Previous month:
August 2014
Next month:
October 2014

September 2014

But Does It Massage the Buttocks?

John Leo shares news from the cutting edge of on-campus student care

This has been a big year for sleep at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The Shapiro Undergraduate Library cleared away some dusty and disposable books on the first floor and six cots were installed, offering weary students “a safe place for brief spells of restorative sleep,” or “naps,” as they are known in campus shorthand. These brief spells have been limited to 30 minutes, and the space, in a well-trafficked area on the first floor of Shapiro, was equipped with vinyl cots, disinfecting wipes, disposable pillowcases, and lockers.

Best not to linger on the need for disinfectant wipes. Or instructions to “wipe down the cot when you are done.” 

Detractors observed that throwing out all those books so that students could sleep during the day was an unfortunate bit of symbolism, particularly since most students… already had safe places for brief spells of restorative sleep, usually known as “dorms.”

However, even these comforts may be insufficient for our awfully fatigued thinkers of tomorrow. And so,

Last month, the university library started testing a MetroNaps EnergyPod (in English: a nap machine) that looks like a dental chair encased in a plastic egg and sells for just under $13,000.

Behold its magnificence

The EnergyPod comes with a hemispherical privacy visor “for additional seclusion,” an adjustable timer, and speakers, from which you’ll hear “specially devised rhythms to facilitate relaxation.”

It can vibrate gently and wake you up slowly to soothing music. Google and several colleges have them. St. Leo College in Florida has installed them in dorms so commuters can use them and dorm-dwellers don’t have to go all the way upstairs to take a nap. After all, what is college without a $13,000 vibrating nap machine?

If $13,000 vibrating nap machines sound a tad indulgent, it’s worth bearing in mind that the University of Michigan was noted here previously for hiking tuition, pledging fiscal responsibility, then spending $400,000 to relocate one tree.

Photographic evidence of Michigan’s sleep-deprived students and the terrible crushing pressures of academic life can be found here. Readers are advised that some scenes may be distressing.

Be strong. Take tissues. 

Friday Ephemera

With the humans out of the house, the animals set to work. // Bathing. // Orderly beaches. // How to make magazine nunchucks. // Chocolate records. Play them, eat them. // Ohio Amish barn-raising. // Colours used in films. // Cat furniture. // A cliff house isn’t for everyone. // Fish spits light. // French fry pizza. The cheese acts as glue. // Parents, get your teenager one of these. You’ll never tire of it. // Let’s talk about toilet paper orientation. // Super Looper. // The evolution of headphones. (h/t, Things) // The history of the car in 178,000 images. // Historical gifs. // He makes miniature engines. // Dashcam footage of note. // Dentistry of yore. // And finally, feel the pain of sad dads at a One Direction concert. 

Reheated (41)

For newcomers, more items from the archives.

When the Onion is Redundant

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.”

Clinging to the Teats

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.

Their Mighty Brains Will Save Us

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.”

There’s more, should you want it, in the greatest hits

Elsewhere (136)

Daniel Hannan on the socialist snobbery of François Hollande: 

As well as being a bore, a fornicator and a nincompoop, François Hollande stands accused of being a snob. His former mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, has revealed… that the man who publicly professes to loathe the rich privately despises the poor. The son of a solidly bourgeois home, Hollande apparently sneered at Miss Trierweiler’s humbler origins, and referred privately to the underprivileged as “les sans-dents”: the toothless. Miss Trierweiler finds this attitude incongruous in a leftist politician, which makes me wonder how many leftist politicians she can have spent time with. 

Snobbery and imperiousness being so rare among our egalitarian betters

Robert Tracinski on Amanda Marcotte’s latest fit of indignation: 

That there are angry, bitter misanthropes out there with a chip on their shoulder about having to cook is not significant. What is significant is that this outlook gets taken seriously and finds a home and a ready audience on the left. What’s significant is that there is a constituency out there that is ready to complain about each and every basic requirement of human life, to resent the effort of taking responsibility for it, and to denounce as tyranny any expectation that life is supposed to be about work, effort, and striving.

Darleen Click on the same:  

[According to Marcotte,] if person A is unable to access the ideal of a home-cooked meal, by circumstance or choice, then home-cooked meals are articles of privilege to be either provided by The State or shunned as a vestige of a bygone culture best left upon the heap of history.

Ms Marcotte’s deep and compassionate wisdom has been noted here before

And Jeremy Duns on the return of former Independent columnist and chronic fabricator Johann Hari: 

[Hari] has received some extremely impressive endorsements for his book, from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Elton John. Bloomsbury have big promotional plans for it in place. They have, it seems, decided not to inform potential readers of Hari’s troubled past. The Amazon page for the book lists all of Hari’s awards but for the returned Orwell Prize, and features a quote from the Daily Telegraph: “Perhaps the most influential journalist of his generation.” Yes, blurbs are often taken out of context, but this is one of the most extraordinarily dishonest examples I’ve seen. That quote is from a Telegraph article about his plagiarism.

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

Friday Ephemera

Menfolk, impress women with instant burliness. // How to make Möbius bacon. // Batman’s many enemies, from Condiment King to Killer Moth. // How a bean becomes a fart. // It was the Seventies, everyone was funky. // “Fuck patriarchy.” // The patriarchy in action. // Pornographic sound design. // Iris the piglet likes bounding and belly rubs. // Clouds over Kansas City. // Cloud shadows. // Origami crease patterns. // Ranking the Bond cars. (h/t, Ace) // Volvos in North Korea. // We need to see the return of anti-cheating hats. // In auction news. // Stone mosaics. // Mr Marvin Gaye. // Hardcore dog lover. // What ants do. // And finally, in thrilling lavatorial news, “Earliest known wooden toilet seat discovered.” 

Elsewhere (135)

Theodore Dalrymple on language and “austerity”: 

This is not a question of whether the economic policy followed by the government is the right one or not: perhaps it is and perhaps it isn’t. It is a question of the honest use of words. One would not say of a man who passed from smoking sixty cigarettes a day to fifty that he had given up smoking, or that he had exercised great self-denial. And one would not, or rather should not, say of an organisation that had balanced its budget once in fifty years (the British government) that it was practicing austerity merely because it had to borrow a slightly lower percentage of what it spent than it did the year before. This is to deprive words of their meaning… If reducing the rate at which you overspend and accumulate debt is called austerity, no one will dare go any further in that direction, though it were the right direction in which to go.

But all that “austerity” and all those “violent” “spending cuts” are, as Julia M notes, making our artists angry

Now a new group of British artists and musicians are hoping to use art, song, theatre and words, as well as social media, to combat the coalition’s austerity agenda.

No, you mustn’t. Remember how scared we were the last time our artists shook their fists at us. One of the protesting artists, the Occupier and “urban poet” Rob Montgomery, tells us, “My art is about what capitalism does to your heart, and the inner child in you.” His deep, visionary radicalism can be savoured here. He’s teaching us, you see. Because he knows so much.

And Jennifer Kabbany on yet another fake “hate crime” and its vain fabricator: 

I was trying to make a point… now everyone has ideas on what type of person I am. I am none of these things… I am myself, I am caring and kind.

One to add to the rapidly growing list of kind, caring psychodramas

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

Because I Know You Want to Know

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.

Much to learn, so little time. Via MeFi