Category Archives: Humans

Still believe Ukip isn’t racist? You’re wrong.

I do worry that members of my family will vote for the stridently anti-immigrant Ukip tomorrow, despite the fact that my girlfriend is an immigrant. Even if they did, I know this doesn’t mean they dislike like my girlfriend or want her to leave the country. I know they like her a lot, just as they like all the other immigrants they are friends with.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people I know, like many others across the country (such as Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, who loves his German wife despite claiming he feels “uncomfortable” in the presence of other foreign-speaking people), have blindly accepted this vague idea that there are ‘good’ immigrants and ‘bad’ immigrants.

This sounds like “common sense”. But I’ve always found it strange that the good immigrants happen to be those we know in real life while the bad immigrants are those we don’t.

“90% of White and minority residents feel that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together” – Policy Exchange, A Portrait of Modern Britain

Ukip love sharing their fear of the bad immigrants – faceless, nameless foreign villains threatening our very lives. It sure is effective. It’s certainly got me worried as this is pretty much the textbook definition of racist propaganda.

And yet, there’s been a weird reluctance to call Ukip out for being racist.

Well, Farage’s supporters claim to like ‘plain-speaking’, so hopefully they’ll appreciate this:

Ukip is racist party. Its representatives are small-minded, mean-spirited bigots and Nigel Farage is the worst of them all as he puts the most effort into hiding his true colours – presumably because he’s well aware how repellant people will find his undisguised, racist self.

Are all Ukip voters racist? I have no doubt a great many are. But most, perhaps, are simply being manipulated by the same cynical tactics used throughout history by racists, nationalists and fascists the world over in pursuit of power.

When society is experiencing rapid change and times are hard, people worry about the future. They look to politicians for answers they can understand.

Respectable politicians respond to this by attempting to unify and motivate.

Racist politicians divide and scare.

Pointing_finger_48sheet

Ukip’s answer to all our problems (real or imagined) is to blame the nasty immigrants. This is racial scapegoating. This is fostering fear and distrust of a group of people, claiming that some outside force threatens our way of life and that only by removing this threat will things get better.

This is nakedly, shamelessly racist.

And this is the only answer they give. Education, health, unemployment, housing. Everything’s the fault of the immigrants. Get rid of the immigrants, get rid of the problem.

What’s even more revealing is that this ‘answer’ has been proven completely wrong time and time again. But that’s not important to Ukip because they are racist. They invent or corrupt facts to fit their racist beliefs. That’s what racists do. It’s a pretty fucking massive clue that they are, indeed, racist.

But they are getting away with it, because Nigel Farage isn’t saying he wouldn’t want to live next door to a group of Irish, Jews, Jamaicans, or Pakistanis.

He’s saying Romanians and that is somehow more acceptable.

“The paradox of racism is that at any given moment, the racism of the day seems reasonable and very possibly true, but the racism of the past always seems so ridiculous.” – Andrew Gelman, Slate

I’m sure Ukip will get a lot of support in tomorrow’s elections. I’m less sure how many people voting for them are truly aware that they’re voting for a party of racists.

 

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“Are We On The Brink Of The Great Social Media Bubble?” asks ReadWriteWeb

I think the world fell off that 2-3 years ago, I answer.

Rob Frankel offers a frank, straightforward, uncontroversial perspective on brands’ unimaginative social media strategies, and, predictably, gets blasted in the comments as a result.

“It’s got to be the right tool for the right job. If your car doesn’t run and you realize it’s a mechanical problem, you’re going to need a tool set. But that tool set is probably not going to include a hammer and saw,” he said. “Every company out there is saying ‘Like us on Facebook.’ But why? Why would I like a gasket company.”

via Are We On The Brink Of The Great Social Media Bubble?.

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Please, please, please let this be radical new marketing’s shark jump

Lance Ulanoff in defence of Homeless Hotspots:

So, what is so bad about this? You’re giving the homeless more money than they might normally have. The homeless are providing a high-quality service. And you may actually get to know someone new (making a literal and figurative connection). Even if you think Homeless Hotspots is a good idea, it is by no means a solution for the plight of the homeless, who may often need far more than just money (support, counseling, help overcoming addiction). On the other hand, it is doubtlessly better than doing nothing, which is what most of us do.

He’s right. It’s not a bad idea. It’s the perfect bad idea. I doubt Chris Morris could’ve done any better.

They missed a trick by not mixing in some gamification. To be fair, at least he recognises this is a particularly imaginative non-solution to nothing.

via Homeless Hotspots: Not a Terrible Idea.

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The worst Guardian CiF article I’ve read (today)

The art of writing an effective CiF article seems to be cramming the minimum amount of point in as much horrendous writing as possible. By this measure, Angela Davis’ recent article, with the suitably meaningless title “The 99%: a community of resistance”, is a very effective article indeed. Here’s why:

1. Clumsy Stupid Rhetoric.

“When the Occupy Wall Street movement erupted on 17 September 2011…”

Nakedly partisan. Massively overblown. Possibly inaccurate. Mildly sexual? Good start.

“well-established and similar encampments had emerged in hundreds of communities around the country…”

Communities is one of my least favourite examples of unspeak. In this context, at least, I think she means ‘cities’ – ‘the encampments emerged in hundreds of cities around the country’.

“which would mean working on behalf of those who have suffered most from the tyranny of the 1%.”

The meaning of tyranny risks being neutered through misuse. Does Angela Davis honestly look at oppressed people protesting in genuinely tyrannical regimes and think, ‘oh, do they have to pay for their university education too?’

“we have had to engage in difficult coalition-building processes, negotiating the recognition for which communities and issues inevitably strive.”

I don’t know what coalition-building processes are, nor what makes them difficult (or what doesn’t, for that matter). Must you ‘engage’ in them? And she’s talking about communities again – though this time I think she’s using it to mean ‘peoples’. Can issues ‘strive’ for something?

“I don’t know whether any of us could not have predicted that on the second day of the conference, the plenary audience of more than 1,000 would be so riveted by this historical conjuncture that almost all of us spontaneously joined a night march…”

If this conference was anything like I suspect it was, I think I could’ve predicted you would ‘spontaneously’ do that. I think I could’ve predicted it very easily. Unless the double negative isn’t a typo and that’s your point…

“Indeed, it can be persuasively argued that the 99% should move to ameliorate the conditions of those who constitute the bottom tiers of this potential community of resistance”

Sure, it can be persuasively argued, but why bother when it’s easier to just assert that this is the case? And she’s using fucking community again! Only this time, it seems to be referring to, well, everyone minus the 1%. So we’ve got a community of communities occupying communities. Crystal.

“They call upon the majority to stand up against the minority. The old minorities, in effect, are the new majority.”

This strikes me as being the first part of the article to be written. “The old minorities are the new majority”. That’s the sort of ethereal guff certain people go nuts over. It doesn’t actually make any sense of course, whether in effect or in actuality.

“And if we identify with the 99%, we will also have to learn how to imagine a new world, one where peace is not simply the absence of war, but rather, a creative refashioning of global social relations.”

Why if we identify with the 99% do we have to do that? I honestly have no idea what the writer is getting at here.

2. Clumsy Stupid Language

I am probably being really unfair, but parts of the article made my brain vomit inside my own skull. Offending words and phrases in bold…

I happened to be reflecting on my remarks for the upcoming International Herbert Marcuse Society conference.”

“…we were struck by the serendipitous affinity of the theme with the emergent Occupy movement…”

[Aside: can something that's previously erupted be considered emergent?]

“…we repeatedly expressed our enthusiasm about the confluence of the Wall Street and Philadelphia occupations and the conference theme, which seemed to us to emphatically enact the 21st-century relevance of Herbert Marcuse’s work.”

“…which wended its way through the streets of Philadelphia toward the tents outside city hall.”

“At the site, I reflected aloud – with the assistance of the human microphone…”

“Thus, the most pressing question facing the Occupy activists is how to craft a unity that respects and celebrates the immense differences among the 99%.”

As you can imagine, after reading the article I reflected upon an emergent need to craft a unity between the computer screen and my fist.

3. Clumsy Stupid 53-Word Long Paragraph

At what point in the paragraph quoted below do you a) find yourself merely scanning instead of reading, b) forget how the sentence began and what the point is, and c) lose the will to live.

“The organising theme of the conference – “Critical Refusals” – was originally designed to encourage us to reflect on the various ways Marcuse’s philosophical theories push us in the direction of a critical political practice located outside the proper realm of philosophy, but nevertheless as anchored in philosophy as it is in a will to transform society.”

For me, the answers to a), b) and c) are all at ‘PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE MAKE THE PAIN STOP’. At least, that’s what flashes before my eyes before I black out for a few hours.

4. Clumsy Stupid Crowbarring of a Point

Although hazy on the specifics, I think it’s kinda been established that OWS (and company) are pro- social equality and anti- capitalist greed. Watch how Angela Davis tacks on her own particular beef with all the grace and subtlety of a wild elk suffering from dystonia attempting to re-tile your bathroom floor.

“In the past, most movements have appealed to specific communities – workers, students, black people, Latinas/Latinos, women, LGBT communities, indigenous people – or they have crystallised around specific issues like war, the environment, food, water, Palestine, the prison industrial complex.”

“It seems to me that an issue such as the prison industrial complex is already implicitly embraced by this congregation of the 99%.”

“We are learning also to say no to global capitalism and to the prison industrial complex.”

“Decarceration and the eventual abolition of imprisonment as the primary mode of punishment can help us begin to revitalise our communities and to support education, healthcare, housing, hope, justice, creativity and freedom.”

“There is a direct connection between the pauperising effect of global capitalism and the soaring rates of incarceration in the US.”

5. Clumsy Stupid Complete and Utter Absence of an Argument

[tumbleweed]

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Purging cheap, evil non-lives: US thoughts on the ‘Muslim problem’

Over-exposure, I think, has desensitised me to the thrumming drone of hate and ignorance endlessly emitted by the world’s media. Or maybe it’s simply that I’m lucky enough to be able to watch things unfold with nothing more than a hint of amusement and detached sanctimony afforded by my status as a university-educated middle class white guy in the UK.

In the past couple of days, however, I’ve speed-read a handful of articles that made me stop, force myself to properly digest the unbelievable nonsense before my eyes, and wonder how have things got so bad?

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

The New York Times Laments “A Sadly Wary Misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans.” But Really Is It “Sadly Wary” Or A “Misunderstanding” At All? (The New Republic)

We are doing a poor job of fighting the terrorists at home if we continue to allow Muslim immigrants, especially from Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, into America. We won’t win this war if we permit the uncontrolled construction of mosques, as well as Islamic schools, some of which already have sown the seeds from which future terrorists will be cultivated.

….

We must purge the evil from among us, or else.

Purging Evil (TownHall)

The Portland Press Herald has apologized to its readers for publishing images of Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, which this year coincided with the 9/11 anniversary. Among the outrageous statements that the accompanying article made: that Portland-era Muslims met to mark the end of the month-long holy fast, that they made a traditional call for charity, and that children played soccer.

Noting that thousands of local Muslims marked a holy day peacefully near the anniversary of a day when a few Muslims committed a mass murder (whose victims included other Muslims) was apparently beyond the pale. The paper’s editor and publisher wrote: “We erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.”

Paper to Readers: Sorry for Portraying Muslims as Human (Time Magazine)

James Poniewozi (writer of the Time Magazine article) nailed it – all of the above represent an effort to dehumanise Muslims. So we’re told they’re “evil”, they’re not entitled to the same rights as us, and it’s evidence of “imbalance” if they’re shown behaving as “normal” people.

I don’t really know what can be done about this. This sudden surge (if that is what it is) of anti-Islamic propaganda is not a reaction to any increased threat. Truth be told this sentiment will probably just fester and grow until someone goes too far and it finally pops in a bloody, pusfull mess. Maybe some will learn an important lesson for a short time (and the hatemongers will skulk, temporarily, back into their holes), but fast-forward another 50-60 years and a new generation of columnists will be regurgitating similar arguments, though possibly with a new enemy in mind, revising history as needed.

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Is James Delingpole for real?

If you’re familiar with the work of James Delingpole, you’ll know him as the painfully ignorant, eternally inaccurate “journalist” trolling on the Telegraph Blogs. Like a pickled deformed foetus, he is at both repulsive and fascinating. Repulsive because every opinion he has, belief he holds and statement he makes manage to distort reality and normal human decency to such an extent his articles become something like a written manifestation of a Dali masterpiece – if said masterpiece was painted by a brain damaged chimp with stumps for hands. Fascinating because I can not comprehend how someone so devoid of an ability to construct a cogent opinion (let alone honestly report anything factual) is a journalist – and has a regular presence on the website of one of Britain’s biggest daily newspapers. Yes, being an ignorant jerk isn’t exactly uncommon within the British press, but Delingpole is SO consistently bad, it genuinely troubles my mind.

I’ve long suspected Delingpole to be a fake. That the James Delingpole persona is entirely fictional; his blog nothing more than a vessel for other Telegraph writers to vent their most vile and hateful thoughts. Like a columnist ‘river of slime’. However, that doesn’t quite add up as I’ve seen the ‘Pole on the telly and I don’t think they make CGI that ugly. In the past, I’ve termed him a professional troll – a shameless shill paid to discuss issues he doesn’t really care about (and clearly knows very little about) simply to stir up controversy and attract readers. This too isn’t quite right, as Jimmy spends his offline time head-to-head with the world’s brightest, debating issues he knows very little about.

So, even though it hurt my brain to do so, I was forced to accept that Delingpole was genuine. At least, I did until today… (the plot thickens!)

Delingpole’s latest post on the Telegraph is so pointless it’s barely even worth mentioning. I only do so to set the scene. He rants in response to today’s “exclusive” report in The Times about EU plans to adopt a more ambitious target for the reduction of CO2 emissions.

[As an aside, earlier today The Guardian's George Monbiot wrote a blog post about the same story. It's interesting to compare the differing approach of the two long-term rivals. When confronted with the news, the first thing Monbiot did was phone the European commission in an attempt to check the validity of the story (for the record, they said it was "totally wrong" - interesting to think that The Times will be charging for such exclusives very soon). Meanwhile, Delingpole smacked his angry face into the keyboard until something resembling an article was vomited forth.]

Towards the end of this stream of non-consciousness, he rages about David Cameron’s commitment to tackling climate change (going so far as to use ALL CAPS – truly the mark of a serious journalist). This is despite telling his readers to vote Conservative pre-election. In the comments, one of his followers, Jacquesarden, points out this inconsistency. Not particular cutting, I feel. It is entirely possible to support one party about others but criticise individual policies. Regardless, the really interesting part of this tale is Delingpole’s enigmatic reply:

@jacquesarden Sorry mate, but I think you may be a bit too stupid to understand the point of any of my blogs. May I suggest the Guardian’s Comment is Free, or similar?

Now, this is unusual for a couple of reasons. For one, Jacquesarden’s is the only comment out of 16 to which Delingpole bothers to reply. It’s odd that a so-called professional journalist would respond to such a harmless comment with such a childish rebuke. More intriguingly is Delingpole’s reference to “the point” of his blogs. He could’ve just said something like: “I still feel voting Conservative was the best option; albeit out of an exceptionally bad bunch. However, just because I supported David Cameron in the general election, this doesn’t mean I’m going to relent when trying to bring some common sense to British politics”.

Instead, he teases us with talk of a “point”, suggesting a grander scheme behind the blog – something only an inner circle of his sycophantic followers know about. Maybe they’re not even in on the secret?

Now, what could this “point” Delingpole refers to be?

It can’t be to inform or educate his readers; his articles mainly consist of misleading claims and tenuous assertions.

It can’t be to further the debate about climate change; he frequently regurgitates long-debunked denialist arguments.

It can’t be to spread doubt and confusion about climate change; he lacks the credibility and knowledge to make much of an impact.

It can’t be to promote the libertarian philosophy; he’s very aggressive towards people whose thoughts differ from his own and is remarkably critical about people making money (admittedly the only people with money he mentions are the ones who also campaign for protecting the environment).

It clearly isn’t to help or support a Conservative government; if his advice for the Tories are anything to go by, he either wants them confined to the political wilderness or understands even less about the British public than he does about climate science (I think it’s the latter).

So, what’s the point?

Possibly there isn’t a point and the James Delingpole blog is nothing more than the earnest writings of an egotistical man-child, overcompensating for his own insecurity and whose privileged upbringing managed to disguise what I suspect is a mild case of autism.

On the other hand, this could be the closest I’ve got to seeing Delingpole admit that the whole thing is a hoax – a parody. Could it be that the “point” of James Delingpole’s blog, and in fact his entire existence, is to act as a twisted reflection of ourselves?* A dark satire, exposing man’s innate instinct to eschew rationality and compassion in favour of bitter, instinctual self-interest? His every assertion is baseless and narrow-minded. Every piece of “evidence” he uses is mercilessly corrupted to fit a predefined conclusion. How then does he differ from the rest of us in our every day lives? When we tell our friends about how unfairly we’ve been treated at work, we don’t stop to fact-check or make sure all quotes are put into proper context. When overhearing a snippet of private conversation between two friends, we don’t seek to establish the full story before leaping to (and passing on) any conclusions. Delingpole’s gift to humanity has been to expose its lack of credibility by sacrificing his own.

Just think: when you’re reading Delingpole, you’re reading yourself telling the people who you want to take you seriously things you think you know stuff about.

Either that or you’re reading the deluded scrawlings of one of the world’s biggest cunts.

*That question was totally an homage to John Rentoul.

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Stupid journalism

This is just shamefully idiotic (via Media Matters):

Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher, in an online Q&A:

non-election question: Given Liz Cheney’s sudden prominence (man, nepotism in DC never ceases to amaze me), I’m curious as to why none of you reporters are asking her questions re: her recent comments about Obama’s trip to Dover. She said that Bush routinely made the same trip and didn’t “stage photo ops.” A) she flat out lied – Bush never went to Dover, B) he couldn’t have had photos taken because of the Pentagon policy at the time and C) Mission Accomplished, anybody? Ultimate photo op. What gives? Or is being related to Dick sufficient to protect her from questioned?

Michael A. Fletcher: If we begin questioning Liz Cheney that way, then we would have to do the same with conservative (and liberal) commentators who make all kinds of charges every day. It is their way of making a (great) living. Some comments, I like to think, sink under their own weight.

That’s the whole fucking point you dickhead.

Fortunately, British journalism doesn’t suffer from such nonsense

…Though I’m glad somebody’s keeping an eye on it, just in case.

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Teabagging America: Right-wing Republicans Suck Balls

That is probably the least intelligent headline to arise from this laughable right-wing campaign that’s been sending waves of crazy across the US.

If you’re unfamiliar with this bizarre protest that’s as contextually incongruous as it is endearingly smutty, MSNBC summarise the whole affair in fantastic, pun-filled fashion:

If you’re not entirely convinced about the crazy, click the link to watch this CNN reporter take on a teabagging party in full swing.

I’ll leave the final word to The Daily Show’s John Oliver as he confronts the misguided protesters, well and truly calling them out on their shit. Very funny.

And if you eventually tire of laughing at ignorant Americans, you can download the theme song from The Littlest Hobo from here. Happy weekend!

Credit to Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog! Go! for looking into the abyss all day and not falling in.

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Is Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin an Idiot?

Watching the US presidential debate on More4 earlier this evening momentarily reignited my interest in the whole election thing. After a few half-assed searches guaging the media’s reaction to the debate (unanimously regarded as a draw, so it seems), I found myself reading about Republican Vice-Presidential candidate and Alaskan moose-skinning hockey mom (which, from what I can tell, is like a normal mom – which in itself is like a British mum, but with added democracy – only more kick-ass, in your face, balls to the wall Vice-Presidential than, for example, a mom whose children hate sports and prefer to pursue academic interests – aka communist moms), Sarah Palin.

Despite being treated rather generously by the the American media, all the news articles I read about this “young, charming maverick” gave the overriding impression that, on top of her obvious inexperience and annoying demeanour, she may also be stupid. Not necessarily in the rather refined and perfected sense that George W. Bush has turned into an art form. What Palin projects is a sort of generalised and far less inspiring level of latent ignorance; which is more cringe-worthy than funny.

So is Sarah Palin an idiot? It would seem so but I can’t simply rely on my judgement alone, as skimming through a few articles does not an expert of American dim-wittedness make. Is there anywhere out there in internetland where I can dive into a sea of US doltishness and bathe in the anti-knowledge therein? Of course there is. It’s the fucking internet.

As asked on Yahoo! Answers: Is Sarah Palin an idiot?

Best answer (as chosen by voters):

“Yes, she is.
Sarah Palin doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks that creationism should be taught in every classroom. She has said she does not believe in global warming and wants to take polar bears off the endangered species list because she assumes that they are fine because the polar ice caps are, in her mind, not melting.
She is currently under investigation for abuse of power after trying to get her sisters ex husband fired after a bad divorce.
She was once asked if she was angered by the addition of “under god” to the pledge of allegiance and her response was “if its good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me”, which might seem like a decent answer until you realize that the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist named Bellamy about 100 years after the founding fathers founded anything and it wasn’t until the cold war that “under god” was added.
she wants to drill for oil in alaska and stands for the aerial slaughter of wolves and bears in the wild.
prior to her candidacy she announced that she did not think the idea of her being the vice president is realistic.
after her candidacy was announced she announced she didn’t know what a vice president does from day to day and also didn’t know what john mccains stance on the war was because, as she said, she doesn’t pay attention to iraq. (keep in mind her own son is being sent to iraq this september)

if she isn’t an idiot, then neither is george w bush for leading us into a criminally unjust war and neither is john mccain for horribly misrepresenting the middle class americans that make up the majority of this country. republicans should be ashamed for ruining this great country. vote obama.”

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Nigerian Hyena Handlers

The sly, roguish, rugged-looking hyena has fascinated me since long before Mufasa’s treacherous brother warned them to be prepared (damn, another Disney reference; Megatron was right!). Mainly because of the almost instinctive way they’re dismissed as ‘baddie’ animals. At least that’s the way I always perceived it. Whenever the hyena pack appeared on a BBC wildlife documentary, warily confronting Lionesses’ses in the African savanna with David Attenborough’s emollient tones representing the most fitting of soundtracks, you couldn’t help but favour the feline – even though the poor, stumpy-legged hyena’s were probably starving to death and the greedy bastard lion mother-fuckers could spare a gazelle rib or two. Is this a modern aspect of the cultural consciousness or does this distaste go deeper? I don’t know, but what I do know is that if I was wandering about Nigeria and saw a group of well-muscled men walking along with a huge hyena on the end of a needlessly intimidating chain, I’d also want to stop and take a few photos. Possibly. Fortunately, someone else has done something like this for me so I don’t have to prove my cojones.

Via – Sub Studio Design Blog

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