Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 14, 2018
Spikes are definitely hostile design elements…
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

I just learned about "hostile design" today (via BBC Trending), and I'm finding it really fascinating. On the one hand, you have design features that could be useful to some groups but harmful to others: for example, railing on benches can provide support for the elderly (or just make for relaxing armrests for anyone reclining upright) but prevent homeless people from sleeping on the benches. And then you have other features that seem designed only to prevent people from using the item in an "undesirable" fashion, like benches with awkwardly placed bars that clearly aren't intended to provide support or comfort to anyone and therefore definitely discourage horizontal repose. Hostiledesign.org has a number of photos of especially egregious examples of the latter; apparently NYC designers love putting spikes on surfaces to keep people from lying or even sitting on them. It's terrible, and yet I can't help being impressed by the diabolical ingenuity and audacity of some of these approaches. SPIKES. Victor von Doom approves.

-posted by Wes | 4:56 pm | Comments (0)
March 11, 2018
Xi Jinping: China’s President for Life
Category: Current Events … Linkage

From BBC News: China's Xi allowed to remain 'president for life' as term limits removed

So I am obviously (thankfully?) not a Chinese citizen and don't entirely understand Chinese culture, but this seems insane to me. The video in the article struck me as particularly unsettling -- whereas the folks questioned kept saying that the change exemplifies China's democratic nature, it seems like a move away from democratic norms to me. (Not that China is at all "democratic" according to our definition of the term, but whatever.) The voting results: "two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes." Can you imagine that kind of consensus with respect to any issue in the US?

I also want to blame Trump for this -- note that other countries have used his election and subsequent performance to condemn the idea of Western-style democracy, because in such a democracy it's possible for the people to elect a buffoon. I wonder about the extent to which China's move to allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely stemmed from observations of the chaos of our current executive branch. And, of course, Trump praised the change and jokingly (I hope) suggested that we should give that a try. He would.

But maybe Xi Jinping is such a capable and selfless ruler that it will be better for China and the world at large for him to remain president for life. I don't know. Time will tell.

-posted by Wes | 5:00 pm | Comments (0)
February 23, 2018
NYT: Frederick Douglass vs Scientific Racism

This opinion piece in the New York Times -- "Frederick Douglass's Fight Against Scientific Racism" -- is decidedly worth reading.

Of course, "scientific" racism persists in 2018, as one repeatedly learns after delving into the comments of any of the laudatory articles Trump links on his Twitter feed. The final paragraph, which quotes from one of Douglass's final speeches, also rings true today: on more than one occasion I've heard (well-meaning, I hope/assume) white people of my acquaintance who, in noting the depressed state of many minority communities, have wondered why "they" continue to struggle and asked what should be done about "them."

And for readers who haven't seen the movie yet (note that I'm not attempting to shame you for not having seen it yet; apparently that's a thing happening elsewhere on the interwebs), forgive me for the spoiler -- but Black Panther concludes with an especially relevant quote on that point. In a speech to the United Nations, the titular character remarks, "More connects us than separates us -- but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe."

It's a sentiment that runs counter to much of our current political discourse, what with "BUILD. THE. WALL!" serving as a rallying cry for our current commander in chief, but it is a sentiment that we would all do well to adopt.

-posted by Wes | 12:44 am | Comments (0)
July 24, 2013
Ducks are horrifying nightmare creatures.
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

Well, today I learned that ducks are -- or are prone to becoming -- cannibals. This passage (from the NSW Department of Primary Industries Agriculture website) is particularly chilling:

"Although cannibalism can begin in ducks of any age, ducklings over 4 weeks old are more prone to develop this vice. The underlying reasons for birds turning to cannibalism are not known, but it is associated with boredom..."

Duck cannibalism is associated with BOREDOM, people. Somebody get those ducks some knitting needles STAT.1

Check out this blog entry on Real Clear Science for a firsthand account of duck cannibalism, and here's the horrific "Scientifically Accurate DuckTales" video that sent me down this corkscrew-shaped road to nightmares in the first place.2

  1. That said, ducks are also apparently rapists and necrophiliacs. So riddle me this: how do they ever get bored?!? 
  2. Though I already knew about the corkscrew penises and labyrinthine vaginas. *shudder* 
-posted by Wes | 2:14 am | Comments (0)
April 15, 2012
Joe Eszterhas is ridiculous.
Category: Current Events … Linkage

So I raaaarely comment on stuff like this (and I'm totally late on this in terms of blogosphere Hollywood gossip), but after having the tab open for days I've finally finished reading Joe Eszterhas's nine-page letter to Mel Gibson.

IT IS INSANE. And also kinda full of shit. I mean, Mel probably did do a lot of that stuff -- while he denies the truth of "the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to [him]" in his response to Eszterhas, those actions would be in keeping with Mel's personality as demonstrated in the past. But it just seems like bullshit that Eszterhas wrote this as a private communication to Mel with no intention of having it read by outside sources. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 6:44 pm | Comments (3)
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