Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
Robert Weaver
Sydney, Australia
Old Weblog
23hq Photos
Older Posts
Trade secrets
Apropos of Nothing...
Labour value
No Lives Matter
3 Quarks Daily
A Tiny Revolution
Bad Astronomy
Boing Boing
Caustic Cover Critic
Chase Me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
The Early Days of a Better Nation
Ecstatic Days
Empire Burlesque
Exiled Online
The Failed Estate
Neil Gaiman
M. John Harrison
The Inferior 4 + 1
Inside Story
Jews Sans Frontieres
Laughing Squid
Lenin's Tomb
Limited Inc.
Antony Loewenstein
The Loom
LRB Blog
Nick Mamatas
Mind Hacks
Greg Palast
Savage Minds
Mark Steel
Strange Maps
Michael Swanwick
Things Magazine
Ben Tripp
Verso Blog
Peter Watts
Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
Bats Left, Throws Right
Larvatus Prodeo
Lawrence of Cyberia
China Miéville
News from the Zona
Dennis Perrin
Pink Tentacle
Adam Roberts
Quotidian Hell
Matt Taibbi
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.
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!

March 19, 2017
Labour value

March 14, 2017

Furthermore, liberalism is bound to prevail ultimately because it seeks pragmatic compromise and avoids ideological confrontation, which — according to the tenets of liberalism — is how you win over the middle-most slice of the middle ground and ensure endless electoral victory and social progress. How do we know that will work, in the face of repeated electoral defeat, rapidly reversing social progress and the total disappearance of the so-called middle ground? Well, it’s complicated: Consultants and pie charts were involved. You wouldn’t really understand.

March 05, 2017
No Lives Matter

[T]here have been many publicized instances in which whites have been victims of police brutality or even egregious acts of prosecutorial misconduct (known as “railroading”). Of course, the white victims of blatant misconduct and abuse are disproportionately poor and working class.


While black victims of police brutality obviously run the class gamut, the reality is that African-American victims of police excess are likewise disproportionately poor and working class.

According to some Sanders critics, the Sandra Bland tragedy makes clear that race is not reducible to class. ...

While there is no denying that a job did not insulate Bland from police misconduct, abuse of power, or even negligence on the part of corrections officers, it is worth considering here that the purpose of race in origin and its ongoing function today was and is to denote one’s socioeconomic status as well as one’s value as a laborer. From the start “negro” and eventually “colored” were essentially shorthand for highly exploitable laborers who, by the second third of the nineteenth century, were deemed to possess distinct, innate traits that made them uniquely suited to perform “bad jobs” — the most obvious example being slave labor.

Eventually, and this includes today, those alleged traits were also what made African Americans uniquely “qualified” for mass unemployment and incarceration. For people we might call racists, “black” and “African American” — despite changes in nomenclature — remain shorthand for “poor person” and/or “bad worker” today. Thus even in the mind of the average racist, race and class are inextricably linked.

One result of this reality is that irrespective of black people’s individual accomplishments — and this is one of the things that makes the Bland case seem especially tragic — African Americans are often treated by “less than enlightened” workers in the criminal justice system, prospective employers, supervisors, school administrators, etc. in much the same way that poor white people are: as morally disreputable, intellectually suspect, and potentially dangerous.

If one views the excesses and failures of the criminal justice system solely through the lens of race, then victims of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct tend to be black or Latino. However, if one understands race and class are inextricably linked, then the victims of police brutality are not simply black or Latino (and Latinos outnumber blacks in federal prisons at this point) but they tend to belong to groups that lack political, economic, and social influence and power.
See also. Or, if you prefer the version with riffs:

February 26, 2017

Like any law, however, age of consent laws are materialised in police action. What effect they really have depends in part on how police choose to enforce them. That in turn depends on the political and moral culture that police officers partake of. The very fact that there are children being arrested and cautioned for having sex, or being charged on child pornography offences merely for sending one another semi-naked photographs, or sexts, indicates what some of that culture is like. The fact that people are actually reporting children to police, and that police are keeping intelligence databases on children who sext, and threatening them with the sex offenders register, is another indication.

This is where the ideological presumption of childhood innocence – a presumption which is all the more effective since everyone knows it is bullshit – feeds into the institutions of the state, and is embodied in violence. And it is violence directed, not mainly against ‘paedophiles’, but against children who are experimenting with their sexuality, as they always will. The potential problems with sexting – abuse, online humiliation, shaming, bullying – are cited as reasons to surveille and punish sexting among children. When we talk about childhood sexuality, we only tend to talk about the problems and dangers, in a manner that implies that the chimera of a danger-free sexuality could be a reality. We don’t talk about how exciting it is for them to discover their own sexuality because, when it comes to childhood sexuality, we want to know nothing about it. We want innocence: ours, as the precondition for theirs; or theirs, as the precondition for ours.
All of this is very good, not least because Mr Seymour spends as little time as humanly possible on the circumstances that provoked the piece: the quite repugnant weaponisation of accusations of sexcrime engaged in by partisan hacks of the "left" gloating at the doing down of a fellow who thoroughly deserved to be done down almost entirely for other reasons than those which brought his downfall. Instead, Mr Seymour carefully and sensibly discusses matters of considerably greater importance, dealing with the incitement with all due brevity:
If the discussion about the age of consent is had on the terms set by Yiannopoulous, it won’t be anything to do with preventing child sexual abuse. It will be a mirror of alt-right-style snark predicated on the intrinsic bad faith of any such discussion, hinting that anyone who thinks this is a debate worth having must be either a paedophile or an apologist. It will be people strutting about and attempting to intimidate others into not saying things they can’t bear to hear. And indeed, that is exactly what is happening, on the social media Left.

February 24, 2017

[Feinberg and Willer's] suggestions rest on a vulgarized version of the New York University scholar Jonathan Haidt’s “moral foundations theory,” in which certain values — care and fairness for those on the left; loyalty, authority and purity for the right — are held to be intrinsic and foundational. Some people are just predisposed to value loyalty and purity over fairness, and eventually grow into reactionary blowhards; we don’t know why, it just happens. As any good historical materialist knows, this is not the case. For someone to hold “respect for authority” in great esteem, there must first be an authority to respect. Before you can value fairness, there must be scarcity, unequal distribution and all the conditions that make unfairness possible. These values are the epiphenomena of a particular form of society. Conservative values don’t just emerge spontaneously from the individual; they’re an ideological support structure that props up theft and bloodshed and avarice. ...

In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party has been playing Feinberg’s and Willer’s game for decades now. Faced with the first sparks of a rising racist nativism, the ostensible party of the left adopted a policy of appeasement, trying to conjure up the failing spectre of “progressive patriotism,” abandoning its tatty, shop-worn emphasis on solidarity and socialism for a lot of gruff nonsense about British values. It didn’t work. Instead, the sudden omnipresence of these ideas just helped the reactionary right grow even stronger, until it consumed the entire country.

February 15, 2017

The parallel between the Nazi “revolution” in the 1930s and the neoliberal “revolution” in the 1980s and ’90s goes much further. The Nazis were also pioneers in what was then the uncharted economic waters of “privatization.” In the face of the Great Depression, states across the world — including the Social Democratic led Weimar Republic — nationalized key industries and, in some cases, like Germany, nearly the entirety of the financial sector. The Nazis — despite early propaganda indicating otherwise — were the unique exception. Not only did they avoid further nationalization but they innovated a process so idiosyncratic at the time that it required coining a German neologism: Reprivatisierung.

Quickly transferred into English as “reprivatization,” the phenomenon and its potentially salutary effects were observed by such notable organs of liberal economic thought as The Economist and mainstream outlets like Time magazine. Before Margaret Thatcher began the privatization of council housing and long before welfare reform was a twinkle in Bill Clinton’s eye, the Nazis were turning heavy industries, nearly the entirety of the financial and banking sector, and even some social services over to private hands and to new, innovative public/private hybrids. Even before this process was “enhanced” by “Aryanizing” previously Jewish held property, rates of privatization were as high the European average would become some 70 years later when neoliberal reforms began on the continent.

January 17, 2017
Oh. Snap.

But there is always the possibility that the origins of Trump’s zipped smile are cultural rather than personal. It is known, for example, that while Americans favour a full-blown smile that showcases the teeth, British people have historically preferred tight-lipped versions of the smile. There is every chance therefore that Trump’s zipped smile is actually a throwback to his Scottish ancestors – which would of course demonstrate that his public persona is far less American than he has led us to believe.
Wow. The Guardian just totally throws down.

Older Posts