Society

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Pensions are decidedly ill suited to financial investment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/02/2022 - 6:40am in

When we think of the state pension we always think of the transfer of money to a fund for the future. Yet the origin of the word is from ‘pendere’ to pay or weigh – no prior contribution required. It needs to be better understood that in fact the state pension is just a straight... Read more

"Plan C" (1979)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/12/2021 - 10:35pm in

This internal council document was only recently unearthed in our archives. It refers to a secret governmental emergency plan to "purify" the town following some kind of "infestation or plague," the details of which have now been lost. 

Although we can now no longer be entirely sure what Plan C consisted of, the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud offers us a clear indication of the council's intention. Our archivists have postulated that the council might have thought it simpler and more cost effective to remove all living things than to target specific vermin and/or undesirable microscopic pathogens. 

What also seems clear is that an unidentified but enthusiastic council employee took it upon themselves to extend Plan C to almost every eventuality, in effect making the nuclear Plan C simply the only plan.

The notion that the council planned to employ a nuclear option is further supported by a minor story in a local newspaper from the time. In October 1979, seven-year-old schoolboy Nigel Johnson, mixed up his family's contribution to his school's annual harvest festival. Instead of the intended box containing four cans of oxtail soup and spaghetti hoops in tomato sauce, he took a quarter tonne of enriched uranium and other weapons-grade nuclear materials.

The boy's father, a local councillor, when questioned how his son could have found such materials at home, claimed ignorance. "Boys are always picking up things like this in the playground," he said and added "it's the fault of liberal teachers and communist dinner ladies and I firmly believe they should be among the first to be cleansed."

Art and Action: Benjamin Zephaniah in Conversation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 4:49pm in

Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities. In his autobiography, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah (2018), award-winning poet, lyricist, musician, and activist Benjamin Zephaniah speaks out candidly about the writer’s responsibility to step outside the medium of literature and engage in political activism: “You can’t just be a poet or writer and say your activism is simply writing about these things; you have to do something as well, especially if your public profile can be put to good use.” In conversation with Elleke Boehmer and Malachi McIntosh, he will address the complex relationship of authorship and activism in a celebrity-driven media culture and the ways in which his celebrity persona relates to his activist agenda. The conversation will tie in with contemporary debates about the role of literature and the celebrity author as a social commentator.

Pre-recorded introduction:

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is the author and editor of over twenty books, including Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial: Resistance in Interaction (2002), Stories of Women (2005), Indian Arrivals 1870-1915: Networks of British Empire (2015), Postcolonial Poetics: 21st-century critical readings (2018), and a widely translated biography of Nelson Mandela (2008). She is the award-winning author of five novels, including Bloodlines (2000), Nile Baby (2008), and The Shouting in the Dark (2015), and two collections of short stories, most recently To the Volcano, and other stories (2019). Boehmer is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Life Writing and principal investigator of Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds.

Speakers:

Benjamin Zephaniah is one of Britain’s most eminent contemporary poets, best known for his compelling spoken-word and recorded performances. An award-winning playwright, novelist, children’s author, and musician, he is also a committed political activist and outspoken campaigner for human and animal rights. He appears regularly on radio and TV, literary festivals, and has also taken part in plays and films. He continues to record and perform with his reggae band, recently releasing the album Revolutionary Minds. His autobiography, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah (2018), was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award.

Malachi McIntosh is editor and publishing director of Wasafiri. He previously co-led the Runnymede Trust’s award-winning Our Migration Story project and spent four years as a lecturer in postcolonial literature at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Emigration and Caribbean Literature (2015) and the editor of Beyond Calypso: Re-Reading Samuel Selvon (2016). His fiction and non-fiction have been published widely, including in the Caribbean Review of Books, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Guardian, The Journal of Romance Studies, Research in African Literatures, and The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature.

Q and A Chaired by Professor Wes Williams, TORCH Director.

The event is organised in association with the Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds project and The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) and forms part of the webinar series Art and Action: Literary Authorship, Politics, and Celebrity Culture.

Government Employee Eye-Test Slide (1970s)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/05/2020 - 7:38pm in

Social-Distancing Laws (1970)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 2:17am in

Stream of conscientiousness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/02/2019 - 6:51pm in

I had a list of new year’s resolutions this year, which I wrote and then forgot about, but at some level have been trying to complete ever since. Let me dig them up; hold on. Ah, here they are.

Well, I’m not losing any weight, but I am managing to live stream pretty often. I share a weird corner of the streaming world, where amateur programmers show strangers their screens and their faces while they do random coding. Mostly it happens on Twitch TV, which has cornered the market in esports and mass live video demonstrations of gaming prowess. Twitch TV also streams the long tail of what it used to call “Creative” — enthusiasts building PCs, drawing pictures, messing with clay, and growing chickens. After a mixed beginning (where you could see Twitch trying avoid turning into a video sexworker marketplace, or just troll central), Twitch has clearly developed a fondness for these corner cases. Maybe it’s because they hark back to when it used to be Justin TV, and people showing you things they did was all it had.

Anyway, I’m hovering at the bottom of the “Science & Technology” category(!), a long way away from the 13 million followers of gamers like Ninja, and honestly a fair bit below popular coders like Al “The Best Python Teacher I Know Of” Sweigart, game developers like ShmellyOrc, and even other Lisp-exploring streams like Baggers and the mysterious algorithmic trader Inostdal. It’s okay though. I’m doing this for my own entertainment and sanity: livestreaming, for reasons that I’m still trying to understand, snapped me out of depression a year ago. (It’s not called Code Therapy for nothing.) Plus I’ve always enjoyed playing to small rooms, if they’re full of good people.

Anyway, as they say, subscribe and follow, follow and subscribe. Set it up to notify when I’m streaming, and come sit with me sometime. We’ll have a safely mediated chat, through protocols and stacks and obscene amounts of bandwidth.

capital mood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/01/2019 - 4:05pm in

I’ve been futzing around with LISPs. See how we say LISP like that, all in caps? That’s how I think of Lisp; it has this vague aura of pre-1980s aesthetic where capital letters where either teletype-obligatory, or an actual indicator of futuristic COMPUTER WORLD.

Case in computing is a funny thing, like a binary signal in the ebb and flow of fashion. When and why did Unix (UNIX™) shell commands adopt that lowercase chic? I still write my email address in lowercase, even on government forms that request all caps, out of a defiant alt tone — DANNY@SPESH.COM stinks of AOL, Compuserve, and doing it wrong.

Common Lisp, forged in the eighties, expected, like Lisp itself, to be timeless: Common Lisp has CAPITALS all over it. Not exclusively, though. I guess when you’re Guy Steele and you’re trying to bind together futuristic AI and McCarthy fifties experiments, smashing together upper and lowercase is the least of your temporal concerns.

Will upper case make a come back? MAYBE IT ALREADY HAS.

Me and My Beliefs: Challenges of Identity and Society

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/12/2017 - 1:54am in

Me and My Beliefs: Challenges of Identity and Society held on 28 November 2017 Bishop Libby Lane is Britain’s first woman bishop in the Church of England. In this talk - Me and My Beliefs: Challenges of Identity and Society - Bishop Libby explores the pathway that brought her to this position and addresses an area of identity not always covered in diversity debates. A panel of prominent speakers joins her in discussing what it means to be a person of faith in Britain today and impacts on diversity.
On the panel:
Jas' Elsner (Professor of Late Antique Art, Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford and project lead on Empires of Faith). Shaista Aziz (freelance journalist and writer. Founder of The Everyday Bigotry Project).
This event was chaired by Elleke Boehmer (Professor in World Literatures in English, University of Oxford)

The Spirits of Crossbones Graveyard

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/02/2017 - 4:27am in

The book's author Sondra Hausner (Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford) will explore the issues raised in her book. Every month, a ragtag group of Londoners gather in the site known as Crossbones Graveyard to commemorate the souls of medieval prostitutes believed to be buried there—the “Winchester Geese,” women who were under the protection of the Church but denied Christian burial. In the Borough of Southwark, not far from Shakespeare's Globe, is a pilgrimage site for self-identified misfits, nonconformists, and contemporary sex workers who leave memorials to the outcast dead. Ceremonies combining raucous humor and eclectic spirituality are led by a local playwright, John Constable, also known as John Crow. His interpretation of the history of the site has struck a chord with many who feel alienated in present-day London. Sondra L. Hausner offers a nuanced ethnography of Crossbones that tacks between past and present to look at the historical practices of sex work, the relation of the Church to these professions, and their representation in the present. She draws on anthropological approaches to ritual and time to understand the forms of spiritual healing conveyed by the Crossbones rites. She shows that ritual is a way of creating the present by mobilizing the stories of the past for contemporary purposes.

The book's author Sondra Hausner (Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford) will explore the issues raised with:
Bridget Anderson (Professor of Migration and Citizenship, University of Oxford)
Diane Watt (Professor of Medieval Literature, University of Surrey)
Chair: Antonia Fitzpatrick (Departmental Lecturer in History, University of Oxford)

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