Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Friday, December 28, 2007


I see my Tom Wolfe post below has generated into a game of "spot the ginger". Look guys, this is not acceptable. You can't just go around calling people "Scots Irish" just because they're a bit ginger and somewhat belligerent. Only a small number of people can correctly be referred to as a "Linkhorn" or "hillbilly". That's because it's an Appalachian Controllee.

ah fuck off, I thought it was funny.


0 comments this item posted by the management 12/28/2007 04:13:00 AM

Sunday, December 23, 2007

God F**k Ye Merry Gentleman

Seasons' greetings to my loyal readers. This is probably the last post of the year, unless I am genuinely bored over the New Year's period and/or Melanie Phillips declares war on the Moon or something. I'll be on my way to the funeral of a beloved uncle. I therefore take as the text of my Christmas sermon George Black's last words to his son Conrad (later Lord Crossharbour):

"I've lost the will to live. Life is hell. Most people are bastards. And everything is bullshit"

truly a lesson to us all. (This was the basis for one of the tag-lines I used for D^2D a while ago "Life is unbearable, death is inevitable and the rate of inheritance tax is 40% - why bother?").

Anyway, happy holidays, whether you celebrate Christmas, Yül, Hannukah, Eid, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Samhain, Tet or any other more recent and more obviously fictional wintry piss-up. Personally, the only holiday officially recognised by D-Squared Digest is 1 January, which is the only day of the year on which all stock exchanges in the world are closed (Christmas Quiz question, possibly trick; name a European country in which the stock exchange is open on December 25?). Look after yourselves.
9 comments this item posted by the management 12/23/2007 03:04:00 PM

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More from Napoleon's Golden Bridge

By the way, the ongoing meltdown of the BNP, being reported on by Chris, is a wonderful example of how blogs are great things. Blogs are rather like sodium pentathol or Stella Artois in their effect on social inhibitions, so when you add them to a scene which is largely composed of people with poor impulse control at the best of times, then you are basically lighting the blue touch paper. I wish I'd thought about this, but I should have made the prediction that the mainstream adoption of blogging would more or less spell the end of extreme right and left wing politics in the UK. Blogs generate flamewars - that's what they do, it's all they do. So it was ensured by the governing power law that sooner or later, the BNP-bloggers and the SWP-RESPECT bloggers would end up throwing up a rilly rilly big flamewar.

Now when a flame war starts up, the only thing that will stop it is one or both participants deciding to stop being so silly and swallow their pride. Therefore it's a pretty easy prediction to make that a flame-war among a bunch of people self-selected for fragile egos and stubbornness, is going to be very difficult to end and is going to be very destructive indeed in the meantime. Bang bang.

Meanwhile, we're trying to block and censor jihadi forums and blogs in order to stop the internet from being used as a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. How mad is that? Of course the jihadi sites are going to recruit bored British teenagers into extremist Islamism. Specifically, they're going to recruit the Walter Mittys, halfwits and loose cannons that will end up destroying their movement. I really don't think it's a good idea to put any obstacles in the way of Hizb ut Tahrir's drive to recruit the Mark Colletts of the future.

Personally, as discussed here and in a few past posts on the subject, I'm broadly in favour of the existence of the BNP as an at least moderately functional organisation, perhaps even with some national representation. The basic reason for this is that it would discourage the mainstream parties from playing silly fucking games like this in a vague half-witted attempt to try and shore up a few "white working class" votes that aren't worth chasing.
17 comments this item posted by the management 12/20/2007 06:33:00 AM
Is Tom Wolfe the American Martin Amis?

I've hated Wolfe for a long time. Basically, starting half way through Bonfire of the Vanities, when I noticed that a) every single time a female character is introduced, we have to sit through a frankly creepy half-page description of her breasts[1], and b) that Wolfe seemed to believe that the ethnic nickname of the Irish in New York was "Harps", and that he kept on breaking off his story for some really silly jock-sniffing eulogies to the character, strength and downright manliness of anyone with Irish ancestry[2]. I thought it was a really bad book (the film was much better[4]). But anyway, every other fucker apparently liked it (though I have to say, very few actual traders, who usually love anything set in their milieu, even the appalling Ben Affleck vehicle "Boiler Room". And on the basis of that plus the "New Journalism", Wolfe has been taken seriously for a long time.

No more, I think. He's written the following blurb for a book which pupports to prove that modern American liberals are actually fascists (in other words, for a complete waste of time and paper - I have no more interest in how the author tries to make his case than in discussing the ins and outs of geocentrism. Since modern American liberals visibly aren't fascists, "engaging with the arguments" in this book is purely for the sort of people who like playing "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" type games).

"In the greatest hoax of modern history, Russia's ruling "socialist workers party," the Communists, established themselves as the polar opposites of their two socialist clones, the National Socialist German Workers Party (quicknamed "the Nazis") and Italy's Marxist-inspired Fascisti, by branding both as "the fascists." Jonah Goldberg is the first historian to detail the havoc this spin of all spins has played upon Western thought for the past 75 years, very much including the present moment. Love it or loathe it, "Liberal Fascism" is a book of intellectual history you won't be able to put down—-in either sense of the term."

Hahahaha. Credibility gone.

I wish the greatest of commercial success on "Liberal Fascism". If it really takes off it will be like an infestation of herpes in the credibility of all sorts of leading right-wing commentators. The short term displeasure at seeing its author enriched is surely as nothing to the lip-smacking prospect, in four or five years' time, of being able to dismiss half the commentariat with an airy wave of the hand and a cheerful "yes, but didn't he write that embarrassing praise for 'Liberal Fascism'".

Napoleon said that when you saw your enemy making a mistake, you must never interrupt him. I wouldn't want to deprive my mates at Sadly No! of their fun, but I would really caution against being too hard on this book.

[1] I am told that this dirty-old-man tendency reached apotheosis in I am Charlotte Simmons, which I did not read because it did not get good reviews.

[2] An irritating Wolfe trope foreshadowed in "The Tangerine-Flake Baby" and the New journalism, most particularly the stock-car racing pieces, which in retrospect are chock full of bizarre racial biology theories about the "Scots Irish[3]" heritage of people in the Appalachians, and therefore of "Southern Culture" more generally.

[3] The "Scots Irish", beloved of Wolfe, PJ O'Rourke, etc, are the same people as the Ulster Protestants btw. Not a bad bunch intrinsically and all that, but I mean really, me neither.

[4] Although I have to say that when a cinematographer of the calibre of Brian de Palma casts a black actor with a wide nose, then takes a wide-angle lens and films that actor in a close-up from a position just below his face, he knows exactly what he's fucking doing and I regard it as the visual equivalent of the worst racial epithets.
28 comments this item posted by the management 12/20/2007 04:12:00 AM

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"The Gold Standard" of education

Melanie Phillips (who really does raise the bar every single day in terms of terribleness in blogging) trots out one of the most annoying cliches in British journalism - the characterisation of the A-Level exam as "the gold standard" of the British educational system.

The Gold Standard is widely recognised to have been a bad monetary policy system. Specifically, it was abandoned fifty years ago because it was too inflexible and could not cope with a changing economy, and today it is only advocated by isolated cranks. Is this really the analogy that Melanie Phillips et al want to make? Orwell noted that crap metaphors like this are a sure sign of someone who does not care what they're writing about.

In fact, as Matthew Turner proved, the A-Level has seen grade inflation of roughly 2% per annum over the last thirty years, which seems to me to be a perfectly sensible standard, allowing for improving productivity in the education sector and the Flynn effect.

Update: At what point does it become acceptable to call someone a Kahanist? Surely this must be getting close.
Update Note cunning use of "at what point does it become acceptable?" in order to "adumbrate" something which it might be libellous to "say". Obviously one can't judge the entirety of someone's views based on one blog post. What I specifically wanted to draw attention to were the twin views that a) "Israel" is an entity larger than the State of Israel and b) "Israel" so defined is a homeland "of the Jews alone" (a phrase which MP uses twice, but which does not appear at all in the linked document). Greater Israelism was certainly part of the platform that got the Kach party banned, and "of the Jews alone" is at the very least a careless expression in implying an ethnic criterion for Israeli citizenship. I don't think this is harmless stuff at all and am getting increasingly surprised that the Spectator is so keen to publish it.
17 comments this item posted by the management 12/19/2007 02:30:00 AM

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More from the European Institute for Pretending to Be Shocked and Appalled

Oliver Kamm, the noted music critic and obituarist, writes:

But it's worth paying attention to Finkelstein's arguments for another reason. In an interview published this week, Finkelstein invokes an extraordinary analogy to his being denied tenure:
Afterward, Finkelstein says, he lost seventeen pounds. "People saw me wasting away," he says. A student group held a hunger strike; Chomsky and others defended him. One of his colleagues made him a mix CD with tracks like "I Will Survive" and "What's Goin' On?" "I'm an old fan of the Negro spirituals," Finkelstein says. "I was going around singing to myself, 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there?' That’s how I felt. I was being crucified by the end."

There isn't much ambiguity there. Critics of Finkelstein's tendentious writings on the Holocaust "industry" and the Israel-Palestine conflict are, in his view, Christ-killers.

As I said in my last post on this strange journalistic cottage industry, Kamm's an intelligent man. What does he think he has to gain with this transparent bollocks?


13 comments this item posted by the management 12/13/2007 04:38:00 AM

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On such small things do lives turn

Poor old Samina Malik, convicted under the new "information potentially useful to terrorists laws" for having a whole load of volumes of the Anarchist's Halal Cookbook and writing, among other things:

"The desire within me increases everyday to go for martyrdom. The need to go increases by the second".

so near and yet she fucked it up. Our greatest living novelist called Martin Amis shows what she should have said:

"The desire within me - don't you have it too? - increases everyday to go for martyrdom. The need to go increases by the second".

Much nicer. See folks, that's the difference between "saying" something and "adumbrating" it, and it's basically the difference between keeping your honorary job as a Professor at Manchester University and spending ten months on remand.

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3 comments this item posted by the management 12/06/2007 10:26:00 AM

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sauce for the anti-Semitic goose is sauce for the Islamophobic gander, and they're neither of them particularly nice sauces

Me elsewhere ... Martin Bright is clearly correct that the Daily Telegraph has less than fuck-all evidence to connect Zvi Heifetz and the Israeli Embassy with David Abrahams' donations to the Labour Party, but if he's keen on that (and particularly if he's going to assert that this is an anti-Semitic theory based on Abrahams being Jewish, rather than a normal conspiracy theory based on Abrahams being an associate of Heifetz[1]), then he shouldn't try to push exactly the same sort of theories himself, trying to link Labour to Bashar Assad among others, on the basis of exactly the same sort of weak friends-of-friends connection.

This has been yet another public service announcement from the Campaign For Real Conspiracy Theories.

[1] Heifetz is a fave rave of the conspiracy crowd. He used to work for Vladimir Gussinsky (a Russian oligarch now living in Israel) and certainly has fronted for deals in the past - carrying the bag for one of Gussinsky's investments was what landed him in front of the Israeli cops in a money-laundering investigation. (By the way, nearly every news report gets this wrong - the investigation was into breaches of money-laundering reporting requirements, which is a serious offence but not the same thing as laundering itself, although they do correctly report that Heifetz and Gusinsky were both cleared). His daughter did time for drug smuggling in Peru, which also lights up the conspiracy bunch, but there is surprisingly little proper evidence connecting Heifetz with yer-actual parapolitics. In any case, it is by no means clear to me that Abrahams and Heifetz were particularly close - it is a bit interesting that Labour Friends of Israel had so damned many members who ended up as the focus of funding scandals of one sort or another, but this probably just reflects the fact that it was a useful club to belong to for ambitious Labour Party hacks rather than anything else.
1 comments this item posted by the management 12/05/2007 05:32:00 AM

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Moving Finger Wags, and having Wagged

The boys at Harry's Place, visibly shocked and dismayed at being deprived of their "OMG CHAVEZ IZ A DICTATORS!" story, give us all the benefit of the deep knowledge of the region and sound political analysis that had them bringing up Mugabe analogies in defence of the rights of the Vestey family against a land reform package that the Vesteys had actually agreed to ... a masterclass of the concern-troll's art, just change "Chavez" to "Israel" and it will do you fine my anti-Zionist friends ...

I've never believed Chavez is uniquely evil among world leaders, or even among the very worst. I focus on him because of his inexplicably high standing among the "anti-imperialist" Left. They need to be reminded exactly whom they're supporting

yes, yes, that's us certainly told, the wise teacher has spoken. Wait, there's more ...

I think Chavez is more of a fool than a monster. Perhaps he is not as bad as some of his strongest critics hold. Nevertheless, I find the adulation heaped upon this rather comic man - more of a Peron than an Allende - in some parts of the Left difficult to understand.

yes, of course, the constant litany of citations to outright fascists and the partisans of Carlos Andres Perez were only ever there because they cared so much, they didn't want the Trots to get hurt, you see.

Which only leaves one question in my mind ...

If you have to be a bit of an idiot to uncritically support Chavez (and you do), then really, how much of a total twat do you have to be to uncritically swallow every single press release and blog post put out by anyone connected to the antichavista opposition, for five years? Just asking, guys. Here's hoping that this marks the end of Decent punditry in the LatAm sphere.

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24 comments this item posted by the management 12/03/2007 01:24:00 PM

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