Wednesday, 24 March 2010

More misandrist genocide from planet pop

So, it turns out Joss Stone made a music video about torturing and killing the man she loves - all by herself! Here's the video below with analysis by Ken Korda (Adam Buxton).

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I don't yet know how I feel about the proposed closure of BBC 6Music. On the one hand, most of the podcasts I listen to are recorded for 6music, and I am worried about them losing financial support. On the other hand, I am a podcast listener and never listen live to the radio. I've never been able to listen to the same station all day and be consistently entertained by it; it makes much more sense for me to take the tidbits that I like and listen to them whenever I feel like it.

So in a way, I don't care if 6music closes as long as Adam and Joe find a way to continue making the podcast. While 6music is a good station for supporting presenters and music artists that find it difficult to get a foothold in a purely commercial environment, the internet is also pretty good at doing that. The only trouble is, people still haven't quite figured out how to make money from creative products in an internet culture where most things are given away for free. Maybe some hostile conditions will force the improvisation required to find the solution to this problem.

The BBCs behaviour on this matter bothers me not so much because it's hostile, but because it seems like it might be based on an outdated way of viewing the public. The BBC likes to break people down into age groups. You're supposed to listen to Radio 1, 2 or 4 depending on your position within a set of three age brackets. I'm not convinced that people are going to continue identifying with their age group that strongly anymore. In the same way that we can't talk to our neighbors anymore because geographical communities have become less important, similarly I don't think people have a lot in common with each other just because they are the same age. I think nowadays we build out identities based on the products and activities we consume, rather than choosing which products to consume based on our existing identity.

Stations such as 6music that are pitched at a taste group rather than an age group have staying power even as the information age erodes preexisting community boundaries. Stations that are pitched at age groups assume the existence of a majority mass culture that in ten years time will have all but disappeared.

Painfully stupid

This is a little old, but it's been bugging me for a while.

I was willing to keep an open mind about this man until I saw the talk above. He hasn't actually formed a line of argument! He makes patronising comments like, 'You guys like data,' and, 'You all know more about the internet than I do' and yet he still doesn't credit the audience with the intelligence to notice that he hasn't given any evidence for his conclusion. He opens by saying that the internet is going to improve people power and that this is the way that he can improve things without spending more money, but at no point does he explain how this will happen. Reason is pretty important to me, and that he would so comprehensively avoid using reason or acknowledging its value is like a slap in the face to me. The fact that politicians don't believe that the public at large can digest a well-constructed argument is bad enough - the fact that they apply this even to the viewers of TED is absolutely horrifying. I'm beginning to believe that Cameron might not be cynically withholding rational argument, but is simply incapable of forming one.

In any case, I decided to post this because I've recently realised what he might have said if he knew how to write a coherent line of argument.

A vast amount of public money goes to institutions that make up 'The Public Sphere.' The Public Sphere denotes the area where the public can receive open information and express their views. It is by means of the public sphere that consensus is created. This used to be made up of libraries, museums, schools, public service broadcasting such as the bbc, and newspapers. However, the internet, as a new medium of communication and information that allows us to communicate with more people and acquire more knowledge than was ever possible before, may supplant the old public sphere with its superior opportunities for self-expression and self-education. What I think Cameron is getting at is that since the internet exists, we don't need public services as much as we used to, so we can cut their funding.

This is very worrying to me, as I rather like museums and libraries and I want to work in them. I think there is still a place for them, in spite of the changes brought by the internet. There is evidence that although the internet hosts a large amount of information, internet culture prevents most individuals from actually hearing different sides of the same story. Through inter-blog link love and selective sharing of news stories to blog subscribers, people end up cocooned in information that suits their pre-existing narratives on the world. This is known as 'cyberbalkanisation.' The internet brings some people together, but it also deepens existing factions. This is most clearly seen in the complete lack of overlap in information shared on sites supporting Israel and sites supporting Palestine. Only the former will write about Hamas, and only the latter will write about living conditions in Gaza. Museums and libraries exist to challenge people's intellect and prejudices, whereas the internet tends to confirm them. Yet Cameron would use the internet as an excuse to cut funding to these and other public services.

He may think he's supporting people power, but really he's supporting mob rule.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Seduction and poetry in medieval Japan

I've been meaning to write about this article for over a year now, so I think I'd better shift this brain crack before it starts eating away at me.

In the academic paper linked above John Wallace gives an exciting, new reading of the memoirs of medieval Japanese widower Izumi Shikibu. She wrote her memoirs in an attempt to shift her bad reputation, in order to ingratiate herself with a successful literary salon.

Izumi had a reputation as a homewrecker and a golddigger because of her love affair with her late husband's brother, Sochi no Miya. She tries to give the impression that she entered the love affair out of boredom (tsurezure) and longing for her late husband. She has to prove that she isn't a homewrecker or a golddigger. As a widower in a male-dominated society, Izumi's social and economic standing was very precarious. As an imperial prince, Miya is in a position to lift Izumi out of this situation by giving her a job and a home, and he has enough authority that if he was to demand her affection she wouldn't be in a position to refuse. The rational thing for a smart girl in her situation was to seduce prince charming, and then claim that he had been in charge all along.

There's lots of juicy stuff in the article from page 495 onwards, so I'll only give one example here. At one point, Miya uses a poem to accuse Izumi of cheating on him because he found her door locked, and she responds in kind, saying that he should have knocked to find out what was going on:

While standing
before the wooden door
that was not opened
I experienced
a cruel heart

How can you experience
whether or not
that heart is cruel?
You just left untouched
my wooden door

In her commentary Izumi tells the readers that she hadn't been with another man, but she never tells Miya such a thing explicitly. She allows him to believe that she is seeing other men in order to show control over who has access to her body. She also does this by threatening to become a Buddhist nun. In the end, his fear of her sleeping with other men and desire to take control of the availability of her body leads him to house her in his own home, which was probably what she intended all along.

If you're interested and you have access to Jstor, you should read the rest of the article. There's a nice bit when Izumi lures Miya to her hut by saying something along the lines of, "It's raining so hard. I'm getting all wet."

The evolution of the genocidal super-diva

Lady Gaga's latest music video has me once again swinging between awe and revulsion. What am I supposed to think about this woman? She's so shiny that no amount of nudity or lady-humping can make her genuinely erotic, but I kind of like the irony of that. There's something endearing about her preposterous habit of beginning performances clad in cumbersomely huge haute couture and ending them nearly nude. She seems fairly self-mocking despite having rapidly risen to super-diva status. However, I can't help but find something a little troubling about her nasty habit of KILLING people.

In the video for Bad Romance she is drugged by women, dances for the viewing pleasure of men who bid on her, and then kills the man who placed the winning bid for her affections by setting him on fire.

In Video Phone with Beyoncé, she dances for male voyeurs with cameras for heads. Beyoncé is taking care of apparent male prisoners with bags over their heads. Beyoncé and Gaga go on to use a variety of flourescent projectile weapons to kill a few of these men.

In Paparazzi her male lover throws her off a balcony, leaving her with several injuries. All of this is photographed by paparazzi. She recovers from her injuries and has a lesbian orgy. Meanwhile, the unexplained dead bodies of many women are shown scattered elegantly in various parts of her mansion and its surrounding gardens. Then she poisons her male lover dead.

In Telephone, she is locked up in a prison populated entirely by sexy lesbians, where she passes the time having lesbian orgies, watching catfights and taking part in synchronised dance routines, which butch lesbian security guards watch through cctv while perusing lesbian dating sites. Amid all of this someone is trying to contact her, much to her displeasure as she would like to be left to enjoy the orgies. Nevertheless, she is bailed out of jail and driven away to the desert by her lover Beyoncé, in a Pussy Wagon. Beyoncé chides her and feeds her a sandwich in a provocative manner. They then go to a diner and murder a huge number of people, including Beyoncé's ex-lover, by poisoning the food.

Clearly there's a theme of lesbian orgies, voyeurism and murder here, but I can't quite figure out what's being implied. Any ideas?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Video bloggers

I've managed to wean myself off the obsessive relationship I used to have with Youtube and I now spend about half an hour a week on the site, compared to the hour or two a day I used to spend. Nevertheless my love for videoblogging as a medium hasn't died. Not that I think videoblogs are more entertaining than, say, action movies. The videobloggers that I consider to be funny are consistently less funny than my boyfriend is on any normal day. This would be understandable, since I love the man and therefore giggle uncontrollably at whatever inane shit he projects from his larynx. However, I usually have very high expectiations of performance media. The main explanation I give for my love of videoblogs is the intimacy, which builds a delusion that I have a distant friend in the blogger.

Take Nerimon, for instance. Nerimon is kind of dorky and sometimes annoying, but I'd still like to have him as a friend. I think he'd be a good guy to have around for the banter.

I only discovered Meekakitty a few days ago but boy am I smitten. For some reason I like to think of her as a smarter, more beautiful and more regularly posting version of boxxy.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Terror news with a happy ending

They always save the juiciest bits of newspaper articles for the end. Take this, at the end of a Times article about full body scanners:

Last month, Lord Adonis stressed that an interim code of practice on the use of body scanners stipulated that passengers would not be selected “on the basis of personal characteristics”.

What, so if I'm picked for a scan I don't know for sure that Mr. Security Man thinks I'm hot, and wants to catch a peek at my boobs? What a disappointment. You think you've found these cheap ego trips in life and then The Man insists on taking them away from you.

He said that images captured by body scanners would be immediately deleted after the passenger had gone through and that security staff were appropriately trained and supervised.

Trainer: Remember, if a hot girl walks through the scanner, immediately think about your grandmother in a bikini. Any trouser snakes that raise their head will be severely punished by your supervisor. And when I say punished...

Pimp my paper

I love my dissertation supervisor. She's a brilliant and inspiring teacher for many reasons. Far from the top of this list of reasons is her 'academic handwriting' which keeps me cheery by setting me the fun puzzle of figuring out which of several possible messages could be written there. Take the example above; is she or isn't she calling me a pimp? It's the little things like this that bring a ray of sunshine onto the cloudy sky of increasing proximity to my deadline.

Monday, 1 March 2010

How to make tagine the passive aggressive way

Here's a recipe for tagine to serve four people - albeit four really tiny people. No, I don't use an actual Tagine pot to make it because I refuse to fill my cupboards with utensils that are only useful for one dish, but I'm interested in the idea of trying it out with a crock pot instead - I'm getting a hand-me-down crockpot soon so I will give it a go. In the meanwhile, this is how I do it.

Chop an onion, two or three cloves of garlic and a lump of ginger approx. 4x4 cm big. Pass these to your partner to fry in a saucepan.

Chop 150g mushrooms and 100g string beans. The size is merely a cosmetic matter and is immaterial to the success of the recipe so make your own mind up about it. Give these to the frying monkey when the onions go transparent.

When the vegetables start to go soft push the monkey away from the saucepan and make him prepare the chicken and halloumi as described below. Add one teaspoon each of cumin, turmeric and cinnamon, one and a half teaspoons of harissa, two teaspoons each of honey and ground almonds and enough vegetable stock/bouillon to just cover the vegetables. Add a handful of raisins and a handful of chopped green olives and a little salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, your partner is tenderly rubbing his breasts - that is, four pieces of chicken breast - with cumin and turmeric. When he's done fondling his meat his hands will have sticky goo all over them, so you will have to oil a frying pan for him and put it on the hob. While the chicken is cooking he washes his hands, chops 100g of halloumi into 1.5 cm thick slices and fries that in a separate pan. Keep an eye on the halloumi pan, because the carnivore is too transfixed by his bird carcass to notice when the cheese starts to burn.

While the chicken is cooking and he's at a loose end, make the monkey taste the sauce and decide whether to add more of any of the ingredients listed above. A perfect balance between salty, sweet and spicy flavours makes it really moreish. When the chicken and halloumi is almost done add two teaspoons of chopped parsley to the sauce.

Once the chicken and halloumi are cooked we spread the sauce between them and leave them for another couple of minutes so that the flavours sink in. Serve with couscous that has butter and olive oil mixed in to make it actually taste like something. If you like, you can garnish the dish with more parsley and some finely chopped almonds, but lately we can't be bothered.

A final note: since I have made many passive aggressive jokes about my cooking partner in this tutorial, I must point out that the reason why he does all the frying at the beginning is that he is phenomenally good at making things not burn, despite the poor quality of our cooking equipment. Were our roles reversed, the dish would taste like someone dumped an ashtray in it.

Birdie cup

I don't live in the US, so I can't buy this beautiful cup because the seller only ships domestically. The little birdie is scaled down from a lifesize model by repeated moulding, firing and recasting, which works because the firing process causes it to shrink by 16%. So it's a clean design, with an unbearably cute touch and a lesson in ceramics production methods. Sigh.

Still, I'm a Buddhist, so I've trained for years in the fine art of imagining what it would be like if someone I don't know owned such a beautiful cup and feeling genuinely happy for them.

Genuinely, sympathetically joyful for a total stranger on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. That's the sort of heartwarming sentiment I live for.

Fucking yankee jammy bastards.

:) Peace xxx


Are you as geeky about books as I am? Do you get a massive thrill putting new books on your shelf? Does alphabetising them make you smile? Do you actually enjoy writing bibliographies at the end of your essays? Then you must click on this link.

Books is a bit of free software for Mac that has been out for ages but I only just heard about. It allows you to catalogue your book collection - something I've always wanted to do - in a way that is so smooth and fast you will feel like the size of your book collection is woefully inferior. "Surely that should have taken at least an hour?" you will think. "Maybe I should go back and modify the genre tags so that they're more systematic?" you will ponder. Because all of the basic copyright information, as well as a photograph of a book cover, are generated in a matter of seconds after scanning the barcode on the back of the book with your webcam. It's awesome and great fun.

Grody yourself, blasted internet!

Quick post to say that I hate the word, 'grody.' I came across it a couple of weeks ago when playing vintage adventure game, 'Day of the tentacle,' and it's been bugging me ever since. Something possessed a couple of the bloggers I follow to use it - I won't link as I don't want use of the revolting word to be encouraged. What could have caused people who are much better writers than I to think that using the word, 'grody' would be a good idea I do not know.

I decided to turn that hatred into something constructive and write the word in pretty letters. I felt a great sense of cathartic release. And by cathartic release, I mean power trip. TAKE THAT, YOU WHINY, SAD LITTLE SET OF LETTERS! NOW I MADE YOU! NOW I OWN YOU, BITCH!


I can't quite put my finger on what it is about the word I hate. Since it almost rhymes with bogie and Moby, both of which are words I hate just as much, I thought it might be the oh-aspirated consonant-ee pattern that makes me sick to the stomach. However, I quite like the names, 'Cody,' and 'Wobie'. Wobie being, of course, the rebellious kid who never did his homework - Wobie Tide?