Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
Robert Weaver
Sydney, Australia
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The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
July 18, 2018

I was stunned. The Russians had almost certainly intercepted the phone call. That was hardly surprising–in these jobs, you have to assume that any number of governments could be listening in if you’re on a non-secure phone. What was new was the act of releasing the intercepted call and doing it so brazenly, on social media–the Russian government had even tweeted out a link to the YouTube account. Doing so violated the unspoken understanding among the major powers–we collect intelligence on one another, but we use it privately, for our own purposes. A Rubicon had been crossed–the Russians no longer stopped at hacking information; now, triggered by the threat of Ukraine sliding out of their sphere of influence, they were willing to hack information and put it into the public domain.
From the memoir of an Obama minion, extracted at Mondoweiss.

January 13, 2018
Fortress Marriage

So long as we, the outliers, insisted that we had something to offer, that our world, where we formed enduring relationships outside the tax code and the sanction of church and state, where we created and took care of families of lovers and friends and strangers alike — so long as we insisted that this world was richer, more sustainable, more loving in so many ways than the insular world of Fortress Marriage, we got nowhere. Only when we exchanged our lofty ideals for conventionality was our struggle embraced. Only when we sought to exchange, in the words of the assimilationist attorney William Eskridge, “sexual promiscuity” for “the potentially civilizing effect” of state-sanctioned marriage were we accepted — as if a community risking their lives to care for their own in the face of church and government condemnation was not the very highest manifestation of civilized behavior; as if marriage “civilized,” to offer one of countless examples, Harvey Weinstein.

Working Class

The level of confusion thus introduced is very high. At one point, casting about for areas of unity between the working class and the poor, Williams expresses her hope that restaurant owners will oppose Trump’s draconian border measures in order to better secure immigrant labor. For those still trying to keep score, the restaurant owners are somehow working class, while their immigrant laboring employees are somehow not. Nevertheless, at certain junctures Williams cannot resist taking up the cause of “white trash” who are maligned by elites but not, by her own definitions, working class.


Living in a girl’s body, everyone seemed to be telling me — teachers, relatives, adults I didn’t even know; tabloid headlines and nightly news anchors; people I didn’t want to believe, and people I did — meant that violence was your birthright. How could you trust anyone who touched you, who desired you? How could you trust your own desire, when desire could lead you so easily to trauma or a bad reputation or even death?...

So I did what made the most sense at the time: in a world that told me a girl could not desire, I dreamed myself into boyhood. If a boy kissed a boy — if a boy let a boy kiss him — no one had to lose, no one had to submit, no one had to be asking for it, or for whatever came next. You could just — kiss.

And so, to dream of boys, I dreamed of myself as a boy — or of two boys together, my own sense of identification tied down to one, or fluttering lambently between them. In another time and place, I might have wondered if I was alone. In the world of Newsies fanfiction, I knew I wasn’t.
Although an interesting cultural artifact, the idea of female-authored gay slashfic has been pretty inexplicable to me, but Sarah Marshall clarifies matters.

January 01, 2018

The opposition to Trump has divided into two camps: one that pines for a reversion to the mean, a painless transition back to incrementalism at home and see-no-evilism abroad; and another that recognizes the very rot that let a man who is both Fool and Lear in one howling figure stumble into the presidency. This latter faction, which ranges from the modest social democracy of Bernie Sanders to a far more radical and openly anti-imperial left, sees in the present crises an opportunity to wrench back some kind of national democracy from imperialism. It sees the fact that the United States has, for nearly two decades now, spent $250 million a day on war as both a crime and an opportunity to redirect those resources. (To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to operate a modest regional hospital for a year.)

December 11, 2017

Inside the Vampires’ Castle

The first configuration is what I came to call the Vampires’ Castle. The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism. But, far from being the only legitimate expression of such struggles, the Vampires’ Castle is best understood as a bourgeois-liberal perversion and appropriation of the energy of these movements. The Vampires’ Castle was born the moment when the struggle not to be defined by identitarian categories became the quest to have ‘identities’ recognised by a bourgeois big Other.

The privilege I certainly enjoy as a white male consists in part in my not being aware of my ethnicity and my gender, and it is a sobering and revelatory experience to occasionally be made aware of these blind-spots. But, rather than seeking a world in which everyone achieves freedom from identitarian classification, the Vampires’ Castle seeks to corral people back into identi-camps, where they are forever defined in the terms set by dominant power, crippled by self-consciousness and isolated by a logic of solipsism which insists that we cannot understand one another unless we belong to the same identity group.

I’ve noticed a fascinating magical inversion projection-disavowal mechanism whereby the sheer mention of class is now automatically treated as if that means one is trying to downgrade the importance of race and gender. In fact, the exact opposite is the case, as the Vampires’ Castle uses an ultimately liberal understanding of race and gender to obfuscate class. In all of the absurd and traumatic twitterstorms about privilege earlier this year it was noticeable that the discussion of class privilege was entirely absent. The task, as ever, remains the articulation of class, gender and race – but the founding move of the Vampires’ Castle is the dis-articulation of class from other categories.
Excellent work from the late Mark Fisher, well worth the longer read. As it happens, I found this link from a cite in a recent column by Nick Cohen, so now I have to go and take a shower.

December 04, 2017
A Moment of Grace

They are even possible on a Guardian comments thread.

November 06, 2017
Trade secrets

How the non-disclosure agreement extended from trade secrets to secrets of life and death, of rape and pillage, is wrapped up with another strand of the story of the cold war. For it was the security state that innovated in using the NDA as a powerful tool to keep things out of court.

In 1984, for instance, the Reagan administration was forced to form a commission to investigate the murder of four nuns in El Salvador. The nuns were lefties, and their murder was planned and executed, it was suspected, by allies, to say the least, of the Americans. The study was completed, and turned into the State department, which promptly branded it top secret.

The families of the nuns protested. This protest was heard. The administration then took a compromise position. The family members could see the report, as long as they signed an NDA that pledged them to never disclose the information in the report under any circumstances as long as they shall live without the permission of the State Department.

September 24, 2017

Hmm. Apparently, heterosexuals are fat.

June 24, 2017

One of the nice things about the postwar Pax Americana is that you could at least rely on us to do the easy evil things and eschew the difficult good ones. Depose the elected leader and prop up the strongman, make the world safe for BP, bomb anything that complained, prolong the war to avoid being the party that lost it, and pretend comeuppance could be endlessly deferred, like the draft notices of the executive branch. There was a sensibility in our callowness.

All that went out the window when we installed the chemical-peeled meringue at 1600... We wanted regime change and we got it, toppling decades of technocratic low-effort contempt for human life and and replacing it with a senile authoritarian who, in any just universe, would be getting escorted out of Denny's by the police for trying to put the hostess' moons over his hammy.
Jeb Lund at Esquire on the US and North Korea.

May 29, 2017

A professor had asked cadets to think up ways to stop a pistol bullet. She thought of a child’s toy called Oobleck, which has a really scientific second name: a non-Newtonian fluid.

Those fluids, made with substances like cornstarch, are gooey and oozy to a gentle touch, but become as hard as steel when struck.

That means when a object traveling with a lot of force strikes the goo, it runs into something like Superman’s chest.

Weir has a collection of mushroom-shaped spent bullets, to prove it.
I can't believe nobody thought of this before. Well, apart from Brunner.
It was in effect a palmless glove made of impact-sensitive plastic about a quarter-inch thick. Pressed, pinched, drawn on or off the hand, it remained flexible and nearly as soft as good leather. Struck against a resistant surface, its behavior changed magically, and while the interior stayed soft to act as a cushion against bruising, its outer layers became as rigid as metal.
And, apparently, Gerrold and Niven.
"My impact suit," he repeated. "Normally it flows like cloth, but under a sharp blow it becomes a single rigid unit.

April 11, 2017
Apropos of Nothing...

This is (most) of A Guide to Armageddon, the 1982 BBC documentary about the effects of a nuclear blast over London, which I watched (from a copy I'd taped off television on the ol' Betamax) over and over again when I was a kid. It was made by Mick Jackson who later directed Threads, which I also watched on TV during my youth (from a hospital bed with suspected appendicitis, if memory serves; I got the all clear), the nuclear war film that made The Day After look like Disney's Our Friend, The Atom. Enjoy!

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