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November 2020

He Was Fondling The Tip Jar In A Suggestive Manner

Yes, it’s time to remind patrons that this rickety barge, on whose seating your arses rest, is kept afloat by the kindness of strangers. If you’d like to help it remain buoyant a while longer, and remain ad-free, there’s an orange button below with which to monetise any love. Debit and credit cards are accepted. For those wishing to express their love regularly, there’s a monthly subscription option top left, use of which almost certainly earns you a place in heaven. And if one-click haste is called for, my PalPay.Me page can be found here. Additionally, any Amazon UK shopping done via this link or the search widget top right, or for Amazon US via this link, results in a small fee for your host at no extra cost to you.

For newcomers wishing to know more about what’s been going on here for the last thirteen years, in close to 3,000 posts and over 100,000 comments, the reheated series is a pretty good place to start - in particular, the end-of-year summaries, which convey the fullest flavour of what it is we do. A sort of blog concentrate. If you like what you find there… well, there’s lots more of that.

If you can, do take a moment to poke through the discussion threads too. The posts are intended as starting points, not full stops, and the comments are where much of the good stuff is waiting to be found. And do please join in.

As always, thanks for the support, the comments, and the company. Also, open thread


We’ve neglected the arts of late. That simply won’t do:

“Trees are like human beings,” says the performance artist Marina Abramovic. “They have intelligence. They have feelings. They communicate with each other. And also, they are perfectly silent listeners. You can complain to them.” And letting out your frustrations about a dire 2020 to a tree is exactly the advice the artist is giving the public.

Ah, the practical and the profound, together at last.

The participatory performance Complain to a Tree is the latest addition to the “Abramovic Method”—a series of exercises developed by the artist for practicing being present—which she will reveal on a new Sky Arts programme. Abramovic is taking over the TV channel for five hours on 5 December, to teach audiences about performance art.

At which point, regulars of this parish may feel a little superior, more culturally elevated, given their familiarity with said artistic form.

But back to the humanoid trees:

Don’t immediately hug the tree.

No, of course. That would be foolish.

Just feel the energy of the tree. Even not touching it but just holding your hands a little bit above.

Much better.

And then complain your heart into it. This is the whole idea.

The entirety, one might say. The total vastness of the idea.

Continue reading "Barking" »

Friday Ephemera

Whatever you do, young warriors, don’t wake the dragon. || Giant anamorphic toilet. || Nommy-nommy-nom. || Our betters say cheese. || Somewhat related. || This is one of these. || Rough neighbourhood. || Nude scenes. || How suitcases are born. || Forbidden love. || Modified wheelbarrow of note. || Rolling pin of note. || It’s a prize, nonetheless. || A project for the weekend. || Wildlife overpass, Interstate 80, Utah. || Prototype photocopier, 1803. “It was nearly impossible to make it work correctly.” || The record deal simulator. Hours of, er, fun. || Strange attractions. || The thrill of scaffolding. || Ancient artefact detected. || Fun while falling. || And finally, paranormal scenes of not-quite-levitation.

The Life Of the Hive Mind

News from the world of publishing

“I feel it was deliberately hidden and dropped on us once it was too late to change course,” said the junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community. The employee said workers would have otherwise considered a walkout.

A walkout. One wonders what might cause such an outpouring of agitation and distress. Was it the looming publication of How to Punch Small Black Children and Get Away With It…?

“He is an icon of hate speech and transphobia and the fact that he’s an icon of white supremacy, regardless of the content of his book, I’m not proud to work for a company that publishes him,” a junior employee who is a member of the LGBTQ community… told VICE World News. Another employee… talked about how publishing the book will negatively affect their non-binary friend. 

Not imaginary, non-binary.

It turns out that the hooting and chest-puffing is being caused by - or rather, is given a longed-for excuse by - the forthcoming publication of a book by Dr Jordan Peterson, a sequel to his bestseller 12 Rules for Life.

people were crying 

According to the weeping employees at Penguin Random House Canada, Dr Peterson is not only “an icon of hate speech and transphobia,” and “an icon of white supremacy,” but also “denies the existence” of “people in the LGBTQ+ community.” Like many others, this baffling claim is not expanded upon and no evidence is forthcoming. However, the implication seems to be that if you choose not to pretend certain things and would rather not lie in public, or be coerced to lie in public, this somehow constitutes a denial of the existence of “people in the LGBTQ+ community.”

“The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things and them publishing Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” the employee added.

Almost brushed against realism there, matey. Careful now.

Dr Peterson – or more specifically, the hyperventilation of his critics - has of course been mentioned here before. And while the doctor is by no means an uninteresting chap, the reactions to him are often more interesting, and quite revealing.

Elsewhere (302)

Stanley Kurtz on tantrums, vanity, and woke pseudo-history:

[Peter] Wood gives us a portrait of 1619’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones. A woman who styles herself “the Beyoncé of journalism” acts the part of a diva, and more. Treated by the New York Times, according to Wood, as “exempt from ordinary forms of accountability,” Hannah-Jones didn’t deign to reply to even the most respectful and serious scholarly criticism of her project. She booked herself instead into speaking venues where she was greeted as hero, prophet, or genius. And of course, Hannah-Jones was showered with accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize.

Rudely putting down critics, falsely denying that she’d said things she had demonstrably said, deleting tweets that showed her in a bad light, the behavior that eventually destroyed Hannah-Jones’s credibility was in evidence well before the final collapse. And it was all encouraged by the Times, which treated Hannah-Jones with kid gloves and ignored her critics until its hand was forced. Even when Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein finally answered a critical letter from twelve historians (not the first such letter), that letter’s text was never printed in the magazine.

And Christopher F Rufo on Seattle’s ‘progressive’ alternative to policing and prison:

Though these programmes are ideologically aligned with revolutionary goals, they have failed to serve as practical replacements for the “formal justice system.” In one high-profile case, prosecutors diverted a youth offender named Diego Carballo-Oliveros into a “peace circle” programme, in which non-profit leaders burned sage, passed around a talking feather, and led Carballo-Oliveros through “months of self-reflection.” According to one corrections official, prosecutors and activists paraded Carballo-Oliveros around the city as the “shining example” of their approach. However, two weeks after completing the peace circle programme, Carballo-Oliveros and two accomplices lured a 15-year-old boy into the woods, robbed him, and slashed open his abdomen, chest, and head with a retractable knife.

You see, predatory sociopaths with histories of violence and robbery will be “liberated” by “healing circles” and “narrative storytelling.” Because, we’re assured, these things, when combined with burning sage, will “increase empathy.”

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

Friday Ephemera

It’s good to see a job done with care and attention to detail. || Stabilised hurdling. || Scenes of quivering beef. || The bulletproof bras of WWII. || Sleep well. || Well, you would, wouldn’t you? || It tugs on your arm if you walk too quickly. Other applications may exist. || Transplant drama with a hint of farce. || Niche market detected. || Instructions of note. || Her pies are more elaborate than yours. || The new universal excuse. || Er, can I come with you? || Modern gaffe. || Underwater transformers. || For fans of Star Trek: Voyager. (h/t, Damian) || Strange spheres detected. || Freezing the tide. || Football results of note. || And finally, I have to say, that’s the smallest one of those I’ve seen in quite some time.

Those Aboriginal Telescopes

Developments down-under – specifically, from a press release by Australia’s national science research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation: 

The 64-metre telescope is located on Wiradjuri country in central west New South Wales, approximately 380km west of Sydney. It received the name Murriyang, which represents the ‘Skyworld’ where a prominent creator spirit of the Wiradjuri Dreaming, Biyaami, lives.

It remains unclear whether the radio telescope, which relayed mankind’s first steps on the Moon, will be able to detect aboriginal creator spirits, rainbow serpents, celestial emus, or Barraiya, the aboriginal deity who, as you’ll doubtless be aware, created the first vagina.

Executive Manager of CSIRO’s Office of Indigenous Engagement, Louisa Warren, said giving the telescopes traditional names acknowledges and pays respect to the astronomical knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The particulars of that “astronomical knowledge,” also referred to as “ancient wisdom,” and its bearing on modern radio astronomy, are, alas, not shared in the press release. We are, however, told that the “telescope naming project,” which involved CSIRO staff, Wiradjuri Elders, the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and various other bodies, required “over two years” of work. Readers intrigued by the promise of astronomy being enhanced with, and perhaps superseded by, ancient aboriginal wisdom can partake of this cosmic bong rip.

Update, via the comments:

Continue reading "Those Aboriginal Telescopes" »


“It is both possible and impossible to appreciate rap music as a white fan,” [Associate Professor of Philosophy at Florida Southern College,] H.A. Nethery said. 

Okay then.

The professor added that rap is a “gift” to white people which “exposes the opaque white-racist self through the inducement of double consciousness within [the] listener.”

Good to know. You see,

Rap music is an expression of lived experiences of being the target of a world structurally dominated by white supremacy.

Which is apparently a thing; though, as so often, it seems we must take that on trust. And so, in order to properly appreciate rap music and its variations, rather than merely appropriating them, the Pale Oppressor must first indulge in “direct-self-reflection on [their] own complicity within the systems of white supremacy.” Casual and spontaneous listening is, I’m assuming, out of the question. First you must atone

Having cultivated the appropriate level of neurosis and pretentious agonising, readers are invited to contemplate the uplifting ditties of Mr Stormzy, a rapper beloved by Guardian columnists, and who wishes us to know about his nocturnal adventures as an oppressed person - albeit a very wealthy one - specifically, his being able to “take your chick,” and more specifically, “getting freaky in the sheets,” and even more specifically, “finishing with a facial.”

Readers will doubtless recall that Mr Stormzy and his works have been deemed a fitting replacement for Mozart in school music lessons

Friday Ephemera

Old, yes, but still good. || Intrigue. || The miracle of good lighting. || Greetings, human. || How many holes does a given object have? || Hazards of the highway. || Crab and coral. || Meanwhile, in Switzerland. || Everyday songs for the lady in your life. (h/t, Neocon Servative) || Athlete of note. || Stuntmen watching stuntmen doing stunts. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Today’s word is inadvisable. || Moment of doubt. || Long way down. || Employed as an educator, you know. || Airbag for the elderly. || A brief history of the drum machine. (h/t, Things) || “The definitive guide to the Doctor Who theme.” || Evergreen. || We live in strange times. || Portland’s finest. || And finally, they mostly come at night, mostly.

The Thrill Of Euphemism

Erika Sanzi reports on an educational breakthrough

Richard Carranza, Chancellor of schools in New York City, has done it again… There will be no numeric grades allowed for high schoolers, and no teachers, in any grades, are allowed to give a failing grade. The lowest “grade” allowed for elementary schoolers will be “needs improvement.” For middle schoolers, failing grades will be designated as “course in progress.” And for high schoolers, an F will become an “Incomplete,” whether the student plans on turning in any work or can show that any learning of the subject has actually occurred.

While grades and attendance are to be deemed bothersome details unworthy of attention, “factors such as equity” will, we’re assured, be given more prominence. Readers will note that the retreat from clear metrics into euphemism and pernicious fuzzwords – chief among which, “equity” - not only makes it difficult to determine pupils’ academic progress and actual competence, but also has a secondary effect of making it more difficult to identify the shortcomings of left-leaning educators and administrators. A coincidence, I’m sure.

Via here, via here

Previously in the world of “equity” – in San Diego, in San Francisco, and in Ohio.  

And somewhat related, this

And then there’s “equity” - another word favoured by both educators and campus activists – and which is defined, if at all, only in the woolliest and most evasive of terms. And which, when used by those same educators and activists, seems to mean something like “equality of outcome regardless of inputs.” Inputs including diligence and punctuality.

If that sounds a tad perverse and an unlikely path to human flourishing, our betters are only too happy to correct your unsophisticated notions.

She Makes Her Own, I Think

I keep seeing this meme going around that’s like, “I’ll still be your friend if you voted for Trump, I’ll still be your friend if you voted for Biden…” and it’s making me ragey. 

So writes Sa’iyda Shabazz in the pages of Scary Mommy, where progressive parents display their piety to each other, and where rage and tears, even feigned or delusional rage and tears, are a currency of sorts, markers of woke status. Part of the game.

If you still support [Trump] after the last four years of his bullshit, then guess what? I don’t want to be your friend. Because if you support that monster, you can’t possibly also care about me.

A monster. Specifically, a “racist, misogynist, xenophobic monster.” I suppose we were destined to start in high gear, something approaching opera. It does seem to be the custom among Scary Mommy contributors. Having dutifully denounced Mr Trump as the Demon King, the cause of all human sorrow, Ms Shabazz then goes on to reveal, albeit inadvertently, the extent to which the wider world should in fact care about her, being as she is so lovely and not at all demented.

I know that I have friends who voted for Trump in 2016. And I know I probably have friends who did this year, too. One of them is one of my oldest and dearest friends. To say that I was horrified is an understatement. 

In terms of progressive outpourings, understatement is a rare treat. Let’s take a moment to savour it.

The friend that I knew for sure voted for him? We didn’t talk for three years. I couldn’t reconcile the person I knew with the person who’d do something so awful… As a Black woman who is queer and poor, I know this administration wants to make me a second-class citizen. I cannot associate with someone who even hints at feeling the same.

I think I see the problem. The questionable premise.

My college degree isn’t going to stop [the police] from shooting me dead in the street if they feel inclined.

Of which, it turns out, there may be more than one.

Continue reading "She Makes Her Own, I Think" »