Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading Skills Required

This is just a quick, "Blimey!"

PunditAid Please Give Generously or Nick Cohen having a good old sneer at Mary Ann Sieghart in the Independent.

It's not just me is it? He's got her point completely wrong.

Yet another AaroWatch Fail Sunday, by the way. I didn't get very far with this at all.

When you reach the search results, Google does not call the adverts running down the side "adverts" but "sponsored links", as if it were a charity and philanthropists were helping further its noble endeavour.

Google is an American company, staffed mostly by Americans. While it's not true that Eskimos have hundreds of words for "snow" the US has several words for advertisements: "these messages", "a word from our sponsors" etc. It may be euphemistic, and a cynic might think that a more accurate heading would be "Here are some scabs after your money. Flee!" but 'sponsored' to a US-ian doesn't suggest a cub-scout hike but a commercial arrangement.

(See also.)

I think Google has made mistakes re privacy - so has FaceBook. Targeted advertising (which is the only kind which makes sense now: before the Times went behind the paywall, every page wanted me to buy a 4x4; that's so wrong) will come at the expense of privacy. I won't have an Android phone because, like Nick, I think Google are too intrusive, but that's not going to bother millions of people. "Don't be evil" isn't "vehement", it's just missing a "man" or "dude" or, to really risque, "nigger". It's quasi-ironic. And Nick's argument that because "to google" is a verb now, "I doubt many users think of it as a business at all" applies to Hoover just as well.

Off-topic, but this piece on Tom Hanks' daughter's breakup letter to 'The Left' is jolly good.

Update 10:40 GMT 31/10/2010 Just skimmed the comments on Nick's article. They're not happy bunnies this morning.

Last week Nick wrote about Wayne Rooney. You'd be better off reading the excellent Simon Kuper on same.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I thought we needed a pre-weekend post, and this will do as well as anything. Israel's right wing starts its own Tea Party.

According to Michael Kleiner, a former Likud legislator who is one of the driving forces behind the movement, Mr Obama's policies towards Israel resemble the British attitudes in eighteenth century America that caused the original Boston Tea Party.


Hating Bush = Anti-Americanism. Hating Obama = exercising one's democratic right to dissent. Or something. Barking mad leftist, conspiracy-theory spinning, Blair-haters may suspect that there's just a teeny bit of racism going on here. I'm sure that rational people (eg David Aaronovitch) could poopoo such a voodoo idea in a trice.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Embarrassment to Our Country

Found the above from the clip from 'Fahrenheit 911' which was what I was going to use, but this is so much better. Enjoy.

I remembered that Nick Cohen liked Paul Wolfowitz, but I'd forgotten (or perhaps tried to suppress) how much. A Google search found the splendidly titled Nick ****ing Cohen by Mark Steel, Nick Cohen back-pedals, rather furiously by Sunny Hundal (full disclosure: I met Sunny and Anton Vowl, who gets a mention, on Friday) and Azal Nafisi dedication to Paul Wolfowitz – Nick Cohen is wrong. Obviously, I had to read those last four words a few times before I could take them in. I've never heard the like.

Here's Nick from 2006:

The figures don’t justify the cost-cutting charge – World Bank lending has risen on Wolfowitz’s watch – but I think I understand the roots of the disquiet he generates. Wolfowitz is a conservative who, during his career, has championed democracy in the Philippines and Indonesia, feminism in Iran and opposition to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, causes that were once the preserve of the liberal-left.
I hope you can see that Wolfowitz agitates so many people because he raises questions that have no easy answers.

Now I know that the whole 'Bush = Hitler' thing is old, but really what comes to your mind when you read the words Human Experimentation [on prisoners]?

This is not pretty.

The Wolfowitz directive also changes language that had required DoD researchers to strictly adhere to the Nuremberg Directives for Human Experimentation and other precedents when conducting human subject research.

We are still the good guys, right?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Irregular Something-or-others

Random juxtaposition of the day. Exhibit A: Harry's Place October 22 2010.

Exhibit B: Harry's Place September 13 2008 (but there are many, many more examples).

We ask the question: is this evidence of industrial-standard chutzpah or brain death?

You decide.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Those dinner parties

From the latest Normblog profile:

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > The late journalist Chaim Bermant, whom I never met, although he is related to me by marriage; Jesus; and Tony Blair.

I’m not familiar with Mr Bermant or his work, but he must be pretty damn good to be worthy of dinner with Tony Blair himself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Updating the Enemies List

It feels like only yesterday that I joked:

Now 'Jonathan Miller, Alexei Sayle, [and] Stephen Fry' have joined Nick Cohen's enemies list. Bloody hell.

But it wasn't yesterday, it was as long ago as Sunday. Which leaves, to misquote Robert Heinlein, time enough for hate. Yes, Mike Leigh joins the unpersons. I saw this post, and thought "business as usual, sigh" but Flying Rodent thought it was worthy of a tweet. The comments! ye gods!

Anyone "Jewish" who dissents at all from supporting Israel is now vilified. It's no longer about anti-Semitism, it's about policing norms of discourse. When will they move onto those really slippery Jews, the ones who live in Israel and yet dare to question their government? Haaretz: Israeli academic: Loyalty oath resembles racist laws of 1935.

Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals [all natural enemies of Harry's Place - DW] held on Sunday a demonstration against the cabinet's approval of a controversial amendment to the citizenship bill, requiring non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Actress Hana Maron read from the Declaration of Independence: "I will read this again:' [the state of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex'. This makes me want to cry. What has become of us?" said Maron.
Israeli educational psychologist Prof. Gavriel Solomon said that "the idea of Judenrein (Jew free zone), or Arab-rein is not new... Some might say 'how can you compare us to Nazis'. I am not talking about the death camps, but about the year 1935. There were no camps yet but there were racist laws. And we are heading forward towards these kinds of laws. The government is clearly declaring our incapacity for democracy."

Why did Emmanuel Goldstein, I mean Mike Leigh cancel his trip? That loyalty oath. Some people might go so far as to call his act one of solidarity with the democratic left.

Ah, no wonder Harry's Place hates him.

Update 20/10/10 12:15 Looking forward to Norm's take on this: Auschwitz survivor: ‘Israel acts like Nazis’. Oh, it gets better:

Dr Hajo Meyer, 86, who survived 10 months in the Nazi death camp, spoke out as his 10-day tour of the UK and Ireland – taking in three Scottish venues – got under way. His comments sparked a furious reaction from hardline Jewish lobby groups, with Dr Meyer branded an “anti-Semite” and accused of abusing his position as a Holocaust survivor.

My emphasis. Srsly.

Dr Meyer also insisted the definition of “anti-Semitic” had now changed, saying: “Formerly an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is somebody who is hated by Jews.”

Works for me.

Update 2 20/10/10 12:30 That article was from January, but I only just came across it. He's still right. Via Graham Linehan.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When channel controllers would never put conservative comedians on air

Going by BexSix's comment on the last thread, there's going to be a demand for this, so please keep comments on Standpoint in that thread, and ones on Nick Cohen on god knows what here.

I pretty much gave up at the 'conservative comedians' bit. Really? Does Nick watch TV at all?

"Gingham is a very BBC material." "How's that, then?" "Very small checks." [Pause. Laughter.] "Copyright [laughter] copyright Ronnie Corbett, 1983"

Bruce Forsyth, last night. Isn't Ian Hislop a conservative? Jeremy Clarkson is only bearable as a comic. I know nothing about cars, but I watch Top Gear for the clowning. And so on.

But then, Nick would probably see this as having some kind of hidden left-wing agenda, because John Sullivan wrote Citizen Smith, he probably sees 'My Family' as bursting with Trotskyite subtexts because Robert Lindsay played one once and was sort of Derek Hatton in 'GBH'. Sorry about the ad.

Other gems (I do go on, don't I?):

When apparently serious people thought that Michael Moore was an honest thinker.

More honest and more thinking than you, old cock.

"One only found out he was Jewish at all in the course of making a television programme in which he was confronted on camera with who he really was. In the final frame of the film, he was disclosed weeping before a memorial in Auschwitz to dead ancestors who, until that moment, he had never known he'd had. ...

Nick quoting Howard Jacobson. This sounds awfully like Christopher Hitchens to me.

Now 'Jonathan Miller, Alexei Sayle, [and] Stephen Fry' have joined Nick Cohen's enemies list. Bloody hell.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"It is 1934 and I am Churchill"

I really don't want to raise false hopes of this blog coming out of cold storage, but you know how we always joke that the motto of Standpoint is "It is 1934 and I am Churchill"? Well, its editor has written a long piece on exactly that theme. Themes include:

* "The crime being prepared against Israel and the Jewish people in the name of the jihad", which is literally to be considered on the same scale as the Holocaust.

* "Today, we need to recall that resolve never to appease or compromise with those who mean to destroy us."

* "The threat of a nuclear attack from a theocratic regime in the name of Islam is more spectacular but no less insidious than the degradation of the human person in the name of medical science or human rights what the fuck?". (Emphasis and words "what the fuck?" added).

* "When we wonder why our budget deficits are now strangling our economies, or why our personal liberties have been circumscribed in so many ways that the individual feels impotent and crushed by the burden of the leviathan State, surely we can date the moment when we crossed the Rubicon to 1945"

* "Three score years and ten later, it falls to us to prevent the overthrow of those temples today. Once again it is the Atlantic alliance that defends these temples of freedom and honour against those who would tear them down, who dream of a global caliphate ruling over Rome, Athens and Jerusalem."

And much more. Ye gods.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paradoxes of self-reference

A novel describes a country as a cesspit of antisemitism, said country awards same novel top prize, thus proving that it isn't. If the novel is right then it wouldn't have received the prize; if the novel is wrong then it shouldn't have received the prize. But maybe the novel is actually set in a another possible world, resembling this one only in some respects? Its literary virtues, expressed in its depiction of this non-actual but possible world, more than merit the award. Or something. Whatever.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Decent Front?

Harry's Place can't leave well alone, can they? Via Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, I've come across a body calling itself Student Rights. (Its website is currently down, though it seemed OK when I looked at it earlier today. The error notice says "Please try back Monday ." Hello? Also, love the space before the period. PHP concatenation gone bad, there.)

There's an 'About' section, and I always read those (I'm waiting for some blogger to out himself as single, pimply, balding, drunk, angry etc; so far, no deal). Their aims as I recall, are fair enough: apart from the question why does this need a body at all? If a student organisation using university funds or premises is doing something offensive, isn't it the union's job to sort it out? Student Union officials are elected, and, if you have any faith in democracy, they seem like well-placed people to deal with such matters. And then there's the NUS, which I don't know how many universities are affiliated to these days. That seems likely to provide a sort of 'court of appeal.' (I haven't been a student for a long time, so have little idea how these things work.) Student Rights doesn't seem to have any connections with actual student bodies - but I can't check this, because the site is down.

What I do remember are the people on its board. Chair: Denis MacShane. Not a student, or a recent graduate, but a 60-year-old full time MP. Others, that bloke from Standpoint, Brian Brivati, I *think* Shiraz Maher. None of them connected with higher education at all. [Update: thanks to commenter CCK: Brivati is a professor at Kingston. I should have been clearer: none are students or recent students. I believe students are adults, and they have democratic systems. In short, I don't believe they need protecting by either professors or MPs.)

They seem worried about Muslims. Are there no students who support the EDL? There have been students who were pro-apartheid. (*Cough* Seaman Staines *Cough) Didn't Cambridge award a degree to Nick Griffin? *Sits back and awaits outrage at that*

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Prediction Thread

Since so many of you are still commenting, how about having a go at predicting Nick Cohen's Sunday effort? I think the Shadow Cabinet is a pretty safe bet (going by Twitter, there won't be a dinner party in the country that doesn't at least mention it).

I detect the unmistakable odour of 'eau-de-spin' here. Is it just me?

Also worth discussion: I'm starting to think that electing the Shadow Cabinet isn't a good idea. Specifically, I think voting for people for given positions makes sense; voting them onto a committee - like the NEC or the Supreme Court - also makes sense; but saying Candidate X would be a good cabinet minister depends very much on which department she is minister for.

To come back to the original subject, I also think Nick will venture strikes at Ed Balls and Charlie Whelan. I'm underwhelmed by the Shadow Cabinet. I suspect it shows greater concern on Ed Miliband's part for not allowing any of his cabinet the opportunity to build a power base than for pyrotechnical debating. But then, the Tory cabinet is pretty unimpressive too. Osbourne particularly so, positively embarrassing when you consider that he's been preceded by Howe, Lawson, and Clarke how could at least have argued their ways out of a wet paper bag. Oh, and don't call him Gideon. Doing so is the mark of a wanker.