Archive for the ‘The Guardian’ tag
Tom Meagher’s wife was raped and killed. But he writes quite movingly about how and why he refuses to accept the idea that the man responsible is some aberrant and abhorrent creature:
By insulating myself with the intellectually evasive dismissal of violent men as psychotic or sociopathic aberrations, I self-comforted by avoiding a more terrifying concept: that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything, from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions. Bayley’s appeal was dismissed, but I left court that day in a perpetual trauma-loop, knowing I needed to re-imagine the social, institutional and cultural context in which a man like Bayley exists.
I feel I’ve read a number things about laughter, but this piece offers quite a few stats about the role of laughter I’d never encountered — especially novel was the point about the gendered-nature of laughter. The general truth:
Mutual playfulness, in-group feeling and positive emotional tone – not comedy – mark the social settings of most naturally occurring laughter. Laughter is more about relationships than humour.
I link to this story not because it’s exceptionally good (it’s not bad, just unexceptional), but because I find its subject rather interesting. I can’t help but feel affinity for people making points like this:
“The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can’t accept that.
“I had a line in the book I cut that said ‘The nirvana would be if the questions raised by Oprah Winfrey would be answered by the faculty at Harvard.’ The questions she asks are the most central – how do we live with other people, how do we cope with our ambitions, how do we survive as a society – though she fails to answer them with anything like seriousness.”
And though I would characterize it as similarly unexceptional, his most recent TED talk was recently made available.
I’m not sure how useful this old piece from Charlie Brooker is, but because it’s almost exactly how I feel about them, I found it quite enjoyable. I’ve certainly thought things like this before:
I’m convinced no one actually likes clubs. It’s a conspiracy. We’ve been told they’re cool and fun; that only “saddoes” dislike them. And no one in our pathetic little pre-apocalyptic timebubble wants to be labelled “sad” - it’s like being officially declared worthless by the state. So we muster a grin and go out on the town in our millions.
(via a reddit comment I couldn’t find)
The two basic values of this piece are: (1) showing what an utterly appalling farce international relations can be, and (2) giving some view into a country you very likely know almost nothing about. It’s also an amusing and well-told story.
(via The Browser)
There are few things that environmental activists have enjoyed attacking more in the last decade than meat, and so to see one of them reconsider that is nice.
If pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw, stovers and grass from fallows and rangelands – food for which humans don’t compete – meat becomes a very efficient means of food production. Even though it is tilted by the profligate use of grain in rich countries, the global average conversion ratio of useful plant food to useful meat is not the 5:1 or 10:1 cited by almost everyone, but less than 2:1. If we stopped feeding edible grain to animals, we could still produce around half the current global meat supply with no loss to human nutrition: in fact it’s a significant net gain.
It should be noted, however, that this theoretical world where ideal meat-raising is practiced is quite different than the methods currently used to do so.
This had never crossed my mind:
The full, plump bosom seen in the human ape is an anomaly. No other primate has a permanent breast.
I would extend the article’s evolutionary point to say that we’re probably the only species that has ever been successful enough to select so strongly for aesthetic preferences of members of the species. A quick look couldn’t find anything about this, but I’d be interested to know that I’m wrong.
I think this is a useful dichotomy:
An Asker won’t think it’s rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess culture person will hear it as presumptuous and resent the agony involved in saying no. Your boss, asking for a project to be finished early, may be an overdemanding boor – or just an Asker, who’s assuming you might decline. If you’re a Guesser, you’ll hear it as an expectation. This is a spectrum, not a dichotomy, and it explains cross-cultural awkwardnesses, too: Brits and Americans get discombobulated doing business in Japan, because it’s a Guess culture, yet experience Russians as rude, because they’re diehard Askers.
Noted for posterity: not all — perhaps even few — writers always enjoy the act of writing.
These are thoughts I can get behind:
…you can never get properly clean by simply wiping, since you are, effectively, pushing the [shit] into your skin.
I felt obligated to add the mild profanity that the author’s editor needlessly removed.