Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Linkblogging For 16/08/12

Posted in linkblogging by Andrew Hickey on September 16, 2012

I’ll have a proper post tomorrow, but I’m just doing a quick linkblog tonight.

One brief not-a-full-post-worthy question though — why do political cliches keep getting repeated despite having no relation to reality?

Most recently, in the current political decapitation-mania, where if you believe the press it looks like the leaders of all three major parties are seconds from being ousted (and, frankly, that makes sense — it’s not like any of them are doing a spectacular job), the refrain has been “the Lib Dems are ruthkless at getting rid of their leaders.”

Is that really true, though — or at least, is it truer of the Lib Dems than of the other major parties? In the 24 years that the Lib Dems have existed, they’ve had (not counting caretaker leaders like Cable during elections) four leaders — Ashdown, Kennedy, Campbell and Clegg. In that same time period, Labour have had five non-caretaker leaders — Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Milliband — though admittedly John Smith was a special case because he died while leader. The Tories, in that same period, have had six — Thatcher, Major, Hague, Duncan-Smith, Howard and Cameron.

So where does this myth of Lib Dem ruthlessness come from? I suppose we’ll never know…

A better-than-average interview with Grant Morrison in the New Statesman

Bobsy on Avengers vs X-Men

Simon Bucher-Jones has started what looks to be a series of 60s spy pastiches on his blog

Stop blaming sexual harassment on Asperger’s syndrome.

And a review by Simon Callow of what sounds like an interesting book by ex-PM John Major on the music hall.

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  1. Iain Coleman said, on September 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    In fact, the Lib Dems were massively indulgent of Kennedy. Not without good reason – I’d take Charles Kennedy drunk over Tony Blair sober any day – but they couldn’t go on covering for him forever. I have heard tales to the effect that what really finished Kennedy off was the new intake of MPs in 2005 finding out how bad the situation really was and giving a collective WTF?

    • Andrew Hickey said, on September 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Yeah, I’ve heard the same things and they make a lot of sense. Shame, because in every other way Kennedy was by far the best leader the party’s ever had (actually popular among the public even now, not cosying up to either other party unlike Ashdown or Clegg). But yes, had he been leader of either of the other two… well, he’d never have *become* leader of either of them.

  2. Hal said, on September 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    As regards the New Statesman interview, David Brothers has a post up at 4th Letter entitled Grant Morrison and the Fan Entitlement That Wasn’t which might, at first blush, seem to be slightly intemperate but is actually quite fair. Brothers adumbrates his impatience with Morrison’s disingenuousness and skewers both him and the interviewer for their attitudes. Morrison actually reminds me quite a bit of the likes of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat now in his responses to certain types of criticism (of course, not all criticism – or critics – is created equal), hugely popular, hugely praised yet hugely *defensive* too. In Morrison’s case a great Cult of Personality has been erected around him and this is not purely due to the work, Morrison himself is culpable in this so it’s a bit rich when he tries to get himself off the hook with a peremptory wave of his kingly hand. His eagerness to dismiss (and that of his supposed interlocutor) even legitimate complaint over the things he says as if he’s the victim of some kind of witch-hunt by “entitled” or “weird” fans is distasteful at best. And it’s rather silly to high-handedly dismiss complaints about Super Gods (he can’t use the “oh that was a particular thing I said on a particular day, why should I be held to that”-type defence over a *book* unless he’s an idiot, which he certainly *isn’t*!). All this annoys me because it’s unpleasantly reminiscent of the aforementioned RTD and Moffat and the way they characterise their critics, it’s all to easy to moan about “entitled” fans but entitled creators are something else entirely. I don’t think I’m being unfair, it’s simply disappointing to see Grant Morrison being a bit of a passive aggressive hipsterish bully in interviews and in his book (I was quite looking forward to Super Gods but apart from obvious flaws in the writing I was dismayed by some of the more conservative – one might say “entitled” – statements and bragging). That said, tho’ I admire some of his work, I’ve never been a Morrison-worshipper.

    • Andrew Hickey said, on September 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      I’m no Morrison-worshipper, but I think Brothers’ piece is rather unfair. The people Morrison is reacting to in that interview are cretins like Matt Seneca, who is much, much *worse* than Morrison paints him.

      Many of Morrison’s public statements have been far too conciliatory to his employers — but it’s important to remember that they *are* his employers. I think Action Comics #9 puts the other side far more eloquently.

      I disagree with a lot of what Morrison’s said recently, but the way people like Seneca or Witzke or that bunch of hipster-aesthetes have turned on him once they realised that he was not perfect frankly deserves a much *stronger* response than Morrison gives them there…

  3. Hal said, on September 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Nuts, reading that again it just seems like mush. Suffice to say Morrison the Man and that interview get on my nerves, as does the attitude that some modern creators and fans take to legitimate criticism (and that whole characterisation of certain fans as “mad” or “weird” sickens me. Ah and do I hate the word “geek” too! Too Nightmare Alley for me!). I agree with Brothers to a great extent.
    Sorry about this, I do have a talent for spewing gibberish, don’t I? In my defence I do feel out of sorts…

    • Andrew Hickey said, on September 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Morrison the man has always seemed a bit of a fool, frankly (and I, too, hate the word geek. Loathe it.)

      But have you read the people he’s talking about? I mean, Matt Seneca did, literally, barbecue and eat the book. That’s not ‘legitimate criticism’ — it’s book-burning, literally. And “weird” seems like a reasonable adjective to apply to that kind of behaviour.

      • Spoilers Below said, on September 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

        To play devil’s advocate and give Seneca his fair shrift, he cooked and ate the book after a long series of posts about how disappointed he was with Morrison, and how his output post-All Star Superman seems directly contradictory to the spirit of the man who wrote The Invisibles and Flex Mentallo.

        I imagine it’s a similar thing to, say, a hardcore heavy metal fan looking back at Metallica’s career after the series of terrible albums they’ve put out since the late 90s, and seeing that depressing photo James Hetfield in khaki shorts and flip flops shopping in Paris, being forced to confront that, yeah, maybe they aren’t as cool as they look on screen, they’re just well paid millionaires who play heavy metal music, rather than living the lifestyle of Metalocalypse’s Dethklok. And because Morrison’s public persona is so caught up in his work (either through letter columns or interviews), it can be difficult to separate the two. Morrison didn’t shy away from being this performance person in public until very recently. After participating in the “let’s all masturbate to create a magic sigil to keep my comic from getting cancelled” event, how are his devotees supposed to take it when he removes the make up and wig and says “Nah, don’t take me too seriously”?

        Not that he has a responsibility to keep being the weird-bald-magic-man-who-writes-semi-confusing-comics, mind you, but there’s no way he’s myopic enough not to see the devotion he engendered in so many over the years. Perhaps he simply didn’t see where the breaking point of what he could say was? Always a danger of presuming the audience is on your side.

        Of course, Seneca’s argument would also be a lot more convincing if his own comics were any good, but that’s an entirely separate subject. His other scholarship is usually very good, though, even if his writing style can be irritatingly hipsterish.

  4. Hal said, on September 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Fair enough about Seneca. That *is* weird, not to say ridiculous. Don’t worry, I’d never say that was “legitimate criticism”. My reference to people being characterised as “weird” wasn’t to defend those actually *being* so, it was to those who aren’t but are traduced as being so but I was really remembering those points in Morrison’s book when he brings up the stereotypical “weirdo comics fan” for a few cheap laughs, I found that improper and couldn’t understand why it was there other than it possibly being Morrison saying “Look these are the *real* freaks, I’m not like that at *all*”. I can’t disagree too much with your comments on the “hipster aesthetes” (you know I would if I could, it’s the contrarian in me!) tho’ seeing as Morrison is a hipster aesthete himself there’s an element of him being hoist with his own petard. Of course there are those critics/fans/critic-fans (some of whom could, perhaps, be termed hipster aesthetes) who never thought Morrison was perfect who have held him to his own standards and *that* is fine, it’s that kind of reasonable, legitimate criticism I don’t like to see treated as if it’s simply silly.
    Point taken about his DC employment but still it leaves a bad taste, and feels dubious.
    I appreciate your civilized responses, and look forward to your Town Called Mercy review. Oh, and do you have any thoughts on those “English BAC” proposals?
    It’s nice to find someone who loathes the term “geek” as much as I do!
    P. S. Reading that you are to write a book with Holly is so *sweet*! Ahem. I’m a sentimental fool…


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