Philobiblon: Time to boycott the anti-female <i>Observer</i>

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Time to boycott the anti-female Observer

Once again, the Observer is proving its anti-female credentials, basically repeating the ridiculous Prospect article on which I commented earlier this week, and calling it, ridiculously, academic. Now I think most people would agree that an academic article is one that appears in a peer-reviewed journal, which Prospect certainly isn't. If I were still buying newspapers, I would be boycotting the Observer, which with its anti-abortion and anti-working women stance is looking more like the Sunday Mail every week!
An interesting piece in the Sunday Times on online shopping, which basically argues that online, people are "harder" shoppers, shopping around more and less prone to impulse buys. Although what it fails to mention is eBay - which has certainly changed the way I shop. If I decided, as I did say the other day, that I wanted a thermos, it was the first place I went, and I had what I wanted in five minutes - much less hassle than sloping down the shops.
Finally, another in the "name and shame" category, from today's Independent:

Stephen Ladyman, the transport minister responsible for green fuels, drives a new diesel-powered Alfa Romeo GT. He has a passion for sports cars and motorbikes. And he is being blamed for personally resisting plans to subsidise the purchase of cars with low carbon dioxide emissions such as the Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo.

Sounds like a good protest target for me....


Blogger Maxine said...

I agree with your response to the Prospect article in your earlier posting, and with your line in this posting!

I've noticed a growing tendency to call articles "academic" just becuase someone vaguely "academic" writes them. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but an opinion piece or publication, as you say, is not the same as an "academic" piece or publication, as the label "academic" refers to a particular standard of agument -- notably including some kind of independent scrutiny before publication.

Liked the online shopping piece, also -- I have used Ocado since day 1, and although the service has gone progressively down since the early days of customer focus (always two drivers, careful packing, etc), the equation of saving 2-3 hours a week trawling round a supermarket and the odd squashed tomato is no contest. Unlike one of the people quoted in the Times piece, I think Amazon is great. For clothes, I use the Next site (for my daughters mainly) as their e-commerce and distribution network are second to none. Next is also unpretentious, good value and you can find enough "natural fibre/non-logo/slogan-bedecked" stuff in there to keep fairly up-to-date (but non-fashion-victim) girls happy.

3/26/2006 02:04:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

An article can happily be academic without appearing in a peer-reviewed journal. Although suggestive of a quality threshold, and vital in the sciences, peer-review in humanities journals is more often than not simply a way of manipulating the nature of articles that get into print according to the agendas of those who control the journal.

Whilst you should never take anything you read on the internet at face value (aside from Clanger being, in real life, Brad Pitt of course) the burden of the additional care required when reading material online is far outweighed by the tremendous freedom offered by the shattering of the frequently-discredited peer-review system in the humanities by the development of the internet.

Ebay has changed many things. We hoped for the global village, but got the global car boot sale. is sometimes cheaper than Amazon for DVDs.

Etailing certainly makes it easier to spend money you haven't got on things you don't need when you should be doing something else.

A transport minister opposed to environmental protection? More Tory emulation. A Tory Health secretary traditionally smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish.

Clearly the result of being bullied as a child. I can't imagine anyone going through the comprehensive education system with the surname 'Ladyman' and surviving entirely unscathed.

If you don't believe me, check out:

By turns, horrifying and pants-wettingly funny. Ah, the honest cruelty of children.

Warning: it really isn't for the faint-hearted, easily distressed, or political-correctness-nazi.

3/26/2006 02:13:00 pm  
Blogger Maxine said...

So according to Clanger (oops, maent to type Brad!), an "academic" article in the humanities/social sciences is not independently scrutinised becuase it wouldn't get published unless its conclusions agreed with the preconceived agenda of the publication?
So, following this logic, one can publish any old rubbish, even if it was written in 5 minutes and full of shoddy, unsubstantiated arguments, if it is what the editors want to read?
So not "academic" in any sense of the word, then?!

(I do hope for the sake of the field, that Clanger/Brad's characterisation is exaggerated.)

3/26/2006 02:39:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

I'm not saying that peer-review is simply a means of unacceptably manipulating or censoring publication, but that is an abuse it has been all-too subject too, particularly in the over-politicised viper's nest of a subject that is lit. crit.

Peer-review creates a hierarchy and empowers those in editorial positions, like 16thC cardinals.

I would rather do my own critical appraisal of whether an article has merit, than have it pre-censored for whatever reason.

3/26/2006 04:23:00 pm  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Keep those arrows sharp, Natalie. Your target list for the anti-females will get longer, I'm sure.
Great blog!

3/26/2006 09:38:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Disappointed to hear you are Brad Pitt Clanger; I'd envisioned you as being much more handsome and dashing...

While I don't necessarily disagree with you about the limitations of peer review (and as much I'd say in the sciences as the humanities), I'd suggest the editorial process in "mainstream" publications is a lot worse still.

As for etailing, I tend to think impulse buying is less likely than among those sad people you seeing having domestics in the middle of a sea of plastic carrier bags on Oxford St on Saturday afternoons.

ANd thanks Joanne!

3/26/2006 11:52:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Ah but you can't fault the Observer's editorial process if they *intend* to print bilge and are then successful! :-)

As Brad Pitt as 'small, pink, and woolly' can get.

With my hat and rugged jacket on, and carrying my whip I have been called 'Indy' on several occasions.

Compare the two pictures, and I think you'll agree.

Clangers are too small for shopping in London. Last time Clanger was there, everyone was brusque, the bus drivers were inaudible behind bullet-proof glass, and 47 people handed him leaflets.

Next time Clanger will take some leaflets with him to hand back in exchange. One would not wish to be considered ungenerous.

As Einstein proved, if you aren't buying something, it is quite difficult to start boycotting it.

Can we assume you are liberating your newspapers from their vendors without the exchange of legal tender?


3/27/2006 02:04:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Ah Clanger/Indy, I'm sure you could cope with Oxford Street if you wanted to - a couple of cracks of the whip should clear a space nicely.

I avoid this problem by passing through on my bicycle - unfortunately to get to the London Library you have to cross Oxford St at some point. So the hazard for me is not leaflet-pushers but drivers of those ridiculously large Mercedes tanks who never know where they are going and have never been intorduced to either indicators or rear-view mirrors. I haven't kicked a door in yet, but it may only be a matter of time.

Perhaps not exactly "liberating your newspapers from their vendors without the exchange of legal tender", rather liberating their readers from them ... hopefully!

3/27/2006 10:52:00 am  
Blogger clanger said...

Paper-pinching, Car-bashing. This is very nearly Lara Croft territory.

Although I'm sure you always read the provincials cover to cover, here's one you may have missed from the Scunny Telegraph...

Fundamentalist Methodists Ban Exercise Class.

Despite being an atheist, Clanger is one of only 4 people in the UK known to have a methodist fetish, and was consequently disturbed at this unfortunate turn of events.

3/27/2006 04:44:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

A plague on long filenames.

You'll probably have to go to:

...and type 'Tai Chi' in the search box. The headline is: 'SORRY, NO T'AI CHI HERE - IT'S AGAINST OUR RELIGION...'.

3/27/2006 04:47:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Ah yes, the "Methodists ban Tai Chi" is one that comes around every couple of years ... I associate Methodism with a mean, pinched respectable lower-middle-class world, terrified of "what will the neighbours think" - as rather nicely portrayed by Orwell in A Clergyman's Daughter (when she's teaching in London). Associate it all too closely, since it was part of my upbringing....!

3/27/2006 05:12:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Clanger is shocked to learn that Methodism, like The Force, has a dark side. All of his previous experiences of female methodists have never suggested the existence of such a thing.

But then Clanger has never encountered an ex-methodist before.

Could there be a reason for that?

Perhaps there are methodist death squads that hunt down those who seek to escape the faith.

Al-Qaeda just pales into insignificance when compared to shadowy non-conformist cells, trained to take-out those who flee the faith (and any Jesuits they come across for good measure) stalking the land, armed with flick-crucifixes, licensed to kill, and to distribute Wesleyan tracts.

3/27/2006 06:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Clanger needs TinyURL!!

It really is the neatest thing for fixing those ultra-long web addresses.

3/27/2006 07:08:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Thanks Sharon...

Those fundamentalist methodists are now here:

3/27/2006 09:21:00 pm  

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