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March 2013

Friday Ephemera

Beach Boys minus auto-tune. // Musical mice. // “Clown on Stratford Broadway.” // The long, slow death of whom. // Further to this, the snack time hazards of a British secondary school. (h/t, Deborah Hare) // Signs of the End Times. // Socialist diet book. (h/t, Mr Eugenides) // Orderly waiting. // Ode to the mainframe. // Recovered from the deep: rocket engines. // Toe ploughs. // Circuits. // Live bomb found in squid. // A Danish aquarium. // On Kilimanjaro. // This is not Photoshop. This is dangerous. // The film before the film. // Identical twins play Doctor Who theme on electric harps. // Test your combat skills with super duck punch

Such Humble Creatures

Franklin Einspruch climbs Mount Vanity and argues with art dealer Ed Winkleman, who tells us:

“Is that art?” is not a valid question for the observer, despite how well educated, to apply to a declared artwork. “Art” is whatever an artist says it is. The role of the observer is limited to deciding whether that declared artwork is any good or not. It’s not at all up to them to declare whether the work is “art” or not. The artist said it was. Full stop.

Yes, you – the lowly punter – have a “limited role,” even if you’re “educated.” And even if you’re a taxpayer being stiffed with the bill. Thank goodness our artistic Brahmins are so much better than us.

Elsewhere (90)

Mark Bauerlein on the left’s hold on academia (and why writing about it may make things worse):

In interviews of professors conducted by [sociologist, Neil] Gross and his colleagues, the most common explanation for the dearth of conservatives on the faculty was that conservatives lack the “open-mindedness” necessary for academic work (41 percent of interviewees stated this), while the second most popular reason was that conservatives care too much about making money to become academics (30 percent noted this). Prejudice or greed, take your pick - but don’t overlook the self-congratulation in each judgment (“we are here because we’re broad-minded and we care more about people than about dollars”).

If that sounds vaguely familiar you may be thinking of this peacocking professor. He’s one of many. And it’s worth bearing in mind the objectionable nature of quite a few teacher-training programmes.

Daniel Greenfield on wealth: 

As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.

Christopher Taylor ponders the workplace, pregnancy and feminist outrage: 

What’s amazing to me is that anyone, anywhere, would be so shocked and outraged with such an obvious business principle that they would not simply disagree or debate this topic, but would instantly and totally reverse their perspective on me and go from amiable esteem to contemptuous hatred. It is shocking to me that someone’s worldview could be so totally damaged and their comprehension of economics and business so twisted by a leftist concept of life that they would react so violently and irrationally to such a plain fact of life.

Oh, and here’s some laughter at the expense of poor not-so-poor Matt Yglesias, the leftwing booster of Occupy, leftwing denouncer of property rights, and now leftwing owner of a $1.2 million townhouse. 

Feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

This is not food. // At last, a 3D cooking simulator. // Alluring elements. // Bombsites of the London Blitz. // Electronic dice barbarian gauntlet. You heard me. // Accelerated shipbuilding. // Aircraft underbellies. // Big teeth. // Spider-Man beard. // Passers-by, New York. // The economics of spam. (h/t, rjmadden) // Paper chandeliers. // “An all-weather, self-illuminated, human powered vehicle.” // The music for movie trailers. // Star Trek Into Darkness. // The slide you’ve always wanted. // “Explosions are most definitely a bad thing.” (h/t, Kate & EBD) // Reading chair. // A revolution in toast. // Via TDK, the truth about the Death Star.

Racist Hair

Via reddit’s SRSsucks forum, comes this stern correction regarding countercultural coiffure

This is the post about white people with dreadlocks. This is the post about white people who just don’t get the possibility that they could be doing something colonialist. 

The author of the piece, a self-described “white, queer, rural-identified, able-bodied+mentally ill Episcopal priest lady,” is unhappy with the sight of, 

white dude colonisers with dreads.


Because we’re seeing white boys… maintaining and justifying racist hair.

Yes, racist hair.

And being white herself, our Racially Enlightened Hair Corrector has much to say on the subject of the melanin deficient:

White people have this terrible, awful, no-good habit of trying to take everyone else’s “authenticity” because they feel so like lost and indie and culturally dislocated and their poor little selves are so tired, because they have all this power and it’s so exhausting.

Which I’m sure describes every single pale person you happen to know, yes? Thankfully, the author is determined to make the world a kinder, fairer, fluffier place, a feat that’s to be achieved by everyone else doing exactly as she says. And so, should you encounter a pale person with politically incorrect hair, the author’s suggested response – the “only appropriate thing” - is to deliver a long, un-paragraphed diatribe with fits of random shouting:

Continue reading "Racist Hair" »

An Expert in Leather

In other campus news

A lesbian bondage expert and a campus-wide condom scavenger hunt are among the activities planned for The University of Tennessee’s first-ever “Sex Week.” The six-day event is expected to cost nearly $20,000 – covered in part by university grants, student fees and contributions from academic departments… There are 30 events planned including “Getting Laid,” “Sex Positivity; Queer as a Verb,” “Bow Chicka Bow Woah,” “How to Talk to Your Parents About Sex,” “Loud and Queer,” and “How Many Licks Does It Take…” – a workshop about oral sex.

In addition to a campus-wide scavenger hunt for a golden condom, the university is hosting noted lesbian bondage expert and erotica author Sinclair Sexsmith. Sexsmith, who serves on the board of the New York Lesbian Sex Mafia, will deliver a lecture titled, “Messing Around with Gender.” She also runs the online website “Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top.” In addition to hosting college workshops and lectures about queer theory, she is an expert in sexuality and leather. 

Ah, the life of the mind.


Readers will be thrilled to learn that Sinclair – sorry, Mr Sexsmith - has “always been into self-study,” “holds degrees in both creative writing and gender studies” and “has studied at Bent Queer Writing Institute in Seattle.” She – sorry, he – sorry, they – is also available for “spoken word performances on the subjects of queer sex, gender, and relationships,” “classes in healing,” “sexuality, leather, and BDSM educational classes and demonstrations,” “hands-on bodywork,” “sacred intimatacy” [sic], “stone sexualities” and, obviously, “tantra-based experiments.” Presumably, the faculty organisers of Sex Week had to look over Mr Sexsmith’s website to check her – sorry, his – sorry, their – credentials. Which makes me wonder at what point they decided that such fetishistic intrigues would bolster their claims for the event’s “academic soundness.”

I fear we’re in the realm of Dr Gillian’s vortex

Elsewhere (89)

Brendan O’Neill on the madness of King George: 

Consider George Monbiot. These days he rails against austerity, especially of the Tory variety, saying it has “extended the crisis” and “hurt” ordinary people by propelling Britain into a double-dip recession. But wait – I thought he loved the idea of recession? In 2007 he wrote an article called Bring on the Recession, in which he argued that, as “unpleasant as it will be,” and yes, “some people [will] lose their jobs and homes,” a recession might at least help prevent “ecological disaster” by reining in pesky, polluting economic growth. Back then, in his book Heat, which was lapped up by leftists and praised to the hilt by that Queen of the Left, Naomi Klein, Monbiot proudly said radical environmentalism was a “campaign not for abundance but for austerity.” Got that? For austerity. He said that where the dumb, consumption-hooked masses have a tendency to “riot because they want more, not less,” it was incumbent upon enlightened radicals to “riot for less” and even to “riot for austerity.” Once again, for austerity.

The eccentricities of Mr Monbiot’s thought processes will be familiar to regular readers

Chris Snowdon has more on the subject, including one columnist’s belief that lowered living standards would be a “freeing” experience and result in a “more amiable atmosphere,” with the threat of poverty forcing shopkeepers and taxi drivers to be more polite

When the full impact of the recession hit home a few months later, these columnists had the good sense to shut up about unemployment cleansing the soul for fear of being lynched by their readers… In part, it can be attributed the demands of being a contrarian newspaper columnist with space to fill, but there is no doubt that there are many people in well-paid jobs who believe that poverty is noble and empowering… It would be nice to think that some of these miserablists have learnt a lesson from the era of alleged austerity, but I suspect that it will only take a few quarters of economic growth for the attacks on GDP to return.

And of course we mustn’t forget the glorious visions of the New Economics Foundation, whose deep thinkers want to make us “better citizens” by taking away our stuff. 

Christopher Tooky on the socialist filmmaker Ken Loach: 

Most of the domestic policies Ken favours were last presented to the British public in Michael Foot’s 1983 general election manifesto, accurately described by former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history.” Thirty years after that electoral catastrophe, the one reason to welcome this film is that it reveals more clearly than anything else the backward-looking, scarily obsessive, extreme political agenda of those who subsidise films in Britain — and, indeed, those who ‘criticise’ them, for I guarantee that this will receive the most respectful reviews of any release this week.

At the University of Oregon, a collision of posturing idiots takes place and a law professor loses his cool

It’s an unfortunate reminder that sometimes those who are supposed to be the stewards of student rights are exactly the people that these rights need protection from. 

And via Kate, a pictorial guide to the joys of public transport. This one, I think, captures the mood

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

Unhappy cat. // Baby antelope. // What lesbians think about penises. Includes the words “pointy” and “buoyant.” // Vagina bread. It’s not for everyone. // Porn stars minus their make-up. // Pendulum choir. // Diver meets pygmy octopus. // “The smallest analogue computer ever made.” // Street art. // Waves of glass and wood. // Greening the desert with livestock. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) // Grow maze, from the makers of grow cube. // Here be dragons. // “Previously on Game of Thrones…” There may be a test later. // The eyes have it. // Badass cello. // Albania’s unloved concrete bunkers. // And of course, how to colour your faeces. 

Elsewhere (88)

Further to this unhinged drama, Glenn Reynolds ponders modern state schooling:

A seven-year-old boy was suspended because he chewed his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Now, really, why would you suspend a kid for that? A gun-shaped Pop Tart isn’t a threat to anyone. Nor does chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun suggest violent tendencies. Meanwhile, a 5-year-old girl was charged with “terroristic threats” for talking about her pink toy gun that shoots… bubbles. The school suspended her for 10 days and required a psychological evaluation. And in Maryland, boys were suspended for playing cops and robbers and using their fingers as imaginary guns. Who is frightened by this sort of thing? People who can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. […] 

A Pop Tart gun, a finger gun, or a toy gun -- even a pink one that shoots, gasp!, soap bubbles! -- isn’t any danger to anyone. Nor is playing with toy guns a sign that a kid is mentally ill or dangerous. It’s a sign that a kid is a kid. When schools and teachers react hysterically to such non-threats, they’re telling us one of two things: Either that they lack the ability to respond realistically to events or that they recognise that there’s not any sort of threat, but deliberately overreact in order to stigmatise even the idea of guns. The first is educational malpractice; the second is educational malpractice mixed with abuse of power. Neither inspires confidence in the educational system in which they appear.

When I was maybe five or six years old, I took to school a Marvel comic, which, naturally, led to a playground battle of ray guns, fireballs and atomic annihilators. Oddly enough, all of my friends survived this exchange of imaginary firepower, and even the toppling of entire imaginary buildings. So far as I can recall, no-one actually bombarded themselves with gamma rays in the hope of turning green. Still, I can’t help wondering how that kind of thing would go down among teachers who hyperventilate at the thought of a single pink bubble gun. Presumably our juvenile imaginations would, for some, now be a cause for concern, possibly correction.

Related, George Will:  

Government is failing spectacularly at its core functions, such as budgeting and educating. Yet it continues to multiply its peripheral and esoteric responsibilities, tasks that require it to do things for which it has no aptitude, such as thinking and making common-sense judgments.

Mr Eugenides feels the pain of the Chavistas

The Guardian has this week been a newspaper in mourning. The death of Hugo Chavez has hit morale hard, with the newspaper all but running a black band around its website in deference to the passing of the man it clearly regarded as the leader of all progressive forces south of the Equator, if not the Watford Gap. […] Tariq Ali’s piece… was a masterpiece of its kind, a full-throated encomium of praise that made Chavez sound like a world-historical colossus, a one-in-a-million fusion of two parts Gandhi, one part Bolivar and a dash of Han Solo, instead of the vaudevillian punchline that he was by the end. No mention was made of the gigantic failures, the petty thuggery and intimidation of opponents, the contempt for the constitution or the rule of law. Why should there have been? To these people, everything is about speaking so-called truth to power, even if it means singing the praises of dickheads like Chavez one week and then with a straight face labelling Rupert Murdoch a horrifying threat to democracy the next.

And Heather Mac Donald on teen pregnancy and what mustn’t be said about it: 

Less predictable was the charge… that the [teen pregnancy] posters “perpetuate gender stereotypes.” Even the most seasoned observers of the academic-advocacy-victimology axis might not have seen this one coming. Presumably, the ads “perpetuate gender stereotypes” by pointing out to “Dad” the costs of child support and to “Mom” that when the father takes off, as he likely will, she’ll be left holding the diaper bag. It appears that we have a new politically correct fantasy: unwed teen fathers are as likely to be the sole provider for their child as teen moms.

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.