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July 2020

Friday Ephemera

Cheeeldren of the niiight. || Enchanted instrument. || You want one and you know it. || Know your moons. || The thrill of surface tension. || Firefighting garments of note. || The Guardian, ladies and gentleman. || Effective, if not always elegant. || It ain’t pretty, but it flies. || If you laugh at this, you’re a terrible, terrible person. || Big beasts. I said beasts. || This is one of these. || Wet hands and Satie, together at last. || Pay slip of note. || On the origins of circumcision. || Remember when the ACLU wasn’t entirely ludicrous and unhinged? || Hey, it could happen. || You may need to give it a minute. (h/t, Damian) || Seafront views. || And finally, while on holiday in France, a family’s luggage goes astray.

Friday Ephemera

Scenes. || Cornering of note. || It’s all kicking off down at the pet shop. || Fair point. || Her animal sculptures are smaller than yours. || Because you would and you know it. || She’s a big girl. || At last, bugs with tiny cameras. || The dad-power to embarrass. || Pecking order detected. || Today’s words are Portland attorney. || Tokyo, 1913. || On the A-12 Archangel. || How to make a neat square of water. || How to make iced tea. Also, hardened water blocks. || Build your own imaginary Medieval city. (h/t, Things) || This just in. (h/t, Holborn) || They cope surprisingly well, all things considered. (h/t, Damian) || Our betters hold forth. (h/t, Darleen) || And finally, a beatboxing Buddhist churns out chill loops.

They Sell Failure

From a needlessly indulgent New York Times piece on Robin DiAngelo and her fellow clown-shoe race-hustlers:

[Marcus] Moore directed us to a page in our training booklets: a list of white values. Along with “‘The King’s English’ rules,” “objective, rational, linear thinking” and “quantitative emphasis,” there was “work before play,” “plan for future” and “adherence to rigid time schedules.” Moore expounded that white culture is obsessed with “mechanical time” — clock time — and punishes students for lateness. This, he said, is but one example of how whiteness undercuts Black kids. “The problems come when we say this way of being is the way to be.” In school and on into the working world, he lectured, tremendous harm is done by the pervasive rule that Black children and adults must “bend to whiteness, in substance, style and format.”

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. A perverse and pernicious way, I’d suggest, and an obvious blueprint for degrading, perhaps irreparably, the lives and opportunities of those sufficiently credulous to internalise it. Unless, of course, the cultivation of tardiness, self-absorption, and lack of focus, along with a disregard for deadlines, standards and obligations, and a disdain for reciprocity, will somehow catapult minority students into gainful employment. But such is the way of the woke. Or of “equity transformation specialists,” in Mr Moore’s case.

One might instead argue that this supposedly “white” “obsession” with “mechanical time” – which is to say, basic foresight and punctuality - or just adulthood - has very little to do with oppressing the negro, as Mr Moore claims, and rather more to do with courtesy and treating other people as if they were real, just as real as you, and no more deserving of delays, frustration, or gratuitous disrespect. It seems to me that punctuality is not only about getting things done, about practicality and cooperation, but about getting over yourself. And presumably, Mr Moore - the one reducing black children to strange and otherly beings, unmoored by mere temporal concerns – would prefer his payments for this claptrap, aired to teachers and school administrators, to materialise promptly. Not, say, three weeks late. Or hey, whenever

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Reheated (59)

For newcomers, more items from the archives:  

The Cupcake Menace

Tiny cakes are exploitative, demeaning and emotionally crippling. You didn’t know?   

After telling us at length just how terrible and mind-warping these tiny fancies are, at least among women, Mr Seaton adds, “I don’t want to ban cupcakes.” And yet he feels it necessary to say this, as if banning miniature sponges would be an obvious thing to consider, the kind of thing one does. And after banning them in his own office.

The Humble Among Us

Attention, world. Novelist Brigid Delaney wants a nicer flat. 

You see, creative people, that’s people like Ms Delaney, must live in locales befitting their importance, not their budget. You, taxpayer, come hither. And bring your wallet. Creative people, being so creative, deserve nothing less than special treatment. I mean, you can’t expect a creative person to write at any old desk in any old room in any old part of town. What’s needed is a lifestyle at some other sucker’s expense. 

Monbiot And The Morlocks

The Guardian’s George Monbiot encounters the underclass. Things go badly wrong.

George believes in sharing, by which of course he means taking other people’s stuff. Yet he’s remarkably unprepared for that favour being returned. Say, by two burly chaps with neck tattoos and ill-tempered dogs. And as these burly chaps were members of a “marginalised group,” and therefore righteous by default, George was expecting noble savages. Alas, ‘twas not to be.

There’s more, should you crave it, in the greatest hits. Also, open thread.

Friday Ephemera

Paranormal phenomenon, or possibly ants. || The owl and the pussycat. || The thrill of prepared slides. || WindowSwap. (h/t, Mick) || Today’s words are feminist media studies. || Also, ethnomathematics. The consequent drop in test scores is a good thing, apparently. || Scuba divers pinged by sonar. || South Korea’s lady divers. || Dog outwitted. || His day was worse than yours. || A brief history of the washing machine. || The washing machine museum. || The thrill of Victorian hygiene. From unhappy toilet arrangements to lead hair renewer. || Los Angeles, July, 2020. || Jigsaw of note. || Evacuation solution of note. || This, it turns out, is a thing that exists. || And finally, almost unbearably, tension mounts.

And This Is Your Shocked Face

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, writing in Reason:

Here’s some fun new research looking at “the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The paper—from University of British Columbia researchers Ekin Ok, Yi Qian, Brendan Strejcek, and Karl Aquino—details multiple studies the authors conducted on the subject. Their conclusion? Psychopathic, manipulative, and narcissistic people are more frequent signallers of “virtuous victimhood.”

I can hear you gasping as I type

The so-called “dark triad” personality traits—Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy—lead to characteristics like “self-promotion, emotional callousness, duplicity, and tendency to take advantage of others,” the paper explains. And “treated as a composite, the Dark Triad traits were significant predictors of virtuous victim signalling.” This held true “even when controlling for factors that may make people vulnerable to being mistreated or disadvantaged in society (i.e., demographic and socioeconomic characteristics) as well as the importance they place on being a virtuous individual as part of their self-concept,” the researchers note.

The authors also note that pretentious victimhood and feigned piety “may be used as a social influence tactic,” a “resource-extraction strategy”:  

Claiming victim status can also facilitate resource transfer by conferring moral immunity upon the claimant. Moral immunity shields the alleged victim from criticism about the means they might use to satisfy their demands. In other words, victim status can morally justify the use of deceit, intimidation, or even violence by alleged victims to achieve their goals. Relatedly, claiming victim status can lead observers to hold a person less blameworthy, excusing transgressions, such as the appropriation of private property or the infliction of pain upon others, that might otherwise bring condemnation or rebuke.

The psychological dynamics and nakedly spiteful inclinations of “social justice” devotees have of course been illustrated here, quite vividly, on more than one occasion. And if I can be excused for quoting myself:

It’s interesting just how often “social justice” posturing entails something that looks an awful lot like spite or petty malice, or an attempt to harass and dominate, or some other obnoxious behaviour. Behaviour that, without a “social justice” pretext, might get you called a wanker or a bitch. A coincidence, I’m sure.

Via Protein Wisdom

No Black Lights Were Available

New York Times contributor David Kaufman, writing here, wants us to know that he’s rendered distraught by “subtle streams of everyday racism that course through our homes, our workplaces, and the outside world.” An endless assault that “bombards people of colour.” People such as himself. It is, we’re told, time for a “cultural reckoning.”

For me, this reckoning begins with traffic signals.

Hm. Perhaps retracing our steps will help. Make things less confounding.  

A few months back, before Covid-19 kept us in our homes and George Floyd made us take to the streets, I was walking with a friend, her daughter, and my twin sons. My friend is White and I’m not — something I’d never given a second thought until we reached a crosswalk. “Remember, honey,” she said to her daughter as we waited for the light to turn green, “we need to wait for the little White man to appear before we can cross the street.”

 And in the very next breath:

I realise that White people like to exert control over nearly everything everyone does, I thought, but since when did this literally include trying to cross the street?

It’s a bold leap. Dense with assumptions. And hey, no racism there. Mr Kaufman - who can doubtless detect racism in the motions of subatomic particles - would have us believe that his friend was using the word white as a racial descriptor, rather than, as seems more likely, an unremarkable acknowledgement of a traffic light’s colour when talking to a child. In light of which, Mr Kaufman’s claims of being “bombarded” with racism – daily, everywhere – become at least explicable, if not convincing. 

As a Black dad, I was struck by the language at play. How is it possible that well into the 21st century, parents all over Manhattan — well-meaning, #BLM-marching parents — are teaching their children to ask “little White men” for permission to cross the street? And why doesn’t this seem to bother them? It certainly bothered me.

The pedestrian crossing signal that so distresses Mr Kaufman – a rudimentary humanoid figure, made of white lights on a black background – can be seen here, from a safe distance. You may want to steady yourselves. It’s all very upsetting, at least for the exquisitely sensitive - people finer than ourselves. And who write for the New York Times. Mr Kaufman then goes on an investigative journey, in which he learns why, in a society with lots of non-English speakers, crossing signals with words – walk / don’t walk – are being replaced by simple, universal graphics, calibrated to capture attention – say, by using lights of a certain hue:

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