Welcome to edition 184 of Britblog Roundup, your weekly guide to the best of British blogging.
The Daily Maybe likes Obama’s foreign policy:
We have an opportunity to pull the US back from the hardest, most reactionary elements of its foreign policy and whilst it’s easy to criticise Obama for not saying things that he cannot say (and get elected) the Obama Presidency represents a chance to heal the rift that exists between the US and the rest of the world.
The Yorkshire Ranter notices certain similarities between the Chinese government’s policies and those of New Labour:
It’s all oddly familiar. For a start, they have been placed under an “order” which restricts their movements, subjects them to the scrutiny of a neighbourhood committee, and isn’t subject to a court hearing or to an appellant jurisdiction of any kind. Why not? Because, of course, it’s not actually punishment. Only breaking; the order would be a crime, and would result in your being sent to a labour camp. Yes; they’ve reinvented the ASBO.
[Chinese official Wang Wei] added: “We want everyone to express their opinion. Everyone has the right to speak; this is not the same as demonstrating.”
It’s so familiar; the insistence that anyone who disagrees is doing so out of spite, that only acquiescence is “serious” or “helpful”. I’m surprised he didn’t offer them a Big Conversation, but in fact, with the right mistranslation he might have done.
Justin Hinchcliffe talks about a by-election in Haringey.
Jeremy Gilbert fillets David Miliband’s progressive rhetoric in from Milibland to Johnson land.
Craig Murray observes that many Labour supporters hate him more than the BNP:
After my Quixotic stand against Jack Straw in Blackburn at the last general election, I had to speak at the count immediately after the BNP candidate. The hordes of New Labour supporters in the count listened to the BNP candidate in comparative quiet, but erupted into roaring jeers to try to drown out my brief speech. A plastic beer glass was thrown at me. The BNP candidate turned to me in astonishment: “My God”, he said, “They hate you more than me”.
Quaequam Blog looks forwards to Nick Clegg unveiling his superpowers, and zapping the evil David Cameron with his green energy vision. He’s even drawn a picture to illustrate it:
Jonathan Fryer remembers Leo Abse:
When the definitive history of the social liberalisation of 20th century Britain comes to be written, the name of my old friend Leo Abse, who has died aged 91, will be writ large. An indefatigable campaigner, both as a lawyer and as a South Wales Labour MP (of Polish Jewish extraction), he was largely responsible for changes such as the decriminalisation of attempted suicide, easier divorce in cases where a marriage had irretrievably broken down and homosexual law reform.
Stroppy Bird thinks people on the left should be against the Taleban, even if they are enemies of America:
Do some on the left see their anti imperialist goal as a bloody nose for the US? is that more important than the lives of the oppressed in places like Afghanistan.
I want to see troops out of there and now.
I won’t though cheer if they are replaced by the Taliban.
And that means railing against oppression even if the perpetrators are also giving the Americans a bloody nose.
I’m kinda nostalgic for the days when the Taleban were a government, because I could use them rhetorically as an example of the worst government possible. Oh well, there’s always the Nazis to fall back on.
Susanne Lamido writes that the Tube Strike is off, and about dog breeding:
Seems the tube strike is off at the n’th hour. A planned 72-hour Tube strike has dramatically been called offfollowing talks between rail unions and management. Don’t really know if London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson had anything to do with it but the Metro rag is quoting him as saying that he urged both sides to settle over what he considered a “relatively trivial dispute”.
Last night watched the BBC documentary about Pedigree dogs. It stated that Pedigree dogs are suffering from genetic diseases, horrible deformities and other acute problems following years of inbreeding for dog shows. The ultimate aim being to breed a dog eligible for showing at Crufts, the creme de la creme show of the dog world.
Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of Olympic coverage this week…
It’s not just GCSEs that’re getting easier, Olympic Golds are too, according to Olly’s Onions:
However there are claims that this rise is simply proof that gold medals are getting easier and that, when they used to run the 100 metres, the tracks were much longer, possibly nearer 105 metres. A leading sports expert said, “Every four years we see pictures of smiling athletes with their successes and yet it is patently clear that standards are dropping. When I see Usain Bolt and his two world records I feel it pertinent to point out that 19.30 seconds is probably equivalent to 23 seconds when I was at school.”
The article ends with a worrying suggestion about the 2012 Olympics.
The Heresiarch isn’t impressed with Britain’s haul of medals:
Great Britain’s performance in the Olympics has been astonishing, little short of stupendous. By any stretch of the imagination, and despite a number of disappointments, Britain has hugely overperformed in this Olympics.
Although the medals table treats all golds equally, intuitively they are not the same; and this year the athletics track – where the real medals are won – has seen thin pickings for Team GB. By contrast, the vast majority of the British medals have come from watersports of various kinds and, most strikingly, cycling.
Track cycling would appear to have been chosen cynically by a committee for the sole purpose of winning Olympic medals.
If that’s true — and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it is — Britain is far from being the first country to do this.
Jonathan Calder thinks that Britain’s Olympic performance is unlikely to stop kids from being couch potatoes:
I love it when British sports teams do well. We all love it when British teams do well. But it does not change society.
What used to make British kids lean was not organised team games but unsupervised play. So it is alarming to read that Newark and Sherwood District Council is planning to fine children who play football in the street £100, it is profoundly depressing.
Ian Andrew Dodge is not a fan of either the Olympics or the BBC:
Doesn’t [Jimmy Page] realise that because of the bloody Olympics one of London’s beloved music venues is being destroyed? The Astoria has far more cultural value than anything that goes on at the Olympics.
And words you will never hear on the Chinese worshiping BBC… Free Tibet.
Unrelatedly, if you Google Free Tibet on bbc.co.uk you get 11,800 hits.
Next we turn to Paul Gadd or Gary Glitter as he is otherwise known. A Very British Dude notes how The Sun reports the story in its usual restrained manner:
The reason that stories about ‘Paedophiles’ molesting underage girls get such prominence in the grottier end of British newspapers shouldn’t be hard to work out. People want to read about ‘sex acts’ with 14 year old girls. Given the prominence such stories have in the UK’s best-selling paper and that 14 has been a marriageable age for most of human history I would argue that such ephebophilia is relatively normal. […]
When the sun, complete with 18-year old tits on Page 3 labels him a ‘perv‘ and a ‘creepy’ and the ‘My Sun‘ Commentators are gleefully suggesting he should be flogged then locked in a room with the SAS, I am given to thinking ‘The lady doth protest too much’.
Gadd may well be a bad person, but I’m sure that any harm he’s done to others is far less than that of The Sun with its corrosive drip, drip, drip of hate.
Pop Feminist writes on how geekdom and subcultures tend to be mostly male and middle class:
Not long ago, I developed a form of measurement for class/gender ascension that I will name: “The Basement Test”. In brief, the more women, working-class and people of color who indulge a borderline socially unacceptable degree of geekdom, the closer we are to achieving equality.
Sarah Pythian-Adams has an interestimng proposal on surnames and marriage.
Jack at Pandemian takes issue with Peter Hitchens’ views on rape.
Anna-Lisa at Green Girls Global talks about downsizing.
Peter Cranie discusses his experience of the benefits system.
Carnivaleque 42 is brim-full of early modern history.
Philiobiblon writes about a new theory on the collapse of the Roman Empire:
You might think that the world doesn’t need another why-the-Roman-empire-collapsed theory, when there are already so many to choose from – according to one professor’s count 210. Thomas Homer-Dixon in his The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilisation has a new theory — or at least an elaboration on some of the old economic ones that relates explicitly to our current world civilisation.
Blognor regis looks back to the Euston Arch:
The Euston Arch was constructed in 1837 by the architect Philip Hardwick as the grand entrance to the first railway terminus ever built in a capital city. The world’s first trunk line, as Betjeman put it, was from London to Birmingham, and Euston the forerunner of all grand stations. It was, not surprisingly, idiosyncratic. In the 1830s, the new stations were thought of as the modern equivalent to the gates of ancient cities. Accordingly, Hardwick produced a Doric portico or Propylaeum of the kind that might have been seen in a classical Greek town, but on a colossal scale.
Osprey’s Military History Carnival focuses on the Olympics this month.
Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist talks about the increase in vaginal plastic surgery, which apparently costs $9500:
As part of Channel 4’s ‘G-Spot’ season on modern “women’s issues”, Lisa Rogers investigates The Perfect Vagina. Increasing numbers of British women are selecting to have labiplastys, a less invasive form of vaginoplasty in the hope it will give a more uniform appearance.
The documentary starts with a visit to Professor Linda Cardozo, who tells us demand for labiplastys on the NHS has doubled in recent years. As the vagina is now another marker of fashion, women generally want to look like other women. Unfortunately the hegemonic look is that of a small child’s. As the BMJ notes, “patients who sought genitoplasty “uniformly” wanted their vulvas to be flat and with no protrusion, similar to the prepubescent look of girls in Western fashion ads”.
I read in the comments that there’s an operation of “bum-hole bleaching”; that’s something I didn’t know.
That’s me, Cabalamat, with a resolutely unbleached bum-hole, signing off from this week’s BBRU. Next week’s roundup will be hosted at Redemption Blues — send your nominations to the usual address, britblog (at) gmail (dot) com.