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start his own blog I don't think there's anything like the quantity of whisky I'd need for such an undertaking ...
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2019 on Her Big Fearless Self at davidthompson
From The Guardian's 1-star rated review of Titania McGrath: Mxnifesto I’m not sure why, but McGrath is depicted as a Sloaney trustafarian: messianic, snobbish and dim-witted. It’s a decision that completely undermines the satire on wokeness, given that this character doesn’t resemble any social justice warrior you have ever, or will ever, meet. That's odd. Because I would honestly have expected "a Sloaney trustafarian" who is "messianic, snobbish and dim-witted" to be either mostly or even wholly apt as a description for the likes of Caroline Criado-Perez (daughter of a former CEO of Safeways and educated at £30,000+ per annum Oundle School and Keble College, Oxford) Laura Bates (educated at St. Johns College, Cambridge), and the Penny sisters, Laurie (educated at £23,000+ per annum Brighton College, then Wadham College, Oxford, and later the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard) and Eleanour (presumably also educated at Brighton College and then University College London). Caroline Criado-Perez's own website explains that she "specialises in social justice", as in her article "The tech industry's toxic bro culture is failing women" and Eleanour Penny's describes her as "an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets programme" and "member of Barbican Young Poets all-woman collective Men Are Trash". Miss Rothstein, meanwhile, writes and performs poetry with titles such as Bro Code (which is pretty much as you'd expect, and not a million miles in sentiment from Men Are Trash) while in the rather narcissistic and personalised myth creation she likes to refer to as her 'journalism' Rothstein has made demands for "a dismantling of the Diet-Industrial Complex" which should involve "work rooted in racial and economic justice[,] queer rights [a]nd fat positivity" - all of which sounds quite social justicey. And while, like the others, I assume, she earns her living and is not a trustafarian, she would certainly count as Sloaney if she'd been born on this side of the Atlantic: In 1987, amidst a lucrative year as a Bear Stearns stockbroker, my father became one of only a few dozen people on earth to purchase an unlimited, lifetime AAirpass. A quarter of a million dollars gave him access to fly first class anywhere in the world on American for the rest of his life [ ... ] He (and our whole family) was featured on NBC’s Today Show in 2003, and then on MSNBC in 2006. and Dad was an airport celebrity, and when we traveled together, it embarrassed the shit out of me. Like riding a cart from security to the gate (because as a family, we ran late — Dad has a knack for rushed arrivals). I would bow my head so I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone we passed. Or walking into the Admirals Club locations and having the folks at the front desk know us by name ... Actually, it is quite striking that "the middle-aged white man" attempting to help her sounds an awful lot like her father. Or would do, if it weren't for the fact that, in her own words, while she "was socialized to fly in first class" as a child and therefore her "feelings about travel are biased" she says that "I fly economy now". So, you know, a "middle-aged white man" like her father - except with a lot less money.
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2019 on Her Big Fearless Self at davidthompson
The comments from user "Jeremy Farage" and, somewhat surprisingly to me, MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy, which run underneath shed an interesting light on what is quite possibly a far more significant issue.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2019 on Failure To Celebrate Detected at davidthompson
Can't they hear themselves? It turns out that Kerry-anne Mendoza is a co-founder as well as current Editor-in-Chief of "independent non-profit news website" The Canary. Amongst her various duties are apparently a Devil-may-care approach to unintended irony as this from the The Canary's About & FAQ section clearly shows: Our Vision A free and fair society where we nurture people and planet. Our Mission To achieve this, we deliver campaigning journalism that informs and empowers people to change their world. Our Values The Canary is progressive, open and rigorous. We work with respect, courage and generosity. She takes the same approach to her biodata, which includes this: Her passions are politics, economics and current affairs, which she examines with the basic question: “How do we build a world that works for everyone?” Clearly, "everyone" means something quite different to Mendoza than it does to me. Honestly, the content of that Tweet is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've seen in a good long while. Surely Twitter will shut down her acc- oh, no wait.
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2019 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
This was when I knew Boris was destined for greatness Yes, but greatness in what field exactly? I'm sorry, but I think he's a complete and utter arse.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2019 on I Can Feel The Art Improving Me at davidthompson
What right have you to give your child an unfair advantage over mine simply because you have more money? Related: My closest friends had parents much like mine: most had been educated at the same small collection of public schools and knew each other well from either Oxford or Cambridge and then through their work [ ... ] They made the conscious decision to give their children a radically different childhood from their own. We were sent to the local state schools, where we could mix with children from every walk of life ... That’s William Miller writing there, in his childhood memoir, Gloucester Crescent. (Miller is one of Jonathan Miller’s children). Dad always says [the reason for this decision] is because everyone in Gloucester Crescent votes Labour and that only Tories go to private schools [ … ] I don’t understand that because Mum, Dad and all their friends went to private school and they never stop talking about how great it was and how important it is to get a good education. The problem with experiments of any kind, of course, is that they tend not to work out very well the first dozen or so times while you try to work out which particular variables need manipulating to get the desired result. As each child is unique and has only one childhood, this presents something of a problem for trials such as the one the Millers and the other progressive parents living on the same road were trying out. Inevitably, William goes on as we got older many of us found ourselves left behind and struggling to keep up. It began to seem that we’d been part of an experiment driven by their principles, rather than their care. In fact, what happens to William Miller is that he is bullied so mercilessly by other children at school, some of whom literally threaten to kill him - especially after a brief appearance on a TV documentary written and presented by his father - that he soon becomes agitated, withdrawn, and depressed. Eventually, unable to cope, he has a kind of breakdown after which he refuses point blank to go back to his state school. After so many years of hoping they could make a difference, they’d finally had to agree that the route they had chosen had been something of a failure for their children who had ended up paying the price for their choices. In the end, Miller’s parents agree to send him to an exclusive private school - albeit one run on progressive principles, called Bedales in Hampshire. However, having already fallen so far behind in his schooling, at least according to his own account, he is unable to catch up even in the much more pleasant atmosphere of Bedales and fails all of his A levels (his high school leaving / university entrance exams). A few years later, the producer of the documentary in which William briefly appeared (and which worsened the bullying) sets up his own television production company and offers Wiliam a job as a production assistant (possibly at the prompting of Jonathan Miller, though this is speculation on my part). Later still, William Miller has become a TV executive in his own right, producing Nigella Lawson. It turns out that he had known Nigella since they were teenagers when Nigella’s mother Vanessa married the Oxford and UCL philosopher A. J. Ayer whose London residence happened to back right onto the Miller’s in the same North London Oxbridge colony and in whose house William used to play as a boy. Despite the fact that William’s entry into television and subsequent success seem to have relied on more or less the kind of Old School tie-like connections an Old Etonian might even blush at, Jonathan Miller took exception to his son's success because as William explains (my italics): I’d chosen a career path that neither he nor his friends fully approved of. Although I’d gone into an industry they were familiar with, I’d joined what they felt was the opposing team: the one on the top floor, who wore suits and ran the business - the Establishment. In their eyes this was somewhat grubby and should be treated with an element of suspicion. We were the ones who stopped people like them from getting on and doing the important and worthwhile things.
Toggle Commented Jul 13, 2019 on Escape Is Forbidden at davidthompson
So I decided to try and salvage our faltering marriage by using every resource I could think of: for over a year, I plunged into research, consulted countless experts, divvied up chores with the help of time management experts and brought (well, dragged) my husband to couples therapy. The result was an upward spiral: when Tom began to help me out, I was happier, which in turn made him happier. Boy, that Patriarchy sure does work in mysterious ways.
Toggle Commented Jun 3, 2019 on Progressive Manners at davidthompson
And let’s not forget Ms Wolf’s history of unhinged conspiracy theories. The author of the Vox article on Wolf concludes (my italics): This is not to argue that all of Wolf's earlier work must be discarded on the basis of these Facebook posts, but rather to urge others to see the broader context of Wolf and her thinking. In other words, it is important for readers who may encounter Wolf's ideas to understand the distinction between her earlier work, which rose on its merits, and her newer conspiracy theories, which are unhinged, damaging, and dangerous. If the writer hopes to to suggest that Wolf's earlier work is somehow more reliable, this is simply not the case. In fact, Wolf's cavalier approach to the use and interpretation of sources apparently dates all the way back to 1990 with the publication The Beauty Myth as this 2004 critical review paper from the journal of Eating Disorders makes dazzlingly clear: [I]n her chapter “Hunger” [the] eating disorder figures were dramatically high: according to Wolf (1990), 20% of American female students suffered from anorexia and 60% from bulimia. Only [a] small minority had no eating disorder! Her mortality figure — 150,000 deaths from anorexia each year in the U.S.— caught the most attention in the media [...] All 23 statistics on anorexia nervosa (see pp. 181–183 in the newest edition of The Beauty Myth [Wolf, 1991a]; p. 148–150 in the first edition [Wolf, 1990a] were compared to statistics in recent reviews of epidemiological studies (Hoek, 2002; Van Hoeken et al., 2003). [ ... ] When her mortality statistic (150,000 annual deaths) is divided by the true statistic (525), her exaggeration can be quantified [as] 150,000/525 =286 ... almost 300 times as high as the real statistic. [ ... ] On closer inspection only five out of 23 statistics (22%) were accurate ... Once she underestimated a little, three times she mentioned the same correct percentage of female patients. For one statistic there was insufficient evidence ... More than three-quarters of her statistics were too high. Half of her statistics were more than ten times overdone [ ... ] It has been suggested that the Wolf statistics were not refuted, because in 1990 the experts did not have access to good data on incidence, prevalence, and mortality of anorexia nervosa. This is not true, however. At that time, Williams and King (1987) had already questioned the “anorexia epidemic” in the Lancet. Several well-designed studies on prevalence and incidence of eating disorders had been published (for a review, see Hoek, 1993). Sixteen studies on outcome (including mortality) of anorexia nervosa had been reviewed in 1980 (Hsu, 1980). In fact, this outcome review was refered to by Wolf herself (see statistic 11 in Table 1). Hsu stated: “The mortality in the different series varied from 0% to 19%. In over half the studies, mortality was below 5%” (p. 1042). This finding was summarized by Wolf as:“Researcher L.K.G. Hsu gives a death rate of up to 19%” (Wolf, 1991a, p. 182).
Toggle Commented May 25, 2019 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
The moment when I suddenly realized the retro-flowerchild cum fascist at the audience mic was actually a professor. Your "retro-flowerchild" in the John Lennon glasses is a British animator and graduate of London's prestigious Royal College of Art. The following comes from a recent interview she did: Q Your current animation is centered around female sexuality. What was it like to research this topic? The research stage [...] was the biggest literary adventure of any of the films I’ve ever made. I had a lot of questions when I started so I read a lot, and what I learned from the reading went on to inform the script for the film. The initial question came from a quote by Oscar Wilde: ‘Everything in life is about sex, except for sex, which is about power’ I became obsessed with trying to figure out what this meant, and it if it was true. Not so obsessed that she paused for a moment to wonder whether or not Oscar Wilde - as intelligent as he was - would have actually had the prescience to be able to speak so fluently and naturally in the idiom of late 20th and early 21st century cultural studies departments. And evidently also not so "obsessed with trying to figure out what this meant, and it if it was true" that she spent the 10 seconds it takes to search on Quote Investigator and learn the following: Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Oscar Wilde wrote or said this remark. It is not listed in the valuable compendium “The Wit & Wisdom of Oscar Wilde” assembled by quotation expert Ralph Keyes. The earliest close match located by QI appeared in the “Provincetown Arts” journal of 1995. Author Michael Cunningham employed the saying during an interview conducted by fellow author Paul Lisicky. Cunningham is now best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Hours”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: If you’re writing about what people do to and with one another, it’s sort of crazy to leave sex out. I think Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in human life is really about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.” And I think he’s got something there. Cunningham disclaimed coinage and provided an attribution that was both tentative and implausible. Hence, the saying remains anonymous. None of us are perfect and we all of us make mistakes ... but I find this notable mainly because if she was unable to spot the implausibility of Oscar Wilde having made a Foucauldian quote about sex/power and, worse in my opinion, if she likewise did not make the effort to trace the source of the original quote about which she was to develop the central concept of a film project, one which incidentally has been "generously supported by The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at California State University Los Angeles", then what does this ultimately say about how well-informed she is about other issues outside of her discipline on which she may also wish to pontificate?
Toggle Commented May 4, 2019 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
Snow Apparently, Gillette's less well-known forerunner to "The best men can be".
Toggle Commented Apr 17, 2019 on I Was Reminded Of Rice Krispies at davidthompson
This is dated March 27 2019: George Eaton, deputy editor of The New Statesman, talks to Lucy Skoulding about breaking into the profession and why, now more than ever, we need skilled journalists to advance the truth and shape the debate. The boy George, in his own words, on "why, now more than ever, we need skilled journalists to advance the truth and shape the debate." Well, this should be good (my italics)... When asked about the importance of social media, George said it “helps huge amounts, I’m a very active tweeter [ ... ] Twitter is incredibly useful in helping me think about subjects to write about but you also need to be reading widely. Try to understand your opponents’ arguments and think about what you can learn from them.” Shurely shome mishtake? George said his favourite part of his job is “the chance to interview so many interesting people ... Well, I suppose that part has some truth to it. “In some ways, I think [distrust of the mainstream media]’s entirely justified,” George said, ... “A challenge for journalism is the rise of social media and the fact it allows false information to spread like wildfire. Why, you don't say? I think it’s an important time for trusted, credible titles to remain relevant and prominent. Journalists must win the trust back they have lost. It’s not enough to lecture the public, you need to earn that trust and have a degree of mutual respect and I think one benefit of social media is that if something is wrong, audiences have a platform to call this out.” There's an awful lot that could be said about that particular paragraph in light of his Scruton interview and the subsequent fall out - especially as these comments were published a mere two weeks ago. But one of the most telling to my mind is the underlying assumption that journalism involves "lectur[ing] the public". That, I think, speaks volumes.
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2019 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
causing minor accidents and harassing drivers... The video embedded in that website includes a scene that starts around 13:19 that is likely to raise a few questions about their behaviour, not to mention an eyebrow or two. Firstly, the video editor(s) evidently thought the scene so important that it needed emphasising with a slow-motion effect as it starts off. But what we are then treated to is the sight of four tall, fairly well-built scruffy-looking white men blocking in the driver of a car who soon turns out to be a well-dressed black woman on her own. While I am not suggesting the Critical Mass activists in that scene are racists (I don't imagine they are), it is nevertheless striking how the optics do not cast them in what I suspect most people would consider to be a good light. Yet rather than leave this shameful embarrassment to their cause on the cutting room floor of the editing suite, they seem to actually have seen it as some kind of victory worthy of celebration. ... and generally exulting in the sense of mob power While the woman gives as good as she gets, you're still left with the image of four fairly big guys behaving like the worst kind of football hooligan, jeering and cursing at a lone woman who they have almost completely surrounded and whose path they have blocked. One of the men seems to be complaining that she ran into him deliberately - but given that the video shows the cyclists swarming around the moving traffic such a minor collision must have been inevitable (and not a deliberate attempt to knock someone down, which seems to be their assumption). The fact that all this is going on while dozens more of them are sweeping by whooping and cheering only makes it worse. How they could ever imagine that this ugly, thuggish and barbaric episode would actually gain sympathy for their cause is quite the mystery.
Toggle Commented Apr 8, 2019 on Saddle Monkeys at davidthompson
There ... that should wipe the slate clean - be a good chap, and re-open my tab, would you? So, what's new around h- ... [ spots date and timeline ] ... my that is somewhat on tart side(!) Still, a bit of sharpness keeps the senses keen.
Toggle Commented Mar 17, 2019 on Damned If You Do at davidthompson
Not entirely unrelated, I don't think: I am afraid of those who will punish others for not subscribing to a toxic and oppressive view of social justice. I am afraid, not of actual social justice, but of what some people are willing to do, and are in fact now doing, in the name of social justice [ ... ] I am afraid because mandatory [Diverity, Equity, and Inclusion] statements resemble loyalty oaths. They invite an academic version of Havel’s greengrocer, who proclaimed fidelity to communism, not because he supported it, but because he felt he had to broadcast his obsequious fidelity to the ideology of the State.
A reminder ... I must say I didn't expect this from Karen Geier / Doxing Bae L'il: I am available to help companies build out their Content Strategies. I have worked with small businesses all the way up to Fortune 100 companies. I have written courses and whitepapers to teach executives how to use and leverage social media. I also give seminars and training sessions to small groups. If your company needs help, I would be glad to talk to you. The white paper she refers to there is called How Twitter and Hashtags can Help your PR and Marketing. Near the end of the paper, Geier explains that although hashtags are "a shortcut to find great conversations on social media, and a great way for you to identify fans and potential customers" she also warns that: It’s not always easy to figure out exactly what your hashtag should be, though. You should put in careful thought and consideration before you set it out into the wild. Not precisely certain, therefore, as to how sending a Tweet "out into the wild" that cheerfully gloats over the near death of a fourteen-year-old boy or unrepentantly following that "wild" Tweet up with the another declaring: "god it is fun winding these people up. All they want is the kind of civility you can only get from being a member of a party that allowed Jimmy Savile to fuck children openly for 30 years" would help executives learn how best to "use and leverage social media" (much less result in a shortcut to "great conversations"). Unless of course her strategy is basically to say something as preposterous, as provocative, or as inflammatory as possible - meaning that her strategy is quite literally to advocate for professional trolling in other words. Now there's a thought.
Toggle Commented Dec 29, 2018 on The Year Reheated at davidthompson
Unavoidably, over time, this makes you more rightwing, as you descend into an aerobics-powered moral universe where only the weak need each other. Why did this make me think of sleek North Korean leader, Kim Jung-un, I wonder? And why did thinking of Kim Jung-un remind me of this epic piece of debauchery? Maduro under fire for dining on steak cut by Salt Bae in lavish Turkish restaurant while Venezuelans starve
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2018 on The Perils of Jogging at davidthompson
However, elsewhere in the Guardian, we’re informed ... of much more pressing matters. Whether this is the kind of sloppiness common amongst self-appointed political officers of the people such as Virgie Tovar or whether this is the handiwork of a mischievous sub-editor after a liquid lunch, Item 4 on the list of ways to avoid "fat discrimination", provides a moment of unintentional comedy: 4. Romantic discrimination We chalk up a lot of our romantic decisions to evolutionary biology, but the truth is our partner choice is highly influenced by social expectations and ideals. If we lived in Mauritania, for example, where fatness is the beauty ideal, we would have no difficulty finding “biological” rationalisation for that attraction. We are taught who is beautiful, and get social cues about who to avoid choosing as a partner. Rather than taking you through to a page explaining the alleged Mauritanian preference for larger-sized ladies, clicking on "Mauritania" in that paragraph instead takes you to a full list of Guardian articles on the country which include the following: Women's rights and gender equality Jail fear prevents women in Mauritania from filing rape complaints, study finds Modern-day slavery in focus The unspeakable truth about slavery in Mauritania - Though outlawed, slavery persists in Mauritania. Modern-day slavery in focus US warned Mauritania’s ‘total failure’ on slavery should rule out trade benefits Women's rights and gender equality Threat of marriage hangs over young Malian refugee girls in Mauritania Women's rights and gender equality Child marriage in Mauritania: 'When it has ended, I will be so happy' - video Given such a heavy and consistent focus on on Mauritania's issues with human trafficking, slavery, and the exploitation of girls and women in The Guardian' own pages over the last few years, it does seem to be a spectacularly poorly chosen example of a culture where "body positivity" is praised ...
Toggle Commented Sep 9, 2018 on Land Of The Giants at davidthompson
Some kinds of vermin should be driven into the sea. Should "the unofficial mascot" of this place happen to walk in and see that particular sign behind the bar, I imagine she would see that as a 'gotcha' moment. Regardless, I must say I am a bit taken aback at that particular choice of phrase.
Toggle Commented Jul 30, 2018 on Link Fest at davidthompson
“Queen of nuance” Correction. That’s “Comedian. Queen of nuance.” – where it seems the latter is very much a defensive fall-back position for the former. See, if you don’t laugh at this , it's your sense of humour that's at fault. She can't be held responsible for your lack of refinement. Pass us one of them pickled eggs, will you?
Toggle Commented Jul 13, 2018 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
Years ago a thread on here took a turn into explaining how intelligent people (generally on the left) can look at the world and get things so wrong. you’d have to narrow it down, at least somewhat Obviously, I don't know which ones in particular, but these two both seem likely candidates: It Pays To Be Unobvious From which comes this extract from a post by Professor Jere Surber: In many arts subjects, especially those tethered only loosely to evidence, logic or practical verification, there’s often pressure to avoid the obvious and prosaic, even when the obvious and prosaic is true. The obligation to be unobvious, if only for the benefit of one’s academic peers, may help explain the more fanciful assertions from some practitioners of the liberal arts. And this from a review of Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society by Theodore Dalrymple: Intellectuals, like everyone else, live and work in a marketplace. In order to get noticed they must say things which have not been said before, or at least say them in a different manner. No one is likely to obtain many plaudits for the rather obvious, indeed self-evident, thought that a street robber cannot commit street robberies while he is in prison. But an intellectual who first demonstrates that the cause of an increase in street robbery is the increase in the amount of property that law-abiding pedestrians have on them as they walk in the streets is likely to be hailed, at least until the next idea comes along. Thus, while there are no penalties for being foolish, there are severe penalties (at least in career terms) for being obvious. And speaking of Thomas Sowell: Consequential knowledge In which David remarks (amongst other things): Oddly enough - or not oddly at all - Marx was also fond of apocalyptic scenarios. (“I will wander godlike and victorious through the ruins of the world,” etc.) In the same general vein, I can highly recommend the following work by Daniel Kalder known in Europe as Dictator Literature: A History of Despots Through Their Writing and in North America as The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy I should mention that the author is a friend of mine, it's true, and I was a reader for several early drafts as it was in development, but I hope that does not put anyone off - I think it's a fascinating read.
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2018 on Because You Deserve No Less at davidthompson
Okay, I’ll go first. Holy shit! Joanna Simons ... had been at the centre of that Council's 'care' programme for nearly a decade: that is, throughout the period in which the mass rape of local girls (subsequently investigated under the name 'Operation Bullfinch') was carried on [ ... ] At the time that Operation Bullfinch broke, Ms Simons was receiving an annual salary of over £196,000, before other benefits were included. To put this into some context, the average annual salary in the UK sits at just over £27,000. The annual salary paid to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for running the country stands at just under £150,000 per annum [ ... ] In 2015, the Oxfordshire County Council chose to abolish Simon's role ... at which stage she received a pay-off from the Council amounting to the sum of £259,000 [ ... ] But Oxfordshire did not lose Simons for long. Last July, the organisation which promotes tourism in the area -- 'Experience Oxfordshire' -- announced Joanna Simons as the new head of their board. It would be interesting to compare the reporting of this with the reporting of negligence and wrong-doing of senior management in the private sector. Dick Fuld, say.
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2018 on Because You Deserve No Less at davidthompson
Sociology Professor Suzanna Danuta Walters has a message for 49% of the population: So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong. #BecausePatriarchy. You will no doubt be shocked to discover that the author of this well-balanced and reasonable plea is also the Director of a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.
Toggle Commented Jun 9, 2018 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
For his gratuitous and public humiliation of a progressive scholar, Whitten was not only afforded a warm reception at the event but he was thanked by his target, who was evidently grateful to have been shamed in this way. Blazack even wrote a follow-up post restating his craven apology once more, in response to which Whitten received more donations from supporters. Here's Nick Cohen writing in 2005 on Gerry Healy's Workers' Revolutionary Party: In truth, terms such as 'left' and 'right' can only take you so far if you're trying to understand groups such as the Workers' Revolutionary Party. They are far closer to the messianic religious sects that obey the orders of semi-divine leaders. Gerry Healy, the leader of the WRP, didn't appear charismatic at first glance. He was a squat and ugly man, who maintained his personal domination by isolating his members from the outside world and their families [...] In her autobiography, [WRP member] Vanessa Redgrave described how her six-year-old daughter Natasha 'appealed to me to spend more time with her. I tried to explain that our political struggle was for her future and that of all the children of her generation. She looked at me with a serious, sweet smile. "But I need you now. I won't need you so much then.'" One woman said she barely saw her husband and four children ... She shook herself out of [the WRP] when Healy forced his way into her bedroom ... She left but most stayed until 1985 when the tabloids let rip with a 'reds in the bed' exposé of how Healy had abused dozens of women and stolen party funds. An audit of the books showed that he had taken about £500,000 from Muammar Gadaffi and £20,000 from Saddam Hussein [ ... ] [W]hat was fascinating was that a handful of members, including the Redgraves,... stuck by Healy until his death in 1989 and continued to revere his memory thereafter. Nothing could shake their faith, not the rapes and beatings of party members or the grovelling before tyrants. I think I see a theme developing.
Toggle Commented Jun 6, 2018 on Rise Of The Bedlamites at davidthompson
The cost of lowered standards. From Greg Ashman, an Australian education blogger: We have all heard the arguments: Formal written examinations only measure performance on one day, not what students can do over a sustained period. They have a narrow academic focus that does not take into account ‘non-cognitive skills’ such as social skills and creativity [ ... ] So we need to replace formal examinations with something else that better reflects all of our students' abilities. This is a flawed argument [ ... ] Once we begin to take account of ‘non-cognitive’ skills, we introduce bias based on class, ethnicity and gender, because these skills overlap so much with bourgeois manners. In an exam, nobody can tell that you have a Birmingham accent or that your upbringing means that you are a little rough around the edges. Unfortunately, we have now introduced these factors as legitimate reasons to discriminate against you. It’s tough luck if your quirkiness means that you don’t gel with your team-mates in a collaborative task because it will be used to judge your collaborativity or some such made-up nonsense. The Australian National University (ANU) has had the idea of judging students on their, ‘contribution to family, school and community.’ This is the kind of extracurricular requirement favoured by American universities ... Does this sound reasonable? If so, have a think about who is in the best position to game such a requirement. Is it the public-transport-using child of a single working mother from Western Sydney or the car-owning child of sharp-elbowed parents from an affluent suburb with plenty of connections at the local church and no need of a part-time job? The rest is here.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2018 on Friday Ephemera at davidthompson
An anonymous group ... There's no way of knowing this for sure of course, but I suspect that the letter is an inside job and was written by a person or persons working from within one or more of the organisations to whom the letter was sent (i.e. "Portland's5 Centers for the Arts, Metro, the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission and the City of Portland"). My suspicions were aroused by the last paragraph of the article: If Portland5 does not cancel the event, the group says it is prepared to organize protests and call-in campaigns, including disrupting the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Committee's June 6 meeting at the Oregon Convention Center. Why would the anonymous group want to disrupt that particular meeting? And why mention it? Even today, journalists have a habit of occasionally slipping in hints of things they know, but are unable to state in print so I checked on the website of the Metropolitan Exposition and Recreation Commission and one of the first things I noticed on the sidebar there was that the Commission includes a Committee on Racial Equality. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself of course - I think the vast majority of people can agree that racism is both iniquitous and harmful and that it is also an enduring presence in our societies. Unfortunately, there also appear to be a number of people who are determined to find it in places where it simply might not exist. I feel I can say with confidence that whatever else Peterson might be, he is not a racist. In that light, the comments that the committee members have written to introduce themselves on their personal profiles are suggestive of people who strongly sympathise with that "anonymous" letter (if indeed they were not the letter's actual authors): Martine Coblentz, Clackamas County Resolution Services Pronouns: she/her/hers Equity hashtag: #StayWoke #StayWoke? Says Coblentz (amongst other things): I know on both ends what it is like to be of privilege and to have committed micro aggressions toward my own sibling, processing that, humbling myself and working on my own implicit biases AND, I have had to process the discrimination I face in the outside world and micro aggressions toward me Another member, Duncan Hwang, includes the following details on his career: I was politicized while studying at the University of Michigan and on paper I received degrees in Political Science and Asian Studies. In reality though, I spent most of my time as a campus activist leader ... Didn't the University of Michigan get a mention on this blog just yesterday? Three other members' profiles include Equity superpowers. No really. Pronouns: she/her Equity hashtag: #AccessForAll Equity superpower: My super power would have to be my Advocate shield. I really don’t know how to take no for an answer. When I see an injustice, I tend to stick with it until the opposition gives up. Ummm ... Pronouns: she/her Equity hashtag: #browngirlsresist Equity superpower: I’m like Nymphodora Tonks in the Harry Potter world – the research/data voice in social justice spaces; and the social justice voice in research and data spaces. Nymphodora Tonks? As someone who has not followed the Potter series, is that a real character? Nymphodora? In a children's book? Pronouns: she/her/hers Equity hashtag/superpower: This #FierceJusticeDeva can maneuver hard conversations with strong differences of opinion on tough race topics to a solid engaged meeting of the minds – in one round. I must stress that the idea that one or more inside members of the Commission wrote this letter is complete conjecture on my part - it is perfectly possible that a group of radical students wrote the letter independently. However, the article also states that (my bold): Portland5's executive director Robyn Williams says she is aware of the "controversy regarding this upcoming event at the Keller Auditorium," but that "Portland'5 Centers for the Arts may not legally refuse to rent our theatres to a group due to the content of a performance." If the Commission is therefore unable to legally prevent Peterson from booking the venue, then such an anonymous letter would certainly be a solution to their inability to control who gets to speak in the venues they preside over. Presumably, that original rule was written in the 1980s or 1990s to allow people to throw crucifixes into buckets of piss or stage theatrical versions of 120 Days of Sodom and so on - you know, to support freedom of expression however offensive or objectionable that expression might be to some people. The people who wrote that rule probably found the idea that a Christian and moderately conservative Canadian professor and clinical psychologist might one day be perceived to be a 'dangerous' radical with 'harmful' ideas absolutely inconceivable. So if that letter was in fact authored by members of the Commission itself, it would have been as a way getting around their own rules in order to prevent Peterson from speaking. If that were the case, then I would find that to be not a little disturbing But again, I am just idly speculating here.
Toggle Commented May 26, 2018 on Against Hate, You Say at davidthompson