Book Review: The Feminist Utopia Project, fifty-seven visions of a wildly better future

The Feminist Utopia Project, fifty-seven visions of a wildly better future

edited by Alexandra Brodsky, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

This was a great book. But then, I expected it to be that from the LRB interview I had seen about it. I had to buy it from Amazon USA because, as a modest art-academic project with the Feminist Press, it has not been published in the UK (yet).

The collection is mostly short stories and essays but includes poems, listicles, art, the lot. I’m in the middle of writing fiction about a world with different gender dynamics so I especially wanted to look at these, even more after I saw the contributors included Melissa Gira Grant and a few other writers I already enjoy reading.

This won’t be a particularly thorough review: if you’re the kind of person who thinks they’d like to read a book called the feminist utopia project, yes, this is the kind of book you would like to read. But here are a few observations. Continue reading

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PAPER NUKES: Navy Whistleblower Reveals Britain Abandoned Atomic Missiles In 1998 & Pretended Ever Since – The Middlesex Mendax

The United Kingdom has not possessed a real nuclear deterrent since the early days of the Blair Government, a shocking whistleblower has revealed. The first New Labour administration decided to give up the Trident missile system, which had been run by four Vanguard-class submarines, to save Britain billions of pounds.

Since then, documents seen by the Mendax prove that Britain has kept its lack of actual atomic weaponry a guarded secret. The old submarines were kept in shady docks and occasionally went out with skeleton crews to show they still existed. They never patrolled the world’s deep seas after 1998 though, and they never possessed the power to eradicate Moscow or Samoa.

Our source claims that the conspiracy was a way to save over £30 billion but maintain an effective nuclear deterrent. This was a tactical decision by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who felt that they had to accept the Cold War was over and the missiles useless, but did not want to be seen as weak on defence. Because other countries, including Britain’s allies in Nato, believed that the Royal Navy could still wipe out millions of lives in seconds, no foreign power ever considered invading. Continue reading

Superheroes are next to useless

Not just superheroes, really. Jedi too. Super-spies like 007 or Agent Carter. Badass detectives like Sherlock Holmes (whether Downey Jr, Bumblecatch or Miller).

Seriously, if I had an Iron Man suit waiting in my spare room, it’d be even dustier than the broken vacuum cleaner. If Thor’s hammer Mjolnir found me worthy then I’d use it to impress moralists and for cheap interstellar travel, but not to hit people with. If I had a lightsabre and some nifty telekinesis abilities, I’d think they were badass toys to help cut wood for the fire. If I was bitten by a radioactive spider then I would probably enjoy touring the rooftops of Canary Wharf and the City, but doubt I’d fight much crime. Continue reading

Jurassic World: Why Claire actually doomed the park and everyone in it

(This blog contains spoilers and also assumes the reader is familiar with Jurassic World)

I got to thinking about the Indominus Rex and within the film’s internal logic and it took me to a worrying place. Claire’s decision to release the Tyrannosaurs Rex to help fight the I-Rex was catastrophic. This is unapologetically geeky: you have been warned. Continue reading

Tea-total Britain ruins lives

Choppers is an unhappy chimpanzee. The last surviving star of PG Tips’ comedy adverts, she is maladjusted and insular according to Sharon Redrobe, Chief Executive of Twycross Zoo. While she is now learning simian interaction, a new Japanese study suggests the health benefits of tea-drinking are overstated: it can actually impede the popular-blood pressure medicines, ‘beta blockers’. With this in mind, we Brits must ask ourselves if we’re dangerously addicted.

When I am offered tea, I say, “No, thank you.”

The offer-er looks surprised or offended, even if we’ve been through this a thousand times. It’s as if I brazenly declared my dislike for ‘fun’ or ‘breathing’. The consumption of tea so deeply permeates British society that the idea anyone wouldn’t like it, or actively dislikes it, is a shock.

Tea drinking is an institution. It crosses the class divide, from faux-Victorian ‘Afternoon Tea’ in Mayfair hotels to a steady stream of brew to keep builders building. It crosses Britain’s multicultural patchwork: Chinese, Persians, Indians and Irish, Pakistanis and Australians all join the party with special rituals and flavours. For many, it signifies the evening meal.

There is a cohort, however, who suffer in silence. I have unearthed some such pariahs.

“I’m just indifferent to tea. Please don’t tell me off.”

“I only really like it because it makes drinking hot water acceptable.”

“Dirty water.”

And an expletive, repressed voice from the ether, “I really ****ing hate tea.”

It’s clear from the first quotation that, even shielded by the anonymity my highly scientific Facebook poll provides, admitting one’s indifference is terrifying. The subjugation some non-tea drinkers bear can boil over to resentment.

As well it might. Tea is the basis of so many everyday social rituals that an unwillingness to sip something that scalds your tongue and fills you with the queasy sensation of having just ingested gone-off mud is a real impediment. In the office environment, trust and rapport is established by the underlings or interns ‘doing the tea round’. You endear yourself to your friends’ parents by making a decent cuppa. For many reticent romantics at the end of a first date, the offer, “Would you like to come up for tea?” is the only permissible innuendo. The coded message is such that I actually bought some Earl Grey once, in case anyone took my offer literally.

There is historical pedigree to tea, first brought to Europe by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century from China. Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, introduced it to the English court and we never looked back. Brits have a certain myopia when it comes to tea’s lineage though: the Boston Tea Party famously kicked off a bloody war in the Americas. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean must know that the East India Company perpetrated many of the horrors of empire, but few pause to think that the ‘T’ in ‘EITC’ might as well stand for ‘tea’. The First Opium War with China was fought to sell Chinese peasants heroin, in an effort to raise funds for buying…you guessed it.

Rather than remember these black marks on its character, we glorify tea as a symbol, as if we were drinking milky patriotism. “Keep calm and drink tea!” order the Blitz-spirited posters. Well I won’t. I would burn my tongue and swear, which would give away my position to the Germans. As we all know from Michael Gove, once the Germans know where you are, all is lost.

Readers who sip happily over the paper should take a good look at themselves. They are not patriots, but victims. They have been conned by the most pervasive and sustained marketing campaign known to Britain since the invention of the wheel. Tea, and its derivate derivatives ‘infusions’, is not sophisticated or clever. It has been marketed as a drink for apes. Its medicinal benefits are negligent at best. It has neither the oomph of coffee nor the kick of scotch. It alienates the unworthy. It will get you hooked on caffeine, little by little, but never give you utter satisfaction.

Although I do hear it’s good with chocolate digestives.

See also: a poem about Taylor Swift and protest marches

YORO

Murmur under your breath in criticism of the machine

Occasionally blog against the machine

Listen to decade-old songs that rage against the machine while you work the machine

Tell people you sometimes feel frustrated by the machine

Rage against people who embody the machine more than you do

Download Taylor Swift’s latest album

Tweet against Apple’s sweatshop production model on your smartphone

Patience is a virtue in pursuit of rage

Shake it out against the machine

Smoke only rollies

Post statuses about people in countries where the machine is rather more overt and harsh

ISIS against the machine

If you see appropriate articles nuancing the approach of the machine, ‘like’ them

Consider pharmaceuticals from machines against rage

Blank spaces against the machinations of emotion

Wear hypercolour Che Guevara

Grapes of wrath against the machine make bitter wine

Doff your cap in deference to the machine but do it with a tiny smirk because you know you aren’t really submitting to the machine

Rage against the kyriarchy through multidisciplinary academic discourse

Evaluate the machine at an Atlantacist Conference on the hegemonic power of automated industry undermining organised labour’s negotiation position

Swill mouthwash to make the machine wintry fresh

Consider with disgust your youthful cultural appropriations of indigenous races’ wars against earlier machine permutations

Recall the vigour with which you raged against the machine at 22

Rage against the machine quietly

Rage against the machine tomorrow

Invest in synthetic marijuana and 10-year gilts from emerging economies

Sneer at newspapers that don’t rage as hard as you do

Dissatisfaction is a necessary but insufficient condition for successful discrete raging in all possible machine worlds

Wear ribbed condoms and a sports jacket against the machine

Double-lock your flat against the machine

Write to your MP(‘s intern) asking them to get at least a little worked up about the impending extenuation of the machine

Red trousers against the machine

Wear sunscreen against the machine

Donate to machine-rage complex charity

The sun also rises for the machine

Stick it to the man machine

Brace yourselves and other memes against the machine

One does not simply rage into Mordor

The beastie boys fought and possibly died for your right to rage against the party

Look on my rage, ye mighty! And despair

The grass is always greener on the machine’s side

YORO

Victors

Some observations concerning the Black Widow debate that solve nothing

It is quite possible that the following raise more issues than they answer, and do not absolve Joss Whedon from the numerous charges laid against him, and it is also possible that all of these points have been made before, though I have not seen them. Continue reading

Subsumed

 

We want the arab migrants to integrate

To adopt true british culture

We want the arab migrants

To get hammered twice a week

And throw up in the streets

 

We want the Polish migrants to assimilate

To adopt true British culture

We want the Polish migrants

To shout “You fucking slag”

At middle aged secretaries

 

We want West Indies migrants

To shake off their alien culture

Cheer for England in the cricket

And start fights when

We lose the football

 

We want the Indian migrants

To try harder to fit in

Send their kids to Oxbridge

Dodge inheritance tax

Make a killing in the City

 

We want these African migrants

To give up their tribal ways

We want these Africans to

Internalise class awareness

Festooned with trinkets

 

We want these Bengali migrants

To embrace popular culture

Produce twenty or so talk show hosts

Of whom one might

Like to touch children

 

We want these Irish migrants

To come to belong

Betray their Pope, love the Queen

Bring the Guinness

That’s fine

 

 

Come on die young.

 

Not sure about this. Been a bit ill, hence paucity of posts. Many terrible ideas sure to be typed up in the fullness of time. x