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December 2015

A Lively Gathering

This just in:  

A woman has been charged with attempted murder after stabbing another woman at the biggest art fair in the US, in an attack that was wrongly interpreted by onlookers as performance art.

No. Don’t. Bad dog.

Siyuan Zhao, from New York, was arrested after stabbing the victim’s arms and neck with an X-Acto craft knife during a fight at the Art Basel event in Miami Beach on Friday. The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to Jackson Memorial hospital with non-life-threatening injuries… While she was being patted down, Zhao spontaneously stated: “I had to kill her and two more.” She is also alleged to have said: “I had to watch her bleed!”

Both ladies are believed to have been patrons of the art fair, not rival exhibitors.

Other witnesses later thought the police tape cordoning the area was an art installation.

Via Julia and Chester.

Friday Ephemera

Um... // The Thingamagoop 3000. Go on, buy it for the wife. // Imperfect produce. // At last, porn studies: “In what ways do GIFs augment or displace long-form hardcore?” // Probing the mantle. // Making winter with crushed marble. // Marketing Margaret Thatcher, 1983: “The antiquated computer Labour has breaks down once a week.” // Symmetrical breakfasts. // Telescopes in motion. // Tiny tools. // A 10,000 year clock inside a mountain in Texas. // Don’t put metal objects in the MRI. // How to calm a crying baby. // Conflict resolution. // Courage and snow. // Customised, printable wrapping paper. (h/t, Things) // Racing snakes. // Hours of daylight. // The Hubble advent calendar. // “Is she with you?” // Why parents rarely want their children to be artists, part 16.

Never Knowingly Understated

This week, exhausted by the news, I dragged myself out of the house to a book fair, where I came across a new collection of utopian fiction by radical women.

Yes, dear reader. Laurie Penny is searching for comfort in this cruel, cruel world

When basic survival seems like a stretch goal, caught as we are between the rich and the rising seas, hope feels like an unaffordable luxury. The precise words I used to the bookseller were: “Shut up and take my money.”

Currently touring the United States, after touring much of Europe and visiting Australia, Laurie is once again explaining how hard it is to be radically left-wing, to be Laurie Penny, and how exhausting she finds the news.

There has never been a more urgent time for utopian ideas, precisely because the concept of a better world has never felt further away… Utopias require that we do the difficult, necessary work of envisioning a better world. This is why imagination is the first, best weapon of radicals and progressives.

And being radical and progressive herself, and of course heroic, Laurie is doing that “difficult, necessary work” before our very eyes, at a venue near you, by railing against “late-capitalist patriarchy.”  

From the anti-war movement to Occupy Wall Street to the reimagined Corbynite Labour party, everyone on the left are [sic] used to hearing… that we cannot point out what’s wrong with politics without instantly suggesting an alternative. This is nonsensical.

Expecting moral coherence and some concession to practicality is, says Laurie, “a great way of shutting down dissent.”

If you were being beaten up by a gang of armed thugs, you would be within your rights to demand that they stop doing so without listing alternative places they might land their blows – “not in my face” is enough. It is difficult to think clearly about a better world when you’re trying to protect your soft parts from heavy boots. 

Because forcibly ‘occupying’ the entrance to St Paul’s Cathedral, as Laurie and her comrades did in 2011, and blathering about “revolution” and an unspecified “new world order” – and then being laughed at as self-flattering and pretentious – that’s exactly like “being beaten up by a gang of armed thugs.” During the commotion in question, Laurie explained that the failure to generate a coherent, remotely practical set of demands – any at all - was due to “attacks from a hostile press while surviving sub-zero temperatures in central London.” Needless to say, during the ‘occupation’ the temperature in central London was, while Autumnal, never close to sub-zero.

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