Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Those Unbiased and Unprejudiced Student Journals 

Essay question (10 marks): A dramatic monologue is a poem or speech in which the speaker reveals as much about him or herself as the topic he or she is speaking about.
Analyse the following passage from Newcastle University student magazine Opus as a dramatic monologue...

Paul Wynn's article published in this edition of Opus attacked the women's handbook put out by the women's collective earlier this year. We don't really think this deserves a response, especially since the women's handbook was written by women for women. It is arrogant of Wynn to think that the women's collective answers to any man, especially a man who is lecturing women on the correct way to think about feminism, oppression and revolution. Nevertheless, we would like to say that we find the article offensive, patronising, aggressive, intimidating, pompous, conservative, anti-revolutionary and full of false accusations and assumptions. ...

This is a particularly strong example of the dramatic monologue technique. The irony on the part of the writer is evident throughout - he/she criticises 'Mr. Paul Wynn' for being 'arrogant', 'pompous', and for 'lecturing women on the way to think', yet this same description could be applied to the response. Further, the writer accuses Mr. Wynn of being 'aggressive and intimidating' - yet there is a strong tone of aggression throughout.
When the writer states: 'It is arrogant of Mr. Wynn to think that the women's collective answers to any man', he/she reveals himself to be just as arrogant in his/her unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue.
Similarly, the writer begins by stating that 'we don't really think this deserves a response', but then goes on to respond, in great length, to Mr. Wynn's article. This seems to indicate that the author is so concerned/intimidated by Mr. Wynn's article that he/she feels that the best way to respond is through aggressive, heated rhetoric rather than reasonable debate.

Conclusion: This is clearly a comic/satirical piece, pointing out (by way of exaggeration) the pitfalls of feminist ideology. Nobody could really write a response like this, now, could they?


Unfortunately, yes, they could - I found this 'response'in a recent edition of Opus.

The Evils of Errorism! 

Sometimes the best way to get something right is by getting it wrong, right? Right:

A story headlined 'Syria seeks our help to woo US' in Saturday's Weekend Australian misquoted National Party senator Sandy Macdonald. The quote stated: "Syria is a country that has been a bastard state for nearly 40 years" but should have read "Syria is a country that has been a Baathist state for nearly 40 years." The Australian regrets any embarrassment caused by the error.

(Hat tip to Samizdata)

Meanwhile, in the course of a review of Peter Conradi's book Going Buddhist, Claudia FitzHerbert reveals her prejudices:

Conradi portrays a religion that can accommodate organic change, and champions the intelligent rigour of Western Buddhists more concerned with the future of meditation in the West than with the perpetration of ancient traditions (and divisions) of the East.

Find this review at The Spectator. I would have thought that writers for this well-known Tory magazine would have been more concerned with the perpetuation of ancient traditions...

And Paul Bickford uncovers the following beauty:

How's this for a classic example of the intellect of ABC audiences (and staffers):-

Dingbat in Melbourne (on phone):- I'm studying a latin phrasebook at the moment, because I'm going to Cuba in November; someone told me they don't speak English in Latin America.

JJJ Talkback imbecele:- Cuba? great! That book will be handy; I don't know any latin either.

Good old ABC- catering to our cultural elites like never before.

Hmmm, I wonder if this is the book they're studying?

I could go on - and on - but I wouldn't want to risk perpetuating any errors myself!

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Mmmmm... Ewok..... 

Welcome Sithmonkey to the Blogosphere, and please check out his delicious recipes for Ewok!

Friday, March 26, 2004

A Pedantic Post 

Here's a letter which caught my eye from yesterday's Newcastle Herald:

From Scott Hillard

Like most anti-abortionists, John Dunleavy (Short Takes 23/3) is not a woman of child-bearing age.

John Dunleavy is not a woman. That's true.

Men like Tony Abbott and Mr. Dunleavy...

Tony Abbott and John Dunleavy are men? That's true too.

... along with Margaret Tighe of the "Right to Life" organisation, are in a very fortunate position - they will never experience an unwanted pregnancy...

And men usually don't get pregnant. That's also true.

... and will never face the terrible choice confronting any woman who may have to consider undertaking an abortion.
Mr. Dunleavy is correct in asserting that there can be no unwanted pregnancies in the absence of sexual activity...

True. You have to copulate to populate, do the deed to spread the seed!

... but then he may as well assert that there would be no passive smoking in the absence of respiration.

True again.

Most people might well find it easier to give up breathing to avoid unwanted smoking.

True yet again, but this is just repeating what he'd said in the previous sentence.

The world is already burdened with enough mistreated and unwanted children as it is.
We can do without adding more.

And that's also true. True, true, true, true, true, and true. Hillard does nothing more in this letter than state the obvious, and still manages to come to a conclusion - pro-abortion - which many people might have problems with.
Other obvious facts include: Scott Hillard is not a woman of child-bearing age, he will never experience an unwanted pregnancy, and will never face the terrible choice confronting any woman who may have to consider undertaking an abortion. His letter applies to himself as well as to those he disagrees with. What right does he have to be pro-abortion? By his own reasoning, he should shut-up.

I'm pro-abortion myself, but Hillard's letter doesn't advance the cause. Not one bit.

Local News 

Judging from some local news reports, the Not In My Backyard Crowd are now worrying about other people's backyards.

Item One.

Green Plight has owner seeing red

Maitland businessman Craig Richards is calling for "green peace".
The owner of Maitland Wholesale Windscreens and Tinting, Mr. Richards is at war with Maitland City Council over the colour of his High Street Business, which is lime green.
The wrangle began when a complaint about the colour was sent to the council.

If somebody had a complaint to make, why did they complain to the council, and not to Mr. Richards?

Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore said he could understand Mr. Richard's plight.
"But the bottom line is that his building is in a heritage zone and he should have contacted the council before he painted."

(From the Newcastle Herald. Link unavailable.)

And did the council really have nothing better to do than to respond to this dumb complaint, and cause trouble for a businessman minding his own business? Actually, no, don't answer that.

Item Two

If you didn't like that, why don't you come and meet Ranger Ralph? This cute fellow is the mascot of Port Stephens council, and he's used to help publicise environmental campaigns (usually something to do with picking up dogshit. No, seriously).
Well, yesterday I happened to pick up a copy of The View, the Port Stephens council paper, and guess what? Ranger Ralph has a column. It's called Ranger Ralph's Shame and Smile Files.

And what about the guy who got a shiny new chainsaw for Christmas and went berserk on a grove of trees on his property. No real reason for cutting them down, just wanted a bit of open space. That's fine, mate...

In other words: a guy cuts down some trees on his own property. What's wrong with that? Sounds fine to me.

... but we do have a tree preservation order in Port Stephens and if you want to remove trees the matter needs to be properly assessed (trees don't grow on trees you know, and what about the animals that lived there)

But the guy cut down the trees on his own property!

Anyway, this guy could end up in some real strife at court - we all have a responsibility to protect the environment in a reasonable manner.

But the guy cut down the trees on his own property!!! He cut down the trees on his own property!!! He ... oh, never mind.

Surf's Up Beachley! 

Interesting to see that Surfing Women's Champion Layne Beachley went up against Surfing Men's Champion Andy Irons today at Newcastle beach:


TWO rising surf stars upstaged the reigning world men's and women's professional champions in the $100,000 EnergyAustralia Open.

Bede Durbidge from Queensland and Bernado Pigmeau from Brazil shocked a crowd of 20,000 at Newcastle Beach by eliminating Andy Irons, from Hawaii, and Layne Beachley, from Sydney.

Disappointing to see that they were both eliminated in the first round.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bloggedy Bloggedy Bloggedy Blog 

The Bunyip suggests an amusing pastime for the weekend.

That Satan sure is evil - falsifying statistics an' all.

Everything made clear 

Letter in the Herald today:

If, as Israeli propagandists assert, Sheik Yassin is Hamas's bin Laden, then Ariel Sharon is its recruitment officer.

Colin Andersen, Lapstone, March 23

Now everything has been explained: not only is Sheik Yassin Hamas's bin Laden and Ariel Sharon it's recruiter, but Bush is Hitler, Kabul is the new Prague, and Iraq is both Vietnam and the Suez. Not to mention Glasgow: the new black and Christian: the new gay.
And I am very, very confused.

A Tale of Telstra 

Back again. This time, Telstra seem to have fixed my line, but it took them long enough.
So long, in fact, that I was able to write the whole tale of my dealings with Telstra in verse...

A Tale of Telstra

When your home telephone has got no dial-tone
And you can’t get the net up at all
Then you fret and you frown and you start feeling down
And you decide to give Telstra a call.
So you dial their number into your mobile
And are put in a mile-long queue
And you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait
And it seems that you’ll never get through
And alas and alack! they’re playing muzack,
And the sound is truly horrendous
And you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait
And the urge to hang up is tremendous;
But at last you get through to the end of the queue
And to your woe, despair, sadness and sorrow
The operator says they’ll test your line later
And call you back – maybe – tomorrow!
So you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait
For two days – going on four –
And you get sick and tired and at last you decide
To get on the blower once more
But your phone starts to ring, so you pick up the thing
And it’s Telstra - at last! - though they say
That they’ve tested your line and to them it sounds fine,
But ‘get a new phone anyway’;
So you decide you will chance it with a new handset,
And you get one ASAP
And – life is sweet! ‘cause the phone works a treat! –
So you log on immediately;
But the line is erratic and flooded with static
And the net only stays up for a minute
And the phone shortly falls silent, and the urge to do violence
Is quickly becoming infinite;
So you call Telstra again and you shout and complain
And you moan and you whinge and you whine
And they say that they’ll send someone round to mend
The supposed fault in your line.
To draw a conclusion to this tale of confusion,
In a day and week and an hour
A man came around, and the problem was found,
So my phone-line is working – for now.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sup on a Pup 

March 15 was International Eat an Animal for PETA day.
In honour of this occasion, I invite all readers to sup on a pup - and I don't mean of the Hot-Dog variety.
(And I know this post is four days too late. Would have posted it earlier, but ... see below.)

The Evil Monolothic Telstra Conglomerate Strikes Again 

I still have dial-up problems. While they're getting fixed posting will be light and low.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Schmick Hicks Pic. is Pick of Flicks 

The Sydney Morning Herald offers another view on The President Versus David Hicks, mentioned in the previous post.

The Australian Guantanamo Bay captive David Hicks occupied himself in jail by killing mice, it has been reported.

Mr Hicks, 28, who is awaiting a US military commission, reportedly went to desperate measures to maintain his sanity.

It is not known what the mouse community thinks of Hicks and his radical rodent-killing therapy.

In other news, local television writer Michael Gadd puts in a review of the documentary for The Newcastle Herald. Link is unavailable online, but I just couldn't resist putting in this headline:

Local Yokel Vocal in support of Quranic Manic Hicks

Saturday, March 13, 2004

How Hicks gets his Kicks 

"It will sound silly," writes Stephen Romei, in a review of The President Versus David Hicks, screening this Wednesday on SBS television,

... but it repulses me to learn, from a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, that Hicks passes the time by catching mice and hanging them.

Doesn't sound silly to me at all. Interestingly, Romei is no Right-winger; he 'despises' the 'arrogance that governs the US war on terror'. But his measured review shows he's able to engage in reasonable discussion, which is more than some on the Left seem able to do. Go read - and watch the documentary on SBS if you're able.

Back in the Sane World 

Some other responses to the Madrid bombings:

Tim Blair: Well done, terrorists. You’ve successfully not terrified anybody.

Golan and Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas: The images and testimonies that we’ve been watching are absolutely heart wrecking. Last night some of the people who were working in the mass morgue that was improvised in a convention center needed medical sedation because they couldn’t cope with what they were watching: dozens of people inside black plastic bags whose mobile phones kept ringing all the time. Several children in a school nearby one of the explosions were waiting for their parents to take them home. Their parents never came.

Sophia: (Quoting her Spanish friend Dani) He was so shocked and so angry. This is war, he said. Those fucking terrorists. Fucking ETA, or Fucking Arabs. We should kill them.

Via Reuters: MADRID - Chanting "Cowards" and "Killers," millions of protestors packed rainswept streets across Spain Friday condemning the country's worst ever guerrilla attack which killed at least 199 people.

The Australian: THE Madrid bombers have joined the ranks of the army of infamy who kill without purpose or discrimination. They are the ultimate vandals, happy to murder and maim people who have done them no harm and whose deaths cannot advance their cause.

Thanks to Tim Blair and Instapundit for many of these links.

A Bloody and Cowardly Act of Bastardry 

We all know the facts: 10 simultaneous bomb-blasts in trains in Madrid. At least 199 people dead, 1,400 more injured, many in a critical condition. It's mass murder - plain and simple. Follow the story here, and here.
We're still not sure who is responsible - at the moment it's a toss up between Al-Qaeda and ETA. But, for the letter writers at the SMH, the response to the events has been immediate and unequivocal: ignore the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians, and instead, score cheap political points against the 'coalition of the willing'...

Our Iraq delusions hang over the massacre in Madrid

If the speculation that al-Qaeda is responsible for the atrocities in Madrid is accurate, John Howard's claims that the invasion of Iraq made us safer from terrorism and that closeness to the Bush Administration is an asset will soon be filed in the same dusty filing cabinet as the human shredding machine.

Howard will be relieved if it is shown instead that ETA has just become even more brutal.

That's the first letter, from Catherine Craddock of Hornsby. It sets the tone for what is to follow.
Dave Diss of Glengowrie sees the bombings as - wait for it - 'punishment':

Hasn't it occurred to the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, the least notable of the civilian heroes of the "coalition of the willing", that the atrocities might be more intimately related to the invasion of Iraq, payback for his voluble but cheap endorsement of it, and his cosying up to the strutting Texan? It probably has. But it isn't in his best interests to acknowledge it.

'Punishment'? Sure, this is 'punishment' - if you define 'punishment' as 'the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians'. I'll stick with the more conventional definition - 'mass murder'.

For Marilyn Shepherd, of Kensington, it's all just another excuse to blame the US:

The victims of the bombs in Spain were totally innocent, as were the victims of the daisy-cutter dropped by the US, so why are only those in Spain victims of the phoney war against terrorism, while the Afghans are "collateral damage"?

While Max Fischer - bizarrely - somehow manages to sneak in a mention of the Tampa crisis...

The fear of asylum seekers exploited by the Howard Government during the Tampa crisis pales in comparison with the genuine fear of terrorist attacks on Australian soil.

The probability of al-Qaeda accepting responsibility for the carnage in Spain reveals the patience this organisation displays in punishing those countries which supported the US in invading Iraq.

Who said the world's a safer place after the capture of Saddam Hussein?

That word 'punishment' again. They just can't seem to get away from it.
There's still more. Michael Burd seems to care more about events in Palestine and Israel:

With the atrocities against civilians in Madrid it is interesting how quickly the media has called perpetrators "terrorists", yet with the same type of attacks against civilians in Israel they are described as "militants".

...but it's not entirely clear if he supports the Palestinian 'militants' or opposes the Madrid 'terrorists'. These letter writers are so eager to pick up inconsistencies, contradictions and other mistakes made by other people, that they completely forget about the mistakes they make themselves.

8 letters in all, and there's only one sane one amongst the lot of them. That's by Neil Ormerod, of Strathfield:

I awoke this morning to hear on the radio news of the latest terrorist attacks in Spain. Yet again we have all been subjected to a bloody and cowardly act of bastardry. The question is: who is responsible?

My question is: how can one be "responsible" for such a blatant act of irresponsibility?

The people who perpetrate such acts are not "responsible" humans. They are among the most irresponsible.

We should no longer speak of them being "responsible for terrorism" but of being "guilty of terrorism".

For the rest of them, it's just an excuse to get in some free kicks, mostly at John Howard, George Bush, Aznar, and the rest of the neo-conservative-white-trash-fascist-rascist-warmongering-redneck-scum that formed the coalition of the willing. It's sickening.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Well Done Me! 

And the award for Blatant Self-Congratulation goes this year to - the UK Award Industry!

The first awards ceremony for people who organise awards is being held on Friday, and it's not a spoof. Why is it that even the gong industry needs gongs?
The Awards Awards, at London's Dorchester Hotel, is a chance for the cream of the UK's award industry - the gongerati, if you will - to give themselves a hearty slap on the back.

Don't they have anything better to do in the UK? Earlier, I posted this item about the Inquiries inquiry currently underway in Britain. So now there's going to be an Awards award as well?

"I agree the idea of the awards industry awarding itself awards can sound amusing, but not for people who are shortlisted," says Awards World editor Barbara Buchanan.
"The industry is taking it seriously."

A little too seriously, perhaps.

But doesn't this orgy of backslapping rather devalue the concept of rewarding merit - what's the point of handing out prizes if everyone receives one?

"You wouldn't say that if you won an award," says Ms Buchanan. "Everybody likes to win an award. It's good for morale."

Of course we do! But now I have to go; I'm awarding myself an award for being the least awarded award-winner to ever win an award.
Now that's self-congratulatory!
(Via Across the Atlantic)

Thursday, March 11, 2004

They Just Don't Make Weapons Like They Used To 

A list of 'nonlethal weapons', many still in the proposed stage, from an United States Air Force Institute for National Security Studies report. Found at the Harper's magazine website.
A small taste of what's on offer:

Photic Driver: A crowd-control device that uses ultrasound and flashing infrared lights to penetrate closed human eyelids. Potential for epileptic fits because of the stroboscopic flashing effect.

Psycho-Correction: A technology invented by a Russian scientist that involves influencing subjects visually or aurally with imbedded subliminal messages.

Genetic Alteration: The act of changing genetic code to create a desired less-than-lethal but long-term disablement effect, perhaps for generations, thereby creating a societal burden.

My own suggestion: a Bob Brown clone. Release him in front of the enemy troops, tell him to talk about the Australian Greens policies, and watch him bore the troops to death!

The Shifty Mufti 

Grand Mufti Sheikh al-Hilaly: extremist or moderate? You be the judge...

From the Australian, January of this year:

IT'S a colourful book that sits on a shelf in the country's largest Islamic bookshop deep in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney.

But unlike much of the texts surrounding it, Jihad and Jurisprudence is considered by moderate Muslims to pose a danger to society.

Inside, Western laws are described as null and void and all Muslims are called to participate in violent jihad, or holy war, in "infidel lands".


Among those concerned are the country's most senior Islamic leader, Sheikh Taj Din Al Hilaly, and Islamic scholar Mohsen Labban.


Sheikh Hilaly himself is an unwilling recipient of this kind of literature, including the works of the 18th century founder of the fundamentalist Wahabi form of Islam, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab.

But some time ago he made a firm decision about how to deal with the caches of booklets and pamphlets that turn up unsolicited every few months on the doorstop of Lakemba Mosque, the most prominent place of worship for Australia's 280,000 Muslims. So seriously does he take the literature's ability to influence people, he makes trips to the rubbish tip to dispose of it.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian several months ago, Sheikh Hilaly refused to reveal who was behind the material – which is understood to be distributed unsolicited to other mosques.

From Religion News Blog, last year (this was originally an article in The Australian by Trudy Harris, but the link no longer works):

Extremists preaching social disharmony and intolerance are visiting Australia specifically to target young Muslims, the spiritual leader of the nation's Islamic community has warned.

Sheikh Taj Din Al Hilaly accused the Immigration Department of failing to vet visiting Islamic speakers who were brainwashing young Muslims with extreme right-wing doctrine.

And, from a Herald article of the same year:

The IYM was banned from the Lakemba mosque in 1999 by Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, the mufti of Australia.

A community worker, Dr Jamal Rifi said the group's members stood at the fringe of the Islamic community.

"We disagree with their ideology, their interpretation of the Koran, the way they have conducted themselves and their political motivation ," Dr Rifi said. "As an Australian Muslim, I would like our leaders to show the true face of Islam, the moderate, middle-of-the-road Islam, the Islam that is open to other religions. "

Compare and contrast with this, from the Sydney Morning Herald, a few days ago:

Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, the Imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque who holds the honorary title of Mufti, is reported to have made the comments in a sermon delivered at a mosque in Lebanon.

He allegedly described Arab martyrs and the September 11 attacks as "God's work against oppressors".

The Mufti is also quoted as saying: "The true man is the boy who opposes Israeli tanks with strength and faith," according to a version translated by the Australian embassy in Beirut.

Sheik Al Hilaly has since said his comments were misunderstood.

Hello again 

Had problems with my phone line so wasn't able to blog for a couple of days. Back now.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


Just further to that last post. Leonore Dvorkin had to get her breast amputated. I've always wondered, what do the doctors do with the amputated body part afterwards? Give it to the owner? Keep it and file it away? Throw it out? Sell it to the cat-food company down the road?
Mail your suggestions through to me!

Who Knew Breast Cancer Could Be This Fun? 

An ad on Tim Blair's sidebar links to this book, titled 'Why I'm Glad I Had Breast Cancer', by Leonore Dvorkin.
Perhaps I could try writing a book in a similar vein. How about: 'Bubonic Plague for Fun and Profit'?

Friday, March 05, 2004

Demise of a Hack 

Poor old Uli Schmetzer. All he did was take a spurious quote and attribute it to a non-existent person. He just wanted to fill his column space! He didn't want this to happen...

This seems to be happening an awful lot nowadays. First Jayson Blair, now Uli Schmetzer. Maybe these guys should form a Union - you know, the Union of Bullshit Artists, standing up for the rights of hacks everywhere in their constant struggle against the hegemonic media forces represented by totalitarian editors and publishers.

Catch the whole story at Tim Blair's website...

The Dark Lord Makes an Appearance 

Seems there have been some demonic manifestations during the making of The Passion of the Christ:

John Debney, who composed the music for The Passion of the Christ, has told the US Christian news agency Assist News Service that he was visited by the devil - via his computer - while writing the score.

"The first time . . . it scared me," he said. "Once I got over the initial shock, I learned to work around it and and so I would start talking to him. The computers froze for about the 10th time [one] day and it was about 9pm and so I got really mad and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, 'Let's go out into the parking lot and let's go'."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Somebody, an Axe! 

Quick, chop down the rainforests now before they produce any more carbon dioxide!

Eh? What's that? Trees produce oxygen? Which we need to survive?

Ha! Show's how much you know! Trees might do that, on their own ... but in this week's edition of Catalyst, Science Reporter Paul Willis looks at research in the Australian Daintree forest showing it producing more Carbon Dioxide than it consumes.

Carbon Dioxide - that stuffs toxic! It's a pollutant! It... it ... causes the Greenhouse Effect! Alert the authorities! Get the greens on to it! Chop the forests down, before they do any more harm!

UPDATE: The ABC has now posted a full transcript of the report on their website.


Remember this post?

America's oldest man dies at 114

Why am I not surprised? America's oldest man has died: so what? What did they expect him to do? Fly to the moon? Take up yodelling as a pastime? Tap dance over the Himalayas? Continue living indefinitely?

Well, it turns out he wasn't that old at all. He was a positively youthful 92 years old:

But U.S. Census records indicate that Coates, who had been celebrated for his age in news stories and public proclamations, was no older than 92 when he died Feb. 24.

Do people cause climate change? 

17,000 scientists say no:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

Link via Aaron Oakley.

Issue of The Day 

It's time to take issue with a really big issue, a really important issue, an issue that is so fundamental that ... we haven't even heard about it in Australia yet. That issue is ... gay marriage.
I don't have an opinion about it myself, and you probably don't either, but here are three useful opinions for starters:

Andrew Sullivan is for gay marriage...

The Bunyip has no problems with gays, but does have problems with marriage...

While Presidential candidate Philippe is not sure what to think, but he likes the idea, anyway.

Harry's Busy Hands (and Lips) 

"I was 27, a postgraduate student at Yale in my last term, and then, as now, a man." writes Sam Schulman, beginning a heartbreaking tale of innocence lost in this week's Spectator:

One day, walking along Temple Street, I saw Harold (Bloom) ambling towards me... I told him that I thought his lecture was beautiful. He stopped, and regarded me with his soft, yearning eyes. ‘My dear,’ he said, ‘what a lovely thing to tell an old and tired man.’ He was 47. ‘Here — let me kiss you.’ And he stepped forward, put his arms around me, pulled me to his then ample bosom, and kissed me on the mouth.

His lips, I remember, were full. They were rather chapped with the dryness of American houses in winter, even though spring had arrived. His kiss was decisive, tender, historic — a flag planted upon new territory.

Meanwhile, Imre Salusinszky turns in some very deep thoughts about the whole affair.

No column can afford to ignore the seriousness of these events. Another column needs to be written about them immediately. This is that column.

Such events are like signposts that require us to stop and reassess. They require us to commit ourselves. But above all they require us to go immediately to our keyboards and start writing columns beginning: "Celebrity feminist Naomi Wolf has claimed . . ."

Monday, March 01, 2004


Was at an underground film night last night (as happens) and was chatting with some very nice vegans (as you do). The following exchange occurred:

Vegan 1: "There's a cafe on Beaumont, they say they serve vegan lasagne."

Vegan 2: "Oh?"

Vegan 1: "Yeah. But the recipe reads lasagne with bolognese sauce - which is fine - but the sauce is sprinkled with parmesan!"

Vegan 2: "Wooah, man, that's just wrong! Can't they tell the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?"

I didn't mention that I was an old-fashioned meatitarian myself. For fear of offending, and all. But really, how could anyone honestly spend their lives agonizing about the pedantic distinction between 'vegan' and 'vegetarian' meals?
The conversation continued:

Vegan 2: "I have a friend who won't even wear wool or animal products. She only wears synthetic clothes."

Vegan 1: "Yeah, but you could argue that wearing synthetic clothes could be worse for the environment?"

"How?" I asked.

Vegan 1: "Well, the manufacturing process for the synthetic materials could be bad for the environment."

"Okay," I said. "But why should you assume that the manufacturing process could be bad for the environment?"

Vegan 2: (helpfully) "Well, maybe you shouldn't assume that. But the corporations that produce the synthetic materials are bad for the environment, at least."

Oh yes. It's all the corporations fault. Isn't it obvious?

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