Sunday Round-up 14/12/14

“Hunger, filth, fear and death”: remembering life before the NHS

Some historians have called the decade of my birth “the Roaring Twenties” but for most it was a long death rattle.

Dear White Protesters

Dear white protestors, this is NOT about you.

In and Out of Time in Iraq

On the evening of the summer solstice of 2013, I moored my sailboat in the Fox Islands Thoroughfare, one of the most beautiful places I know. I relaxed in the cockpit of the little sloop, drank a beer, and watched the full moon rise, pulling an unusual twelve-foot tide with it. It glowed pink and orange in the sunset. This was something I could trust. Nature might kill me, but it doesn’t lie to me.

Shut yer face! I’m fed up being ridiculed for my regional accent in academia

Well, my accent’s staying put. So what if it tells people where I’m from? I adore where I’m from. The people I love live there and they speak in the same way and I find it beautiful.

Hate Actually: Can the Holigays Heal a Gay Grinch’s Heart?

Head Elves don’t quit when things get tense; they ramp up the merriment and keep on Christmasing.

Head Elves don’t quit when they outgrow the costume; they wrap tinsel around their hats and carol even louder.

Head Elves don’t quit when their dad leaves and Christmas dishes finally get broken.

 The joy of polyamory

As I peeled off the expectations of the mainstream, I came to realise that there are several kinds of connections we can experience. Friendship is one of the most common: it may be activity or sport-based; it may be low-key, but still important; it may involve emotional intimacy, in which we share our feelings and experiences deeply and honestly. Then there’s romance: flirting, candlelit dinners, falling in love. These may or may not include sexual intimacy – you can have romance without sex, and sex without romance. Then there’s BDSM play, which is different again.

Can We Criticize Foucault?

Foucault was highly attracted to economic liberalism: he saw in it the possibility of a form of governmentality that was much less normative and authoritarian than the socialist and communist left, which he saw as totally obsolete.

Spare us the moralising on prescription drugs. Many of us need them

But we do not live in an ideal world. So medicate, if you have to, and for goodness sake, don’t feel guilty about it.

The New Republic: An Appreciation: It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that black lives didn’t matter much at all to the magazine.

Richard Cohen was roundly rebuked for advocating that D.C. jewelry stores discriminate against young black men—but not by TNR. The magazine took the opportunity to convene a panel to “reflect briefly” on whether it was moral for merchants to bar black men from their stores. (“Expecting a jewelry store owner to risk his life in the service of color-blind justice is expecting too much,” the magazine concluded.)

TNR made a habit of “reflecting briefly” on matters that were life and death to black people but were mostly abstract thought experiments to the magazine’s editors.

Torture Is Who We Are

There’s something bizarre about responding to a 600-page document detailing systematic U.S. government torture by declaring that the real America—the one with good values—does not torture. It’s exoneration masquerading as outrage. Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that wasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.”

“Hood by hood, block by block, fight the bosses and fight the cops!”

In a society that currently relies on competition between individuals, the protests in the streets and walkouts from schools are a strong departure from the top-down domination and internal division that we often feel in our day-to-day lives. By the very act of coming together, at times even despite the threat of state-sponsored violence, we are building a new world to inhabit.

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