every supermarket

Friday Ephemera

Two Irishmen and a couch. // As endorsed by Doris Day. // This is one of these. // Tongue caught in a mousetrap. // Multi-tool of note. // Moscow from above. // Whale-shaped shipwreck sculptures of note. // Niche appetite advertised. He wants to be breathless and sweaty. // Chocolate-coated licorice. It’s not for everyone. // Fractal jigsaw puzzle. Endless fun. // Surfing in Tahiti. // Trump Donald. // Cooking with gas at 90 million degrees. // In cinemas again. // It’s all gone a bit Hieronymus Bosch. // Impress your guests with an ice ball cocktail. // He plays with his better than you do. // At last, a zero-gravity pop video. // Accelerated thunderstorm. // River caves, Laos. // Kites. // And finally, educationally, if you’re unfamiliar with the word Vajankle, all is explained here.

Redskins and Paleface

Lifted from the comments:

A nasty non-leftwing man said that we can’t handle unflattering non-leftwing ideas or even debate rationally. So we smeared paint all over ourselves and screamed so that no-one could hear what the nasty man said. Then we walked out, giving everyone else the finger and leaving a mess for the janitors. Because we care so very much about everything.

I’m paraphrasing, of course.