Paul Krugman and Polly Toynbee are awfully concerned by how much you earn. Themselves, not so much.
When very well-heeled ‘progressives’ decry income inequality as at the very least something to be fixed, and fixed urgently, at what point can we expect the people saying this to act as if it were true? I mean, act individually, themselves, in accord with their own professed values and imperatives. Curiously, the most typical position is to do nothing whatsoever unless the state acts coercively against everyone, thereby deferring any personal action aside from the usual mouthing. And so inevitably that mouthing looks a lot like chaff, a way to divert the envy and tribalism they’re so happy to inspire in others: “Yes, I’m loaded, but look at those people over there – the ones who disagree with us – they have slightly more, or almost as much. Let’s all hiss at them.”
Gender studies lecturer Hila Shachar doesn’t think the public should have any say in how its money is spent.
Dr Shachar is careful not to explain the “contribution to society” made by her own work, or by the humanities research projects that were highlighted as examples of non-essential spending, including a $164,000 grant for studying “how urban media art can best respond to global climate change.” Or by the boldly titled research project Queering Disasters in the Antipodes, which hopes to probe the “experiences of LGBTI people in natural disasters” and ultimately provide “improved disaster response” to gay people, whose needs in such circumstances are apparently quite different from those of everyone else. The princely sum of $325,183 has been spent on this endeavour.
The Guardian unveils its hot and sassy trainee journalists. A snapshot of the nation and its everyday concerns.
There’s Emma Howard, 26, who studied English in Leicester and Strasbourg and lists her credentials as “community organising” and “having fun with other social activists,” which, we learn, “can mean standing on the street with placards.” “I think about power a lot,” says she. Podcast enthusiast Fred McConnell, 27, is the sole male in a group of ten and tells us that, “After university I headed to Afghanistan to produce multimedia for a skateboard charity.” As one does. And there’s Hannah Jane Parkinson, 24, who “performs poetry” and whose areas of expertise are “lifestyle and pop culture.” Ms Parkinson is “from Liverpool, but moved to Russia to drink vodka and play at being Lara from Dr Zhivago.” She moved again, to London, “for a great job,” one in which she “got to look at cat gifs.” “I couldn’t be happier at the Guardian,” says Ms Parkinson. “It’s where I always wanted to work.”
Dreadlock Truth is a vital resource for fans of countercultural hair and the generally hair-conscious. Among its nuggets are tips on upkeep, colouring and decoration, and where to find accommodating employers. (Book shops and health food markets are recommended.) There are of course photo galleries. Other subjects of interest include energy-channelling, mushroom use, coping with flashbacks, and mental health services.
Oh, and there’s a lovely section on lice:
Pull your dreads up and try to bun them up if you can, or at least pull them into a high ponytail. Use about a half bottle of rubbing alcohol (70% or higher)… Tie a plastic bag tightly around your head for about 30 minutes. It’ll itch and it’s annoying and stinky, but it’ll kill the bugs. Rinse, and watch the bugs fall out.
The site also includes message boards devoted to “dance and object manipulation,” with subcategories covering stilt-walking, juggling and hoop-dancing, and a section in which dreadlocked adventurers share their tales of “injuries sustained in the pursuit of happiness.” One 230 lb gentleman explains how, “I once almost knocked myself out dancing at a local concert,” while another devotee relates the perils of poi, a form of performance art involving the spinning of tethered weights, sometimes enhanced with glow stick chemicals and/or fire:
I extinguished a flaming poi with my eye once. Luckily it was burning low and about to go out anyways.
It’s interesting that the feminists chose Chicago for their “Smash the Patriarchy” message, because nowhere has the Patriarchy been more successfully smashed than in the inner cities. Households led by fathers have become exceedingly rare, single women raise families without husbands, and very few people participate in capitalist enterprises; the inner cities have become radical feminist utopia. How’s that working out for them?
That 2% [of the U.S. population, i.e., black males aged 15-24] is responsible for almost 52% of U.S. homicides. Or, to put it differently, by these figures a young black or “mixed” male is roughly 26 times more likely to be a homicidal threat than a random person outside that category – older or younger blacks, whites, Hispanics, females, whatever… 26 times more likely. That’s a lot. It means that even given very forgiving assumptions about differential rates of conviction and other factors, we probably still have a difference in propensity to homicide (and other violent crimes for which its rates are an index, including rape, armed robbery, and hot burglary) of around 20:1. Any cop who treated members of a group with a factor 20 greater threat level than population baseline “equally” would be crazy.
Emma Watson is the actress most famous for her part in the Harry Potter movies. More recently, she has become “Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women,” a job that evidently requires her to say silly feminist stuff on Twitter, e.g.: “Gender equality not only liberates women but also men from prescribed gender stereotypes.” Ri-iiight. Because what guys really need is to be liberated from “prescribed gender stereotypes.” All the hot babes like Emma Watson are crazy for guys who don’t fit “prescribed gender stereotypes,” right? So you will probably be surprised to learn that Emma Watson is dating a bald scrawny impoverished poet the biggest jock at an elite university:
The 23-year-old former Harry Potter film star has recently begun dating a fellow Oxford University student named Matthew Janney… Janney, 21, is not only a student at the prestigious institution, he is also a star rugby player for their varsity team. Despite his prized athletic skills, Janney has also been recognised for something else: his looks. According to the report, the college student was named “Oxford’s most eligible bachelor” and “best looking player” by the university’s rugby team’s official Twitter account.
In other words, an Alpha male, the epitome of “prescribed gender stereotypes” from which Emma Watson says we need to be liberated.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.
Yes, it’s once again time to wade through the aesthetic slaughterhouse that is performance art. This time, I’m treating you to edited highlights of a ninety-minute “durational performance” by Katy Albert and Sophia Hamilton, aka Mothergirl. This Chicago duo tells us that their work “exhibits a strategically refracted or misrepresented view of current political and philosophical discourse, creating a space where viewers are challenged to think critically about their own relationships with feminism, consumerism, and representational visuality.” But of course. Given their talent, or at least their self-regard, how could it not?
In the video below, filmed in 2013 near an onramp in the city of Chicago and titled Don’t Sleep, There’s a War Going On, we see the ladies beating themselves around the head and face with large feather pillows. Thereby enlightening passers-by, obviously. The duo describes the piece as “a physical act of frustration - an ambiguous response to the implicit guilt of inaction and the weight of overwhelming knowledge.” If the point of the performance somehow escapes you, due to your philistine tendencies, the ladies provide clues to its deep meaning, and by extension their own brilliance: “The lack of clarity serves two purposes: to show the expansiveness of war and to allow [the] audience to access the image first and the meaning second.”
Now cower in the shadow of their artistic enormity:
Because I know you love it, here’s more “guerrilla art” on a bridge. Or more specifically, an “infiltration in public space.” This time the venue is Pier 66 at the 2011 Fountain New York Art Fair, where Canadian performance artist Martine Viale thrills and captivates passers-by, armed only with a carrier bag of bobbins and a head wrapped in yarn. The powerful climax is rather special.
It is the softly spoken radio show that provides good-natured help and advice to thousands of gardeners every week. So regular listeners to Gardeners’ Question Time may be horrified to discover it has been accused of peddling racial stereotypes. According to an academic, the sedate Radio 4 panel show is riddled with “racial meanings” disguised as horticultural advice.
Dr Ben Pitcher, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Westminster…
…claimed the programme’s regular discussions on soil purity and non-native species promoted nationalist and fascist beliefs. Speaking on another Radio 4 programme, Thinking Allowed, the academic said: “Gardeners’ Question Time is not the most controversial show on Radio 4, and yet it is layered with, saturated with, racial meanings.”
“The context here is the rise of nationalism. The rise of racist and fascist parties across Europe. Nationalism is about shoring up a fantasy of national integrity. My question is, what feeds nationalism? What makes nationalism powerful?” Dr Pitcher said the “crisis in white identity in multicultural Britain” meant people felt unable to express their views for fear of being called racist, so expressed their racial identity in other ways, such as talking about gardening.
When not hearing racism in discussions of soil acidity - and seeing it in Scandinavian furniture, which is “all about race” - Dr Pitcher writes about “how the meanings of race are made and remade in acts of creative consumption.” And, obviously, “the relationship between race and neoliberal capitalism.” He is, in fact, “setting out a framework for thinking about race in the twenty-first century.” Our senior lecturer in sociology also ruminates deeply on “Top Gear and postfeminist media culture.” Yes, a giant walks among us. Let’s all follow him.
Here’s the Gardeners’ Question Time website, in case any of you want to comb through the content for those hidden racial messages with which it’s apparently “saturated.” The episodes on the National Botanic Garden of Wales and the Chelsea Flower Show look particularly suspicious.
In the late ‘80s, I took part in a lot of performance art that included nudity, so I was familiar with baring my breasts in public.
So boasts Texan resident Phyllis Masters, with yet another classic sentence from the pages of the Guardian.
After all those gun-rights advocates brandished their weapons at Chipotle and Target this spring, everyone knows it’s legal to openly carry around your firearms in Texas. Not many folks know that it’s also legal for women to go topless in the state’s capital city… Since these ammo-sexuals feel it necessary to exercise their right to take a gun out for a date, [my friend] Lola and I decided to exercise our own.
There is, I fear, video of this terribly bold breast-wielding activism. And so those with an appetite for shouting, bad signage and the breasts of two rather fleshy middle-aged women – women exercising their legal right to express disdain for other people exercising their legal rights – can indulge themselves here. I think it’s fair to say that a mutual understanding wasn’t reached on this particular outing, and the intended consciousness-raising concludes with the following exchange:
“Can I talk?”
Ms Masters “settled in Austin, Texas in 1981 and loves it despite gentrification.” Via Julia.
This time, by bringing you the vast artistic talents of Ms Jane Wang.
Ms Wang is perhaps best known for hosting the Earthdance Music and Movement Jam in Plainfield, Massachusetts, where “dance and music dialogue together” every second Sunday of the month. Often to stunning effect. Ms Wang’s areas of expertise are of course numerous and include “installation art, fluxus, performance art, phone photography” and “videotaping with her ultra-flip cameras.” When not dazzling audiences with her fluxus, Ms Wang also collaborates with other, equally bold artists, with projects including the breath-taking Wire Man (2008) and Giant Red Ruby Shoe (2009). The latter being part of an “installation/meditation” shown during the Politics of Shoes artistic mega-event, the profundity of which can, thanks to video recordings, be pondered here and here.
If further proof of aesthetic genius is needed, I’ve managed to track down video of Ms Wang collaborating with Shizu Homma on a “guerrilla performance piece” on a bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The length of said recording, a mighty 24 minutes, is necessary to convey the magnitude and seriousness of the work in question. Brace yourselves. Things really kick into high gear about 50 seconds in.
One of the most senior members of the Turkish government sparked an outcry on Tuesday, after declaring that women should not laugh loudly in public. The deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinc, one of the co-founders of the ruling Islamic Justice and Development party (AKP), made the comment while lamenting the moral decline of modern society. “A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent,” Arinc said in a speech on Monday, in the western Bursa region for the Bayram holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. “She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,” he added.
Mr Arinc also shares his wisdom on other matters.
He denounced the excessive use of cars, saying that if even the “river Nile was filled with petrol” there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Arinc also slammed the excessive use of mobile phones in Turkish society, with women “spending hours on the phone to swap recipes.”
Matt McCaffrey on our left-leaning, status-conscious intellectual caste:
Intellectuals do not participate in the market (at least not in the areas they write about), and do not generally rely on satisfying consumers to earn a living. Add to this their naturally critical attitude… and it is easy to see why intellectuals would be hostile to the market. In other words, intellectuals are often out of place in entrepreneurial societies. The growth of the intellectual class is not a response to consumer demand, but to the expansion of higher education. Passing through the higher education system does not necessarily confer valuable skills, but it often does convince graduates that work in the market is beneath them.
It is easier to forgive the evil done to others than to forgive the evil done to oneself, especially if in the first place we don’t really like those others to whom the evil is done. Then conspicuous forgiveness becomes a kind of sadism, an additional burden to bear for those to whom the evil was done: for as I know from clinical experience with my patients, the lack of proper punishment of the perpetrators of evil is itself a punishment of the victims of it, a punishment that is often long-lasting… This is because it removes from the victims all confidence that there is justice in the world or that anybody cares what happens to them.
This “conspicuous forgiveness,” a kind of vicarious tolerance, can be quite striking in its boldness and disregard for facts, with acts of savagery being met with improbable excuses and rhetorical diversions. Generally from a safe distance. In 2011, following the London riots, China Miéville, a middle-class Marxist and member of the International Socialist Organisation, claimed to be “horrified” that members of the press and public had used the word feral when describing the career predators and assorted thugs who, seeking excitement and a sense of power, had beaten passing pensioners unconscious and burned random women out of their homes. And who, on the arrival of firefighters, had dragged them from their vehicles and punched them insensible.
To use the word feral when describing such people was, Mr Miéville said, our “moral degradation far more than [theirs].” You see, by referring to such behaviour as savage and anti-social, we are the degraded ones in Mr Miéville’s eyes, the ones in need of chastisement. Our compassionate Marxist was hardly alone in his rush to invert reality and flatter the brutish, even as it became clear that an overwhelming majority of the looters, muggers and arsonists had previous convictions for similar crimes, an average of 15, and some more than fifty. Despite such bothersome details, flattery and evasion were very much the done thing as fellow leftists Nina Power, Laurie Penny and Priyamvada Gopal were happy to demonstrate. Presumably on grounds that none of the feral behaviour, the random beatings and violent predation, was being directed at them.
As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
Rocío Boliver, a performance artist, “devotee of transgression” and author of “porno-erotic texts,” struggles with middle age.
There is of course a long and tedious tradition of self-harm in performance art. It’s hardly less common than nudity or faeces. Or anti-capitalist pablum. Though to be fair, some have embraced self-mutilation in a slightly less time-wasting and roundabout manner. In 1971 an artist named Chris Burden had a friend load a rifle and then shoot him in the arm. Mr Burden felt this would lead to him being “taken seriously as an artist.” Though it seems this colossal seriousness had to be reaffirmed three years later, when Burden felt it artistically necessary to have both of his hands nailed to the roof of a VW Beetle.
The exquisite mealtime sorrows of the Guardianista male.
The bearer of these sorrows, David Dennis, has apparently spent an awful lot of time fretting about his wife putting food on his plate. I mean literally putting food on his plate, as when serving a typical meal. Given Mr Dennis’s rather pronounced Guardianista tendencies, it’s scarcely surprising that he’s also been fretting that other people, possibly people much like himself, may subsequently judge him for this patriarchal trespass, as if he and his wife were dreadful throwbacks to a darker, more primitive age.
Icess Fernandez Rojas isn’t being sufficiently affirmed by strangers, software and disposable paper cups. Something must be done.
It’s all very tragic. Our Guardian columnist just wants to “celebrate [her] uniqueness” in an “inclusive society” and her spellchecking software, the subtleties of which apparently elude her, is dashing those hopes. She isn’t being “validated” by Microsoft Word. It’s how utopias die.