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The Bluestocking, vol 245
you use the whole bird
The fabled Westminster consensus is just beginning to grasp how bad this winter could be, economically—although actual voters have been extremely worried for some time. The Bank of England is now predicting inflation at 13% next year, and five quarters of recession. (God knows where interest rates will end up—that stamp duty holiday during the pandemic, which encouraged people to overstretch themselves to buy a house, looks even worse policy now than it did at the time.) Plus the NHS backlog is intense.
All the talk about tax cuts during the Tory leadership race therefore feels a bit like Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are arguing about which violin concerto they want the band to play on the Titanic.
The Crane Who Fell In Love With A Human (Washington Post, 2018)
Early one summer morning, as rain is misting the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a middle-aged man is courting a crane. Chris Crowe, 42, bends forward in a slight bow and then ﬂaps his arms slowly, like wings. “Hey, girl, whatcha think,” he coos. […] almost immediately, Walnut starts responding to Crowe’s overtures. She returns his bows and then turns away from him and holds her wings loosely away from her body. Kneeling behind the bird, Crowe rests a hand gently on her back. Then he starts rubbing her thighs, rhythmically, almost pornographically. Thirty seconds elapse — it feels much longer — before Walnut steps away from Crowe, fixes a few out-of-place feathers, and then stretches out her wings, asking for another go-round.
In past years, Crowe would have taken this opportunity to inject Walnut with a syringe of crane semen.
I’m going to assume you don’t have a Washington Post sub, so let me summarise this absolutely insane story.
Walnut the Crane probably murders her two previous crane suitors. This is a problem. Cranes are very endangered so it’s imperative the Smithsonian breeds them.
Walnut does, however, like the zookeeper Chris Crowe. His bosses presumably have an awkward chat with him, like, “Sorry Chris, but the future of the species depends on you” and he gradually learns how to do crane mating dances to win Walnut over.
Chris does so well at this that he is able to simulate crane-sex with Walnut. This is great for everyone involved, except perhaps Chris, because it means Walnut doesn’t have to be forcibly restrained to be artificially inseminated.
Walnut has five chicks, helping to preserve the species. All good! But cranes live to 60, and they mate for life, so even though the zoo doesn’t need any more chicks, Walnut still needs him. Chris tells the reporter he’s realised he can’t retire until Walnut dies. He would actually rather work on reintroducing wolves, but people are scared of wolves, so there’s not much demand for that, and anyway, he has crane-based domestic responsibilities to attend to in Washington DC.
THE TWIST: Unbeknownst to Walnut, Chris has other crane-wives! The absolute hound. Apparently there is just something about him that female cranes go mad for. Luckily his other two crane wives have moved on to actual male cranes. But Walnut only has eyes for Chris.
It’s unlikely that Walnut will be called on to produce more chicks, but Crowe continues to dance with her and even “mate” with her when she asks. It’s a strange job, but Crowe says he’s used to getting teased at this point. “I’ve heard every joke,” he says, and then shares his favorite: “What’s the difference between erotic and kinky? Erotic, you use a feather. Kinky, you use the whole bird.”
Anyway I will think about Chris next time I’m tempted to complain about my work, which at least does not involve sexually arousing a moody endangered bird with razor-sharp claws.
Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? (Outside, 2019)
How did we get it so wrong? How could people with low vitamin D levels clearly suffer higher rates of so many diseases and yet not be helped by supplementation?
As it turns out, a rogue band of researchers has had an explanation all along. And if they’re right, it means that once again we have been epically misled.
These rebels argue that what made the people with high vitamin D levels so healthy was not the vitamin itself. That was just a marker. Their vitamin D levels were high because they were getting plenty of exposure to the thing that was really responsible for their good health—that big orange ball shining down from above.
Interesting, piece on the possibility that, in order to reduce skin cancers (rare) we’ve blocked ourselves from exposing our skin to sunlight, which would help with high blood pressure (incredibly common). “For every person who dies of skin cancer, more than 100 die from cardiovascular diseases.” Newly relevant in light of recent research that supplementary vitamin D is not as good for you as actual sun exposure.
Postbag: Tom Chivers notes there is a quicker way of saying The Law of Salutary Contradiction: kettle logic. Stoked to see Derrida involved in anything which uses fewer words than an alternative.
Intermission: I had to go back and watch my interview with Jordan Peterson for a project I’m working on, and the zillion hater comments are still going. I think this is the best criticism I’ve ever received.
DID YOU SEE THAT THIS WOMAN WAS BREATHING! I AM WRITING TO MY MP
“We might despair at the dialogue being quite so modern in this new version of Persuasion but in Emma Thompson’s version of Sense and Sensibility Margaret says, “You always say it won’t rain and it always does.” Good line. Very Austen. One small snag: Thompson wrote it, not Austen. So where do we draw the line?” Henry Oliver defends Netflix’s Persuasion (The Critic).
“A homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.” Yes, that does feel like a red flag. (New York Times).
“According to a report released last week by the Department for Education, 53 per cent of black African boys on free school meals progressed to higher education by the age of 19 in 2020-21. The figure for black Caribbean boys was 25 per cent.” Tomiwa Owolade on the university attainment gap between pupils of black African and Black Caribbean descent (Times, £). And here’s an interesting response by Akala (Twitter).
Far right/QAnon/anti-Lockdown people are piling into the Drag Queen Story Time/Hour controversy, which bodes ill (BBC).
The Alex Jones trial—over his repeated claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was faked—has been an incredible, and rare, collision of a fantasist and the brick wall of reality. Here’s the moment he discovers his own defence team accidentally gave evidence of his perjury to the defence. (I say accidentally but it seems quite the oversight, so perhaps spending time with him has made them hate him as much as the judge does. Feels like the jurors may not warm to him either. Basically the man has kept doing his show throughout the trial, slagging off the trial. An . . . unorthodox strategy.) Why would someone lie in a way that causes so much pain? At its height, Infowars made $800,000 a day, mostly from diet supplements and survival gear.
I will leave you with a real picture of Alex Jones’s lawyer, at the trial.
See you next time!
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