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November 2018

Friday Ephemeraren’t

Because I’m busy, you’re getting a chance to assemble your own pile of links and oddities in the comments. I’ll set the ball rolling with a rudely interrupted live-stream of note; a compendium of real-time air-traffic audio streams; via Damian, the thrill of Antarctic bore hole noises; via Pogonip, the bedtime companion of your dreams; and not one, but two items of flatulence-related news.

Oh, and Big Knickers

Hear The Lamentations Of Unstable Leftist Women

Or, The Orange Man Wrecked My Marriage:

By now it’s a truism to point out that the election of Donald Trump… [has] prompted a wholesale realignment of American politics. But it’s also sent shock waves through heterosexual romance.

In the piously left-leaning New York magazine, Molly Langmuir invites us to sympathise with the inner turmoil of activist ladies who are blaming their unhappy marriages, their divorces and estrangements, and pretty much everything, on the continued existence of Donald Trump. There’s quite a bit of mental jungle to hack through, so bring a packed lunch:

29 percent of respondents to a May 2017 survey said their romantic relationship had been negatively affected by Trump’s presidency. And even people ostensibly on the same side of the issues as their partner have run into challenges, with the climate exacerbating or revealing new fault lines. 

Ms Langmuir introduces us to several pseudonymous couples and singletons – people for whom the merest deviation in thought has proved too much to bear. First up, we meet Kirsten:

Growing up, my parents were very liberal. My dad’s gay, he’s been with his husband now for over 40 years. That was my normal. My mom remarried a guy who’s very liberal. 

Okay, then.

In high school, I also had a major drinking problem, 

No. Don’t. We mustn’t rush to judge.

I was an art major at this big university…

Though, admittedly, she’s not making it easy.

Continue reading "Hear The Lamentations Of Unstable Leftist Women" »

Dialogue, She Says

Writing in the Guardian, Hannah Jane Parkinson bemoans a modest reduction of the Arts Council’s budget:

This philistine government is betraying the arts

It goes without saying that the 6% budget trim, £39m of a total £622m budget, is presented in the most ominous possible terms, using a four-year figure, presumably to induce gasps of outrage. We also get the line, wheeled out repeatedly by the Guardian, that,

The creative industries contribute £90bn net to the UK economy.

A framing that not only jars with demands for further public subsidy, but which slyly conflates actual, self-supporting businesses, including TV production companies, designers and games developers, with the kind of fare more likely to be subsidised by the Arts Council

So far, so Guardian. And then there’s this:

There seems to be no recognition of how powerful the arts can be in educating audiences, reflecting current events, exploring different views and opening up dialogue. In the past year alone, I have enjoyed Nicholas Hytner’s version of Julius Caesar at The Bridge, influenced by Trump’s America; The Jungle’s tale of life in the Calais refugee camp; Alan Bennett’s Allelujah!, a celebration of the NHS. 

Readers will note that the artistic projects deemed exemplary are somewhat uniform in their default politics, which seem unlikely to differ much, if at all, from those of the typical Guardian columnist, or the typical Arts Council employee, or indeed the typical beneficiary of Arts Council largesse. Perhaps, then, we can hazard a guess as to Ms Parkinson’s definitions of “opening up dialogue” and “exploring different views.” 

Continue reading "Dialogue, She Says" »

Friday Ephemera

A switched-on hepcat works her sweater like a pro. (h/t, Damian) || His handmade paper toys are better than yours. || Some people are just hard to please. || Woke pattern of note. || Bookcase inserts. || Minimals. || Manufacturing pencils. || Always respect the media. || The Manhoff Archives: Stalin’s Soviet Union in colour. (h/t, Coudal) || A (fairly) brief guide to flu jabs. || An unexpected turn of events. || Scenes. || This. || Twisted knickers. || As we’ve seen, repeatedly, Shoreditch is vibrant and diverse. || Darts post-game interview of note. || Real-time orbit in high definition. || And via Monty James, it turns out men have always wanted their own “imperceptible” foundation and waterproof eyebrow pencils.

Feminism Versus Scrabble

Heather Mac Donald on the obvious-but-seemingly-unthinkable:

Since the World Scrabble Championship began in 1991, all winners have been male. The North American Scrabble Championship has had one female winner (in 1987) since its founding in 1978. All eight finalists in this year’s French World Scrabble Championships were men. Competitive Scrabble constitutes a natural experiment for testing the feminist worldview. According to feminist dogma, males and females are identical in their aptitudes and interests. If men dominate certain data-based, abstract fields like engineering, physics and math, that imbalance must, by definition, be the result of sexism—whether a patriarchal culture that discourages girls from math or implicit bias in the hiring process.

But there are no cultural expectations that discourage females from memorising dictionaries—a typical strategy of competitive Scrabble players, often in a foreign language that the player doesn’t speak. Girls are as free as boys to lap up vocabulary. Nor are there misogynist gatekeepers to keep females out of Scrabble play; the game, usually first learned at home, is open to all. According to Hasbro, 83% of recreational Scrabble players 25 to 54 are female.

Championship Scrabble, however, rewards typically male obsessions: strategy, math, a passion for competition, and a drive to memorise facts. [World Scrabble Champion, Nigel] Richards’s mother told the Guardian in 2015 that he “related everything to numbers” when he was growing up. Feminists will need to employ circular logic to conjure forth a discriminatory barrier in Scrabble: Males’ excellence at a certain activity itself keeps females out. But that leaves unanswered the question of how males came to excel at Scrabble—or any other abstract, competitive activity—in the first place.

Also this:

Continue reading "Feminism Versus Scrabble" »

Friday Ephemera

Blink, motherfucker.” (h/t, Damian) || Brew of note. || Today’s word is suboptimal. || Toothbrush of tomorrow. || Dicycle. || Dude. || Turn your desk into a touchscreen. || “Makes drinking water fun.” || Stormy weather, somewhat distant. || White women bad. || Whale heart. || New legs. || Photographing lichen. || Small claims. || Scenes. (h/t, Obo) || “This teacher had to tell her deaf students that people can hear farts.” || Flat-Earth gravity and other fun facts. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Jigsaw of note. || “Jigsaw companies tend to use the same cuts for multiple puzzles. This makes the pieces interchangeable.” || Parallel universe detected. || Florida man sighted. || And finally, behold ye, a party trick of note.

Not Boldly, Then

With space exploration, we have to consider how we are using language, and what it carries from the history of exploration on Earth. Even if words like “colonisation” have a different context off-world, on somewhere like Mars, it’s still not OK to use those narratives.

In the pages of National Geographic, Nadia Drake and Lucianne Walkowicz competitively fret about how terribly problematic the language of space exploration is:  

I think the other [word not to be used] is “settlement.”

I’ll give you a moment to process that one.

That comes up a lot and obviously has a lot of connotations for folks about conflict in the Middle East. I think that’s one that people often turn to when they mean “inhabitation” or “humans living off-world.”

Apparently, notions of our species expanding into space are “born from racist, sexist ideologies that historically led to the subjugation and erasure of women and indigenous cultures,” and must therefore be corrected by the lofty and woke. And so, “government agencies, journalists, and the space community at large” are “revising the problematic ways in which space exploration is framed.”

Numerous conversations are taking place about the importance of using inclusive language, with scholars focusing on decolonising humanity’s next journeys into space, as well as science in general.

You see, any attempts to colonise other worlds, or to explore and exploit astronomical objects, will have to be pre-emptively “decolonised” and purged of gender by the neurotically pretentious. Lest our astronauts and astronomers instantly start oppressing their black or female colleagues, rendering them tearful with the words unmanned probe, while spitting on the floor and shouting about the merits of Arcturian poontang. 

Needless to say, the word frontier is also deemed “problematic,” due to “narratives… based around European settlement.”  

Continue reading "Not Boldly, Then" »

Cheap Filler

Yes, an open thread, in which to share links and then bicker about them.

Our previous free-for-all included the abolition of clapping at the University of Manchester Student Union; the hazards of genital steaming; and the joys of waiting 30 seconds for 26 adverts to load on a 200-word story on a local newspaper website. There was also the question, as yet unresolved, of what to tell relatives who politely ask what this blog is actually about.

If all else fails, you can always poke through the reheated series and greatest hits.

Friday Ephemera

No messy hand. (h/t, Julia) || He lives on as a pair of shoes. || Unnatural passions. (h/t, O&G) || It could happen, people. || The humans have some kind of force field. || False economy. || Conflicting definitions. || Disgusting Food Museum, Malmö, Sweden. || On Cerenkov radiation and travelling faster than light. || A bit of a kick to it. || Ice crystals in the sky. || Hatchlings of note. || He does this better than you do. || Skillz. || Scenes. (h/t, Dicentra) || Think good thoughts. || A project for the weekend. || Mascot of note. || More scenes. (h/t, Damian) || 10 robots. || Aerial refuelling. || And finally, “When it became clear that Trump was going to be president, silence descended over the mostly naked crowd.”