Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

January 29, 2011

Internet Culture Reclamation Situation (Inaugural Edition)

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:19 pm

So, Nick and I decided that is was hell of time that cool YouTube clips and the like got a re-airing. Sort of a nostalgia project for a medium that essentially wrestles away any sense of history beyond that which is being currently experienced. Here is my offering, and I hope it becomes a weekly thing. For the record, Nick will throw his twenty-seven pence in and it’ll be better. 

I’ve gone for movie trailer mashups:

And a little bit of Jack Nicholson

And some Old Testament for you too:

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

Coal. Yeah. What is it gooood for? Powering developing economies. Oh.

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:43 am

I’ve been meaning to post a link to this piece for a while, but it’s in the area of the environment, which ain’t exactly my wheelhouse (It’s Nick’s). But I got opinions, so here goes.

It’s by certified liberal James Fallows (whose blog over at The Atlantic is excellent) a man whose credentials on China are unsurpassed. It makes the case that “clean coal” whilst essentially an unpalatable sop to most advocates of reduced carbon emissions, are as good as we’re going to get in the short term efforts for global co-operation on the issue, and also highlights a promising area upon which the West and China can usefully unite.

Read the whole thing. Here’s as close as I could come to a money quote:

The proposition that coal could constitute any kind of “hope” or solution, or that a major environmentalist action plan could be called “Coal Without Carbon,” as one I will describe is indeed named—this goes beyond seeming interestingly contrarian to seeming simply wrong. For the coal industry, the term “clean coal” is an advertising slogan; for many in the environmental movement, it is an insulting oxymoron. But two ideas that underlie the term are taken with complete seriousness by businesses, scientists, and government officials in China and America, and are the basis of the most extensive cooperation now under way between the countries on climate issues. One is that coal can be used in less damaging, more sustainable ways than it is now. The other is that it must be used in those ways, because there is no plausible other way to meet what will be, absent an economic or social cataclysm, the world’s unavoidable energy demands.

Emphasis is mine. The reason I ain’t posted it before is because it contains the kind of thesis that someone might find abhorrent before considering. But it’s well written and researched, and worthy of debate regardless of one’s feelings on the particulars. It’s an actual piece of journalism.

For the purposes of balance (or really, supplement) I endorse what I think is the alternate effort that Fallows envisages, courtesy of Nick: 

“Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will.”

God, I hope so, but those last two are tragically key. At least it beats the idea that we all go vegetarian

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

January 26, 2011

Toby Harnden is the worst excuse for a journalist ever

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 8:08 pm

I must have typed the above in title box of a dozen draft posts, sitting on the edge of darkness like a man with a bottle of brandy and a loaded pistol, but this time I’m doing it. I’m living the dream. Because…

It’s Sarah Palin Month over at the Telegraph blogs! Here’s his prissy little attempt at anti-establishment humour:

So the celebrated DC wit and Washington Post columist Dana Milbank is boycotting Sarah Palin for the month of February, and encouraging everyone else to do the same. Here’s the case he makes. Well, it’s certainly true that there is a media obsession with Palin. It’s worth noting, though, that this is most pronounced on the Left. The Democrats want Palin (or Rush Limbaugh or Michelle Bachmann) to be the head of the Republican Party because they think that makes the party less palatable.

Certainly, Palin enjoys publicity. But she has been on the receiving end of some extremely nasty stuff, particularly Andrew Sullivan’s lunatic ravings about her son Trig’s parentage and, most recently, the blame laid at her door for the Tucson atrocity.

I’ve argued here before that Palin, for all her qualities, has made some serious mistakes and at this stage remains a flawed candidate for national office. That means she should not be obsessively covered by the media as if she were president. After all, she might well never run for the White House. At the same time, she has a significant following and a real contribution to make to her party and to the country. She deserves to be listened to.

So, rather than sneering fascination or a haughty boycott, how about a middle way in which what she does and what she says is reported on and analysed on its merits?

To this end, Telegraph Blogs has declared February “Sarah Palin Month”. Our US correspondents will cover the former Alaska governor throughout February in the fashion she deserves – and, moreover, other bloggers will make sure that Mrs Palin is mentioned every day, favourably or otherwise. I’m sure James Delingpole, for one, won’t need much encouragement.

I can just hear the collective snickering amongst his putrid co-bloggers, Nile Gardiner and the aforementioned Delingpole (confidential to Harnden, if you want lunatic rantings, you need look no further than your esteemed colleagues.)

But really, this is just pathetic. One guy, Dana Millbank is going to go through with this, but in Harnden’s usual faux homepsun logic about Real Reportin’ in Real ‘Murica, his response is to have a mention of her every fucking day. He conflates someone routinely mocked in the liberal blogosphere as the Dick Whisperer with the entire Washington press corps and the left. 

So, expect many a wild-eyed missive about how she represents the true feelings of the flyover states, and somehow channels the founders’ true intentions or something because of her half term served as Governor of Alaska. Or something. Because as we all know, the founding fathers were all simpleton yokels.

I could write the length of War and Peace on the Harnden-Gardiner-Delingpole Triumvirate of Hackery as regards US politics, but really, what’s the point? Their strategy is to hurl so much intellectual fecal matter at the window of journalistic discourse that any attempt to clean it up results in one being covered in shit.

Seriously. Toby Harnden gets paid cash money to do this. It is his métier. The mind boggles.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

Post hoc ergo procter hoc – GDP Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 12:01 pm

So the economy lost 0.5% in the last quarter. Or so the current estimates say. They can and probably will be revised (maybe even upwards! Who the hell knows any more.) Blaming the weather does sound like something from the annals of canine consumption of homework, but it’s actually credible, as it impacts on consumer spending, tourism and the construction industry all of which are key components in any recovery.

Now, my blogging colleague, queries whether this in fact is the result of the cuts being implemented as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Two things I should point out, to the extent that this probably isn’t the case:

Firstly, this reminds me of an old latin maxim that is the title of this post. Those familiar with the West Wing, will know the phrase to roughly mean “Event Y is preceded by Event X, so Y must have been caused by X”. Chronology as causation, if you will. It is a tempting piece of logic, but is generally considered a logical fallacy. Now, it may actually be the case that there is a causal relationship between our two Events, but to assume it just because of this not advisable. This is especially true in the realms of mysticism known as Economics, where effects of changes to macroeconomic policy are usually staggered and tend not to impact directly on the attending business quarter, or even the following one.

Secondly, the cuts don’t actually start until April of this year.

That said, this Good News for Ed Balls and the Keynsian Method (my best idea for a hipster band name this year) who will argue with greater credibility that the government ought slow or delay its programme of cuts. Certainly the narrative looks just awful for George Osbourne right now. He’s going to need an upward revision on the -0.5% figure, and a complete reverse of the trend for this quarter.

And no more snow.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

January 21, 2011

Say what you will about the Coalition…

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 12:37 am

But this happened:

Civil liberties campaigners have been celebrating after the Government announced controversial powers to detain terror suspects without charge for 28 days would not be renewed.

Home Secretary Theresa May will let the order allowing the detention period expire, meaning that from Tuesday next week the detention limit will revert to 14 days.

Don’t get me wrong, 14 days is still too long, but I’m pretty sure I’ve not seen the words “Civil liberties campaigners have been celebrating” since… well, ok, ID cards were abandoned. 

Naturally, that most Progressive of parties, Labour, welcomed the reverse:

Shadow home secretary Ed Balls, whose question forced the minister’s announcement, said: “This is a deeply arrogant way for the Government to treat this House and it is a shambolic way to make policy on vital issues of national security.”

Ed Balls basic premise is that a step in the right direction on civil liberties is bad because of the way it treats the body that attempted to make a very notion of the word liberty. For a man who was part of government that attempted to introduce 90 days of detention without trial, I think Mr Balls should sit down and have nice long drink of shut-the-fuck-up. 

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

January 12, 2011

Rest in Peace, Richard Winters

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:22 am

A truly great man. It saddens me that we inhabit a world that he has to leave. It saddens me more that war was what made the man.

I present to you the last scene of Band of Brothers, but please watch the whole series. I’ll lend it to ya:

http://www.youtube.com/v/aMaLpUoLc-E&hl=en&fs=1

 

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

January 11, 2011

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life”

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:11 pm

I’m usually a fan of film adaptations of good stories, be it from a book, a play, or even a Hollywood remake of a foreign film, if only because it extends accesibility of the story to an audience that might not otherwise have experienced it. It can also turn an average novel into a far more satisfying piece of entertainment.

However, I am utterly insensible to the idea that F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby should ever be put on screen. This isn’t because it’s my favourite book, or some sacred cow that oughtn’t be sullied by being in 3D. It’s simply that I don’t think it’s possible to do it and retain the charm of the book. Any viewer unfamiliar with the novel* would come away thinking “so what? It was just a doomed romance. No biggie”; anyone who has read it will likely be deeply unsatisfied.

TNC captures it nicely:

“As in so many of the books I love, I found the plot in Gatsby to almost be beside the point. Whenever I see it translated to cinema, the film-maker inevitably crafts a story of doomed romance between Daisy and Gatsby. It’s obviously true that Gatsby holds some sort of flame for Daisy, but what makes the book run (for me) is the ambiguity of that flame. Does he really love her? Or is she just another possession signaling the climb up? I always felt that last point—the climb up—was much more important than the romance. What I remember about Gatsby is the unread books. His alleged love for Daisy barely registers for me.”

Exactly. In adapting the story for cinema, you almost have to, by definition, lose the purpose of the novel. For me the character that simply cannot be translated into live action is that of Nick Carraway, the narrator. His omnipresent take on things is glorious;  his scathing observations so numerous and so divorced from the plot, that to put them on a storyboard would be nearly impossible, beyond simply having almost a verbatim recital of the narrative voice. Which would be tedious. I mean, how does a director convey the sense expressed in the title of this post? Without simply saying it out loud, that is.

Indeed, in order to even include Nick Carraway to a degree that would satisfy a cinema audience, you’d have to infer far more things about his character arc than are really revealed in the book. His relationship with Jordan Baker, for example, is explored in a somewhat throwaway manner, and would require an overly-expositive approach to its telling.

It’s my favourite book for a reason – you can pretty much flick to any page in it and find something captivating and awesome. I suppose if anyone is equal to the task, it is Baz Luhrmann, but I’m not particularly optimistic.

*In my opinion you really have no excuse – it’s short and well written, with themes and sentiments that still obtain today.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

“Nobody Could Have Predicted…” Flu Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:18 pm

Apparently when you sensationalise flu deaths that are otherwise within expected norms, some people who are healthy and not in the flu risk group will panic and unnecessarily purchase the flu vaccine, thus creating a shortage.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

When is a political killing apolitical? When it’s a white guy afraid of government

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:59 am

By now, anyone inclined to read this blog will probably be acquainted with the facts of the mass murder surrounding the attempted assasination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) . There’s not much to say beyond what has already been established, so I’ll not give a narrative breakdown here.

It’s a grand habit of humanity when confronted with great tragedy to attempt to derive some meanining out of it all. A meaningless and capricious universe in which we have limited control over our own destinies is terrifying and it’s perfectly understandable to look for something beyond the bare facts (Exhibit A: Religion).

In America, this sentiment is turned up to 11, and so there was an almost immediate rush to judgment when a liberal Congresswoman was targetted for violence for the second time in less than a year. My Twitter feed was filled with Sarah Palin’s name in an instant, and again it’s understandable (though not necessarily correct) when you see this graphic:

and watch this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/v/2tTDiZZYCAs&hl=en&fs=1&hd=1

and here talk of “Second Amendment solutions” and “taking back our country” and “government tyranny” and so on and you get the idea.

The pushback from the right has been holier than thou, and there’s has been an epidemic of the vapours as they retire to the fainting couches to protest those nasty mean liberals, and in some cases, blame them. “Serious” commentators have restorted to the lazy “both sides do it” canard, as they crib off a five year old for their talking points. The better, but still disappointing response has been “this America man”; essentially, shit happens. True sociopaths have tried to paint the suspect, Jared Lee Loughton, as a liberal. Mostly though, he’s just a lone nut.

All of this causes me to idly wonder what happen if Giffords was a Republican and the shooter an ethnic minority or a muslim, but sadly they closed down the Department of Counterfactuals the other week, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

I could write about 5,000 words on all this, so I’ll get to the point: is Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, or Michelle Bachmann, or Sharron Angle or this guy to blame? Are the modern day fire-eaters in anyway culpable?

If you’ll permit a metaphor, I’d say that, at best, each of these individuals, or any combination thereof, are about as much to blame for this specific incident as Tony Hayward was for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In other words, you’re unlikely to find any definitive evidence linking the two all the way down the chain of causation to establish any moral culpability. And in the immediate reaction of those people, there has been a wilfull insensitivity and a complete abrogation of any sense of larger responsibility to the events and circumstances surrounding the incident. Similarly, the, violent, paranoid and, at times, virulent rhetoric deployed by the individuals I named, didn’t create, but certainly fed a tinderbox of resentment in which a resort to violence was all but inevitable in a state where a man can be considered mentally unfit to join the army, but perfectly in his rights to buy an assault weapon.

Of course, there is one point at which this metaphor falls down. The BP management did try, however slowly and sloppily at first, to stop and clean up the mess for which they were ultimately responsible. As far as the rogues’ gallery above is concerned, they have absolutely no civic duty in this regard. It all reminds of me of this quote from the Great Gatsby:

“”They were careless people… they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Trying to appeal to their humanity is a fruitless task. Loughner’s insanity defence will be their insanity defence.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

January 7, 2011

Who says everything is doom and gloom?

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 2:20 pm

Via Sully, this chap has the perfectest awesomest voice:

http://www.youtube.com/v/uTysXITBCmk&hl=en&fs=1

He also looks the forgotten love child of Ted Denson and Barack Obama*. With huge teeth.

Joking aside, I actually found that kind of moving. Ted Williams fell on hard times and is now clean and sober and wants a job. Well guess what, sports fans!

And the video seems to have been the launchpad to greater success, with the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly offering Williams a two-year contract for a role that could include voiceover work. Williams says he has also received an offer from NFL Films, the studio operated by America’s professional football league.

“This has been totally, totally amazing,” Williams told the Associated Press. “I’m just so thankful. God has blessed me so deeply. I’m getting a second chance. Amazing.”

Indeed! Of course, in this country and with hair like that, he’d probably just be another suspect in the Jo Yeates murder.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

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