Sunday, 17 January 2010

Mere Pseud Mag Ed

Two excellent articles in the Observer today. David Mitchell is on form, parodying archaeologists and the conclusions they draw from tiny "finds". Something which, perhaps I can now confess, I've never really quite seen the value of. So archaeologists, led by a professor of palaeolithic archaeology at the University of Bristol no less, have discovered Neanderthals may have worn make-up. I thought we already knew that from the Flintstones? Betty and Wilma were very glam. They'd completely nailed this season's animal print too. Role models for us all.

Seriously though, perhaps someone can explain to me why we need to know this. Is is that we could then go on to conclude that Neanderthals weren't quite as hairy as we've previously thought, and that could tenuously prove something to do with evolution? Or is it just fascinating to know a tiny bit more about our very ancient past, and I'm the archaeological equivalent of a philistine?

The second excellent article in today's Observer - and tellingly by another non-journalist - is from Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire fame, who is Haitian and writes movingly about her shock since the earthquake struck. "Since Haiti shook and crumbled, I feel as if something has collapsed over my head, too. Miles away, somehow, I'm trapped in this nightmare. My heart is crushed, I've been thinking of nothing else." Please read it - and then donate via the DEC appeal, which includes most of the major UK charities/ NGOs.

There is also a far from excellent article in today's Observer by Catherine Bennett. I have to admit, I'm not a fan of her comment pieces. She's rarely thought-provoking or infuriating or amusing. The logic of her conclusions often defies me, and there doesn't seem to be any coherent worldview. To be honest, I've never quite seen why she's paid to be a columnist.

Anyway, today she is writing about about the possibility of her mate, the highly unappealing Rod Liddle, becoming editor of the Independent. Completely bizarre logic, once again. She seems to be defending Mr Liddle's right to free speech - sexist/ racist/ Islamophobic though it may be- whilst condemning those in the blogosphere and on Twitter who are expressing the view that a man of Mr Liddle's views should not be put at the helm of one of our few liberal-leaning newspapers. It seems free speech only applies to Mr Liddle and not to those who disapprove of him. (Check him out on climate change denial too; surely if the Independent has a particular USP, it's that it's been excellent on environmental issues).

Stop press - the folks over at Liberal Conspiracy are running a piece suggesting that Mr Liddle has been leaving racist comments on a football website. Wonder what Ms Bennett has to say about that?

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