09 December 2009

Daily Chat 09/12/09

The Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico City in 1531.  The first episode of Coronation Street aired in 1960.  Small pox was certified to have been eradicated in 1979.

Born today:  John Milton (1608-1674), Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), Hermione Gingold (1897-1987), Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937), Kirk Douglas (1916), Judi Dench (1934), Joan Armatrading (1950), Donny Osmond (1957) and Jakob Dylan (1969).

It is International Anti-Corruption Day.


  1. Hahahah! Happy Birthday to Hermione!

    Corrie, eh? Reminds me of my Grandma. She watched it religiously.

  2. happy birthday hermione - lookin' good babe.

  3. Morning folks!

    First of all, my condolences to Boudican.
    Second of all, yeah, Deliverance is a haunting film. It haunts me even without ever having seen it ...

    Third of all, I asked my girlfriend if she was offended by the nagging wife stereotype. She said no, and then asked whether I have taken the garbage down yet.

    I'll get me coat ...

  4. BB,

    and another dingbat on CiF to defend the bankers. A particlarly nasty one as he advises multi-nationals on tax ie tax avoidance.

    Jay/Bitterweed, where are the pigs kept?

  5. I think we should all start breeding pigs in our back gardens/on our allotments/on the roundabouts now, frankly.

    What bloody eejits.


    It will save us all a lot of bother in the long term.

  6. Being an ignorant German, I have a question re Gingerism: What has red hair to do with ginger? I mean, I like ginger. I LOVE ginger! If I had more time, each day I would make me a meal spiced with lots of fresh ginger.

    But I never have realized the subtlest shade of red in the ginger root. Could anyone explain?

  7. I don't know if it because of the colour of ginger biscuits. It might be.

  8. E.W.
    As you well know comrade, you handle the lingo better than most natives, but explaining it is another matter. Don't fall into the trap of thinking it's a bit silly!

  9. 13Duke
    The pigs are kept in Essex for ease of access to London.

    Jay has the coordinates.


    Commiserations, it's a harder one than some people think it might be...

  10. B.B.
    Sorry to hear about your lad's ongoing problem with bullies. Why the hell redheads are picked on in this way I'll never know.
    It must be of recent origin because in my youth we had redheaded film stars who were considered great beauties.

  11. Stoaty,

    By "beauties" do you mean women? Because as I understand it redheaded men have always had the worse time of it..(my female redheaded cousin has had very few problems, and quite a lot of male attention for it)


    My sympathies, undeserved bullying is a horrible thing, make sure he knows it's not his fault (as I'm sure you have)

  12. I'm fairly sure it's a recent thing too, stoaty. We all picked on everyone and everything when I was a kid and we'd not have passed up gingers if it had occurred to us that having red hair was good reason to give someone a hard time. But it didn't.

    In fact, it wasn't until a few years ago that I'd even heard the phrase "beaten like a red-haired stepchild", somewhat ironically I think it was in one of Charlie Brooker's articles in The Guardian.

  13. Thanks guys.

    Now he is a bit older he takes it more in his stride than he used to. Problem is, he is a high-functioning Aspie as well which means that he has trouble understanding nuances and underlying "motives" behind people's behaviour and emotions - a real Mr Spock - "It's not logical, Captain" should be his motto, really.

    As a result, he intelletualises everything and can't understand why people want to deliberately cause harm to someone else, and doesn't see the point in retaliating because it will just make them want to do it more. On the one hand I admire that, but on the other hand I can't help thinking that if he just gave one or two of them a damn good thump right back again, it might have sent a message. But I can see why he wouldn't want to do that.

  14. elementary - morgen

    someone on t'interweb with access to the full OED says that the use of ginger to refer to a particular colour dates back to the early 1500s, possibly derived from using 'ginger' as a name for a fighting cock with red feathers.

    which - my supposition - might come from the other meaning of ginger (to ginger up, hot, spicy) as fighting cocks presumably did best if a bit feisty.

    gilt gingerbread would be a nicer explanation, to my cake-based mind.

    incidentally, the name Russia is derived from red - Rossiya, in russian - which suggests that 'red' as a shorthand for communist may be less to do with bloody revolution and more to do with it taking hold in the 'land of the reds'...

  15. Dot,
    Though I may be occasionally species confused I am unlike some, pretty sure of my gender. Yes I meant women.

    Yes, it could even be from some long forgotten comedian:
    'Mind me wash board, punch the ginger kid'
    kind of thing.

  16. searches also suggest a long-standing stigma of the red-haired, so while the bullying motivation by kids may be a recent development, it's got a long historical heritage - witch burnings (maybe more connected to 'marks of the devil' i.e. the freckle issue than the hair colour itself), ideas that red hair resulted from menstrual intercourse (i.e. 'bad' intercourse in Jewish / Christian tradition), and that the 'red-headed stepchild' thing may be a reference to children born of slave / master relationships. As ever, it would appear that being among a minority of any sort (c.2% of the population) makes you a handy target for the control-freakery of pseudo-religious social leaders...

    BB - he's clearly bang on with the 'it's not logical' thing, but appreciate that it must be very tempting to hope that he just smacks one of them. Hope the guitar thing keeps them at bay!

    Just out of interest - and showing my ignorance on Aspergers here, so tell me if being twittish - is he creative with his music?

    I've read about people on the high-functioning end of the scale being able to draw beautifully (from life or memory) or play music from memory, and in the case of music, to be able to transpose a piece into a number of other styles, but those all seem to be examples of expert mimicry or copying, rather than original creation.

    Is your experience that he 'just' replicates other people's music (covers) or does he also write his own stuff?

  17. And to add more confusion into the mix, 'ginger' in Glasgow refers to soft drinks as in 'geeza a boatle a ginger will ye?'

  18. Philippa/BB

    I have a theory that everyone is somewhere on the Aspergers scale: OK, maybe this comes from working in science with a lot of brilliant people who can't tie their own shoe laces, but everyone can use logic and intellectualise to some extent(certain commenters on CiF not withstanding). I think you can take that scale from Autistic, past Aspergers, through scientists, right out to artists etc. (generalising heavily and with allowances for individuals to fall into more than one group of course...)

  19. Pip - he does write his own music as well, although he replicates to the exact note stuff he listens to too, (and usually has it right within about 5 minutes, which is irritating).

    Dot - I think there is a lot to be said for your theory. He is certainly not very far up the scale, but he has every one of the recognised Aspie traits. The "not being able to tie your own shoelaces" is quite a classic "symptom", btw. He is 14 and still doesn't tie them properly. Yet he can look at a visual puzzle and work it out straight away.

    For example, Scientific American (which hubby subscribed him to) had a card trick on its pages a while ago - I can't remember the exact nature of it, but it was to do with pattern recognition, and he was the only one of the three of us to get it. As requested in the article, he emailed the authors with a few personal details, and they emailed him back, very impressed.

    Or like the very first time he saw an ad for Torchwood on tv and said "That's an anagram of Doctor Who" within two seconds of seeing the name.

    I just wish he could count cards like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, but without all the serious autistic bits... ;o)

  20. Torchwood = Doctor Who!
    I'm a cryptic crossword fanatic (and Dot could probably fit me into his 'scale' fairly easily) and I never f-ing spotted that.

    I've always subscribed to the idea (woollily developed by my good self) that people have 'different brains', but unlike those baning on about 'male' and 'female', usually think 'arts' and 'sciences', with most people having a bias towards one or the other, and 'full balance' being rather rare. And that it's the further outlying 'bias' situations that get defined in medical terms.

    I recall some of the mathmos at college being real geniuses when it came to maths - but when in the third year required to write essays (as hostory or philosophy of maths was a required option) they were turning in 2/3 of a sheet of A4, featuring no capital letters or punctuation other than full stops. Part of this probably related to the fact that they all had 2 or 3 (or even 4) Maths A-levels, sometimes combined with physics, so had never had to write an essay after GCSE. Part, to my mind, because their primary 'language' was maths, rather than

    And then there were a couple of the language / literature peeps who got firsts but would do things like take their houseplants for a walk (through the centre of town to the park, to 'make new friends') to 'cheer them up', or get the fire brigade out because they didn't realise that when microwaving pasta, water needed to be added.

    So I, a woolly-minded arts student, usually covered in paint, and mid-novel, can do 'regular' maths to a decent standard but get hopelessly lost when probability or statistics moves beyond the basics, and various sciencey friends use logic in every situation but get rather cross and defensive when there isn't a logical explanation for something, and don't seem able to engage in a debate on anything where there isn't a logical premise involved.

    It seems to me that it is more prevalent for someone with a science bias to have an arty side than vice versa, as 'arts' is a more usual topic of conversation/engagement outside the classroom - music, film, art, theatre, books etc - all regular topics for a discussion, where having a preference or an opinion is enough. Whereas science requires knowledge of both facts and processes so is more difficult to do 'informally'.

    A lot of this is down to education, so I support the idea of a wider ranging Baccalaureate type system to try to level that up. I cheered when able to jettison all science from my education at the age of 16, although looking back on that, I really regret it...

  21. I was kicked out of physics and chemistry when I was 14 for being so rubbish at it, but I am good at languages. Hopeless at maths too - just didn't "get" it for a long time until I was doing jobs where I had to use it (if a photo is 5 inches tall and 8 inches wide, and you need to reduce it to fit two columns of a newspaper, but two columns of a newspaper are only 5 inches wide, how tall will the photo be, for example - come to think of it, I've forgotten how to do that now!).

    I entirely agree with a French-style Baccalaureat system instead of A Levels.

  22. Thanks all for outlining all those different explanations for the origin of "ginger" being discussed in the community *g* Interesting that there is supposed to be a link between red-hairedness and vampirism - are there any red-haired vampires in popular fiction/vampire movies?

    If not, I'd say we have a great pitch for a Rupert Grint project ...

  23. elementary - possibly down to the 'bloodless' pale skin and sun problems, as well as the 'devil's mark' freckle thing?

    as an afficonado of vampire films meself, most seem to be dark-haired, to point up the contrast with the skin. apart from spike, where the blondness gave a general impression of colourlessness - albino people also come in for a bit of stick in some societies...

  24. @Philippa: I was quite good at maths in school (and in university), but even I always disliked and abhorred probabilistics. You may find that even among mathematicians, there is a strong divide between more algebra-affine types (sheer elegance of thought) and analysis-affine types (using brute force on formulas) (hope algebra and analysis mean the same in English as they do in German).

    Maybe thinking in one-dimensional "scales" is a mistake in itself; I found myself just thinking about another possible scale for minds - those thinking in terms of usefulness (the analysis-affine types: I don't think anyone would do these maths for intellectual pleasure, but they yield results) or in terms of beauty (algebraists and artists, doing thought for the pleasure of thinking).

    And while I would count myself as belonging to the second group, I have to admit that when it comes to decorating rooms, I'm far more on the practical side of things ("Yeah, this flower would make the living room a bit cheerier, but it would take at least another 20 seconds per cleaning to lift it up, clean the place where it stood, and put it down again. I do not need this!")

  25. BB,

    it's a generic term, although Irn Bru obviously is ginger coloured.

    Enquiring as to the availability of a drink from someone's opened can or bottle normally goes:

    ''Haw mate, gonnae geeza skoosh ah yur ginger?''

    I prefer the old Glaswegian term for alcohol: ''cheekywaater'.

  26. elementary

    "Maybe thinking in one-dimensional "scales" is a mistake in itself"

    No, they're useful, set your scale at right angles to mine, then put people on both like plotting a graph, add the third dimension with another scale, really do your head in and add a fourth...just another way of looking at the world!

    I love getting into the whole "we don't know reality, we only know our interpretation of reality" stuff!

  27. And sooner or later all the scales make a lovely Christmas decoration! heh heh

  28. Monkeyfish

    I got about 3/4 of the way through it, thoroughly loved it. Its quite big, doesnt fit in my jacket pocket like most books so was a pain taking to work and back everyday in the hand, heavy lump, so wasnt that practical. Also, because its a collection of essays, some points obviously get repeated quite a lot. So after a while i called time on it, but i will finish it at some point.

    Excellent, excellent book, best recommendation I've had in a long time, so thanks for that. I've put a couple of similar looking books on the xmas list so will report back if any are worth reading.

    The best essay on po-mo i have seen is Chomsky's brutal treatment, which I'll try and post up as a blog in full. Also Richard Dawkins wrote a very good piece on it actually.

    Good article by Paginni.

    Interesting Malik article too, I have his Fatwa to Jihad on the xmas list so looking forward to that one.

    Right,. im going to try and post up the Chomsky.

  29. Philippa,

    A beautiful illustration of artistic thinking vs. scientific thinking, thank you!

  30. Just posted it as new post, tho keep comments here (if anyone feels compelled to comment), but MF if you're about i think you'll like it. Its not strictly on postmodernism but there is a fair bit of crossover and relevant ideas, and his critique could be said to apply to a pretty huge amount of Guardian Cif wankery.

  31. Haha - FreemanMoxy has accused Blackpool of being "like Mordor with a beach".

  32. Dot - I do try...

    From the PBR blog:
    "From today there will be a 50% tax on any bonus worth more than £25,000. That will be paid by the bank, not the individual."
    Am presuming it would be done as a non-deductible of 50% of the bonus.

    Radio peeps already wondering about the definition of 'bonus', which for share allocations presumably more twisted - block deduction based on value at assignment, or do that and then adjust on value at redemption?

  33. I’m stuck at home this afternoon waiting for my annual gas safety check to be carried out, and as I’ve done most of the necessary stuff about the house I can manage, I thought I’d look in here for a while.

    Monkeyfish, yesterday:

    Apparently, the ability to simultaneously hold contradictory opinions or regard two mutually incompatible moral codes as justifiable… even within a single society… is a sign of huge sophistication and subtlety... and not at all the marker of an individual so riven with moral cowardice and a desire to always hold the moral high-ground in any circumstances

    I believe the term is double-think…

  34. Jay - I'm quite convinced that poststructuralism is nothing more than a Gallic joke. Derrida, for example, makes a lot more sense if you read it that way.

  35. Interesting Chomsky post, Jay. Confess I have always been a bit lost by postmodernism / structuralism / what-have-you assuming it was (technical term) just a lot of guff, which appears to be the kernel of C's argument. But, to be fair, looked both terms up in the ol' ODOP, and am now even more confused.

    "In its post-structuralist aspects it includes a denial of any fixed meaning, or any correspondence between language and the world, or any fixed reality or truth or fact to be the object of enquiry"

    OK, well that's just bollocks. Meaning may be fluid, but the scale is set, if not the precise position on it. And what can language be if not a reflection (at least) of reality? And Descartes was a while back. But, taking them at their lengthy and multisyllabic words, how can it be that (as C puts it, dryly)
    We must turn to "theory" and "philosophy" and "theoretical constructs" and the like to remedy this deficiency in our efforts to understand and address what is happening in the world.
    if there is no link between language / thought / theory and the world. I mean, if a worldview says that there is effectively no reality then how on earth can it seek to apply to reality?

    Or, I've fundamentally missed the point. This would not surprise me.

  36. Philippa, I'm quite serious about the joke thing. What you have are a few French semioticians with a valid point - that there is slippage between signifier and signified that can undermine language - who then start playing about with this concept, like a cat with a mouse, until it becomes absurd.

    Then a load of pseudo-intellectuals take it all seriously and mere anarchy is unleashed upon the world.

    It's all (coincidentally) very Foucault's Pendulum.

  37. "It's certainly true that lots of people can't read the books I write. That's not because the ideas or language are complicated --- we have no problems in informal discussion on exactly the same points, and even in the same words. The reasons are different, maybe partly the fault of my writing style, partly the result of the need (which I feel, at least) to present pretty heavy documentation, which makes it tough reading."

    No kidding, why use 3 words when 300 would do...

    (I've only skim read it but it seems to me it could be shortened somewhat and still get the point across.....)

  38. Andysays, havent seen you for a while, hows things?

    On the doublethink theory, hows this (just crossed my mind on a cigarette breaks whilst thinking about the recent article about student visas):

    Belief 1: Imperialism is a serious crime against humanity. The pillaging of the resources of another people or nation is barbaric and inhumane, and manifestly unjust. It is one of the most serious crimes of the last 500 years. (All onboard so far?)

    Belief 2: Notions of 'statehood', national boundaries and 'indigenous people' are pure constructs based on primitive ideas of race and tribe. We are "global citizens", we are all the same, and those proposing some form of national boundary or control on labour movement are motivated mainly by xenophobia and racism.

    Now, how many times has the Graun, or its writers, or certain posters, expressed both those beliefs simultaneously?

    The No Borders champions of globalised labour (the most useful idiots of the last decade) fail to appreciate that to criticse imperialism, you must draw on ideas that you explicitly reject at the same time - doublethink. Namely, that the oil supplies of Iraq, or rather "Iraq", belong to the Iraqi "people", hence US/UK firms taking control of them is wrong.

    Or even the simple and unquestioned idea of people's right to "self governance". What is this "self"? Its a people, operating within territorial boundaries - a state, usually a nation state.

    It is hard to criticise imperialism without drawing on the ideas of both nationhood, national boundaries (The West bank?) and the idea of a "people".

    And it can't be argued, convincingly, that the arguments are only objecting to the violence of imperialism. They clearly aren't. They are also arguing very plainly against the pillaging of the resources of a poor nation, and by extension a "people", by a powerful nation, corporation or other group who are from outside that "people".

  39. Hi Jay; nice to run into you again.

    Great piece from Chomsky; maybe it should be read alongside “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson.

    Do you have a link to the site where you found it?

    One thing I might disagree with him on is this:

    It's been fully recognized for a long time that as the power to control and coerce has declined, it's more necessary to resort to what practitioners in the PR industry early in this century -- who understood all of this well -- called "controlling the public mind."

    The power of the state to coerce and control by physical violence hasn’t declined, quite the reverse, but it’s become generally (though not always) less necessary to resort to that given the increasing effectiveness in advanced capitalist society of what Chomsky’s PR practitioners call "controlling the public mind", what Marx called ideology and Gramsci called hegemony.

    Ultimately, I suggest that the over-elaborate and over-intellectualised “theory” and “philosophy” Chomsky criticises so well here and the pseudo-debate so popular on CiF are simply two facets of the same old, ever-changing, never-changing process of state control.

    And for the non-chattering classes, there’s always football and X-Factor…

  40. ODOP does refer to it primarily as playful, parodic, ironic, exaggerated and 'glitzy', so I was wondering. But if it is a big joke, how come some seem to take it so seriously? Is the biggest joke post-mod ever played the fact that its adherents missed the joke?

    I'm all for unpacking language to determine what assumptions are at play, and using neutral terms wherever possible, but there is really no point to philosophy (or any other discipline) unless it is related to reality. Even the most theoretical of mathematics has that - viz the seed arrangement thingy we were discussing a week or so back.

  41. Dot - the shortened version, as I understand it:

    You're talking bollocks, stop it.

  42. "I mean, if a worldview says that there is effectively no reality then how on earth can it seek to apply to reality?"

    I think, though i am no expert on it by any stretch, that their principle point isnt that there is no reality (tho some really do argue that), but rather that there can be no objective way of understanding it. Hence my reality can only be "mine", and yours "yours". And the most appalling crime that anyone can commit is to suggest that theirs is right and somebody elses wrong. Instead, we just need to remember that everyones reality is just as "valid".

    But like most people - i'm about 99.65% certain that is is about 85% gibberish. And the remaining 15% is nothing to write home about.

    Thaum - i like C's description of Derrida, one of the funniest phrases i have seen in the academic world, "I found him most amusing and a perfectly self-conscious charlatan."

  43. Jay, okaaaaay, but then if all views are subjective and equally valid, how can they do anything other than say 'we think this, this is not necessarily right'? The position seems to be that their approach is necessary to understanding what to do in the world, but simutaneously holds that there is no such thing as a single necessary approach. Which still makes no sense, surely?

    Unless it's a kind of intellectual fiddling while Rome burns. Anyway.

  44. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  45. Philippa

    Is the biggest joke post-mod ever played the fact that its adherents missed the joke?


    My profs at uni were completely unable to explain post-modernism to the satisfaction of any of the students. But they took it very, dreadfully, seriously.

    Jay - yes: I cite that as proof of my theory! (Oops, I mean 'position'.)

  46. Jay,

    thanks for the post, most informative.

    I've always been fascinated and repelled by post-modernism as an intellectual phenomenon. It started when I had to read Baudrillard's The Gulf War did not take place at University.

    As thauma has pointed out above, post-modernism can be seen as a French intellectual in joke, but it is a joke that liberal bourgeois leftists the world over have taken at face value.

    Post-modernism has been associated with the left wing and this is where the paradox occurs.

    Left wing thought has historically obsessed itself with the economic and intellectual progress of 'the masses'. So therefore how do you connect with the masses by using deliberately obscurantist terms, structures and explanations?

    To me the postmodernist phenomenon amongst left wing intellectuals is the sign of defeatism.

    They've curled up in the face of the challenge of monetarism and neo-liberalism into a cocoon of self satisfied intellectual masturbation which has no relevance to the historic links between the left wing and the masses and which cannot confront the social and economic devastation wrought by 30 years of neo-liberalism

    It also displays a paucity of thought in that the only way to show off your intellectual capacities is by using gibberish. As long as a small elite understand the same gibberish you can intellectually wank away to your hearts content.

    Postmodernism is a joke that is way past its sell by date.

  47. Andy

    Yeah i think that largely makes sense, we all saw what happens when physical force is required still - the G20 protests, man dead, police cover up. Both here and in the US in the last ten years the governments have given themselves much greater powers of surveillance and state violence, but then, as Iraq showed, they just dont need them as much anymore - the media walked hand in hand with them as they led the country to war, the PR operation now is about as powerful as they could ever hope for.

    And one of the benefits of these media empires is that you only need to grovel at one man's feet, the unspeakable Satan.

  48. Philippa,

    I like your version, although it does away with the irony of using mostly waffle to tell someone they're talking bollocks............


    I think you're right, although I'd revise those percentages to 85%, 65% and 35% respectively, changing the 65% and 35% to 60% and 30% for other cultures, and more so if we ever meet aliens.....

    Of course Philippa's right: if those percentages get closer to 50% we run the risk of logicing ourselves out of our own position.....

    "It merely pleases me to behave in this manner towards what I perceive to be, a cat"

  49. thauma
    "My profs at uni were completely unable to explain post-modernism to the satisfaction of any of the students. But they took it very, dreadfully, seriously"
    Exactly what Chomsky says! Ha! Reinforcement helpz teh nundstanding...

    Holds good for 'theories' in the philosophical sense, but maybe we can't say "if it can't be explained, it doesn't really exist" for everything, or I understand that we should all technically be floating...

  50. Good article, Jay

    This bit resonates with me the most:

    Phetland also found it "particularly puzzling" that I am so "curtly dismissive" of these intellectual circles while I spend a lot of time "exposing the posturing and obfuscation of the New York Times." So "why not give these guys the same treatment." Fair question. There are also simple answers. What appears in the work I do address (NYT, journals of opinion, much of scholarship, etc.) is simply written in intelligible prose and has a great impact on the world, establishing the doctrinal framework within which thought and expression are supposed to be contained, and largely are, in successful doctrinal systems such as ours. That has a huge impact on what happens to suffering people throughout the world, the ones who concern me, as distinct from those who live in the world that Lodge depicts (accurately, I think). So this work should be dealt with seriously, at least if one cares about ordinary people and their problems. The work to which Phetland refers has none of these characteristics, as far as I'm aware. It certainly has none of the impact, since it is addressed only to other intellectuals in the same circles.

    I wouldn't say I was "anti-intellectual" but I think my hubby sometimes thinks I am because I don't see the point in pontificating about theories and principles unless they are being applied to something real and tangible. Theory and philosophy on its own doesn't mean much to me unless someone can say "and the benefit/drawback/application of that can be seen in..." etc.

    Thaum - I get exactly what you are saying about Foucault's Pendulum.

    Jay - As far as your example of double-think above, though, I don't see the two as entirely mutually exclusive. Yes, imperialism is "wrong", but yes globalism can work as well, provided there are solid foundations of real, just global governance and fair trade underpinning it, where the players are treated as equals. While I can see what you are getting at, I don't think it is quite as simple as that.

  51. "okaaaaay, but then if all views are subjective and equally valid, how can they do anything other than say 'we think this, this is not necessarily right'?"

    Well, logically, that is all they can do. Except they dont, of course. They also pontificate on the world and "power structures" using traditionally left wing discourse, so much of it is tied up in gender theory, power relations, neo-Marxism etc, all of which rely on an assumption so obvious that it is never stated - the misogyny/racism/capitalism/imperialism that we witness is not just subjectively true for us, ie reality, we also presumably believe it is 'true' for the victims, the woman burning on the funeral pyre and the black man hanging from the noose.

    Duke - the link with the Left is very interesting, the left who traditionally valued universalism and Enlightenment values is now pouring petrol over both of them. The most vigorous defenders of relativism in all its invidious forms seem to come from the left perspective. The Guardian laps it up. Very irritating.

    As for it all being a joke, im not sure how plausible it is. It has contaminated vast swathes of university life in the US, UK and the continent, dominating most English, anthropology, sociology, even history departments. Surely we cant be saying we send our kids to uni for £20k for a laugh and some semantic games?

    And, when Sokals hoax was revealed, the postmodernists didnt laugh along - they got very, very angry, they refused to let him publish his follow up explanatory article. And he's a pretty good natured, and funny, bloke. They were very po faced.

  52. "Yes, imperialism is "wrong", but yes globalism can work as well, provided there are solid foundations of real, just global governance and fair trade underpinning it"

    BB - what are your reasons for saying its wrong though? And, if we hadnt been discussing it here, would your usual reasons for its wrongness not have included in part notions of nationhood, national boundaries and the rights of a "people" to their own resources?

    Globalism is by nature a loose term with many different interpretations, many of which are benign and rational (in my view), but i dont think that excuses those who make two explicit claims, and in one they reject certain ideas totally, in the next they embrace them.

    That isnt to say all defences of globalism and all critiques of imperialism are doublethink, they arent, but certain posters and writers simultaneously employ the two views I specifically mentioned. And i think they are guilty of doublethink.

  53. They were very po faced.

    I think the correct term is actually po-mo faced, Jay. Relativistically speaking, of course. (I'm obviously not trying to impose my own values on your own ideological landscape. That would be wrong.)

    Fuck! I didn't mean 'wrong'. Sorry. I meant...

    Did you see last weeks X-factor?

  54. Jay

    It has contaminated vast swathes of university life in the US, UK and the continent, dominating most English, anthropology, sociology, even history departments.

    These are the humourless, pretentious idiots who didn't get the joke.

  55. Well, the Gas Man has been and I’ve been declared safe for another year…


    Slight case of OPS (overlapping post syndrome) there.

    In my tedious monomaniacal Marxist way, I’d answer your question of two apparently incompatible beliefs like this:

    Imperialism was a crucial stage it the development of capitalism, its purpose being to rapidly expand the geographical reach of the capitalist economies, and to forcibly overturn the already existing systems of economic and political organisation in the subjugated regions. This was justified to the folks at home by suggesting that the subjugated people were savages and that “we” were doing them a favour by “civilising” them.

    But the economic and political cost of maintaining empires meant that eventually the colonising powers had to change their means of control from physical force to more ideological means (while keeping the use of physical force up their sleeves, naturally).

    And now the needs of global and globalised capitalism require the down-playing and weakening of notions of a nation-state which has total authority within its boundaries, and which might interfere with the rights of business to locate where it wants (think cheapest), avoid restrictive (think any) taxation, and subvert labour regulations by importing foreign labour which is used to undermine existing wages and conditions.

    So of course the heirs of 19th century imperialism are the 21st Century globalisers (and their useful idiots).

    However, I think what you describe as Belief 2 also has to co-exist with the idea of cultural relativism, which believes very strongly that we are, all of us, defined by our race, tribe, ethnicity, rather than our class position (obviously) or even our common humanity.

    I think there’s an element of post-colonial guilt here, plus an inability to recognise the real reasons for imperialism, which leads many to simply argue that it was all because Europeans are inherently nasty and if only we could embrace these wonderful foreign cultures and not be so uptight everything would be groovy.

    At best that’s patronising bollocks, and at worst it leads to relativistic excuses being made for various archaic and oppressive (frequently though not exclusively towards women) practices.

  56. Scherfig - your expansionist, overbearing machismo is constantly a source of disgust. How dare he march onto these boards imposing himself like this and declaring others "wrong". Its violence designed to maintain the image of the "strong man". Its sexual violence.

    "These are the humourless, pretentious idiots who didn't get the joke."

    Shouldnt it worry people tho Thaum? That, maybe, 25% of our graduates are spending 3 years and £20k, plus state resources, learning about an elaborate joke? I think its tragic.

    A marxist friend of mine is studying social and political thought at Sussex (asking for it, yes), anyway, he told me after he had finished a lengthy (and probably erudite) Marxist analysis in his lecture, one of the little dears responded with simply,

    "But, isnt that just, like, a meta narrative?"

    Thats when people need to have their faces punched.

  57. well ... Baudrillard was quite right when he said the Gulf War did not exist except as a video game ...he meant in the way it was perceived and projected - and he was right - as far as the commentators on the airwaves and internet were concerned. No doubt it was crap for the people suffering hardship, lost limbs and lives - but they were not the ones typing their opinions were they?

    And the Untrusted doesn't exist either - unless you catch up for drinks somewhere on the 21st with Kiz. Outside of pressing the flesh it's all self-reflexive squiggles communicating angst, self importance, one-up-manship, deference, humility, and/or virtual altruism. Everyone that blogs and interacts is 'beyond'. As much as people, who virtually interact, may bite the pillow in embarrassment or puff-up their sense of righteousness over what they communicate on-line, it's bullshit in the whole scheme of 'being'.

    As Baudrillard would say: 'get real' - but that's not going to happen is it? How does our virtual-ness make things happen? We think we're interacting with people but we actually remove ourselves from others to the extent that empathy or suffering is vicarious. Or is it? And that's the question pomo poses. Critical theories monitor , project and ask questions. They're there to make people question - pomo is not definitive - that's the whole point of it.

    Anyway we're post-post now :) because we're so self-reflexive that we're discussing our self-reflexivity.

  58. Jay - 'twas ever thus, I reckon; only the terminology has changed.

  59. Jay:

    It’s not just the waste of resources (though that’s bad enough) it’s the fact that many of the people who have consumed and been moulded by this nonsense actually go on to positions of influence and importance.

    These ideas are not an irrelevance, as Chomsky appears to be suggesting, they are actually pernicious and dangerous.

    But here’s what Poly has to say about it:

    Oh Bondage, Up Yours!

    Bind me, tie me, chain me to the wall
    I wanna be a slave for you all

  60. What do I mean by "wrong"...

    Well, I mean the colonisation of another country by force, to the detriment of the local markets and populations.

    And, what andy says too. There, that was easy.

    Seriously, though, to expand on my first bit - yes it was necessary for the expansion of capital, but to say that is to accept that expansion of capital was the only way forward, and the best way forward. Because we are now in the situation we are in, there is no way of knowing if things could have been better under a more co-operative system, dealing with countries and their populations not as resources to leech, but as partners to trade with, than they are under the system we have now, because it would mean at some point in the late 17th/early 18th century going off in a completely different direction than we did. So who knows where it would have led and what kind of world we would be living in if we took that route instead.

    But given that this is what we are stuck with, doesn't mean that it has to continue in the same vein - and calling it post-Imperialist guilt is too simplistic. It is more about realising what we did that was wrong, from a global humanist perspective, and determining to put humanism at the centre of our goals from now on rather than capitalism. But in order to do that we have to be quite harsh with ourselves and the way we have operated in the past and take steps to undo some of the damage we have done, or at least not exacerbate it any further in terms of international expansionist behaviour.

    So, in other words, had we gone down the route of co-operation instead of colonisation and domination, we might now be in a position where we weren't at war every five minutes over precious resources, but trading with countries on an equal footing.

    I am not very good at putting these things into coherent arguments, but that is the way I see things, anyway.

  61. Jay - having managed to study philosophy for three years without ever coming across it, am considering writing a sternly worded letter to my alma mater for unconscionably concentrating on the history of philosophy, ethics, marxism, liberalism, feminism and all that guff that actually (pah!) relates to the world around us, to my eternal educational detriment.

    Mind you, if I did, they'd probably start badgering me for an 'alumnus contribution' again, so may not bother.

  62. Haven't even read the thread yet, but two things:

    I'll be moving the Chomsky thing over to UT2 in just a few minutes, since that is what the UT2 is for. [Clears throat in a Reillyward direction]

    I thought I'd share with you this morning's version of yesterday's views out my living room window (facing north) and front door (facing south):

    facing north

    facing southish -- this is what is just outside my door. I would not have been able to get to my car this morning if we'd had school.

  63. "As much as people, who virtually interact, may bite the pillow in embarrassment or puff-up their sense of righteousness over what they communicate on-line, it's bullshit in the whole scheme of 'being'."

    Why do you regularly visit this blog then? Seems odd if you think its all trivial, meaningless posturing. I think most people here and at CIF do actually care about real issues, thats why they discuss them.

  64. postmodernist joke (I can't claim this one):

    How many deconstructionists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Even the framing of this question makes a grid of patriarchal assumptions that reveals a slavish devotion to phallocentric ideas – such as, technical accomplishment has inherent value, knowledge can be attained and quantities of labor can be determined empirically, all of which makes a discourse which further marginalizes the already disenfranchised.

    Funnily enough it works just as well if you say how many Bea Campbell/Bindels does it take...

  65. Hey Montana - that looks great!

    How long do you expect to be snowed in for? I guess it might become a little tedious after a few weeks, or when you run out of cider…

  66. I want to be at Montana's place for Christmas...I want to be at Montana's place for Christmas...I want to be at Montana's place for Christmas...I want to be at Montana's place for Christmas...

  67. Duke - I'm sure she'd welcome anyone who turns up with a snow-shovel.

  68. Parallax:

    "As much as people, who virtually interact, may bite the pillow in embarrassment or puff-up their sense of righteousness over what they communicate on-line, it's bullshit in the whole scheme of 'being'."

    Arguably most communication, by whatever method, can be considered bullshit in the “overall scheme of being”, but just occasionally we witness a “contribution” about which there’s absolutely no doubt, no need to argue.

    Know what I mean? ;-)

  69. Having been away a bit, coming back now to pseud here to my heart's delight ... So, let me just try to construct a theory which I think is post-modernist.

    Reality, as we understand it intuitively does not exist. Something exists, but what this is *to us* is no more than an interpretation our minds make. Looking at a computer screen, we do not see a lot of points in different colours/brightness levels - we see a text, or a picture. We do not tend to think of the mass of electrons, protons and neutrons our hand comes into contact with as a mass of electrons, protons and neutrons, but as a human being. These aren't really interpretations of reality; these interpretations *are* what constitutes reality for us.

    (Other intelligences might interpret the same things/phenomena in other ways; it's not impossible that God's view, when directed at our planet, sees nothing but sub-atomic particles moving in bizarrely beautiful ways.)

    On these levels (putting together points to pictures or texts, not seeing the cells for the human being) this is something that most people, I guess, would *get*; in these cases, there is hardly any doubt (among non-philosophers) what the *right* way (generally considered the *only* way) to interpret these phenomena is. These levels are very basic; how far up can you go, before it doesn't work anymore? And what does it mean if there is no *right* way to look at things anymore?

    Well, one idea you might get is that if no *right* interpretation has been prescribed by society, a group with enough social influence could try to make one interpretation the *right* one in a given culture. A man hitting a woman can be seen as an Individual Cowardly Act, as an incident of Domestic Violence, as Patriarchy Oppressing Women.

    Now, a group might decide that the last interpretation should be the default interpretation, or, better yet, the *only* interpretation. While many other interpretations would be thinkable, that one, this group would say, is the most moral one, and as a culture in principle has a choice to prescribe a right interpretation where different interpretations are considered valid, surely the culture should go for the most moral one. For example, to view a fellow human being as a lump of cells would be considered sociopathic, and with good reasons.

    (Note that the last sentence could be something a rabid pro-lifer might say as an argument. The pro-lifers accuse pro-choice people of thinking of a human being as a lump of cells; pro-choicers think pro-lifers make the mistake of seeing a lump of cells as a human being.)

    This would be the political application of the theory of different interpretations: Public views shouldn't be based on empirical data but on theories supported by their moral clout, since the gathering and analyzing of empirical data can always be influenced and blinded by the researchers (unconscious) interpretations and biases.

    So, in the end, you get the governing political principle should be morality; I guess this was bound to happen when you start with some Frenchmen's theories ...

  70. Me too. Too beautiful to get all that snow in time for Christmas.

  71. Unbelievably I have heard of post modernism.
    My son is a historian and he tells me that post modern historians believe that as one can never really tell what happened in the past it is ok to make it up.
    Don't take this as gospel, I may have got it wrong.

  72. Montana - yeah move it by all means, it wasnt an original post so thought i'd just put it up for monkeyfish to read (and any others who fancied). Very nice pics by the way, certainly beats looking out to drizzle and the grey concrete jungle of london...


    Yes I sort of see your point (I think). What I mean is, when we think why its "wrong" for Shell to go into Iraq and make billions from their oil, are we not relying on the assumption that the oil is "theirs" rather than the property of the global community? Otherwise how is it "wrong"? If everyone is a global citizen, then the worlds resources are surely up for grabs for whoever can exploit them arent they?

    But we tend not to think like this. There seems something intrinsically wrong about oil plunder, or private firms taking over water utilities in developing countries and then charging local populations for their very own water - that jars against morality.

    I think i get what you mean, and i'm not questioning the widers points of the wrongs of imperialism or the benefits of certain types and aspects of globalism, but i do think it is still common to see the very same people and institutions defend certain types of globalism using specific ideas, if implicitly, that they deplore when they are denouncing imperialism or xenophobia. I think there is a degree of doublethink going on there.

  73. Jay - "if you think its all trivial, meaningless posturing."

    No ... read it in context ... I'm explaining Baudrillard's projection - which, when you come to think about it, is fucking amazing given that he formulated this understanding of virtual distance from the real over 18 years ago - you got to give him credit for foresight

  74. Hi UTers!

    Still no moving date - looks like I'll be here for Xmas :( !!

    Still going to a friends for the day so I won't be staring at boxes. Daughter is working so we won't be together for the first time in 35 years. Will see her on boxing day though!

    Interesting discussion on poststructuralism/ postmodernism. To me me it just seems like painting yourself into a corner!

    No wonder the world has gone mad!

    Re Nation states and colonialism It seems to me that colonialism is a reflection of capitalism's tendency to exploit the weak be it nations or classes.

    Guardian lefties take on the nation state is a classic example of 'treating the third month of pregnancy as the last'. Certainly we can all believe that fundamentally all human beings are brothers and sisters but we cannot just ignore the inconvenient fact that class society has divided the human race on the basis of terretory for thousands of years. The free movement of people globally cannot take place while these divisions exist simply because the economic differences between nations are too great. (the expanded EU found this when poorer nations joined movement is bound to be in one way). Its OK to demand free movement of people but not without posing the question of the destruction of class society.

    Thats what I think anyway ;-)

    Back to filling more f**king boxes!

  75. elementary,

    Really interesting post. Where you say:

    Reality, as we understand it intuitively does not exist. Something exists, but what this is *to us* is no more than an interpretation our minds make.

    Takes us full circle back to the 17th Century with Descartes: cogito ergo sum.

    What I gather from the rest of your post is that nothing can be truly objective, everything perceived by humans is purely subjective.

    Does this not take us into the realm of nihilism? For instance Morality. If every human perception is purely subjective it would mean that morality as an objective framework does not exist. Murder is not an immoral act per se, it is only deemed so through a common human perception of morality and conditioning?

    This was a preoccupation of Albert Camus after his post war break with Sartre- arguing that there is an inherent moral framework within the human psyche therefore morality can be recognised as objective.

    Ma heids battered and I'm loving it!

  76. Not having read Baudrillard, but have been in France at the time of the first Iraq War I can see where he was coming from. For the first two days of the war, all we saw on TV were bizarre green and white fireworks in the night sky coupled with endless talking heads telling us what we were looking at.

    But just because there was that distance doesn't mean that the war wasn't real in the hearts and minds of the people observing the effects.

    And similarly, just because people are communicating online doesn't mean those people don't exist, unless one is the sort of dork who deliberately adopts a persona which is completely unlike their real-life persona just to troll or play pranks on other people.

    Again, I think that is an age thing. On a music forum I frequent, you would have the younger guys pissing about trolling and being rude to one another and generally being dorks on a regular basis, and if anyone complained, the answer always came back "It's only the internet" - like everyone that interacted was no more than the Talk To Frank bot or something and didn't exist as real, human flesh and bone with feelings and emotions in their little zone on the ether. This is dangerous - in fact I would say it is almost psycopathic - thinking.

    Because once you start assuming that just because it is on the internet it isn't real, or just because it is on tv it isn't real, it is not a very big step to assuming that, actually, nothing outside yourself is real and therefore it doesn't matter if you harm others because they don't really exist.

  77. We crossed posts there, Your Grace, but we were on the same wavelength

  78. Hi Annetan, hope the box filling isnt too tedious,

    "It seems to me that colonialism is a reflection of capitalism's tendency to exploit the weak be it nations or classes"

    I think this is an important point. It seems much of the apparent double standards, or double think, comes about because often things arent actually judged on principle but rather in terms of who is the weak party and who is the strong.

    Israel violating Palestinian borders is strong violating weak, so we're happy to talk of the Palestinian people, and their right to secure borders, and their right to territory and self governance.

    If we consider third world migration to the first world we have the movement of resources from strong to weak.

    So is it the case that we actually square these circles by an unstated rule that trumps the rest, that morality should be concerned with levelling the inequality between powerful and weak.

    So, for example, male DV victims can be largely overlooked, because the primary focus of political morality is this 'levelling' over and above the application of absolute rules and principles, in this instance: partner violence is wrong, but patriarchy is worse.

    I dont think thats really a bad way to go, though obviously it throws up some problems, nothings perfect.

    What grates me is the attempt to have the cake and eat it - ie, claim it is all these specific laws and rules and principles which must be adhered to without prejudice, discrimination, etc, all very noble and objective, but at the same time overlooking these in practice and seeming to base policy more on the power relations between the two parties in question.

  79. Hey Annetan

    Bummer that you are not going to be moved into your new place before Christmas. Still, it will be a good start to the New Year.

  80. Where's Hank? We stop talking about ponies and shoes and have a serious debate and the bugger is nowhere to be seen ;)

  81. Your Grace,

    I think people doing this "applied deconstruction" thing I described would like to deconstruct mostly everything and reconstruct it on the basis of their own morality, which is pretty sacrosanct. They use deconstruction not as a way of understanding or "getting at the truth" (it cannot be, as its starting point is that there is no truth), but as a tool to further their own political agenda. You could also see deconstruction as a gun: Of course, it can be used to shoot yourself in the foot; the purpose is, however, to shoot your opponent in the food.

    I also think it's a bit different from cogito ergo sum . Cogito ergo sum means, I have no way of knowing whether my hand exits - the only thing I can be certain of is the existence of my mind. The other theory I described says, there is this stuff at the end of my arm, which I could think of as my hand or an aggregation of atoms, but which interpretation I choose is only dependent upon my own mind. So, in a way my "hand" is not much else than the way my mind (and most other human minds) interpret the stuff at the end of my arm, but it has no intrinsic existence *as a hand* outside of the human (or animal) mind.

  82. Hi Jay, good cue there: I really should buy a new pair of shoes one if these days. Or maybe just throw away the old one I'm wearing, I think I already have another pair which is in pretty good shape ...

  83. Hi Anne: Good to see you.

    I’ve missed the story of your move - the last I remember you were trying out various tricks to sell your house (like baking bread and brewing coffee?) when potential buyers came round.
    So what’s the latest? I will be on the move myself in the New Year - details may follow later…


    talking about ponies and shoes

    Shit, did I miss that as well? ;-)

  84. Snow:

    It might look pretty, but it's a pain in the arse to those of us who have to live with it for at least 4 months of the year every year.

    I can't get out of my flat. I've got less than a pint of milk, because I didn't believe them when they said there was going to be a blizzard. Every year about this time, the TV weather people get everyone into a lather, telling us that there's going to be a huge winter storm. Then it never comes. This year it came.

    It's 10:30 and the people who are supposed to clear the parking lot and pavements haven't been here yet. I don't know whether they're waiting for the wind to die down, in the theory that trying to do it now would be pointless as they'd just have to come do it again later or whether they're too busy and just haven't gotten here yet. I seriously suspect that my car won't start when I do get to it, as it's about -14°C right now and the wind chill factor makes it feel more like -30°C.

    Grey and drizzly sounds good to me right now.

  85. "Shit, did I miss that as well? ;-)"

    You missed a mouthful Andy. There have been some monumental "disagreements".

  86. Ohhhhh. An article by Palin's just gone up!

    Montana, completely understand your feelings on winter in the midwest. It's hell.

  87. Hi Andy - yes I have sold the house (STC!) and found a really nice flat just where I want to live.

    Its just that at this time of the year there is a mad rush to move by Christmas and removers obviously take the first ones to complete!

    I might be able to move between Xmas and new year though (here's hoping)

  88. thaum: If that's Michael Palin, I will give it a go ...

    Yeah, thought not.

  89. Montana:

    it's about -14°C right now and the wind chill factor makes it feel more like -30°C

    Yeah, that puts all those thoughts of Xmas scenes into perspective.

    Sounds like you need to stock up on essentials once the wind drops and then wait for the thaw or the snowplough to do their work.

    At least your internet connection isn’t affected :-)

    There have been some monumental "disagreements"

    Disagreements are like buses, Jay - if you miss one, there’ll be another along in a minute...

    Great news Anne.

    What does STC mean? Soon To Complete I guess.

    Hope it all goes well, and you enjoy Xmas and New Year wherever you spend them.

  90. Flipping eck, thaum! I didn't know - or maybe I had blocked it out of my memory as too traumatic - that the Graun had a piece by The Evil Bolton!

    Will have to take a look at that now. Which is a shame really cos I was enjoying taking the piss out of the Sarah Palin Cultists.

  91. Jay

    i enjoyed that Chomsky piece you put up. Read it at work - great relief in an otherwise tedious day.

    Thought I'd have a rootle through various books at home to find some absurd examples of pm speak but eventually came up with something that Ernst Gellner wrote back in 1995 which is more interesting, not to say prescient given where we are now.

    He's having a go at modern liberalism and its flakey foundations and comes up with the following "dangers ahead for our affluence sustained liberty"

    1. government by growth cannot go on forever although it will go on for a time. it has enabled countries capable of attaining growth to be liberal and at the same time maintain order, without the traditional....brutal methods. But saturation point must be reached eventually, when the washing machine will no longer deputise for the executioner as the foundation of social order.

    2.Although mildly powerful technology aids liberty, a very powerful one may turn out to be its enemy.

    3. Late industrialism...may no longer be conducive to that individualism which was...linked to early industrialism.

    4. the extension of technology to the human field, if it does come about, may re-introduce extreme forms of inequality, for instance, by making it possible to purchase health and longevity at a high price. this in turn may undermine the affluence induced attenuation of social conflict.

    5. Advanced industrialism both stimulates nationalism and yet also thwarts it by engendering massive labour migrations, thereby causing tensions which may not be contained by liberal methods.

    6. A free market in incommensurate values, none of them socially or doctrinally underwritten, may produce an intolerable moral vacuum.

    7. Societies reaching late industrialism not from a pre-industrial traditional society, but from the ruins of a centralised 'socialist' system, may...be incapable of reaching even that logically incoherent but socially viable compromise which marks consumerist liberalism. such societies may decline into criminalisation or neo-authoritarianism or worse and be socially infectious.

    8. Modern technology, through the ecological and terrorist dangers it brings along, mauy necessitate the termination of political plurality.

    The sociologist David Glass remarked that he "wasn't sure whether the next revolution would come from the right or from the left; but he was quite sure that, wherever it came from, the first person to be shot would be Ernest Gellner.

  92. Bloody hell, I evden commented on it too! Senility is setting in...

  93. Cheers, thauma.

    From my council flat in Tottenham, I defer to your superior knowledge of estate agent speak ;-)

    Hi sheff:

    I don’t think I’ve heard of Geller before, though some of his ideas about industrialism (I’d probably call it capitalism) do seem prescient.

    David Glass was incorrect in his prediction that Geller would be the first person shot in any revolution, however - he apparently died of a heart attack in 1995, one month short of his 70th birthday.

    So it goes…

  94. Interesting list, Sheff, i think this is the most pertinent:

    " A free market in incommensurate values, none of them socially or doctrinally underwritten, may produce an intolerable moral vacuum."

  95. OK - bored now. Can we talk about shoes and ponies again?

    *runs away*

  96. Jay

    The whole piece is worth a read. If you've got the energy to trawl through their archive the graun published it on Saturday 4th November 1995.

    Apropos of nothing at all - I've just downloaded the new google browser - Google chrome - it's incredibly fast!

  97. Shall we talk about being in Call Centre in Bangalore Hell? 'Cos that's where I am right now.

  98. BB, just for you:

    Q. why could the Shetland Pony only talk in a whisper?

    A. Because it was a little horse.

    Anyone got any shoe jokes?


    Somehow I can't imagine that a Call Centre in Bangalore would be the best place to call for advice about what to do when you're snowed in...

  99. Every discourse, even a poetic or oracular sentence, carries with it a system of rules for producing analogous ponies and thus an outline of shoe methodology.

    Jacques Derrida

  100. Nice one andy

    No shoe jokes I can remember, but I have got another horse one.

    A white horse walks into a bar and the barman says "Ooh, we've got a whisky named after you"

    And the horse says "What, it's called Eric?"

  101. Ah thanks for clarifying that, Scherfig.

  102. God, I just realised how that looked

    Sheff, Jay - I wasn't saying I was bored with what you were saying, honest! I was just being facetious. I didn't even see your posts before I posted mine!

  103. Hi all--Thanks again for the condolences.

    Jay--I also enjoyed the Chomsky piece, he pisses off a lot of people for the right reasons,so he is surely hitting some truth nerves.

    Montana--Keep digging and hang in there.

  104. OK - bored now. Can we talk about shoes and ponies again?

    *runs away*

    Well, BB, if this is boring you then i suggest we talk about Sarah Palin. She really does disturb me in a way no other politician either here or in the US does, not Blair, Straw, Blears, even Bush, they dont come close. She is terrifying.

    She is a global beacon for rank stupidity, ignorance, small mindedness, bigotry, arrogance, gun obsession, religious fundamentalism, she is a Satan of the Dark Ages transported here to speed the human race on its way to oblivion, she is the harbinger of doom, she is literally everything that i fuckin despise in this world rolled up into one grotesque, winking, illiterate cuntbag.

  105. "Here, my Lefty friends, is the next president of the USA and leader of a Christian resurgence that will burn your socialist behinds"

    Oh deary me. I'm sorry but this type of American mindset is a very severe threat to the whole species.

    President Palin - if it happens i will consider a late conversion to Jesus, the end will be nigh.

  106. So you don't like her then, Jay? fwiw, I don't think that she has any real political future. She's making some waves now, and selling some books but there's no way that she'll get any backing from the official Republican party for 2012. In fact I think that she'll damage them considerably if they let her inside the tent. Look at what happened in the Congressional seat election in upstate NY recently - the first Democrat to win since 1872. Why? Because the 'Palin wing' wouldn't support a moderate Republican and split the vote between the Republican and a right-wing loony conservative.
    Palin is a nutter, and the Republican machine won't touch her with a barge-pole. Her future is in media and Christian TV, not politics.

  107. She is a global beacon for rank stupidity, ignorance, small mindedness, bigotry, arrogance, gun obsession, religious fundamentalism, she is a Satan of the Dark Ages transported here to speed the human race on its way to oblivion, she is the harbinger of doom, she is literally everything that i fuckin despise in this world rolled up into one grotesque, winking, illiterate cuntbag.
    She is a global beacon for rank stupidity, ignorance, small mindedness, bigotry, arrogance, gun obsession, religious fundamentalism, she is a Satan of the Dark Ages transported here to speed the human race on its way to oblivion, she is the harbinger of doom, she is literally everything that i fuckin despise in this world rolled up into one grotesque, winking, illiterate cuntbag.

    George Bernard Shaw would have struggled to put it any better.

  108. This comment has been removed by the author.

  109. I've just noticed that 'Sarah Palin' is actually an anagram for The Enlightenment never happened

  110. Superb post Jay, and spot on Scherf and Your Grace too. I find it kind of worrying that so many people appear to be taken in by her, though. It really is the last days of the American Empire, isn't it?

    On another note, my favourite little Napolean lookey-likey is burbling on about Christian values in France in relation to the Swiss minarets vote!

    Jeez, I hope the French don't cotton on that as far as their president is concerned, the revolution meant jack shit in terms of ridding the country of religious oppression...

  111. Rubbish, your nobleness. It is in fact an anagram for a plain rash or a hair slap (that's a sexy one!) or you betcha, big boy, are you a real dook?

  112. Jay, spot on. I'm fascinated by her in some sort of car-crash way.

    Scherfig, do not underestimate the ability of the US populace to vote for morons. Her poll ratings are currently very close to Obama's.

  113. Oh damn, I see they've closed the Palin thread. Oh well, I got my bile out on the pink thread. *shudders*

  114. thauma, she will not even stand, and if she does, it will not be as a Republican. If she stands as an independent a la Ron Paul or Ross Perot, then it's good news for the Democrats. The poll ratings are meaningless anyway, she's a busted flush.

  115. Well, scherf, I hope you're right, but we shall see!

  116. Jay,

    if you're reading, you're getting a tin foil savaging off GIYUS on WADYYA.

    Which leads me to think you may be a lizard person spreading pernicious Bilderberg propaganda through critiques of postmodernism.


    posed conspiracy duke.

  117. Hey wait a minute, he's slagging us all off!!!


    Let's examine some of, what might be called, the UT group-think'
    posed the wise fool
    'who should we pick?'

  118. Yup Your Grace - I have been got at too. I'm getting used to that now though :P

  119. Just read the Chomsky piece, Jay. To be honest, I like Chomsky but he's almost as guilty as Derrida and the rest of the sins he's excoriating them for. I appreciate that this was a transcript of a discussion and he might have been a bit more lucid and less verbose if he'd written it down, but it was a turgid read for the most part.

    Also, he seems to think that this is the debasement of language by intellectual charlatans is a relatively recent phenomenon. It's not, and this, for my money, is a far better dismissal of them:

    "(The English language) becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts...

    "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible...Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and cloudy vagueness...

    "One ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by beginning at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

    No prizes for guessing who wrote, in 1946, what still sounds fresh and relevant today.

  120. A Belgian loon on Waddya, Duke? Seen one you've seen them all.

  121. Politics and the English Language. Worth re-reading every now and then, especially if you read a lot of Cif. Reminds you of a time when words sometimes had fairly consensually agreed meanings, and when brutal honesty rather than clever semantic evasion and politeness was appreciated by some.

  122. Spot on, scherf. Had a big influence on me. I like to think, if nothing else, I express myself clearly. And every time I see some clown use the phrase "tow the line" I offer up an apology on their behalf to the secular saint himself.

  123. BB,Hank,

    don't worry I'm ON the GIYUS motherhubbard. I think I may just have creeped him out on WADDYA.

  124. Evening Hank - spot on.

    Cool beans, Your Grace.

  125. Yeah, old Eric is much needed today to prick a lot of bubbles. Unfortunately, he has been hijacked by fuckwits who misuse and misquote him, and probably never read a single essay of his.

    If you've not read it, I can recommend 'Orwell's Victory' by Christopher Hitchens. It's immensely entertaining and thought-provoking. And Hitchens pulls no punches.

  126. Ahhhh. Erin Brokovich on the telly. Love this film (natch).

  127. This comment has been removed by the author.

  128. thauma,

    Cheers. Taking the piss out of GIYUS is like scoring into an empty net from two yards but I just can't resist. It's like a bad tooth, you just can't stop touching it.

    On a more highbrow note, I have noted and stuck the Orwell essay (found it on t'net) on the proper use of English on to my 'favourites'. Cheers for that.

    However I do have a 'get out of jail free card' (shit is that a no no metaphor?) on using proper English as I am Glaswegian.

  129. Och, Duke, my favourite pop writer is a Glaswegian (Brookmyre). I find he has an excelletn command of the Scottish version of English, and an excellent touch in parody of the English version of English, usually voiced by some ersatz Scots politician educated at Eton and Oxford who is out to destroy the world for his own personal gain.

    Can't think who he could have taken as a model for his villains.

  130. Perhaps not Eton, but ... Fettes, is it?

    Anyway, I am disturbed that I am alone in the UT crowd fighting against the pink menace that threatens us all, especially us downtrodden wimmenz. Wake up everyone: pink is out to get us!

  131. thauma,

    Brookmyre is a fine writer indeed with a jaundiced eye on the Scottish establishment. That said I only ever read his first two books and must get round to the rest.

  132. Wybourne - my favourite is The Sacred Art of Stealing. But it's best to read them in order as there's a sort of meta-plot going through many of them.

  133. Just noticed btw, Happy Birthday, Chuck Tatum!


  134. Denise Mina is also very entertaining; I think she's another Glaswegian. Rankin is of course very good, although he's one of those stuck-up Edinburghians.

    Across the water, Colin Bateman writes a similar sort of book about Belfast.

  135. Oh, yeah, lovely clip, Hank. Wish I could meet a man like that.

  136. OI, THAUMA; NO!

    a sort of meta-plot

    sounds dangerously close to the sort of po-mo flight of fancy I thought we’d agreed was NOT to be indulged in…

  137. Andy - that might have been slightly deliberate to see if anyone was paying attention. ;-)

    Still, it's the best way to describe it!

  138. Tbh, thauma, I hadn't watched the clip first. Am I back on the naughty step? Just hope BTH isn't watching otherwise I'll have a troll for life.

    Great actor though. And Ace in the Hole is a cracking film, honest...

  139. OK, thauma, I suppose it’s just about permissible to talk about a meta-narrative running through a series of novels, as long as you don’t allow the concept to stray into anything that actually has any bearing on reality.

    Anyway, I’m off to bed, but don’t think just because I’m not watching that you can slip any more of that stuff in unnoticed…

  140. Fuck me 13D, that was funny.
    Night you lot. No groupthinking now.

  141. This clip might be less offensive, thaum


  142. Haven't seen it, Hank, but based on that short clip I'd describe the acting style as 'wooden'. But I find that of most Hollywood films, as I assume that is.

    Posting clips you haven't watched may well put you back on the naughty step. ;-)

    Right, off to bed now.

  143. Hope you're not talking about Paths of Glory, there, Thauma.

  144. Just checked Duke's post on Waddya. Very good.

    Reminded me of MAM for some reason.

    It is MAM, isn't it?

  145. I love this site. I can ponder over Chomsky musings, one night, listen to great music, another, long after all you buggers have gone to bed. Nice work, everyone, you make a long night bearable.

  146. Ace in the Hole - from memory a Kirk Douglas film, some line about "do you know what a yogi, is?"
    "it's a bear isn't it?"

    Maybe a false memory.

  147. Evening heyhabib

    Do you work nights? I dunno how I have only just cottoned on to that...

  148. Sorry, I do go on a bit...

  149. And you can talk about Sarah Palin, Kirk Douglas, or Kirk Douglas talking about Sarah Palin, habib...


    "I'm Spartacus!"

  150. heyhabib - check out the Tim Williams thread. It's got a kick-ass twist at the end of the comments, but don't read that first. Work your way through the thread. Top class entertainment.

  151. Good stuff, Hank, if you haven't already seen this , you might like it.

  152. I may have banged on about this at length before, but Descartes didn't actually manage to prove a damn thing.

    Woah on the snow there, Montana, blimey. Looks like enough to build a snow army, let alone a snow person.

  153. Cheers, Scherf, look forward to it.

    Do you know the worst thing about being so bored at night is? You go and make stupid comments on articles that have just come on line - especially around midnight, but that in itself isn't the worse thing - it's all the recommends you bloody get, because a lot of people don't read past a few comments.

    You can say something as stupid as "anyone who eats a banana is guilty of fruit rape" and people will click recommend. I got 300 recommends on a Brooker thread for saying that my washing machine hates me. It's depressing.

    So cheers, I'll read a long thread if I've already got a good idea that it's interesting.

  154. Your Grace, that post on Waddya...


  155. Heheh, that's fooking inspired, habib...

    Back to the Williams thread. I was enjoying the narrative, even if it's a bit well-worn. Hard-bitten, highly-motivated snipers taking a minute out of their pressured working days to slag off someone for being less focussed on his career than they prove themselves to be every day. And often 30 or 40 times a day...

  156. Ahahahahahah! That Tim Williams thread. PWND!

  157. Tim Williams, right, it all makes sense now. Just wasted 3.5 minutes reading Zoe Williams' article...

  158. OK - copious amounts of Benylin for me, then bed. Maybe I will actually manage to sleep properly for the first time since Saturday, without coughing all over my poor beloved and ruining his night's sleep as well...

    Got the soash coming round tomorrow for a chat as we still have the "lodger" with us. He's good as gold and no trouble. We can only informally foster for 28 days max, though, so I dunno what is going to happen after that. Bless him.

    I am a tad concerned by the way he just seems to utterly unphased by it all, but apparently he has been in informal fostering before. Seems such a bloody shame.

    Anyhoo - night all


  159. Aah, scherf, made it to the end and it wasn't the fairytale ending I was hoping for. I assumed it was all a spoof. Never mind.

    @Phil - you asked the other day about the bankers being targetted. In short, no, not as far as I'm aware. Or, more to the point, not as much as they would be if I had a say.

    The focus remains on the non-doms, as the PBR today indicated. And the pertinent point there is that the bankers (ie the investment bankers, hedge fund managers, the high-risk guys who laugh at outdated notions of loyalty to country, class or fellow human beings) are, by and large, non-doms, whether by origin or by choice.

    I read some of the Evison thread and found his article laughably tendentious. He will know as well as I do that the top boys in the City don't give a shit about whether the top rate of tax is 40% or 50%. They are not overly concerned about being classed as resident in the UK for tax reasons, and if they are they can get round it using the 90-day rule. Most of them are able to parlay income into capital gains through obvious methods such as taking stock options rather than salary or bonuses, and the tax on cg is far less than on income.

    They are more concerned about being classed as domiciled in this country, which would have a far greater impact on their ability to use trusts and other tax avoidance schemes.

    Domicile will impact on the amount of money they can stick in trust funds and other tax avoidance vehicles for their kids.

    And I reckon maybe 50% of the City high-fliers are foreigners who are desperate to avoid being classed as domiciled in the UK for tax reasons. Including the guy who I spoke to today, who's been living here for the last 32 years, married an English girl, three kids born and educated here, all his fortune made here, three houses here, doesn't even have any intention of returning "home" at any given time, yet claims that the UK is not his permanent home...

  160. Hank - non-dom just seems ridiculous to me, some kind of weird historical hangover "and where did you last see your father?" and all that. Good luck with relocating them to, um, where they actually are...

    And the NI thing just seems a gift to the Tories. FFS.

  161. The problem with non-dom, Phil, as with most areas of tax, is that tax law is framed in Parliament, and there are all sorts of amendments made as the bills pass through the Commons and the Lords by self-interested parliamentarians who water down the original intentions and thereby create loopholes.

    Those loopholes are then exploited by well-paid and unscrupulous lawyers and accountants, and HMRC face a choice of either letting the loopholes get exploited by those with enough money to pay for well-paid experts, or seek to close the loopholes by taking the matter to law.

    And when HMRC take the issue to law, they find that they are faced by tribunals, or High Court judges, who have a vested interest in "upholding property rights" or "the right of the individual in the face of the overweening power of the State".

    Those same judges of course often side with the overweening power of the State when the rights of the individual to be free from getting bludgeoned to death by police batons or kicked down the stairs towards police cells are being considered.

    There was a great scene in Boys from the Blackstuff about not getting mad, getting even, but not even being able to get mad anymore.

    I can't find it at the moment. It was Chrissy (Michael Angelis) but he summed up how I feel.

    I am still angry but I just think we're powerless until a real spark is lit, and a lot more people realise how we've all been shafted.

    I guess there's no hope until MF loses interest in the X Factor....

  162. The problem I thought you'd face if there was a general 'anti-banker' tax clause was a challenge on EU principles of neutrality - singling out one industry for additional tax would seem to me to be emintently challengeable, given all the other more tenuous things it seems to protect.

    Makes me wonder (polishing tinfoil hat and joining the GIYUS massive) if some sort off deal wasn't done, an 'acceptable' tax hit for both banks and Treasury. Some money in - although I imagine the estimates are laughable, as per your first post - and no ECJ appeal. Not that it'd get heard before the olympics, but, wouldn't look good...

    As with the Goodwin pension farrago, it's all very well to have a moral case for taking the money, but this does actually have to be done within the legal framework.

    Too tired to read the detail now - will be checking hmrc site for the SIs tomorrow, oh joy...

  163. @Phil - yeh, all the difference in the world between having the moral right to string the fuckers up, but I do recognise the importance of the legal framework.

    Thankfully, I'm working towards the latter, driven by the former.

    And I couldn't find the Blackstuff clip I was looooking for, like, la', but if anyone's got a ten-minute attention span, this should reinforce your moral fibre...


  164. ...hang on...

    "yeh, all the difference in the world between having the moral right to string the fuckers up and having the legal framework to do so..."

    That's better.

    Although it would have been better to say that we should only need the moral framework, and the metal framework, and let the fucking legal framework twist in the OldBoys wind....

  165. Scherf, the Tim Williams thread was funny - like the old Python "you were lucky!" sketch, but without any sense of irony. At all.

  166. After having spent so long reading it, I feel justified in having a bit of a go, myself.

  167. Jay, Chomsky may be right, but 'kin'ell that was boring. Probably because I don't get it. I will try again, another day.
    Brillig and the slithy toves make more sense right now.


    I feel like I've just insulted Shakespeare. Give me time.

  168. Hi all awake-Habib, I think I can understand the boring aspect of chomsky. Not a great speaker/orator he, much more clear and succint with the written word.

    BB-Your young lodger may not really be unphased, it could be that he is trusting and comfortable in your home. As we know, it's often difficult to read kids, especially teens.Maybe he has found his way. You tell me, you're the Buddhist.--Also, I prescribe chicken or barley soup with the odd dram of single malt to bring you back to normal. Best.

  169. Got a feeling I'm about to get deletd from the Austin Mitchell thread. he presents himself as some kind of lovable rogue but made my blood boil when he compared the 'plight' of MPs with the expenses scandal to extraordinary rendition. How fucking dare he, especially when his crew were complicit in extraordinary rendition and the abuse of human rights.