Archive for September 10th, 2006

Surprise Reprise Reprise

When will these crazy cats stop their surprise visits to Iraq? Margaret Beckett’s surprise visit was so much of a surprise that I didn’t even notice it until almost a week after she arrived.

Love-Muscular Liberals?

Perhaps someone can recommend me a book about how political rhetoric can be an unconscious dramatization and projection of sexual hang-ups, in particular erectile dysfunction and lingering doubts about virility:

Just as Thatcher stiffened the first President Bush’s resolve (as Bush was wavering on whether to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, she said: ‘George, don’t go wobbly on me’), Blair has stiffened American policy when stiffening was needed, most notably as Bill Clinton seemed to be wavering over Kosovo.

– Richard Perle’s defence of Tony Blair seems a classic example.

Those Who Can, Teach, Quit

I commented on Gerry’s blog recently my suspicion that there was a trend towards fewer male teachers, and that steps ought to be taken to address the imbalance.

This may very well be obvious to anyone who has walked into a school in the last 5 years or so, but I am not one of these people. But this piece in today’s Sunday Times confirms my suspicion anyway.

‘Fewer than one in eight students enrolling to become teachers at Ireland’s five training colleges are male, almost identical to the numbers a year earlier.’

Such is my ignorance of the teaching profession in the Republic of Ireland that I was unaware that there had even been an expert group set up to address the gender imbalance:

Last year an expert group recommended a nationwide advertising campaign featuring famous male teachers in a bid to correct the gender imbalance in Irish classrooms. It said teachers who have a public profile as sportsmen, artists, musicians or writers should be used, including Roddy Doyle, the Booker prize-winning author, who taught at Greendale community school in Kilbarrack, and Brendan Gleeson and Gabriel Byrne, who both worked as teachers before embarking on film careers.

I am very taken by the recommendations of this expert group. It seems to me wholly sensible to use men who decided to leave the teaching profession as a means of persuading people to join the teaching profession.

"Your excellency, dear brother, friend"

George Galloway to Tariq Aziz. This is a thousand times worse than robo-dancing in a leotard.

The Horror of Ageism

This morning, Hugh Green read The Age of Horrorism by Martin Amis. The most telling part of the essay is the title, which accurately describes (a) the time it appears to take to read the essay; and (b) what it feels like to read his prose. And I say this as an admirer of Yellow Dog. He seems to be rapidly turning into an old fart.


I was thinking more about Martin Amis’s abandoned novella, the Unknown Known, as he describes in his essay.

Maybe he abandoned it because he knew that the title, Unknown Known, would appear to have been inspired by Slavoj Zizek’s essay on Donald Rumsfeld, in which Zizek offers the following observation:

In March 2003, Rumsfeld engaged in a little bit of amateur philosophizing about the relationship between the known and the unknown: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” What he forgot to add was the crucial fourth term: the “unknown knowns,” the things we don’t know that we know—which is precisely, the Freudian unconscious, the “knowledge which doesn’t know itself,” as Lacan used to say.

Or maybe he abandoned it because he didn’t know that he knew that the title would have appeared to have been inspired by Zizek’s essay. Either way, the project reads like convoluted trash.

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September 2006