The Bluestocking, vol 188

I am a tolerant woman (this is a lie).

Happy Friday!

I nearly didn’t send this out because I worried it didn’t have enough links, but the Tony Blair Sad Drake amused me so much I have to share it with the world.


Substack is Selling Soap Operas (The Atlantic)

Of course, a great deal of journalists’ energy has always been expended on arguing, implicitly or explicitly, with writers at other publications. Substack’s galaxy-brain innovation is to allow its contributors to profit directly from arguing with one another. We are looking at a perpetual-motion machine of internet beefs. No media loop has been this closed since the members of the intellectual dark web all went on one another’s podcasts to argue that we should be exposed to divergent opinions.

A piece in which I try to explain the Internet Beef Economy, and discover that a Twitter fight with Glenn Greenwald can be worth $14,000. You will be pleased to know that everyone I lightly ribbed in this piece responded with the self-deprecating humour and good nature for which they are famed.

Without Total Change, Labour Will Die (New Statesman)

At present, Labour expresses perfectly the progressive dilemma. Corbyn was radical but not sensible. Keir seems sensible but not radical. He lacks a compelling economic message. And the cultural message, because he is not clarifying it, is being defined by the “woke” left, whose every statement gets cut-through courtesy of the right. Equally, “spend more” is a weak slogan when the Tory government is already spending around record levels. And the inheritance from the 2019 Labour manifesto – a £1trn programme – is a huge albatross, accompanied by the usual misguided argument from the left that the individual items poll well (they always do, but it’s their cumulative effect which is deadly).

On cultural issues, one after another, the Labour Party is being backed into electorally off-putting positions. A progressive party seeking power which looks askance at the likes of Trevor Phillips, Sara Khan or JK Rowling is not going to win.

At this point, I think even the most avowed Tony Blair haters have to concede that this is 500,000% better than every other politician’s op-ed you’ve ever read. (Yes, that includes Boris Johnson’s ongoing PG Wodehouse cosplay.) Not least because it says actual concrete things you can either agree or disagree with.

Hey Tony, how do you feel about Labour now?

Bad, huh?

So would you say

. . .

things can only get better?

Quick Links

  1. “Many will argue that the idea of [Boris] Johnson as leader and prospective PM is inherently preposterous. But perhaps there is a clue from HIGNFY. Eventually, the show will have to have another regular host, just as, one day, the Tory party will again locate a slick, ideological vote-winner. But, for the moment, the Conservatives could experiment with the idea of a guest-leader: a figure who brings to the job the charm and spontaneity of someone passing through.” The Guardian in 2003.

  2. Remember how we were all told masks were pointless last year? This Wired piece traces the error back to an incredibly old piece of research, endlessly recycled, which asserted that (relatively) “large” virus particles couldn’t hang in the air, and therefore Covid must be spread primarily by droplets not aerosols. Droplets can be dealt with by wiping surfaces, but in airborne transmission, good ventilation is far more important. SURPRISE! Covid can totally be spread by airborne transmission, hence why we are now wearing masks and eating outside. The bigger surprise is that WHO was so resistant to being told by experts that real-world evidence, like the infamous Choir Practice Of Death, strongly suggested the importance of aerosol transmission.

  3. An oral history of Tom Holland’s lip-synch to Umbrella. It is now obligatory to watch Tom Holland’s lip-synch to Umbrella.

  4. “The craziest thing about ‘The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture’ is that it has literally nothing to do with race.” Matt Yglesias on a popular anti-racism education workbook. (Slow Boring)

  5. The Sun’s former chief reporter, John Kay, has died at 77. The paper’s double-page obituary did not mention that, at the age of 33, he killed his wife during a psychotic episode and was thereafter employed by the paper on the condition that he stayed in the office. It was wrong not to mention his wife Harue in the obituary—she was a person, too—but mostly I wish the Sun had taken a similarly enlightened view on the rehabilitation of other offenders over the years.

  6. Oh Philip Larkin, this is a great poem right up to the bit where you use the word “foc’s’le”. What were you thinking.

  7. “I am a tolerant woman (this is a lie) with a healthy sense of humour about myself (also a lie), but I was roused to uncharacteristic fury recently when I saw that the word ‘Britpopper’ had been adopted as a political insult (another lie, I have usually made myself livid about half a dozen trivial things by the average lunchtime). Number one, how dare you; and number two, I’m not even sure you understand what Britpop was.” Sarah Ditum on Parklife. Joy!

  8. Good piece on how Russian billionaires are using English courts to deter journalists from writing about them. The point isn’t to win, but force the other side to pay enormous legal fees to defend itself.

  9. In a sign of an imminent midlife crisis, I’ve been considering another tattoo: “you might as well live” or “a new mistake instead.”

  10. The FT’s Alan Beattie has relaunched his newsletter Trade Secrets. Ask him about Dogecoin, he loves that.

  11. Talking of Dogecoin, here’s a great explainer from Charlie Warzel about why nothing in modern finance (crypto, NYT, GameStop) makes any sense at all. The absurdity is the point—a ironic-nihilist-meme-guy protest against a world financial system that is itself absurd.

  12. My secret cousin Sophie is at it again, writing about having sex with a reservoir.

  13. “‘People are stopping short because it’s too hard,’ Gildea said. ‘And I say, that’s not really a good excuse for a climber.’” Has anyone actually summitted all 14 of the world’s tallest mountains? (New York Times)

Questions? Comments? Confessions about the time you had sex with an octopus? Just hit reply to drop me a line. Otherwise, see you next time. . .