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July 2015

Friday Ephemera

Twitter exchange of note. // The acid should kick in any moment now. // I’m no expert but I think that’s a shark. // I’ve been playing this quite a lot. // There’s whittling and there’s whittling. // Grow new teeth in nine weeks. // So.Much.Guardian, a tumblr. // An interactive atlas of world history. // The props and miniatures of Blade Runner. // Baby storage. // Storm near Rapid City. // Sticky page markers of note. The markers are sticky, not the pages. // “In the small village of Vrontados, there is unrest.” // Soho Square, London, 1956. // Beware the stealth cucumber. // Because you need to be told when to buy new shoes. // At last, a centrifugal fragrance diffuser. // A website you have to queue for. It’s terribly exclusive. // And finally, four minutes or so of daddy-daughter time

In the Zone

A headline of note from the Belfast Telegraph

Man Fined for Sedating Girlfriend So He Could Keep Playing Video Games

In short, 

A court in Castrop-Rauxel, a town in eastern Germany, heard that the man’s (now ex) girlfriend had arrived home while he was playing games with his friend one night in August. Keen to keep playing after she came home, the man put sedative in her tea, causing her to sleep until midday the next day.

Via Chris Snowdon

The World and its Wonders

A small southern California company which produces “earth-friendly” feminine hygiene products has released the first tampon for post-op transgender women.

Yes, I too was puzzled at first

“Our product is designed to give post-op transgender women the full-spectrum experience of menstruation. You don’t have to be deprived of the beautiful and womanly occurrence of menstruation merely because you were born without a uterus. The Fem-Flo’s cotton core contains a small, vegetable-based capsule which upon reaching body temperature releases the ‘menses’ contained within.”

Still waiting on those lunar bases and flying cars, though. 

Elsewhere (170)

Kristian Niemietz is upsetting readers of the Independent

I am amazed by how the British left has managed to convince themselves that Syriza somehow represented a break with “neoliberal politics” in Greece… After three and a half decades of economic statism and hyperinterventionism, how exactly is a party that stands for economic statism and hyperinterventionism a “break” with anything? […] The Greek economy had become a rent-seeking economy, in which economic activity is not about creating wealth, but about extracting wealth from others through the political process. If you’re afraid of dog-eat-dog capitalism, you haven’t seen dog-eat-dog socialism yet.

So far in the comments, Mr Niemietz has been called a “sadist,” a “little shit” and “one of Thatcher’s odious children.” Commenters slightly more supportive of Mr Niemietz are also being denounced as “fascists, xenophobes, bigots and racists.”

Tim Blair on the same.  

Ashe Schow on joke degrees: 

“Of those that graduate, some will have degrees that prepare them for nothing that is highly valued by society,” [parent, Anne] Gassel wrote. “I remember last year at a college open house hearing from a young woman who had a degree in women’s studies. She told the parents sitting in the room that she was lucky to get a job with the university. I don’t think she realised how that sounded.” She added: “Apparently the only thing a women’s studies degree prepares one for is working for a university admissions office to promote that degree to other gullible students.” 

And via TDK, Robert Tracinski on the shifting pieties of the left: 

Now a major portion of the left has stopped even pretending that they value work. Hence the growing support for a guaranteed minimum income, a lifetime handout large enough to provide everyone with a comfortable existence. The goal, according to one supporter of this idea, is precisely to allow people not to work… [But] the evidence suggests that when people are paid just for breathing, when they lose the basic habit of working, they don’t spend their time writing symphonies. They sit on the couch smoking pot and watching bad TV.

We’ve been here before, of course

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

Strange Construal

Or, Socialists Watch TV, Hallucinate Wildly.

Lifted from an old comments thread about fretful eco-piety, some thoughts on the 70s sitcom The Good Life and its message as construed by a Guardian reader and another fellow leftist. Specifically, its role as some kind of moral lodestone for the modern anti-capitalist

Listen to Tom on one of his speeches to see how far ahead they were… Whilst the funny bit is watching Tom and Barbara struggle, they are treated the most sympathetically, and usually prevail in the end. Nothing better illustrates how little progress we have really made in nearly 40 years towards a more sustainable society.

Sentiments repeated in this indignant comment following a Spectator article on the same programme: 

First of all, the heroes of The Good Life are Tom and Barbara - a couple who have given up the rat race and acquisitiveness to live off the land. Quite the opposite of Thatcherism and more in-line with the green movement than any other ideology… Margo’s petty-bourgeois [sic] conservatism and social climbing usually lead her into ending up looking ridiculous… And that’s precisely the kind of idea that The Good Life was clearly proposing a sustainable and non-greedy alternative to.

Readers familiar with said sitcom may find these claims a little odd, as Tom and Barbara’s experiment in “self-sufficiency” wasn’t particularly self-sufficient. They don’t prevail in the end, not on their own terms or in accord with their stated principles, and their inability to do so is the primary source of story lines. Practically every week the couple’s survival is dependent on the neighbours’ car, the neighbours’ phone, the neighbours’ unpaid labour, a convoluted favour of some kind. And of course they’re dependent on the “petty” bourgeois infrastructure maintained by all those people who haven’t adopted a similarly perilous ‘ecological’ lifestyle. The Goods’ highly selective rejection of bourgeois life is only remotely possible because of their own previous bourgeois habits - a paid-off mortgage, a comfortable low-crime neighbourhood with lots of nearby greenery, and well-heeled neighbours who are forever on tap when crises loom, i.e., weekly.

To seize on The Good Life as an affirmation of eco-noodling and a “non-greedy alternative” to modern life is therefore unconvincing to say the least. The Goods only survive, and then just barely, because of their genuinely self-supporting neighbours – the use of Jerry’s car and chequebook being a running gag, along with convenient access to Margo’s social contacts and expensive possessions. And insofar as the series has a feel-good tone, it has little to do with championing ‘green’ lifestyles or “self-sufficiency.” It’s much more about the fact that, despite Tom and Barbara’s dramas and continual mooching, and despite Margo’s imperious snobbery, on which so much of the comedy hinges, the neighbours remain friends. If anything, the terribly bourgeois Margo and Jerry are the more plausible moral heroes, given all that they have to put up with and how often they, not Tom’s principles, save the day.

Friday Ephemera

Even if you feel a very strong urge, don’t try this at home. // Age of Tin Man. // User preference. (h/t, Kristian) // Throwable panoramic ball camera. // Unfortunate technical gaffe of note. // How to detect a nuclear weapon test. // Chicago below. // Sweet Dreams banjo-style. // More joys of public transport. // The puzzle of baldness. // She’s a big girl. // Battle of wits. (h/t, Dr W) // Ice cream in Cuba. “I thought this was a bus stop.” // Crash helmets of note. // Tiny hand-thrown pottery. // Parts of speech. // Restoration. // “An erratic structure brought to life by mechanical agitations.” // Mechanical calculator. // Victorian data visualisation. // At last, your very own bioluminescent desktop dinoflagellates. // And finally, for the adventurous, hold on to your lunch

Reheated (44)

For newcomers, more items from the archives:

Repent at Leisure

Graduate job-seeker is shocked to discover that choices have consequences.  

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?

Comedy Economics

Improving the species through enforced poverty.

The New Economics Foundation is convinced that, once implemented, its recommendations would “heal the rifts in a divided Britain” and leave the population “satisfied.” That’s satisfied with less of course, and the authors make clear their disdain for the “dispensable accoutrements of middle-class life,” including “cars, holidays, electronic equipment and multiple items of clothing.”

Scenes of Extended Fretting

The Guardian’s Leo Hickman discovers how competitive piety can be.  

Mr Hickman, whose ten years of struggling with ethical purity will be known to long-term readers, believes that the way to make poor people rich is to not buy their goods. 

Just Surrender to the Will of Clever People

Private education must be banned, says leftist academic. And reading to your children causes “unfair disadvantage.”

Sadly, Dr Swift doesn’t say whether he has any personal experience of the state education system that he thinks the rest of us should make do with in the name of “social justice.” But perhaps he could share his comforting words with some of the children left at the mercy of such schools, where, as one national survey of teaching staff puts it, “a climate of violence” and “malicious disruption” is the norm, the assaulting of staff and pupils is commonplace, with almost half of those surveyed witnessing such behaviour “on a weekly basis,” and where vandalism of personal property is “part of the routine working environment.”

I’ve hidden free puppies in the greatest hits