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Thursday, April 12, 2007

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An Alpha Male (human)

Just found this. A classic example of an "Alpha Male".

Notice how he has marked his woman (e.g. wedding ring) and holds her in a proprietary way.

Classic!


Julian

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

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Parents kill their disabled son and walk free

"Cry for mercy over killing" by Lisa Davies

"Should the court show mercy in this heart-wrenching case?"

"Parents who killed son walk free" by Kim Arlington

Well, the court "showed mercy" today and the couple who killed their disabled son walked free. Most people seem to think this is just great. Well, I don't. I think they murdered their son. And it will send the message to Australian society that killing your kids, if they become a real problem, is OK. I think the low point was when the mother said of her son that she had "borrowed from his strength and courage" to kill him. What disgusting, maudlin nonsense.

I have a disabled daughter and, whatever happens, I will never want her dead.

Julian

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

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"Record Store Books; Airport Novels; Hospital Novels; Airport Non-Fiction"

Here is quite a nice article on something I noticed a few years ago: the weird collection of books that is typically available for sale in record shops.

I don't spend a lot of time in "record shops" normally, but I once sallied into one in the centre of Canberra and was pleased to find a select offering of magazines and books, which I would revisit from time to time. They were indeed, as the writer of the linked piece notes, of a certain genre. Small and obscure presses (Feral House), odd topics, short-lived cult magazines ("Fatal Visions", which was Australian and pretty good actually), antique and unusual erotica, books on serial killers, books on piercing culture, books by Jim and Debbie Goad, books on alternative writers (JG Ballard, Charles Bukowski, etc.), on Bettie Page, on Lovecraft, on Ed Wood the film-maker, and so on.

The selection had a certain mad logic; and I assumed that the shopowners knew what would sell to the sort of people who mostly consume audiovisual material. The article I cited above suggests that a similar kind of selection is to be found in all such places. Books for people who don't read much. I found the article on "record store books" by way of this Wikipedia article on "airport novels". I think of airport novels sometimes as "hospital novels", the kind of thing that a man reads in hospital. Both my mother and my wife have bought novels for me to read when I've been sick, and typically they are "airport novels". I imagine them asking for a novel for a man; and they get given something with a busty woman and a helicopter on the cover. I have a vivid memory of reading The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins in hospital, a pretty raunchy book for its time, and I felt somehow embarrassed that a female relative had given it to me.

I'd like to think I can identify another kind of book, "airport non-fiction". I suspect that, when we men travel, we are feeling pretty expansive and pleased with ourselves. If a man is travelling by airplane, he feels that he is part of the jetset for a while at least, that he is one of the world's "movers and shakers", that he has slipped the bonds of earth and home. Pretty stewardesses will soon be serving him in the air, and he usually has a few spare dollars in his pocket. So, he reaches for a big, fat airport novel to feed his big, fat masculine ego. Or, if he is in a more serious mood, perhaps on a business trip, he will buy a big, fat work of non-fiction on some serious but sexy issue - like international relations, or World War II, or espionage technology, or the latest prospect for a bloody pandemic. I remember buying The Hot Zone on one international trip.

There is a genre of these non-fiction books, which I think is aimed at middle-aged men who like to think they have a deep understanding of the way the world works. I have given up buying books for Lent, but I was in a bookshop browsing recently and the shelves are full of them: books on suitcase nukes, rendition for torture, the search for WMDs, etc. etc., all the current hot topics. There is nothing wrong with such books of course, except that they convey the illusion that one is achieving real and deep knowledge, whereas one is really being spoon fed the easy and digestible bits. It's like Arthur Hailey's books, or TV programs like CSI or House MD. They give you the illusion that you really understand what it's all about. But you don't, of course. Only real world experience will give you that.

I guess there are a lot of books out there that pander to women, but quite a few pander to the less attractive aspects of men, such as grandiosity. Normally I don't criticise my own sex: I think we get more than our fair share of criticism. But these thoughts are perhaps appropriate in Lent.

Julian

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