The Bluestocking, vol 206
A Liberal Democrat of Moles.
Last week I read some fiction, and enjoyed it: Amanda Craig’s satire on 90s London journalism, A Vicious Circle, which is now unintentionally riddled with extra pathos because all the financially struggling characters have to eg slum it in a house in Kilburn with enough room to rent out the upstairs/a basement flat in a house owned by someone’s aunt/a rent-controlled hovel in Baker Street.
Also recommended: Free by Lea Ypi, which has been nominated for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction. It’s a memoir of coming-of-age in Albania just as the communist regime ended, and it’s packed full of mad, mesmerising details like the way families used to buy a single, empty Coca-Cola can and display it like a vase in their house.
Indigenous or Pretender? (CBC)
“With a feather in her hand and a bright blue shawl and Métis sash draped over her shoulders, Carrie Bourassa made her entrance to deliver a TEDx Talk at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in September 2019, where she detailed her personal rags-to-riches story. ‘My name is Morning Star Bear,’ she said, choking up. ‘I’m just going to say it — I’m emotional.’ . .
. . . [Another professor] said early on in Bourassa’s career, she only identified as Métis. But more recently, Tait said, Bourassa began claiming to also be Anishinaabe and Tlingit. Tait said she also began dressing in more stereotypically Indigenous ways, saying the TEDx Talk was a perfect example.
“Everybody cheers and claps, and it’s beautiful,” said Tait. “It is the performance that we all want from Indigenous people — this performance of being the stoic, spiritual, culturally attached person [with] which we can identify because we’ve seen them in Disney movies.””
Another story which fits the pattern described in my piece on Social Munchausens: a woman, working in a field related to her assumed identity, backed up with claims of childhood trauma, with a shifting story that twists when questioned (from “I have indigenous ancestry” to “I was welcomed by elders”).
This is such an understandable mistake to make, but nonetheless, I yelped when the guy said it:
I Do Not Want To Work (Medium)
There are many reasons why I do not want to work. The first one is that I have spent the past 18 months forcing myself to do or not do things I wanted to do or not do, and I have run out of self-discipline. I did not see my friends when it was the thing I wanted to do the most in the world and I stayed at home when the idea of doing so made me want to scream until my lungs gave out.
The only things I want to do now are, well, things I want to do. I do not want to force myself to do anything anymore. I want all the carrots and none of the stick, and work at the moment does not feel even remotely like a carrot. I want ice cream for breakfast and to go to the cinema every afternoon, and I want nothing else.
The second reason why I do not want to work is that work is boring and I spent so many months being bored that I never want to be bored again, for as long as I live.
Marie Le Conte captures something vital about the pandemic here, I think. For months on end, work was the only thing I had. And that has inevitably reduced my appetite for it now that other things are on offer.
The Homer Confusion is, however, only the second best clip from Tipping Point.
The question below prompted a lively discussion in one of my WhatsApp groups (full of political journalists) about what the answer was—“a . . . Ukip of moles?”—so there’s no shame in not knowing. Still, what a stab in the dark.
Dave Chappelle, Hannah Gadsby and humour as “benign violation”. (Bulletin)
“A Motherboard open-source intelligence investigation, with some help from lead researcher and trainer at Bellingcat Aric Toller, shows that before he was a star, [Timothee] Chalamet was just another dweeb on YouTube, showing off his Xbox 360 controllers to a small following.” (Vice)
“Julia’s harrowing 999 call lasted 16 minutes, ending with: “I’ve got about one minute … He’s coming now,” followed by a scream and silence.” Frank Mullane has championed Domestic Homicide Reviews—a blame-free way of discovering what processes malfunctioned to lead to someone’s murder—which are a vital instrument for improving the police response to this extraordinarily common crime. (Guardian)
There is a similar movement in medicine: the Clinical Human Factors Group, led by an airline pilot whose wife died because doctors got the kind of “tunnel vision” which afflicts people at the controls of troubled aircraft. So he wondered if the NHS could have its own version of an air-crash investigation. This incredible 2014 piece by Ian Leslie tells his story (New Statesman).
“In June 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests swelled across the country, the Slack channels of corporate America faced their own form of reckoning. For Ms. Rodriguez, it started with a Saturday morning phone call. Ms. Rodriguez’s co-founder at Unbound, which sells vibrators, called to say that their social media manager, a younger employee, wanted to know what the company planned to do to support the protests.” The millennial bosses frightened by their Gen Z employees (New York Times).
“When Alícia Hernàndez Grande, now a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, got her driver’s license as a teenager in Houston in 2004, she remembers that the DMV tried to split her last name, Hernàndez Grande, into two parts. They printed her a license in which “Hernàndez” was listed as the middle name and “Grande” as the last name, shortening her name to Alícia H. Grande.” Why do the majority of kids in the US and UK still get their father’s surname? It’s just easier, for one thing. (The Atlantic)
See you next time, or possibly in the Metaverse!