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Index: Currente Calamo

Frankly, my dear, I just don’t…

MICHAEL BLACKBURN: ‘If I did as I was supposed to and joined in solidarity with the activists, boycotters, hashtaggers, petition-signers, protestors and campaigners I‘d be on the edge of a nervous breakdown within a week. I’d also be a pain in the backside and devoid of friends and family, because there’s nothing more irritating than the conscientiously concerned.’

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The drinker and the drunker.

Michael Blackbiurn: ‘Although I never got anywhere near being more than an occasional, annoying drunk (and drunks are always annoying, even when you are one among lots of others) I know how boring and embarrassing it all becomes. When you’re young and a student, perhaps, you find it amusing to wake up in your room to find a tractor tyre propped up against your wall… Or be blamed for making someone drink after shave because there was no more alcohol in the house. Once you done that a few times, it gets a bit samey.

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Save the children from this evil train.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I thought we had reached the final frontier of outrage when cupcakes were declared fascist, but I was wrong. I hadn’t reckoned on the bottomless fury of the sisterhood against the patriarchy in all its forms, real or imagined. Thus the rumbling discontent over Thomas the Tank Engine has broken out into open hostilities again. If cakes can be dangerous then nothing is above suspicion, not even children’s entertainment.’

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Obesity — the epidemic.

Nick O’Hear: ‘Eating too much is the cause of fatness. This is true for the rich as well as the poor. My view is, that despite the explosion of cookery programmes, many people still can’t cook and hate to try. My remedy is to teach cooking as part of the national curriculum.’

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When Nietzsche and the Prophet came to England.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Marches and demonstrations have taken place in support of the people of Gaza — and presumably Hamas, the terrorist organisation voted into power by the people of Gaza and responsible for the constant rocket attacks on Israel. As with Iran in 1979 you have the liberal-left supporting people who stand for the exact opposite of what they themselves believe in, and would turn on them as soon as they had the upper hand.’

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A view from Blighty.

Michael Blackburn: ‘We have just learned that those of us who are indigenous British are racist. I’ll pretend for the sake of form that this judgment surprises me. A think tank called the Social Integration Commission released their first report entitled How Integrated Is Modern Britain? I think you can tell without even seeing a copy of the report where this is coming from and which direction it is going in.’

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Yet perhaps not quite glib enough for Americans.

Some rather superficial explanations of the success of Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century in the American press have claimed that Piketty is only the embodiment of a certain contemporary moment — data-driven but with a few simple big-picture claims that can be grasped easily by a tech-savvy but generally inattentive public who are obsessed with […]

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Literary criticism.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The relationship between the writer and what he or she writes is complicated and rarely direct. Being a writer doesn’t make you a good person. Being a good person does not make you a good writer. Neither does being a bad one.’

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The BBC aims to be multi-colourful.

Michael Blackburn: ‘I hope the DG has precisely worked out his ethnic diversity percentages so the BBC doesn’t get inter-BAME conflicts tearing it apart. You can just imagine the Asian camp splitting between Hindus and Muslims, and the Chinese getting uppity because they’re outnumbered by the rest. In a couple of years we may have a Polish contingent at loggerheads with management over too many Lithuanians. But they probably won’t count, because they’re white, so they’ll have to slug it out in the carpark.’

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Sunnis, shias, and that ‘religion of peace’.

Michael Blackburn: ‘In Iraq, as the ancient Sunni versus Shia civil war steps up a gear, the bien pensants of the western media claim the core of the conflict is “sectarian”. That’s just a weasely way of saying it’s the fault of religion in general to avoid laying any culpability on the religion of peace itself because all religions are the same, you see. Well, they are if you are a know-nothing modern intellectual. Sunni and Shia may be at each other’s throats because of their differences, but those differences are over their religion and that religion is Islam.’

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Education is overrated.

Michael Blackburn: Gove has not banned anything, or said exam boards should not include these books on their reading lists. Nor has he restricted the syllabus to British only texts. The requirement for one Shakespeare play, one nineteenth century novel, a selection of poetry since 1879, and fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards, is a minimum. There’s plenty of scope for other texts in addition to these, as a glance at the Department of Education’s documents and the current exam board syllabuses already shows.

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Comfort for the Ukipically afflicted.

Michael Blackburn: Come the general election many people will return to their usual party. That’s because voting for Ukip was just a protest vote, as everyone from every other party keeps telling us. Ukip may have drained away some Labour support, but it is still mainly the Tories who have suffered – and are most likely to suffer in future. That’s good news for Labour. It may even be good news for the LibDems, but nobody cares about them.

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The American sensitivity lobby gets trigger happy.

Michael Blackburn: ‘A few years ago I ran a writing workshop with some arts students. During the discussion someone described a female character as a bitch. One student, mature but definitely not elderly, was visibly shocked. “How could anyone use such disgusting language about another person?” she said. It left the rest of us wondering how can anyone with such a febrile view of life could possibly get through a single day in the world without suffering a complete mental breakdown.’

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Valerie Solanas and her blast from the past.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Let me just say that the patriarchy is a great institution; I became a full member as soon as I was born, don’t pay any fees and get to oppress women everywhere. It also means that I am right in every argument, even if my wife hasn’t understood this yet.’

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Stop the march of cupcake fascism.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Not only am I not a fascist (not even a twee, vintagey one), but I can also eat more other-cake knowing that I am contributing to the radical, anti-neoliberal revolution that will overthrow all social oppression. I could be a right-on, non-infantilized child. I could be a sticky-fingered, cake-eating comrade.’

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