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October 2015

An Odd Smell in the Basement

Looking for a new home? This could be for you is the first of its kind, web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at any valid US address. A Instant Report saves you time and money, by instantly providing you with valuable information that may impact your decision to purchase or rent a house.

The site tempts readers with a number of charming case studies involving unsolved murders, serial killing, meth lab mishaps, ladies belatedly found in chimneys, and decomposing occupants who did not in fact “move to Mexico.”

Well, it is Hallowe’en. 

Friday Ephemera

Can you tell what it is yet? // Oh, Waitrose. Never change. // On the making of Kubrick’s The Shining. // “Here’s Johnny.” // At last, an app for all you gin enthusiasts. // Handmade blown glass creatures. // Beware the brinicle. // Burning incense. // B-2 stealth bomber. // His aim is better than yours. // Why black athletes dominate certain sports. // Designer chocolate. // Cat is cat. // Cats caught mid-shake. // Katharine gives good cape. // Vincent Price channels Edgar Allan Poe. // Always keep your octopus entertained. // He feeds parakeets. // Cardboard Kraftwerk. (h/t, Anna) // Frightgeist, an interactive map of Hallowe’en costume trends. // And finally, via Dr W, “Through spiritual research we found that physical reasons are just one part of why sinkholes appear.” 

Those Baby Blues

Why I call my son ‘he’, against my better judgement. 

Yes, it’s a parenting column in the pages of the Independent, care of “non-binary” parent and pronoun contester, Dorian Stripe

It’s a question I’m asked occasionally: “why do you use gendered pronouns for your son?” It’s no surprise, as I move entirely in queer circles, and am a non-binary person who uses “they” pronouns for myself instead of “he” or “she.” So naturally people wonder why I’m not allowing my son that neutrality.

I’m not sure that wilfully disregarding your son’s biological sex, and actively challenging it with a hint of self-congratulation, is actually neutrality.

My son was born with a penis and testes. They were identified five months before he was born. Everyone around me had started to ask the fatal question, “boy or girl?” every time they saw my bump. My brain screamed “neither” – it’s nothing! It’s a bundle of cells that doesn’t even have fingers yet! 

Here’s a typical foetus at four months, a nascent human being. Or as Dorian puts it, “nothing… a bundle of cells.” Note the fingers. 

My employer bought me a weird, cutesy towel-tree in a pastel blue, with little cars and aeroplanes on it. I shudder to think what the girl towel-tree looked like.

Isn’t it just terrible when people buy you gendered baby gifts? The unenlightened fuckers.

I have a large, supportive biological family, who are (as the vast majority of people are) uneducated on trans issues and the nature of pronouns. While the majority of them support my right to parent how I wish, very few of them would respect “non-standard” pronouns – they would revert to using whichever pronoun they think matches his genitalia whenever I’m not in the room, and even when present, they would need constant correction.

Pronoun correction, it’s what brings a family together. Though when relatives do this kind of thing during pregnancy, I suspect they’re not cooing about foetal genitals as such, so much as the psychology, the maleness or femaleness, that they generally signify and prefigure. Those cooing relatives may be affectionately anticipating what kind of person that little “nothing” may become.

This gets to the heart of why I made this decision: using non-binary pronouns is exhausting. 

Well, quite. And at this stage of the game, it does look like an affectation that’s more about the parent than the child. After all, gendered pronouns are only apt almost all of the time.

Continue reading "Those Baby Blues" »

Elsewhere (183)

Thomas Sowell on tax and false promises: 

A recent article in the New York Times says that raising the tax rate on the top one percent of income earners to 40 percent would generate “about $157 billion” a year in additional tax revenue for the government. This ignores mountains of evidence, going back for generations, showing that raising tax rates does not automatically mean raising tax revenues -- and has often actually led to falling tax revenues. When the state of Maryland raised its tax rate on people with incomes of a million dollars a year or more, the number of such people living in Maryland fell from nearly 8,000 to fewer than 6,000. Although it had been projected that the tax revenue collected from such people in Maryland would rise by $106 million, instead these revenues fell by $257 million.

There was a similar reaction in Oregon and in Britain. Rich people do not simply stand still to be sheared like sheep. They can either send their money somewhere else or they can leave themselves. Currently, there are trillions of dollars of American money creating jobs overseas, in places where tax rates are lower. It is easy to transfer money electronically from country to country. But it is not nearly so easy for unemployed American workers to transfer themselves to where the jobs have been driven by high tax rates.

Heather Mac Donald on the “campus rape” pantomime: 

The mother of all campus rape surveys, conducted by feminist researcher Mary Koss and written up in Ms. magazine in 1985, found that 73 percent of respondents whom the study characterised as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped when asked the question directly. (Not surprisingly, campus rape researchers stopped asking that question. Campus rape researchers also quickly shelved an equally deflating question from the Koss survey: whether the victim had sex with her alleged rapist again. Forty-two percent of Koss’s alleged rape victims said that they had, another inconceivable outcome in the case of actual rape.)

And again, on crime and incarceration

Continue reading "Elsewhere (183)" »

Only Looking

Writing in the Independent, consultant psychologist Glenn Wilson reminds us of the benefits of, er, paedophilia:

In my studies of the Paedophile Information Exchange in the 1980s, many members admitted sexual feelings for children which they had been able to contain or turn to social good. Some gravitated toward occupations such as schoolteacher or social worker, where they could enjoy the company of children without plotting abuse. This fitted with personality profiles indicating that they were gentle, rational and not disposed to harm anybody.

It is, I think, commonly understood that people who fantasise about having sex with children who cannot legally consent – which is to say, who fantasise about raping children – often gravitate to jobs which place them in regular and intimate contact with their potential prey. And this, apparently, is a “social good.” Because every parent wants their child to have a teacher who harbours fantasies of molesting them. 


In the comments, David Gillies adds,

People who have a yen for shagging kids but no wish to act on it do not join an organisation called Paedophile Information Exchange. We know that PIE was not a support group to help people to control and overcome their urges but to actively enable them and even normalise them.

And likewise, if a person bedevilled by fantasies of child molestation seeks out employment among children, this doesn’t exactly signal the best of intentions or a basis for applause. And yet Dr Wilson thinks we should approve of paedophiles who claim to remain celibate yet seek out employment in positions of authority over children, and intimate contact with children, where temptation will be concentrated, routine, and much easier to act on, should one be so inclined. Supposedly, we should regard this as a “social good.” As if we’d struggle to find enough teachers without this selfless contribution.

Friday Ephemera

How to sing polyphonic overtones. A project for the weekend. // Potato toys. // Wooden watches. // Wooden cars. // Watch out for the switched-on kids. // Screenshot, 1983. // Chess set or choking hazard? // Balloon festivals. // I think it’s broken. // Northerners of yore. // New York’s feral cats. // An Arizona monsoon. // Screw the fish, admire the plants. // Swing riot. It’s the Sharks and the Jets all over again. // Dominoes of note. // Doorbell cam. // On the ageing of dogs. // Maximum dadliness. // “Atomic gardening” was a thing, apparently. // Passenger. // This. // And finally, I denounce the cultural appropriation.

Think Good Thoughts

Peter Hasson discovers that questioning the premise of microaggressions is itself now deemed a microaggression and therefore impermissible

The phrase “politically correct” is now a microaggression according to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The university’s “Just Words” campaign is the work of UWM’s “Inclusive Excellence Centre” and aims to “raise awareness of microaggressions and their impact” — microaggressions like “politically correct” or “PC.”

According to its mission statement, the Inclusive Excellence Centre “invests time, energy and resources to create a socially just campus in order to include different perspectives, engage in authentic and challenging dialogue, and build connections with vibrant and global communities.” And therefore, obviously, students are warned to avoid such emotionally crushing terms as “crazy,” “trash” and “thug.” The latter being particularly heinous because it “assumes that violence is the sole motivating factor in an action. Ignores issues of poverty, education and other institutional barriers. Used as synonym for Nigga/er.”

Regarding the offensive term “politically correct,” the centre’s website says

I’d like to add Politically Correct (PC) to [sic] program… and seek a way to succinctly outline/define PC for its basis, purpose [sic] especially how its [sic] used now to let people hide their bias but also minimize the pushback they received after contributing aggressive [sic].

As I said, excellence. 

But setting aside the intriguing prose, it’s all feelings, sensitivity and fluffy goodness. Good people with high minds and good hearts, doing good, good things. 

Interestingly enough, while the university’s Inclusive Excellence Centre has labelled several common-use adjectives harmful, the man running the campaign, Warren Scherer, the director of the university’s Inclusive Excellence Centre, has taken to Twitter to express his displeasure with Republican presidential candidates in a non-inclusive manner. Scherer tweeted “fuck every fibre of your being” to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and also accused him of “pandering to Republican Jews.” Scherer, who identifies himself as an UWM employee on his twitter profile, also accused presidential candidate Rand Paul of courting “rich Jews.”

I know. You’re shocked

Mr Scherer also shares his wisdom via YouTube

Update, via the comments: 

Continue reading "Think Good Thoughts" »

Elsewhere (182)

Douglas Murray on mass immigration and Simon Schama’s Question Time slip-up: 

In that use of [the intended put-down] ‘suburban’, Schama showed something a lot of us had suspected – which is that for a certain type of globe-trotting international celebrity, any concern for borders, national identity and cultural continuity are not just beneath them, but actively ‘common’. Of course, like so many other advocates of mass immigration, Simon Schama can live pretty much where he wants. And if the area around him goes somewhat downhill because the neighbours all start to come from the rougher corners of Eritrea then Simon Schama can move. And he will probably move to a very nice area. But not everybody has that choice. And one thing we can all be certain of is that Simon Schama will never choose to live in Bradford, Malmo or any of the (dare I say it) ‘suburbs’ outside Paris. Yet all the time he will urge other peoples’ neighbourhoods to more closely resemble those great success stories, and look down at people from an ever-loftier height when they dare to object.

Mr Schama currently lives in Briarcliff Manor, an affluent, very white village in Westchester County, New York. The kind of neighbourhood that has genteel regulations regarding alcoholic beverages and the public use of amusement devices.

Jim Goad on the Great Rape Migration:  

In Norway, the Aftenposten newspaper once notoriously changed a headline from “Foreigners over-represented in rape statistics” to “New sexual culture shapes attacks.” And when Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Press Society, dared to note Muslims’ over-representation in rape statistics, he was convicted of “hate speech” under Denmark’s penal code rather than being cheered by the country’s rape-obsessed feminists.

And Christopher Caldwell on Angela Merkel’s colossal gamble: 

Citizens of all the tiny countries that lie between the Middle East and Germany were witnessing a migration far too big for Germany to handle. They knew Germany would eventually realise this, too. Once Germany lost its nerve, the huge human chain of testosterone and poverty would be stuck where it was. And if your country was smaller than Germany — Austria, for instance, is a tenth Germany’s size — you could wind up in a situation where the majority of fighting-age men in your country were foreigners with a grievance.

Hm. I hadn’t planned one, but it seems there’s a theme of sorts. Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments. 

Friday Ephemera

The in-store music of K-Mart, 1989-1992. // Caffeinated peanut butter. // Build your own robot head. The wife will be thrilled. // Build your own overhead control panel. // On the crap that used to be advertised in 1970s comic books. // A museum of tiny film sets. // The hero’s journey. // Che or Hitler? // Los Angeles time-lapsed. // Leonard Nimoy reads The War of the Worlds (1976). // The lights of Moscow underground. // On greed. // How to skin a sex doll. // Arthur Conan Doyle’s favourite Sherlock Holmes stories. // On Stalin’s rise to powerPart 2. // Tree stump house, 1930s. // Enormous, very slow laundry-folding robot. // The Red Drum Getaway. // “The dead outnumber the living 14 to 1.” // And why parents rarely want their children to be artists, part 15

With Each Thrust

From the New York Times, Jennifer Medina on sex education for teenagers:

Consent from the person you are kissing — or more — is not merely silence or a lack of protest, Shafia Zaloom, a health educator at the Urban School of San Francisco, told the students. They listened raptly, but several did not disguise how puzzled they felt. “What does that mean — you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?” asked Aidan Ryan, 16, who sat near the front of the room. “Pretty much,” Ms. Zaloom answered. “It’s not a timing thing, but whoever initiates things to another level has to ask.

So what I’m wondering is, how do you combine “making sure each step is met” with “oral assent” in advance – a kind of self-conscious box-tickery - with a sense of, well, wild abandon? “I’m planning to reach for your bra strap, my volcanic love muffin. Is that okay?”