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August 2009

Not a Child from Krypton

The astronauts were more than excited to feel the ground, though standing on it was too hard for them after spending so many days in the state of weightlessness.

Soyuz Soyuz_2 Soyuz_4 Soyuz_3 

Soyuz_5 Soyuz_6 Soyuz_7 Soyuz_8  

After 191 days, Soyuz TMA-11 and its three human occupants returned to Earth from the International Space Station, landing in Kazakhstan, April 19, 2008. A partial separation failure caused a ballistic re-entry that in turn caused the spacecraft to land 475 km from its intended landing site. The occupants, Yuri Malenchenko, Peggy Whitson and Yi So-Yeon, were assisted by local residents who discovered the charred spacecraft resting in their fields.

Friday Ephemera

Impact craters of note. // Hidden water. // Big hair, sideburns and mainframes. (h/t, Coudal) // A compendium of temporal anomalies. // Tactile holograms inching closer. // Tentacles in New York. // Plant structures. // The root bridges of Cherrapungee. // Temporary fixes. // From terrorist to tenure. // Bacon-wrapped, cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno thingies. // The deadly buttocks of Astro Boy. // I think I see a problem with the kinetic lamp. // LED graffiti. // Remarkable motorcycles. // Electrical wire octopus. // What to do with a concrete stalker. // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr Hoagy Carmichael.  

Sharp End

Michael Yon is in Afghanistan with the British military

Michael_Yon_Afghanistan Michael_Yon_Afghanistan_2 

Some people say the Taliban are cowardly for planting bombs, but I do not believe this makes them any more cowardly than the A-10s, Apaches, B-1Bs and Reapers make us cowardly. We didn’t come here for a fair fight. We came to win. Some troops even say that if you show up to a battle and find it’s evenly matched, you didn’t plan well. What most of us find cowardly and despicable are the enemies who hide behind children. The bombs they plant for us are fair play. But males who hide behind children are not worthy of respect.

His site really should be in your blogroll. Via Mr Eugenides

Mixtape (7)

From the ephemera archives, more irregular listening.

Liz Brady: Palladium (The Hip). (1966) 

Gilbert Bécaud: Quand Tu Danses. (1953)

Richard Cheese: Ice Ice Baby. (2006) 

Señor Coconut: Showroom Dummies. (2000) 

John Barry: The Ipcress File. (1965)

Shirley Maclaine: Big Spender. (1969)  

Tommy McCook and the Skatalites: Dr Zhivago. (1969) 

Rose Murphy: Busy Line. (Circa 1940s)

Hayseed Dixie: Monster Mash. (2005) 

John Morris & Mel Brooks: Young Frankenstein. (1976)

Previous mixtapes: 123456

Friday Ephemera

“The user’s touch and the temperature of the environment make two giant testicles retract and descend.” // Superhero essentials. // Chicago from on high. // Hiroshima, 64 years ago. // Cardboard clouds. // God of Small Things. // Hide your diamond. // Mattress dominoes. // Mobile bar and restaurant. // Your very own personal satellite. // Paint and water. // Photoshop fridge magnets. // Regrow lost teeth. // Red Rabbit. // Itty-bitty cars. // On tax and the “social contract.” // Steed and Mrs Peel in The Town of No Return. Part 234, 5. (h/t, SDA) // And, via The Thin Man, it’s the Imperial March.

Moral Inertia

In the Telegraph, Peter Whittle bemoans the failure to challenge anti-social behaviour:

Few people now dare to challenge just simple, inconsiderate behaviour in others - behaviour which flies well under the criminality radar but which manages to alienate and intimidate. It’s this which is the most worrying, though understandable, aspect to it all. There is a section of our society that remains awfully polite about such issues, and prefers to see such non-reaction as part of a British desire not to make a fuss or cause embarrassment. It’s a nice, quaint idea but it no longer plays: they simply don’t get the fact that now, it’s all about fear.

And alongside this fear is the sense that the order of things has become so inverted that one will be on shaky ground if one does indeed speak up. Most people now register some degree of outrage at being asked to desist, no matter how politely you do it. You are the rude troublemaker in their eyes. For some kind of order to be restored, back-up is crucial. And formal authority has more or less left the scene. You are on your own.

Indeed. The suspicion of not being able to count on backup from others no less inconvenienced will tend to inhibit efforts to assert basic civility. I recall one particularly miserable train journey during which a group of four teenagers amused themselves by throwing trainers to each other, narrowly missing the heads of other passengers. When, inevitably, one of the shoes hit a woman in the face, no-one intervened. One of the teenagers laughed and mumbled “sorry,” and the trainer-throwing continued for another minute or so, albeit half-heartedly.

Nearby passengers made sure to direct their attention either downwards to their own shoes or to the woman who’d been struck, with sounds of muted and impotent sympathy, thus excusing themselves from a more direct confrontation. The four teenagers got off the train a minute or two later, by which time an air of self-loathing had spread among the two dozen remaining passengers like an embarrassing smell. It occurred to me that the number of people who could have intervened but didn’t actually worked against any single urge to do so. If two dozen people do nothing, conspicuously, there’s an awareness of a collective decision not to intervene, and a kind of moral inertia.

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Another Great Moment of Academic Clarity

A reader, Vaclav Lochmann, points us to an announcement for the Meet Animal Meat international conference, organised by the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University. Here’s a taste, as it were:

Informed by feminist investigations of embodiment and bodiliness, we ask: How do we understand our bodily relationship to other animals? How do we embody animals, and how do animals embody us? How are carnal modes of incorporation, intimacy, and inhabitation kinds of contacts forged between “HumAnimals”?

How indeed.

If, as Donna Haraway writes, “animals are everywhere full partners in worlding, in becoming with,” then how do embodied encounters with animal matter necessarily constitute categories of “human” and “animal”?

Wait for the clever bit.

What is the meaning of meat, and the meat of meaning?

Oh, there’s more.

Sadly, the opportunity to participate in the conference has come and gone. Readers are left to imagine the dizzying insights offered by the keynote speakers. Among them, Carol J. Adams, a “feminist-vegetarian theorist” and author of The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, in which she “explores a relationship between patriarchal values and meat eating by interweaving the insights of feminism, vegetarianism and literary theory.” The book has been described by the New York Times as “a bible of the vegan community,” and in it Ms Adams advances her belief that,

What, or more precisely, who, we eat is determined by the patriarchal politics of our culture. Patriarchy is a gender system that is implicit in human/animal relationships… Manhood is constructed in our culture by access to meat eating and control of other bodies.

Also sharing wisdom was Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and Gender Studies at USC and author of In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives, in which she “proposes a conception of time and space independent of the influence of normative heterosexual/familial lifestyle.” Halberstam’s areas of, um, expertise include “examining queer temporality - queer uses of time and space that are developed in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction.” And one can only tremble with regret at missing Richard Twine’s pithy contribution: Embodying Posthumanist Intersectionality and Resisting Transhumanist ‘Enhancement’ Through Feminist Veganism?

Hush now, dry your tears.

In the Church of the Sisterhood

I don’t generally think that women are too feeble and befuddled to know what they want. I tend to assume that the women I meet are autonomous and know their own minds, much as I know mine. Others, however, disagree. Radical feminist Margaret Jamison, for instance:

I know I’ve said before – here and elsewhere – that female “heterosexuality” is not a meaningful concept to me. That is, politically, and with regard specifically to radical feminism, I don’t believe that whatever a woman feels in her head (influenced so mandatorily as it is by male supremacy) about her own sexual inclinations really matters in the grand scheme.

Hear that, straight ladies? Your heterosexuality – sorry, your “heterosexuality” – isn’t meaningful. The male supremacy has you duped. Whatever it is you feel – and by extension whatever it is you think – is of no consequence in the “grand scheme” of Margaret Jamison:

An internal self-assessment just really doesn’t matter in comparison with the external interactions, and the way those interactions reflect and perpetuate male supremacy.

Ah. Compared to “external interactions,” your feelings are irrelevant - indeed they most likely aren’t your own. Cynics may already be amending the object of Ms Jamison’s assertions and pondering the likely reaction: “Female ‘homosexuality’ – so-called ‘lesbianism’ - is not a meaningful concept to me. I don’t believe that whatever a woman feels in her head about her own sexual inclinations really matters in the grand scheme.”

Readers may recall similar sentiments being expressed by the Guardian’s Julie Bindel, who insists desire should be reconfigured to comply with ideology. And it’s no use protesting to the contrary. Whatever you might say, you’re collaborating with the oppressor:

Women wanting what men want – the subjugation of women – doesn’t mean that women’s subjugation is now a female desire. It simply means that some women want what men want. They are men’s women. 

If your desires should coincide with those of a man - who, like all men, desires your subjugation - you become his property. I do hope you’re following this.

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