Posts Tagged “Homosexuality”

07w06:1 Free Expression

by timothy. 1 Comment

Last Sunday saw this year’s Superbowl, when the marketing agencies try to wow us ito another enthusiastic year of American consumerism. I was in no mood for any of it; in fact, I was rather grumpy last weekend. So when I found Theodore Dalrymple’s intolerant text entitled Freedom and its Discontents in which he expresses thanks for not having to voice on radio his thoughts on the 12 year old Austrian boy who recently had a sex change, I was annoyed and grumpified even more, although I appreciated his perspective. He wrote:

If I had spoken my mind, without let or hindrance, I should have said what I suspect a very large majority of people think: that there is something grotesque, and even repugnant, about the whole idea of sex-changes, let alone of sex-changes for twelve year-olds.

I don’t find the issue repugnant nor do I find it very interesting. Dalrymple goes on to write about how the freedom of expression has been curtailed, not by onerous censorship laws, but by the intolerance of the politically correct. He concludes by writing: ‘Please don’t reply to any part of this article. I won’t read it: I know I’m right.’

Those who know they are right are the most exasperating people one ever has to deal with. Stubborn minded fools so set in their ways they don’t even care about appearing to be ignorant, deluded and hateful. Dalrymple’s work nevertheless tends to be a good read because we can learn and gain something from his perspective. He isn’t constrained by an idealism, nor his he constrained by the specialized knowledge that cuts ‘those in the know’ off from the common.

Over my time doing this list, I’ve occasionally received letters taking to task something I wrote in introduction, or questioning my link selection. I thought I would need a defense of Dalyrmple’s article saying basically: don’t shoot the messenger, and began it anticipating this edition. But over the past week, I saw more than one article appear which basically underlines a theme of intolerance. It is one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing with Goodreads, and that is attempting to document through the link selection the occasional popular meme – an idea which seems to be expressed in more than one article appearing simultaneously from different sites.

The greatest example of intolerance in current public/web discussion has to do with the Holocaust, and seems focused on the latent assumption that the next war will be with Iran. There seems to be a lack of appetite in the United States for another invasion, which is a good thing, but churning along underneath the popular sentiment is the attempt by the right-wing blowhards to demonize Iran’s president Ahmadinejad who made the cover of yesterday’s (Feb 10) Globe & Mail. We have been told for months that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier, because he has said in the past that it was a myth. Out of an extreme generosity and skepticism of North American propaganda, I’ve questioned whether he didn’t mean the anthropological sense of the word, until I remembered referring in recent conversations to consumerism as a myth (meaning it as an inaccurate oversimplification of our economic activity) and I was using the popular form of the word.

To clarify: anthropologically a myth is a story of meaning, one that punches above its weight of accumulated incidents. To say that the Holocaust is a myth under this context I think is accurate. It is has found a high, and defining, place in the Jewish story, and in a world of secularism, it seems that while not all contemporary Jews may believe in their God, they certainly all believe in their near genocide. As a gentile I find the overwhelming presence of the story sometimes noxious, as it has seemed to breed an unhealthy and unproductive paranoia that generates more hatred and anger than peace. And as a gentile I have to be very careful about what I say regarding this historical incident, since there is an element within Judaism who are ready to condemn any one who questions this reality in any way, who seem to think that all gentiles are closeted anti-Semites ready to light up the ovens again if given the chance. The taboo and reverence that is now tied to the Holocaust story is surely mythic in this regard, making condemnable heretics of those who deny.

But popularly, a myth is a fairy-tale, a fiction, and I don’t question the veracity, or the horror of the Shoah. The reality of Holocaust denial fits in perfectly with the stupidity of the age which questions even the Moon landings; such is a healthy skepticism toward the stories of authority taken to an extreme and absurd level. We live at a time when some believe in the literalness of the Bible, that people lived with dinosaurs, and that perhaps Jesus only lived a thousand years ago. It is doubtful that Ahmadinejad is sophisticated enough to mean the anthropological sense of mythology when referring to those events.

But my problem is essentially based on the fact that I have no reason to believe anything I’m ever told by Western governments in general with regard to foreign policy. Since childhood I’ve been told that political leaders on the other side of the planet are generally untrustworthy and/or crazy. And because everything nowadays seems to be about the other side of the planet, I was left with cognitive dissonance when I heard Mike Wallace interview the President of Iran, as he did last August (and available in the two mp3s below). Because Mr. Ahmadinejad sounds saner than my own political leaders.

Wha? I mean, listen closely to the interviews: at one point Ahmadinejad says to Wallace (who prompted him to be more sound-bitey) that all of his questions require book length answers. What North American politician would say such a thing? ‘The problem that President Bush has is that in his mind he wants to solve everything with bombs. The time of The Bomb is in the past, it’s behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue, and cultural exchanges’. Who the fuck said that!?

Now, with props to my culture’s conditioning, who knows if he was just putting on a show of reasonableness for the Western cameras. We are told continually that these foreign leaders are like that: crafty propagandists who seduce our liberal left-wingers with their talk of international justice and wanting to do good things for their people. But we know The Truth, because our warmongering political elite have deemed to tell us The Real Story in between all of the secrets they keep. These leaders in the next hemisphere want to nuke us, they hate our freedom, they’re insane and hateful, unenlightened and ignorant, and they regularly flaunt international laws. They are also undemocratic and barbaric, because their elections are either rigged or the wrong people (Hamas) win. Further, when they execute their past tyrants they don’t do it tastefully.

Worst of all, they’re all anti-Semtic and want to destroy Israel, which is another way of saying they are Latter Day Nazis and thus we’re in another Just War against genocidal fascists. In the midst of this snake pit there is Israel, and the Israeli Cabinet, we need to remember, is along with the Pope and the American President, infallible; all graced by God with the ability to never be wrong about anything.

On Freedom of Expression
As I’ve said, I’m being extremely generous in assuming that Mr. Ahmadinejad could be more intelligent than he is portrayed. But such an example, based on an uncommon view, removes my argument from the realm of shared experience from which we should be debating ideas about free expression. The controversial issues of our time are discussed based on common understanding and misunderstandings, and it’s important that we debate within those limits, rather than resort to extreme examples which make everything hypothetical fast.

Abortion is the example that comes readily to mind – growing up in the 1980s and hearing about Henry Morgentaler in the news, and even once participating in a junior high school debate on the subject, the pro-choice contingent regularly argued for cases of rape, incest, and maternal health concerns as deserving abortions. I haven’t checked out the stats, but I’ll hazard a guess that over 90% of abortions performed in North America have nothing to do with those examples. Common knowledge – which may be ignorant and flawed granted – suggests that most abortions are a form of birth control. To hedge around that by arguing the extremes keeps the debate from really being held in the first place, and thus the camps can remain unconvinced by the other’s position.

American commentators see free speech as a sacrosanct right, and as a result have one of the most intolerant and ignorant cultures on the planet. But that is their self-described right. The United States gift to the world seems to have been the enlarge definition of rights to include the right to degrade, discredit and humiliate oneself to a state of unreserved indignity. Anna Nicole Smith had the good fortune to die this past week to provide me with her example. The idealists of the U.S. make it a point to defend the offensive and vulgar as a part of this right, and perhaps here I shouldn’t remind you that vulgar came from the Latin word for common, as I want to try and elevate the common to think of our common capacity for intelligence and compassion rather than our current and common psychopathologies. It is to this end that we need free expression defended: so that we are able to judge things for ourselves.

Our position in Canada is a more intolerant view on intolerance. We accept limits to free-speech which includes anti-hate speech laws. This is meant to prevent harm, and as I understand it, our Supreme Court allowed this by stating that some forms of speech are not worth defending.

A case in point is Holocaust denial: questioning the interpretation of the evidence is one thing, but what is the motivation behind it? The Jews have a right to mythologize (anthropologically) the story, and why should any of the rest of us care? When did the phrase ‘mind your own business’ fall out of favour? I think I know the answer to my rhetorical question, and it’s basically the one favored by Ahmadinejad and his fellow skeptics, one that prefers to dehumanize Jews with the word ‘Zionist’. I don’t think I need to get into it. I think the point raised by the Supreme Court’s decision is essentially it isn’t worth the debate, and that in fact it could be perceived as harmful to engage in it.

Somehow (and I think this has remained largely unexplained and unexplored) we can enjoy a freedom of expression without regularly crossing the line into hate speech. Seldom is anyone investigated or charged: you really have to make an effort to be that offensive. Or one has to be basically poking a bee’s nest: posting calls for Bush to be assassinated online, creating cartoons of Muhammed as a terrorist and the like. As free expression those examples are a waste of the freedom, since it contributes nothing to a discussion and is really only retrogressively ignorant.

How do we manage to use our freedom of expression productively when and if we do? I think it comes from our appreciation for those who offend in ways that increase our capacity for all of expression by showing us a new idea, a new way of life, and a new way of thinking. But we are wary and even intolerant of those who want to limit our expression, or limit our innate sense of progress toward a better world, through the expression of their retrogressive views. In other words: blowing away a stale old convention and offending conservatives by doing so rocks; bringing about the downfall of civilization with a medieval attitude and mindset does not. Somehow we understand what constitutes this through a language of behavior rooted in our common experience. This is what makes conservatives so defensive: they know when they’ve been beat by a new expression. It used to be rock n’ roll: now it’s their teenagers using abbreviation, emoticons, and chatting online with strangers.

While we are united by a common grammar of speech, so too we are united by a common grammar of behaviour. This has been in the past referred to as bourgeois values and considered worth rebelling against, and thus movements created a type of poetry of misbehavior which expanded our own vocabularies of affect. But within these values is a core set of ideas about how we should treat one another, a common value set which sees the benefit to the whole at the individual’s expense.

Consider littering. Off hand, I’m sure we all agree that littering isn’t really a good thing. We’ll define it as saying it’s the introduction of garbage into a public space meant to be shared by all. We’ll further define garbage as something unwanted by someone. Thus, our definition here of littering is the introduction, of something unwanted, into a public space.

But what if this unwelcome introduction of something unwanted is called art by the litterer? Then it’s an intervention. Then, that cigarette cellophane you just dropped on the sidewalk is a performance. According to the art-rules I should shut up now, because the recontextualization destroys it as litter and makes it a human expression that should be nurtured, encouraged, and supported by art council grants. But here I really want to link littering to graffiti and say that because some people consider it unwelcome it is also a form of littering, but it’s one that I personally support as a human attempt at the beautification of plain (plane?) architecture.

While we all understand why we shouldn’t litter as part of our common knowledge, we also understand the deal with most abortions and why hate-speech could be criminal. We don’t need freedom of expression – or whatever other freedoms we enjoy – to be defended by extreme examples, because all laws, all social agreements, all freedoms exist first as a social convention in common knowledge and it is from this basis that the state feels it has the authority to police them. The fragmentation of our society into specialized interest groups is perhaps where we began to disagree about what should be legal and what shouldn’t be. Our common knowledge – our vulgarity – has been reduced to extreme forms of behavior and reduced in intelligence to something less than our potential making us more undignified than some animals.

The challenge has always been to incorporate the deviant into the conventional: this pattern has always seemed to be about the dominant sanctioning another – minority’s – convention as harmless rather than a sudden revaluation of the dominant’s morals. The arguments raised by Christopher Hitchens in his defense of the ‘freedom of denial’ in essence is of allowing that process to continue: for the dominant to not become so self-satisified that they refuse to consider the other’s point of view. But it also seems that we have reached examples of extreme perspectives that the dominant decided long ago were not sanctionable. Holocaust denial is one, as is sex with kids and animals. The recent Sundance film festival featured a film in which a 12 year old girl was raped, and another was a documentary on bestiality. My thoughts are essentially: do we really need to have that discussion? Are we so intellectually and emotionally bankrupt that we have to resort to those expressions for stimulation? It turns out that no distributor wants to buy the Dakota Fanning movie Hounddog and all I can think is thank god.

Ultimately, this is all about the strangeness of language: how a set of sounds, strung together a certain way, can have such intense psychological and intellectual effects. Words uttered or read can make the heart leap or fall, can be emotionally devastating or immensely uplifting, and it’s all just a bunch of sounds or a bunch of shapes on a surface. Through this, one mind interacts with another and our sense of what’s going in our world – that intersection of imagination and environment – grows until we eventually are changed people: more sophisticated, more learned, more conversant. We have a bigger bag of tricks and fuller experience of life. The freedom of speech is also the freedom to be exposed to ideas that we don’t agree with, so that we aren’t held back from the mysteriously transformative power of hearing or reading words. But a case can be made that some of this has the potential to be retrogressive and counterproductive, making us more stupid. Inasmuch as the state tries to do this for us, they should have better things to do, but I think it is also true that they don’t need to control what we think about things because that’s already done by a televised culture of idiocy. – Timothy


Iranian Leader Opens Up | 60 Minutes
Link to the video; audio at these links: Part 1 Part 2

Nobel laureate accosted at peace conference |
“In a bizarre attack, a well-known author and Holocaust scholar was dragged out of a San Francisco hotel elevator by an apparent Holocaust denier who reportedly had been trailing him for weeks.”

Are we all anti-Semites now? | Matthew Yglesias
“As a Jewish person with a not-so-Jewish last name who occasionally criticizes the policies of the Israeli government (or, more frequently, the policies of the United States vis-a-vis Israel), I’ve been known to spend some time pondering how to work the fact that I’m Jewish into my writing. After all, you don’t want to be called an anti-semite. The good news, then, is that the American Jewish Committee says I don’t need to bother any more. […] How does the paper pull this off? By starting out with a transparent fraud: identifying anti-semitism – hatred of Jewish people – with anti-Zionism, or the belief that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state. The latter view, while not something I agree with, simply is not anti-semitism. One could imagine applying the latter label to someone who proposed the physical destruction of the Israeli population. But the supposed sins of the ‘new’ anti-semites don’t even come close.”

David Margolick on David Mamet | New York Times Book Review Podcast
“November 5, 2006 | David Margolick on David Mamet; Emily Nussbaum on Heidi Julavits; science fiction columnist Dave Itzkoff.”

// The interview with David Margolick discuses his review of Mamet’s The Wicked Son:
Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews; the review itself is at this link:

Maybe I Am Chopped Liver | David Margolick
“Even if they find Mamet’s other works bewildering or raw, many Jews, particularly politically progressive types who are also observant or strongly self-identified or devoted to Israel, will applaud him here. They’ve been to one too many Upper West Side dinner parties in which they’ve been forced single-handedly to take on a tableful of pro-Palestinian Jews or to admit to praying periodically. They’ll share his complaint about unremitting hostility of many Jewish leftists to Israel, a place a large number of them have never even visited, nor ever bothered learning very much about. They’ll agree that Philip Roth and Woody Allen trashed Ashkenazi immigrant culture. They’ll share his disgust at all those supposedly enlightened Jews who mock the tradition that helped make them what they are, only to embrace the nearest ‘analgesic’ – materialism, Buddhism, yoga, self-help, agnosticism, sports, ethical culture – instead […] In fact, apart from various Internet wackos, anti-Semitism, at least the American strain, has waned; how else to explain the very assimilation Mamet so detests? But he writes as if Father Coughlin is still on the radio, Henry Ford still hawks The Dearborn Independent and Fritz Kuhn’s German American Bundists still march through Yorkville.”.

This Holocaust will be different | Benny Morris
“The second holocaust will be quite different. One bright morning, in five or 10 years, perhaps during a regional crisis, perhaps out of the blue, a day or a year or five years after Iran’s acquisition of the Bomb, the mullahs in Qom will convene in secret session, under a portrait of the steely-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini, and give President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by then in his second or third term, the go-ahead.The orders will go out and the Shihab III and IV missiles will take off for Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem, and probably some military sites, including Israel’s half dozen air and (reported) nuclear missile bases. Some of the Shihabs will be nuclear-tipped, perhaps even with multiple warheads. Others will be dupes, packed merely with biological or chemical agents, or old newspapers, to draw off or confuse Israel’s anti-missile batteries and Home Front Command units.”

David Margolick on ‘Fear’ | New York Times Book Review Podcast
“July 23, 2006 | William C. Rhoden, the author of $40 Million Slaves; David Margolick on Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz by Jan T. Gross”

Daniel Mendelsohn on The Lost | New York Times Book Review Podcast
“September 24, 2006 | Daniel Mendelsohn, the author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; science fiction columnist Dave Itzkoff on Dune; Rachel Donadio on the Dummies books.”

In N.Y., Sparks Fly Over Israel Criticism | Michael Powell
“Two major American Jewish organizations helped block a prominent New York University historian from speaking at the Polish consulate here last week, saying the academic was too critical of Israel and American Jewry.”

Christopher Hitchens | TVO’s Big Ideas
“A journalist and writer by trade, a controversialist by reputation and a fiery atheist by avocation, he was invited by the University of Toronto’s Hart House Debating Club to voice his opinion on the subject of the evening’s debate: Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate. Following a formal debate among four students, Hitchens will explain why it is an intellectual duty to defend the right of the revisionist historian David Irving’s right not be imprisoned in Austria for his views about the Holocaust.”

Christopher and His Kind – The thrill of saying something vile | Mukul Kesavan
“By a grotesque ideological sleight of hand, Hitchens would join the West to this great ‘multi-ethnic democracy’ using arguments that are only used in India by parties that would, if they could, create an ethnic, Hindu supremacist state. This convergence is not an accident: by making prejudice respectable, by short-circuiting due process, by presuming collective guilt instead of affirming the presumption of individual innocence, Hitchens and Amis have become what they pretend to pre-empt.”

Understanding Christopher Hitchens | JW @ Outside the Whale
“If you understand Orwell’s observations here, you will also understand Hitchens’ cutting attacks on hypocritical war critics like George Galloway or Michael Moore. In these, and other critics, Hitchens sees Orwell’s cruel pacifist. Thus, he points to Galloway standing shoulder to shoulder with oppressive dictators like Saddam Hussein and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad or exposes Michael Moore’s praise of murderous terrorists as “Minute Men”. Such conduct, in Hitchens’ eyes, fits squarely in Orwell’s crosshairs.This is not the whole picture. Hitchens is a much more nuanced and complex character than can be summarized in two principles or motives. Still, these points are unquestionably central to his position on Iraq. They are principles to which Hitchens remains absolutely committed, ever uncompromising, sometimes to his own detriment. Whether you agree or disagree, it must be said his stance is principled.”

George Galloway debates Christopher Hitchens: Part 1

//This was one of the best things I’ve seen in a long while. Dates from September 2005; runs in total about 2hrs divided into two parts.

George Galloway debates Christopher Hitchens: Part 2

Academic Freedom | TVO’s The Agenda
//The Agenda raised the issue of Professor Shiraz Dossa of St. F X attending the Tehran conference on the Holocaust. Should the university fire him? Does he have the right to attend?

Canadian prof attends Tehran’s gathering of Holocaust deniers | Doug Saunders
//You don’t need to read it: it’s been money-walled and here only for as a reference point and a bit of background.

No change in political climate | Ellen Goodman
“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

Denial | Frank Furedi
“Paradoxically, the absence of moral clarity today gives rise to an illiberal and intolerant climate. At a time when moralists find it difficult clearly to differentiate between right and wrong, they are forced to find some other way to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. So they seize examples of unambiguous evil – paedophilia, the Holocaust, pollution – in order to define potential moral transgression. Today’s heresy hunters strive to construct new taboos. The most ritualised and institutionalised taboo in Western society is to question the Holocaust, or to refuse to stand opposed to it. Numerous countries now have laws against Holocaust denial. In Austria, denying the Holocaust can lead to a 10-year prison sentence. Targeting Holocaust deniers allows politicians to occupy the moral high ground, which explains why, this month, German justice minister Brigitte Zypries called for a Europe-wide ban on Holocaust denial and the wearing of Nazi symbols.”

// That Mr. Furedi builds to this point – essentially defending denial as free expression – by appealing to medieval history seems both to be an attempt to appear thoughtful be simply remembering (last Goodreads) and to use those extreme examples which have nothing to do with the issues at hand. His article is about the right of people to deny accepted truths, which is a right of freedom of thought/speech/expression.

Reflecting on this lead to me the above littering example, since I’d like to now censor Global Warming Deniers, but see how they have the right to ‘call it art’ by claiming their right to express themselves. Although, I think they’ve had their time over-indulged and have now crossed over into being potentially harmful. I feel we’ve already wasted enough time by allowing them their freedom of expression and they managed to create such doubt that it has taken this long for politics to begin to take it seriously. Like Holocaust denial, its an extreme example of idiocy and doesn’t need to resort to freedom of expression laws to exist or be prevented. Common sense should be enough for us to ignore these people. The greater issue is that it apparently is not.

The Strangeness of Science | CBC Ideas Podcast (Goodreads mirror) Strangeness of Science.mp3
“Human beings are unable to grasp the reality that exists beyond our perceptions. Evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins explains why in the Beatty Memorial Lecture recorded at McGill University. Richard Dawkins is the also the author of a number of controversial books, The Selfish Gene, and most recently The God Delusion.”

// Do monotheists have the right to bore us not only with their identity politics but the basis for those delusions: the worship of an overbearing spirit so unpowerful that Catholic arguments against birth-control unwittingly prove His impotence? I mean, if less than a milimetre of latex can thwart His plan, how could He have created at all? Monotheists aren’t the only fundamentalists: Richard Dawkins could be described as a Fundamentalist Atheist, whose intolerance toward the religious is almost as nauseating as what we have to put up with from the die-hard Believers. I listened to this as a Buddhist fascinated by the scientific take on ‘mental-modeling software’ and disturbed by his belligerent intolerance toward spirituality.

The God Delusion | Daniel Dennett & H. Allen Orr

Let’s Be Rational | Theodore Dalrymple
“Not long ago, I spoke at a colloquium attended mostly by American conservatives. They were, at least to me, a highly congenial audience, friendly, humorous, polite, cultivated and very well-read (not always, let us be quite frank, the first characteristic of conservatives in any country). I happened to mention on the platform during one of the sessions that I was not religious, unlike the other members of the panel. I cannot now remember the precise context in which I made my terrible confession.I was surprised afterwards that several of the audience approached me and thanked me for it. What was there to thank me for? They said that they, too, were without religious faith, in short atheists, and it was a relief to them that someone, otherwise of like mind with the majority of the audience, had confessed it.”

The Dark Side of the Moon
// This 2003 documentary tells of how Stanley Kubrick worked with NASA to fake the moon landing. Staring Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfofitwitz, this ultimately is a documentary on how easy it is to be manipulated by video images, since none of it is true.

AIDS and Immune Systems | Michael @
“Researching the late ’70s and early ’80s for a project I’m fooling around with, I recently found myself looking through Richard Berkowitz’s book “Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex.”

… // Michael goes on to describe the harrowing stories from the gay-subculture of New York’s 1970s – how pre-AIDS, getting a series of STDs was a badge of honour, a symbol of one’s sexual profligacy. I mean, I thought I’d seen some undignified stuff in my time – as chaste as it has been – but this I bring up as evidence of our desire for the freedom to be self-destructive and to question if it is really worth it.

Frank Zappa on Crossfire

// This has been on Goodreads before: an argument over music lyrics in the 1980s. Appearing in March 1986, Zappa takes on the conservative old fools. This second video is from June 1987, and continues the argument:

Zappa on Crossfire II

Say Everything | Emily Nussbaum
“As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.[…] At 17, Oppermann is conversant with the conventional wisdom about the online world – that it’s a sketchy bus station packed with pedophiles. (In fact, that’s pretty much the standard response I’ve gotten when I’ve spoken about this piece with anyone over 39: ‘But what about the perverts?’ For teenagers, who have grown up laughing at porn pop-ups and the occasional instant message from a skeezy stranger, this is about as logical as the question ‘How can you move to New York? You’ll get mugged!’) She argues that when it comes to online relationships, ‘you’re getting what you’re being.’ All last summer, as she bopped around downtown Manhattan, Oppermann met dozens of people she already knew, or who knew her, from online. All of which means that her memories of her time in New York are stored both in her memory, where they will decay, and on her site, where they will not, giving her (and me) an unsettlingly crystalline record of her seventeenth summer.”

Zebro on Boston’s Aqua Teen Bomb Scare | Zebro

// A wonderful rebutal of Boston’s over-reaction. Who are Zebro? I don’t know yet. But they did this to, which was also good:

White Progressive People Fight Racism – A Zebro Documentary | Zebro

Long links made short by using Shorty (
To remove or add yourself to this list, go here

emailed by Timothy on Sunday 11 February 2007 @ 11:59 AM

06w28:1 Misc

by timothy. 0 Comments


Here are links collected over the past couple of months. Long time subscribers remember a time when Goodreads was more frequent, and more topic oriented, but I have to say I’ve come to like the format of miscellaneous links more, in addition, I like taking my time to send them out. The net is so fickle and has become such a wonderful place for evaporated memory, it seems much more sane to sit on things for a bit and let the hype pass before sending the link ’round one more time again.

If you disagree with me and would like more frequent emails, let me know. At the beginning, Goodreads functioned as a extension of my conversations, but over the past year (!) my conversations have dried up and this project has lost that perspective. Which is round-a-bout way of saying any input is welcome since I’m not getting it the old fashioned way any more.

For those of you whose submissions are finally being included: apologies. But see above.

Call for Wikipedia Content | Ever notice how Canadian art (and contemporary art in general) is underrepresented on Wikipedia? Consider this a call to do something about it. TVO broadcast Artist on Fire: The Work of Joyce Weiland on Masterworks last week and I tried to look her up on Wikipedia and found nothing, which I thought embarrassing and shameful. I know there are lots of people in the know on this list who could be putting their knowledge to good use by contributing to Wikipedia, so lets improve their art entries. Wikipedia used to let anyone create pages but nowadays you have to register. (If you can’t be bothered to register, send me what you’d like to see there and I’ll post it for you, since I’m registered. But I hope you’re not that lazy.) – Timothy

Some submissions

Submitted by Joanne Todd in April (related to Easter)

Activist Art and the Counter-Publich Sphere | Gregory Sholette
Sumbitted by Amish Morell PDF 514K

Andy Kaufman Lives
“He (Andy Kaufman) wanted to collaborate on something really fantastic and enormous, but we could never figure out what it would be. He was especially fascinated with how I had gotten people to believe I was dead. He’d say, ‘How can I do that? I want to do that.'” -Alan Abel the world’s greatest hoaxer
“If I do go ahead with my plan, I will do so by pretending to have cancer”–Andy Kaufman (speaking to Mimi Lambert) | (Related:Alan Abel Esquire story)
Submitted by Timothy P. Barrus
// This is pretty fucked up actually. I hope people have bought t-shirts!

Interview with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez with Democracy Now!
Sumbitted by Ben Skinner late last September

End Subs; Am I forgeting one? Send me a nasty email and I’ll include it next time.

Aristophanes’ Birds

Cancer surgery reveals 49-year-old ‘fossil’ fetus | Taiwan News

Confronting the New Misanthropy | Frank Furedi

Darren O’Donnell’s Social Acupuncture | RM Vaughan

Email | Robert Fulford
“In every generation people mourn the death of letter writing (our literary culture enjoys nothing more than signing the death certificate of an art form). Decades ago, reviewers discussing collections of letters felt they had to say that there would be few such books in the future because the hurry of modern life had killed the habit. But as those reviews were appearing, people were still busy writing letters. In the years that followed, good collections kept appearing — like the correspondence of publisher Jack McClelland last year. Letter writing didn’t die, it just became a minority taste. Now it’s regained much of its popularity. In 20 or 30 years, people will be reading books of e-mails (whether they’ll read them in the form of paper books is another question). Incidentally, anyone seeking that kind of immortality should be warned to keep hard copies of their letters on paper; disc memory is unstable and unreliable, and may even be unreadable on the equipment of the future.”Article date: January 2000

Man surfs the Net to death | China Daily

‘Skeleton woman’ dead in front of TV for years | Telegraph UK

Study: Using big words needlessly makes you seem stupider | Clive Thompson

PM canes ‘rubbish’ postmodern teaching | Steve Lewis and Imre Salusinszky
“Associate Professor Morgan said the English literature syllabus in Western Australia was being replaced by a course called “Texts, traditions and cultures”, which had led to a large degree of dissatisfaction and low morale among teachers. “Literary theory covers a broad range of cultural and social theory from Marxism to post-structuralism, feminism and queer theory,” he said. “It’s very obscure. It encourages students to use buzzwords and jargon to cover up that they have no idea what they’re talking about. “Teachers are disappointed they are not teaching literature any more. They feel the subject has been hijacked by those who want to teach about race, gender and Marxism, rather than about literature.”

Learning to Savor a Full Life, Love Life Included | Jane Gross

Bug Chasers: The men who long to be HIV+ | Gregory A. Freeman
(Article Date: January 2003 | One of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read, and the last paragraph is my new measure of depravity.)

Godwin’s Law | Wikipedia
“‘Godwin’s Law (also Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is, in Internet culture, an adage originated in 1990 by Mike Godwin that states: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.'”

(An earlier edit of this article had this: ‘This law does not pertain to any discussion of U.S. President George W. Bush and his Cabinet, when that discussion involves the manipulation of the public through fear mongering.‘ Of course, it was gone after about an hour. – Timothy)

Great Photographers on the Internet | Mike Johnston

What if some the 20th Century’s best photographers had posted their images on online forums?

Guinness: World’s Largest Photo | AP,71161-0.html?tw=rss.index
(Convert a former airplane hangar into a camera obscura. Related self-promotion here)

The North Korean Subset

The Photos link was found some weeks ago, the other two appeared in response to the July 4 Missle Test. Rockets’ red glare eh? One newsman discussing the ‘type-o-dong’ failure on CNN the next day, ‘It is complex, it is rocket science … ‘A trip to North Korea – Photos | Artemii Lebedev
As much as I hate Toronto’s concrete ugliness, at least I’m not in Pyongyang. The link above is to the orginal Russian, this link has the translated captions.

Bob Woodward goes to NK | Nightline
The link is to video from ABC’s Nightline broadcast on 5 July 06 (link to audio mp3 podcast)

Kim’s Catastrophe | Fred Kaplan

Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power | John Markoff and Saul Hansell
The future home of Wintermute?

Lioness in zoo kills man who invoked God | Reuters
“A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal’s enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.”

Born at 6am on 06/06/06, his mum was induced for 6 days, he weighs 6lbs 6oz and he’s called … Damien | Richard Smith

Friendship Puzzle
This is totally gay

The in-betweeners | Philip Marchand
“We speak constantly about the baby boomers and the ‘Greatest Generation,’ the veterans of D-Day, but we rarely refer to the generation born in-between.It was precisely this generation, however, that transformed our culture. From this demographic cohort came the men and women who became the icons of the 1960s and who have had no equivalent successors. They cast very long shadows.”

Mass Natural | Michael Pollan
Wal-Mart’s beginning to sell organic food. A good thing, no?

Ink in their veins | Bill Taylor
At 81, Bob Gladding still runs the presses at the family-owned Gazette in never-dull Tavistock

Losing Their Edge? | Scott Jaschik
“In ‘Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?,’ the scholars examine evidence that the Internet ó by allowing professors to work with ease with scholars across the country and not just across the quad ó is leading to a spreading of academic talent at many more institutions than has been the case in the past.

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 12 July 2006 @ 2:08 PM

05w05:1 Gay Marriage

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 5 number 1 (gay marriage)

This morning’s The Current was awesome, so today’s Goodread is a link to their shows’ archive. The show is available in 3 seperate Real Audio clips.

——————————————————————— Gay Marriage | The Current
“I’m encouraged by the majority in favour, particularly the Catholic majority in favour of the legislation, but [through] my own work as an oral historian … I see everywhere and always that life is much more complex richer and diverse than pollsters and some politicians and ever some journalists … would like us to think. And I think some people want to control that complexity and richness, to restrict and limit it but it’s my impression living in the country that nature doesn’t take kindly to that, that it loves the exuberance of diversity. Having said that, I can acknowledge that there are certainly people in rural areas in my experience who are slow to adapt changes, frightened by change, but I think that also true (I’ve certainly encountered people) in the cities who are similarly afraid of change. And I think, to me that’s more of what this divide is about. It’s about fearing diversity and unpredictability and the sort of chaos of nature versus embracing it. “– Micheal Riordon, 12.27/24.00 of Part 2
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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 02 February 2005 @ 3:40 PM

04w44:1 The Status of Sex

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 44 number 1 (the status of sex)


Roughgarden Interview | The Current
“It’s a rite of passage between parent and child. For generations, the story of the birds and the bees has been an efficient way to answer complicated questions, such as ‘where do babies come from?’ And why do males and females get together to make them? Now some scientists are arguing that we’ve only been telling a part of the story. In her new book Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People, Joan Roughgarden argues that the animal and human world is way more sexually complex than we thought it was—especially when it comes to orientation and gender. She’s a biology professor at Stanford University, who has also discovered that, in fact, homosexuality is common in 3-hundred species—-from lesbian lizards to bisexual Bonobo chimpanzees. Joan Roughgarden was in San Francisco, California. ” Real Audio file (20:06min)

Glad to be asexual | Sylvia Pagan Westphal
“Discovering our sexuality, we are told, is a perfectly normal process that must be celebrated[…]co ncepts such as celibacy or abstinence work on the implicit assumption that we are deliberately rejecting sexuality. Doctors tell us that if we lose interest in sex we must seek help with the problem. Unsurprisingly, one of the hardest things about being asexual is convincing other people that there is nothing wrong with you. Tell someone on the street that you are asexual and they’ll stare at you in disbelief, says Jay. The immediate supposition is that you’re just a late bloomer, he adds. “

Survival of genetic homosexual traits explained | Andy Coghlan
“The researchers discovered that women tend to have more children when they inherit the same – as yet unidentified – genetic factors linked to homosexuality in men. This fertility boost more than compensates for the lack of offspring fathered by gay men, and keeps the ‘gay’ genetic factors in circulation. The findings represent the best explanation yet for the Darwinian paradox presented by homosexuality: it is a genetic dead-end, yet the trait persists generation after generation. “

Platypus sex is XXXXX-rated | Rachel Nowak
“In most mammals, including humans, sex is decided by the X and Y chromosomes: two Xs create a female, while XY creates a male. In birds, the system is similar: ZW makes for a female, while ZZ makes for a male. But in platypuses, XXXXXXXXXX creates a female, while XYXYXYXYXY creates a male. In other words, rather than a single chromosome pair, platypuses have a set of ten-chromosomes that determine their sex”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 25 October 2004 @ 5:02 PM

04w07:2 Homosexuality

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A Love That Dared To Speak Its Name | John Loughery
“Graham Robb, who teaches at Oxford and has written three excellent biographies of 19th century French writers (Balzac, Hugo, Rimbaud), obviously thinks there is. Strangers is the interesting but sometimes quirky result of his broad quest for traces of ‘homosexual love’ in the years spanning Napoleon’s rise to Queen Victoria’s death. Not surprisingly, this readable book, mercifully unburdened by academic jargon, is bound to be instructive for anyone with a serious interest in 19th century European society”

Nuances of gay identities reflected in new language | Rona Marech
“With the universe of gender and sexual identities expanding, a gay youth culture emerging, acceptance of gays rising and label loyalty falling, the gay lexicon has exploded with scores of new words and blended phrases that delineate every conceivable stop on the identity spectrum — at least for this week”

Universities heed the call for genderless washrooms | Caroline Alphonso
“Under a new initiative to provide equitable services, student unions of at least two Canadian universities — Concordia and Simon Fraser — are in talks with their administrations about where to build special washrooms this fall for the transgender population on campus. And at McGill University, a gender-neutral washroom is being designed for the first floor of the student centre. […] …student unions say they have felt increased pressure from transgender students to build specific gender-neutral washrooms on university grounds. Being transgender is defined as having personal characteristics that go beyond traditional gender boundaries and sexual norms. Some transgender people may have undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex. ”

Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name | Dinitia Smith
“Among birds, for instance, studies show that 10 to 15 percent of female western gulls in some populations in the wild are homosexual. […] Among mammals, male and female bottlenose dolphins frequently engage in homosexual activity, both in captivity and in the wild. Homosexuality is particularly common among young male dolphin calves. […] Male and female rhesus macaques, a type of monkey, also exhibit homosexuality in captivity and in the wild.”
(Note: May require a free one-time registration, which is worth the hassle since you won’t have to do it again – Tim)

The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard | C.W. Moeliker
“On 5 June 1995 an adult male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) collided with the glass fa�ade of the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam and died. An other drake mallard raped the corpse almost continuously for 75 minutes. Then the author disturbed the scene and secured the dead duck. Dissection showed that the rape-victim indeed was of the male sex. It is concluded that the mallards were engaged in an �Attempted Rape Flight� that resulted in the first described case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.” (Winner of the 2003 Ig Nobel Award for Biology).

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emailed by Timothy on Tuesday 10 February 2004 @ 1:21 PM