Friday, April 22, 2011

Startling D-blog ignorance revealed

Maybe "startling" isn't the right word. "More" is probably better. Been reading Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist. Good stuff, generally speaking, though nothing earth-shattering to (Julian) Simonists. We're not all gonna die (at once, anyway).

But one thing Ridley mentions the D-blog had never heard of before. In a hunk where he's discussing the social progress capitalism has led to, he notes the abatement of cruelty to animals, and particularly, blood sports.

It's not in the index, goddamnit, but one blood sport that died out because of capitalism, he claims, is:

Fox tossing.

Fox tossing? Bear baiting, cock fighting, doggie death-duels, I know about. But fox tossing was a new one. At first I thought it was some weird editing mistake, but sure enough, mankind's savior, Wikipedia, put me some Knowledge:
Fox tossing would take place in an arena, usually either created by setting up a circle of canvas screens in the open or by using the courtyard of a castle or palace.[1] Two people would stand six to seven and a half metres (20 to 25 feet) apart, holding the ends of a webbed or cord sling which was laid flat on the ground. An animal such as a fox would then be released from a cage or trap and driven through the arena, across the sling. As it crossed the sling the tossers pulled hard on the ends, throwing the animal high into the air.[2] The highest throw would win the contest; expert tossers could achieve throws of as high as 7.5 m (24 ft). On occasion, several slings were laid in parallel, so that the animal would have to run the gauntlet of several teams of tossers.[1]
Nice. Here's an illustrative woodcut or whatever, also from Wiki:

Notice the little things mostly lying around all dead-like? Foxes.

Update: By the way, there are two footnote [1]s in Wikipedia's explanation. As far as I know, Wikipedia has never before made a mistake. Something wrong!

Update II: Just noticed another thing: the chicks pulling on the goddamn cords in the illustration. Hot, hot, hot.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mangum murder and English language mayhem

The charge against Duke LAX false-accuser Crystal Mangum for stabbing her boyfriend or whatever he was has been upgraded to murder, meaning, to make it clear for D-blog readers, that the guy died. KC Johnson's Durham-in-Wonderland links to the NewsObserver's barebones account. Is this a surprise to anyone who's followed the woman's career?

Update: Scroll down a few posts and take a look at KC's take on Gang of 88 stalwart Wahneema Lubiano's (I didn't even have to look to spell her name right) {Update, many moons later: but I got her name backwards. Jesus. Originally I had it as "Lubiano Wahneema"] doctoral dissertation:
Lubiano’s dissertation—“Messing with the Machine: Four Afro-American Novels and the Nexus of Vernacular, Historical Constraint, and Narrative Strategy”—features the combination of only-in-academia beliefs and impenetrable prose that would characterize the few publications she would pen over the next quarter century. Here’s an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the dissertation, with the run-on structure as in the original:
And it does seem easy to give into [my sic] the temptation to think that one “knows” or understands already books about people who live, as the narrator in Invisible Man puts it, a “public life,” and in many ways anyone part of the Afro-American culture does lead a public life, is part of a group “known” (to the public’s gaze) more in the mass than in the particular, the idiosyncratic. Consideration of the “literariness” of these texts might seem, to some readers, almost superfluous because knowledge of the oppression imposed on the culture which forms the (con)text seems to make closer scrutiny of form, of structure, frivolous.
Somebody in the comments (be sure to read) found Wahneema's dissertation abstract:
Four Afro-American novels have advanced new visions of reality, language, and structure. These visions give rise, during the Harlem Renaissance, to the fantastical, shadowy, and dark reality of Cane and the lyricism and folklore of Their Eyes Were Watching God, to the surrealism of the nightmare vision of Invisible Man in the modern era; and, in the post-modern era, to the magical realism of Song of Solomon.

The intersection of Afro-American vernacular, as language or as attitude toward language, the historical moment and its varied constraints, and the narrative structures, form an intersection within these texts: a nexus. That nexus is the unmediated space for the construction of meta-realistic visions that undermine a dominant Anglo-American realism predicated on rationalism and linear historical constructs.

My study, to a great extent, is a translation of that nexus via an examination of the vernacular and the currents of contemporary literary discourse. Within that nexus, the borders of difference are foregrounded, and exploration of that difference is more productive for readers than a too easy and thoughtless identification with the content and themes of the texts.
Anybody who's followed the D-blog's decades-long publication of hilarious (at least to the D-blog) abstracts can see that Wahneema is like frickin' Hemingway (I hate Hemingway) in her word economy and general sense-making compared to some of the divots he's mocked.

Academia is a disease.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching up with: North Korea!

It's Year Juch 100, folks. The North Korean news agency KCNA reports on worldwide events to celebrate the 100th birfday of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea:
General Secretary Kim Jong Il received a letter on Wednesday from the participants in the consultative meeting of senior officials of the international preparatory committee for commemorating the centenary of birth of President Kim Il Sung.

As the world recognizes, the President is distinguished thinker-theoretician, great statesman, prominent strategist and great sage with noble virtues, the letter said. . . .

We are convinced that the gate to a thriving nation will be opened in 2012 marking the centenary of birth of the President under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, it said, adding:

The international preparatory committee will fully discharge its mission and duty by making sure that colorful events praising the greatness and undying feats of the President are held on a worldwide scale with larger attendance.
Awww, you shouldn't have:
Floral Basket from Chairman of Int'l Foundation

General Secretary Kim Jong Il received a basket of flowers from Johnny Hon, chairman of the International Kim Il Sung Foundation, on the occasion of the Day of the Sun.

The basket was handed over to an official concerned on Wednesday.
More festivities!
A consultative meeting of senior officials of the international preparatory committee for commemorating the centenary of birth of President Kim Il Sung was held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on Wednesday. . . .

According to the information, preparatory committees were organized in many countries and regions of the world after the Pakistan-Korea Friendship Association in January 2008 called upon the organizations for friendship and solidarity with the Korean people to form preparatory committees on the occasion of the centenary of birth of the President and significantly commemorate the Day of the Sun in 2012 through colorful activities including seminar, round-table talks, exhibition and book publication. . . .

A resolution of the consultative meeting of senior officials of the international preparatory committee which calls for commemorating in splendor the centenary of birth of the President as the great auspicious event of humankind was adopted. . . .

The resolution also noted that the birthday of Kim Jong Il, the outstanding leader of the human cause of independence in 2012, would be celebrated as a grand international festival. . . .
Even the flora are in awe:
Flower Named after President Kim Il Sung

The 13th Kimilsungia Festival is going on in Pyongyang to commemorate the birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung (April 15).

Kimilsungia is associated with the Indonesian people's deep reverence for him.

When visiting Indonesia, Kim Il Sung was guided to the Bogor Botanical Garden on April 13, Juche 54 (1965). Sukarno briefed him on a flower bred by an Indonesian botanist and suggested naming it after the DPRK President.

Kim Il Sung politely declined the suggestion, saying he had no particular reason for it.

But Sukarno told him that he deserved it for his great contribution to humankind.

Finding it difficult to decline any more, Kim Il Sung said he would accept the suggestion as a token of the Indonesian people's admiration for the Korean people.
Let's hear it for the ladies:
Women's Union Members Commemorate Day of Sun

An art performance of women's union members "We Will Always Sing the Song of Sun under the Guidance of the Great General" took place here on Wednesday to commemorate the birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

Its numbers included "We Will Always Live with the Leader," "The Father of People" and "The Victory of Revolution Is in Sight."

The audience expressed great admiration for a short play "My Wife" and duet "My Daughter-in-Law" that show the Korean women's honor and pride of leading a happy life as the flower of the country and the flower of family.

Quintet "Ninani Nanno of Happiness" and drum and chorus "A Thriving Nation Is in Sight" gave the audience confidence in tomorrow when all ideals of the people will come to reality.

The performance was enjoyed by Choe Ryong Hae, secretary of the C.C., the Workers' Party of Korea, Ro Song Sil, chairwoman of the C.C., the Democratic Women's Union of Korea, and officials and members of the union in Pyongyang.
Ninani Nanno! Guess who's gonna be taking part in the celebrations:
Former US President Jimmy Carter is scheduled to fly to Pyongyang later this month and has said he will try to revive the six-party talks and address humanitarian woes.
Carter: always with the wet blanket.

Update: Remember when Obama wished he were the president of China? Just putting on my Tom Friedman hat here, but I've got a better
idea . . .

Update II: Could somebody help me out with the subjunctive here? Should it be "Obama wished he were president of China," or "Obama wished he was" . . . etc.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More crushing necessary

Get a load of this crap by Terry Eagleton in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. "In praise of Marx":
There is a sense in which the whole of Marx's writing boils down to several embarrassing questions: Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality? What are the mechanisms by which affluence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it, as the good-hearted liberal reformist suggests, that we have simply not got around to mopping up these pockets of human misery, but shall do so in the fullness of time? Or is it more plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality, as surely as Charlie Sheen generates gossip?
Gad. Read the comments. Commies abound.

(via Althouse)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tending toward evil

Talking to a friend of mine a little ago and he was bitching about being the primary (or nearly so) caregiver for his poor withered mither (he's a good son, despite his smell). After letting him vent for a while I suggested (in jest, I necessarily add) that he reenact that scene from Kiss of Death. You know the one:

Well, a few minutes later my phone rings. My friend. "Hey," I say, perspicantically. No response, except for this sound, familiar, yet unidentifiable: Bumpety-bumpety squeak, bumpety-bumpety squeak, bumpetybumpetybumpetysqueaksqueaksqueeeeeaaaaaak boink-boink-boink.

Crash. All this time I'm yelling "Xanthippe? Xanthippe! XANTHIPPE!!! (not his real name (except the exclamation marks)), and--nothing. I was worried. But as it turns out it was all a (to be continued, he lied.)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Abstract(s) of the Week!

Ethics & the Environment

Greta Gaard

Reproductive Technology, or Reproductive Justice?: An Ecofeminist, Environmental Justice Perspective on the Rhetoric of Choice


This essay develops an ecofeminist, environmental justice perspective on the shortcomings of “choice” rhetoric in the politics of women’s reproductive self-determination, specifically around fertility-enhancing technologies. These new reproductive technologies (NRTs) medicalize and thus depoliticize the contemporary phenomenon of decreased fertility in first-world industrialized societies, personalizing and privatizing both the problem and the solution when the root of this phenomenon may be more usefully addressed as a problem of PCBs, POPs, and other toxic by-products of industrialized culture that are degrading our personal and environmental health. The NRTs’ rhetoric of choice is implicitly antifeminist: it blames the victim by attributing rising infertility rates to middle-class women who delay childbearing while struggling to launch careers; it conceals information about adverse health effects and solicits egg donation and gestation services from women disadvantaged by economic status, nation, and age; and it offers no choice at all for the millions of female animals—chicks, cows, turkeys, pigs, and others—whose fertility is regularly manipulated and whose offspring are commodified as products for industrialized animal food production. An intersectional analysis shifts the discourse away from reproductive choice to a framework of ecological, feminist, and reproductive justice.
Configurations ("The official publication of the Society for Literature and Science")

Robert Yarber

The Cloud of Unknowing


The author presents a case of self-organizing daimonic mythopoiesis. The spiritual tourist, entheogenic experimenter, and the painter enfold a matrix of inter-developed "sorties" into the allotropic differentials of the autopoietic process. Fieldwork in Mandi, Himashal Pradesh, India provides an introduction to the virtualities of the peripersonal as it manifests in a "darshan" or self-showing of the goddess where the velocity of the psychopomp's body approaches pure phase-space. The immersive space of the peripersonal is further revealed in the author's absorption within the wire-frame virtualities of currently available three-dimensional modeling programs. Parallel work is conducted through experimentation with Animita muscaria, a traditional entheogen revered in various cultures. Possibly the ancient Soma of the Vedic scriptures, the mushroom provides occasion for somatic dissociation within which phenomenological data is gathered. Use is made of the phenomenological method of introspection, which more literally becomes a driving inward of the homuncular eye along a trajectory of the cine-somatic gaze through an introjected, intra-corporeal immersive scene. In the conclusion, this ancient "gaze of the clinic" is deemed useful to current research, as corporeality and the politics of peripersonal space enter new technological and juridical frames of reference in relation to agency, identity, and the state.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Conference on World Affairs, CU's annual "intellectual Olympics," opens

Note how mature I am in not calling it "CU's Intellectual 'Special' Olympics."

Actually it's not maturity, it's just been said over and over, and this year, as past years, shows why. The Gamera:
Flags representing countries from around the globe now line CU's Norlin Quadrangle, and the annual procession of panelists and dignitaries made its parade through the Boulder campus Monday morning.

Eager attendees have marked up their schedules, choosing panels on marriage equality, nuclear weapons, 2012 presidential candidates and ... Tinker Bell's cleavage and body enhancement.
The Gamera asks predictably ponderous and right-thinking keynote speaker Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College, "What things matter in America today?"
EC: The challenges facing this country are enormous. They are unmet. We are watching. They are urgent. We are failing desperately to educate vast quantities of our young people. The challenges of health, this most civilized highly developed country is failing miserably to provide a minimum reasonable level of health to this society. Issues of the environment, particularly global warning, have the likely potential of undermining human civilization all together.
There are, of course, a number of panels on Global Warming among less-silly offerings like--well, here's the schedule; pick out your own less-silly offerings. The Camera has a story on NASA AGW scientist Peter Hildebrand, who spoke yesterday on "Climate change and wildfires in the west." Guess what he thinks:
"The whole Rocky Mountain area has been drying out," said Peter Hildebrand, director of the Earth Sciences Directorate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "You put that information into a conceptual (fire) model, and it shows that fire incidents are going to increase as climate warms up. And that's what's been happening." . . .
Is there anything models can't predict? Other climate change panels include "Species extinction is no big deal" (probably sarcasm, huh? Hildebrand is on that panel, too); "Climate change: Past the point of no return" (ditto); "It's the economy: Whatever happened to global warming?" (yep); and "Can science feed the growing global population (Hildebrand, where are y--oh, there you are).

All right, since D-blog readers are by definition too lazy to click on links, I'll list a few other panels: "American optimism: Dead or alive?" (dead); "Peace by peaceful means"; "Why jazz matters" (boop-diddle-bop); "The wild, wild web: We are all outlaws online" (bang); "Socially responsible careers: Doing well by doing good"; "Near-sighted Americans: Misperceptions of the other"; "Death to the death penalty"; and "Life outside Facebook" (I'll take the death penalty). And that's only Monday and Tuesday!

Skimming the "participant prosopography" (yes, I had to look it up), there are actually two or three sorta conservatives among the scores of "progressive" participants, including WSJ columnist John Fund and NRO writer Michael G. Franc. Never forget: They're risking their lives for us.

The most paneled panelist is probably conference stalwart and former Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra. Let's see, he's on: "Sex: Good for you is good for me"; "What the left can learn from the right"; Katy, Gaga, Ke$ha: The new feminist role models"; "Dynamic Duo: A partisan rant"; "What's wrong with American sports"; and "Anarchy in the USA." I probably missed a couple. Always wondered what flavor Jello Biafra is. Probably dirt.

Anyway, sorry I have to miss it. Gotta wash my hair. Yes, all week. Scabies, don't you know.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Head tourism official: Ward Churchill

The Telegraph:
Liverpool is famed for many things – including The Beatles and its football team. But few would associate the city with one of the most famous political speeches in history.

Yet tourism officials in the city have published the extraordinary claim that Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech was written at a city centre hotel.

The allegation has been made in a guide to a major art event entitled "Liverpool Discovers", commissioned by amongst others, the city council.

A map in the guide shows how more than 20 locations where famous people were born along with places associated with celebrities and events in their lives.

The guide proclaims: "Martin Luther King visited his supporters in Liverpool three times, and the first draft of his famous 'I have a dream' speech is alleged to be written on Adelphi Hotel headed notepaper."
Even less well-known, Four Bears made his "the whites gave us smallpox bankies" speech in Liverpool, according to the gaffers down at the pub. Back to MLK:
[The speech's] links, if any, to Liverpool, have for nearly half a century been kept under wraps, and experts were quick yesterday to suggest that is where they should remain.

Dr King's biographer, Godfrey Hodgson said that the suggestion does not fit the facts. . . .

Prof John Belcham, a Liverpool University history lecturer who wrote an 800-year history of Liverpool in 2008, confirmed that he was unaware of any connection between Dr King and the city.

That, however, has not stopped tourism officials in publishing the rumour, and yesterday they were unrepentant. They said that the claim came from a public consultation and there was nothing to suggest it was untrue.

A spokesman for Liverpool Discovers said: "All of the facts we have came from a public consultation where we asked people to submit what they knew about Liverpool. . . .

"As you will appreciate it is sometimes difficult to prove historical facts, and we have run the map by local historians to best verify what appeared.
And they said, "What are you on about, son?" The spokesman steals arguments from the global warmists, too:
"Although biographers such as those associated with Martin Luther King may not be aware of such a fact, with all due respect to them, that in itself does not prove it to be untrue.
The Beatles got their start in Denver.
"Many cities reference stories about their history that cannot be absolutely proven –and in this case the word 'alleged' informs the reader that the fact is not set in stone."

It has though left tourist guides in the city somewhat out on a limb. One said: “We are getting people asking us to tell them more about this remarkable event and why there is no plaque at the hotel to commemorate it.

"We have to say it is some kind of urban legend that has been printed in error. It's very embarrassing."

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Send her to finishing school

Fake team-rape victim Crystal Mangum has been arrested again, according to Durham-in-Wonderland and a local TV station, this time for "stabbing her boyfriend in the chest." Didn't kill him, just "seriously injured" him. First she tried to send a bunch of innocent lacrosse players to jail for 30 years. No go. Then she tried to burn down her house with her kids in it. Couldn't manage it. Now she goes a more direct route. Still no prize, but she's getting closer. Allegedly.

Colorado weather

Yesterday, 80 degrees and sluggy:


Saturday, April 02, 2011

False headline

Telegraph front page tease: "King's teeth removed from auction." The story itself is more truthfully headlined: "Royal family requests x-rays be withdrawn from auction."

Rats. I'd have had one implanted right in front. Beat that, gold-toothed rappers! Of course, how would anybody know, unless George's tooth was conspicuously larger or more rotten than my other front tooth. I'd have to carry a certificate of authenticity around with me. Never mind.

There was this little nugget: "Experts who have viewed them said that the king's teeth were not the cause for his famous speech impediment that his [sic] subject of the hit film The King's Speech." . . .

Stephen Hancocks, the editor-in-chief of the British Dental Journal, examined the X-rays of King George VI's teeth.

He said: "The X-rays indicate that the King had good teeth for a man of his age.

"There is some evidence of bone loss which may be due to gum disease, possibly linked to smoking, as he was known to be a heavy smoker."
Update: Poetry Corner--of Death! Telegraph again:
Sergio Lapa, 36, was initially awarded second place in a poetry competition in the prisoner's magazine Inside Time.

The prisoner, who is awaiting trial at HMP Norwich on a charge of attempted murder, entered a poem called In Bed in his attempt to win the £25 prize in the March edition of the magazine.

But he was caught out when at least eight prisoners spotted the poem was an exact copy of Philip Larkin's poem Talking In Bed.
How many prisoners in the U.S. would have spotted it? That's right: none. I weep for our country.
Mr Lapa is now facing a barrage of abuse by prisoners at HMP Norwich.

A prison source said lags took poetry 'very seriously' and were furious when poems were ripped off. . . .

"There is a very moral code in prison when it comes to poetry and this guy is feeling the heat at the moment – there are a lot of angry people around."

A spokesman for Inside Time confirmed it had received 'many letters' about the poem. He added: "Do not plagiarise other people’s work, as you WILL be found out."

The poem by Larkin lost out in the competition to a contribution titled Relating from a prisoner called Brian Darby, of HMP Maidstone.