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December 2018

The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began on a highbrow note as the University of Denver’s Professor Ryan Evely Gildersleeve informed the world that laziness is a “a political stance,” a way to “combat the neoliberal condition,” and a “tool for contributing to social justice.” Half-arsed incompetence is, we were assured, both radical and empowering. The professor also shared his belief that plastic is sentient. Inanimate objects also troubled Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, who specialises in “feminist post-structural perspectives” and the political implications of problematic furniture. Dr Bone’s research involves quite a lot of “embodied knowing,” i.e., visiting IKEA and sitting on chairs. Her work, she revealed, is “not necessarily logical.” Further feminist insights came via Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, whose feminist fight club is “a mode of resistance,” because the spectacle of unhappy ladies body-slamming each other and breaking each other’s ribs is an obvious way to “destroy the Conservative government” and “bring down the patriarchy.”

In February, we turned our attention to the world of aesthetics, where performance artist Sandrine Schaefer presented her buttocks to the world then waited for applause. We also learned that space exploration is all about “abuse” and “male entitlement,” thanks to Women’s Studies educator Marcie Bianco. Ms Bianco, who claims that sending spacecraft to Mars is akin to grabbing ladies’ genitals, teaches “social justice courses” at Rutgers University and John Jay College.

The ability of Jordan Peterson to trigger fits of theatrical hysteria among leftwing students was a highlight of March, when an attempt to speak at Queen’s University, Ontario, resulted in memorable and telling scenes, as students unleashed their inner screeching id. Also memorable, though for very different reasons, was this short, rather lovely film by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. And at Simmons College, where recreational indignation is very much in fashion, and annual tuition is a mere $40,000, we learned that responding to a sneeze with the words “bless you” is problematic and oppressive, and that compiling lists of things that are problematic and oppressive, and therefore to be avoided, is itself problematic and oppressive.

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Tidings (12)

Kaleidoscopic cities filmed by Michael Shainblum.

As is the custom here, posting will be intermittent over the holidays and readers are advised to subscribe to the blog feed, which will alert you to anything new as and when it materialises. Thanks for another 1.5 million or so visits this year and thousands of comments, many of which prompted discussions that are much more interesting than the actual posts. Which is pretty much the idea. And particular thanks to all those who’ve made PayPal donations to keep this rickety barge above water. It’s much appreciated. Curious newcomers and those with nothing better to do are welcome to rummage through the reheated series in search of entertainment.

To you and yours, a very good one. 

Friday Ephemera

Oddly enough, I did not see that coming. || Pull on the lips. || Depth of field. (h/t, Damian) || Topiary. || Progress. || The thrill of GDP. || Gifts in disguise. || The strange life of Margaret Rutherford. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || She was the world’s first human cannonball. || Noise-cancelling kennel. || Fun with folding cubes. || Portable forest. || These people do not exist. || Cause, effect. || “Aiming to break even for the first time in two decades.” || Possibly related. || Things to look out for in the gentlemen’s toilets. || Lost and Found. || Instant boobs, for adolescent boys. || Bulb-changing chore of note. || Erebeta. || Fun with sand, fungus and lava. || 100,000 stars. || And finally, a small moment of escalating concern.

Your Failure To Enthuse Is Violence, Apparently

Mr Roy G Guzmán, whose tweet appears below, describes himself as “a marginalised writer,” and an “artist and influencer,” thereby signalling to lower beings both his suffering and his modesty. He’s also, it seems, a tad sensitive:

The unhappy artist.

Note the gratuitous use of white woman. Perhaps that tells us something about Mr Guzmán’s poetic soul. A sample of Mr Guzmán’s creative output, titled Queerodactyl, is reproduced in full below. But before we venture further, you may wish to grip the arms of your chair:

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Friday Ephemera

Grocery order substitution of note. || He does this better than you do. || Banana harvest of note. || 72 hours of Sherlock Holmes adventures, as read by Stephen Fry. || She makes miniatures. || “This unit will work with any make of car.” || Today’s word is calligraphy. || “Too much news coverage feels like commentary.” || Comedy night conditions of note. || Inclusivity. || The Christmas spirit. (h/t, Obo) || A Guardian Christmas. || Chuchel is a game. (h/t, sH2) || A guide to dimensions. || Hardcore. || A compendium of archaic sounds. || The Internet Boy-Band Database. || Motherhood. || Wings. || You want one and you know it. || And finally, when the road to Instagram stardom is rockier than anticipated.

Studying Is Hard And That’s Unfair

“Everyone deserves 8 hours of sleep,” say Georgia Tech’s branch of the Young Democratic Socialists of America.

Apparently, the students are struggling to reconcile their academic obligations with the need for rest, expectations of free time - eight hours of it each day - and their own socialist activism. And perhaps the students have a point. Socialism is tiring, what with the protests and psychodrama, and the relentless, almost daily, issuing of demands. In this case, our fatigued intellectuals “reject the hostile culture and severe working conditions that pervade Georgia Tech,” and a curriculum that is, they say, “far more difficult and demanding than is necessary.” “All professors,” we’re told, should “implement stress-reducing policies,” including allowing more absences from class without consequence, dropping quizzes and assignments, and generally making lessons “more forgiving.”

The Young Socialists also insist that the university hire more counsellors and psychiatrists, with fees for psychiatric appointments being “eliminated.” “We need more relief from the… emotional burdens of higher education,” say these warriors of tomorrow.

You’re Only Getting This Now?

When I became an anarchist, I was 18, depressed, anxious, and ready to save the world. I moved in with other anarchists and worked at a vegetarian co-op cafe. I protested against student tuition, prison privatisation, and pipeline extensions. I had lawyer’s numbers sharpied on my ankle and I assisted friends who were pepper-sprayed at demos. I tabled zines, lived with my “chosen family,” and performed slam poems about the end of the world. 

In the pages of Quillette, Conor Barnes, a woke apostate, recounts his time among sad radicals

Radical communities select for particular personality types… They attract hurt people, looking for an explanation for the pain they’ve endured… However, radical communities also attract people looking for an excuse to be violent illegalists. And the surplus of vulnerable people attracts sadists and abusers ready to exploit them. The only gate-keeping that goes on in radical communities is that of language and passion—if you can rail against capitalism in woke language, you’re in…

Abusers thrive in radical communities because radical norms are fragile and exploitable. A culture of freewheeling drug and alcohol use creates situations predators are waiting to exploit. A cultural fetishization of violence provides cover for violent and unstable people. The practice of public “call-outs” is used for power-plays far more often than for constructive feedback… Having somebody yell at me that if I didn’t admit to being a white supremacist her friends might beat me up, and that I should pay her for her emotional labour, was too much for my ideology to spin.

You can imagine my surprise.

Update, via the comments: 

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He’s Not Even Trying Now

Yes, you’re getting an open thread, in which to share links and then bicker about them. Because I said you are, that’s why. I’ll set the ball rolling with a compendium of modern headlines. And yes, the one about Bigfoot erotica jokes “normalising white supremacy” is, in fact, real, as is the one about Indonesian teens getting high on “boiled tampon juice.” Needless to say, some of the content is rather salty.

Oh, and here’s the toilet door you’ve always wanted

Should you find each other insufficiently entertaining, you can always poke through the reheated series and the recently updated greatest hits.

Free Lollies

Lower voting age to six to tackle bias against young, says academic. 

It’s a Guardian headline, since you ask

The head of politics at Cambridge University has called for children as young as six to be given the vote in an attempt to tackle the age bias in modern democracy. Prof David Runciman said the ageing population meant young people were now “massively outnumbered,” creating a democratic crisis and an inbuilt bias against governments that plan for the future.

Children and teenagers are of course renowned for their conscientious forethought.

In the latest episode of his podcast, Talking Politics, he said lowering the voting age to 16 was not radical enough to address the problem. He said: “I would lower the voting age to six, not 16. And I’m serious about that. I would want people who vote to be able to read, so I would exclude reception [age-children].”

Ah, a voice of moderation.

“What’s the worst that could happen? At least it would be exciting.”

Professor Runciman has, we’re told, pondered other options, such as giving extra weight to votes cast by the adolescent – in effect, allowing them to vote twice or one-and-some-fraction – but has dismissed these suggestions as, and I quote, “insane.” Given the professor’s desire to enlist an army of the credulous and hormonal, allegedly to save the world from the elderly and middle-aged, readers may be raising eyebrows as to his motives. And indeed, an alternative explanation does in fact present itself:  

Runciman suggested the Brexit vote might not have happened with a radically lower voting age.


“If 16- or 17-year-olds voted in the 2017 general election, there is a chance that Jeremy Corbyn would now be prime minister.”

And then, quite suddenly, all became clear. Well, when we’ve done fretting about the catastrophic unfairness of primary-school children being unable to vote in general elections, perhaps we might turn our attention to the number of leftist educators who wish to exploit the unworldliness of your children in order to further their own socialist preferences.

Friday Ephemera

Hewn from marble, some 400 years ago, by a 23-year-old. || Gentleman of the road. || I do believe it’s Mickey. || London’s medieval murders, an interactive map. || Are you using “anti-animal language”? || There’s always a catch. || At last, an intersectionality score calculator. || Cat-proof Christmas tree. || Scenes. || Enrichment. || These chocolates are fancier than yours. || Wing of note. || Not quite grasping how it works. (h/t, Darleen) || Today’s word is hominins. || How to wrap gifts without tape. Patience not included. || An archive of downloadable historical maps. || Meet the Mellotron, 1965. || Mouse housing. || Designer spinning tops. || And finally, his horizontal-bar back-flip is way better than yours.

Fantasy World

The Wizard of Oz is a grotesque predictor of Trump’s America.

It says so here, in the Guardian. Specifically,

Oz is first wondrous and revelatory, then sinister and suspect, a good trip that goes wrong… It’s this lurking inner wrongness, the darkness at its edges and the emptiness at its core, that speaks to me now. 

The author of the above is Bidisha, a mono-named entity who may be familiar to long-term readers, and who describes herself, unironically, as a “non-white angry political female.” One who seems determined to find yet another staple of Christmas both ghastly and problematic:

It’s impossible to watch the newly crowned ‘most influential film ever’ without seeing the parallels to the sickly US of today.

Oh, ye doubters. Madame Bidisha has her reasons.

We can read the catastrophic effects of climate change into the tornado that sets the narrative off,

I didn’t say they would be convincing.

see the opioid crisis in the characters’ drugged sleep in Oz’s Powell and Pressburger-esque poppy field, and empathise with the mangy Lion, rusty Tin Man and under-stuffed Scarecrow’s search for organ donors and reliable medical support in an Oz without a solid welfare state.

If you think our Guardian columnist is perhaps overreaching a tad, I feel I should point out nothing that follows is likely to disabuse you.

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