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Bugger off Love, seriously, bugger off

British Iranian Banafsheh Hay was stirred to write directly to Sainsbury’s chief executive, Mike Coupe, asking for an apology, and she remains angered by the lack of care taken. “To treat Iranian and Indian cuisines as virtually indistinguishable, despite knowing in reality they are very different, in order to save their readers the effort to learn about a new Iranian cuisine which the magazine wants to promote on its front cover smacks of lazy, casual racism and is abhorrent,” she told the Observer.

It’s not abhorrent and it’s not racism either. It’s not even that ahistorical, the Persian influence upon Indian cuisine was rather large what with the Mughals and all that – yes, Turkic themselves, but the ruling culture was heavily Persian.

Seriously, let’s preserve “racism” for the description of those who shout fuck off you black bastards and use “not a very good recipe” for things which are not a very good recipe. Accuracy in language being one of these things which aids us in communicating with each other.


On the evening of the first round, capoeira master Moa do Katendê, an antiracist activist and educator, was stabbed to death by a Bolsonaro supporter. Katendê had declared that he had voted for leftwing candidate Fernando Haddad. In the south of the country, a 22-year-old woman was attacked on the street. We fear that this is only a foretaste of a deadlier wave of violence.

This hatred and violence is clearly being stirred up by Bolsonaro and his party’s elected representatives. By repeating their misogynous, racist, homophobic and transphobic speeches and provocations, by displaying their firearms, by glorifying the military dictatorship, by spreading false information, they implicitly call for the brutalisation, even murder, of all those who do not resemble them: women and LGBT activists, human rights defenders and indigenous peoples, progressive activists or journalists.

If Bolsonaro is elected head of the Brazilian state, this hatred risks becoming institutionalised and this physical violence unleashed. Brazil is already, unfortunately, one of the most violent countries in the world: 61,619 homicides were committed in 2017 according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum, representing nearly 170 people killed every day, including a young black man every 23 minutes. Human and environmental rights defenders were already particularly threatened and increasingly targeted.

2/170ths of the normal standard daily murder toll shows that Bolsonaro is unworthy of being the peoples’ choice.

Sure, he may not be, that’s always possible. But for this reason alone?

Noam Chomsky, linguist, American;

Ah, it might be bollocks.

Naomi Klein, journalist, Canadian;

Odds are looking good that it’s bollocks.

Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, and co-founder;

Ah, there we have it, yes, proof, this is bollocks.

Well, fancy that

Genes are inherited:

Genetics plays a significant role in whether young adults choose to go to university, which university they choose to attend and how well they do, a new study suggests.

Previous studies have shown that genetics plays a major role in academic achievement at school, with 58 per cent of individual differences between students in GCSE scores due to genetic factors.

This does presuppose that intelligence is genetics related but you’d have to be a complete idiot – like say Danny Dorling and his belief in the tabula rasa – to not believe that.


Welcome to the new world of what might be called inequality therapy.

In a hyper-capitalist world where advertising and financial pressures channel the drive for status into an obsession, no one can really win – even those who appear to have it all. Commerce infiltrates even the language we use to describe our deepest concerns: am I worth it? Am I valued? Do I count?

This problem is exacerbated by the market system because, Glantz says, it values a particular type of identity, one based on “achievement rather than on belonging”.

Inequality makes that harder to see as it unendingly promotes what psychologists call “materialistic values” that are harmful to mental and physical health. These involve prioritizing the pursuit of “money, status and image over things like family, spirituality, helping the community and just having fun”, says Tim Kasser, professor of psychology at Knox College and co-author of the book Hyper-capitalism: The Modern Economy, Its Values and How to Change Them.

The bit the idiots are missing is that a market system allows you to choose what you value. And pursue it. That’s rather the point.

Didn’t they always?

School boys are making rape jokes in bid to score ‘lad points’, headteachers are warned

Why would the medium change boys?

School boys are using memes and social media to make rape jokes in a bid to score “lad points”, headteachers have been warned.

More than a third (36 per cent) of 11-18 year-old boys have shared racist or homophobic pictures, more than double the amount shared by their female peers, according to a poll of 20,000 children.

The survey, commissioned by the organisation Digital Awareness UK (DAUK) and Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), found that four in ten boys see offensive memes daily.

The other 6 are better at hiding their tracks.

1 in 30 million chance of smartphone causing domestic row

Smartphones cause family row every single day in British homes, study finds

Not what the finding is, but what the headline says at least.

Mobile phones provoke conflict and argument every day in a fifth of Britain’s families, according to a ground-breaking study into their impact on family life.

One fifth of British homes contain* a teenager so will have a row on any one day.

*Well, no, but….

Lessee now

I was dating a boy I really liked, so when another classmate made a pass at me, I explained that I was going with someone else, and I turned him down. The next morning, my “friend” – let’s call him Rat – told classmates that I’d slept with him. Since I had declined to have sex with the boy I actually liked, the ugly rumor made me look like a lying hypocrite. Hurt and humiliated, my boyfriend promptly broke up with me, leaving me heartbroken and bewildered. I hadn’t even done what I was accused of doing – and yet that didn’t protect me from public scorn, let alone the loss of my first love.

But there was worse to come. When I started college, I was 16 years old. On my first day, I met a sophomore whose blue eyes were speckled with gold. Soon we were spending every free moment together. He knew I was a virgin, and he was respectful of my wishes – until his roommate went home to Boston for the weekend. In a diabolical coincidence, the roommate was invited to a party where he met Rat, who was attending college there. When he learned the name of Rat’s hometown in New York, he asked if Rat knew me – whereupon Rat gleefully regaled him with a sordid account of what a tramp I had been in high school.

The roommate was astonished, because he knew me as the clueless virgin who wouldn’t sleep with his friend. But of course he came back to our university in Philadelphia and told all his fraternity brothers I was a deceitful slut. Like my high school boyfriend, my college boyfriend responded by ending our relationship.

Not yet 17 and still a virgin, I had now been slandered up and down the eastern seaboard by a single false rumor spread by one boy who managed to wreck my reputation in high school and in college, which had in turn cost me both my high school boyfriend and my college boyfriend.

And? And what?

The losses left me reeling, but the emotional blows were greatly exacerbated by the fear they generated. The power of malicious gossip was terrifying; even when it wasn’t true, it could ruin your life.

The pain of being shamed that way has never left me. Fifty years later, I couldn’t bear the thought of going to my high school reunion. This month, when I was invited to the latest get-together, I stayed home once again.


It seems to be so easy for men to forget the damage they’ve wrought. Do they know that the women they hurt will never be able to forget, let alone heal?

Err, teenage dating? What are we supposed to do about this?

Oh, and when do we get to hear from the male side of this? Not the male side o this particular story, but all teenage girls have always ad everywhere been just perfect in their treatment of teenage boys, right?

This is really rather fun

Animators have been forced to re-draw Disney’s first black princess after anti-racism campaigners claimed she had been ‘whitewashed’ with lighter skin and straighter hair for her latest role.

Princess Tiana was the first black Disney princess, created for the film ‘The Princess and The Frog’ in 2009. She has been re-animated for the new film ‘Wreck It Ralph 2’, in which all the princesses have a sleepover.

When the trailer was released in May, fans noticed she looked considerably different – her skin was lighter and her corkscrew curls had been tamed to gentle waves.

Color of Change, an anti-racism charity that set up a petition to tell Disney to “stop whitewashing” their black characters, said it had been in conversation with Disney, which agreed to restore the princess to her “original depiction”.

Tiana is, by conception, supposed to be African American. Which is what does make this fun. We could use older words like octoroon – most unfashionable these days – or have a look at the incidence of sickle cell perhaps. The actual colouring and looks of African Americans ranges from markedly pinker than I am through to full on Igbo or Yoruba.

The demand from the campaigners is for a stereotype every bit as much a cliche as the worst Mamie as a Maid from Birth of a Nation. Which is amusing, no?

Well, you know, every decision has costs

NHS England is to be taken to court by the UK’s equality watchdog for failing to offer fertility services to transgender patients.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will launch a high-profile judicial review action, a legal manoeuvre that is likely to prove controversial at a time when the NHS is struggling to balance budgets and provide core services.

Last month the Observer reported that the commission had written to NHS England putting it on notice that it needed to offer fertility services to transgender patients before they underwent treatment for gender dysphoria, a process that normally results in a loss of fertility.

By extracting and storing eggs and sperm before they undergo gender reassignment, transgender people can choose to have their biological children delivered via surrogates later in life. However, many are keen to proceed with treatment when they are teenagers, and may not have the resources to pay for such fertility services. This, the commission argues, discriminates against transgender people, whom it says should be offered the services as a standard procedure.

And if you’re not willing to carry the costs then you don’t really want that decision, do you?


How can such events be combated? How can they be undone? But these are the wrong questions. Merely combating or undoing Comicsgate, Brexit, and the flourishing of American fascism is not enough.

Some comics readers aren’t wholly polite about trans issues. Thus:

That was July 2015, two years before most people had heard of Meyer and three before most comics creators had anything to say about the mistreatment of marginalised people. Rather than rejecting racism, misogyny, queerphobia, transphobia, or ableism outright, creators and editors simply shrug or, at best, claim that these issues are being handled in private – and indicate to the wider public in the process that racism, misogyny and the like absolutely will be tolerated.

Until they and other industry personnel take a zero-tolerance approach to abuses of power from within their own houses, Comicsgate will never truly die. Brexit and Trump are no different. The passivity of well-meaning white Britons and white Americans with regards to racism and xenophobia in their everyday lives indicated to a less-savoury segment of the population that their aggression would go unchecked.

If you want to prevent the next Comicsgate, Brexit or Trump, here are some suggestions: rather than claiming you support marginalised people, rather than stating that you are against the principles of a nebulous enemy, demand better of your peers, demand better of yourself, and demand it in public. Amplify the voices of marginalised people discussing issues within your community. Intercede when a peer is responding in a hostile fashion towards those discussions. Set a standard for public and communal discourse. Do not tolerate the dismissal or disrespect of your marginalised colleagues. Do not tolerate the dismissal or disrespect of marginalised strangers. And in every environment, no matter how uncomfortable: hold the line.

OK, you do that then. And do note that some people will still be less than polite about all sorts of things.

Consider this my luvverly

Why are disabled actors ignored when it comes to roles like the Elephant Man?
Frances Ryan

The BBC’s casting of a non-disabled actor in its remake shows how normalised exclusion is: we need to widen the talent pool

To examine the logic flip the proposition.

Should disabled people be able to play non-disabled parts?

Yes, obviously so.

The one legged man playing Tarzan might have some difficulties but the same actor playing anything from the corpse to the detective in 98% of TVs current output none.

So, then bugger off, the non-disabled may play disabled parts.

Reasonable thought

An Ivy League college is embroiled in a row with trans activists over an article which suggested gender dysphoria was spreading among children.

Brown University has removed research from its website which hypothesised that teenagers who came out as transgender were more likely to have friends who were transitioning and were influenced by YouTube videos and social media.

Academics accused the university of bowing to pressure from activists after it removed a news article and link to Lisa Littman’s research. A tweet promoting the paper has also been deleted.

The research concluded “social and peer contagion” was a plausible explanation for “cluster outbreaks” and a high number of cases where the majority of children in a friendship group became “transgender-identified”.

Things do spread among peer groups. Be important to know if being transgender is one of them. One side says this is just bad research. The protestations being a little odd on reading. The other side sways it’s being suppressed as politically incorrect. Dunno the answer to that but it would be good to find out, no?

I mean, we know peer group effects exist, otherwise fashions wouldn’t. But how much?

These people are mad

Britain should limit the windfall gains of landowners by freezing the value of plots newly designated for housing, according to a thinktank urging sweeping reforms to tackle a national shortage of affordable homes.

Calling on the government to pursue land market reforms similar to the German model, the Institute for Public Policy Research said planning authorities should be given new powers to zone land for development and freeze its price.

It said speculation by landowners awaiting planning decisions that can trigger vast increases in the value of a plot, had the effect of exacerbating wealth inequality and was a “driving force behind the broken housing market” in Britain.

That uplift in value is a result of not granting enough planning permission. Grant more planning permission and the uplift will disappear.

Sigh. They’re going to try and fix he price, instead of make the price disappear. Idiots, madmen.

What wondrous joy

Dr Akiria Fukutomi, lead researcher, from Vincent Square Eating Disorder Service, run by Central and North West London Foundation trust, said: “The single-sex system disadvantages males as the majority of the patients are female.

“The fact that both professionals and patients believe eating disorder wards should be open to males, should spur units to accept males if they do not currently do so.

The researcher said the Government guidelines have been amended following the study, to allow mixed sex wards under particular conditions -such as keeping sleeping areas and bathrooms separate.

Bathrooms should be separate in hospital and not at the Department for Education.

Anyone care to justify both?

Can you see how this will go?

A tiny wormhole in space has enabled us to read a pitch for a Guardian comment piece from November 2018.

Hoarding has been classified as a medical disorder for the first time by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a move that experts say could benefit thousands of people.

Psychiatrists said the “extremely ­significant” decision would help ­doctors and the NHS identify people struggling with hoarding and improve treatment for a condition campaigners say affects up to 5 per cent of the ­population.

According to the WHO, hoarding disorder is characterised by an “accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value”.

The rich hoard wealth for no good reason, right, except they’re mentally ill, WHO says so. So we should tax them all 100% for their own mental health!

Here’s the basic problem – again

Female Home Office employees are refusing to use new £36,000 gender-neutral toilets because they feel ‘distressed’ by their male colleagues leaving the cubicle doors open

Sure, perhaps it shouldn’t matter. Equality, the needs of the trans, mean it shouldn’t matter perhaps.

But, you know, actual human beings seem to think it does matter. Therefore, in a world with actual human beings, it does matter.

New Soviet Man didn’t turn up to enjoy socialism and that’s the problem with too many of these progressive plans, they require something other than people to staff them, populate them.

My own view is that any designing should be done around the people we’ve got, not a hope of electing a new one. But then I am an old fuddy duddy.