A Tumbril Remark

Humans really have to stop putting people into authority based on their wanting the position – there ought to be minimum qualifications specified for a politician. For example, a smattering of economics, medicine, philosophy, and a history of successful public service, not simply “how much money did they raise for our caucus?”

I thought this was a parody, at first and had to check, “yes it’s Reuters, not The Onion” [reuters]

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced criticism on Saturday for seeming out of touch with ordinary people when he asked a homeless man at a charity whether he “worked in business” and wanted to get into the finance industry.

Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker and one of Britain’s wealthiest people, was serving breakfast at a homeless shelter in London on Friday, when he began chatting with a man who identified himself as Dean.

“Do you work in business?” the prime minister asks the man at one point during the conversation, as he hands him a plate of sausages, toast and eggs.

“No, I’m homeless. I’m actually a homeless person,” the man replies.

Midjourney ai and mjr “the british prime minister is serving food to a line of top hatted millionaires. cartoon style. detailed. –v 4”

It reminds me of the old Mad Magazine “snappy answers to stupid questions” series. What are some of the other things Dean should have said?

  • I’m just here for the pate de foie gras, I’m told it’s excellent
  • I ordered the beef Wellington. Can’t you get anything right?
  • Actually, I seem to be in the wrong line, I am here to get my Lamborghini’s oil changed
  • Would you hand me that ladle over there, please? I propose to respectfully belabor you about the head and shoulders with it
  • It’s christmas and the cafe at the golf club is closed
  • Damn those EU bureaucrats in The Hague, they taxed my business so much we had to close the executive commissary

I don’t get it. Sunak is clearly capable of getting dressed in the morning and people have given him the responsibility of running an entire country.

Christopher Hitchens briefly tried to promote the use of the term “tumbril remark” and wrote an article about it at Vanity Fair. [vf] My opinion of Hitch has decayed over time; I’m starting to see him as just another crypto-right-wing jerk, only more articulate than usual. Not glad he’s dead, but happy I am spared watching him reveal himself as a jerk, in the manner of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi. [I had trouble retrieving Taibbi’s name so I googled “rolling stone writer who turned out to be a jerk.”]

Midjourney AI and mjr, “the british prime minister stands in the back of a farm cart, being taken for a ride. in the style of delacroix. detailed –v4”

The “content protection” features of AIs are pathetic and stupid. First off, it’s just more of Americans’ profound discomfort with and fascination in the human body, and discomfort with image editing because we want to insist that reality is what we see. It warns you not to try to get around them. So, for example “the british prime minister is standing in the back of a manure cart” gets blocked for “manure” not the fact that someone is about to die. How stupid. But you can provide image references and the AI will interpolate them, so you get the manure cart with an image from the French revolution and there you go.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    Ah, dear Rishi.

    He has form there you know. Perhaps you missed the one a while back when he was chancellor, he wanted to do a photo op showing that he was a man of the people who understood the normal things that normal people cared about – to coincide with his cut in (car) fuel duty, something that a lot of people do in fact care about, but arguably less so than the people who can’t afford to both eat and heat their homes.

    Now he obviously couldn’t use one of his own cars for this, that just wouldn’t send the right message, so he borrowed a small car from a shop worker for the offer of £500 plus a fill up so he could be filmed doing the normal person thing of filling up the tank. Never mind that there just isn’t anyone thick enough to actually believe the billionaire would drive such a car, something that was bound to come out almost immediately and did, he did then torpedo the whole charade by appearing to not be able to work out how to use the card machine to pay for it at the checkout.

    I hear he’s just hired a journalist as his new political secretary – I imagine one of his roles might be the occasional tap on the shoulder with “Sir, that’s a fucking stupid idea and will make you look fucking stupid. Don’t do it.”

  2. says

    I imagine one of his roles might be the occasional tap on the shoulder with “Sir, that’s a fucking stupid idea and will make you look fucking stupid. Don’t do it.”

    Supposedly, in ancient Rome, when someone was being given a formal triumph, a slave would ride the chariot behind the celebrant and periodically whispered in his ear, “remember that you are mortal.”

  3. sonofrojblake says

    What are some of the other things Dean should have said?

    My own two personal favourites of the things along these lines that leaped immediately into my head on seeing the video were:
    1. “You have come for a political photo opportunity to a SHELTER FOR THE HOMELESS, and you are, literally as you speak, handing me FREE FOOD in, and I can’t emphasise this strongly enough, A HOMELESS SHELTER. Would you like think about that for a moment, and then take a wild stab in the dark as to why you think *I* might be here, you oblivious privileged moron?”

    Or (and I want to make is absolutely clear I’m not implying Dean is or might be racist, I’m just fantasising about a generic response by a generic person to the stupid question that they wouldn’t have been able to broadcast on the news):

    2. “Just give me the food you fucking P**i cunt.” (note for non-UK readers – the racial slur for Pakistani, and by racist extension ALL south Asians (Indians and Bangladeshis primarily in the UK) is up there with the N-word as one of very very few I will, as a grown up, asterisk out. Not sure if it’s even a thing in the US, but in the UK it’s N-word adjacent in offensiveness)

    Note: I don’t in any way endorse the thoughts and feelings expressed in (2), I’d just have loved to see how the media would have reported it, if they even did.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    That second illustration is intriguing. Midjourney has literally put the cart before the horse, and the wheel before the cart.

  5. Jazzlet says

    I hope the participants are not intending to guillotine that Shetland pony . . .

    I am having a break from the news at the moment, sometimes it is necessary to retain my sanity, so concern for the pony is about all I can muster ;-)

  6. maat says

    Why are we so surprised?
    Here’s the truly surprising fact: England (and I do mean England) is still a feudal society.
    The constitution, just as the much praised Magna Carta, were designed to maintain the status quo, not to turn a monarchy into a ‘democratic’ institution. Otherwise they would not have to this day a House of “Lords” where the seats are still mostly hereditary, and where a proportion of them must be bishops who, in turn, must be exclusively Church of England, hence exclusively English, because, anachronistically, the monarch is still the absolute head of both state and church.
    All this makes it, by definition, a non-secular, non-democratic system.
    So, no great surprise at all that this prime minister is as you describe him. He is simply being English.

  7. maat says

    By the way, Marcus, in “ancient” Rome the plebeian class was represented in goverment by their tribunes who had considerable powers. Over two thousand years later, who is representing today’s plebs?

Leave a Reply