Endives for All

New! In Pointlessly Gendered Products, Lisa Wade, 16th March, 2014.

If there’s anything in this world more outrageous than the marketing of endives to women (in fact to ‘divas’, as though the identity of women could be limited to the role of a fragile and even hysterical buyer of vegetables, — I mean, come on guise #problematic), I would be surprised.

By assuming that men and women possess different dispositions (which can be appealed to, leveraged, manipulated, etc), supermarkets cause men and women to have different dispositions, even though such differences don’t actually exist. Wheels within wheels. Such is the nefarious yet insidious nature of the patriarchy. Smash it! Endives for all!


Tread Softly

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

— W.B. Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” The Wind Among the Reeds, 1899.


New Guardian/ICM research documents the trend of frustration with Britain’s political system, showing that almost half are angry with MPs and a quarter bored by the issues. This alienation is strongest among those aged 18 to 24, who are less than half as likely as pensioners to say they are sure to vote, and may never exercise their democratic rights if they miss their first election.

“Apathetic and disaffected: the generation who may never vote”, Rowena Mason, The Guardian, 26th December, 2013.

Asking The Guardian to correctly diagnose the problem and prescribe the solution is not quite fair and all a bit, “physician heal thyself”. It’s not actually that hard to understand voter apathy if you’re outside the bubble, though. Firstly, the triumph of liberalism is non-debatable as far as the political classes are concerned, – quelle surprise, the people can’t be bothered to turn up at the polls to non-debate it. Secondly, it is a liberal axiom that there is no such thing as the social good. Disregarding its inherent contradiction, such a rule obviates the need for politics in general.

Of course, the failure of democracy is only really an issue for earnest Guardian journalists who have made their careers lecturing the rest of us about its many benefits. What they actually want is the pretence of democracy without any of the messy reality. That way they can imagine that they rule with the consent of the governed without ever needing to make any of the compromises necessary to achieve it. Yessir, the beatings will continue until morale improves! You ought to laugh, – frankly, there’s not a whole lot else you can do.

King Twitter-Mob

In an unexpected move, the normally tedious Krugman fan-blog Noahpinion has published a sane and non-partisan post on the reign of the Twitter-mob:

Earlier this week Pax Dickinson, the Chief Technology Officer at Business Insider, was fired after a number of his tweets regarding women and minorities drew public outrage. Pax (if that is his real name) is only the latest of a growing series of individuals who lost their jobs after expressing unpopular or offensive views. In July Jack Hunter resigned from a position on Senator Rand Paul’s staff after past statements in defense of the Confederacy came to light. In May, Jason Richwine resigned his position with Heritage after the details of his Ph.d dissertation (which speculated on issues involving race and IQ) were reported in the Washington Post. Psychology professor Geoffrey Miller managed to keep his job after one of his “fat shaming” tweets went viral, but was censured by his employer, was forced to undergo sensitivity training, and is subject to a number of other administrative penalties.

And that’s just in the last few months. Going back further one can find the same story playing out over and over where an unpopular comment draws popular outrage, leading the offender’s employer to (quite rationally) seek to disassociate itself as quickly as possible.

(Note the amusing usage of “rational,” in the economist’s sense of the word, in the second paragraph, above. We could rewrite it as, “leading the offender’s employer to (quite rationally – i.e., self-interestedly) seek to disassociate itself as quickly as possible.”)

Two things:

  1. Watch yourself, Mr Neeley. If Brad DeLong reads this, he’s going to be furious. We wouldn’t want you to end up on the wrong end of somebody’s pitch-fork.
  2. You repeat “popular” throughout the article, as though the crime of the individuals mentioned in the post was that they somehow offended the sensibilities of the majority. In fact, the majority could scarcely care less about such things, and, if pressed, would come down a lot closer to the side of the heretics than that of their inquisitors. Our unfortunate thought-criminals did not offend popular opinion, but popular liberal opinion, – that is, they offended the gaggle of media-types, hipsters and students that dominate Twitter – and, unfortunately for them, liberal opinion just so happens to have a lot more influence than the opinion of the majority.

Right Wing Hysteria

Speaking of “right-wing hysteria,” I was reading some of The Guardian’s coverage of the Roma affair, and came across this fascinating article, wherein we meet one of Page Hall’s notorious vigilantes:

Barrie Rees started layering up. Thisulate hat, gloves, a warm jacket, sturdy trainers, his two walking sticks… The 64-year-old was ready to go out on patrol.

Scary, eh? The Guardian certainly think so, describing the patrols by Barry and his pals as, “a development which brought to mind the terrifying militia that have tried to drive gypsies out of villages such as Gyöngyöspata in Hungary.”

In case you didn’t get the message the first time around, The Guardian repeat the allusion in a second article:

The Residents Association of Page Hall, the area of Sheffield where the Roma are concentrated, is on patrol, to monitor and correct their behaviour. To his credit, Blunkett also called on local communities to reach out. If there is anything to fear it’s not that there’ll be a riot but a pogrom.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

David Blunkett, Sheffield Brightside MP and former Labour Party Home Secretary, has launched a vicious attack on Roma families from Slovakia.

“Former UK Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett’s anti-Roma rant,” World Socialist Web Site, 21st November, 2013.

When David Blunkett told BBC Radio Sheffield that the arrival of a large number of Slovak Roma migrants in his home city would lead to rioting, he wasn’t so much predicting social conflict as adding to it.

“David Blunkett is feeding Romaphobia,” The Guardian, 13th November, 2013.

As ever, it’s not nominal “right-wingers” like David Blunkett, the Labour politician whose interview with the BBC precipitated the present media furore, who are the problem, but the progressives who dominate public life, whose modal political act is to bury their heads in the sand and tell themselves that everything is fine, and who expect – no, demand – that the rest of us do likewise.

Blunkett’s comments, which could hardly be more moderate, are a case in point. Basically, a set of truisms and platitudes: consider the tail risk of violence between different communities, it would be bad, so let’s try to avoid it; since the Roma are in Britain, they should observe whatever extremely minimal standards of behaviour are in play here; there are are lot more than previously thought, so yadda, yadda, yadda.

Not good enough, Mr Blunkett. Merely acknowledging that the problem exists creates an “atmosphere of right wing hysteria.” Instead, you should pretend that all is well. I mean, all is well – right? Since immigration and diversity are always a good, a fortiori, the people of Page Hill, Sheffield must be pretty damn pleased with their new neighbours. Any suggestion that they are not contradicts this necessary fact, and so can be easily dismissed – without even our needing to elicit their views on the matter!

Hominids, A Simple Chart


Criminalisation of Criminals

After an experiment by the government to drive vans that instruct undocumented migrants to “go home”, around racially mixed communities, it is difficult not to see a pattern of criminalising an entire demographic of people – a demographic whom the British authorities appear to view as naturally duplicitous and grasping.

– “When will we acknowledge that asylum seekers are human beings?” The Guardian, 20th November, 2013. (My emphasis.)

And that “criminalised” demographic is… illegal immigrants.

Solid Advice

Sit still. Stop thinking. Shut up. Get out!

– Aleister Crowley, Eight Lectures On Yoga, 1939.


We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold
That Milton held.

– William Wordsworth, It is not to be thought of, 1807.