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May 2018

The Laurie Penny Chronicles

Following a number of enquiries as to why I don’t have a specific tag for items involving the cartoonish Laurie Penny, I thought I’d compile a few of my posts on the British left’s foremost unreliable narrator. It’s necessarily incomplete – there are several short posts and endless, lengthy comments I haven’t included – but it should convey a flavour of Laurie’s intermittent relationship with reality, her ongoing struggles with logic, and her delightful personality. 

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You Look Like You Need Some Art

And 8 minutes should do it. Specifically, 8 minutes of Ms Sandrine Schaefer, whose Pace Investigations No. 7, seen in edited form below, “asks how one copes with acceleration and deceleration while enduring institutional mediation, shared space, and other external forces.” Well, obviously. This immense artistic work, “repeats 15 times consecutively over 6 hours and 27 minutes. In each cycle, the performance duration is either increased or decreased by half.” And thus, “What begins as a 1 minute performance incrementally becomes a 2 hour 13 minute performance, then incrementally becomes a 1 minute performance again.” “The tension between mechanical and affective time is,” we’re told, “always palpable.”

A tension illustrated by the deafening applause that greets the climax of Ms Schaefer’s performance, and by the lady seen on the right, around 1:30, who enters this arena of profound activity armed with carrier bags, and who then looks unsure of what to do, before heading to the adjacent cafeteria, seen on the left, where a fortifying beverage is purchased. It’s nail-biting stuff. And do stay tuned for Ms Schaefer’s much-anticipated revisiting of the Great Coat Hanger Feat - seen previously here - not once, but many times. 

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Radical Moderation

Or, How Dare You Not Perform Our Fashionable Contortions.   

In times of extremism, moderation itself can come to seem the greater enemy to those ideologically possessed, in part because it is the true danger: The public will tend to move toward it by default, and thus the instinctive recourse by those who sense the fragility of their extreme doctrines to resort to coercive means to prevail in arguments they would not otherwise win.

Speaking, as we were, of the more mendacious and hysterical reactions to Jordan Peterson by activists and journalists (and increasingly, activist-journalists) – here’s Wesley Yang on the same

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Against Hate, You Say

Further to this unedifying exchange, more mouthings of the woke:

Some of us identify as queer, non-binary, asexual, femme, men, POC, etc. We are your neighbours, we are your co-workers, we are concerned citizens who feel that one does not need to be part of an organisation or pre-existing group to speak up and oppose oppression wherever it rears its ugly head.

So says Humans Against Hate, a group of anonymous Portland activists who rail against the “oppression” of ideas being discussed, and whose implied definition of neighbourliness is, shall we say, intriguing.

You see, if Jordan Peterson is permitted to speak to people who wish to hear him and wish to ask him questions, then the venue being hired will be assailed by a mob of ill-informed Mao-lings, for whom Peterson’s arguments exist only as caricature, and who promise to “disrupt” not only the event in question, thereby spoiling the evening of roughly 3,000 people about whom the Mao-lings know nothing, but also other, unrelated events, involving unrelated people, just because they can. “We will not stand for bigots coming to our city,” say these self-imagined warriors, these champions of the downtrodden.

Because harassing random people and ruining their evenings, while exulting in the thrill of mob coercion and intimations of thuggery, is what people who aren’t full of hate do, apparently.

Friday Ephemera

Decisions, decisions. || Only 100 “diversity” bureaucrats? || Today’s word is symbolism. || When you spot buskers covering your song. Also, Dinosaur. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Proximity alert. At times, 18 inches. || The practical problems of using an Earth-Moon fire pole. || Pecking order, illustrated. (h/t, Darleen) || Liverpool, 1975. || Slow-motion magnetism. || Lava, filmed from above. || The hot cheese gun you’ve always wanted. || Joke of note. || Corn of note. (h/t, Damian) || Carved in stone by a clever monkey. || It could kick off at any moment. || Controls of yore. || Customise your soundscape. || Accelerated coral. || The foot-long hammerhead flatworm invasion. || Pay it forward. || And finally, “Staff noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from his hotel room.”

Elsewhere (273)

Natalie Solent on magical thinking, then and now:

Nongqawuse was a fifteen year old Xhosa girl who in 1856 had a vision in which three ancestral spirits told her that if the Xhosa people showed their trust by destroying their crops and killing their cattle, then on the appointed day the spirits would raise the dead, bountifully replace all that was destroyed, and sweep the British into the sea. Thousands believed this prophecy and slaughtered their cattle. But the dead slept on and the British remained in place. Nongqawuse explained that this lack of action was due to the amagogotya, the stingy ones, who had kept their cattle back from slaughter. She urged everyone to greater efforts. A new date was set for the prophecy to finally come true. The rate of cattle-killing rose to a climax. Eventually the Xhosa lost patience, and, with remarkable mercy, handed Nongqawuse over to the British. By then famine had reduced the population of British Kaffraria from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000.

Do click for the ‘now’ part.

Konstantin Kisin on the unhappy realities of ‘progressive’ utopia: 

These enemies of the [Soviet] state included my great-grandparents who met in a concentration camp for political prisoners. Every morning at their camp, three people would be picked out at random from the general population of the camp and thrown into the icy waters of the lake to freeze and drown in full view of the other prisoners to ‘keep things under control.’ With this background, I am —perhaps understandably— hypersensitive to the emerging far-left in Western politics. I can’t help noticing similarities in the rhetoric about “eradicating inequality,” “smashing the class system,” and a new age of “radical egalitarianism.” And when I do, I shudder, because… it’s a reminder of the unforgiving reality that those who don’t realise how good they have it, or take their lives of plenty for granted, are vulnerable to demagogic ideologies that promise to tear it all down to build a ‘better tomorrow.’

At which point, these budding intellectuals came to mind. 

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Friday Ephemera

An interesting approach. || A notable misunderstanding of how a chair works. || That time it rained meat. Lung tissue, specifically. || When obnoxious mediocrities get a taste for power. || Pizza delivery of note. (h/t, Obo) || The eternal struggle. (h/t, Julia) || Einstein’s flying car, 1931. || Consequences. || Stems. || What’s that smell? || Space without the space. || Stumbling on the Moon. || An interactive gulag map. || Best not to, I think. || 6,000 years of history, 1858. || How they see themselves. || Hardcore dude. || Commodity City. || “You cannot go round a corner in fourth.” || Foxes. || Fallout. || Life is unfair. || And finally, your time here is finite: “If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them.”

Elsewhere (272)

Via Herb Deutsch, Heather Mac Donald on identitarian dogma versus scientific proficiency: 

Yale has created a special undergraduate laboratory course that aims to enhance minority students’ “feelings of identifying as a scientist.” It does so by being “non-prescriptive” in what students research; they develop their own research questions. But “feelings” are only going to get you so far without mastery of the building blocks of scientific knowledge. Mastering those building blocks involves the memorisation of facts, among other skills. Assessing student knowledge of those facts can produce disparate results. The solution is to change the test or, ideally, eliminate it. A medical school supervisor recently advised a professor to write an exam that was less “fact-based” than the one he had proposed, even though knowledge of pathophysiology and the working of drugs, say, entails knowing facts.

Note too the claim, by the National Science Foundation, that progress in science requires a “diverse STEM workforce,” seemingly regardless of how this goal is arrived at. And as if the insufficiently “diverse” scientists previously supported by the NSF, and who between them have racked up a mere 200 Nobel Prizes, were somehow under-performing due to antiquated expectations of actual competence.

Also at Yale, this. Because an “emotional support guinea pig” is now a thing that exists.

Noah Rothman on the cost of universities’ administrative bloat: 

In the 20-year period from 1985 to 2005, the number of administrators increased at universities by 85 percent while the number of students and faculty increased by only 50 percent. In that same period, the number of administrative staff ballooned by a staggering 240 percent. It is no coincidence that in nearly the same period… the cost of achieving a higher education exploded. Between 1985 and 2011, the cost of a four-year degree increased by 498 percent while consumer inflation rose by just over 100 percent.

And Toni Airaksinen smells more money being burned in the name of wokeness

The University of California-Irvine Esports programme is looking to help promote “social justice” in the competitive gaming industry. 

Consequently, computer-games enthusiasts will be “required to undergo ‘diversity and inclusion’ trainings.”

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

Laurie Has A Sister

And so

Laurie's sister airs her brains.

Lifted from the comments, where Jen asks an inevitable question

Does she think Israel is ‘whiter’ than Estonia?

Geographically and demographically, it’s all rather confusing. What with the violent logic of whiteness. But like so many others, the above isn’t a load-bearing statement; it’s just there for effect. To alert us to an eruption of wokeness, and therefore superiority. Eleanor Penny, by the way, is not only an editor for Red Pepper, but also a senior editor for Novara Media. Where socialists and feminists, and socialist feminists, rub their throbbing brains until something oozes out.

Via Obnoxio