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March 2010
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April 2010

Friday Ephemera

Do not fart loudly on live television. (h/t, Iowahawk) // A feast of Harryhausen. // Behold the footprint of Muhammad. Comes with tooth and magic beard hair. // The brides of Frankenstein. // Airspace rebooted. // Assorted Woob. // At last, a cardboard record player. And fretless faders, too. // Photo distortion mask. // Designer sex toys. // The thrill of socialist modernism. (h/t, MeFi) // It’s raining magnetised plasma. // Gummi bear surgery. // Synth cushions. // An Enterprise made of sausage. // A touch screen you don’t touch. // Time-lapse orthodontics.

The Crushing Patriarchy, Episode 12

I wasn’t going to mention a certain Guardian contributor again so soon, but the fusion of self-regard and obliviousness is strangely compelling. What follows may well include one or two candidates for our ongoing series of classic sentences from the aforementioned newspaper. See if you can spot them. It’ll help us get through this.

The establishment, patriarchy, the mainstream, whatever you want to call it, just doesn’t find women interesting. It makes sure that women are heavily outnumbered from the very beginning by offering us only a fraction of available opportunities, slots, placements, commissions, trips, panel places, star jobs, reviews... It talks down women’s work. It is supported by a false mythology about the weakness, inconsistency, subjectivity and inconsequentiality of women’s creation, experience and perspective.

Readers will no doubt recognise Bidisha’s trademark rigour and understatement. Our favourite “non-white angry political female” has been counting posters in the underground and has deduced that something nefarious is afoot.

It’s all part of my investigation into cultural femicide - the erasure of women from public life. Who are the perpetrators? Events organisers, editors in broadcasting and the media, radio and TV producers, commissioners and jurors. They are male and female, they probably don’t realise they’re doing it, but they don’t mind. They’re fine with a virtually woman-free world.

Yes, I know. Do help yourself to refreshments. A stiff one seems in order.

To witness femicide in action, go to the town of Hay this May. At the same time as the annual book festival is an unrelated philosophy festival called How The Light Gets In. There are 25 debates covering broad themes such as evolution, the urban space, creativity, violence and privacy. All but two of these events are male-dominated... The discrimination is obvious. All you have to do is count.

Because anything but exact gender parity in any given sphere must, simply must, be proof of “cultural femicide” and “the erasure of women from public life.” It’s obvious, see? Thank goodness we can count on Bidisha to fight back.  

I used to power my way through every token-woman appearance on panels in the hope that the shining example of my contribution would change the paradigm through sheer force of presence.


It didn’t happen.

Oh, it gets worse.

Continue reading "The Crushing Patriarchy, Episode 12 " »

Friday Ephemera

You think film trailers are bad now? // Bionic trunk or supervillain accessory? // Octopus steals camera, films own escape. // Unfathomable sounds. // Ostentatious timepiece. // A collection of bread bag ties. // Autonomous towel-folding robot. // Ronald Reagan and James Dean, live, 1954. // We launch at dawn. // Shoe music. // The orbits of Cassini. (h/t, The Thin Man) // “The intestine has been inflated to hold as many drinking customers as possible.” // Anatomy of a tribble. // Testing nukes. // New York’s Lower East Side, 1942. // The periodic table of beer. // Woob: Unknown Quantity. // When advertising works

Definitely Dynamic

At a press conference today in Washington DC, researchers unveiled “First Light” images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope designed to study the Sun. “SDO is working beautifully,” reports project scientist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Centre. “This is even better than we could have dreamed.”

It is rather impressive.


Above: Erupting solar prominence, filmed by SDO on March 30, 2010. You may want to download the 29MB high resolution video

Related: Glare, Little Star

Reheated (9)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives

Comedy Economics

Think tank plans to improve the species through enforced poverty.

The New Economics Foundation is convinced that, once implemented, its recommendations would “heal the rifts in a divided Britain” and leave the population “satisfied.” That’s satisfied with less of course, and the authors make clear their disdain for the “dispensable accoutrements of middle-class life,” including “cars, holidays, electronic equipment and multiple items of clothing.”

I Don’t Deserve This Shabby Treatment

The academic left is a vainglorious thing.

In many arts subjects, especially those tethered only loosely to evidence, logic or practical verification, there’s often pressure to avoid the obvious and prosaic, even when the obvious and prosaic is true. The obligation to be unobvious, if only for the benefit of one’s academic peers, may help explain the more fanciful assertions from some practitioners of the liberal arts. Consider, for instance, Duke’s professor miriam cooke, who refuses to capitalise her name, thus drawing attention to her egalitarian radicalism and immense creativity. Professor cooke’s subtlety of mind is evident in her claim that the oppression and misogyny found in the Islamic world is actually the fault of globalisation and Western colonialism, despite the effects predating their alleged causes by several centuries. Professor cooke also tells us that “polygamy can be liberating and empowering” – a statement that may strike readers as somewhat dubious. It does, however, meet the key criteria of being both edgy and unobvious.

Another Arts Council Triumph.

Freeloading poseur tries to induce seizure as art. The Guardian gushes, naturally.

Do these people not hear themselves? Do they never pause and think, “Oh dear, I said transgressive. I sound a bit of a prick”? And note how the idea that artists might be interested in, say, making beautiful objects of one kind or another simply doesn’t feature. It’s all about being “thought-provoking,” “exciting” and very, very edgy. But hanging around for up to 24 hours on the off chance that a pretentious woman will start to fit isn’t my idea of gripping. Or witty, or thought-provoking. I mean, if you need a siren to wake up the audience, the word “exciting” doesn’t seem quite right somehow.

And the greatest hits are braced for a good rummaging.

Friday Ephemera

Surfing, baby. // Sana’a, Yemen. (h/t, Maggie’s Farm) // Tetris in hell. (h/t, Franklin) // Celebrities thought most likely to die during 2010. // Magnetic sculptures by Robert Hodgin. // Handbags of note. // More porn for the blind. (sfw) // Broadway and Fifth, 1905. // Vintage Russian board games. // Another handsome Bugatti. // Hot Rod covers of the 40s and 50s. (h/t, Monoscope) // A Ferrari made of wool. // World’s saddest cookbook. // Bacon sushi. // An imperial AT-AT made of bacon. // Cultural fusion and its opposite. // When awesome things collide. // Why The Matrix Reloaded is a terrible, terrible film


Isn’t it difficult to register on these dating websites with only one name?

So asks the wonderful Mr Eugenides, with what I feel ought to count as a Classic Sentence from the Guardian. He’s responding to this,

After this long, dark, pointlessly bitter winter, my sap is rising at an exponential rate.

And this,

Usually, I only act when I see something completely and utterly spectacular, the ultimate best thing ever, a sole Prada piece in a sea of Primark.

And this,

What if “true love” is a pathetic, filthy, perfidious gigolo who will open its pants for anyone who shows it a little bit of attention? That is to say, it’s a deceitful and damaging fantasy.

All of which alerts us to the mating urges of Bidisha, the rising of whose sap raises issues of great intrigue. Who, after all, could hope to meet the exacting standards of a “non-white angry political female” who can detect misogyny and racism in the movements of atoms? And who describes those who don’t share her dogmatic suppositions as “lazy,” “complacent” and “apolitical.” And surely an official partnership is out of the question?

Wedlock. It’s the kind of word that ought to send chills down a modern woman’s spine. It describes with deadly aptness the prison-like qualities of that institution and evokes a cold sense of confinement and consignment... The hermetic seal of wedlock provides the perfect cover, the immaculate veneer which conceals at worst domestic violence and emotional abuse and, as a norm, a vast well-documented housework and childcare disparity between the sexes... I have no deep desire to get involved in the legalised prostitution trap cum labour exploitation racket that is wedded bliss.

There was, I seem to recall, a brief enthusiasm for the “kinkiness” of celibacy. Followed by much pining over the actress Sandra Bullock:    

I love Bullock’s tawny tallness... I also want to buff her all over and comb her russet hair for hours like a keen stablehand at a pony parlour.

I’d assumed Bidisha dealt with any residual mating urges by less orthodox means, thus signalling her status as a counter-cultural force. Say, by releasing spores into a strong crosswind.