“The Project” ooh scary

by Daniel on December 8, 2005

Scott Burgess at the Daily Ablution blog is in the process of retranslating “The Project” from a French translation published in a Swiss newspaper. Apparently “The Project” is a secret document which outlines the secret plan of the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate European institutions, secretly take control of European governments and rule the world. Understandably, Scott is at pains to tell us that “this isn’t a conspiracy theory”, but I think he’s batting on a sticky wicket here; he’s got a theory, and it’s about a conspiracy, so there is no other two-word phrase which describes it more accurately than “conspiracy theory”. Scott himself appears to have a tiny bit of critical distance preserved from this material, but he’s not exactly shying away from the conspiracist interpretation and there are plenty of people in the Daily Ablution comments section who have really gone off at the deep end in the most hilarious fashion possible.

Welcome to the wacky world of conspiracy theories guys is what I say. As a frequent inhabitant of conspiracy mailing lists, can I offer the following advice:
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NY Grad Students

by Henry on December 8, 2005

“Cosma Shalizi”:http://www.cscs.umich.edu/%7Ecrshalizi/weblog/397.html says it loud and clear

bq. Surveying the treatment of our graduate student employees from the lofty perch of half a year on the faculty, it seems to me that CMU, at least in the statistics department, treats them pretty well, and much better than we had it at Madison when I was a TA there, and a member of AFT local #3220. But still, if they wanted to unionize, I’d be completely behind them, and I think it’s idiotic and reprehensible for universities to refuse to even recognize and negotiate with graduate student unions. Unions can ask for stupid and/or selfish things, of course — which distinguishes them from any other organization how, exactly? — but the merits of particular proposals isn’t the issue here; punishing people who attempt to organize to exert their rights is.

As “Chris notes”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/12/07/nyu-grad-students-petition/#comment-127564 in comments, left academics who’ve come out in favour of the NYU administration have ducked this point, preferring to concentrate on whether or not the grad student union has somehow or another been a pain in the ass. Get over it – unions are professional pains in the ass for administrators – and in any event it’s quite irrelevant to the broader issue. The make-or-break question is quite simple. Do you, or do you not, support what the university is threatening to do to striking grad students? To quote the title of “one of my favourite books”:http://www.powells.com/biblio/2-1565848861-2, which side are you on?

Interior design hell

by Chris Bertram on December 8, 2005

Via a page devoted to Swedish dance bands of the 1970s, I happened upon “Eurobad 74”:http://www.omodern.com/Eurobad/euro.html “an exhibition of Europe’s worst interiors of 1974”. I have no idea what the horse is doing in #4, nor why the child is lifting the woman’s mini-skirt in #11, but it is indeed hard to imagine interiors much worse than these, even in 1974.

Santa Clause

by Henry on December 8, 2005

“Tyler Cowen”:http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2005/12/should_christma.html links to “Leonard Peikoff”:http://www.capmag.com/articlePrint.asp?ID=2254, suggesting that”a bracing Randian approach is needed” to the commercialization of Christmas. But why settle for an epigone like Peikoff, when you can get the Randite vision of Christmas “straight from the horse’s mouth?”:http://www.nationallampoon.com/nl/08_features/xmasspecials/xmasspecials.asp

*Ayn Rand’s A Selfish Christmas (1951)*

bq. In this hour-long radio drama, Santa struggles with the increasing demands of providing gifts for millions of spoiled, ungrateful brats across the world, until a single elf, in the engineering department of his workshop, convinces Santa to go on strike. The special ends with the entropic collapse of the civilization of takers and the spectacle of children trudging across the bitterly cold, dark tundra to offer Santa cash for his services, acknowledging at last that his genius makes the gifts — and therefore Christmas — possible.

bq. Prior to broadcast, Mutual Broadcast System executives raised objections to the radio play, noting that 56 minutes of the hour-long broadcast went to a philosophical manifesto by the elf and of the four remaining minutes, three went to a love scene between Santa and the cold, practical Mrs. Claus that was rendered into radio through the use of grunts and the shattering of several dozen whiskey tumblers. In later letters, Rand sneeringly described these executives as “anti-life.”

(nb – I “linked”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/12/02/xmas-specials/ to this last year when it lived on its author, John Scalzi’s, “blog”:http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/003030.html). As a result of which people promoting Christmas specials like the “The Happy Elf”:http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=334196 seem to have become convinced that I’m a valuable target for their marketing efforts).