Thursday, July 31, 2008

from Holocene to Anthropocene

"The scientists, led by Jan Zalasiewicz at the department of geology at Leicester, say: "Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change for recognition of the Anthropocene - currently a vivid yet informal metaphor of global environmental change - as a new geological epoch."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gender at the Olympics

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced sex testing in 1968 at the Olympic games in Mexico City, after the masculine appearance of some competitors, many pumped up by anabolic steroids, had started to raise questions about the gender of athletes in female events. Unsurprisingly, gender-determination tests were seen as degrading, with female competitors having to submit to humiliating and invasive physical examinations by a series of doctors. Later, the IOC decided to use a supposedly more sophisticated genetic test, based on chromosomes. Women usually have two X chromosomes; men an X and a Y chromosome. So, according to the rules of the test, only those athletes with two X chromosomes could be classed as women. However, many geneticists criticised the tests, saying that sex is not as simple as X and Y chromosomes and is not always simple to ascertain.

It is thought that around one in 1,000 babies are born with an "intersex" condition, the general term for people with chromosomal abnormalities. It may be physically obvious from birth - babies may have ambiguous reproductive organs, for instance - or it may remain unknown to people all their lives. At the Atlanta games in 1996, eight female athletes failed sex tests but were all cleared on appeal; seven were found to have an "intersex" condition. As a result, by the time of the Sydney games in 2000, the IOC had abolished universal sex testing but, as will happen in Beijing, some women still had to prove they really were women."


'Credit crunch'

decent comment from GU article on the "credit crunch" euphemism by edevershed

"Take my housemate Leo as an example. Leo's so in debt, that he's being charged loads in interest every month on his debts. But he can't pay his debts, so the amount of interest is getting compounded, and he finds the whole thing too baffling and frightening to do anything about it. Recently, he's been summoned to court for non-payment of debts, but the fact remains they can't squeeze blood out of a stone.

But by spending way beyond his means for several years, Leo was a useful and productive member of society, in that he sustained economic growth, and by being in debt, he became an asset to the financial insitutions that had given him credit.

I'll run that past you again. In our somewhat insane financial system, it's normal practice to call a loan an asset.. That means, if I'm owed £1000 by you, or £5 per month, then I can describe what I'm owed as part of my assets, or income.

The problem is that that practice continues, in many cases whether or not the interest on the loan is being paid. If the interest isn't being paid, then the notional size of the loan is increased, and since it counts as an asset, the company who the money's owed to looks as if it's balancing its books.

And this can go on quite a while, - until someone comes along, and points out that actually, this notional asset isn't worth much, as even if you take Leo to court, he still can't pay his debts, and so suddenly, the asset, becomes a bad debt, and has its value instantaneously reversed. Suddenly, the company/bank is worth much less than it appeared to be. Its value tumbles."


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mandisi Majavu on Fanon

"The appreciation of certain Western ideas and the fact that certain postcolonial writers are influenced by Western writers and write in European languages should not be presented as a failure to create an authentic postcolonial cultural work, as Fanon presents it.

To write in an African language, or to quote only African writers, does not necessarily translate into originality. A radical postcolonial vision on culture ought not to be opposed to diverse cultures, including Western cultures, or a reduction diverse cultures to a least common denominator. The point is to enjoy their benefits while transcending prior debits."


Saturday, July 12, 2008

“Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,"

"Unlike most humans, however, individual animals generally cannot be classified as gay or straight: an animal that engages in a same-sex flirtation or partnership does not necessarily shun heterosexual encounters. Rather many species seem to have ingrained homosexual tendencies that are a regular part of their society. That is, there are probably no strictly gay critters, just bisexual ones. “Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England"


Thursday, July 03, 2008

A truly brilliant lecture by Lloyd Best delievered in 2001

So many quotes to write, and ive made notes on so much of this paper...the gifts are so many but essentially his point is that Caribbean scholars need to look at our society from the inside out, not use the concepts and ideas brought from the outside...the potential of his ideas for not only the Caribbean but corrupting the narrative of modernity itself is limitless if only people could read this stuff. its really easy too, he was a man of wit as well as intellectual brilliance.

“It is not only that mas compels you to play many different roles, so today you are Catholic, tomorrow you are Hindu; today you are white, tomorrow you are mulatto. Depending on where you find yourself, you are all these things. The reason mas is necessary is that you have to do that; but the more intriguing thing is that mas also requires you play yourself in many different incarnations. So you are not only playing the Other you are playing yourself. So the Caribbean personality is very complex. A Trinidadian comes to Brooklyn, the first day he talking Yankee. The first day!”

pdf link