Trusting The Redcoats:
How many independent-minded Americans actually rely on the BBC (specially the World Service
) for accurate coverage of American politics? Not to mention The Guardian
. Is it a strictly an elitist, liberal/left-wing phenomenon? What does it mean? What does it say about better-informed liberal newspapers and media of the U.S.? If so, why aren't like-minded Europeans just as cosmopolitan and, say, pay the same attention to news sources like The New York Times, NPR and others, rather than stolidly sticking to their own national staples?
Take This Honour And Shove It Up Your Arse:
Some, like JG Ballard
and Benjamin Zephaniah
, want the UK Honours System abolished; others want it reformed
want it left as it is. The recent leaking
of a distinguished list of refuseniks, coming just after Sir Mick Jagger got his ya-yas out
in Buckingham Palace, reminds us of Groucho Marx's
famous comment that he'd never join a club that would take members like him. It's certainly an archaic and complicated system
but, it seems to me, no more open to abuse than other countries' systems. And, arguably, no less ridiculous or hypocritical either. But is it (symbolically, culturally, whatever) useful enough nowadays, simple political expediency apart, to be worth hanging on to?
Public Faces In Private Places
may not be as wise or nice as private faces in public faces but, in the case of Jane Bown's portraits
, I'm sure even W.H. Auden
would have gladly opened an exception. It's an outstanding collection and it's fun to identify the faces, as their names only appear when you click to enlarge them. (It's a pity the photographs in the first link are so tiny, but blowing them up only makes it worse.
The Funniest Brits Since Monty Python, The Fast Show And The League Of Gentlemen
are definitely Ricky Gervais
* and Stephen Merchant
whose giggly, gloriously silly and shockingly juvenile improvised radio antics can be heard every Saturday on xfm
is so often overlooked and underestimated as a vehicle for comedy
that it hurts
. This is probably more so in America
than in the UK
. [Don't know about Canada or Australia, although they produce so many excellent comedians.
] Sooooo... What's your
idea of radio comedy gold?
*Gervais, in case you've never to have heard of him, is the star of the magnificent The Office, recently aired on cable, along with Ali G, and returning to America in a bastardized version; already featured on MetaFilter.
Get Your Own Name, Buster!
It's doesn't get any sillier than finding out how many people in the U.K. are at this very moment walking about pretending to be you; the limey bastards. But it's humbling, to say the least - and a bit of fun too. [Via Linkmachinego and Plep.
"There Is Only One Sale"
is the traditional January sales slogan of Harrods'
department store in London, where the elbow-fest begins next Monday
. With disappointing Christmas retail sales
being reported more or less everywhere
, it looks like the U.S. National Retail Federation's statement "What's going to be crucial now is the week after Christmas" is not the usual BS. Sales in Europe are still month-long extravaganzas
where unique bargains can be had. In the U.S. they seem to be more frequent, shorter and somewhat diluted. Assuming you're normal (a stingy, somewhat gullible and opportunistic shopper like the rest of us), what are your post-holiday shopping objectives? Which department stores will you be hitting? Or is it all just a big con?
Stalin, Hitler, Guilt, Finger-Pointing And Friendship: Timothy Garton-Ash
reviews, a trifle superciliously but fairly, a very lively and soul-searching polemic between two consummate, consuming and irresistible writers, Martin Amis
and Christopher Hitchens
- who also happen to be old friends. Funnily enough, I'd suggest reading Hitchens's review in the Atlantic Monthly first
; then the three
] extracts from
] Amis's book
] and, finally
, Hitchens's reply to them. All in all, it's that rare thing: a long, juicy, well-written and passionately argued polemic with plenty of insights into how generations come to terms with the honest indiscretions and oversights of their youth. Oh and there's a lot about communism, nazism, totalitarianism and the Sixties too...
Is It Racism If You Admit You're A Racist But Decry Racist Behaviour?
Geoffrey Sampson, Professor of Natural Language Computing at the University of Sussex in the UK is likely to be sacked from the Conservative Party for his defense of "racialism" as a legitimate human emotion. In an interview on this morninn's BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme, he said recognising people's racial prejudices is a scientific fact has nothing to do with espousing discriminatory behaviour. The Observer coyly shrank from linking Sampson's offending article but it wasn't difficult to find: here it is
. Judge for yourselves.[My two cents and a question for UK Mefis: as a conservative, I'm quite impressed with Ian Duncan-Smith's(the new Tory leader's)efforts to dissociate himself from the Tory Party's reactionary bastions(e.g.The Monday Club) and attitudes. Is it just a pose, electioneering or is there something to it?