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Trans activists should chill out By they.
I know this middle-aged fetishist from New York whose preferred pronouns are ‘they/them’. He’s an heterosexual man whose ‘kink’ is to dominate young girls who act as his sexual and domestic slaves. Essentially his ‘fetish’ is that of a 1950s suburban patriarch and yet somehow he is considered progressive because he wears a bit of latex and identifies as ‘queer’ (a concept now so amorphous that it has become almost meaningless). It is, in a way, an inspired grift and you have to respect the size of his gender-neutral balls for pulling it off. But it is quite astounding that Wokies are so blinded by dogma that they cannot even spot good old fashioned male chauvinism when it’s decorated with a couple of fancy buzzwords.
So far so consensual. Much more worrying is the willful blindness of Wokies in relation to transgender inmates (many with rape convictions) housed in women’s prisons who, according to official figures in the UK, are five times more likely to perpetrate sexual assaults (these stats do not include prisoners born male who have already legally changed sex).
Meanwhile in our office spaces, which were only recently liberated from restrictive gender roles, employees are now encouraged to state both their role and their gender at the end of every email. We have had many Wokeyleaks on our encrypted email address from employees at major corporations and institutions such as Deloitte, Trimble and even GCHQ saying that they feel pressure from colleagues and HR departments to add their preferred pronouns to their email signatures. It’s touching that cisgender people want to demonstrate solidarity with their transgender colleagues, but in our efforts to be more open-minded about how we define gender we have, paradoxically, become obsessed with defining gender.
Moreover, non-gender specific pronouns can make it nerve-wracking and difficult to conjugate sentences, as I discovered while in conversation with the record label of the singer Sam Smith who identifies as ‘they/them’. I can’t go into specifics (or I might identify myself), but suffice it to say that the sentence ‘they’re obsessed with their music’ doesn’t immediately make it apparent whether you are inferring that a) Sam Smith’s backing musicians are massive fans of the pop star’s oeuvre or b) that Sam Smith smugly adores the sound of their own voice. Needless to say, I intended to convey the former, though no doubt the latter is also true.
Many social-justice warriors (SJWs) reading this criticism would no doubt label me some kind of transphobe, which, if true, would mean it were possible to unconsciously hate trans people while consciously feeling great compassion and respect for them and believing that they deserve every single right, freedom and opportunity at the pursuit of happiness. This seems incongruous, but the surreal irony of the Trans/TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) War is that no one apart from a few consecrated clerics fully understands what the argument is about and yet everybody is obliged to pick sides nonetheless. I know many people that now refer to J.K. Rowling as a ‘transphobe’ but would be completely unable to explain what she said that was transphobic. If you were to list the three most baffling disputes in history in order of pointlessness, it would have to go: 1. Trans/TERF, 2. Catholic/Protestant, 3. Sunni/Shia.
While most people couldn’t care less if you prefer to spell it ‘womxn’ or ‘woman’, whether you believe church wine is the actual blood of Christ or more of a metaphor, or if you think Abu or Ali was Mohammed’s favorite intern, a small number of fanatics are always ready to seek out heretics, rip each other to pieces and theatrically perform their own martyrdom for the crowd. Guys! If it’s this hard to work out what the disagreement is, then maybe you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. I apologize — him/her/them sheet.
Say what you want about the Spanish Inquisition, but the Inquisitor General didn’t consider it heretical to question the existence of God, as long as you weren’t too pertinacious about it when you got the answer. Not so in 2021, as we saw the other day when the gay Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and civil rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald was labeled a transphobe in a torrent of abuse that saw his name trending on Twitter for best part of a day. His crime — having the audacity to ask a question about transgenderism. Greenwald tweeted a survey showing a recent explosion in the number of people identifying as trans. So big was the increase that there are now more millennials and Gen Zs that identify as trans than do as lesbian. Greenwald referenced an article by the lesbian podcast host Katie Herzog in which she asked whether the recent disappearance of lesbian culture might be partly due to society increasingly encouraging more masculine girls to transition.
This seems a legitimate question. Popular culture has done an excellent job of celebrating hyper-feminine gay men and trans women with incredibly successful shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I struggle to think of many butch lesbians or manly trans men that are celebrated in the same way. The iconic name that does immediately spring to mind is Martina Navratilova who overcame years of sports fans sniggering at her masculine appearance to become one of the most successful tennis players ever…only to be canceled by trans activists when she had the audacity to, you guessed it, ask a question. Martina’s heresy was to query the fairness of a preoperative trans cyclist Veronica Ivy being allowed to so comprehensively dominate her female competitors in the sport. The response from trans activists, including Ivy herself, was to ruthlessly attack Martina online as a bigot, even after she removed her tweet, apologized and swore an oath of silence.
This woke requirement of unconditional faith makes actual religious types like Sen. Rand Paul look positively progressive by comparison. When Paul recently asked Rachel Levine, Biden’s pick for assistant health secretary, whether she supported permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia, Dr Levine refused to answer twice. The subsequent reaction in the liberal press was to condemn Paul’s ‘transphobic attack’ and completely ignore Dr Levine’s worrying refusal to answer what is presumably quite an important question (and at a Senate hearing no less). I believe in and have voted and campaigned for the rights of trans people, but it deeply concerns me that we’re so afraid of causing offense with a question that we cannot even discuss the potential risks of irreversible gender surgery posed to children.
As a lefty I agree with Rand Paul on almost nothing. I’m guessing he’s not an enthusiastic supporter of trans folks’ right to choose their sex — which is perhaps why he couched his questioning in incendiary rhetoric involving genital mutilation — but it’s a bit rich for trans activists to complain about the tone when they’ve pretty much alienated any supportive but circumspect ally who might have asked the question nicely.
Growing up in a mixed American household of Indian, Italian and Puerto Rican descent, I never questioned the varying menu each night for dinner. Until I was a teenager, I hadn’t realized my family’s weekly meals were different from those of my friends — until they began begging me to eat at my house on weekends after I told them what was being cooked. For me, dietary normalcy meant chicken curry on Mondays, arroz con habichuelas on Wednesdays and lasagna on Fridays.
My Puerto Rican and Italian American mother Loretta had married my father Roop, an Indian immigrant, in 1981. I always admired my mother for her fearlessness in crossing cultural lines during an era when interracial marriage was less common than it is today. Along with the teachings from both her mother Elsie and mother-in-law Gopi, Loretta learned to cook all three ethnic cuisines — and cook them well.
‘Your grandmother is more of a rebel than you think,’ my mother said to me one day when I was in the middle of complimenting her culinary fortitude as she prepared chana masala (chickpea curry) and parathas (flat bread stuffed with a spicy potato mash). ‘Have you ever wondered why, when I cook Italian food on Sundays, I make the pasta and she makes the meat and gravy?’ ‘Well, because she makes it best,’ I replied.
My grandmother’s meat and gravy (meatballs, sausage and ribs in tomato sauce, slow-cooking all day until the meat becomes so moist that it breaks apart) became legendary within our circles of friends and family. On Sundays, when my grandmother came over to visit, our dinner table usually had a special guest in attendance — a cousin from a neighboring town dropping in for a visit, a next-door neighbor escaping the blandness of their own tables. Everyone who knew us knew that Sundays meant Italian food in our home. Although I knew my grandmother’s cooking was delicious, I hadn’t realized it represented a larger footnote in her own story.
Elsie, a Puerto Rican American, grew up in the Great Depression in the Bronx and came of age in the Fifties. She was the eldest of eight siblings. In her teenage years, she helped support her family with a low-paying job at Macy’s. Money was limited as well as food, but she cooked most of the meals for her family each evening after work. Rice, beans and bananas were standard fare in her kitchen. She learned to cook simple dishes from her parents: arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and plátanos maduros (fried sweet plantains) were basic yet flavorful dishes. Meat was considered a luxury and only purchased on holidays and special occasions. Pork was the meat of choice among most Puerto Ricans. When it arrived in Elsie’s possession, she chose to slow-boil the entire cuts in a large pot until juicy enough to fall off the bone, then placed over a bed of rice.
When Elsie met my grandfather, Anthony, an Italian-American whose family lived down the street from hers, the two quickly became best friends, then high-school sweethearts, then engaged to be married in their early twenties. While their families both liked each other, the thought of their children marrying outside their own cultures was unheard-of at the time. During their engagement, a general fervor of disapproval was in the air. Elsie even heard a few disgraceful remarks from an older aunt regarding her skin tone, yet she kept her composure. She refused to let her own heritage interfere with the man she loved.
If she couldn’t win his family over by simply being herself, she would try to persuade their stomachs. Gathering on Sunday evenings was a family tradition in Anthony’s family, and the highlight was his mother’s meat and gravy with pasta. Elsie was a frequent guest, first as Anthony’s friend then later as his fiancée. Though some relatives were reluctant to have her attend, Anthony demanded they welcome Elsie at the table. Still, Elsie wasn’t satisfied with forcing her acceptance into his family.
Only weeks before their wedding, Elsie asked if she could make Sunday dinner for Anthony’s family. For his sake, they agreed. However, critical palates awaited Elsie as she brought out the serving bowls for dinner. To their surprise, it wasn’t Puerto Rican food they were being served. It was meat and gravy with pasta — the meal they’d been accustomed to expecting.
They picked up their forks and tasted the outsider’s attempt. Silence and dissipating cigarette smoke covered the room for a few moments. Finally Elsie’s future mother-in-law uttered ‘delicious’ from across the table.
The meal was a hit. In fact, some family members have told me that Elsie’s meat and gravy eclipsed my great-grandmother’s. I had always wondered how it was possible Elsie had the time and ability to teach herself this simple yet nuanced cuisine.
‘It’s all in the feel,’ she often said to me whenever I’d ask her how she made a meal. That was good enough for me.
Raj Tawney is an essayist, journalist and poet in New York City. This article was originally published in The Spectator’s March 2021 US edition.
Charles Bradley - Where Do We Go From Here?
I find it amusing and a little bemusing to think that we human beings come delivered, pre-packaged, with everything we need to live a contented, peaceful and purposeful life, and then pretty quickly we adopt everything we need to fuck it all up.
Others have said that more eloquently, no doubt. But however it’s put, it’s the crux of this very human condition we’re all experiencing.
Which is to say that all experience is rooted in sensations. There are no exceptions to that rule. If we’re lucky enough to be healthy then what we come pre-packed with is a range of sense organs whose function it is to perceive sensory data to give us sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, as well as the lesser-considered senses like proprioception, interoception, acceleration, pain, balance, agency, familiarity, and, even, time.
Our reality is being continually created in every moment by the confluence of our senses.
What am I seeing, what am I hearing, what am I tasting? And so on.
This is the primacy of the felt experience.
At this level of experience there is no good or bad, no right or wrong, no judgment, no prejudice, no expectation, no success or failure. There simply is what is. And in that wide expanse of momentary being, everything slows to the natural rhythm of existence, everything remains open to the potential of the connecting moment, everything is perfect as it is.
But then, because we’re such advanced and crafty apes, we add to this primary layer of experience the layer of cognition. And in doing so we form interpretations and make meaning from the sensory data we perceive.
And it is in this secondary layer that we, invariably, fuck it all up.
Because all disturbance to our contentment, peace and purpose, all mental dis-ease, is rooted in thought. There are no exceptions to that rule.
As soon as we enter the thinking realm, our brains have already kicked in with a variety of ingenious software plug-ins like prediction and bias, which are based on past experience to save us time and keep us safe and functional, but the algorithms of these plug-ins can’t help but tint and distort present reality.
You’re standing in the socially distanced queue outside Sainsbury’s, for example, and the guy in front has his eyes glued to his phone and isn’t noticing when the queue moves forward and so keeps holding up your progress. And it’s beginning to really piss you off and you quietly stew in anger and you mutter under your breath about what a selfish prick this guy is and when is he gonna learn some civility, the massive bell end, and I’d like to rip his stupid phone out his hands and ram it up his…Except you’re not actually responding to the present reality, the primary sensory experience, of this guy on his phone. You’re reacting to your thoughts that automatically kicked in about him. Your brain came up with a (quite plausible) story. A story about him being selfish and uncivil, and so on. But you’ve made that story up from a limited set of data which you’re now reacting to. You’re not actually reacting to him at all. You’re reacting to you.
The primary sensory experience of this situation might go something like, “I’m seeing a man in front of me who’s looking down at his phone and so isn’t noticing when the queue moves until a little after it has moved.” That’s all. There’s no meaning attached. No interpretation. Simply the objective observation of what’s taking place.
Him being selfish and uncivil is the story you’ve attached to the sensory data. And it might be a correct story. But you couldn’t be sure unless you asked him. Because what if he was texting his mum who’s badly ill at home who needed something from the supermarket and he’s in a panic about her and he’s worried sick and he’s quite understandably distracted? Would you still think he was selfish and uncivil or might your story change?
I’ve just spent an entire weekend in the neurosomatic psychotherapy training I’m doing, practising almost nothing but sensitivity. In other words, doing almost nothing but observing and communicating the primary data of my senses. And let me tell you it’s really, really, really difficult.
But it’s also really beautifully simple. It’s what my dad used to call coming into the back. It’s dropping back from the narrative-making prefrontal cortex into the innate observer we all have within us who is connected directly with our wisdom.
And when we do that—when we focus on our senses rather than on our thoughts—life simplifies. It can go from feeling overwhelming to manageable, from boring to interesting, from dulled to alive with potential.
This happens because of and for a number of reasons but the main one is that we can only properly focus on one sense at a time. And in doing so we begin to regulate with whatever we’re sensing. In other words, we begin to regulate with our environment, and we find equilibrium.
So if we’re in a state of heightened stress or anxiety or overwhelm, for example, we can re-regulate ourselves, our entire organisms to our environment. We find balance and harmony with the natural order. Our heartbeat normalizes, our breathing slows, our muscles relax, we ground, we become alert, awake and conscious, and suddenly life becomes perfect exactly as it is.
And all we have to do, in any given moment, is return to our senses.
by Barefoot Doctor World The Park Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 8BA United Kingdom
To accompany the publication of his new book, Free Speech And Why It Matters, Andrew Doyle explains why censorship impoverishes us all.
As the author, Helen Pluckrose, pointed out to me, ‘it’s a worry when you can’t tell whether the person yelling at you is a 12-year-old whose parents need to take their Twitter account away, or a professor of sociology’.
Kevin Roose does an interesting article on Clubhouse, the hot new audio social network, which has a nice chunk of writing I want to pass on.
Every successful social network has a life cycle that goes something like: Wow, this app sure is addictive! Look at all the funny and exciting ways people are using it! Oh, look, I can get my news and political commentary here, too! This is going to empower dissidents, promote free speech and topple authoritarian regimes! Hmm, why are trolls and racists getting millions of followers? And where did all these conspiracy theories come from? This platform should really hire some moderators and fix its algorithms. Wow, this place is a cesspool, I’m deleting my account.
Mesmerized by the lyric.
Brett and Kate McKay.
A question that has been oft contemplated and discussed, is why it is that Scandinavian countries routinely report some of the highest happiness levels in the world, and especially, how these peoples manage to endure a particularly long, dark, and cold winter while remaining relatively cheerful.
Some say it’s because of the popularity of saunas in these countries. Others theorize it has to do with their embrace of “hygge” — or cultivated coziness.
Yet the resilience of Scandinavians is arguably not premised on these pleasurable practices themselves … but rather in the way they are often juxtaposed with “harder” elements: jumping into an icy lake before entering a sauna; sitting by the fireplace after an afternoon spent snowshoeing.
Life loses its savor when one consumes a steady, flat-lined diet of sameness. Contrast — which works in two directions — is key.
Effortful things are more doable, and even enjoyable, when punctuated with repose.
Walking feels more satisfying after a stretch of being sedentary; parenting kids is more readily relished when you’re not around them 24/7; it’s not only more pleasurable to sit in a sauna after jumping into cold water, but easier to jump into cold water after sitting in a sauna.
Conversely, the peaks of pleasure are higher when they form a relief against troughs of sterner stuff, and in our world of comfort and convenience, it’s the texture of the latter which our lives typically lack. Heightening our happiness thus requires cultivating “voluntary hardship” — purposefully peppering our lives with “bitterness,” to accentuate the sweet.
Food tastes better after fasting from it. Lying down to sleep feels more gratifying after a day spent standing up. Leisure only offers its fullest refreshment when interspersed with labor.
Hunger is the best spice.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Contentment comes through contrast.
D.L.I.d - Colour In Your Hands (feat. Fink)
The Cake Server | Joseph’s Most Complex Machine Ever
Meanwhile, the recording sessions for the band’s new album, Kvitravn (White Raven), took place in forests and on burial mounds.
“You can almost call it method-recording or method-composing, where I’m the instrument and the themes are the composer,” says the frontman, who describes himself as animistic – a believer that all objects and living things possess their own spiritual essence. “It subtly promotes this idea that nature is something sacred. Something we are a part of, not the rulers of.”
His band’s music is getting ever more popular. The music press started waking up in 2013 with the arrival of Runaljod: Yggdrasil (named after a sacred tree), while Kvitravn reached the UK Top 50 earlier this month. But Wardruna already had a strong following, having ignited a fascination with Norse culture in 2013, when they sold out London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in their first ever UK show.
Heilung jam with Siberian shamans and play with human bones, while Wardruna record songs submerged in rivers and on burial mounds. Now this vibrant undergound music scene is finding a wider audience
The problem with having a compass as the symbolic representation of morality is that due north is not a fixed point. Liane Young, Boston College associate professor and director of the Morality Lab, explains how context, bias, and tribal affiliation influence us enormously when we pass moral judgments. Moral instinct is tainted by cognitive bias. Humans evolved to be more lenient to their in-groups—for example excusing a beloved politician who lines their pockets while lambasting a colleague for the exact same transgression—and to care more about harm done close to them than harm done farther away, for example, to people in another country. The challenge for humans in a globalized and polarized world is to become aware of our moral biases and learn to apply morality more objectively. How can we be more rational and less hypocritical about our morals? “I think that clarifying the value that you are consulting for a particular problem is really critical,” says Young.
From the archive: a gourmet guide to transport cafés, 1967 Some of the snack-scoffing regulars were delighted to see our intrepid reporter, others less so.
Marika Hanbury-Tenison took to the road for the Observer Magazine to find out which transport cafés were worth a visit ‘by the long-distance motorist or the long-lasting reveller’ (‘Café Society Takes to the Road’, 27 August 1967).
That is some seriously frothy/boiling black coffee on the cover, almost as dangerous-looking as the paper-wrapped sugar cubes beside it. But no self-respecting greasy spoon would ever serve up cocktail sausages.
However, such establishments are less about the grub, wrote Hanbury-Tenison, and more of ‘a club, a meeting place – a release from the solitary confinement of the driver’s cab – a platform on which to air their views on the business of the driving public, the local police and their not too popular patron Barbara Castle.’
Shockingly, at four of the cafés she visited, she was turned away, twice politely and twice not. ‘One lady of Amazon proportions suggested that she would give me a helping hand to the door if I continued to poke my nose into their business.’ Who knows what ruinous industrial espionage might follow if she were allowed to see exactly how much fag ash was dropped into the baked beans preparatory to stirring?
Sadly, Hanbury-Tenison knew her place. ‘In every café, transport drivers take priority. Private drivers will be turned away or sent to the back of the queue when the rush for dinners with chips is in.’
But perhaps she was a bit wet behind the ears for the gig. At the Sunset Café, she saw ‘the astonishing sight of a man ordering and eating a meal consisting of fried bread with kidneys, two fried eggs, sausages, baked beans, and, of course, chips.’ Er, standard caff fare then!
Some of Hanbury-Tenison’s highest praise was reserved for Jock’s Café at Colnbrook: ‘Well worth leaving the M4 for.’ The greasy spoon equivalent of a Michelin star.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are millions of people still heading into work each day. From couriers and postal workers to social workers and retail staff, the key workers keeping Britain running make up a huge chunk of the workforce. It’s hard to get an absolute figure, but as many as 10.6 million people, or a third of the overall workforce, are employed in key worker industries – and over half of them are employed by the government. The vast majority of these workers are on low pay and are unable to work from home. And for the millions still leaving home for work, the pandemic has birthed an array of brand new problems – problems we often hear nothing about
(via The Forgotten Frontline)
Glorious. Have a lake near here, but years since freezing up enough to skate.
The knives are out once again for the man left-liberals love to hate. You’d have thought Jordan Peterson’s recent health scares — wrought about by drug dependency and related depression — might have given him some kind of reprieve but even a medically induced coma couldn’t keep the gloaters from punching the man when he’s down. The man who espoused traditional masculine virtues such as strength and stoicism is now having to rely on his 28-year-old daughter — oh the delicious irony! Writing in the Times of London, Hugo Rifkind describes Peterson’s ‘apparent collapse’ as ‘a parable’, casting doubt on the legitimacy of his illness while viewing the doctor’s weakened state as a repudiation of everything he has stood for.
Detectorists is a British single-camera television comedy series which was first broadcast on BBC Four on 2 October 2014. It is written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who also stars alongside Toby Jones. The series is set in the fictional small town of Danebury in northern Essex; the plot revolves around the lives, loves and metal detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (DMDC). It won a BAFTA award at the 2015 British Academy Television Awards for Television Scripted Comedy. In May 2019, it was voted 19th in a Radio Times list of Britain’s 20 favourite sitcoms by a panel that included sitcom writers and actors.
(via Detectorists - Wikiwand)