What People On The Internet Are Like

1. A comment on the bizarre ‘straight men worrying about being mistaken for gays if they have dinner with other guys’ NYT article: "I never worry about this. I am overweight and dress badly such that noone would ever mistake me for a gay man or even for anyone whom anyone, gay or straight, would ‘date’."

2. Chris Lewis, Director of Communications for the Ultimate Warrior.

Posted in Uncategorized

SBBS Company of the Day

Some employees of Indian CRM outsourcer Mphasis tricked Citibank customers into revealing their PINs and passwords, and then stole their money.

Obviously, this could happen to any firm – indeed, it’s far more common in the UK or US where any dodgy geezer off the street can walk into a call centre job starting tomorrow, rather than in India where it’s a sought-after (albeit still hated by the people who do it) graduate position.

However, the reason for Mphasis’s Company of the Day status is that instead of following Western-style business PR bullshit and lying that people who fall for phishing scams aren’t morons, it described the victims as "gullible and careless". Rock on!

Posted in Uncategorized

That book thing

Right. Nick and Sarah have both passed on the stick (whatever that may mean), so it’s probably about time I answered.

Q: You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

A: The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis. His first, his best and his shortest (when he wrote incisively about being pervy, male and young, instead of turgidly about being pervy, male and old).

Q: Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

A: Yes. Including, but not limited to, Estella from Great Expectations, Leela from Futurama, and Kate from the Long, Dark Tea-time of the Soul.

Q: The last book you bought is:

A: Feminine Anarchy: Girls Pissing in Public by Amanda James and Paul Compton [*]. The last, erm, written book I bought was Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown.

Q: The last book you read:

A: Yellow Dog by Martin Amis. Definitely not in the Rachel Papers mould…

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag-Montefiore. Comprehensive and gripping, although the writer’s tone is mildly annoying. You don’t need to moralise and hector when you’re describing events as patently evil as the ones being listed here – a neutral voice would work far better.

Also technically Ulysses by James Joyce (see below).

Q: Five books you would take to a desert island.

A1: Ulysses, in the hope of finally getting the time to finish it without getting to page 100, being distracted by something else, forgetting what I’m doing, and having to start again the following year..

A2: The Magus by John Fowles, which I’d like to read several more times than I currently have.

A3: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I’ve only finished the translated version so far; again, the desert-island-ness would provide a strong impetus to read the original properly.

A4: The Book of Laughter & Forgetting by Milan Kundera (sadly I don’t fancy my chances of learning Czech on the island, so this is going to have to be in translation…)

A5: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – total comfort reading.

Q: Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

A: Ryan, Jim Bliss and dsquared, because they’re interesting people and they appear not to have done this yet…

[*] If I said I’d bought this as a present, nobody would believe me, so I won’t bother claiming I did, even though it’s true…

Posted in Uncategorized

Departures from tradition

Following Stephen Pollard’s surprisingly good column on the Pope, the Adam Smith lot have a surprisingly good column on charlatan ‘experts’ like Professor Sir Roy Meadow.

Actually, not that surprising: the ASI always been good on individual liberty and protection-from-majoritarian-tyranny issues, which is probably why I can stomach reading the site. However, they do spoil it somewhat by linking to a silly column from senile buffoon William Rees-Mogg.

Claims Mr Rees-Mogg: "Almost every cardinal and bishop in the Roman Catholic Church, and probably every bishop in the Anglican Church, is a socialist. They are socialists in the same sense as Tony Blair, or Gerhard Schröder, or Jacques Chirac, or Bill Clinton. They are all socialists because they have never studied the liberal argument. That is a pity; liberalism may not be enough, but it is the basis of our culture."

Clearly, the only reason Mr Rees-Mogg is not a Maoist is because he’s never studied the Maoist argument. It’s not even possible that he could have studied Maoism and rejected it…

Posted in Uncategorized

Things to do today

Read Wall Street, the book for free, and find out how financial markets work. Then read Michael Howard’s blog for insight into the Tory hive-mind. Speaking of Mr Howard, you should also read this article on how hard it is to keep a hospital clean (unsurprisingly, very).

Join Richard Herring in attempting to revive a fine English Saint’s Day tradition. No, not the apocryphal Turkish reptile-slaughterer: "Nowadays, thanks to political correctness gone mad, attacking students is against the law, but I believe in honour of this historical event we should make an exception for St Scholastica’s Day.

"On this occasion all decent, ordinary, hard-working normal people are allowed to absent themselves from their place of labour and search out University students. If they discover any they must playfully batter them round the head with twigs, branches or iron bars, but the beating MUST STOP once the student is dead."

And finally, if you encounter anyone who uses the phrase "pie in the sky" or the word "gaffe" in any context whatsoever [*], you should puncture their eyes with compasses.

[*] Other than in the context of suggesting horrible punishments for people who use it in other contexts, obviously.

Posted in Uncategorized

Andrea Dworkin, thinker, dies

Feminist writer Andrea Dworkin has died at the rather young age of 58. As a man who enjoys sex and pornography, I never quite shared Ms Dworkin’s political views.

However, the pro-sex-feminist backlash couldn’t have happened without the previous generation’s efforts: the first lot pointed out that the 1970s paradigms (for porn and, to some extent, relationships) were fundamentally misogynistic; the second lot redefined porn and relationships so that they *weren’t* fundamentally misogynistic. Ms Dworkin even changed her tack on porn in later years, as it became clear that obscenity laws were being used more to harrass gays and lesbians than to protect women. Good call.

Society still needs a great many more Ms Dworkins before we reach anything approaching gender equality, however. Can you imagine a major newspaper running an article on Bertrand Russell’s death headlined "Lord Russell, anti-nuclear campaigner, dies"? Or one on Richard Feynmann, "Richard Feynmann, humorist, dies"? No.

(David T and Susie Bright also have interesting things to say on the subject)

Posted in Uncategorized