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January 2018

Friday Ephemera

Autocorrect of note. (h/t, dicentra) || Unwanted caller. || Oh, Waitrose, never change. || Why blue is rare in nature. || 8-bit cat. || Abandoned castles. || “What a cute little chicken.” || How to take a photo of a stealth bomber flying over the Rose Bowl, from above. || Flying bathtub. Well, a hovering bathtub, but still. || The Bourne Identity (1988), starring... er, Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Japanese people attempt to eat Marmite. || The future is now. || Pretty fish. || Action figures. || This. || They do this better than you do. (h/t, Obnoxio) || The thrill of Bismuth. || Cardboard beings. || The Great Hedge of India. || Night light. || Norwegian train-driver cam. || A holiday memory to cherish. || And finally, painstakingly, marbles, magnets and music.

Slacking For Social Justice, Part Two

Laziness, apparently, is “a political stance.” Specifically

As political action, laziness… provides postqualitative inquiry with an additional tool for contributing to social justice via social research. Laziness combats the neoliberal condition in which academic research is situated and might serve as a virtue of postqualitative inquiry.

Ah, yes. The neoliberal condition of modern academia.

To meet social justice commitments, postqualitative inquiry must affirmatively disavow neoliberalism and confront it with new sets of materialist-empiricist toolkits for configuring assemblages in retaliation of the reductionist economic becomings and becoming-economies. We must refute our work. We must become lazy.

The author of this unhappy word-pile, Professor Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, is the department chair of higher education at the University of Denver. To spare you needless exposure to the professor’s prose, Greg Piper of The College Fix offers a handy summary

Unsurprisingly, the professor says the concept of laziness is used to harm poor people, nonwhites, “overweight individuals” and women. But they can also use laziness as a weapon against “the dominant power structure” by, for example, housekeepers “completing the minimum required to keep their jobs” to protest “the subjugation of their profession and personhood.”

Not hoovering under the sofa is, it turns out, a radical act, a feat of protest and empowerment.

The full paper can be perused here. Though I feel I should point out that it’s a wearying thing and may inspire thoughts of self-harm.

When not championing the doing of things in a tardy, half-arsed way, and driving his car back and forth over the English language, Professor Gildersleeve mingles with “historically marginalised communities” and “non-dominant youth,” where his prose and searing insights will no doubt prompt much nodding and the rubbing of many chins.  

Continue reading "Slacking For Social Justice, Part Two" »

Unsafe To Share

Further to the eye-widening James Damore saga of August last year, an update of possible interest

James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired after arguing that the gender gap in tech may be partially explained by sex differences among men and women, just filed a class-action lawsuit against Google in the Santa Clara, Calif., Superior Court. Damore came to fame after he wrote the now-infamous “Google manifesto,” where he pointed out that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech.” Filed Monday morning, the class-action lawsuit argues that Google discriminates against white conservative men on the basis of their “male gender” and “Caucasian race,” further alleging that there is “open hostility for conservative thought” in the Google workplace…

The lawsuit also alleges that Google employees were awarded bonuses for arguing against Damore’s views. In one example of this, a female employee was awarded a bonus for speaking out against the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” allegedly represented by Damore’s memo. Email excerpts sent among Google employees after Damore’s memo went public also illustrated pervasive hostility towards conservatives. “I intend to silence these views; they are violently offensive,” wrote senior engineer Colm Buckley in a message to his co-workers. He also wrote to co-workers that there are certain political views “which I do not want people to feel safe to share.”

The details of the lawsuit can be read here and some of the allegations are worth perusing. For instance, those regarding the widespread and enthusiastic use of “shitlists” to exclude and punish employees deemed insufficiently enthused by identity politics; and the apparent indifference of Google’s managers and HR department to harassing, demeaning or racial rhetoric when the targets of such language were white. A phenomenon illustrated by a manager, Chris Busselle, urging white employees – described as “schmucky” and “cheesy” on account of their pallor - to decline invitations to attend conferences; and by another manager, Liz Fong-Jones, who openly professed, in writing, that she “could care less about being unfair to white men.” A view she subsequently described as “absolutely reasonable.”


For those so inclined, and via Chris, there’s a crowdfunding option to help out with legal expenses.

Elsewhere (259)

Toni Airaksinen pokes through the scholarly journal Feminist Media Studies

“The purpose of including an abortion plotline is to make jokes about abortion, recognising that such satire is valuable for some people as both a means and an end,” [sociology lecturer, Gretchen] Sisson explains. “Comedy has often been used as a subversive way of challenging predominant social structures,” she adds, arguing that because comedy has a history of challenging taboo social issues, abortion “is even intuitive new ground for comedy to address.”

When not devising new realms of feminist comedy, Dr Sisson is an advocate of third-trimester abortion. And hey, destroying nascent human life - whether for health reasons, personal convenience, or as a display of feminist piety - what could be funnier?

David Solway on the comedy-cum-despair of being a college-level teacher: 

Where was one to start trying to educate an adult student who thought the Great Depression began in the 1960s; who was unable to distinguish between the First and Second World Wars; who thought that Moscow was the capital of Missouri… or who averred, in a paper on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, that “George Orwin, arthur of The Animal Firm, was heavily into natur.” You can’t make this stuff up. 

And Toni Airaksinen, again, on another educational breakthrough arrived at via feminism: 

Together, [professors] Laura Parson and Casey Ozaki interviewed eight female students majoring in math or physics to learn more about why women struggle in STEM. From their interviews, the professors learned that many women feel pressure to conform to so-called “masculine” norms. According to the professors, these masculine norms include “asking good questions,” “capacity for abstract thought and rational thought processes,” “motivation,” the expectation that students would be “independent” thinkers, and a relatively low fear of failure. “This requirement that the average student asks questions and speaks in class is based on the typical undergraduate man,” they contend.

Apparently, this “masculine” ideal – of diligence, rationality and a willingness to ask questions – “is very difficult for women students to achieve,” on account of female students not possessing an “unencumbered male body.” Dr Parson has of course entertained us before with her claims that the scientific method and notions of objective reality are “masculine” conceits and therefore oppressive. Instead, says she, we should rely on “feminist critical discourse,” of which her own writing is presumably an example. Again, if you think of modern leftism as a kind of perverse counsel, an attempt to erode realism, stoicism and self-possession, along with academic standards and expectations of competence, and to ruin the lives of the vain and credulous, it can save a lot of time.

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

The Thrill of Bowel Tremors

In fashionable-dining news

Wooden “plates” used by restaurants pose a food poisoning risk to people eating from them, a council has warned as it issued a £50,000 fine to a steakhouse where 14 people fell ill… Birmingham City Council brought the case against Ibrahim’s Grill and Steak House because it kept using the boards to serve food. A number of issues of concern were found, including a high level reliance on the use of disposable gloves, rather than staff washing hands. In addition, wooden plates which were incapable of being cleaned were being used to serve the food, the city’s magistrates’ court heard.

Setting aside the hygiene issues of abandoning ceramics in favour of grooved wooden chopping boards, there’s also the matter of presentational flair, which, as we’ve seen, ranges from the merely bizarre to the nakedly perverse. At a recent family lunch at an upscale village pub, the food and service were excellent but the dining was somewhat complicated by modish presentation. Specifically, a 30cm wide ‘plate’ that was about 70% rim, with a deep indentation in the centre, roughly the size of a coffee mug, into which the entire meal had been stacked, vertically. Imagine a layer cake of pork, potatoes and spinach. All tasty, certainly, but just a tad inaccessible.

Friday Ephemeraren’t

I’m easing into the new year much as one might lower one’s buttocks into an overly warm bath. Which, for you, means another thrilling opportunity to throw together your own pile of links and oddities in the comments. I’ll set the ball rolling with an extensive archive of Sherlock Holmes radio shows, over 500 of them; a jellyfish of note; a superhydrophobic surface; The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling, circa 1905; a nineteenth century spy camera; and, via Elephants Gerald, “Black Man Super Bikini” and other sub-optimal translations

Oh, and a reminder that snow makes people stupid.