Patterico's Pontifications


That Time That Tim Blair and Iowahawk Dogpiled on a Hapless British Academic

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:00 pm

[guest post by JVW]

[EDIT: Well, how gauche of me. His name is spelt — another Britishism there — “Whyman” not “Wyman.” Corrections added. My bad. – JVW]

In the continuing coverage of the aftermath of last week’s Brexit vote, the redoutable Aussie wag Tim Blair calls attention to one Tom Whyman, a 27-year-old lecturer in philosophy at Britain’s University of Essex who was given space in last Sunday’s New York Times to — to — well, I’m not exactly sure what point Tom Whyman, PhD, is actually trying to get across.

His main complaint seems to be that the renumeration for his academic position doesn’t allow him the luxury of living on his own year-round in Colchester, the town in which his job is located, let alone afford him the glamorous life of a man-about-town in London (a mere 107 kilometer daily commute away), which should be the reward bestowed upon him commensurate with his lofty credential. Dr. Whyman thus finds himself forced to live once again with his parents in Arlesford during the summer breaks, directionally opposite from London to Colchester, a troubling 210 km journey to the warm embrace of the faculty lounge. And it’s not just his forced existence in his home town that has the young academic all in a bother, it’s the face that Alseford represents his “personal hell.” Let’s let Tim Blair fisk Tom Whyman’s musings which he does so magnificently, focusing intently on the good doctor’s apparent dependence upon public transportation:

[Whyman] We are not used to thinking that a place like this — a pleasant town with a pretty center — might actually be hell. There is almost no poverty and only the occasional act of violence. There are good schools, a range of shops, a heritage railway. In fact, it’s somewhere that a lot of people, apparently, actively want to live …

But dig below the surface, and you will find the demons crawling.

[Blair] Sure you’re not thinking of Rotherham, mate?

[. . . ]

[Whyman] Poor public transportation makes leaving impossible in a practical, everyday sense – at least if you can’t drive.

[Blair] Learn how to drive, then. Problem solved.

[Whyman] The town thwarts any ambitions that stretch beyond its borders. From what I can tell, a young person from Alresford, forced to move back in with his parents after college, will typically find himself unable to get work that is not based in Alresford.

[Blair] That whole “learning how to drive” thing can be extremely helpful.

[Whyman] And it is impossible to leave Alresford, because Alresford is not just a place: It is an ideology that infects your very soul. Let’s call it “Alresfordism.” It is an ideology of smallness, of contraction, of wanting to curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole and will everything amusing or interesting or exciting in the world away.

[Blair] For the love of God, is there nobody in Britain who can teach this idiot how to operate a steering wheel and a couple of pedals?

Young Dr. Whyman ties this into the pro-Brexit vote being the manifestation of this “ideology of smallness” that sought to clip the wings of the more cosmopolitan — dare we say it, progressive? — urbanites who have the proper mindset to understand how empty and pointless are such things as a tradition of home and hearth. Do read the rest of Blair’s take-down of this poor, callow kid who is way in over his head on, it would seem, just about everything. And if that wasn’t fun enough, our own estimable wit from flyover country, David Burge (who blogs, though not so much anymore, as Iowahawk) set his many fans loose on Twitter to provide their reactions:

Here are a couple of the best responses from some wry wit going by the Twitter name “Mr. Whiskers”:

It’s instructive, yet not surprising, to see the United Kingdom with the same problem of over-credentialed yet under-employed millennials that we face in this country. No doubt Tom Whyman was convinced at some point that pursuing a PhD in philosophy (I always liked the idea of a Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy, or in the more elegant Latin, Philosophiae Doctor Philosophiae) would lead to a nice tenure-track position at a reputable university, and that once he received tenure it would be a safe sinecure from which he could hector us dull vulgarians on the virtues of his academic Marxism and cultural cosmopolitanism. I always wonder at what point during their studies as they are memorizing for rote recitation the tortured logic of Foucault and Marcuse it dawns upon these budding intellectuals that there are a whole lot more people pursuing the credential than there are jobs requiring that credential. One obvious remedy to this would be if the U.K. simply stopped encouraging or even allowing so many students to study for advanced degrees, but it seems that the academic establishment in Britain is every bit as entrenched in its rent-seeking as their colleagues here in the United States.

I wish Dr. Whyman well, but he might at the very least want to consider learning how to drive.


46 Responses to “That Time That Tim Blair and Iowahawk Dogpiled on a Hapless British Academic”

  1. Meanwhile Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London, has demanded that the British government give the City of London more autonomy over local financial policy in the wake of the Brexit vote, apparently oblivious to the irony that someone who was so dead set against demanding a return of sovereignty from Brussels is now all for demanding more freedom from Westminster.

    JVW (eabb2a)

  2. then the bulldozer rammed through his house, on the way to the bypass, like arthur dent,

    narciso (732bc0)

  3. I for one do not wish the putrid Dr. Wyman well. He is the embodiment of the cancer eating the soul of the West and as such needs to be ostracized as the village idiot of Alresford. Pardon me, DOCTOR idiot.

    Rev. Hoagie® (0f4ef6)

  4. It just goes to show, no matter how big your problems may seem to you, there are others with even bigger ones.

    nk (dbc370)

  5. it reminds me of charles stross’s bond life riffs on lovecraft, he saw powerpoint as a tool for demon possession, I think that’s been confirmed,

    narciso (732bc0)

  6. Being an elite is hard.

    G6loq (3a2647)

  7. , of wanting to curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole

    Dr. Wyman, if you don’t want that I am sure there are plenty of Syrian refugees who will be glad to do that for you.

    Apparently Camulodunum is too plebiean to allow him to live there year round.

    kishnevi (f594bb)

  8. BTW, Khan is mayor of Greater London.
    The City of London per se is a much smaller and much older entity, and it is the one which has a guy in fancy dress running around with the title of Lord Mayor. Colloquially “the City” is equivalent of “Wall Street” because it contains the financial center of England–but even by Tudor times a substantial part of London was outside the City of London. Greater London is a modern creation.

    But Sadiq Khan is no sense a successor of Dick Whittington.

    kishnevi (f594bb)

  9. I suspicion that his whole whinge is code for “Alresford does not have a gay scene”.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. The Lord Mayor used to be a powerful official. One of them hanged Jack Cade, the guy who wanted to kill all the lawyers according to Shakespeare.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. My hope is he is sterile and can not reproduce.

    Rodney King's Spirit (e2dd8e)

  12. I just saw that Traub piece right before you posted it, narciso. It’s absolutely so tone-deaf that one’s mind just reels in amazement. I was thinking of writing a post about it, but his piece is so contemptible that I think I’ll just let it pass.

    JVW (eabb2a)

  13. If this Wyman chap were to move to say, Pakistan, he’d probably enjoy a much better quality of life.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  14. However, given his educational achievements he probably can spell “remuneration” correctly.

    Seriously though, if he’d spent a fraction of his time in school understanding the concepts of supply and demand he could answer a lot of his own questions.

    Richard (332120)

  15. It’s not too late for Dr. Whyman. Britain is still in the EU. They haven’t Brexited stage left yet. So he could move to an EU country. Perhaps get residency status.

    And make that place f***ing miserable year round like I’m sure he makes his parents and the whole town of Alresford when he moves back every summer. No wonder the little twit keeps getting those same looks he remembers from the school lunchroom. I bet he got beat up a lot.

    Steve57 (ecac13)

  16. he reminds of derek zoolander, when he returns to his coal mining roots, with jon voight as the patriarch, also the python sketch where the father is some high end dramatist, and the son is some blue collar drone,

    narciso (732bc0)

  17. It’s surprisingly easy to get around the UK by car, even if one does have to adjust to left-side driving and roundabouts. I’ve done cross-Britain tour in a rented car a couple of times, and highly recommend it as a way to actually meet some British people. On one of my trips, in 1981, a rather obscure cooling hose burst “under the bonnet” of our rental on a Friday afternoon as we were crossing back into England from Scotland, and the local garage in the closest village couldn’t get the part delivered until Monday. So we spent a lazy weekend alternating between the two pubs on opposite street corners from our B&B, then just wandering around at random on foot. I was surprised to find that roughly half of each jukebox in those two pubs was filled with American country-western classics, and with our Texas accents we made easy friends as the locals insisted we join them in singing along. The town’s name is Lockerbie, and I was heartbroken when its name became world-famous in 1988; odds are that some of my friends from that visit didn’t survive that act of terrorism.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  18. I know a couple of guys who did PHDs in philosophy.

    It’s a really, really bad idea. No positions, and quite a few applicants.

    It is only a good idea if your goal in life is wanting to call yourself “Dr” while living in your parent’s basement. Which seems to be the case here, so Yay!

    scrubone (c3104f)

  19. Dearest Doctor Wyman…..MAYHAPS you could endeavour (I’m half British, I get to spell in BRIT), MAYHAPS you could learn the 4 STRINGS (No DOCTOR (HEHEHEHEEHHEHEE) NOT FORESKINS, rather the FOUR STRINGS of BASS GUITAR. Doctor Mister Wyman….may I call you BILL????? You are NOBODY, you are a LOSER!!! Your credentials give you NOTHING, except your MOMMIES PEA SOUP on THURSDAY!!

    GUS (30b6bd)

  20. SCRUBONE!!!! “THEY” call ME……DOCTOR LOVE….they call me DOCTOR LOVE. ETC ETC.

    GUS (30b6bd)

  21. He thinks a hole consisting of financial security is a bad thing. But he has nothing to worry about since he’s not in one nor likely to be any time soon. So he’s a free spirit with, as it happens, a roof over his head any time he wants.
    There is a town in Michigan–name withheld–where it is said “The view of the bay is half your pay.” There are, it is said, lawyers waiting table. That concept pleases me.
    Point is, a Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy could supplement his income in some plebeian fashion. Even if it were ever so embarrassing.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  22. ANOTHER LEGEND PASSES AWAY: RIP Scotty Moore, guitarist for Elvis Presley, dies at 84.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  23. When he first realized his name was Whyman he thought to himself: why, man? and decided at that moment philosophy was his game. Now he most impatiently waits for his parents to die so he can move from their basement to their bedroom while waiting to sell the house in bland, boring Arlesford to a moslem “refugee” and move to the cosmopolitan London. There he can experience the glamor that is Londonistan in 2016. Perhaps there he can find his life partner, Simon with a PhD in Wymyn’s Studies from Oxford and share a flat on Baker Street, adopt a Chinese baby, drive a Spark and save the planet. Oh, and boycott Chick-fil-A.

    Hell, that could be any lefties story.

    Rev. Hoagie® (0f4ef6)

  24. I always wonder at what point during their studies as they are memorizing for rote recitation the tortured logic of Foucault and Marcuse it dawns upon these budding intellectuals that there are a whole lot more people pursuing the credential than there are jobs requiring that credential.

    Doctor Whyman specialises in the theories of Adorno, you goddamned ingrate.

    Such scurrilous pigeonholing of the Frankfurt School steams my onions. How could one not know the difference between the paradox of aesthetics by way of negative dialectic and technological rationality?

    Jesus. It’s enough to drive a man to Sartre.

    JP (bd5dd9)

  25. Please do not teach this wanker to drive! He clearly would be a menace to the other motorists.

    Ephraim Williams (a75c3f)

  26. A man boards an airliner, takes his seat, and is surprised to find a large purple parrot in the seat next to him. The aircraft takes off and a pretty flight attendant walks down the aisle past the man and his seatmate.

    “Hey, bitch,” says the parrot, “bring me a whiskey and soda, and make it snappy!”

    The stewardess looks annoyed, but walks on. A minute later, she walks back up the aisle, and the parrot Pipes up again, “Goddammit, you lazy w****e, where’s my whiskey? Hurry it up!”

    Visibly flustered, the stewardess hurries up the aisle and returns quickly with the parrot’s drink.

    Impressed with the parrot’s technique, the man decides to get some quick service for himself.

    “Hey, slut,” says the man, “get me a dry martini. And don’t drag your sorry ass, I want it right Now!”

    The stewardess turns red with anger and runs to the front of the plane. In a moment she returns with the First Officer and two burly male flight attendants. The crewmen seize the passenger and the parrot, jerk open the emergency door and hurl them both out of the airplane at 20,000 feet.

    As the two hurtle out the door, the parrot says to the man, “Ya know, for someone who can’t fly, you got a lotta balls.”

    nk (dbc370)

  27. Greetings:

    Throughout all the post Brexit vote bleatings, the thought that seems to recur in my mind is “Have none of these people heard of World War II ??? “

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  28. Many thanks JVW, and to the rest of you snarkers. It’s quite nice to have a hearty laugh to start the day. Kudos to you all

    Angelo (d62ad9)

  29. My grandkids have those little electric backyard cars. It amazed me to see that the skill set necessary to drive (steer and work a pedal) was quickly mastered by a 3 yr old, who could steer under the swing set and never get hit.

    SDHarms (cf53b0)

  30. Could always get a bike. That could easily expand his range by 50km.

    Loren (66de82)

  31. “It amazed me to see that the skill set necessary to drive (steer and work a pedal) was quickly mastered by a 3 yr old, who could steer under the swing set and never get hit.”

    Children respond well to direct feedback. A swing hitting your head being an indication that you need to duck or steer around.

    There’s a lesson here about advanced education!

    scrubone (c3104f)

  32. Drive? How about just MOVE. He’s got a PhD which, in theory, makes him smart enough to figure all of this out. What it doesn’t do is make him motivated enough to create a life. That would be haaard. It’s so much easier to live with his parents and bitch that he has no excitement.

    jeez (f624cd)

  33. For some reason I’m reminded of the recurring Little Britain sketch with the eternally whining character who laments being “the only gay in the village.”

    When I was a teen, getting my driver’s license was immensely important because of the tremendous need to get from our small town of Thousand Oaks in Ventura County to greater Los Angeles, where anything worth doing was happening. Now I wish I could afford to buy a house comparable to the one I grew up in and live there again.

    Epobirs (915bde)

  34. During WWI, the Brits had a way of dealing with concave-chested little twits like this: they dropped them into the trenches in France and Belgium and let them experience a little bit of real life –if only for the few days they continued to live.

    Anna Keppa (5c98d9)

  35. Psst: it’s spelled “remuneration,” not “renumeration.”

    Alec Rawls (c4b982)

  36. Philosophy over the past few centuries has been the revenge of entitled academics against the productive people of the world. The academics feel they are under-appreciated and, more importantly, under-remunerated given their splendid and superior intellectual achievements. It galls them no end that the grubby sort who pursue commercial (i.e., productive) endeavors can oftentimes make significantly more money then themselves even though they are (at least in their minds) so much more deserving. Therefore, they develop philosophical constructs of society that make productive people bad and people like themselves good, not to mention hopefully well paid. They are probably the most destructive class of people in society.

    Clean Willie (c0d003)

  37. Further biographical details on Dr. Whyman provided by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce.

    “He appeared to be a singularly ill-used man. His parents had never appreciated him and none of the five schools at which he had been educated seemed to have made any provision for a talent and temperament such as his. To make matters worse he had been exactly the sort of boy in whose case the examination system works out with the maximum unfairness and absurdity. It was not until he reached the university that he began to recognise that all these injustices did not come by chance but were the inevitable results of our economic system. Capitalism did not merely enslave the workers, it also vitiated taste and vulgarised intellect: hence our educational system and hence the lack of “Recognition” for new genius. This discovery had made him a Communist… There were money troubles. His father, who had never progressed beyond the most atrocious mental complacency and smugness of the Victorian epoch, was giving him a ludicrously inadequate allowance. And he had been very badly treated by a girl too. He had thought her a really civilised and adult personality, and then she>had unexpectedly revealed that she was a mass of bourgeois prejudices and monogamic instincts.”

    Robert Frost (f90fe3)

  38. Now I want to visit Arlesford.
    Could be worse, mate. Could be Berwyn.

    Mueller (7de1ac)

  39. Berwyn is a very nice town. Beautiful homes down Riverside Drive between 26th and Cermak; all the shopping you can afford at Harlem and Cermak; a tapas restaurant (with liquor and mariachis) kitty-corner from an Ace hardware store; bordered by Route 66, and close to I-290, I-294, and I-55 when you want to leave. What more do you want?

    nk (dbc370)

  40. He looks like an aging Harry Potter, and of course his area of study is the Frankfurt School. So instead of his charming little town’s smallness, he craves the bigness of a national Marxist transformation.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  41. Being an elite is hard.
    G6loq (3a2647) — 6/28/2016 @ 7:56 pm

    It’s harder if you’re a stupid elite.


    Goatroper (5d5c78)

  42. Professional idiot, like the python sketch,

    narciso (732bc0)

  43. When you guys mentioned Berwyn, I thought you meant in PA.

    Rev. Hoagie® (0f4ef6)

  44. philosophy was originally invented to justify drinking too much and cheating on your spouse, and it has never gotten very far from its roots.

    I am going to purchase two copies of the “The Great divorce” and send it to my sons and inscribe it, …. if you don’t read this you will be the worse off, or better please don’t read this

    Wally gumboot (57c164)

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