Punctuated model of inebriation

punctuated model of inebriation (phr.) theoretical model of consumption which proposes that, over an extended period, inebriation should occur due to short bursts of intensive consumption, interspersed with long periods of inactivity. Differs from the graduated model of inebriation, which proposes continual and uniform consumption of small quantities.

Being narcoleptic, the punctuated model works best for me, as it allows downtime for a recuperatory doze mid-session. As yesterday was a feriado here, it seemed rude not to have a couple of after-lunch caipirinhas, a trajectory which clearly could not be maintained through to the small hours of the morning. Careful application of the punctuated model resulted in, twelve hours later, a pleasantly woozy end to the evening on the beach with a bunch of friends, a guitar, and a bonfire, singing those slightly saccharine but catchy tunes which seem to fall off the pens of Brazilian songwriters almost as if—well, almost as if carousing sentimental melodies on a beach till the small hours of the morning was one of the simplest but greatest pleasures of life.

The Facebook Catechism

To be memorized and repeated at least five times a day, as a minimum before going online.

I saw this really cool thing on Facebook the other day. It said that if you—

No. Don’t. It’s not what it says it is.

But it’s on Facebook! Everyone reads Facebook, it must be trustworty.

No. You are confusing ubiquity with respectability. It’s precisely because it’s on Facebook that you have no knowledge of the real source, only what they themselves say they are.

But, look, loads of my friends have already—

No. Your friends might be smart people, but even smart people can be fooled sometimes.

OK, so it’s almost certainly not true: but what’s on offer is so cool and all I have to do is—

No. That’s exactly the gamble they want you to take. They exploit our natural cognitive bias to presume that things to our advantage are more probable or reliable than they really are. They offer something fantastic for apparently almost nothing, but then you find they’ve actually taken far more than you intended. And even if, once you’ve taken the apprently harmless gamble, you realize you’ve been conned, you’ve added your name to the millions who have taken it, and it looks more and more convincing, such that other people are less likely to realize it’s a con.

Once you have mastered this, you may progress to the Advanced Level, in which you repeat the entire exercise substituting the words “the Bible,” “the Qur’an,” or “the Torah” for “Facebook.”

I’m sorry to get all class war on you, but I ain’t gonna take advice on the direction of the Labour Party from a guy named “Tristram”

The private school and Cambridge-educated son of a peer has told Cambridge students that Labour is “in the shit” and that it is up to them—“the top 1%”—to take the mantle of leadership. How very egalitarian: this is exactly the kind of elitist born-to-rule stuff for which I rejoined the Labour Party.

Tristram Hunt—for it is he—claimed that Labour is becoming a sect because of “algorithmic politics” where “everyone shares the same views as you on social media.” Somewhat confusingly, however, he had previously said at Sheffield University (lowering himself to speak to the less-than-top 1%) that we must “move closer to the public” on a number of issues. Who would, presumably, then share the same views on social media. One wonders whether the necessary condition of popular opinion being sectarian is whether or not Hunt agrees with it. Hunt seems to object to consensus within the party, whilst avidly endorsing that the party abandon all principle to align itself with the wider public consensus.

Hunt has, in this, perfectly expressed what has bedevilled British politics since Tony Blair, and the reasons why I actually did rejoin Labour. He seems to feel that the job of a political party is to get its candidates elected, no matter what. That the primary purpose of standing for election is to gain power, and that the best way to achieve this is to “centralise” and to adjust most of one’s policies to fit current public opinion, whatever that may be. To me this is a ludicrous travesty of modern liberal democracy, which is (or should be) grounded in the discursive arena of civil society, and in which the job of the political party is primarily to represent the views of its members and to attempt, through discussion and persuasion, to convince the electorate to endorse them. To abjure that responsibility is to turn politics into nothing more than a beauty contest, with competing, unprincipled parties engaging in a cheap and unedifying race for votes.

If anything is algorithmic, it is the vision of policy-making as a brute mathematical function, taking inputs of public opinion, and generating an output of highest electability.

I rejoined Labour not because I agree with everything Jeremy Corbyn says or stands for, but because he, at last, was a leader who seemed to grasp this. I last voted Labour in 1997 and, since then, a whole generation have grown up who have never heard a mainstream politician articulate anything close to the social democratic—dare I even say socialist—principles which I support. Those of my generation who nominally support this position, yet insist that the Labour Party must be run by centralising ideology-free vote-whores such as Hunt, and believe that somehow, once the party has gained power by promoting these ciphers, they will suddenly turn socially responsible are fooling themselves.

An argument has to be won: the argument that there is an alternative route to prosperity and general well-being than that of laissez-faire, trickle-down, corporation-led, light-regulation monetarism. That argument won’t be won if it is not made, and it will not be made if the Hunts of this world have their way and keep Labour as a Tory Lite popularity-grasping machine. I believe that Corbyn has won that argument within the Labour Party—within their membership, who he recognises it is his primary responsibility to represent, though not the parliamentary party, who feel it is his primary responsibility to ensure they get re-elected. It is now time for the Labour Party to take that argument to the wider public and born-to-rule, top one-percenters who object to the consequent endangerment of their presumed privilege are welcome, as far as I am concerned, to jump ship to the other side, where I am sure they will feel quite at home.

In which Fat Martin comes for lunch, and a theological debate ensues

Fat Martin Luther came for lunch here in Rio the other day. I served vermicelli, as I always do for him. “Why do you always feed me this rubbish?” he asked, after pushing it around his plate for a while. “Oh sorry, Fat Martin,” I said, “I forget you’re not so keen on a Diet of Worms.”

He gave me a long stare. “Nearly five hundred years, and that’s still funny?” he asked irritably. “And why must you always call me Fat Martin?”

“Well to be honest, Fat Martin,” I replied, “it’s because I’m amused by the contrast between your obsession with sin and the overt evidence of extensive indulgence in at least one of the seven deadly ones.”

“Popish superstitious nonsense,” he countered. “We are saved not by our works but by our faith.”

“That sounds suspiciously antinomian to me,” I admitted, “but actually that’s kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. This whole sola fide and justification business.”

“What of it?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking a bit about the Euthyphro dilemma—”

“—The what?” he interrupted.

“Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know, Fat Martin. You did the scholiast stuff before you got all vernacular and protesty. Euthyphro, where Plato points out the definitional problem of an all-good omnipotent deity. Either good is defined by Him—that whatever He wills is necessarily good—in which case we can know nothing of Him, for His acts can be entirely arbitrary; or He simply always acts according to what is good, in which case there would seem to be something ontologically prior to Him—goodness—and His actions would appear to be bound.”

“Greek rubbish, fit only for the Schools.”

“Well you have to admit he has a point. And what I’ve been thinking is that your ideas about justification and freedom of the will seem to be somewhat inconsistent on this point: that as far as the workings of justification are concerned you sit on one horn of the dilemma, but as far as its distribution is concerned you sit on the other.”

“How so?” Fat Martin was interested now. He may not have time for the Greeks, but he loves a good wrangle.

“Well, the whole concept of being saved by faith alone kinda requires that we know that God will act in a certain way. That is, He has promised, through His Son (who is also Him—always confuses me, that bit), that He will save those who believe in Him and His promise. You bang on about this quite a bit, you know, and often emphasise the nature of the promise. He has promised something, so we can have certainty that He will do it. This only really works if we accept the secondary horn of Euthyphro: because otherwise God could entirely renege upon His promise, and that would be fine because He is God and if He reneges on His promise then this is necessarily good. For sola fide to work, and for us to be able to know it will, God must be bound by what is good, and what is good must be accessible to human reason.”


“Well, there’s a problem, then, when we get onto the distribution of this. Because not everyone believes, not everyone will be saved. Fair enough, but you also insist—actually, quite correctly—in the absence of freedom of the will. You got into quite a spat about this. The saving belief in God is not taken by the individual as a freely-willed act, but is granted, by the grace of God. But then we come into a problem, because of the apparently arbitrary distribution of this. It seems resolutely unfair, doubleplus ungood, that people are not saved by their merits, or by their works, but by the whim of the deity. All people are necessarily equally deserving of hellfire, yet God selects some but not others to be given the saving grace of belief in Him. Doesn’t this require the exactly opposite view of the dilemma? We can only reconcile God’s goodness with this arbitrary allocation of grace if we accept that whatever He does is necessarily good, and that we should not attempt to reason about his acts using the human understanding of goodness. So which is it? If I cannot rely on God not acting arbitrarily then I can have no grounds to believe His promise; but if He cannot act as He pleases, how can we understand the random allocation of grace?”

Fat Martin was silent. He’s well known for his temper, and I worried he might be building up to a paddy. But eventually, slowly, he spoke. “I never thought of that,” he admitted. “You kinda got me there. I suppose I’d better take it all back. The whole shebang.”

“It’s a bit late for that now, you know,” I said as I passed him the bread.

He chewed it thoughtfully. And then suddenly gagged, coughed, and, red-faced, spat out two Brazilian coins which were buried in the dough. “What is this?” he shouted, perhaps relieved of an excuse to rant. “Are you trying to choke me?”

“They’re a gift for you,” I answered.

“Do you usually give gifts like this?” he inquired furiously.

“I’m sorry, Martin. I thought you were a fan of the Real Presents.”

Fat Martin stared at me again. “Fuck you,” he said, eventually. He does have a potty mouth on him, does Fat Martin.

Fat Martin is not amused

Fat Martin is not amused.

One worthy, I feel, of Keats himself

As well as being the mother of her country, Evita had a string of artistic and cabaret gifts which she employed to calm the General down when was he was in one of his moods, or sometimes to entertain house guests. A particularly popular talent was her ability to—in the gentlest and sweetest of timbres—fart out the tune of the national anthem, and other popular songs.

The composer Maurice Ravel, an old bridge partner of the General, was visiting once and was treated to this most exquisite and private of musical performances; the experience inspired him so much that he rushed off and immediately penned that classic suite, Le ton beau de cul Peron.

(And yes, I know that’s a gratuitously split infinitive. I do these things deliberately to annoy you, you know.)