I dumb down… “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff


It’s been titillating liberal-centrists and topping best-seller lists since January, but Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury is trashy and overrated.

Essentially, Wolff, a provocative columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, spent a year wandering around the White House talking to key members of team Trump.

The result was a book. Trump hoped it would be a flattering one — he’d liked a piece Wolff had done on him during the election, and given him free rein of the West Wing off the back of it. But it isn’t.
Continue reading “I dumb down… “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff”

For a multimillion-dollar distraction, Black Panther is quite radical


I went to see Black Panther for my birthday, and thought it was very good. I don’t usually like films, or the cinema, or birthdays, but a mate convinced me to give all three a try, and for once I was only vaguely disappointed.

I can’t fully endorse it – they spent $200m making a comic book movie while thousands of people (a lot them African), starved to death. But for a stonkingly profligate corporate blockbuster, Black Panther is fairly radical.

It’s the first mainstream film I’ve seen in years, possibly ever, that has meaningful politics – not so much black nationalism as black internationalism. Incredibly, Marvel, wholly-owned subsidiary of the multi-billion-dollar Walt Disney Company, has put out a pan-Africanist superhero movie. Continue reading “For a multimillion-dollar distraction, Black Panther is quite radical”

New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.

new year eve

New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.

1. Use the internet less.

The internet isn’t just a bottomless well of procrastination excuses. It changes how you treat people. We act as if words on a page (or on a screen) are the most vital building blocks of human communication — and to be fair, we’d struggle to do much without them. But on their own, they’re extremely limited.

Trying to discuss or debate using words alone — without the millions of tiny nuances you can convey with tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expressions and so on — is like using a sledgehammer when what you really need is a scalpel. All brute force, no finesse. Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, so here are mine.”

I like Christmas, but I don’t know why


I always tell myself I like Christmas, but the older I get, the harder it is to pinpoint why.

I think it’s 90% nostalgia. Memories of big, sparkly 1990s Christmasses, primary school discos, Wham! and Paul McCartney, relatives since disintegrated, communities since dispersed.

Present-day Yule is nothing like that. And my mounting cynicism and deepening politicisation have gradually knocked the baubles off what’s left.

When I was a kid, I loved the presents. Then I turned into a hardcore anti-consumerist. After that, I liked it for the food. Then I went environmental vegetarian (and developed a stomach condition that makes me feel sick whenever I eat anything that isn’t lentil and vegetable mush, but that’s a hypochondriac odyssey in of itself). Continue reading “I like Christmas, but I don’t know why”

An Oxmas Carol

oxford snow.jpg

A long addendum to the post about Oxbridge. A few days after finishing it, I ended up in Oxford – partly through sickening hypocrisy, partly because I wanted to visit one of my oldest and closest friends who studies there.

It was interesting for two reasons: one, because it reaffirmed everything I remembered about Oxbridge. And two, because it was a rare chance to commune with someone with a very similar worldview to mine.

Oxford is different to Cambridge. It’s noisier and busier, and there’s a lot more of it. It’s a city. Cambridge is just a glorified town.

But the universities are near-identical. They’re both made up of thirty-odd self-contained ‘colleges’, fabulously rich and bafflingly archaic. And they both serve the same mainly white, wealthy, South-Eastern demographic. Continue reading “An Oxmas Carol”

Oxbridge should be got rid of

cambridge elitism

Every now and then, the media will fuss about Oxbridge. Usually it’s in response to some new set of figures that show it’s (still) excruciatingly privileged.

Everyone will broadly agree that’s bad, there’ll be a flurry of public outrage for about ten minutes, you’ll see a bit of back-and-forth in the broadsheet opinion pages, then the issue will vanish. Nothing will change. Continue reading “Oxbridge should be got rid of”

Robin DiAngelo – ‘White Fragility’

robin diangelo
Robin DiAngelo

This week’s self-woke-ification got off to a magnificent start with me reading an article on race by a white person.

Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ tries to explain why it’s so difficult to talk to white people about racism.

She argues that socialisation renders us racially illiterate. We’re taught to see racism as a binary phenomenon – that you’re either racist, or you’re not racist.

We think that if you’re consciously, morally against racism, it’s impossible for you to be racist.

In other words, our understanding of race and racism is laughably shallow and individualistic. Continue reading “Robin DiAngelo – ‘White Fragility’”