Weekend reading


Of Means and Ends


Richard Nixon’s sexist advice to Hillary Clinton in 1992.

A former Harvard professor is suing the school alleging that they denied her tenure because of her support for sexual assault survivors.

The podcast Criminal looks at a Texas case of an unarmed black man who survived being shot in the chest by a police officer.

These charts show that gun experts clearly disagree with the NRA and gun rights activists.

Republican who has apparently been living under a rock thinks it’s harder to get a vasectomy than an abortion.

Vulture on the wonderful women of “weird stand-up” comedy.

A majority of Americans agree on what the abortion experience should be like.

A new video game shows you what sexual harassment can feel like.

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Are women funny?

Shoot the Messenger

Female and funny?

The BBC is a bit like an embarrassing uncle who keeps getting pissed at family parties, and upsetting everyone with his casual racism and crude sexual innuendoes. Actually, if the beeb were a person then it would be Jeremy Clarkson. But this isn’t a piece about Clarkson’s potential departure from Top Gear, for I have to actually give a shit about something in order to write about it.

This is about a story that aired yesterday, concerning a decision made by the BBC to start ticking boxes on their comedy shows. By that, I mean that they released a statement to the effect that shows such as Mock the Week must now feature at least one comic with breasts on their panel. Or else.

Breast-free comedian, Jason Manford, has piped up in support of ‘the laydeez’ by exclaiming that the BBC shouldn’t…

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Pish's Blog of Loveliness

Sometimes, you have a good day. And then a second good day. And, if you’re really, really lucky, you have a third or a fourth good day. And you think to yourself, “Yes. This is good. This is right. This is life. I can do this.” But, just when you think you’re home free, another bad day comes, howling at you out of the night when you can’t sleep and you lie awake in your bed sweating and feeling full of fear and doubts. And it’s followed by another bad day and another and another, until the good days feel like a distant memory. Like a faded photograph tinged sepia around the edges and golden with nostalgia.

And that’s Depression.

Sometimes, when you’re very quiet, the people around you want to know what you’re thinking. And, at first, you believe you aren’t thinking about anything at all. But then, you…

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Would you say that to a man?

Of Means and Ends


“I’m not going to apply for the job because I want you to get it.”

I was in my mid-20s and a promotion opened up in my division at work and I planned to apply for it. Given the hierarchy in our department, one male coworker and I were the natural ones to consider for the job. When the topic came up, that’s what he said to me: “I’m not going to apply for the job because I want you to get it.” I don’t remember what I said in the moment, but I remember quietly seething and thinking, “Don’t do me any favors. Go ahead and apply and I’ll still get it.”

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I Allow Myself Poetry

Paper Pencil Life

I allow myself poetry
I’ve said this before, but poetry is probably the largest influence on my comics.  What I feel and experience in reading my favorite poems is what I hope to express in comics.  The poet Dorothea Grossman is up there for me in terms of guiding this idea.  I so wish I had VOLUMES of her work instead of the slim selected poems that was published shortly after her death.  The poem that I mention in the comic is called “I Allow Myself” and you can find it here along with many others and a couple of podcasts that feature her work.  I also want to note that I misquoted her poem in the comic.  It should read: ” I allow/ myself the luxury of breakfast/ (I am no nun, for Christ’s sake.)”

I am a proud subscriber of Poetry Magazine and still an avid listener of the podcasts.  I *still* have…

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The Two-Sentence View of History

An Indigenous History of North America

I’ve been reading a lot of accounts recently that argue indigenous people asserted much more control over many areas of the continent into the 19th century than modern people usually assume (check out The Native Ground by Kathleen DuVal or An Infinity of Nations by Michael Witgen, not to mention Hamalainen’s Comanche Empire) and I got to thinking about the response my post about the teaching of Native history received.

One of the most common responses was along the lines of “Well, Native Americans didn’t contribute much to history anyway, they didn’t do much important, it’s sad but they were basically just wiped away by Europeans.” There is an incredible amount of hindsight bias in that kind of thinking. When you are living in a society in a time where Native people have been very carefully thrust out of view, it is easy to see the dominance of European-descendants as an inevitable…

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What pleas they may fuck out of such books: Google Ngrams vs Long-S

Strong Language

Ever seen an old printed book with the letter S that looks like an F? This ligature, to the uninitiated, looks like ſ; it’s called the ‘long s’, and it has very much fallen out of use in modern typography. John Bell is widely credited for the demise of the long S, which is why we don’t see it very much any more, but it is often seen in European books printed between the 1400s and 1790s.

The google ngram reader relies heavily on optical character recognition (OCR) software to make their books searchable; OCR software  strives to match each printed character in a text to a recognized typographic character. Even human readers can have difficulty with reading text which heavily use the ſ, as seen from this 1739 printed example of Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist:

the-alchemist-1739Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist: A Comedy, first performed in 1610 and published…

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What is it you [can’t] face?

Strong Language

The following is a short guest post by David Morris, a teacher of English as a second language in Sydney, Australia. He holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics, and blogs about language at Never Pure and Rarely Simple.

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A few days ago the movie The Sound of Music screened (yet again) on Australian television. One of my Facebook friends alluded to the recurring rumour that in a conversation between Maria and the abbess, the latter doesn’t actually say ‘Maria, what is it you can’t face?’, but rather ‘What is it, you cunt-face?’

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