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October 2014

Friday Ephemera

World’s loudest belch - looped, obviously. // Judgmental bird. // The British Tripe Council. // Assorted moths and butterflies. // Autumn. // He say nummy nummy num. // Lamb demands petting. // The periodic table of hip-hop. // Rubber bands of note. // Your cardboard robot. // Drunk furniture. // Things in front of the Sun. // Astronomy factoid of the day. // Dashcam footage of note. // Hard disc of yore. // When water falls upwards. // The soap dispenser you’ve always wanted. // Ants and gel. // Joints for cats. // “Sitting is the new smoking.” // Tiny squid and other creatures. // Superman’s first appearance, 1938. // West end girls. // John and Sherlock. // Shake it, baby. // And finally, if you’re having a tough morning, take a moment or two to soothe yourself with this

Meanwhile, in Showbiz News

Kevin Williamson pokes through the mental wreckage of writer and actress Lena Dunham:  

Lena Dunham is fond of lists. Here is a list of things in Lena Dunham’s life that do not strike Lena Dunham as being unusual: growing up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment; attending a selection of elite private schools; renting a home in Hollywood Hills well before having anything quite resembling a job and complaining that the home is insufficiently “chic”; the habitual education of the men in her family at Andover; the services of a string of foreign nannies; being referred to a homework therapist when she refused to do her homework and being referred to a relationship therapist when she fought with her mother; constant visits to homeopathic doctors, and visits to child psychologists three times a week; having a summer home on a lake in Connecticut, and complaining about it; writing a “voice of her generation” memoir in which ordinary life events among members of her generation, such as making student-loan payments or worrying about the rent or health insurance, never come up; making casual trips to Malibu; her grandparents’ having taken seven-week trips to Europe during her mother’s childhood; spending a summer at a camp at which the costs can total almost as much as the median American family’s annual rent; being histrionically miserable at said camp and demanding to be brought home early; demanding to be sent back to the same expensive camp the next year.

That’s the first paragraph. From there on in he’s less forgiving

Elsewhere (141)

Jim Goad is entertained by the vehement nuttiness of the Black Hebrew Israelites: 

When I say “hate group,” I don’t mean groups who are accused of being hateful; I mean ones that get right up in your face and tell you they’re full of hate… Framed as they are within this dreadfully medicated and morbidly smiley-faced modern world, I find such jagged incongruity hilarious. For two decades running — ever since a friend sent me a VHS tape of them harassing the fuck out of frightened passers-by in Times Square — my “favourite” hate group has been the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, notably the screamingly belligerent iterations that infest street corners in the Northeast and Midwest bellowing through microphones and megaphones about “crackers” and “faggots” and “so-called Negroes.” For starters, I like the way they, well… goad people. I also enjoy their pharaonic sense of couture, which is an odd mix of Arabian Nights and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Peter Risdon on purity, extremism and the madness of Russell Brand: 

The narcissism of much of the middle class left is tautological, considering that they are people born into above average affluence who still feel they should get other people’s money because their art, or environmental campaigning, or political thought – rather than their need for subsistence – merits it.

Brian Micklethwait offers a handy tip: 

If someone starts to offer you unsolicited advice about how to improve whatever it is that you are doing, immediately ask if they are prepared to get involved and implement their suggestion themselves. If the answer is yes, listen to what they have to say. If the answer is no, stop them right there and change the subject.

And Maetenloch mulls the utopian blueprint of a certain feminist bedlamite: 

Now before everyone gets too excited I have to tell you that there’s a drawback to it: About a half of you are going to have to be killed.

We also learn that, without men, “women’s life expectancy would rise to 130 years at least.”

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

Reheated (42)

For newcomers, more items from the archives. 

Something About the Tone.

Urban Studies lecturer Peter Matthews worries about the unequal distribution of litter and suggests bulldozing Belgravia. For the poor.

Our postcode class warrior links to a report fretting about how to “narrow the gap” in litter, how to “achieve fairer outcomes in street cleanliness.” But neither he nor the authors of said report explore an obvious factor. The words “drop” and “littering” simply don’t appear anywhere in the report, thereby suggesting that the food-smeared detritus and other unsightly objects just fall from the clouds mysteriously when the locals are asleep. And fretting about inequalities in litter density is a little odd if you don’t consider how the litter gets there in the first place. Yet this detail isn’t investigated and the report can “neither confirm nor reject the idea that resident attitudes and behaviours are significant drivers of environmental problems.”

Please Don’t Dump Your Garbage on the Roadside

Performance artists Katy Albert and Sophia Hamilton hit each other with pillows, thereby sharing their radicalism with the unthinking proles.

One has to wonder what our creative betters’ long-term plan is. How, exactly, were they hoping to entice employers and repay the cost of their extensive education? Is incongruous pillow flailing – sorry, “strategic refraction” - a skill in demand? Is it something the public cries out for and will rush to throw money at? What do the ladies plan to do when they’re, say, forty, or fifty? Given the improbability of such people being self-supporting in later life - at least in their chosen line, the one for which they’ve studied - do they have wealthy parents who will indulge them indefinitely? Or do they expect their talents, such as they are, to be rewarded with other people’s earnings, confiscated forcibly by the state and redistributed as artistic subsidy? And is self-inflicted dependency a thing to encourage and applaud? I ask because the ladies say they want us to “think critically.”

The Cupcake Menace

The Guardian’s Matt Seaton rages against tiny cakes, which are apparently exploitative and mentally debilitating, at least to womenfolk.

After telling us at length just how terrible and mind-warping these tiny fancies are, Mr Seaton adds, “I don’t want to ban cupcakes.” And yet he feels it necessary to say this, as if banning miniature sponges would be an obvious thing to consider, the kind of thing one does. And after banning them in his own office. An accomplishment that a fellow Guardianista, the daughter of the paper’s editor no less, regards as confirming Mr Seaton’s moral credentials: “I used to bring cakes into the office a lot, and Matt put a ban on it because he was worried about how much sugar we all ate. Practises what he preaches this man.” Come work at the Guardian, where the party never stops.

There’s more, should you want it, in the greatest hits. And tickling the tip jar is what keeps this place afloat. 

Friday Ephemera

One man and his hummingbird. // LED baby strikes back. // Bag-snatching thief with previous convictions encounters “social justice.” (h/t, Kate) // Giraffe in a storm. // Storage jars of note. // Hardcore stare down. I’ve seen this happen. // “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” // Magnetic dunking device. // Defend against atom bombs with vigorous dusting. // It’s about this deep. // Poly-spandex poncho. // Zwipe. // Popsicles of note. // Organic, vegan, genderless gingerbread persons. (h/t, Robert Hale) // The science of voice recognition. // The sky is not blue. // Hoverboard, baby. // How to move furniture. // You know you want a swivelling selfie hat. // Huge sphinx unearthed in California. // And finally, James Spader is a very bad robot in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Elsewhere (140)

Charles Murray reflects on his book The Bell Curve, and its reception, twenty years on: 

The reaction to The Bell Curve exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. The Bell Curve is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excoriated in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only word for it.

Russell Nieli on grade inflation: 

Another factor furthering grade inflation has been the self-esteem movement and the belief that having a high opinion of oneself is a prerequisite to self-confidence and high achievement. The fact that… feeling good about oneself unconnected with one’s actual striving or achievement is usually a formula for indolence and lethargy — if not actual narcissism — hasn’t diminished the appeal of the movement to many university administrators… It is also a major reason, I believe, why American students, who in international comparisons have the highest self-esteem, lag so far behind those in many Asian countries in becoming top flight engineers and scientists.

When I was a teenager taking A-levels, my class was told – ominously, several times - that the minimum grades for acceptance at university were two ‘A’s and a ‘B’. More recently, in 2011, while listening to Radio 4’s rural soap The Archers, I heard Ambridge’s teen eco-warrior Pip excitedly announce her A-level results – “a ‘B’ and two ‘C’s.” She was therefore, naturally, going to university.

Sarah Knapton on vegetarians and sperm: 

Vegetarians and vegans had significantly lower sperm counts compared with meat eaters, 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ml. They also had lower average sperm motility – the number of sperm which are active. Only one third of sperm were active for vegetarians and vegans compared with nearly 60 per cent for meat eaters.

And Amy Powell relays a tale of stalking gone awry: 

A 28-year-old woman rescued from a chimney at a Thousand Oaks home was allegedly trying to break into the home of a man she had met online. Residents reported hearing the sound of a woman crying in the area at about 5:45 am. Deputies found Genoveva Nunez-Figueroa trapped inside the chimney. Ventura County Fire Department and Urban Search and Rescue members had to dismantle the chimney in order to get Nunez-Figueroa out. She was lubricated with dish soap prior to being hoisted out… This is the second time Nunez-Figueroa was found on [the homeowner’s] roof. Two weeks ago, he spotted her and called police, but she disappeared.

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

Repent at Leisure

The Observer’s Nicole Mowbray reveals the hitherto-unguessed fact that poor fashion choices can have practical consequences

After seven unsuccessful job interviews, 24-year-old Luke Clark began to think something other than his CV was playing havoc with his job prospects. Potential employers didn’t seem to like the 4cm “flesh tunnel” holes he had in each ear as much as he did. Clark had begun stretching his lobes at university several years earlier, and the problem was that when he took the plugs out his stretched earlobes looked terrible. Now one of the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures in the UK is repairing stretched earlobes.

Several readers of said paper are, however, quite upset. Specifically, they’re upset that not all employers are impressed, either by the Urban Bush Warrior look or by self-inflicted comedy lobes with large, baggy holes in them:

It’s just a bigger hole than what society has considered to be “standard” and judging someone’s ability to do a job based on their outward appearance is incredibly ignorant… If there wasn’t such a pointlessly negative view on stretched ears, people like teachers and professional golf players wouldn’t have to get them sewn up.

Possibly a contender for our series of classic sentences

And this chap here, he’s upset too: 

Until you know that person, you have no right to criticise, judge or alter the life chances for them. Those who make decisions about the future of others based only on appearance, are themselves the shallowest of people, and do not deserve to have such a position of influence.

You see, he should be free to deform his anatomy into eye-catchingly unattractive shapes, thereby announcing his heroic radicalism and disdain for bourgeois norms, entirely without consequence. But you mustn’t be free to run your business without him, regardless of whatever message he’s chosen to send via the medium of disfigured earlobes. No bad decision that he makes must ever “alter his life chances” because… well, obviously, it’s all your fault.

And so we’re expected to believe that Mr Clark, who chose to make a bold statement by deliberately stretching and deforming his earlobes - to the extent that a jar of instant coffee could almost fit through the holes – is somehow being wronged, indeed oppressed, when, during job interviews, potential employers notice – and find inappropriate – the bold statement he’s chosen to make. Having decided at university to scandalise the less daring whenever in public, he now seems surprised when those same less daring people make choices of their own, i.e., not to hire him. But aren’t their raised eyebrows and looks of disgust what he wanted all along? 

Smells Like Teen Schoolgirl

A headline of possible interest from the Tokyo Reporter:

Tokyo cops bust schoolgirl sniff parlour in Takadanobaba.

If you’re terribly out of touch and therefore unfamiliar with the concept of a sniff parlour, the article elaborates:

The menu for the establishment indicates that conversation is the basic service provided. However, options allow customers to select costumes, sniff the odour of the attendant’s hair and receive a slap in the face. Fees at the parlour are priced at 1,000 yen for every five minutes.

Hey, I’m not judging. I’m just putting it out there.

Via sk60.

Friday Ephemera

These followed by this. // A chorus of keys. // Cat-ear headphones. They glow, obviously. // Rubber stress mushrooms. You tug them for relief. // Blowing Billie Jean. (h/t, EBD) // Tiny brontosauruses. // It’s basic science, people. // Make your own music video with SeeHearParty. // 3D-printed car. // Scorpion chair. // The chemistry of pizza. // Spacecraft selfie of note. // The world’s roundest object. // The world of Ronco. // Chocolate skulls gone nuts. // Owl massage. // Lego Galactus is so adorable. // Hallowe’en masks of yore. // This woman is a psychic. // A map of Autumn foliage. // Teamwork. // Burning wood. // Testing 5G. // Star Trek fact check, for hardcore enthusiasts. // The first spacewalk. // And finally, this is my belly, here. I’ll tell you when to stop