Blogs your brain can whack-off to.
Another Angry Voice
Words on the Street
The blog is a an awkward place – part journalism, part rant, part poetry, part diary. Anyone can start one and spend time and words on useless outpours, unregulated, slanderous, inaccurate nonsense which no one reads or cares about – my own blog is testament to that. But occasionally you come across a blog which is worth more than its weight in bits. Here are a few that I've come across lately.
Another Angry Voice, a blog by Thomas G. Clark, is a triumph of blogging potential, a go-to resource whenever some silver-tongued suited politician starts patronising you with oh-so-much conviction. Informed and measured, yet perfectly outraged by political manipulation, hypocrisy and ignorance, Clark's approach is to dissect issues and expose the rarely mentioned trickery that goes on behind politics are presented by the likes of Nick Robinson and his journalism-lite colleagues. AAV treats his readers with intelligence, going into details that most media outlets assume are beyond us, using facts and a generally egalitarian social position to present some views. Most of it makes you sick of the political establishment – the difference between AAV and the general media is that it gives reasons and examples which explain why you should be disgusted, rather than a lazy and sweeping 'they're all the same' cynicism which instead serves to blunt critiques, and continue the norm by infusing a sense of powerlessness in everyone. See Zizek on cynicism for more on this.
CLark describes his political leanings as 'angry'. Observers would naturally put him on the left, and they'd be correct. Thomas would say 'libertarian-left'. By my mind, considering that contemporary political consensus has moved to the right over the last few decades, an intelligent critique has to come from what would be considered the 'left'. More idiotic critiques of contemporary politics make issues with things like social equality, the demise of empire, climate change, and superficial political scandals (see the Daily Mail, Niall Ferguson, James Delingpole and the Daily Mail again for examples). These people are evidently disappointed that Thatcherism, globalisation and post-colonial geopolitics hasn't yet stopped the poor from being able to breed, and want to convince you to endorse their crazy march towards dystopian elitism.
While AAV investigates party politics, party funding, fascism in the UK, the media, etc. Thomas's general target is the pervasive and little-understood ideology of neoliberalism which informs much of the socio-political landscape, so if I could endorse just one article from this blog it would be What is Neoliberalism, from September 2012. Get educated!
A Facebook friend offered up a link of Words on the Street, stating that it was the best blog in town. Ian Beetlestone is a London cabbie. No, not like the ones you get in Stewart Lee's anecdotes, which are all true, of course. In fact, Ian defends the image of the cabbie, pointing out that he's gay, socially liberal, and left-wing.
But with such a rarely heard voice, it's no surprise that many people have unfair preconceptions of cab drivers – they're used as a synonym for 'the man on the street', and a Sun-reading one at that – a vehicle (if you'll pardon the pun) for unreasonable bigotry and monosyllabic conversations. Ian Beetlestone is here to put that right.
Driving a taxi isn’t just about taking passengers from one place to another – in fact, that’s secondary. No, driving a taxi is about drawing lines on a map. It’s art, and it can be beautiful at times.
In the post where this is taken from, from March 2014, our cabbie talks about driving from Kings Cross to Wimbledon Park at midnight, some quite passenger in the back. Some of the landmarks I know, some I don't, but that doesn't really matter. You wind through dark and dusty London streets at a comfortable pace, just absorbing stuff, as he fondly describes the journey. It's refreshing to see someone so at ease with what he does, so at home in the city where he lives.
And especially for this week, Jon Snow's Snowblog. Few news anchors do their job with such a well measured combination of sensitivity and tenacity. Eddie Mair scores high for sensitivity; Paxman for tenacity. Snow's got both. Thankfully, Channel 4 allows him to use it to great affect on many occasions, and during the current Gaza conflict has been no exception. He has been bullish towards the Israeli politicians who he's interviewed, and sometimes gets over excited. But Jon is only human and, as this blog post shows, it is Jon's deep sense of humanity which makes him such a righteous dude.
This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world. We fail as humankind if we do not devise a coming-together. Our leaders, as a vast priority, have to try and try again to use every mechanism in our rare animal capacity - our considerable intellects – to bring these peoples to resolution whatever the cost.
He was writing about being in Gaza over the last few days, somewhere few of us would wish to be, but somewhere we all feel like we know intimately as we've watched the death toll resolutely climb. While many, including Jon himself, issue polemics, tirades and accusations in the cyclone of self-righteous commentary which surrounds the Israel-Palestine conflict, this small article, despite the token words of what must be done, had interwoven throughout it one man's sense of hopelessness.
I feel guilty in leaving, and for the first time in my reporting life, scarred, deeply scarred by what I have seen, some of it too terrible to put on the screen.
And a blog you can wipe your arse with.
While writing this post a few days ago I came across FrontPage Mag, which boasts the utterly inspired subheading "Inside Every Liberal Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out". Time to prepare for some sweeping paranoia...
The rant that caricatured every Israeli critic as a racist Islamophile Marxist caricature was by Daniel Greenfield, but he is only one of many paranoid columnists for FrontPage. The mag itself is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. "Freedom" is a word that always has to be qualified, used as it is by those who appear to endorse their own freedom over that of others. Freedom for the Palestinians, for example, wouldn't quite fit the Horowitz definition. The thrust of FrontPage arguments seem to be about avoiding the subject matter at hand, and taking aim at the left's assumed hypocrisy on the subject. This tactic leads to articles such as The Left isn't pro-Gay – It's Pro-Power and #BringBackOurGirls and the Left's Empty Moral Outrage.
Horowitz, like other disappointed young hippies, like Melanie Phillips and Jon Voight, made the charged leap away from socialist principles to self-interest and fear as they aged. Disastrous legacies of badly executed communism is enough to tar the entire left with the same brush; legacies of capitalism go unexamined, perhaps because these individuals have privately benefited...
In a choice article from April 2007, Michael Reagan, son of neoliberal maestro Ronald, laments that the real culprit of thirty-two recent deaths at a school are the laws that prohibited "the students and faculty from exercising their Constitutional right to protect themselves and others by bearing arms on campus." I had to read that twice! Yes – more guns! In schools! To solve the problem of on-campus shooting!