10 December 2009

Daily Chat 10/12/09

Martin Luther burnt his copy of the papal bull Exsurge Domine, which demanded that he retract 41 'errors' in his 95 Theses by this date.  William Tecumseh Sherman's troops reached Savannah in 1864.  Along their march from Atlanta, begun on 15 November, they destroyed 300 miles of railroad tracks, destroyed bridges and telegraph wires, confiscated 5000 horses, 4000 mules and 15,000 head of cattle.  Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication in 1936.  Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

Born today:  Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), César Franck (1822-1890), Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Rumer Godden (1907-1998) and Kenneth Branagh (1960).

It is Human Rights Day.


  1. Jay,

    cheers for allowing a drunk, pilled up, obsessed Glaswegian to tie you up and stick you in the back of his boot merely to make a piss poor riposte to GIYUS last night.

    Much obliged.

  2. Our internet went out just as I was getting ready to comment on the Tim Williams thread (@ 7:20 pm, my time) and was out for the rest of the evening.

    Emily was such a cheerful girl:

    My life closed twice before its close;
    It yet remains to see
    If Immortality unveil
    A third event to me,

    So huge, so hopeless to conceive
    As these that twice befel.
    Parting is all we know of heaven,
    And all we need of hell.

    The antidote.

  3. Hell's teeth, Duke, you and I posted very similarly on the Seumas Milne thread.That PBR was gesture politics at its worst, designed for spin to save the Labour party, but essentially still crapping on the masses in a deluded neo-liberal fashion.
    Oh, and Montana. Emily was a budle of laughs wasn't she? First on the list of invites to everyone's parties, she was guaranteed to brighten 'em up.

  4. Ah Kenneth Branagh, the actor guy whose name gives most problems to foreigners (girlfriends pronunciation: Kenneth Brennef). (Okay, we continental Europeans also struggle with names like Fiennes (and we pronounce Ralph Fiennes first name like Ralph Wiggum's first name), or Shia LaBoeuf, or, okay, actually about 60% of Anglo actor's names (and those is only the percentage of names we *know* we have problems with ...)

  5. Morning all. Have just spent an instructuve half an hour reading the Bank Payroll Tax draft legislation. Boy, my life rocks. As 'The Spoon' (?) and others have been talking about how easy this will be to avoid, I thought I'd put my devious hat on and see if I could get round it. Just for fun, you understand. Hank, feel free to point and laugh.

    So - can I 'off-shore it'? 8(1)(b)(ii) says not.
    1-0 HMRC, easy goal from a set-piece.

    Can I delay the payment? Don't mind waiting four months and having a late Christmas, the new Lambo isn't due out until March anyway.


    If the amount is fixed in period, no.
    If arrangements are made under which one can identify "the amount that it is reasonable to assume will be paid", no.
    I note that 'arrangements' are not defined here.
    And that 'reasonable' could be something the lawyers could have fun with.
    1-1 due to a scrambled equaliser.

    But - 5(3)(a) - a contractual obligation arises when the amount if fixed or "capable of being fixed". Wossat mean? Could it mean that any bank with a year end in the period (or already passed) has a problem because any bonus paid, whenever, by reference to the current (or last) year, would be covered?

    And even if it was really worth the bother, if the year end does currently fall within the period, the only way to shift it would be to lengthen the period, which I understand would require split year treatment for tax purposes, so there would still be a 'nominal' year end in period? Not sure about that. Probably too difficult to shift.
    2-1 HMRC, from a sneaky little back-heel.


    So, plan B. Shares. But not shares in the bank, shares in a new co, where the money's worth on award (per s62(3) ITEPA, the 'direct' monetary value - I'm assuming that as simple as it looks - ha!) is the nominal value.

    And then later load value into new co? Damnit, that could be 'arrangements are made' and/or 'amount reasonable to assume' if it is outlined now. And if there isn't a vague idea of the amount of value that could later be realised, would my relevant banking employees be happy? And there would of course be big costs in moving any part of the business later, particularly if the motive force was just to avoid a one-off charge. And would I be able to shift relevant losses? Hmmmm.
    3-1 (own goal by Banks) to HMRC.

    And I can't TUPE everyone to the Channel Islands Co that currently just sits around counting paperclips and having lunch, because of ss9 and 10.
    4-1 with an easy finish to HMRC

    Would probably still go to counsel on 'arrangements' and 'reasonable' but that could be the equivalent of complaining about the linesman. Satisfying in the post-match interview, but won't change a damn thing.

    My prediction is therefore a reasonably comfortable win for HMRC. Am anticipating quite a lot of scrapping in the midfield and maybe a card or two, however, maybe somebody stretchered off the pitch. And the crowd may well be boo-ing the manager for the NI thing, so even the ease of the win won't increase support for him.

    Right. That was far too much like work. Must now play scrabble or something to recover.

  6. Anglo, Elementary? Branagh's a good Irish name! ;-)

  7. thauma, of course I meant Anglo, Anglo Saxon, Anglo Gaelic, Saxon, Gaelic, Saxon Norman, Gaelic Norman, Gaelic Norman Saxon and Anglo Norman Gaelic names (and all other combinations you might want to think about).

    There's one of the reasons Wil Smith is so popular across the world ...

  8. Thats alright Duke, nothing wrong with a bit of kidnap if its conducted with gentlemanly grace and hospitality.

    I cant say I agree regarding Chomsky, Hank. I find his prose usually very lucid and unambiguous, and for me that applies to the essay i posted too.

    Orwell's point is slightly different though isnt it?

    "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..."

    Political writing and oratory is and will always be vague, ambiguous and dishonest because it is an extremely dishonest profession. Lying is the norm, not the exception, so language will always be employed in a dishonest and obfuscating manner.

    For the postmodernists, the theorists, its a dishonesty of a different sort. Its the dishonesty that dresses up banal observations as incisive intellectual comment, rather than saying an invasion is a "liberation" for example, or privatisation is "modernisation".

  9. "anyone who eats a banana is guilty of fruit rape"

    Heyhabib, that made me chuckle.

    I've got a video of Chomsky's "Manufacutring Consent" loitering somewhere in my cellar. Must dig it out... I seem to remember it being pretty persuasive.

    PS. Tomorrow's my birthday and then I'm off for whole week. Won't be posting for about ten days.

    To my friends: Have fun and prosper.
    To anyone else: May shoe-flies follow your children's children.

  10. Bitterweed - happy birthday for tomorrow! enjoy your week off...

  11. Morning

    Happy Birthday for tomorrow, BW! Many happy's. :o)

  12. Now I know where it all went wrong for my favourite stalker. He was brought up as an Evangelical. That explains his vile diatribe about Stephen Gately, too.

    Why can't all Christians be like Pip's dad, or my Christian friends? Sensible, kind-hearted people with real concern for others, not bloody wailing and gnashing of teeth and fire and brimstone.


  13. A happy birthday tomorrow, Bitterweed! (I hope this makes me a friend of yours, since I don't want my grandchildren, should I ever have any, to be followed by shoe-flies (not that I know exactly what shoe-flies are, but they sound disgusting)).

    There's an interesting article in Guardian Culture about the differences between the real Joseph Merrick and the John Merrick depicted in The Elephant Man. Since I don't like exaggerated misery shoved down my throat, I think a film more faithful to the Merrick's real life would be more to my taste than the film that is.

    (BTW, am I the only one here enjoying Alex von Tunzelmann's put-downs of historic idiocy in movies? Favourite's are U-571, Robin Hood, and the Mel Gibson epics. I also like the fact that Carry on Cleo and Life of Brian have been viewed throgh this perspective, and that they didn't fare that badly compared to more "serious" historical movies (although it's not much of a surprise with Life of Brian, the Pythons knew their homework).)

  14. watson, I read Reel history every week. Always entertaining.

  15. elementary:

    "I also like the fact that Carry on Cleo and Life of Brian have been viewed throgh this perspective, and that they didn't fare that badly compared to more "serious" historical movies (although it's not much of a surprise with Life of Brian, the Pythons knew their homework).)"

    Why doesn't it surprise me that a biblical film with an alien chase scene is more historically accurate than Mel Gibson's efforts?

  16. Oh my god, there is a German clone of BiteTheHand, identifying as true follower of Praxidike (she's not even in the German wikipedia) and talking about thousands of years of patriarchy that have yet to be avenged.

    Or is it Bitey himself? Anyone knows if he can be infuriatingly stupid in German, too?

  17. EW
    I look in on Reel History when I notice it. She's generally pretty good, though I recall disagreeing with her occasionally. Can't remember if they're open for comments or not.

    300 actually compares well to Gibson on just about every count, and Brian is one of the most accurate movies on the ancient world ever made!

  18. Edwin, you just needed to search with the Gk kappa replaced by a c - it comes up with:

  19. Alisdair,

    (from earlier), I just saw we had almost identical posts, although yours as ever was more eloquent, great minds and all that.

    The New Labour as class warriors is as you say, gesture politics and at its most cynical. The fact the Guardian appears to be supporting this tauromerda shows them up to be the NL mouthpiece we always knew them to be. Pitiful.

  20. "The New Labour as class warriors is as you say, gesture politics and at its most cynical."

    Its the audacity that gets me, the complete contempt for the spirit of democracy. They look after business, the city, the private equity barons for 12 years, utterly destroy the country, and yet they really do believe that the game can be won by strolling back at the 11th hour and wagging fingers at the nasty Etonians.

    Capital punishment crosses my mind a fair bit these days, exclusively for politicians, not people. I keep trying to justify the stance in my mind, reconciling opposition to it for criminals but support for it for politicians for crimes against the people, a more serious crime than any common criminal.

    The mental image of Hazel and Tony being lowered into the pig den is incredibly appealing...

  21. "The fraudsters behind this CLIMATEGATE all need to be treated as 19th century horse theives, the Trillions of dollars of damage these fraudsters have imposed upon mankind and the death that results from people who cant get fuel or transportation because of this fruad demands an example be made of these people...PUBLIC EXECUTIONS for defrauding the citizens of the world!"

    From comments on Palins piece at the WP.

  22. Tax revenue of £0.5 billion from the bankers (if he manages to collect any of it) and £3 billion from the NI increase (which he will collect from ordinary workers).

    Now that's what I call 'fair'. Not much of a fucking gesture though.

  23. You get the same swivel-eyed nutters on both the Palin thread and the execution threads. God has told them that His coming is nigh, so fuck the world and all who don't worship god. And the Old Testament says Thou Shalt Not Murder, not Thou Shalt Not Kill, so it is alright to kill bad people if the gubment says so.

    That would be the same gubment that wastes their money on fake climate change of course...

  24. "Tax revenue of £0.5 billion from the bankers (if he manages to collect any of it) and £3 billion from the NI increase (which he will collect from ordinary workers)"

    Indeed, the City are the money masters, if anyone can avoid paying something - its them. And 50%? Seems to suggest these bonuses sit on the same moral plain as people earning over £150,000, who will also be taxed at 50% anyway. They should have been taxed at 75%.

    The NI increase of 1% isnt the end of the world but the principle grates, they could have added another 0.5% on earnings over £75k and probably taken the same amount. Or slapped some extra tax on BTL portfolios, 2nd homes, anything that reflects where this crash came from - excessive greed and wealth. Or put CGT back to 40%.

  25. Gotta share this. One of Tim Williams' Facebook friends is Jessica Reed. Guardian nepotism? Jobs for their mates? Surely not?

  26. Steady on, Jay. That sounds like you want rich people to pay more than poor people. That's not socialism - get a grip, man!

  27. This Tim Williams thing set alarm bells ringing for me when i saw him say that he had "been asked" to do the article. Who asked him? Is he a writer? Doesnt seem to be. Looks like another Gogarty to me.

  28. "Labour minister Quentin Davies submitted a £20,700 bill for repairs to the roof and bell tower on his constituency home last year – then rushed to clarify that he was not seeking the full amount when the expenses row broke in the summer.

    The defence minister and MP for Grantham and Stamford asked for reimbursement for a bill covering repairs to the "bell tower and lead gutter" for the work to the roof of his stately home in Lincolnshire in December 2008. It included restoration work using handmade York bricks and lead guttering."

  29. Jay, I see you've taken my revelation onto the thread. Could be fun. Check this out:

    Artist La La/ Sammy Seagull

  30. Never mind that, Jay, the Ciffies are up!

  31. Banks? - Nationalise the b*gg*rs!!!! Then kick the bankers out with £20 in their pockets! After all we own them already don't we?

    They do say they want to go don't they? ;-)

    Can't see any parliamentary party doing it though.

    So to the barricades I say! (Ok a bit ultra left but its how I am feeling today!)

  32. Wow Thauma, so many UTers, it's a conspiracy I tells ya ;-)

  33. I have a bad feeling about this. The only right-winger on a list of 10 commenters is MAM.

  34. "I have a bad feeling about this. The only right-winger on a list of 10 commenters is MAM"

    Thats why he'll win. All right votes - MaM. All left - split. Giyus will have a field day with the amount of UT Luvvies on there.

  35. The Guardian's sick campaign to reform libel law in their own self interest reaches a new low today - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/dec/10/libel-laws. The writer in the comments admits that he wrote a piece for CiF and doesn't even know what the UK libel laws are, which is why it's full of misprepresentations about what the law is at the moment.

    It's really beginning to piss me off.

  36. With all his many identities, GIYUS could vote for everybody. Win-win scenario - he picks the winner!

  37. Scherf, it may not be a bad thing if MAM wins - the winner will be asked to write an article... enough rope?

  38. heyhabib, suppose so. That could be fun. btw, do you think that this comment from the most fabulous person in the world casts any aspersions on your masculinity? Or is it a compliment?

    BB and Kiz - we should form our own girls' band (with HeyHabib as frontman or course).

  39. Damn right, Annetan. We should nationalise any bank we have more than a 50% share in for a start. Sod the shareholders. They have made enough money from their gambles over past years, they can take the fall for once. Much whining would ensue, like when Railtrack was renationalised, but so bloody what. If you decide to gamble, you can't expect to win every time, can you?

    I also liked what Vince Cable had to say about limiting every public sector employee's pay rise to £400 for the year. For those at the lower end of the scale that represents between 1.5% and 2% or more. For those on the higher end of the scale it means jack shit, but they are earning plenty anyhoo...

  40. Should have been nationalised when it first happened, no need for bailout, simply use the State to protect people's deposits, the investment arms can go to the wall. We got the worst of both worlds, socialised debts and privatised profits.

  41. I refer my honourable friend to a reply I posted a few moments ago.

  42. Bit like the trains actually, the real great train robbery, we pay subsidies 300% higher for private firms to make millions whilst they charge us fares that are now the most expensive in Europe, increases as high as 400% in some places. But they improved the "on time" % by about 2%. Cracking value for money that is. There's no way a nationalised rail service could have got those improvements with a tripling of subsidy, no chance...

  43. Most.Tenuous.And.Overblown.Metaphor (or is it analogy?).Ever

    coming up:

    It's a taken that MaM will win the Ciffies. Why?

    The Ciffies remind me of the Spanish Civil War (Bear with me, bear with me). Whereas all the right wing nut jobs stayed loyal and united behind their leader Franco, the left wing tore each other apart-Stalinists, Trotskyites, Anarchists, syndo-anarchalists.

    Similarly the right wing nutters will vote MoveanyMorals whereas everyone else will split theirs between the lefties.

    The result? A crushing victory for Fascism in 1939 and a crushing victory for fuckwitted right wing rhetoric in the Ciffies.

    Ta da!!

    Anyone care to beat that?

  44. I beat it previously, m'lord, it is in fact a fine demonstration of the need to reform the FPTP system and replace it with PR.

  45. I also liked what Vince Cable had to say about limiting every public sector employee's pay rise to £400 for the year. For those at the lower end of the scale that represents between 1.5% and 2% or more. For those on the higher end of the scale it means jack shit, but they are earning plenty anyhoo...

    Sounds reasonable, but if you extend the logic of that, why not just freeze public sector pay for anyone above, say, £100,000 and give more than a maximum of £400 to the lower-paid workers? As you say, to the high earners 400 quid is jack-shit, so why give them it in the first place?

  46. We should also step into any industry that lives on public subsidy, like rail, and clamp down on their pay. I dont know the legalities, but if a private firm lives off public subsidy, like the trains, we should be able to squeeze their pay. Rail firms, foundation hospitals, etc.

  47. Good analysis/metaphor/analogy, Duke. A crushing victory for MAM would merely highlight what most people have known for quite some time. Cif is the playground of right-wing nutters and a fragile, constantly splitting alliance of lib-bourg-idendidee politix appeasers. A lot of left wingers struck camp long ago and moved out.

  48. I would just like to say - bell tower? Who the hell needs a bell tower? Presumably he's seeking to reduce his rates bill by part-timing as a place as a place of worship...

  49. your grace - heh heh.

    are you suggesting tactical voting for the CIFfies?

  50. Jay, Jay, Jay,

    I'm not having that. DO you want another evening in my car boot?

  51. scherfig/habib - which thread's that?

  52. I apologise, highness, do not return me to the hole. I learnt a valuable lesson. Forgive my impudence.

    (I'm still lobbying behind the scenes to have you banned, by the way)

  53. Anyone following the "Worst Books of the Decade" thread? To my shame, I haven't even heard of Ian McEwan's "Saturday".

    Just want to say that I find it a bit dull to put the whole Harry Potter septology on a "Decade's Worst", it seems lazy and prejudiced. I'm in two minds about being more discerning (I thought the third one was really good, that the change of direction in the fourth was unfortunate which led to the really bad fifth book, which is the only one apart from the seventh I would venture to say were among the decade's worst books): On the hand, one can show one's more nuanced taste and knowledge of the matter, on the other hand, it would be an implicit admission that one has read all of the books ...

  54. Phazer - ay, here's hoping another couple of 'legal readers' turn up to call him a numpty. It's the fact that he seems blithely unaware of the importance of actually knowing what one's talking about while holding oneself out as knowing what one's talking about that flummoxes me.

    If only the British libel system could sue him for libel. That would be funny.

  55. Tim Williams, thauma. And things are hotting up there too. Jessica's mate has been outed, and after a flurry of BTL posts, Tim is nowhere to be seen.

  56. elementary - have had a quick look at it and everybody's far too highbrow for me. started a kazuo ishiguro a couple of weeks back but then CSI Neasden came on the telly and i got distracted...

    saw the sixth Potter film the other day, that was pretty good.

  57. nice find on the facbook thing, scherf.

    a big 'oops' all round, there...

    still cross we haven't yet heard from sammy the seagull. will keep an eye on the thread just in case.

  58. Philippa, the more you get into that shit (see also Artist LaLa/Sammy Seagull on Facebook), the more GIYUS it all becomes. T'internet has a lot to answer for. Foucault's Pendulum for the noughties.

  59. scherf - ay. the pictures are quite nice though.

  60. Oo er, I'll pop over and have a dekko! Caught up with it this morning but have neglected it since.

  61. Your grace, if you're around, just to say that the suggested articles for the best commentator winner made me snort wine out of my nose.

    Thank you for that, from the vast majority of me.

    My nose is less pleased.

  62. Hee hee hee.

    Habib, good going there!

    Jessica was doing a spot of article-defending at the top of the thread. Have to say I was feeling slightly sorry for the lad at first, but it seems that Imogen nailed it at once.

  63. Philippa,

    cheers, you're too kind!

    I finally caught up with that Tim Williams thread and if that post was his Dad then that is the best 'owned' post since the Bride to be slated Tanya Gold over Gold's wedding article.

    CiF unintentional comedy at its best.

  64. your grace - it rings true, given the facebook backup (don't believe i just typed that). the appearance of the fsmily friend maybe less so...

    i just have visions of tim, dad, stepmum, and seagull, all arguing over who gets the computer next.

    as somebody on the thread said, sitcom waiting to happen...

  65. Cheers, Thaum, just having a bit of fun.

    On the beers today, so I might get in trouble later. If anybody sees me getting a bit too cheeky, let me know.

  66. BB - thanks for restoring my faith in humanity on the Yarl's Wood thread. I was despairing.

  67. What, Habib, not working tonight (I take it)? I shall slap your face, metaphorically of course, if I see you getting out of line. Or perhaps just chuckle to myself.

  68. Just clocked the Chomsky piece..nice read. Gotta say I agree with Jay. . I've always found him very 'accessible', just wrong on several points. His recurring point about manufactured consent and false consciousness or plain denial still holds though. Always thought Naomi Klein was little more than a photogenic Chomskylite bandwagon hopper tbh.

    On Derrida..this quote more or less sums him up for me. It's the last paragraph of Terry Eagleton's review of Derrida's deconstruction of Marxism...something he did fairly late in life, post 89, once Marxism had reached the level of marginalism which would attract him in the first place. Nothing mainstream or predictable for our Jaques, obviously.

    "And what does Derrida counterpose in the very next paragraph, to the condition which he so magnificently denounces? A 'New International', one without status, without title and without name.....without party, without country, without national community....
    And, of course without organisation, without ontology, without method, without apparatus.
    It is the ultimate post-structuralist fantasy, an opposition without anything so distastefully systematic or drably 'orthodox' as an opposition, a dissent beyond all formulable discourse, a promise which would betray itself in the moment of fulfilment; a perpetual excited openness to the messiah who had better not let us down by doing anything as determinate as coming."

  69. monkeyfish

    "Derridean deconstruction consists in an attempt to re-conceive the difference that divides self-reflection (or self-consciousness). But even more than the re-conception of difference, and perhaps more importantly, deconstruction works towards preventing the worst violence. It attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve".


    And good quote from Eagleton. And strangely, it reminds me of Tony Blair ..

  70. Hard work that Yarls Wood thread, shaz. Still... sheff's here now too. :o)

  71. I think the awards thingy should be called "The Ciffles".

    So the lists of candidates will be "The Ciffle Lists".
    ...I'll get me coat...

  72. " a perpetual excited openness to the messiah who had better not let us down by doing anything as determinate as coming.""

    Applies to far too much of the "progressive" left in my view, its all very well breaking down structures but so many have nothing to offer as replacements, as if structure itself is oppression and once we live in a pure, unconstructed nihilist utopia everything will be hunky dory. Fucking lunatics.

  73. Excellent post by the duke, Letters to Bitey, funniest post i've seen this week, well done that man.

  74. @Jay and MF - The giveaway reference in Chomsky's thing over on UT2 is to David Lodge, whose made a career of writing very caustically about academic infighting. That's all this is. I don't see why Derrida, Foucault et al are important or relevant. They are in the true sense intellectual wankers.

    They argue for argument's sake, with no fixed purpose, no social context in which to frame their theorising. It's just empty philosophising.

    If the concern is that they derailed the intellectual Left, or sapped its energy, I'm not sure I buy that either.

    As Malik says, the New Left owes more to identity politics, the primacy of cultural values over shared economic goals, than to the post-modernists. And the reason they turned to identity politics was that they came to realise by the late 60s that "society as a whole seemed unbudgeable".

    The left fractured into a series of self-identifed caucuses, all pursuing separate and occasionally conflicting goals. Hence the increasing friction between Black and Asian groups in the battle for community funding in the inner cities.

    @BW - Happy Birthday mate. Spoil yourself and have a drink, just this once (-;

  75. Interesting blog from Lord Jenkins tonight on the need for a libertarian backlash. Wouldn't argue with much of it but it's telling that he goes big on the case of a businessman jailed for tax evasion.

    A 60-y-o businessman with no cash apparently, despite the fact that he's got at least two companies, who had his accounts confiscated (his accountants must be pretty shoddy if they didn't have copies on file), and a judge who Si claims was "confused" by the complexity of the issues.

    Well, if the judge was confused, there's every chance that the accused was involved in the sort of byzantine financial arrangements that typify those cases where avoidance blurs into evasion.

    As so often with the libertarians, there main gripe with the state is that it tries to impinge on the anti-social behaviour of business.

    Set the people free, let them sink or swim according to their own abilities. It's the same right-wing shit which informs so much whining about Elf and Safety.

  76. "...there main gripe" - blimey, haven't even had a drink yet.

    Edit function for Xmas please, Montana!

  77. Hank - from what I read, he had all his assets seized as well as his books, which meant he couldn't defend himself, he said. Although why he couldn't get a brief on legal aid like everyone else in the Crown Court is beyond me...

    Unless it is one of those where, because they have cut fees to the bone on Very High Cost Cases, they couldn't find a barrister to do it for the money.

    There was a confiscation matter got kicked out by a judge in Reading last year because, at the height of the arguments about VHCC fees and tendering, there were only a dozen or so in the country who had signed up to the Legal Service Commissions list to do it, and none of them were available. They have scrapped the scheme but are trying to replace it with something else.

  78. Hank - agree that Derrida and Foucault argue for arguments' sake. That's what the French do (and, let's face it, what most of us on here do too). The problem lies in those who have misinterpreted their arguing into rigid philosophy, whereas the creators are playfully unconvinced by their own arguments.

    It's a classic case of Anglophones not understanding the French sense of humour or, indeed, French sense of discourse.

    MF - must admit I found the Chomsky piece - and I have a lot of respect for him - very hard going, but Klein is always accessible.

    I have an Eagleton book somewhere about the place -- it was one of my uni textbooks for literary criticism, that was a great read -- very funny. The best chapter was on the structuralists, which concluded with something like: "flushed with success, the structuralist puts away his rulers..." - oh bugger, I can't remember it properly, but it was very funny.

  79. @BB - my understanding, and you will probably know better than me, is that confiscation proceedings can only follow a conviction. So I find it difficult to believe that he was stripped of the necessary assets to fight the case. That would be a serious abuse of powers.

    Something doesn't quite add up here.

    It's also interesting that davidabsalom has posted more details about the Peeping Tom case which casts a shadow on SJ's reading of the matter.

    @thauma - yeh, gotta love the French for it though. If pay-per-view had been around in the 50s, millions of ordinary Frenchpersons would have been tuning in to see Camus and Sartre slug it out.

    "..(and, let's face it, what most of us on here do too)"

    You lost me there...

  80. On the Ciffies - good luck to all on here, well deserved. It would be invidious of course for me to cast my vote. It would be a lot easier to prune the list down of course.

    On the issue of the leftish vote being split, I'm surprised that Waltz didn't get nominated along with Eminem. I've never knowingly agreed with anything the batty old Muslim-baiter has ever posted, but she's certainly popular judging by her recc count.

  81. Hank - you can confiscate now without there even being a criminal charge, believe it or not. As long as there is sufficient "suspicion" that it might be the proceeds of crime, you can seize it.

  82. Hank, yes, I've always been a bit of a Sartreist myself as Camus' attitudes toward the North Africans were just repugnant. "Freedom for all of us except those damned Algerians who are scum." A product of his time and place.

    Have also read at least half of Simone de Beauvoir's Mémoires, which were very interesting if a bit selective.

    Plus, La nausée is one of the funniest books I've ever read, but again, people with no sense of humour misinterpret it and take it all to be deadly serious.

  83. Let me explain that a bit better - it can be seized, but not "disposed of" until the outcome has been decided. But the owner is denied use of it.

  84. Well, that's news to me, BB. As I said, a serious abuse of powers. Presumably it requires a court order though, and the court's consent would only be forthcoming in only the most serious of cases, eg organised criminals, your Curtis Warrens, not some guy up on VAT fraud?

    Camus was indeed a product of time and place, thauma. He was also a bit wishy washy on the big issues of the day, but The Outsider is a wonderful book.

    As for Sartre, gotta be honest I didn't find many belly laughs in Nausea, but the Roads to Freedom is outstanding. The Reprieve is technically dazzling, one of the best books I've ever read.

  85. I've personally found most of Eagleton's literary criticism very interesting and illuminating. But he's not God, even though he might be a Marxist and a Catholic and an iconoclast. How that does work anyway? Are we not allowed to think for ourselves any more? And can we drop the buzz-words and categories and still say something that makes sense?

  86. The greatest French writers about class and society, though, have to be Stendhal, Zola and Hugo.

    Anyone who cares about the miners ought to read Germinal. Magnificent.

  87. "And can we drop the buzz-words and categories and still say something that makes sense."

    Isn't that what Jay is arguing on behalf of Chomsky, ie that Derrida and the rest were obfuscating, hiding the emptiness of their worldview behind impenetrable jargon?

    Cast your vote yet, scherf? I'll hazard a guess you have some sympathy with the Irish campaign against the Lisbon Treaty...

  88. Oh yeh, Stendhal's Scarlet and Black is right up there, along with Germinal and La Bete Humaine. And L'Assommoir had a formative influence on me, thaum.

    Never read Hugo but you've got to find room in your canon for Flaubert - Sentimental Education as well as Madame Bovary.

  89. The Whiffies 2009 are open for voting.

    All suggestions for new categories (pathetically) gratefully received, as are 'sponsors' for each award (e.g. The Max Gogarty Award For Worst BTL Savaging).

    I nearly called 'Worst Contributor of The Year' the 'Tanya Gold Worst Contributor of The Year Award' but I felt that was a little too leading.

  90. Hank - perhaps you've just read a poor translation of Nausea, if you read it in translation.

    When I first read The Outsider, then branded as The Stranger, I thought it was crap. Then I read it in French, and it was a completely different experience. Later translations are much, much better than the first one I'd read.

    Scherfig - Eagleton is certainly not god. His book was (not surprisingly) clearly biased toward Marxist theory. But he was so scathingly dismissive of a number of other literary theories that it was worth reading on that basis alone: i.e. for sheer entertainment value - and, to be fair, for a decent criticism of non-Marxist theories.

    Me, I'm agnostic about which theory is best and tend to take the bits I like out of several. Some are obviously more deranged than others.

    Anyway, thanks all for an interesting night's discussion and I is off 2 bed. o/

  91. thauma,

    Germinal is absolutely outstanding, one of the best books I've ever read. Zola's a hero isn't he? La debacle is an excoriating attack on Napoleon III and French bourgeois society. And of course J'accuse where he put literally his reputation and life on the line when he became the mouthpiece for the Dreyfusards.

    There's still a bit of suspicion about his death by asphyxiation caused by gases from his heating, there's still a great amount of debate as to whether he was murdered or not.

    I think you're being a bit harsh on Camus. Growing up a dirt poor pied noirs he mixed freely with Algerians and believed passionately that a middle way could be found.

    Of course part of this was due to his belief that revolution only creates greater injustice and tyranny as espoused in The rebel. He saw an FLN ruled Algeria as rightly or wrongly as being more tyrranical than French rule

    The time of Camus' death in 1960 is important as well. The Algerian war of liberation had dragged on for six long years by his death and was particularly brutal. He believed passionately in a peace settlement and this was what drove him to his 'middle way'. Of course by the time of his death, de Gaulle was deep in clandestine manoueverings to decolonise Algeria. What Camus' reaction to a free Algeria would have been is a matter for conjecture.

    I'm not defending Camus in the sense that Algeria should have stayed French, of course not but Camus' personal position was exceptionally complicated in both his relationship with Algeria and France.

  92. Oh yes, Hank, temporarily forgot about Flaubert.

    Don't forget Nana when you talk about Zola!

    OK, really off now... zzzzz

  93. I have no vote, Hank. But to be brutally honest (at risk of offending 7/8 of the 10 Untrusted who were nominated for best commenter (what the fuck's that all about - are we mainstream now?) I'd go for this -

    Article - Monbiot
    Commenter - Jay
    Thread - Bea Campbell OBE

    Apologies to all my other Untrusted friends, but we don't care about that shit anyway, do we?

  94. RapidEddie,

    those categories are piss funny.

    I'm definitely going to put my entries in tomorrow as the dial on my wit gauge is currently pointing to empty (the wife would tell you it's permanently empty).

  95. OK, Duke, am really, *really* off to bed after this one, but -

    You may know a fair bit more of the details than I do, and you may well be right. But I recall Camus saying that the Algerians were incapable of governing themselves, or something very like that. And that he knew because he'd grown up there.

    The pieds noirs are an interesting group, and I include quite a few friends in that. But a good number of them expressed the opinion that they didn't think that les noirs were capable of governing themselves, either.

    OK. Nighty, but will read the rest tomorrow or the day after.

  96. Hank - nope. Magistrates can do it up to a certain limit. Not really my area so I can't remember the sums now.

    So imagine you get nicked with a cannabis grinder in your car and 80 quid in your pocket. The police can have a reasonable suspicion that the 80 was going to be spent on buying drugs and take it off you there and then. They can then go to your house and seize any other cash you have knocking about the place on the same basis.

    They go to court with an application for temporary seizure, which is rubber stamped by lay magistrates. That money is now "theirs" for a maximum of 6 months, whether they charge you with anything or not.

    At the 6 months time limit they can either come back and ask for an extension as there are ongoing enquiries, or try and make a substantive case for confiscation. I can't remember (and can't be arsed to look it up at the moment) what the threshhold is for it to go to the Crown Court but it isn't as low as it should be in any event.

    They can also seize your car if you have no insurance, or they suspect that it might have been used for criminal purposes. Or anything else they bloody well feel like either.

  97. @Rapid - Worst Contributor of the Year - it's Geoffrey Alderman. Again.

    As for sponsors, how about 'The Christian Dior Award for Fabulously Dressed, Morally and Intellectually Naked Snobs'?

    Hugo Boss would serve equally well as a sponsor. Both of them designed Nazi uniforms because it paid well, and because, well, it paid well. What else matters?

    >waves in the direction of vapid Eurocrat<

  98. Can I chuck in a mention for Claire Etcherelli and her book "Elise ou la vraie vie" which demonstrated an understanding of how shitty life can be, in a far more lucid way than most academics have done?

  99. Me, I'm agnostic about which theory is best and tend to take the bits I like out of several. Some are obviously more deranged than others.

    thauma, that's pretty close to my view. I think that all theories can be used to some extent. On a specific literary note, consider the scene in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' where the guy gets stuck with the spear (see also the cinematic scene in 'Apocalypse Now'). Written in 1899, literary critics put a name on the technique of that particular literary passage some 50 years later. Can you guess what it is? Conrad knew nothing about this 'interpretation', but fuck that, he'd already written his stuff, and he was already dead. Conrad was apparently 'ahead of his time'. Well, of course he was.

    I won't go into the PCL racist aspects of old Josef here, it's fuckin PC gone mad :o)

  100. I loathe Alderman with a vengeance. Slimy little toad of a man.

  101. I'm shocked and appalled, BB. I'll be handing in my resignation tomorrow morning. I cannot be a part of this anymore.

    At the risk of offending everyone, scherf, and as you know I'd only ever do that with a heavy heart, my vote would go to ellis. Can't believe he didn't make the list. And hideandseeker, as I said last week, because he's led me to read a few things I knew nothing about.

    And surely there must be room for those who provoke readers into thinking, rather than simply jumping in at the start of each thread with crowd-pleasing iterations of the party line?

    And you know who I mean, and don't mean, UTers, so don't see offence where none is meant.

  102. "...the New Left owes more to identity politics, the primacy of cultural values over shared economic goals, than to the post-modernists."

    Yeah, but identity politics is grounded in postmodernism's 'validation' of relativism

    ...if indeed relativism can lend itself to being validated..except in a particular 'narrative' which would, of course have no validity elsewhere.

  103. Hank

    you all set for the 21st then?

  104. Hank, Monkeyfish, when my 12 bottles of champagne arrive on the 21st (you'll hear quite a lot about this on Cif before the event) can you make sure that none of them go to the bubblehead posers? If you have to drink them all yourself, do so, and just put it down to the sacrifice you had to make for the working class. And then when they ridicule you afterwards, just say 'fuck off, tossers!'

  105. A) I just like reading nice stories. The lit crit BS just bores me to tears. But that's why I love you all -- you make me feel stupid, really stupid.

    B) I'm gobsmacked to have been nominated for the Ciffies at all and even more astounded to have made it into the top ten, especially since I've been fairly quiet on Cif and haven't really been doing much more than drive-by commenting.

    I think I agree with Hank that ellis would have been a good choice. Also quite like rednorth. Voting for a UTer would seem, well, cliquish and wrong... :-)

  106. I'll be there, mate. I've told Ivina to forget any ideas about going to see her dying granny in Kiev. She's got a contract to make clean house, sit cat, look smiles, silver polish and bat head of burglar when I'm away.

    Damned if I'm going to pass up the chance of a soiree with interesting, lovely people because the help gets a bit uppity. £60 a week I pay her. Tax-deductible, but even so. She should be bloody grateful I've not shopped her to the Borders Agency.

  107. No snow day today, Montana?

    Good shout on rednorth btw.

    Don't see anything wrong with voting for a UTer btw. Nothing to do with being cliquey, there are some good posters on here.

    Oh, that's got me thinking...can we have a UT Awards thing, MW? Best youtube linker? Best drunken rant? Most egregious act of charidee for the undeserving and ungrateful? Best flounce?

  108. No snow fell, but we're up to our waists in it and didn't have school because of dangerously low temperatures. I think our high was @ -15°C, without the windchill factor. My car won't even turn over, so if we have school tomorrow, I'm going to have to have the very nice next door neighbour who's got a newer car take us.

  109. Scherf - no offence taken, you bastard!

  110. Is this normal mid-December Iowegian weather, MW, or is Monbiot vindicated?

    Did you manage to get out to replenish your milk supplies?

    And, most importantly of all, the UT Awards. I've got my eye on a dress for the Big Night, and I'm sure I could come up with a speech if called upon.

  111. Thaum

    I used to work with a pied noir in France who was an arrogant racist fucker. I am pretty sure they are not all like that but it didn't do the image any favours.

  112. Best youtube linker?

    Would this award exclude everybody who couldn't be bothered to actually post a real link? It's not rocket science, and it's easy to learn. I've (possibly) missed a lot of good stuff because it's not linked right and I couldn't be bothered because the poster couldn't be bothered. Shape up or don't bother. Rant over, obviously I love everybody. Here's how you do it

    all you need is love

  113. @BB - I always got the impression that les pieds noirs were similar to the Afrikaaners, not rich or powerful enough to have benefitted from Empire, but one rung up from those they chose to despise.

  114. BB, I can't actually vote for anybody, never mind everybody. Are you taking this seriously? OK, I'd vote for you and not Jay. (Don't tell Jay, he might call me a bastard!) :0)

  115. Scherf

    Don't be daft, I was winding you up! :o)

    I dunno. No bloody sense of humour these Norn Ironish ex-pats :p

  116. Well, this storm was heavier than we've had for several years. Snows like this used to be fairly common when I was a child (i.e., at least 4-5 times each winter) but this is only about the 3rd big snow we've had in the 8 years since I moved back here. The temperatures aren't normally this cold until January, but even so -- we've had several really mild winters in a row, so this was a shocker.

    If you want UT awards, Hank, we'll have UT awards.

  117. Hank - I think that sums it up about right, actually.

  118. Yeh, actually, scherf, I only included "best youtube linker" because I'm a shoo-in for a nomination there. I can do the linky thing, I'm prolific, I go for the obvious stuff, and I'm usually first to post a link.

    Applying the Ciffies principle, it's quantity not quality we're aiming for surely.

    And you've got no fucking chance, mate. Neil Young? Hahahaha.


  119. I wonder if my friend is only allowed on the internet after his mummy has gone to bed or something? He's back whining on the Ciffers thread...

  120. Time zones, BB. I'm pretty sure BTH is in Thailand. Not sure what the time difference is, but I'm guessing that he posts on Cif after another fruitless night of trying to entice ladyboys to come home with him and his mate, Mr Glitter, for a two-and-a-half-some.

  121. LMFAO!

    I thought he said he was in the UK at the moment. Ah well.

  122. From love to something else introduced by the 'lovely' Marc Bolan.


    T Rex to the Jam. That's what Patti Smith might call The Changing of the Guards, although I don't know if she asked Dylan about it.


  123. He claims he's back in England.

    I'll put up categories on UT2 a bit later, we can nominate over the weekend and vote next week, okay?

  124. Hank et al, when Bitey is out of the country he's in China, not Thailand. Or so he says.

    Fair enuf, hank, I can't top your Simpsons link. Ever. No matter what happens. Here's a song anyway

    remember this?

  125. RapidEddie - genius. I'd add 'most dogged persistence in the face of overwhelming evidence' but that would probably involve talking about hymens again...

  126. @habib - you crowdpleaser! Who doesn't love Clare Grogan?

    But if we're going for early 80s Postcard pop, this always does it for me...


  127. And this one, "I'm your "yes man", yes ma'am, I'm your "yes man"..."


  128. Damn! I loved Lloyd Cole! How did I forget him?

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  130. And he never achieved http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OPrrFeuWik

  131. SAHB ???
    Fuck me, great post !
    Here's some Bavarian fun of the highest order ;-)



  132. Lloyd always seemed like a cross between Morrissey and Chris to me.

  133. I've just been offered 8 venison legs for £40, is that too dear?

  134. Hank, I always liked this one best, though nobody else ever did.

    Montana, the Chris link cut me to the bone (oh well, forgotten loves). Hope you're well, but this song reminded me of your situation and about walking through snow barefoot?

  135. Sorry, colinthestoat, I missed that.

    It sounds like a good deal for a stag night.

  136. Hi all --Stoaty, make sure the carcasses are attached! Where I live, deer are plentiful, something to do with wild life imbalance, though we have no culls in this area. I have 6 kills to my name, all victims of vehicular damage.

    BB could not agree more on that fucking Alderman. He is much admired for his detestability.

    Habib, scherfig--I was really into Marc Bolan and T-Rex in my youth. Good tunes for the time they was. Anybody else remember The Electric Prunes? Not many of my friends do.

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