Thursday, July 07, 2005

Good-bye, Tony

Rush-Hour Strike Wounds Up to 1,000;
Blair Sees G-8 Link - New York Times

Political career finished. I don't understand enough about how the British system works to know what happens next. Can Tony be sacked and replaced with another Labour politician until the next election? Do they call another election and vote in the Liberal Democrats? Can it be the end of Tony without being the end of Labour?

Pity it wasn't a Conservative government. The train-bombing in Spain did wonders: consider the past wonder-year under Zapatero, blown in by the explosion. This could be a real boost for Eurosocialism as countries once tempted by Tom Friedman's fantasy "Anglo-Saxon model" repudiate everything that stinks of America.

Of course the response in the US will be the opposite: terrorism is getting closer to home--we need a strong leader. We didn't get bombed--because Bush was protecting us. And of course if we do get bombed that will be all the more reason for supporting the current regime. Bring on the ownership society, get more guns, keep women typing and filing--see what happens when the abortionists, evolutionists, feminists and homosexuals have their way?

This sounds pretty callous, doesn't it? 33 people so far are dead. Pardon me for repeating the obvious but consider how many people die in drive-by shootings in LA, get executed in Texas, die in Iraq or get murdered in South Africa. It's all the same Cowboys and Indians game.

Of course it's not going to do the radical Muslims any good, any more than 1960's radical street theater helped the American Left. In 1968 I was convinced that it was the end of the Old Order--dress codes would be abolished, drugs would be legalized, big business would collapse and colleges would be transformed into "free universities" where we would sit on the grass learning to throw pots and weave baskets. I wasn't entirely happy about this--I wanted drug legalization and the end of the dress code but I was terrified that higher education as we knew it would poop out before I could be a professor. I didn't want to live on a commune wearing long dresses, birthing babies and cooking the menfolk's organic food. But I was convinced that it would happen because there were so many of us marching and because we got on TV--we would destroy the Military-Industrial Complex.

So now these radical Muslim youths, of the age we were when we marched, imagine that they will topple the Great Satan and drive back the forces of Westernization so that they can live in mud huts (with satelite TV of course), reduce education to memorizing the Koran, put their women in burqas, and preserve their shit culture. Actually the vision isn't too different, is it? Romanticism, militant anti-intellectualism and anti-feminism.

It won't work, lads--the grown-ups always win.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The fault is in our stars, not in ourselves Fate of program is in her hands

This month, Eileen Collins, commander of the next space shuttle mission, will strap herself into a rocket ship loaded with explosive fuel and shoot from zero to 1,000 mph in a minute flat.

Meanwhile Sheila Jeffreys, a lesbian separatist described as "the Andrea Dworkin of the UK," has launched a campaign against make-up and breast implants.

I'd bet that Collins had a hard time: it isn't easy for women to get to do guy stuff. Besides ongoing discrimination there are a thousand little pushes and pulls, conventions that dictate what women are supposed to do and where the no-go areas are. To run the gauntlet you have to be talented, determined--and very thick-skinned. Most don't make it.

It's easy to cut your hair and stop shaving your legs. No one's stopping you. Why is this supposed to be radical?

"Radical feminism" doesn't challenge the external, social and institutional constraints that make it difficult or impossible to do guy stuff, in particular, to get "men's jobs." It's just another component of the cosy creed that says the fault is in ourselves, not in our stars, and that we can fix it by doing things that are within our power--thinking good thoughts, developing the right attitude, being assertive, doing things that are within our control.

And it isn't peculiar to feminism, "radical" or otherwise. It's the wisdom literature of the ages, defining the Good Life as something that's within everyone's reach regardless of their life circumstances. Look close to home--fix your head, your home, your behavior, your relationships, your wardrobe: all will be well--and you'll be too busy to notice the external constraints over which you have no control, or to kick against the goads.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Honest Tea

P.C. Tea - New York Times

The obvious question raised by a product called Honest Tea is: What, exactly, is dishonest tea? This sounds smart-alecky, but the name of the bottled tea does imply something more serious than mere thirst-quenching, so it's legitimate to wonder what it is trying to communicate. Is it healthfulness, or a tie-in to a cause, or a solution to an ethical quandary (in the way that Fair-Trade-certified coffee lets you wake up without feeling as if you're exploiting third-world farmers)?

It's also worth asking because a significant group of consumers seems to be responding. Launched in 1998, Honest Tea now sells more than a dozen varieties of bottled tea (and some bag teas as well), had revenues of nearly $6 million last year and expects to hit $9 million this year, according to the company.

Oh, Jesus, doesn't this make you sick? For all my political blueness, I can very easily understand what Reds are pissed about--this appalling New Moralism that's all the worse because it doesn't even understand itself as grossly, sanctimoniously, smugly moralistic.

Personally, I am now drinking my favorite dishonest drink: half and half Almaden white wine and store brand diet lemon-lime soda. I have no interest in being healthy. I do have a membership at Women's Fitness World but my only interest is in losing weight for aesthetic purposes. I wonder why the self-interested desire to "be healthy" is somehow supposed to be more edifying than the self-interested desire to look ok and fit into reasonable clothes, or for that matter the self-interested desire to make lots of money.

As far as Honest Tea, Fair-Trade Coffee and Politically Correct Chocolate goes, how much utility do consumers produce by buying these products? They're expensive and hard to find. Take the premium you pay for this crap (including the money for gas to take you to that health food store and the cost of your time) and send it to Oxfam