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April 2016

Friday Ephemera

Checkout nightmare. // Scientific discovery of note. (h/t, Captain Nemo) // New York at an angle. // How ink is made. // An interactive map of global shipping. // Stylish prosthesis. // “Doctors amputated her leg, removed the knee, then re-attached the rest of the leg backwards.” // Living dolls. // Defend the galaxy in a retro-super-80s style. // // Expired goods. // Everything you need to know about porn parodies. // Euphemism of note. // Insect portraits. // Painted toenail stockings. // Legs & Co vs Laurie Anderson, 1981. I believe the term is “conceptual nightmare.” // The vault of VHS packaging. // Stasi aesthetics. (h/t, Coudal) // Trend of note. // Water 2.0 // Washing the dog. // Walking the walk. // All the fries. // And finally, fire in a jug goes whoosh.

This Is My Shocked Face

Attention, citizens. A hate crime has been detected at Salisbury University:

The image, found April 10 on a whiteboard in Blackwell Library, showed a stick figure being hanged and labelled with a racial slur. Underneath was the hashtag “#whitepower.”

That’s this image here

After much wailing and fretting, and declarations of being “passionate about diversity and inclusion,” and after the involvement of police and the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office, the white supremacist culprits have now been apprehended:

The university confirmed Tuesday, April 26, that the students involved in the incident were black.

Why, it’s almost as if fabricating racial animus were fashionable on campus. And of course beyond

He’s Being Rugged, And We Can’t Have That

In the pages of the Guardian, masculinity is once again being piously disdained. This time by Mr Grayson Perry, a part-time transvestite and maker of unattractive pottery

The Turner prize-winning artist has turned his sights on the survivalist [Bear Grylls] and his exceptionally rugged version of masculinity, arguing that it isn’t fit for the 21st century. “He celebrates a masculinity that is useless,” Perry said… Perry said that the masculine ideal presented by shows such as The Island, in which Grylls is currently putting a third group of hapless contestants through survivalist hell, is making it harder for men to successfully negotiate modern life. “Men might be good at taking the risk of stabbing someone or driving a car very fast, but when it comes to opening up, men are useless,” Perry told the Radio Times in an interview to promote his new series, All Man.

And then, because we haven’t had one in a while, a classic Guardian sentence:

“Masculinity is a decorative feature that is essentially counter-productive.”

Well, it’s true that rafting skills and urine-drinking may be niche concerns and of obvious practical use only to explorers, hardy outdoors types, and people whose package holidays have gone catastrophically wrong. But – and it’s quite a big one - there’s something to be said for seeing people in unfamiliar and rather trying circumstances achieving more – sometimes much more - than they thought they ever could. Which is both the premise and appeal of Mr Grylls’ various, quite popular TV programmes. However, showing people that they may be much more capable than they previously believed, resulting in a sense of great personal satisfaction, is apparently unimportant, a mere “hangover” from more primitive, less Guardian-friendly times.

Regarding the claim that masculinity is functionally obsolete and is now merely decorative, and at risk of seeming unkind, readers are invited to compare the mugshots of Mr Perry and Mr Grylls, these two contrasting expressions of modern masculinity, and ponder which is likely to attract the more widespread and vigorous sexual attention. Or indeed which of them might be more likely to prevail in a more hazardous physical exchange – say, an attempted mugging. And on the supposed uselessness of archetypal masculine skills, Mr Grylls’ lengthy television career, his extensive property portfolio, and his estimated annual earnings from UK merchandising alone of £3.3 million, rather speaks for itself.

Elsewhere (197)

Joshua Yasmeh on the travails of attempting to speak on a left-leaning campus: 

Ben Shapiro spoke to the students at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, which purports to be a “Christian, liberal arts college.” Unfortunately, there was nothing “Christian” or “liberal” about the administration’s decision to censor all video coverage of Shapiro’s speech. Luckily, the ever-resourceful Shapiro decided go full MacGyver, evading the Orwellian police and streaming a live broadcast via Periscope with his own selfie stick.

The video, selfie stick and all, can be viewed here

Dave Huber on the public’s general preference for men’s sporting events over women’s: 

If you’re a sports fan (like me) who likes to watch the very best athletes engaged in the highest level of competition, then Daniela Brighenti’s article in the Yale Daily News won’t make a lot of sense to you. Desiring to watch the best sporting events, you see, is merely a “societal (and cultural) bias” against women.

And further to this farcical episode, the arrest of serial vandal and race-baiter Denzel McDonald has apparently caused uproar and searing mental trauma across campus, or at least among other pernicious little clowns in the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Afro-American Studies:

“We will be walking out of our classrooms to stand in solidarity with him and to organise against the anti-Black racism that has plagued our campus historically and contemporarily,” organisers state on Facebook. “We will be delivering our demands to the Chancellor and UWPD and need student support. We have to let them know that there are consequences for perpetuating white supremacy.”

Because when the police calmly and politely arrest a thug who’s wanted for threatening behaviour and 11 counts of vandalism, causing thousands of dollars of damage - specifically, by spraying deranged anti-white racist graffiti on campus walls – then this arrest somehow constitutes “white supremacy.” And the real victims here, apparently, are professors of Afro-American Studies - who, along with their students, are supposedly experiencing “a version of post-traumatic stress syndrome” and “a mental health crisis as serious as those following campus shootings or natural disasters.” 

Continue reading "Elsewhere (197)" »

Friday Ephemera

Apollo 17 in real time. // Real-time Titanic sinking. // Thrill small children with an E.T. barbecue. // The bohemian coffee bars are coming. (1959) // The museum of talking boards. (h/t, Coudal) // Lovely, nasty molecules. // 100 years of memorable shots. // Overly dramatic moray. // Sid James admires various markets, where you can buy sarsaparilla, eels and other “queer grub.” // Heavy Metal Parking Lot, 1986. // Hong Kong fog. // Other people’s trash. // The northernmost town on Earth. // Indulge yourself by shopping for your own private island. (h/t, Things) // Where the Earthlings live. // Can you spot the speakeasy? // “I’ve met people who said my father ruined them.” // And finally, it’s 1954 and John Gielgud is Sherlock Holmes with Orson Welles as Moriarty.

When Bedlamites Gather

Following his appearance at a “white privilege” conference, a white male sociologist corrects a small factual error - and is promptly denounced

You see, politely correcting a factual error - and thereby revealing an insinuation of “white supremacy” as absurd - is somehow proof of “defensiveness,” “white fragility,” and, by implication, latent white evil

Via Damian, who adds, “It doesn’t matter how actually correct you are; you will never appease the politically correct.” Quite. Because the drama, indignation and passive-aggressive spite must go on indefinitely. How else will people know their place in the egalitarian pecking order, and to whom they should defer, always and forever?

Unhappy Camper

My whole life, I had struggled with patterns of behaviour and emotion that I knew were “bad,” but couldn’t seem to control. I lied compulsively about things that didn’t make sense. I was terrified of being abandoned, to the point that I became furiously, sometimes abusively, upset if I thought that my friends were hanging out without me. I was full of self-loathing and anger that I bottled up, and then released by self-injuring.   

Yes, we’re visiting the pages of Everyday Feminism. How could you tell? 

And, of course, I had grown up as a closeted trans girl of colour in a cis, white supremacist society.  

So far, so humdrum.

Ever since I could remember, I had been filled with rage and fear and self-loathing as a result of the constant messages that society, friends, and family sent me that said I was deviant, bad, wrong to the core.

A chronic rage that, we’re told, prompted some introspection, of a sort, and a peek inside a textbook on abnormal psychology:

My “symptoms” fit the profile of a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition closely associated with psychopathy. It was, the textbook said, historically considered untreatable.

Oh, I’m sure lashings of strident feminism and identitarian seething will put that right in no time. No? The author of this cheerless tale, Ms Kai Cheng Thom, a “trans woman writer, poet and performance artist based in Montreal,” then goes on to bemoan the fact that “disorders like violent psychopathy” are “generally considered unlikeable,” possibly hazardous, “even in social circles that consider themselves progressive.” And that, while the public at large may be sympathetic towards people suffering clinical depression, “compassion for psychopaths, pathological liars, or narcissists” is, inexplicably, harder to come by. It’s all terribly unfair. Because incorrigible monsters bent on the manipulation and harm of others have feelings too:  

Continue reading "Unhappy Camper" »

Elsewhere (196)

Via Bobby in the comments, Michael Wolff on the visions and follies of former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger: 

If selling had been part of his job description, Rusbridger, who never met a pound he had to earn that didn’t disgust him in some visceral way, would have been disqualified long ago. Indeed, his early enthusiasm for the internet - and a continuing principle of faith for him - was that it was free. The corollary, that free had to be supported by advertising, was one of those cause-and-effects that it was Rusbridger’s unique gift to be able to wholly ignore… Having made a personal and moral commitment to free - both as a political principle and as a way to advance the scope of the Guardian’s message - he was confronted, and confounded, by the reality that he had no way to monetise his business.

Readers may recall the Guardian’s short-lived brand expansion into the world of trendy Shoreditch coffee shops, which the paper styled as “the future of open journalism,” a supposedly “data-driven” hub of Fair Trade beverages and online journalistic collaboration, and which was opened without Wi-Fi

Blake Neff on destroying children’s futures in the name of “social justice”: 

While the traits listed [being rigorous and punctual, speaking grammatical English] may simply be regarded as positive traits for success in the modern world, Dr Heather Hackman described them as traits chosen and emphasised to favour whites to the detriment of non-white groups, who are forced to assimilate ‘white’ traits such as good discipline and goal orientation or else be left behind. Hackman’s solution, then, is to train teachers to move away from all these aspects of ‘white privilege’ in education. She routinely touted the benefits of collective assessments (measuring student learning at the class level instead of determining whether each student knows the material), as well as eliminating all school grades entirely.

I share the above in case any readers had assumed that Dr Caprice Hollins, who dismisses foresight, diligence and punctuality as “white values,” must be a one-off absurdity. Alas, no.

Continue reading "Elsewhere (196)" »

Friday Ephemera

Your very own coffee shop ambience. // Chewable coffee cubes. // I’m pretty sure they drugged him. // Sensible advice for the inexperienced gardener. // They were photographed on arrival and again after three glasses of wine. // My hovercraft is full of eels. // Talk to a random Swede. // Reminder. // RDS-37. // In a cupboard I have records that sound like this. // Their spinning top tricks are way better than yours. // Well, can you accurately draw a bicycle from memory? (h/t, Damian) // Bathing bears. // Doctor Strange. // Nose hair trimmer of note. // On the economics of tent pole movies. // Oh, this would never get annoying. // This. // This is one of these. (h/t, Coudal) // On “vegan sexuality” and “meat-free sex.” (h/t, Stephen Keating) // Heather Mac Donald on the anti-rational horseshit that is “critical race theory.” Also this. // Could you outrun your own fart? // And finally, conscientiously, he’s just checking on the chickens.

So Cruelly Unappreciated

The Guardian is attempting to convince readers that its columnists - those heroic truth-to-power-speakers – are, unlike writers for any other national paper, continually besieged by an ungrateful rabble, and that an alleged avalanche of sexist, racist readers’ comments proves how righteous and heroic said columnists are in their truth-to-power speaking. Amid this tale of adversity and woe, we find the following, by columnist Jessica Valenti:

Imagine going to work every day and walking through a gauntlet of 100 people saying “You’re stupid,” “You’re terrible,” “You suck,” “I can’t believe you get paid for this.” It’s a terrible way to go to work.

As many readers will know, Ms Valenti is famed for her ability to mouth mutually dissonant ideas on a regular basis, thus attracting the mockery that so offends her, and while construing double standards as the pinnacle of righteousness. As, for instance, when invading the privacy of a random male commuter on the Tube by snooping at the contents of his phone, apparently at length, and then condemning his “passive sexism.” Apparently Ms Valenti’s fellow passenger wasn’t reading enough tweets by women and was therefore to be denounced in the pages of a national newspaper. Ms Valenti went on to assert, via Twitter, that on the Tube women have “no expectation of privacy” because they’re seen as “public property.” Unlike male passengers who find themselves sitting next to a nosey Guardian columnist who’s desperate for something to bitch about in the name of feminism.

And this is the same Jessica Valenti who insists that feminists such as herself “absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men,” before dismissing even the concept of misandry, which she frames in scare quotes, and adding, immediately, “but so what if we did?” And Ms Valenti says this while sharing photos of herself exulting in the sorrows of male readers, and while urging her fellow feminists to buy fashion items that depict men being stabbed for the sin of being romantic. And of course while complaining that some of her readers don’t find her sufficiently gifted and coherent as a cultural commentator.

Charm School

I don’t want to have a civil discussion. I want to call you assholes.

For those who missed it in the comments, here’s a brief but telling video of a delightful exchange of wits, in which Ms Sarah O’Donnell, a student of creative writing and environmental studies at Denison University, berates a couple of gentlemen ostensibly for their advocacy of free markets, but especially and most passionately for their whiteness and maleness. A combination that is, it turns out, self-evidently sinful.

Even though we’ve seen this kind of airy posturing many times, it’s still quite odd to watch someone who’s basically a walking caricature of haughty, ignorant self-satisfaction. And so, when her belligerence, non sequitur and obnoxious racial comments are questioned, politely, Ms O’Donnell sidesteps explanation and instead resorts to theatrical sighs and dismissive eye-rolling - and further gratuitous insults - as if disdaining white men for being, well, male and white were some kind of moral full stop.

The thing is, when Ms O’Donnell says, “I don’t want to have a civil discussion. I want to call you assholes,” I think that’s a moment of inadvertent truthfulness. Evidently, she does want to abuse people, given the slimmest possible opportunity. The rest, it seems, is pretext, a rickety attempt to justify being obnoxious. In fact, if you assume a malign disposition as the starting point, the incoherent politics starts to make a kind of sense, if only as a vehicle for indulging that disposition and giving it an excuse to be what it is.

I suppose you have to ask what kind of personality would seek out and embrace a dogma that offers endless opportunities to berate and abuse strangers, based only on their most trivial and generic attributes. A dogma that practically obliges you to do this. What kind of person would want to spend time ostentatiously scolding white males for being white and male? More broadly, what kind of psychological misfit would choose to harangue and assault a passing stranger for having the ‘wrong’ kind of hairstyle? And what kind of person spends their afternoon thwarting and intimidating random strangers who are trying to hear a lecture, and making them fear for their safety, to the extent of pushing people underfoot, kicking them repeatedly, and then lying about it?

To my eye at least, and contrary to their imaginings, Ms O’Donnell and her peers are not good people. They’re merely seeking out opportunities for leverage and malice without the usual risk of pushback. Suppose for a moment that I were a malicious little shit and wanted to spend lots of time harassing people, shoving them, scaring them, and mouthing racial abuse. In the real world I’d run a definite risk of censure, social disapproval and possibly a good kicking. But if I were at an Ivy League university and invoked “social justice,” claiming my behaviour was a reaction to some nebulous oppression, there’s a very good chance I’d be accommodated, encouraged, even applauded. And for a certain kind of person, you can see the appeal.

[ Updated via the comments. ]