A Tale of Two Maggots

An article that I read supporting Malthusian theory and a post on My Telegraph concerning vegans and speciesism, reminded me of entomophagy, which I introduced in Jiminy Cricket. Those readers who recognise ‘A Tale of Two Maggots’ as an allusion to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, should be aware that the French connection is not Les Deux Magots. This is the name of a famous Paris restaurant that I used as my setting for Marrano. Located in St-Germain-des-Prés, the restaurant is named after the two figurines (les deux magots) on display and has no connection with maggots or entomophagy. Read more of this post

Number 6

Do the press see their readerships more as citizens or as consumers?¹

The philosopher Jürgen Habermas has argued that modern capitalist society has seen the decline of ‘the public sphere’ and that the mass media encourage a view of people as consumers rather than as citizens. Research into some British Newspapers suggests that Habermas is right. Read more of this post

The Magic System


In the last hundred years […] advertising has developed from the simple announcements of shopkeepers and the persuasive arts of a few marginal dealers into a major part of capitalist business organization. This is important enough, but the place of advertising in society goes far beyond this commercial context. It is increasingly the source of finance for a whole range of general communication, to the extent that in 1960 our majority television service and almost all our newspapers and periodicals could not exist without it. Further, in the last forty years and now at an increasing rate, it has passed the frontier of the selling of goods and services and has become involved with the teaching of social and personal values; it is also rapidly entering the world of politics. Advertising is also, in a sense, the official art of modern capitalist society: it is what ‘we’ put up in ‘our’ streets and use to fill up to half of ‘our’ newspapers and magazines: and it commands the services of perhaps the largest organized body of writers and artists, with their attendant managers and advisers, in the whole society. Since this is the actual social status of advertising, we shall only understand it with any adequacy if we can develop a kind of total analysis in which the economic, social and cultural facts are visibly related. We may then also find, taking advertising as a major form of modern social communication, that we can understand our society itself in new ways. Read more of this post

Grading The War On Terror

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution proposes a grading system for those Presidents of the United States of America who enacted special ‘internal security measures‘ in a time of war. Mark Neely ‘graded’ four American Presidents, according to an analysis of their administration’s response to the internal security measures they enacted. He asked three simple questions that were all about behaviour and not about the law. Read more of this post

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution

My post Grading The War On Terrorwas prompted by my listening to a talk given by Mark Neely – McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era (Penn State University). The talk, given on behalf of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, is shown as the first video and the following text is my – edited – transcript of that talk. There are links added to my transcript where something useful may be found. Mark Neely frequently refers to ‘Our Lincoln’, which is a reference to the book Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, a collection of essays compiled and edited by Eric Foner (pdf reviewed by Jason Miller). Mark Neely contributed the essay ‘Civil Liberties and the Constitution’ to the book and this is the essay to which Neely refers in his opening remark.  Read more of this post

Whom the Gods would destroy

 My posts on matter considered obscene, reminded me of the 1930 case when Sir Ethelred Rutt K.C., had the misfortune of appearing before a full Bench of magistrates on behalf of the headmaster (a clergyman) of Eton College. Certain publications had been found at Eton College by a Police Constable Boot in his zealous discharge of a special warrant, whereupon the headmaster was charged under Lord Campbell’s Act, England’s first obscenity statute. The headmaster admitted that the publications kept on the premises were to be ‘sold, distributed, lent, or otherwise published’ – within the meaning of the Act – to the students under his charge, who were from thirteen to nineteen years of age. Read more of this post



AT Windsor to-day, before a full Bench of magistrates, a serious charge was made against the Head Master of Eton, a clergyman, who appeared to feel his position acutely. Police-Constable Boot gave evidence in support of the charge, which was preferred under the – Obscene Publications Act, 1857, commonly known as Lord Campbell’s Act. Read more of this post

Philip Larkin meets the moderators.

The My Telegraph site arbitrarily imposes automated censorship on expletives, which seems like a neat solution but it completely disregards the context. I was recently unable to call King Charles II ‘a bastard’, an expletive that I had cause to believe was an apt description of his vindictive pursuit of the ‘regicides’. By way of a response to this – unwarranted – moderation I posted Everything in moderation? which was replete with ‘bastards’. While the gratuitous use of obscenities is forbidden by The Telegaph, the presumption being that profanities are forbidden, gratuitousness is dependent on context.

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Banned Book Week 2014

In 1988 the case before The Supreme Court of Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flynt, Petitioners v. Jerry Falwell was about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that; “The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker’s opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas.”

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Chasing Shadows

Detective Sergeant Sean Stone (DS Stone), is one of the main characters in ITV’s new four part crime drama Chasing Shadows. DS Stone is ‘not normal’, something only implied at the outset when he spoke out of turn at a press conference, arranged by his Chief Superintendent (CS Drayton) to announce the solving of a major crime. In doing so, the plaudits CS Drayton expected to receive from the assembled press reporters became recriminations. This incurred the wrath of the CS Drayton who told Stone that he was ‘finished’ and immediately transferred him to a missing persons charity as their liaison officer. Given the following portrayal of DS Stone’s ‘abnormal behaviour’ in this opening episode, it can hardly have gone unnoticed before, especially by CS Drayton. This created a highly improbable exposition, it being simply a contrivance to introduce the theme of a neurotypical person’s relationship with someone having Asperger’s syndrome. Read more of this post

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