The Ice Planet

April 24, 2014

Nick Cohen

“No one does as much damage to a country as the patriots who profess to love it”

article-2383156-1B1CF30F000005DC-573_634x493No cause is as dead as the campaign to provide an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Far-sighted politicians once found it intolerable that criminals could abuse and exploit the half a million among us who were living beyond the minimum wage, the tax system and the rule of law.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at April 24, 2014 09:01 AM

April 14, 2014

Nick Cohen

Poverty amid plenty; food banks in property bubbles

What image will social historians use to capture our times? Last week, after frenzied bidding, a drab garage next to a Camberwell industrial estate in what was once a cheap part of south London, sold for £550,000. That might do. No one who sniffs the air can fail to notice that London in the Osborne bubble has a whiff of Weimar Germany – but without the art or indeed the sex.

Yet alongside oligarchs buying the capital’s streets, and the Bank of England and Treasury pumping asset prices, we also have poverty that those of us who remember the recessions of the 1970s and 80s have not seen before.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at April 14, 2014 11:21 AM

April 10, 2014

Nick Cohen

You sexist/racist/liberal/elitist bastard! How dare you?

Terror arrests aftermath

While he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Tony Judt found the breath to educate those who believe they could ameliorate pain with soft words and bans on ‘inappropriate’ language.

“You describe everyone as having the same chances when actually some people have more chances than others. And with this cheating language of equality deep inequality is allowed to happen much more easily.”

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at April 10, 2014 10:56 AM

March 24, 2014

Nick Cohen

The climate change deniers have won

The Amazon rainforest is burnt to clear land for agriculture near Novo Progresso

All of which is a long way of saying that the global warming deniers have won. And please, can I have no emails from bed-wetting kidults blubbing that you can’t call us “global warming deniers ” because “denier” makes us sound like “Holocaust deniers”, and that means you are comparing us to Nazis? The evidence for man-made global warming is as final as the evidence of Auschwitz. No other word will do.

Read the whole thing

by Nick Cohen at March 24, 2014 03:10 PM

March 08, 2014

Nick Cohen

‘Homely’ Boots treats its staff like red revolutionaries

No child dreams of growing up to become a pharmacist. They are never romantic leads or action heroes in films. As far as a search of my bookshelves and the web can tell, they are not the heroes and heroines of novels either. Doctors, detectives and spies are everywhere, while the ignored pharmacist is nowhere to be seen.

To become a chemist is to choose a comfortable existence. At Boots they make around £38,000 on average. This money buys the kind of life the rich and the bohemian have always derided: the semi in suburbia with the spare room for the children; the annual holiday and the car on HP. It can sound dull until hard times fall on you or your society and you learn that ordinary achievements are not to be derided.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at March 08, 2014 01:08 PM

March 07, 2014

Nick Cohen

No room to breathe

all that is solid dorlingReview of All that is solid
By Danny Dorling

Shelter, like food, is essential for life. Without a home you have no place to lay your head and no place in the world to call your own. Even in rich countries, where they were once secure, homes have become precarious, as if sinkholes were opening under them.

A few figures from Danny Dorling’s brilliantly original study of our national obsession and national malaise explain why. No one can pretend now that we are moving towards a property-owning democracy. For the first time in a century, the share of homes rented privately has risen – up 6% between 2001 and 2011. In London and the south-east – and many cities outside – rents are extortionate.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at March 07, 2014 12:39 PM

March 06, 2014

Nick Cohen

Chomsky and the Crimea: The malign double standards of the “anti-imperialist” left


Go to London or of any other Western capital and here is what you will not see. You will not see mass demonstrations against the Russian invasion of the Ukraine swaying down the same streets in which the liberal-left marched against the invasion of Iraq. You will not hear prominent left-wing voices emphasizing that Putin is attempting more than an invasion; that the Russian Federation – and what a benign word ‘federation’ is for a revived Tsarist autocracy – is the last of the European empires, and is seeking to expand its borders, as empires always do.

In short, the activist left will not tell its followers that we are witnessing imperialism: not ‘cultural imperialism’ or ‘neo-colonialism’ or any of those other catchall, thought-forbidding phrases, but the real thing

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at March 06, 2014 11:29 AM

February 27, 2014

Nick Cohen

TV in the Web age: Don’t stop to think for a second


The most popular and critically acclaimed drama British television produces lacks drama’s basic component: a coherent plot. Few care. Commissioning editors and the viewing public acclaim Sherlock’s creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The press loves them so much it covered their last series as if it were breaking news.

To give you an idea of how slapdash and infantile their writing is, consider one episode of the BBC programme, The Empty Hearse.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at February 27, 2014 09:53 AM

February 25, 2014

Nick Cohen

How to stop the oligarchy’s terrorists: seize their assets

The guards who tortured Sergei Magnitsky at Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison, and refused to allow doctors to treat the pancreatitis that eventually killed him did not understand that they had fashioned a weapon for democracies to wield against dictatorships.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at February 25, 2014 01:09 PM

February 18, 2014

Nick Cohen

If you treat homosexuality as a genetic phenomenon, don’t be surprise if your enemies try to “cure it”

Gay-rights Russian embassy

After Sochi, we can dispense with the notion that sportsmen and women are “role models” we should encourage our children to emulate. All the young would receive would-be masterclasses in cowardice and selfishness if they were foolish enough to take lessons from athletes.

At the time of going to press, not one competitor had raised a rainbow flag on the slopes of Sochi or a clenched fist on the medal podium.

Carry on reading

by Nick Cohen at February 18, 2014 09:44 AM

November 14, 2013

Mad Mel's Liquid Finale

The Middleman

&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;b&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;This TV review first posted June 10, 2008.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;b&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;Edited to remove a waffly first paragraph.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;i&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&quot;Fighting evil, so you don&#39;t have to.&quot;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;ABC Family&#39;s &lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;&lt;i&gt;The Middleman&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;seems destined—indeed, designed—to be a&amp;nbsp;cult favourite. Too goofy for the mainstream, it&#39;s also hampered by a budget that the most basic of basic cable hour-longs might be ashamed of. But what it has in spades is charm and a lack of preciousness that lifts it above the unoriginal premise and similar, more self-consciously offbeat fare. Enough, at least, to ensure it finds a niche populated by kids &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;looking for a clever actioner that doesn&#39;t speak down to them, and older kids&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;adults charmed by pop culture references familiar enough to evoke&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;&lt;i&gt;Buffy&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;and its contemporaries, yet&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;obscure enough to make them feel smart.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;On paper&amp;nbsp;&lt;i&gt;The Middleman&lt;/i&gt;&amp;nbsp;holds little promise: &quot;A young woman is recruited by a secret agency to fight against evil forces.&quot; More&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;&lt;i&gt;Men in Black&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;than&amp;nbsp;&lt;i&gt;Buffy,&lt;/i&gt; it &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;offers little variation from the age-old trope: a world of aliens and monsters (&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;and&amp;nbsp;super-intelligent, genetically-engineered primates) coexisting alongside the world of men. Sometimes peacefully, other times less so. When someone from the outside discovers this secret world,&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;they must become part of it, or join those who fight or police it&lt;/a&gt;.&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;And that&#39;s pretty much what we have here. Wendy (Natalie Morales) is a geeky temp secretary who during one posting is attacked by what she describes as a &quot;hentai tentacle monster&quot;. The beast is dealt with by an implacable stranger, the eponymous &quot;Middleman&quot; (Matt Keeslar), who fights evil using an array of whizzy gadgets supplied by an unknown power. Impressed by Wendy&#39;s poise in unusual circumstances (&lt;i&gt;&quot;95% of people would fill their shorts and be eaten&quot;&lt;/i&gt;), he offers her a job as his apprentice/sidekick.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;; imageanchor=&quot;1&quot; style=&quot;margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;&quot;&gt;&lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; src=&quot;; height=&quot;271&quot; width=&quot;400&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;i&gt;The Middleman&lt;/i&gt; doesn&#39;t wear its influences on its sleeve so much as have them tattooed on its face. &quot;The Pilot Episode Sanction&quot;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;is a Frankenstein&#39;s Monster of someone else&#39;s ideas. But what judicious employment of familiar concepts allows is room for the dialogue and characters to breathe, without having to spend too long explaining the set-up. And while it doesn&#39;t subvert the trope&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;entirely, it does undermine it with clever digs at both its own and the genre&#39;s preposterousness (&quot;that belonged to my father, who disappeared in mysterious and as-yet-unexplained circumstances&quot;) and via the fourth wall-breaking captions.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;The dialogue is equally sly, assaulting the viewer with pop culture references and screwball sparring. Morales&#39; delivery is perfect: rapid-fire and deadpan, she&#39;s more Garofolo than Gellar, though hotter and geekier than both. Keeslar, channelling&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Constable Benton Fraser&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;—shit, how good would Paul Gross be in this part?—isn&#39;t&amp;nbsp;quite so confident, but his might be the harder role: a former Navy Seal, the character is written as an endearing throwback to a more innocent time, ruthless, intelligent and maybe a little dim—all at the same time. And all the while spouting goshdang-it-to-heck aphorisms (he never swears, except when he does).&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;If the show seldom pauses long enough to allow appreciation the more delicious lines, nor does it allow reflection on its weaker moments. In any event, o&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;nly a few spoil the party: a series of gangster film quotes that not once stray from the obvious (&lt;i&gt;The Godfather&lt;/i&gt;, &lt;i&gt;Scarface&lt;/i&gt;),&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&amp;nbsp;and a &lt;i&gt;Planet of the Apes&lt;/i&gt;&amp;nbsp;reference which I&#39;m surprised didn&#39;t get left on &lt;i&gt;The Simpsons&lt;/i&gt;&#39; cutting-&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;room floor where they found it. The pilot also seems to run out of breath&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;halfway through when Wendy&#39;s boyfriend appears, a boring dick undeserving of both his screen time and Wendy&#39;s forgiveness. But it gets its second wind as it approaches a denouement marred only by the obvious deficiencies in the budget.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div style=&quot;text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;So ignore that, throw in a&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;ridiculously human robot&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;with a prickly demeanour, and a black-and-white aside that ends with an image of the Middleman holding an umbrella and Wendy wearing a scuba mask, and you&#39;re left with what has the potential to be one of the oddest and smartest shows you&#39;ll see this summer.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;; imageanchor=&quot;1&quot; style=&quot;margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;&quot;&gt;&lt;img border=&quot;0&quot; src=&quot;; height=&quot;225&quot; width=&quot;400&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;b&gt;Notes from the future:&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class=&quot;separator&quot; style=&quot;clear: both; text-align: justify;&quot;&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;ul&gt;&lt;li&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;The second episode isn&#39;t very good, but it all picks up from there.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;I&#39;m not sure how I got through this review without mentioning Nu-Who, which in hindsight seems an obvious influence.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Mark Sheppard&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;shows up in episodes 11 and 12, back when he was being good in stuff.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ul&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style=&quot;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;&quot;&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;</content>

by scwilko at November 14, 2013 10:13 PM

March 16, 2013

Paging Mr. Driftwood

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Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

by levine at March 16, 2013 09:59 PM