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March 2020

Friday Ephemera

His copper bonsai is better than yours. || Serbian ensemble. || Like a stubborn jar of pickles. || I was previously unfamiliar with the erotic practice of stumping. || More joys of public transport. || Portraits rendered in charcoal. || Clouds over Lake Michigan. (h/t, DRB) || Twitching meat. || Lockdown scenes. (h/t, Dicentra) || Those prone to fainting should look away now. || Name the counties of the United States. You have 12 minutes. || Virtual tours of gardens and grand houses. || George’s besties. || It helps to have a back-up plan. || Hey, kids. Come play. || Old-school cloaking technology. || Simple but effective. || Filth removal of note. || And finally, topically, when the guy in front of you is doing this.

The Sound Of Her Unspooling

Sometimes, it can feel surprising that any beauty still exists in the world. It can feel wrong to keep cultivating our gardens while the world shatters outside our windows.

Yes, it’s time to once again gawp at the mindset of the Salon-reader demographic. Or at least the Salon-writer demographic, with which it presumably overlaps. Specifically, a piece by Ms Alex Dew, “a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University’s Master of Fine Arts programme in Creative Nonfiction,” and whose urgent bulletin to the world is titled My Houseplant Garden Is A Tiny National Park Donald Trump Can Never Destroy.

If that sounds a tad overwrought and not entirely even-keeled, do read on.

I begin each day by taking a mental inventory of whatever horrors Trump has committed since I have been asleep,

As one does.  

scrolling through news outlets and social media on my iPhone, even though I know that this probably bad for my mental health.

I suspect this may be a matter of putting the cart before the horse. And perhaps tellingly, mental health is mentioned more than once in Ms Dew’s article.

There is evidence that Trump’s presidency has had a negative effect on the mental health of many Democrats, with 72% of those surveyed in one study reporting an increase in anxiety since he has taken office. Sometimes, it’s enough to make me not want to get out of bed.

A phenomenon at which we’ve previously marvelled. More than once

After reading the news, it is time to attend to my indoor garden, to do the work of keeping my plants alive: the trimming and the watering and the fertilising. This work is meditation, a way of going on.

Yes, going on. Bravely, heroically, and despite the realisation that your preferred candidate lost an election, four years ago.

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Please Update Your Files And Lifestyles Accordingly

From the pages of The Atlantic, a new torment for woke sophisticates:

The hidden bigotry of crosswords.

That sound you hear is barrel-bottom-scraping.

The popular puzzles are largely written and edited by older white men, who dictate what makes it into the grid—and what is kept out.

The world of woke crossword-puzzlers - because that’s a thing that exists - is one in which enthusiasts, via social media, grumble about white men, bemoan the insufficient prominence of “queer or POC colloquialisms,” share “off-colour jokes about hypothetical titles for a Melania Trump memoir,” and fret about the exact ratio of male and female names used as clues. Because a lack of “gender parity” in crossword puzzle clues constitutes one of “the systemic forces that threaten women.”

Crossword puzzles can do that, apparently.

The list of possible crossword-puzzle wrongdoings is, of course, extensive, ever-growing and not entirely straightforward.

Transgressions include clues for ILLEGAL (“One caught by border patrol”); MEN (“Exasperated comment from a feminist”); and HOOD (“Place with homies”). 

I’ll give you a moment to steady yourselves, to recover from all that gasping.

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Friday Ephemera

Half-speed Frakes has apparently been on a bender. (h/t, Damian) || Strange beings detected. || I think I heard something moving in the basement. || Penguins descending. || A brief history of pandemics. (h/t, Dicentra) || Sounds from the toilet-paper apocalypse. || Yes, Picard is still bad. || Actual prancing. || “Post-capitalist” streaming service: “Live weekly shows covering news, the working class, gaming and sports.” || Leggy redhead. || Ladies got moves. || Only 377. || Bosch bingeing imminent. || The simple pleasures of baking. || These things happen. || Also, these things. || A lady with unusual drawers. || Daughter happy, wife displeased. || And finally, nature’s pecking order, a brief illustration.

Modern Love

From the realm of woke sophistication that is New York magazine:

What It’s Like to Isolate With Your Girlfriend and Her Other Boyfriend.

Or, put another way,

As the coronavirus forces millions of Americans to practice social distancing and stay in their homes, relationships are being put to the test… The situation is even more complicated when you’re staying inside not just with your partner, but with your partner’s partner as well.

To illustrate this terribly progressive lifestyle arrangement, we’re introduced to a Brooklynite comedian and podcaster named Billy, his girlfriend Megan, and his girlfriend Megan’s other boyfriend Kyle.

This is Billy’s first polyamorous relationship, and while he doesn’t know his metamour Kyle that well, he says he’s doing his best to respect his space.

Yes, metamour. Other descriptive choices are available.

Quizzed on the indoor celebrations of Meghan’s birthday, Billy says,

We didn’t get to do too much. We watched some TV shows, we smoked weed, I gave her some birthday sexual lovin’. 

I’m assuming there’s some kind of rota system. Perhaps a pecking order.

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Above Us, Our Betters

Speaking, as we were, of enthusiasts of crime, meet communist poet Wendy Trevino:

A super-brave warrior for a brighter tomorrow.

When I see tweets of this nature – repeated slogan, repeated slogan, repeated slogan – I tend to think the tweeter is either adolescent or unwell. Ms Trevino is supposedly a grown woman. One who appears to have a complicated relationship with her father. Sometimes the clichés are just too on-the-nose. When not advocating shoplifting and being titillated by visions of collapsing social norms, Ms Trevino, our communist poet and Antifa Gal, wants us to know how pleased she is by criminals escaping prison and taking hostages. What said prisoners may have done to be there in the first place, and what they may do again now that they’re at large, doesn’t seem to interest her.

Update, via the comments:

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Self Service

This is the nice version of what happens when the state justice system fails and private individuals must step in to fill the void. There is also a less nice version.

Over at Samizdata, Natalie Solent is pondering this item of crime and policing news. Or rather, non-policing news:

It was no surprise to anyone who knew Nicholas Richards, a career criminal with 25 convictions including 18 for shoplifting, that his motives were not entirely honourable when he walked into Boots. Witnesses described him stealing £170-worth of Gucci perfume; CCTV footage recovered from the chemist’s flagship branch in Piccadilly showed him putting the goods in his bag; and cameras worn by private security officers who detained him recorded him admitting the offence.

So staff at Boots, which loses between £10,000 and £12,000 a week to shoplifting, were upset when police officers arrived on the crime scene, decided the case was a “civil” matter and released Richards, who was already on a suspended sentence for theft. Boots was furious about the failure to dispense justice and decided to take part in what is believed to be the first private prosecution for shoplifting supported by a corporate victim.

The case is being brought by TM Eye. Set up by two former Metropolitan police officers, it is the parent company of My Local Bobby (MLB), which provides neighbourhood policing to residents, firms and shops. Its 30 “bobbies,” who wear red vests and caps, provide 24-hour cover. They are mostly former police officers and soldiers.

In the comments following which, a reader adds,

Anyone with 25 previous convictions should not be on our streets.

Some time ago, I suggested, not entirely flippantly, that a “three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft” policy might be quite popular. Readers are welcome to use the comments below to share alternatives.

Friday Ephemera

Bit nippy out. || Banana-related breakthrough of note. || She does this better than you do. || His knife is sharper than yours. || Passionate exchanges. || Script Doctor recaps Picard with suitable ruthlessness: “Too bad the writers don’t think beyond the surface of their own ideas.” || Intriguing odour detected. || Disappointing soap. (h/t, Perry) || Upscale toasting. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Restaurant scenes. || Nommy nommy nom. || The thrill of sorting nails. || Achievement unlocked. || 85,000 British Pathé newsreels, 1910-2008. || A brief history of the URL. || Ice resurfacing simulator. || I did not know this. || Hands up if you own one. || Folded paper. || And finally, a slaughterhouse-related mishap.

She Feels Unclean

In the pages of the Observer, a new niche agony is detected

Is it ever acceptable for a feminist to hire a cleaner?

Needless to say, it starts off quite dramatically,

The day my cleaner used to visit, I would return home in the evening to the smell of Dettol mixed with Tania’s sweat, to a clean kitchen and bathroom and a drenching sense of guilt. 

Gratuitous drama and drenching guilt aside, I’m not entirely sure why hiring a cleaner should obviously be more fraught than hiring, say, a gardener or roofer. And it occurs to me that if you can smell someone’s perspiration above the odour of cleaning products, said person may require some kind of medical attention.

The piece, by empowered feminist author Sally Howard, continues in high gear,

It was the same unease that greeted me when I collected my son Leo from his nursery – a national chain disproportionately staffed by women of colour – or bought clothes from a mainstream clothing outlet that relies, as many do, on female garment workers in the global south.

For the kind of middle-class feminist who as recreation writes for the Observer, life is apparently an endless moral torture inflicted by minor, everyday events, or at least an exhausting theatre of pretending to be tortured by minor, everyday events. Which of the two constitutes a more harrowing and nightmarish existence, I leave to the reader. 

For [my book, The Home Stretch], I spent time under cover with the women who clean Britain’s offices and homes. I picked used tampons off bathroom carpets and scrubbed bathtub tidemarks and sauces spattered across kitchen walls; and I discovered a few things. 

That some women are so messy and antisocial that bloodied tampons are left for others to step on? Is that a permissible feminist thought?

I learned that fashionable householders’ preference for less-effective eco and homemade cleaning products doubles cleaners’ labour.

No laughing at the back.

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