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October 2016

Penetrating Insights

Lifted from the comments, another visit to academia’s Clown Quarter, where issues of deep and pressing import are probed good and hard:

In turning attention to this understudied and overdetermining space — the black anus — “Black Anality” considers the racial meanings produced in pornographic texts that insistently return to the black female anus as a critical site of pleasure, peril, and curiosity.

Hey, I’m just reading what it says here

And in other, entirely unrelated news

82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once. Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read. Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors.

A mystery, it really is.

Elsewhere (218)

Janice Fiamengo on academia’s sanctimonious totalitarians:

[Feminist academic] Jo Livingstone laments that “the tenured, particularly men, are exempt from the kind of character scrutiny to which ordinary employees are subjected.” It’s remarkable to find self-described “progressive” people calling for “character scrutiny” for professors. It sounds like something out of Victorian times: “We hope Professor Sandwell is a respectable man, moderate in his habits, prudent, correct in his opinions, and regular in church attendance.” It’s clear that these individuals would love to able to sanction their colleagues for thinking incorrectly about feminism.

Somewhat related

Brian Min finds more feminists exhibiting their trademark stoicism and level-headedness: 

Student organisers of the upcoming talk [a critique of feminism and pretentious victimhood] by scholar Christina Hoff Sommers put up roughly 50 flyers promoting the event on four different campus buildings at Columbia University and Barnard College earlier this month. Nearly all were torn down within 24 hours. Since then, the organisers replaced the originals, posting roughly 75 flyers throughout the Columbia and Barnard campuses. That prompted another series of bizarre reactions. Flyers at Barnard College have had Sommers’ face torn or clawed off… In Lerner Hall on Columbia’s campus, two young women lurked and took pictures of student organisers as they posted the flyers… One of the students organising the event was putting up flyers… when a female student came up to her and threw a cup of cereal and pretzels at her feet.

And Thomas Sowell on immigration and discernment: 

Sweden was, for a long time, one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world. As of 1940, only about one percent of the Swedish population were immigrants. Even as the proportion of immigrants increased over the years, as late as 1970 90 percent of foreign-born persons in Sweden had been born in other Scandinavian countries or in Western Europe. These immigrants were usually well-educated, and often had higher labour force participation rates and lower unemployment rates than the native Swedes. That all began to change as the growing number of immigrants came increasingly from the Middle East, with Iraqis becoming the largest immigrant group in Sweden.

This changing trend was accompanied by a sharply increased use of the government's “social assistance” programme, from 6 percent in the pre-1976 era to 41 percent in the 1996-1999 period. But, even in this later period, fewer than 7 percent of the immigrants from Scandinavia and Western Europe used “social assistance,” while 44 percent of the immigrants from the Middle East used that welfare state benefit. Immigrants, who were by this time 16 percent of Sweden’s population, had become 51 percent of the long-term unemployed and 57 percent of the people receiving welfare payments. The proportion of foreigners in prison was 5 times their proportion in the population of the country.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Friday Ephemera

Are you bregant or pergert? // “Have you got clouds stuck in your tongue?” // Conveyor belts. // Grim London. // Tiny, swarming robots. // Robots make tiny springs. // Sad chairs of academia. // When your problems multiply. // Mardi Gras Indians. Not known for toning it down. // African visitors to the Tower of London, 1949. // In search of Steve Ditko. // A six-year-old’s drawings brought to life. // Made with old newspaper. (h/t, Julia) // 10,000 things of possible interest. From the tree goats of Morocco to the Icelandic witchcraft museum. // How to bake Icelandic volcano bread. // Earliest known depiction of improper broom use. // Don’t look now but there’s something under the porch. // And finally, via Jen, and as it’s almost Hallowe’en, The Thing With Two Heads, 1972.

They Say It All Belongs To Them

But they don’t want to pay for any of it: 

Students at the University of California, Berkeley held a violent protest on campus Friday to demand additional segregated “spaces of colour” for non-white students. A video of the protest shows demonstrators repeatedly heckling white passers-by, barring them entry to a key bridge on campus by forming a human chain while simultaneously allowing students of colour to pass unmolested. Time and again, white students and professors were denied entry to the bridge as they were surrounded by aggressive protesters shouting “go around!” At one point, the video shows a protester refusing to allow an older white man to cross the bridge, eventually directing him to cross by way of a creek that flows underneath the bridge.

Because what could be sweeter than forcing people deemed too pale to literally walk through dirt?

But why such high passion, you ask?

When protesters were asked about the motive for their demonstration, they refused to be recorded, leaving little to no explanation for the rationale behind such an aggressive protest.

If you can endure this five-minute video of the protesters being theatrical and unpleasant, you may discern the usual inchoate rumblings of oppression, and outrage at the unfairness of being expected to pay one’s bills as agreed in writing. Apparently, the entire campus and surrounding streets now belong to them, i.e., a tiny subset of leftwing students, which conveniently excuses all manner of exciting behaviour, including harassing other students, to whom the campus presumably doesn’t belong. There’s also some anti-capitalist fervour aimed at local businesses and the on-campus student store, the mere existence of which is deemed an affront to socialist piety, prompting threats of further disruption, escalating in vehemence, “with the goal of eliminating any revenue generation.”

Such kind and lovely creatures. Not narcissistic at all.

However, the heaviest, most pressing grievance appears to be this:

Protesters were angered because one of their “safe spaces” was relocated to the basement of a building where it had previously occupied the fifth floor.

If, being sane, that doesn’t sound like something that could credibly justify two hours of shouting, shoving and screaming, let alone the obstruction of traffic, both on campus and at a nearby public intersection, to say nothing of thuggish behaviour and blatantly racist harassment, then you may be missing the point. Which is, that these things allow vain, vindictive mediocrities to exert power over others. All while cloaked by the moral anonymity of the mob dynamic, which allows those so inclined to behave in antisocial ways and get away with stuff. Everything else is window dressing. Including the protestors’ claims that the failure to provide a “safe space” of suitable commodiousness, befitting their self-imagined importance, is “part of the structural racism of UC Berkeley.”

And that word you’re looking for is “expel.”

A Shower And A Hot Meal

Patrons are reminded that this rickety barge is kept afloat by the kindness of strangers. If you’d like to help it remain buoyant for a while longer, there’s an orange button below with which to monetise any love for this low establishment. Debit and credit cards are happily accepted. For those wishing to express their love regularly, there’s a monthly subscription option top left. Additionally, any Amazon shopping done via this link or the search widget top right, or for Amazon US via this link, results in a small fee for your host at no extra cost to you. Think of it as a way to turn that filthy consumerism into an act of piety.

For newcomers wishing to know more about what’s been going on here for – blimey - close to ten years, the reheated series is a pretty good place to start. There you’ll find, among other things, a guide to rationalising sub-optimal life choices in the most grandiose way possible, and a feminist intellectual who tells us that “a curfew for men” and “an end to masculinity” are necessary and “make sense.” Along with some exhilarating performance art involving hand dryers, an artistic release of gas, and an unpopular leftwing novelist explaining why unpopular leftwing novelists deserve nicer homes than yours

If you can, do take a moment to poke through the discussion threads too. The posts are intended as starting points, not full stops, and the comments are where much of the good stuff is waiting to be found. And do please join in.

Again, thanks for the support, the comments, and the company. 

Elsewhere (217)

Niall Gooch on free speech and its enemies: 

Free speech, like the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence, is a procedural virtue, which is why fanatics and revolutionaries hate it… Defenders of free speech are arguing not only for free speech as an abstraction, but a wider culture of honest debate, factual argument, respectful disagreement, and civilised co-existence with people who see the world very differently from us. Complaints about attacks on free speech can be seen as proxies for concerns about the maintenance of this culture, particularly in the context of the university. So in a sense, free speech isn’t one thing. It’s many things. It’s a whole network of overlapping norms about the exchange of ideas. One thing that people commonly mean when they say “free speech” is “if I’m invited to give a talk somewhere I should be allowed to do so without intimidation, interruption or threat, and people who want to come and listen to me should be able to do so.”

Well, obviously, we can’t have that

Ed West on things you mustn’t laugh about: 

There are plenty of subjects that merit satire today – the diversity industry, with its shakedowns and professional bullshit artists is a rich seam, as is the transgender movement. But these areas really are too edgy for satirists, most of whom – like the vast majority of influential people in the arts – hold quite uncontroversial (left-liberal) political views and also fear the next wave of revolutionaries more than they do the ancien régime. That’s why they make jokes about the ancien régime. In fact there is plenty of edgy comedy these days – but it tends to be told in private.

Jonah Goldberg on the leftist leanings of the establishment media: 

According to a just-released study [by the Centre for Public Integrity], more than 96 percent of donations from media figures to either of the two major-party presidential candidates went to Hillary Clinton… Anyone who has spent a moment around elite reporters or studied their output knows that they tend to be left of centre. In 1981, S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman surveyed 240 leading journalists and found that 94 percent of them voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, 81 percent voted for George McGovern in 1972, and 81 percent voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976. Only 19 percent placed themselves on the right side of the political spectrum. Does anyone think the media have become less liberal since then? None of this means liberals — or conservatives — can’t be good reporters, but the idea that media bias is non-existent is ludicrous.

Continue reading "Elsewhere (217)" »

Friday Ephemera

Wait for it. (h/t, Damian) // Whiskers. // When steel wool burns. // Politically correct boy dolls with bonus adversity. // Mr Brown likes soup and noodles. // Because Hallowe’en is coming and there was lots of wool at hand. // Meanwhile, in the woods. // Careful what you wish for. // Shadow of note. // I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here. // And then the evening took a turn for the worse. // Stealthy. // Scary old time radio. // Origami spoon. // Data entry is a skill. // This. // Two cats. // How to hug a man: “You don’t want to give him any pleasure, physically.” // 60s Spider-Man reanimated. // Raymond Chandler chats with Ian Fleming, 1958. // Affect and effect. // Furry fan convention, 1989. // The first rule. // And finally, I think it was the cough medicine that did it.

A Mere Sliver Of His Brilliance

Mr Philip Fryer is, it says here, a Boston-based artist who “explores concepts of mortality, chaos and order, the body as a circuit, and the omnipresence of sound,” and whose work “draws connections between mortality, queer identity, chronic illness and memory decay.” Well, indeed. Obviously. In the all-too-brief video below, filmed at Boston’s Proof Gallery in September 2011, Mr Fryer performs a thrilling and ambitious piece titled Wall Melody, in which he “explores” the theme of commitment by holding down one note on a child’s musical toy, while accompanied by an unspecified power tool, operated elsewhere by persons unknown, for reasons unclear. Apparently, the work “mimics the drone of our blood flow, and gives us the opportunity to meditate on our own audio output.”

Sadly, I was unable to find video of the full one-hour performance. What follows is merely an appetiser, a highlight: 

Continue reading "A Mere Sliver Of His Brilliance" »

Elsewhere (216)

Via Franklin, Jamie Palmer and Sohrab Ahmari on the art world’s deadening ideological lockstep:

Patriarchy — that impregnable citadel of male privilege and the object of so much feminist anger and hatred — turned out to be a paper tiger, after all. Feminists discovered that in liberal democracies, radical activism can quickly become a casualty of its own success. Those for whom the attainment of political goals is less important than the romance of resistance itself, perversely require an immovable antagonist against which to hurl themselves. “Perhaps to their own disappointment,” Ahmari observes, “the identitarians today find that the liberal order has given in to most of their demands.”

Naomi Schaefer Riley on things you mustn’t notice or say out loud: 

Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam [a son of Indian immigrants] wanted to become a doctor like his mother. But upon realising how hard it was, he tried another route. He saw that a friend of his from a similar ethnic and educational background did not get into a single medical school. So he decided to pretend he was African-American. Despite mediocre grades and board scores, he was interviewed by 11 of the 14 elite medical schools he applied to and was admitted to one. Though he made no claim to be disadvantaged — admissions committees were aware that his parents were well-off professionals, that he went to expensive schools and that he needed no financial aid — he was treated like someone who needed a leg up in life merely because he was ‘black’.

And in three parts, Thomas Sowell on the left and the masses: 

One of the most recent efforts of the left is the spread of laws and policies that forbid employers from asking job applicants whether they have been arrested or imprisoned. This is said to be to help ex-cons get a job after they have served their time, and ex-cons are often either poor or black, or both. First of all, many of the left’s policies to help black people are disproportionately aimed at helping those blacks who have done the wrong thing - and whose victims are disproportionately those blacks who have been trying to do the right thing. In the case of this ban on asking job applicants whether they have criminal backgrounds, the only criterion seems to be whether it sounds good or makes the left feel good about themselves.

An empirical study some years ago examined the hiring practices of companies that did a background check on all the employees they hired. It found that such companies hired more black people than companies which did not. Why? Many employers, aware of higher rates of imprisonment among blacks, are less likely to hire blacks whose individual backgrounds are unknown to them. But those employers who investigate everyone’s background before hiring them do not have to rely on such generalisations. The fact that these latter kinds of employers hired more black people suggests that racial animosity is not the key factor, since blacks are still blacks, whether they have a criminal past or not. But the political left is so heavily invested in blaming racism that mere facts are unlikely to change their minds.

Parts two and three

Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Don’t Oppress My People With Your White Devil Science

In the video below, filmed at the University of Cape Town, members of the science faculty meet with student protestors who wish to “decolonise” the university and not pay their bills. During the meeting, one of the staff, one of the “science people,” points out that, contrary to claims being made by a student protestor, witchcraft doesn’t in fact allow Africans to throw lightning at their enemies. He is promptly scolded for “disrespecting the sacredness of the space,” which is a “progressive space,” and is told either to apologise or leave. The offended speaker, the one claiming that Africans can in fact throw lightning at each other - and who disdains “Western knowledge” as “very pathetic” - then uses the apparently scandalous reference to reality as the sole explanation for why she is “not in the science faculty.”

There being no other, perhaps more obvious, reason.

Continue reading "Don’t Oppress My People With Your White Devil Science" »

Friday Ephemeraren’t

As I’ve been pushed for time this week, I’m afraid you’ll have to assemble your own pile of links and oddities in the comments. I’ll set the ball rolling with a brief history of dog-headed men, some upscale teepees, an indoor levitating thundercloud that looks a bugger to dust, an updating global map of airport Wi-Fi passwords, and via Simen, an impending shipment of Russian bread that may contain trace impurities.  

Play nicely. And use coasters. I’ll be checking in later.