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June 2014

Friday Ephemera

Erotic bouncy castle. // Baby hedgehog attempts to eat human. // The most northern city in the world seen from above. // The shorter, less silent Nosferatu. // “Fall asleep with Teddy Love after he is done pleasuring you with his powerful vibrations.” // Ice cave and flare. // When George R. R. Martin wrote a fan letter to Marvel. // A map of real-time lightning strikes. // It’s called style, you peasants. // Pointless websites. // Android newsreaders not quite perfected. // Pizza. // Wooden houseplants. // Wobbling whiskey glasses. // Waging war from the air, 1918. // The origins of science fiction terms, from death rays to tractor beams. // Clever bird. (h/t, Kate) // Because casting is everything. // And everything is racism

Elsewhere (129)

Theodore Dalrymple on the values and inversions of the British underclass:  

Certainly the notions of dependence and independence have changed. I remember a population that was terrified of falling into dependence on the state, because such dependence, apart from being unpleasant in itself, signified personal failure and humiliation. But there has been an astonishing gestalt switch in my lifetime. Independence has now come to mean independence of the people to whom one is related and dependence on the state.

Mothers would say to me that they were pleased to be independent, by which they meant independent of the fathers of their children — usually more than one — who in general were violent swine. Of course, the mothers knew them to be violent swine before they had children by them, but the question of whether a man would be a suitable father is no longer a question because there are no fathers: At best, though often also at worst, there are only stepfathers. The state would provide. In the new dispensation the state, as well as television, is father to the child.

See also this, especially the last two paragraphs. 

Ed Driscoll quotes Daniel Henninger: 

The IRS tea-party audit story isn’t Watergate; it’s worse than Watergate. The Watergate break-in was the professionals of the party in power going after the party professionals of the party out of power. The IRS scandal is the party in power going after the most average Americans imaginable.

See also Roger Kimball on de-unionising the IRS. Paul Caron’s exhaustive archive covering the scandal is of course still growing

And somewhat related to thisChristina Hoff Sommers on sporting gender quotas and law gone bad: 

Because of pressure from women’s groups like the National Women’s Law Centre and the Women’s Sports Foundation, Title IX evolved into a rigid quota regime that dictates equal participation in sports by both sexes regardless of interest… Schools are cutting back on male teams and creating new women’s teams, not because of demand, but because they are afraid of a federal investigation. [Feminist advocates] have persuaded courts that if there are fewer women than men on college varsity teams the only explanation is discrimination. [But] the evidence that women taken as a group are less interested than men in competitive sports is overwhelming.  

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

The Crushing Patriarchy, Sporting Edition

Silvia Murray Wakefield, a “London-based feminist and mother of two,” is unhappy about a certain ongoing sporting event. Yes, that one. And so, naturally, she asks:

Is it anti-feminist to watch the World Cup?

Then the sorrow unfolds:

Still warm and fuzzy from the joy of the Olympics two years ago, I hanker to join an emotional ride with fellow spectators again, but the World Cup is different, as is the Tour de France. There’s no Jessica Ennis or Victoria Pendleton to aspire to or root for because these events include male competitors only.

Apparently conflicted about cheering on members of the opposite sex, this hitherto-neglected detail puts Ms Murray Wakefield in a quandary. 

Men’s football is loved in Britain simply because the players are men… Even the fact the men’s World Cup is not explicitly stated to be a men’s competition erases women.

Yes, dear readers. All of womanhood is being erased by a sporting event that happens once every four years.

So do we women sideline ourselves by boycotting the games or do we take up space and holler along because it is fun and exciting?

Clearly, it’s an issue fraught with political agonising.

You could argue that the FIFA World Cup is also ageist and disablist (footballers are doomed to retire as soon as their wisdom teeth fully descend and disabled people are tacitly excluded).

And so it turns out that the World Cup is not only patriarchal and sexist but also ageist and disablist. So much exclusion, it takes the breath away. It’s not so much a sport, then, as an avalanche of bigotry and sin. Though, curiously, no such concerns are aimed at the young and able-bodied ladies who’ll be taking part in the Women’s World Cup in Canada, an event mentioned pointedly, three times, in the same article. Or indeed at the Olympics, an event that two years on leaves our Guardianista feeling “warm and fuzzy,” and in which male and female athletes compete separately.

Continue reading "The Crushing Patriarchy, Sporting Edition" »

Something About the Tone

Peter Matthews, an Urban Studies lecturer with an interest in “urban inequalities,” questions the “rosy image of mixed communities.” And yet he wants to ensure more of us live next door to “the poor and marginalised.” 

When trying to create a better social mix, the focus is almost always on deprived areas. Aren’t the posh bits a problem too?

You see, in his mind,

Poverty and affluence are two sides of the same coin. One would not exist without the other.  

He therefore entertains a “physically radical intervention.” Specifically

The idea that we must demolish large areas of high-value owner-occupied housing and replace it with high density, socially-rented housing is still way off the agenda. Maybe it is time this changed.

He’s so daring, our academic. And hey, what a headline

If we really do want to mix communities, where better to start than in west London, in the decidedly unmixed Belgravia (average house price £4.4m)? Of course, such a move is unlikely to happen any time soon. The powers that be tend to live in such areas, after all,

Unlike Guardian columnists and editors, or leftwing academics, who invariably seek out only the most humble accommodation.

and are unlikely to appreciate the deliberate urban degeneration.

Imagine those three words, in bold, on the policy document. Followed by, “It’s what you people need, good and hard.” 

As someone who grew up in what would now be considered a “deprived area,” amid lots of “social” housing and all manner of inventively antisocial behaviour, and then escaped, I’m not sure I’d appreciate a second taste of what it was I was hoping to get the hell away from. It’s hard to feel nostalgic for casual vandalism, routine burglary and bus stops and phone boxes that stank reliably of piss. 

Continue reading "Something About the Tone" »

Friday Ephemera

“I was gonna put it in a box.” // Iceland, baby. (h/t, Mick) // Baby cage, circa 1930s. // Cliff-edge swing for maximum thrills. // Swing of a different type. Comes with lube and “love mask.” // Miss Sausage Queen, 1955. // Smart cups will judge you. // Eavesdropping gear. // Gourmet dehydrated meals for discernment on the go. // Koh Yao Noi. // Karen Carpenter’s voice. // What Vine is for. // For those who like their sweets in the form of a Zen rock garden. // Russian salt mining. // Switzerland’s timber bridges, all 1055 of them. (h/t, MeFi) // Bald animals. // Neighbourhood peacocks. // Dark Central Park. // “Coffee in extreme conditions.” // And finally, for the ever-so-slightly obsessive, roam the Enterprise-D with PixelTrek

Elsewhere (128)

K.C. Johnson on dogmatic faculty, the Duke rape hoax, and why due process matters: 

It was, I think, unprecedented, the sort of behaviour we saw from the Duke faculty. Faculty members essentially chose to exploit their students’ distress to advance a campus pedagogical agenda, to push their own ideological vision and to abandon any pretence of supporting fairness, due process and the dispassionate evaluation of evidence… A complete abandonment of any pretence of objectivity, of any interest in the truth.

Ann Althouse parses Hillary Clinton and is taken aback by what she finds:   

Read it again and see how shocking it is. Not only did Hillary completely turn her back on “balancing competing values” and “more thoughtful conversation,” she doesn’t want to allow people on one side of the conversation even to believe what they believe. Those who care about gun rights and reject new gun regulations should be stopped from holding their viewpoint. Now, it isn’t possible to forcibly prevent people from holding a viewpoint… but the question is Hillary Clinton’s fitness for the highest office, and her statement reveals a grandiose and profoundly repressive mindset.

Somewhat related, Jayson Veley on the joys of modern schooling:   

Andrew Lampart, a student at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Connecticut, was assigned an in-class debate on gun control during his “Law & You” course. While preparing for the debate during study hall, Lampart logged onto the school-provided internet and found that students were forbidden from visiting The National Association for Gun Rights... “I used my study hall to research gun control facts and statistics. That is when I noticed that most of the pro-second amendment websites were blocked, while the sites that were in favour of gun control generally were not… I found it nearly impossible to get solid information to debate my side of the argument.”

Meanwhile, a book critical of modern feminism, but written by a feminist, catches fire mysteriously. And Perry de Havilland discovers another classic Guardian sentence. 

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

Princesses and Peas

In which we share the unending woes of three Guardian columnists. First, Nell Frizzell conjures a grand tale of sorrow and social injustice from her own unremarkable sleeping patterns and tells us that “going to bed early is our last great social taboo.” You heard her. Going to bed “before midnight” is a great social taboo. The last one. Such waywardness is, we learn, “a one-way ticket to condescension… and pariahdom.” “You will be ridiculed,” says Ms Frizzell. “If not shunned.” She is, nevertheless, being very, very brave. “It won’t stop me.”

Meanwhile, Bella Mackie, a Guardian comment moderator and daughter of the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger, recounts her own fearless, indeed Herculean struggle with an addiction to… Diet Coke: “Giving up my favourite drink was as difficult as I had feared. I set about it with a determination to go cold turkey, knowing that even one can would make me slip back into old habits.” There followed a dark downward spiral. “For the first month, I felt exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open at my desk. Then came the nerves, the feeling that something was missing.” Yes, dear reader. Feel her pain and weep.

And finally, the chronically unhappy professional lesbian Julie Bindel bemoans the evils of marriage, including same-sex marriage, and is sternly disapproving of the fact that “there seems to be an almost total acceptance of [marriage] by lesbians today.” Specifically, what troubles her is that so many gay people, an overwhelming majority, “have a desire for ‘ordinariness’ and do not want to be seen as living ‘alternative’ lifestyles.” Given Ms Bindel’s niche career as a quarrelsome misfit and radical ‘activist’, this desire for bourgeois normativity simply will not do. And so she invokes the wisdom of feminist lecturer Nicola Barker, who tells us, flatly, that, “Same-sex marriage fits comfortably within the conservative ideology of the self-sufficient family and contributes to the politics of state austerity.”

Of course Ms Bindel goes further, as she must, and in doing so coughs up a contender for our series of classic Guardian sentences: “Isn’t marriage merely a clever ploy to keep us quiet about the trickier issues such as the deportation of lesbian asylum seekers?”

A question foremost on everyone’s lips.