April 11, 2019
… seems like a good time to repost this long read from Andrew O’Hagan on what it’s like ghostwriting for Julian Assange. ‘ I am sure this is what happens in many of his scrapes: he runs on a high-octane belief in his own rectitude and wisdom, only to find later that other people had their own views – of what is sound journalism or agreeable sex – and the idea that he might be complicit in his own mess baffles him. Fact is, he was not in control of himself and most of what his former colleagues said about him just might be true. He is thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic, and he thinks he owns the material he conduits. It may turn out that Julian is not Daniel Ellsberg or John Wilkes, but Charles Foster Kane, abusive and monstrous in his pursuit of the truth that interests him, and a man who, it turns out, was motivated all the while not by high principles but by a deep sentimental wound. Perhaps we won’t know until the final frames of the movie.’
April 2, 2019
[brxit] How the UK lost the Brexit battle
… A longread on why Brexit is failing. ‘For many around May, that a crash would come had been obvious for months. As far back as July 2018, senior figures inside No. 10 Downing Street had warned that her deal, as it was shaping up, was unsustainable. There was just no way a majority in parliament could be assembled for the Brexit the EU was offering. In truth, the trains had been set in motion far earlier — the collision was the culmination of decisions taken by both sides within the hours, weeks and months that followed the referendum. The EU’s determination not to cut London a special deal; Cameron’s decision to walk away; May’s sweeping promise not to raise a border in Ireland, while at the same time drawing incompatible red lines — something had to give, and it would not be Brussels.’
March 18, 2019
[brexit] The simple guide to Brexit
… Diamond Geezer’s Brexit outlines. ‘Nationwide chaos’
March 14, 2019
[brexit] Theresa May planned to defeat herself, then decided not to defeat herself by defeating herself, then lost. To herself
… Tom Peck’s Political Sketch of what happened last night in Parliment.
Theresa May has spent the last three years saying “no deal is better than a bad deal”. She’s allocated £4bn of public money to preparing for no deal. And then, on Wednesday evening, she was expected to walk through the division lobbies and vote to rule out no deal.
Mad, obviously. Stark raving mad. But it’s at least within the realm of madness that we’re used to. But what happened was a madness to echo down the ages. Not so much another order of magnitude as another dimension.
The House of Commons was a Benny Hill chase on acid, running through a Salvador Dali painting in a spaceship on its way to infinity.
It was a kind of death-defying, window-shattering, epoch-shaping, never-to-be-surpassed lunacy.
The details are extravagantly complex, and if you can’t face them all, the key bit to remember is that Theresa May planned to defeat herself, then decided not to defeat herself by defeating herself, then lost. To herself.
January 24, 2019
[politics] Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier
… Profiling Christopher Steele and the Trump Dossier. ‘Steele, on that January night, was stunned to learn that U.S. politicians were calling him a criminal. He told Christopher Burrows, with whom he co-founded Orbis, that the sensation was “a feeling like vertigo.” Burrows, in his first public interview on the dossier controversy, recalled Steele telling him, “You have this thudding headache—you can’t think straight, you have no appetite, you feel ill.” Steele compared it to the disorientation that he had felt in 2009, when his first wife, Laura, had died, after a long illness, leaving him to care for their three young children.’
December 10, 2018
[curtis] The antidote to civilisational collapse
… Another long, interesting interview with Adam Curtis. ‘The problem I have with a lot of investigative journalism, is that they always say: “There should be more investigative journalism” and I think, “When you tell me that a lot of rich people aren’t paying tax, I’m shocked but I’m not surprised because I know that. I don’t want to read another article that tells me that”. What I want is an article that tells me why, when I’m told that, nothing happens and nothing changes. And no one has ever explained that to me. I think it has something to do with this technocratic world because it doesn’t have the capacity to respond to that kind of thing. It has the capacity to manage us very well. It’s benign but it doesn’t have the capacity to challenge the rich and the powerful within that system, who use it badly for their own purposes. That’s the downside and we’re beginning to get fed up with it. And that’s allowed those on the margins of society to come in and start kicking, and we have no idea what to do about them.’
November 28, 2018
[books] Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life Digested
… a digested read from John Grace
. ‘9. Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t – Just shut up, quit moaning and listen to me. I know things you don’t. So don’t expect me to listen to you. That’s not the way things work. I’m here to make you feel Better about Yourself by telling you things you already know in a way that makes you feel clever.’
November 12, 2018
[politics] How to explain Jacob Rees-Mogg?
… An attempt at understanding Jacob Rees-Mogg – reminds me a little of Adam Curtis. ‘Rees-Mogg’s journey also helps explain his increasingly powerful but still quite opaque son, Jacob: not just as a supporter of Brexit, but as an unsentimental and nimble “sovereign individual” of exactly the type his father envisaged. Simultaneously, Rees-Mogg Jr has managed to become a successful player in the modern, borderless financial industries, and a nationalist politician with an instantly recognisable retro image. He has seduced some Labour MPs with his old-fashioned manners; and he has met privately in a Mayfair hotel with the would-be guru of the international far right, Steve Bannon. This lack of squeamishness about how the conservative establishment holds on to political and economic power has been passed down the Rees-Mogg generations.’
November 2, 2018
[trump] The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique
… Donald Trump and Nihilism … ‘A nihilist is someone who dedicates himself to not giving a shit, who thinks all meanings are shit, and who yearns with all his heart for the “aesthetic pleasure” of seeing the shit hit the fan. Arguing with a nihilist is like intimidating a suicide bomber: The usual threats and enticement have no effect. I suspect that is part of the appeal for both: the facile transcendence of placing oneself beyond all powers of persuasion. A nihilist is above you and your persnickety arguments in the same way that Trump fancies himself above the law.’
October 18, 2018
[trump] The Original Donald Trump
… Profile of Roy Cohn
and his influence on Donald Trump. ‘Trump practiced bigotry on a grand scale, was a world-class liar, and ripped off customers, investors, and the city itself. Yet for many among New York’s upper register, there was no horror he could commit that would merit his excommunication. As with Cohn before him, the more outrageously and reprehensibly Trump behaved, the more the top rungs of society were titillated by him. They could cop out of any moral judgments or actions by rationalizing him as an entertaining con man: a cheesy, cynical, dumbed-down Gatsby who fit the city’s tacky 1980s Gilded Age much as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s more romantic prototype had the soigné Jazz Age of the 1920s. And so most of those who might have stopped Trump gawked like the rest of us as he scrambled up the city’s ladder, grabbing anything that wasn’t nailed down.’
October 17, 2018
[brexit] Diamond Geezer’s 100 Brexits
… ‘8) The one with a permanent customs union but called something different.’
September 7, 2018
[politics] BREAKING: Trump Is Under Spiritual Attack From Luciferian ‘Advanced Beings’ Who Control The World
“These unprecedented attacks on Donald Trump are part of the greatest spiritual battle in the history of mankind.”
“The physical battles that we see in our world and nation right now are a direct manifestation of the spiritual battles going on in the invisible realm,” McGuire added. “There are people very high up in what is called the globalist occult or globalist Luciferian rulership system, and this rulership system consists of what used to be called the Pharaoh-God Kings, it’s what Aldous Huxley called ‘The Scientific Dictatorship,’ and these are advanced beings who know how to tap into supernatural multidimensional power and integrate it with science, technology, and economics.”
September 6, 2018
[cthulhu] I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult
… An Op-Ed from the “trembling corridors of the West Wing”. ‘The root of this problem, we believe, is in Nyarlathotep’s very essence. It is a being incapable of viewing Its servants as anything other than playground toys or troublesome fleas. Many may argue that we should have known this to be the case for the Stalker Among the Stars. And that might well prove true, to a point. We summoned the God of a Thousand Forms assuming the weight of responsibility would rein It in slightly, remind It to adhere to the Necronomicon’s nightmare prophesies first and foremost. If it was foolish to assume the Outer God would care so little about this dimension that it wouldn’t even acknowledge the Tome’s existence, well, call us fools. We still believe utter ruin can be brought to the land through the proper rituals and unhallowed traditions, not by this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-tentacles kind of governing.’
July 30, 2018
[brexit] That sinking feeling
… Charlie Stross on Brexit. ‘A Hard Brexit, on its own, would be a very dubious but probably long-term survivable scenario, with the UK economy taking a hit not much worse than the 10% downsizing Margaret Thatcher inflicted on it in 1979-80. But a hard Brexit, coinciding with the worst harvest failures in decades, ongoing climate destabilization, a fisheries collapse, and a global trade war being started by the Tangerine Shitgibbon in the White House is … well, I’m not optimistic.’
July 27, 2018
[brexit] From anxiety to Zuckerberg: an A-Z of Brexit
… ‘Hard Brexit – As the Pet Shop Boys presciently asked: which do you choose, the hard or soft option? The metaphor of a “hard Brexit” appealed to soft-fleshed types who dream of being manly and thrusting, while a “soft Brexit” still sounds altogether too submissive. Having newly discovered a concern for hygiene, Tory rebels now say they want a “clean Brexit”, not the filthy, presumably French kind.’
July 11, 2018
[politics] What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?
… Long, plausible scenario about Trump’s collusion with Russia. ‘Then there is Trump himself. While the president’s character has never been exactly deemed above reproach, some doubts have lingered about whether he would really hire prostitutes to defile a bed merely because Obama had slept there and whether a tape of such a thing would truly shame him. These questions have been answered in the affirmative. Trump’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and other women proves that he holds his sexual privacy dear. And the obsessive hatred of Obama that grew out of Trump’s humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner has blossomed into a perverse and often self-destructive mania. People both inside and outside the administration report that Trump will ultimately pick whatever option he believes is the negation of Obama’s legacy.’
June 20, 2018
[wiki] Galloway’s war of words with a mystery Wikipedia editor
… A look at George Galloway’s feud with a supposedly bias pseudonymous Wikipedia editor… ‘He’s recently caught the attention of bloggers and has been the subject of stories in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Russian state-owned outlets Sputnik and RT. There have been allegations on social media – all unproven – that he’s a government agent, employed by rich and powerful media interests, or is a mainstream journalist with an obsessive hobby.’
March 29, 2018
[religion] Easter egg truthers: the annual religious row over chocolate
… an overview of the War on Easter from Martin Belam … ‘Chocolate is halal by default because it does not contain meat products or anything haram. Cadbury’s social media team is kept busy at Easter repeatedly explaining that: “In UK our chocolate is suitable for vegetarians & those following a Muslim diet, however they’re not Halal certified. The only animal related products we use in UK are milk & eggs.” This year, Sainsbury’s bore the brunt of the annual backlash. The retailer’s social media team has been forced to repeatedly correct a tweet that claimed all their Easter eggs were specifically “halal-certified”, rather than simply suitable for a halal diet.’
March 12, 2018
[brexit] What are they after?: How Could the Tories?
… What do the Brexiteer Tories Want From Brexit?… ‘For all his idiosyncrasies, Johnson typifies something about contemporary conservatism, which might best be understood biographically. The cultural forces shaping the new conservatism resolve in a particular stereotype: men born between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, with some constellation of expat backgrounds, famous fathers and first careers in the media. All four things apply to Johnson, but a Venn diagram of these various characteristics would also include Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The result of these disparate characteristics is a comfortable familiarity with the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy.’
February 27, 2018
[politics] Paul Manafort couldn’t convert PDFs to Word documents
… Rule of thumb: Sucessfully executing a criminal conspiracy requires robust IT skills. ‘So here’s the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller’s investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company’s income, but he couldn’t figure out how to edit the PDF. He therefore had Gates turn it into a Microsoft Word document for him, which led the two to bounce the documents back-and-forth over email. As attorney and blogger Susan Simpson notes on Twitter, Manafort’s inability to complete a basic task on his own seems to have effectively “created an incriminating paper trail.”’
February 19, 2018
[politics] Jacob Rees-Mogg shows just how much the British love a caricature
… The New Statesman attempts to understand Jacob Rees-Mogg. ‘There is a strange internal logic about the rise of Rees-Mogg, connected to both Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn’s survival and ideological confidence, mad as it sounds, brings new vitality to the Conservative extreme: Labour are doing it, perhaps we should, too. No wonder Rees-Mogg has carefully praised Corbyn’s “integrity”. As Stephen Bush recently explored in these pages, Rees-Mogg is being positioned as the appropriate and symmetrical cure to the Corbyn problem.’
January 11, 2018
[politics] What Putin Really Wants
… Some interesting analysis of Vladimir Putin’s motivations and objectives.
A forgery, a couple of groups of hackers, and a drip of well-timed leaks were all it took to throw American politics into chaos. Whether and to what extent the Trump campaign was complicit in the Russian efforts is the subject of active inquiries today. Regardless, Putin pulled off a spectacular geopolitical heist on a shoestring budget—about $200 million, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. This point is lost on many Americans: The subversion of the election was as much a product of improvisation and entropy as it was of long-range vision. What makes Putin effective, what makes him dangerous, is not strategic brilliance but a tactical flexibility and adaptability—a willingness to experiment, to disrupt, and to take big risks.
“They do plan,” said a senior Obama-administration official. “They’re not stupid at all. But the idea that they have this all perfectly planned and that Putin is an amazing chess player—that’s not quite it. He knows where he wants to end up, he plans the first few moves, and then he figures out the rest later. People ask if he plays chess or checkers. It’s neither: He plays blackjack. He has a higher acceptance of risk. Think about it. The election interference—that was pretty risky, what he did. If Hillary Clinton had won, there would’ve been hell to pay.”
December 24, 2017
[tv] The 1978 Radio Times: Christmas TV, before Thatcherism ruined it
… a look back at Christmas TV in the late Seventies … ‘In 1978 we had “special guests”, “stars” and “presenters” but I could find only one mention of the word “celebrity” in the listings, used in relation to David Soul, in a programme on 29 December. “David Soul epitomises the star of today. He is the new-style Hollywood celebrity,” we were informed. We quickly got back down to earth, though: the programme was followed by Citizen Smith, the sitcom starring Robert Lindsay as Wolfie Smith, leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front.’
December 22, 2017
[xmas] The Rees-Mogg Christmas Special
… Jacob Rees-Mogg on Christmas. ‘One thinks often of that little child – born so very long ago in a simple manger in Bethlehem and his loving parents. Not for them the hideous EU enslavements of ‘compulsory inoculations’ or ‘maternity leave.’ Certainly they had to contend with the ‘massacre of the innocents’ but that was as nothing when compared to the enforced ‘EU legislation’ that has brought despotic workers’ rights or ‘the freedom to travel’ to millions of enslaved Britons. As we look back on that first Christmas Day – let us remember the true Conservative legacy of Christ’s Life – that if one is born in a stable, one might still climb to the very top – but only if one is of the ‘right stock.’ Jesus was the ‘son of God’ and not just any old riff-raff.’
December 12, 2017
[tv] Steve Coogan wrestled with including Brexit in Alan Partridge’s return
… Today in Alan Partridge news… ‘It was only after some soul-searching that the comedian opted to include the decision to leave the EU in his alter ego’s return to the BBC. “The world has coalesced into a situation that is sympathetic to Alan, which for me is quite depressing,” Coogan told the Radio Times.’
December 8, 2017
[people] The unlikely life of Norris McWhirter, kids’ TV star and the original Brexiter
… a look at the fascinating life of the co-creator of the Guinness Book of Records and extreme-right winger …
If you wanted to be unstoppably hectored by someone in tie and blazer about how the Edward Heath government had committed treason by taking us into the Common Market in 1972 and then find out the the name of the acrobat who performed a quadruple back-somersault on to a chair at the New York Hippodrome in 1915, and the artiste who caught him, Norris McWhirter was your man.
And you can add to that the fact that Norris, along with his twin brother Ross, created the Guinness Book of Records, which had sold more than 75m copies in 37 languages by the time his involvement ended in 1996.
We will never see his like again, not because the world doesn’t teem with libertarian ideologues, nor with grown men who know too much about the minutiae of stuff; but because combining these two disciplines successfully in public seems beyond our wit in 2017.
December 7, 2017
[politics] No more ‘my dog ate it’ excuses. Where are the Brexit impact reports?
… a political sketch of David Davies from John Crace. ‘David Davis knew he had a choice to make. Either to be in contempt of parliament for deliberately failing to provide full disclosure on his department’s Brexit impact assessments. Or to own up to incompetence and laziness. No contest. Incompetence and laziness won hands down. For one thing, they had the virtue of truth. For another, he was just too lazy and incompetent to do anything else.’
November 20, 2017
[politics] Nixon, Trump, and How a Presidency Ends
… An interesting analysis of why Richard Nixon’s Presidency collapsed and comparisons with Trump. ‘Nixon was genuinely tough, a self-made man who’d climbed out of what may have been the most Dickensian childhood of any American president. He’d served as a Navy officer in the Pacific theater during World War II. He entered the White House at a younger age than Trump — 56, not 70 — hardened by decades of political combat as a savage knife-fighter during the McCarthy witch hunts and the explosive American divisions of the 1960s. Nixon actually knew American history, read books, and, unencumbered by ADD, played the long game in life (his courtship of his wife, Pat) as well as in politics. He was a lawyer who repeatedly (and presciently) advised his staff that the cover-up, not the crime, posed the greater legal threat, a lesson he had learned during his star-making turn on the House Un-American Activities Committee; his prey, the State Department official Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, not for being a Soviet spy. Nixon was also a far more strategic liar than Trump, crafting sanctimonious and legalistic falsehoods to paper over wrongdoing rather than spewing self-incriminating lies indiscriminately about everything.’
November 13, 2017
[politics]What Facebook Did to American Democracy
… Alexis Madrigal on Facebook’s impact on the 2016 US election.
A few days before the election Silverman and fellow BuzzFeed contributor Lawrence Alexander traced 100 pro–Donald Trump sites to a town of 45,000 in Macedonia. Some teens there realized they could make money off the election, and just like that, became a node in the information network that helped Trump beat Clinton.
Whatever weird thing you imagine might happen, something weirder probably did happen. Reporters tried to keep up, but it was too strange. As Max Read put it in New York Magazine, Facebook is “like a four-dimensional object, we catch slices of it when it passes through the three-dimensional world we recognize.” No one can quite wrap their heads around what this thing has become, or all the things this thing has become.
“Not even President-Pope-Viceroy Zuckerberg himself seemed prepared for the role Facebook has played in global politics this past year,” Read wrote.
And we haven’t even gotten to the Russians.
September 20, 2017
[people] Why Steve Bannon Wears So Many Shirts
… ‘He’s a layering extremist, if you will, adhering to a disheveled uniform of shirts from Brooks Brothers and Orvis, a brand that makes clothes for fly fishing and other outdoor sports (he does not fly fish). He keeps them both folded and hanging in his closet at the Breitbart headquarters, a townhouse in D.C. known as the “Breitbart Embassy,” as well as in other unspecified closets in unspecified locations. “They’re not all long sleeve,” his spokesperson explained. “There’s some polos that are short sleeve.” They added that when wearing a suit in the White House, perhaps he only wore two shirts beneath his blazer — an undershirt and then a button-down — but wasn’t sure.’
September 1, 2017
[mogg] Dennis the Menace takes Jacob Rees-Mogg’s dinner money
… ‘Mogg, whose mother gave him a ten-shilling note to purchase tuck and snacks at big Parliament this morning, was accosted by the notorious bully on the way and forced to hand over the money after being threatened with having his ankles viciously bitten by Gnasher. Mogg only recovered after being allowed to spend the remainder of the morning picking daisies in Parliament Square by Nurse instead of going to votes like the rest of class. Jacob and his cohorts Algernon Perkins and Dudley Nightshirt are understood to be front-runners to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, and being relieved of his dinner money by an anarchic prepubescent may damage his claims to economic credibility.’
August 24, 2017
[trump] The President of Blank Sucking Nullity
… more Trump analysis … ‘Trump will never get better as a president or a person: it will always and only be about him. History matters only insofar as it brought him to this moment; the roaring and endless present in which he lives matters because it is where he is now; the future is the place in which he will do it all again. Trump’s world ends with him, and a discourse or a politics that is locked into scrutinizing or obsessively #resisting or otherwise chasing him will invariably end up as arid and abstracted and curdled as he is.’
August 11, 2017
[war] Winners and Losers of the Recent Nuclear Holocaust
… ‘Sure, the verdict may not be in just yet. But when the radioactive dust settles, we could be looking at a game-changing moment for a young presidency…’
August 10, 2017
[funny] “I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives…”
August 9, 2017
[moore] Alan Moore Interviewed by Greg Wilson & Kermit Leveridge
… a wide-ranging discussion on counterculture … ‘Back in 1976, something like that, I was down visiting my late friend and mentor Steve Moore on the top of Shooter’s Hill and Steve, who was much more connected with the London fantasy and comics scene than I was, he’d got this new trilogy of books that he’d come across that I might be interested in, which was ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’ by Wilson and Shea. I devoured them and I was absolutely blown away; I thought, “This is great!” All of these frankly ridiculous, paranoid conspiracy stories that are so popular amongst the right and the left wing – that it’s making it all, instead of being a debilitating illness, which is the way people like David Icke have tended to make this field of inquiry – they made it into this brilliant intellectual game and made it really enlightening. It was almost like an Anarchist primer – an Occult/Anarchist primer!’
July 27, 2017
[trump] Steve Bannon Is Back in Trump’s Good Graces
… More on the rise, fall and rise again of Steve Bannon
… ‘Bannon became a vital figure in Trump’s orbit during the early days of his political rise. The two met late in 2010, when David Bossie, the veteran conservative activist, brought Bannon along on a trip to Trump Tower to offer advice about how Trump might prepare for a presidential run. Like Trump, Bannon was a businessman and born deal-maker. With experience on Wall Street and in Hollywood, he was nothing if not high energy, a mile-a-minute talker with a volcanic temper who rarely slept and possessed a media metabolism to rival Trump’s own. And Bannon, too, had a healthy self-regard. On his office wall hung an oil painting of Bannon dressed as Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries, done in the style of Jacques-Louis David’s famous neoclassical painting — a gift from Nigel Farage.’
July 26, 2017
[moore] “I did it thirty-five minutes ago.”
July 19, 2017
[politics] Dominic Cummings: the ‘career psychopath’ who thinks David Davis is ‘as thick as mince’
… Pass Notes on Dominic Cummings
… ‘Appearance: A hard-boiled egg with the haunted eyes of a man who has seen Michael Gove without his mask.’
June 13, 2017
[brexit] Britain: The End of a Fantasy
… some strong analysis on Brexit and the current mess the United Kingdon is in …
Theresa May is a classic phony Brexiter. She didn’t support it in last year’s referendum and there is no reason to think that, in private, she has ever changed her mind. But she saw that the path to power led toward the cliff edge, from which Britain will take its leap into an unknown future entirely outside the European Union. Her strategy was one of appeasement—of the nationalist zealots in her own party, of the voters who had backed the hard-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), and of the hysterically jingoistic Tory press, especially The Daily Mail.
The actual result of the referendum last year was narrow and ambiguous. Fifty-two percent of voters backed Brexit but we know that many of them did so because they were reassured by Boris Johnson’s promise that, when it came to Europe, Britain could “have its cake and eat it.” It could both leave the EU and continue to enjoy all the benefits of membership. Britons could still trade freely with the EU and would be free to live, work, and study in any EU country just as before. This is, of course, a childish fantasy, and it is unlikely that Johnson himself really believed a word of it. It was just part of the game, a smart line that might win a debate at the Oxford Union.
But what do you do when your crowd-pleasing applause lines have to become public policy? The twenty-seven remaining member states of the EU have to try to extract a rational outcome from an essentially irrational process. They have to ask the simple question: What do you Brits actually want?
May 30, 2017
[politics] 60 things the Conservative Party manifesto (genuinely) promises
… interesting summary from Diamond Geezer
… ‘The government’s agenda will not be allowed to drift to the right.’
May 19, 2017
[politics] Conservative election manifesto actually the Necronomicon
… Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! … ‘An eldritch tome of unholy secrets written by an insane medieval prophet has been launched to sweep the Conservatives into government this morning. The grimoire, attractively bound in a bright blue leather of unknown provenance, was launched at a press conference by the Prime Minister and several capering imps.’
May 18, 2017
[curtis] Adam Curtis on the Dangers of Self-Expression
… Curtis discusses a variety of subjects … ‘I sometimes wonder whether conspiracy theories are an attempt to re-enchant the world in a distorted way. It’s like religion knocking on the door and trying to come back in a strange and distorted form. A sense of mystery beyond our own understanding of the world. If you ever talk to conspiracy theorists, that’s the sense you get from them. A sort of almost romantic sense of awe that there is this dark mysterious thing that a rational thing could never penetrate. That’s sort of religious. Maybe what’s trying to get back into our world is enchantment, and the only way it can come back in is in these strange distorted ways. The downfall of capitalism is that it’s become appropriated by rational technocratic disenchantment. It’s become an iron cage. It’s trapped us. Some new form of enchanted myth is going to have to come back in.’
May 16, 2017
[press] Is the editor of the Daily Mail the most dangerous man in Britain?
… The Guardian on on Paul Dacre
and Brexit… ‘His own success at the Mail has bought him schooling for his two sons at Eton, membership of the Garrick, a chauffeur, a house in the country, flat in town and a shooting estate in Scotland (generously subsidised by the EU). He rarely rubs up against the people he believes he represents. “It always amused me that his shoe leather never wore out,” one reporter told Addison, “because every day he was on a carpet in the office; he strode out the door and was in a car which deposited him either at home or a restaurant. He would be horrified at what modern Britain had become – but he was never part of it.” Despite this insulation, Dacre has always presented himself as having a unique “feel for the emotions of ordinary people”. He still apparently locates this feeling in the 1950s London suburb of Arnos Grove in which he grew up, and which persists as the model of the Mail’s middle England.’
May 5, 2017
[politics] Why the Phrase ‘Late Capitalism’ Is Suddenly Everywhere
… ‘Finally, “late capitalism” gestures to the potential for revolution, whether because the robots end up taking all the jobs or because the proletariat finally rejects all this nonsense. A “late” period always comes at the end of something, after all. “It has the constant referent to revolution,” Roberts said. “‘Late capitalism’ necessarily says, ‘This is a stage we’re going to come out of at some point, whereas ‘neoliberalism’ doesn’t say that, ‘Shit is fucked up and bullshit’ doesn’t say that. It hints at a sort of optimism amongst a post-Bernie left, the young left online. Something of the revolutionary horizon of classical Marxism.” It does all this with a certain concision, erudition, even beauty. It’s ominous and knowing, brainy and pissed-off. “Now is a crazy political time,” Yeselson said…’
April 24, 2017
[trump] Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump
… What Melania Trump’s stream of Twitter photos tells us about her life … ‘Melania posted her last photo to Twitter on Thursday, June 11, 2015, five days before her husband announced his candidacy for president. It is an old photograph, of a then six-year-old Barron, taken on the beach. He is looking down at the ground ahead and waving goodbye to a professionally built sandcastle in the background. That day Melania knew, of course, that the campaign was coming. In retrospect her choice of a Throwback Thursday post reads as prophecy: a goodbye to her golden towers, to the home destined to crumble. To this day she’s still up there, in the golden Tower, holding onto it for as long as she can.’
April 3, 2017
[politics] Stephen King on Donald Trump: ‘How do such men rise? First as a joke’
… King analyses Trump with fictional characters …
These stories were written years ago, but Stillson and Rennie bear enough of a resemblance to the current resident of the White House for me to flatter myself I have a country-fair understanding of how such men rise: first as a joke, then as a viable alternative to the status quo, and finally as elected officials who are headstrong, self-centered and inexperienced. Such men do not succeed to high office often, but when they do, the times are always troubled, the candidates in question charismatic, their proposed solutions to complex problems simple, straightforward and impractical. The baggage that should weigh these hucksters down becomes magically light, lifting them over the competition like Carl Fredricksen in the Pixar film Up. Trump’s negatives didn’t drag him down; on the contrary, they helped get him elected.