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January 2020

Friday Ephemera

Oh, well played. || Wise words. || Upscale puppy puzzle. || Please hold still while your face is being scanned. || Ant-termite politics. || A guide to pre-modern birth control. From ‘pull-and-pray’ to offal and tortoise-shell condoms. || New York, in colour, 1933-1939. || Catching rays. || “Cock on a swine, friends for all time.” || Sigourney Weaver is, it turns out, quite flexible. || Safety first. || Something error happen. || 26 minutes of loafer restoration. || Real-time map of coronavirus incidents. || The rules and aggravations of time travel. || She has a system. || This just in. || Japanese sea-creature teabags of note. (h/t, Julia) || Our betters. || Our betters 2. || Bit nippy. || And finally, Hieronymus Bosch knickknacks.

Elsewhere (296)

Steven Malanga on question-begging “equity” and its corrosive effects:  

The equity movement presumes that any unequal results in society reflect structural or institutional racism, even when officials can’t identify any actual discrimination. To redress these purported inequities, the movement demands that every city department’s mission, and every major decision in local government, be looked at from a racial-equity perspective. In practice, this has meant mandatory bias training for municipal and school employees, in order to root out “policies that work better for white people,” in the words of one advocacy group, and laws passed in a number of cities that limit what employers can ask job applicants (about any past criminal history, especially), as well as other measures. […] The basic, but highly dubious, assumption behind these reports, and the equity movement generally, is that no possible behavioural differences among ethnic or racial groups might account for different life outcomes. 

Some of the examples of “equity” education are rather boggling in their evasions. Mr Malanga also discusses the “equity” approach to school discipline, which was predictably disastrous, and mentioned here and here. As I said at the time,

What’s remarkable here isn’t that young thugs and budding sociopaths will quickly exploit immunity from punishment based solely on their race, but the fact that grown adults, supposed professionals, many of whom will be parents, either didn’t see this coming or realised what would happen and went ahead anyway, thereby screwing everyone else. 

And – not entirely unrelated - Lee Jussim on the dysfunctions of academia - in neologism form:

Equalitarianism: A dogmatic, quasi-religious belief that all groups are equal in all traits that matter, usually accompanied by the belief that the only credible source of group differences is discrimination and outrage at anyone who suggests otherwise. Often accompanied by the belief that women and minorities are inherently or essentially more virtuous.

Emotional imperialism: The strange belief that your feelings should dictate someone else’s behaviour.

See also the subsequent comments, in which Quillette readers suggest additions. For instance,

Ovaryaction: the compulsion to create neologisms such as manspreading, mansplaining, and himpediment, attributing flaws by individual men as representative of all men to buttress the assertion of systemic, institutional oppression of modern, Western women by the bogeyman known as patriarchy.

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

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Norms Of Punctuality

From Tulane University, the very heart of White Devil Babylon - uptown New Orleans - student Shahamat Uddin - pronouns “he, him, his” - howls in protest:

Punctuality centres whiteness. It is far easier for white men to get to work on time than Black people who are having to change their hair to fit the workplace’s professionalism standards. 

It’s a hair thing, yes, and therefore terribly political, a hill to die on. But it’s even more than that. It’s also the devastating suspicion that you might be more likely to get hired if you remove your nose piercing, if only during office hours:

I remember the cultural pride I felt when I got my gold studded nose piercing, admiring my ancestors who donned the same kind of jewellery. I take it out now because I know I need a job, and I have learned from the Brown and Black people before me what I have to sacrifice to get one.

You see, wondering whether that nose piercing will be frowned upon, by employers or their customers, constitutes “systemic white supremacy,” a crushing phenomenon “that is barring us from maximal success.” It’s a “sacrifice,” an outrage, proof of being downtrodden. Because nose jewellery is pivotal to both optimal functioning and mental wellbeing. And questions of whether such piercings are ideal for a given workplace - however unspecified and theoretical those questions may be - amount to further, damning proof that “this country was not made for me.”

I have learned when and where it is to my own disadvantage to be too Brown or too gay or too immigrant. 

One more time, Tulane University. Where tuition is a mere $60,000 a year. And where the oppressed huddle for comfort against the Cold Winds of Whiteness.

Continue reading "Don’t Oppress My People With Your Norms Of Punctuality" »

Wokeness And Woo, Together Again

Time for another tug on the teats of super-woke theorising

White people ‘can’t dance’ because white-ness is a traumatized state that is disconnected from the body.

Set aside those thoughts of ballet, Footloose and MGM musicals. We must press on.

Colonization/Westernization has profoundly impacted the way we move our bodies. Just think about even this little fact: most non-European people didn’t wear pants before colonization, and if they did, they were not tight.

Tight pants. The obvious tool with which to oppress the Brown-And-Noble-By-Default.

We also generally didn’t sit on chairs. We squatted or sat on the ground. Many of our cultures didn’t glorify tight muscular abs.

Damn you, White Devil, conquering the world with chairs. And defined abdominals.

Our bodies ‘moved’ completely differently before colonization/Westernization. We had a much greater sense of the lower body and abdomen. 

In short, the Brown-And-Noble-By-Default “have been white-ified,” which is “trauma.” You see,

White-ness… is an energetic imbalance caused by a loss of spinal fluidity and awareness of the lower body. Emotional energy becomes concentrated in the upper body, particularly gathering in the mind. To live in a world dominated by white-ness is to live in an environment that denies and protects white-ness as embodied trauma.

If that’s insufficiently persuasive,

White-ness is traumatization itself. 

The “white body,” it turns out, is a “state of disconnection between mind and body. It is ungrounded and cannot feel the earth.” And which therefore has to be corrected, by an expert, a healer, for $200 an hour.

Continue reading "Wokeness And Woo, Together Again" »

Friday Ephemera

Interloper detected. || Good deed of note. || Time-lapse dental alignment. || Aliens did it. || “I’ll try to guess your name.” || Unregistered guest roams politely. || Rest assured. || Nommy-nommy-nom. (h/t, Damian) || Neon puddles. || The thrill of pickles. || Perks of the job. || More metal than thou. || Escalator malfunction. || I see a sea monster. || Super Great White Shark, a work in progress. || Happy accident. || Question asked. || Heh. || This and this are two of these. || Two items, possibly related. || The eternal struggle. || And finally, obligingly, there’s room for two.

Our Betters In Love (2)

Further to this recent tale of aching tenderness, it’s time for another visit to the pages of Slate, where our progressive betters mull the quandaries of modern living:  

I’m a woman in my mid-30s, and I’ve identified as asexual and aromantic basically forever. A few months ago, something changed, and I experienced sexual attraction for the first time, 

Ah, a sexual blossoming.

I’m kind of touch-averse, 

Albeit complicated.

I befriended a man online. We were a little flirty right from the start, but I drew a hard line in the sand because he’s (unhappily) married, and that’s very much against my moral code. 

Thank goodness for moral codes.

Our relationship escalated during this time and turned sexual (still just over text or online).

That hard line in the sand.

As we go further, though, I’m starting to wonder if I’m a terrible person for encouraging and enabling this man to cheat on his wife, just because he treats me in a way that no one else ever has. He tells me I’m beautiful and desirable and values me so much more than I am often able to value myself.

Yeah, screw the wife. I got mine and now I’m hot, baby.

Continue reading "Our Betters In Love (2)" »

Gorging On Grievance

Writing in the pages of Inside Higher Ed, sociology student and “self-identified fat woman” Bobbi Reidinger bemoans the hardships of the chunky would-be educator:

Fat academics need to be more vocal in calls for increased structural accessibility such as larger desks or substitutions for tables and chairs, greater ease in access to elevators, and more. Yet in addition to structural changes that campuses could make to help people of size be more comfortable -- such as providing larger bathrooms, chairs without arms and larger auditorium seating -- we need to discuss more techniques to combat stigma within classrooms.

You see, it’s not just a question of remodelling half the campus:

Weight-based stigma has an impact on the credibility of fat academics, in particular female academics who often must contend with both gender and fat stigmas... Weight stigma negatively impacts a professor’s credibility as a communicator within the classroom, with greater credibility being given to those who argue against their own self-interest.

Being sufficiently obese that it requires special furniture and enlarged bathrooms, and such that it becomes an obvious topic of classroom conversation, is in a person’s self-interest, apparently. As opposed to, say, a significant health concern - a cause of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, joint failure, incontinence, sleep apnea, breathing problems, depression, anxiety, and cancer.

Therefore, when a fat professor makes their fatness salient inside the classroom, their fatness overrides their educational and occupational statuses, as students interpret this information as coming from an unreliable source.

It occurs to me that if an overweight educator, or would-be educator, presents her own fatness as a kind of moral elevation, a political piety arrived at via victimhood, and then demands oversized desks, plus-sized seats without arms, modified lifts, modified bathrooms, modified auditoria, “and more” – and does all this while sidestepping responsibility for her own rotundity – then students would do well to question the motives and credibility of such a person. And when a teacher or grad student fails to convince a class and promptly blames that failure on some alleged-but-undemonstrated sexism or “weight stigma,” as if that were both obvious and the only conceivable explanation, this is not necessarily proof of injustice or unrecognised talent.

Continue reading "Gorging On Grievance" »

Friday Ephemera

Please update your files and lifestyles accordingly. || Gone fishing, with goat. || Bit gusty. || African film posters of note. || When parrots share. || Pizza beyond the pale. || Probably best to just buy a new one. || Paranormal activity. (h/t, Damian) || Children of the night. (h/t, Julia) || The secret lives of snails. || Good day at the office. || When the trashcan brings you coffee. || Small child containment system. || Coming through. || Three amigos. || The thrill of pufferfish neurotoxin. || “I thought there was something wrong with the movie.” || I did not know about these. || Close enough. || Unfriending of yore. || That’s my sister! || Road rage scenes. || And finally, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here.

Their Fevered Brows

Meanwhile, over at Salon, where the deluded hyperventilate, Mr Chauncey DeVega once again rails against Donald Trump. Today we’re being warned of his “political thuggery and mobster-style behaviour.” The current President is, we’re told, a “dictator.”

The question is… whether anything or anyone is capable of stopping him.

To embellish this tale of impending doom, Mr DeVega turns to academia. Specifically,

I recently spoke with historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat in an effort to better understand where America is on its road to fascism and authoritarianism in this fourth year of Trump’s regime.

It’s a regime, you see. Mr DeVega likes this word and uses it no fewer than nine times, as when telling us, confidently, that,

The American people are in a manic state because of Trump’s regime.

Not just Salon columnists, then, but the entire population. Apparently, 300 million people are teetering on the verge of a psychotic episode.

Dr Ben-Ghiat, a lecturer in Italian Studies, is of course on-message:

I’m very upset that there are in fact Trump supporters and I have zero sympathy towards them.

This is followed by pointed references to Hitler and Mussolini - because hey, why not? – and whisperings of a cowed and fearful media:

Many people in the news media are afraid to really engage the fact that Trump is an authoritarian because if they do so then reality becomes too threatening, and therefore they would have to take a different stance publicly.

Readers are invited to take a moment to reflect on Mr Trump’s famously warm and not at all fractious relationship with the mainstream media, which never, ever calls him names. Like “proto-fascist,” for instance. Or when MSNBC’s Niccole Wallace breathlessly announced that the President was genocidal and, for reasons left to the imagination, clearly bent on “exterminating Latinos.” Or when the same broadcaster’s Frank Figliuzzi suggested that Trump’s lowering of flags following a shooting tragedy was actually a coded salute to Adolf Hitler. Apparently, these things never happened, are not in fact bizarrely routine, and the pundits at CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, NBC, Salon, etc., are just too terrified and deferential to admit, as Dr Ben-Ghiat puts it, that “they are living in the middle of a fascist, authoritarian takeover.”

Continue reading "Their Fevered Brows" »