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August 2015

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Elsewhere (174)

Theodore Dalrymple on intellectual evasions: 

Sometimes the employment of a single word in common use gives away an entire worldview. There was just such a usage in the headline of a story in the Guardian late last month: “How the ‘Pompey Lads’ fell into the hands of Isis.” […] The word that implied a whole worldview was “fell.” According to the headline, the young men “fell” into the hands of Isis as an apple falls passively to the ground by gravitational force. The word suggests that it could have happened to anybody, this going to Syria via Turkey to join a movement that delights in decapitation and other such activities in the name of a religion — their religion. Joining Isis is like multiple sclerosis; it’s something that just happens to people. The word “fell” denies agency to the young men, as if they had no choice in the matter. They were victims of circumstance by virtue of their membership of a minority, for minorities are by definition victims without agency.

Mick Hartley quotes Anne Applebaum on the new titan of the British left: 

Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.

When not describing Hamas and Hizballah as “friends” and declaring his “solidarity” with the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela, our Islington radical finds time to be a fearless supporter of taxpayer-funded homeopathy, which apparently “compliments ‘conventional’ medicine” because “they both come from organic matter.” 

And Tim Blair ponders the cultural and economic powerhouse that is taxpayer-funded interpretive dance: 

As Australia transitions from a mineral export-based economy to a dance-based economy, it is clearly important to make certain that the dance sector is as stable as possible. Choreographer Lucy Guerin told the [senate] hearings [into arts funding] that to do otherwise would risk us “eventually severing the future of artistic development in Australia and setting us back 30 years.” “It’s that serious,” she added, with all the gravity you’d expect from a choreographer addressing a bunch of senators.

Behold ye, wealth creation.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 

Not So

New York Times, December 8, 1985:  

For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few… On the whole, people don’t want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.

In 1985, the New York Times claimed a weekday circulation of just over one million copies. Specifically, 1,013,211 on March 31. In 2015, when most Americans have computers in their pockets (and even use them at the beach and on trains), print sales of the New York Times have fallen to around half that figure, and the paper is chiefly read via the kind of devices once dismissed as implausible. Rather than “whiling away the hours reading the sports or business section,” the majority of readers are now “flybys,” their stays lasting for an average of four minutes, generally to read something linked via email and social media. And browsing one article isn’t quite the same thing as reading a newspaper.  

Via Kevin D Williamson

Friday Ephemera

Beatboxing, opera and MRI. // Add rain to your day. // An interactive solar system orrery. // Compare the planets dot com. // Crimes against cheese. // More joys of parenthood. // Space probes sent by Earthlings. // The wisdom of Twitter. (h/t, dicentra) // Toothbrush machine is a partial success. // Blindfolded water boxing. You heard me. // Smartwatch for the blind. // Lionel says hello. // Soylent 2.0 is made of soy, not people. // Deadpool. // One minute in London. Stress and unpleasantness not depicted. // What if the slopes were flattened in Paris? // Smartphone-controlled paper aeroplane. // Robot, lacking leotard, does rhythmic gymnastics. // And finally, The Fantastic Four Radio Show (1975). Narrated by Stan Lee and starring a young Bill Murray as The Human Torch.

Undone By Her Radical ‘Do

Annah Anti-Palindrome is recounting a tearful tale to readers of Everyday Feminism: 

I remember being ten years old and grieving my girlhood – that short period of time when I was allowed to exist without a preoccupation of my physical appearance constantly looming in the front of my mind – a time when my self-esteem wasn’t rooted in whether or not I was pretty enough, skinny enough, busty enough, sexy enough. Time passed and the more unattainable and oppressive heteronormative femininity felt, the more I grew to hate myself and everybody around me.

Hence, of course, the feminism. One mustn’t let all that hatred and self-involvement go to waste.

I let my leg and armpit hair grow long, and I let the hair on my head spiral into a nest of cords, matts, and tangles (a hairdo I would later ignorantly and appropriatively refer to as dreadlocks).

Bad dog. Minus ten points.

I ran away from home – started hitchhiking all over the country, going to feminist music festivals, entrenching myself amidst the company of other (mostly white) grrrls who were shirking their feminine hygiene routines (shaving, bathing, hair combing, general beauty maintenance regimens of all types). 

We must warn The Patriarchy. Some woman hasn’t washed.

In navigating through a predominantly white, feminist punk subculture, I never gave a second thought to whether wearing my hair in dreadlocks was offensive — at least to anyone other than The Patriarchy.

Because if there’s one thing The Great Patriarchal Hegemon™ fears, it’s an unwashed woman with pretentious hair.

Continue reading "Undone By Her Radical ‘Do" »

Elsewhere (173)

Douglas Murray on the loudly throbbing brain of Mr Paul Mason: 

Mason writes, “In Gaza, in August 2014, I spent ten days in a community being systematically destroyed by drone strikes, shelling and sniper fire.” Nothing about Hamas rocket-fire or any context about a long-running war. Instead he describes this apparently naked aggression as an example of “how ruthlessly the elite will react” to defend modern capitalism. But why would anyone bomb Gaza to do that? As well as holding many of the other worst views in the world, are Hamas also in possession of a particularly devastating critique of late capitalism?

Mr Mason’s adventures in radical thought have previously entertained us

Thomas Sowell on the politics of self-congratulation: 

T.S. Eliot once said, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm - but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” This suggests that one way to find out if those who claim to be trying to help the less fortunate are for real is to see if they are satisfied to simply advocate a given policy, and see it through to being imposed - without also testing empirically whether the policy is accomplishing what it set out to do. The first two steps are enough to let advocates feel important and righteous. Whether you really care about what happens to the supposed beneficiaries of the policy is indicated by whether you bother to check out the empirical evidence afterwards.

And George Will on the Planned Parenthood horror show: 

In partial-birth abortion, a near-term baby is pulled by the legs almost out of the birth canal, until the base of the skull is exposed so the abortionist can suck out its contents. During Senate debates on this procedure, three Democrats were asked: Suppose a baby’s head slips out of the birth canal — the baby is born — before the abortionist can kill it. Does the baby then have a right to live? Two of the Democrats refused to answer. The third said the baby acquires a right to life when it leaves the hospital.

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

Zoe Just Knows

The Guardian’s Zoe Williams confidently declares,   

Miscarriage culture is, from a feminist perspective, an amplification of the shame involved in being female in the first place.

Setting aside the notion of there being an entire miscarriage culture, I don’t follow Zoe’s leap to “shame in being female” as the obvious emotion of the moment. Grief, yes, dashed hopes, yes, anxiety about future pregnancies, quite possibly. A reluctance to share private pain publicly with friends, relatives and workmates - and thereby reliving it - yes, that too. And of course there’s the profound awfulness of being congratulated on imminent parenthood by someone no longer in the loop, and their subsequent mortification as they’re brought up to speed. But shame in being female? Does that even make the list of nightmares? Are we living in the sixteenth century, in the court of Henry VIII?

Of the two miscarriages I’ve known about, neither involved, to my eye, any attempt to shame the bereaved would-be parents. Very much the opposite. Such that the avalanche of sympathy could itself be hard to bear. And both instances highlighted practical explanations for why pregnancies are often private matters for the first few months – a custom Zoe dismisses as “a cult of silence,” one that “clings on to an infantile squeamishness around the particulars of reproduction.” It is, I’d imagine, quite stressful to repeatedly explain this most intimate loss to friends and relatives who are expecting good news – and also explaining it to any existing small children, whose little brother or sister will not be arriving as promised.  

But in Zoe’s mind, enlightened as it is by feminism, these things are merely “an amplification of the shame involved in being female,” an “enraging thing,” one that’s “kept alive by everyone who goes anywhere near a pregnancy.” 

Nostalgie de la Butch

The Guardian’s Julie Bindel, mentioned here recently, is once again unhappy with the world

Today, the old butches are a dying breed. The veterans of the Gateways [lesbian] club are now as likely to blend in with the rest of us than wear a suit, tie and starched shirt… During a recent trip to Sweden I thought most women I saw in the street were lesbians, and the men sitting around in cafes with their babies, gay dads.

Yes, it’s a bold statement. A classic sentence for our series. The gist of which being that the 53-year-old Ms Bindel, for whom radical lezzer is a profession, is having trouble telling which team a person, a younger person, is batting for. Imagine the indignity.   

A number of lesbians I know who are on the butch side have been asked [by other lesbians] when they are transitioning. Being openly and proudly butch has now… become something that many in the lesbian community look down on. At the same time, within gay male culture, being camp or in any way “feminine” is derided.

I don’t follow such things closely, or at all, but apparently bull dykes and mincing nancies are so last century. Affected burliness for gay ladies and girliness for gay gents is no longer deemed fashionable, and the quaint term “straight acting” has all but vanished into history. The donkey jacket dyke, of which Big Grumpy Jules is so fond, is now a museum piece. Well, a lot can change in half a century. However, this lack of enthusiasm for acting like a caricature is for some a source of rancour and rumblings of conspiracy:

This, I would argue, is a product of plain old sexism and misogyny.

This being the Guardian, Ms Bindel doesn’t offer much in the way of actual argument. But as fashions in lesbianism have changed since Julie’s first flush of youth back in the Seventies, this must be the doing of The Patriarchy and its phallic tentacles: 

Continue reading "Nostalgie de la Butch" »