Portland stages a funeral for the death of face masks
Attendees will gather to mourn the end of 'public health'
Today, at 4:30 Pacific Time, a group calling itself Mask Bloc will gather in the courthouse square in Portland, Oregon dressed in black, with masks, to mourn the official end of mask requirements in healthcare settings in Oregon.
Mask Bloc’s tweets are now protected, but the gathering invited protesters to “”Wear funeral black, wear your mask, bring signs” to lament “the end of infection control in OR”. It’s billed as a “funeral” for “public health”.
The meaning of “public health” in this context, though, merits a moment’s reflection. Portland is, after all, a city whose drug and homelessness problem is well-documented. Overdose deaths were already climbing in 2020, a change attributed to the pandemic. But following the 2021 passing of Ballot Measure 110, with 58.8% support, which decriminalised the use of hard drugs, overdose deaths both in Portland and across Oregon rose by 41%. ...
Peta’s ‘Last Of Us’ advert dials up the fear message
Guilting the population into compliance is the organisation's only weapon
The animal cruelty campaigners at Peta had a knack for clickbait even before clickbait was a thing, famously persuading models including Eva Mendes, Pamela Anderson and Joss Stone to pose naked for campaigns against the use of fur, leather or animal products. Now they’ve joined the growing chorus telling us to go vegan or face disaster.
A new advert titled ‘The Last Of Us’ depicts ruined, post-apocalyptic scenes overlaid with a child’s voice reproaching the viewer: “You always told me not to put my finger in the socket…run into the road…talk to strangers…in case I got hurt.” But, the child continues, “you never said don’t eat meat or dairy. Now look what you’ve done.” The strapline: ‘Animal agriculture is killing the planet’. ...
Ireland’s ‘women in the home’ referendum: a middle-class obsession
If approved, the constitution will be changed to become more 'gender-neutral'
The Irish papers are full of news that a referendum will be set this coming November on Article 41.2 in the Irish constitution. This contains a recognition that “by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved” and that the State shall therefore “endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.
The overwhelming consensus from Ireland’s liberal feminist public voices is that this framing is discriminatory against women, and that it’s in women’s interests for it to be amended. Seanad Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Erin McGreehan called the existing phrasing “innately biased against women”, arguing that the sex-specific language in the Irish constitution needs to be amended to recognise “the economic value of unpaid care” in language that’s “gender-neutral”. ...
Chinese university invents robotic lips for remote kissing
A new creation promises to transmit kisses between long-distance lovers
Would you ‘kiss’ your partner remotely with a set of robotic lips? This is the promise of a new invention from robotics researchers at a Chinese university that claims to transmit a kiss over the internet to your long-distance lover.
The device consists of two paired sets of rubber lips, backed by sensors and animatronic motors. It then transmits the pressure of lips from one device to the other, while the sense of your partner being close up is conveyed by their image on a camera. Is this really about presence, though, or the opposite?
The mind shudders at the thought of the technical challenge of an animatronic tongue. But people have been hailing the arrival of ‘teledildonics’ for 30 years now, since a breathless article by David Rothschild in 1993 that imagined a time when “your sex life could be shut off for failure to pay your electric bill”. Since then, web-enabled sex toys have intermittently hit the headlines. As yet, though, most people prefer doing things the old-fashioned way — in no small part because physical intimacy with another person is more or less by definition a full-spectrum tactile experience. ...
The media pushes polyamory — but the public isn’t buying it
Despite numerous columns on the subject, the practice hasn't taken off
Is the number of people practising polyamory really growing? London-based millennial journalists seem to think so: I’ve seen three columns about the practice just since December. The New Statesman‘s Pravina Rudra wrote two months ago that a ‘growing’ number of her friends insist ‘monogamy isn’t natural’; earlier this month, again in the New Statesman, Lamorna Ash described how dating a couple ‘set me free’. Now the Sunday Times is on board, declaring that ‘more and more Britons are exploring relationships with multiple partners’ and promoting The Ethical Slut as ‘the ultimate guide to polyamory without heartbreak’. ...
Andrew Tate is Alan Partridge run amok
A new documentary shows the influencer at his most cringeworthy
There’s something odd about Andrew Tate’s dimensions. He’s too wide and flat, like a cardboard cutout of himself. But watching The Dangerous Rise of Andrew Tate, the Vice documentary about the recently-arrested masculinity influencer which premiered this weekend on the BBC, it brought to mind other two-dimensional caricatures of human sentience: goblin-mode AI and Alan Partridge.
Around a week ago some 4chan anons managed, after a fashion, to break ChatGPT free of its increasingly stringent woke constraints. They did this by telling it to write in character as ‘Do Anything Now’ (DAN), a version of itself without any interdictions on permissible speech, after which much fun ensued. ...
How the Chinese spy balloon brought Americans together
Faced with a foreign threat, the culture wars temporarily subsided
As a Brit, sharing a language and a plethora of social media platforms with the United States sometimes feels like hearing a couple who have forgotten they’re miked up while having a vicious argument in public.
But the warring Red and Blue enjoyed a rare moment of unity, of sorts, over the weekend, as all converged with fascination on the “Chinese spy balloon”. This unmanned high-altitude balloon, which the Chinese claimed was for “mainly metereological” purposes, followed a route across North American airspace beginning in Alaska. It then passed over Canada and re-entered the United States in Idaho, before traversing sensitive military bases in Montana — at which point it was visible enough that ordinary people began to notice, and the shouting started in earnest. ...
Dylan Mulvaney’s new face is only the beginning
Butchering your own body for entertainment will become commonplace
There’s a well-trodden genre of viral video that compiles photos or videos showing someone transforming their body through exercise, over time. We’ve also been staring at people who have done grotesque things to themselves through plastic surgery ever since Lolo Ferrari on Eurotrash. Now, though, the funhouse mirror of digital culture has thrown up a new twist: plastic surgery as influencer content.
TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney recently underwent ‘facial feminisation surgery’. After posting a bandaged-up video from a hospital bed, and presumably waiting until the bruising, sutures and other evidence of cosmetic surgery had faded, the world may now enjoy the resulting “face reveal” video, complete with Swan Lake music. ...