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October 2014
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November 2014

Friday Ephemera

BattleTop GalactiGun. Smell the Eighties. // 70 billion farts a day. “And roughly 10 of those are yours.” // Orson Welles meets the Twilight Zone. // Walking cane of note. // Karen Straughan was interviewed by the BBC. // Keyboard of note. // Making kokeshi dolls. // Things to do with nails. // What astronauts see. // Shavings. // Satiregram. // The cat petting simulator is ideal for people with allergies. // Pondering testes. // Improbable architecture. // The Marxists’ apartment. // Juggling luminous balls while in a large plastic cone. // For the ladies, giant man-hands. // How big? This big. // Bad translator. // More fog in Dubai. // Flirting via text. // And finally, the long-awaited dog squat detection system - for when you need to know exactly where your dog has had a shit.

Elsewhere (143)

Susan Kruth and Harvey Silverglate on educational environments and the things you can’t say in them: 

On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current… Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement — a disorder whose spread in academia grows by the day.

Note how the code words and euphemisms that have replaced salty language have become so numerous that readers now struggle to guess what the offending word was. See also this

Thomas Sowell on the current occupant of the White House: 

People who are increasingly questioning Barack Obama’s competence are continuing to ignore the alternative possibility that his fundamental values and imperatives are different from theirs. You cannot tell whether someone is failing or succeeding without knowing what they are trying to do. When Obama made a brief public statement about Americans being beheaded by terrorists, and then went on out to play golf, that was seen as a sign of political ineptness, rather than a stark revelation of what kind of man he is, underneath the smooth image and lofty rhetoric.

And Peter Suderman reminds us why tar and feathers should never be out of fashion: 

Professor Jonathan Gruber was, by most accounts, one of the key figures in constructing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. He helped design the Massachusetts health care law on which it was modelled, assisted the White House in laying out the foundation of the law, and, according to the New York Times, was eventually sent to Capitol Hill “to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.” Jonathan Gruber, in other words, knows exactly what it took to get [Obama’s] health care law passed. And that’s why you should take him seriously when he says, in the following video, that it was critical to not be transparent about the law’s costs and true effects, and to take advantage of the “stupidity of the American voter” in order to get it passed.

Note that our progressive Professor Gruber is happy to admit deceiving the electorate – deliberately, at length and on a grand scale - in order to get his own way. Along with $400,000 in consultancy fees.  

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

Big If

More niche sorrows from a certain newspaper:

If punk is the ultimate anti-establishment scene, why is it still run by all these white men?

And so we find “would-be musicologist” and transgender punk musician Alyssa Kai pining for a cartoon scene that reality can’t live up to: 

DIY punk – with its self-released music, non-corporate labels, cheap all-age shows in basements – embraces those things not as means toward corporate success, but as intrinsically worthwhile tools to build authentic rebellion and powerful community.

She wants none of that “corporate success,” which entails “getting signed, getting famous, getting a world tour,” terrible things like that. No, Ms Kai wants “authentic rebellion” and the purest of motives. Inevitably, disappointment looms:

Our authenticity [is] built on false premises of what it means to be “true” to punk in a messed-up, still-exclusionary scene made up of mostly white, abled middle-class men who make and buy most of the music.

Yes, too many punk musicians - and too many of their fans - are white, male and able-bodied. Will the horror never end? Apparently, our “would-be musicologist” is unfamiliar with the genres afro-punk and queercore, to say nothing of Pussy Riot, Pansy Division, Dinah Cancer and of course The Slits. 

And then it gets worse.

Without warning, in the audience or on a stage, I’ll hear someone say, “This song is about feminism,

Yay. Girl power.

which means: How hard it is to have a vagina in this world!”

Oh dear. Major gaffe. Ixnay on the v.j. 

And I’m suddenly… excluded from the supposedly ultra-inclusive community I’m trying to build.

Because feminist punk that doesn’t nod to transgendered women and their pseudo-vaginas is just no punk at all.

Continue reading "Big If" »

Friday Ephemera

The adventures of Hover Cat. // How to build your own air raid siren. The moment of victory is at 8:42. (h/t, sk60) // Two types of squirrels. (h/t, Pootblog) // Lick me to sleep. // Owl gif of note. // Folded by hand. // Clever crows. // Sneezing chicken. // Sneezes on a plane. // Spinning top of note. // We must summon the mothership. // Xenomorph. // Small gestures, big marble. // The bells of Amsterdam. // Houdini’s illusions. // The free, complete Sherlock Holmes. // The mosh pit simulator does what it says. (h/t, MeFi) // Strum it, stroke it, beat its strings. // An interactive rat map by the Rat Information Portal. // And finally, behold Scroguard - the “premium latex feels like a second skin” and “can accommodate waists up to 48 inches.” Oh, and yes, it’s washable.

Elsewhere (142)

Via Mr X, Charles Cooke is entertained by a circus of competitive indignation: 

As it has grown in popularity, the [anti-catcalling] video has been transformed into a blank canvas, onto which America’s brave advocates of hyphenated-justice have sought to project their favoured social theories. Evidently unwilling to let the spot stand on its own, Purdue’s Roxanne Gay wrote sadly that “it’s difficult and uncomfortable to admit that we have to talk about race / class / gender / sexuality / ability / etc., all at once.” Alas, she was not alone. Soon, the claims of “sexism” had been joined by accusations of “racism” and of “classism,” [video makers] Hollaback had been forced to acknowledge that it had upset the more delicate among us, and those who had celebrated the video [for its feminist stance] had been denounced as unreconstructed bigots.

Jim Goad on the same: 

A video that shows a Jewish woman being sexually harassed while walking on New York City streets has engendered tremendous outrage — not so much for the fact that she was sexually harassed, but because there weren’t enough white guys doing it.

Statistics ensue.

Lenore Skenazy notes an everyday hazard of modern schooling: 

Da’von Shaw, a Bedford, Ohio high school student, brought apples and craisins to school for a “healthy eating” presentation he was giving to his speech class. He took out a knife to slice an apple, and I’m sure you can all guess what happened next.

And Ed Driscoll reflects on how the New York Times became a (bad) student newspaper: 

In the summer of 1992, the Times published a piece co-written by two seniors at Columbia who claimed to find all sorts of “disturbing” anti-Semitic allegories in the Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer film Batman Returns. “The biblical allusions and historical references woven into the plot of Batman Returns betray a hidden conflict between gentile and Jew,” they wrote. “Denied his own birthright, the Penguin intends to obliterate the Christian birth, and eventually the whole town. His army of mindless followers, a flock of ineffectual birds who cannot fly, is eventually converted to the side of Christian morality.” It’s some piece of work, and a reminder that calling for the banning of elections might actually not be the craziest thing that the Times has published by a college journalist eager for his first national byline.

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

Hush, Art is Happening

The contemporary performance artist is, as we’ve seen, a supremely political creature, forever troubled by acute socio-political sensitivities, with insights and perceptions far beyond the ken of mortal beings. Should any of you dare to question that sensitivity, I steer you to the ever-twitching antennae of the performance artist and educator Marilyn Arsem, specifically her description of her own immensely subtle piece, U.S. Domestic Policy II:

My performance was on November 3rd 2010, the day after the elections that brought back a majority of Republicans to the Congress. While the news was not unexpected, it nevertheless gave me a sinking feeling when I awoke that morning to read the election results in the newspaper. I couldn’t help but do a performance called U.S. Domestic Policy as a result.

But of course. What other response could there possibly be?

With the help of an intern, I purchased quantities of beautiful ripe fruit - plums, oranges, kiwi, and a bag of red peppers, as well as a hammer and a water glass.

At this point you may have some inkling of where this is going.

The performance was a systematic act of destruction. I sat at the table and first raised a line of red peppers into the air. Then I methodically destroyed the tableful of fresh ripe fruit. 

Uncanny, isn’t it? You must have the gift of mentalism. 

I started with the hammer, but quickly began using only my bare hands. It took a surprising amount of time to crush each piece.

Behold the artist at work

Juice spread over the table, and the smell of oranges permeated the room. I continually swept the detritus to the floor as the pile of fruit was reduced, until only a tall glass of water remained on the table. After taking a long sip of water, I carefully set the glass down, and slowly, excruciatingly slowly, inched the glass of water across to the far side of the table, where it hovered for several moments half off the edge, before finally crashing to the floor.

That sound you hear is your mind being expanded as political consciousness rushes in to fill the void.

Continue reading "Hush, Art is Happening" »