According to Scientific Blogging,
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have captured and sequenced tiny pieces of collagen protein from a 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex. The protein fragments—seven in all—appear to most closely match amino acid sequences found in collagen of present day chickens.
Picking over the bones of modern culture is a pastime I enjoy, but I am quite depressed about the culture of offense we have drifted into. Hardly a day goes by, it seems, when one c-list celebrity or another gets into hot water over an off-the-cuff remark that became a bad remark the Tuesday before. What I am saying here is that a new, Newspeak dictionary is being published every week now, and you have to be pretty sharp to keep up with the banned words and phrases. Words like "cunt" seem to be ok now, even on television. I can still remember when Kenneth Tynan said "Fuck" on the BBC and the papers talked about it for weeks. Recently, I would say, no longer than a twelvemonth, it has become de rigeur to blank out the words "Nigger" and "Paki", as if these words in themselves are so terrible, so beyond the pale, that even mention of them in parenthesis is a bridge too far.
Who decides these things I am not sure. You have to ask an anthropologist. All I know is, that in certain quarters, you had better have up to date information on which words you can use and then make sure that you are entitled to use them, for nowadays linguistic hegemony has fragmented into minority usage and you can only use certain words if you belong to that minority.
Someone coming from, let's say Retford, let us say, an average bloke (can I still use "bloke" or "average"?) who has an average job and is of average intelligence, is still going to use words that would call for resignations and perhaps, a meeting with the law, had they not been from Retford, and had the disadvantage of being ordinary. I am not sure why celebrities are singled out. They have a rough ride; one day they are censured for alluding to racial stereotypes by perhaps mentioning "curries", the next they are being told that, because they directed a movie, they are entitled to rape at least one 13 year old.
If these were children, who need clear boundaries, we would be confusing the hell out of them. I must conclude that the arbitrary nature of celebrity censure is the result of a society that does not know right from wrong.
I recently got a new chicken, a black frizzle. I call her Mahalia, after the wonderful Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. To hear Jackson, you are witnessing liberation, of the soul, the spirit and the body - an almost paranormal experience mediated by this woman of unremarkable origins who to me, represents all that is great about the Civil Rights Movement. It is difficult to listen to her rendition of "We shall overcome" without being, well, overcome. You cannot secularise the Southern Freedom Movement, it was steeped in the knowledge of the Word of God and the deep, unshakeable understanding that, all men are born equal under God.
Well, Mahalia, the chicken is unwell. We inherited her with a disease called scaly leg. Sufficient to say it is very unpleasant and would in time mean that she would lose her limbs. The only time to catch a chicken, without a great hoo-ha, is at night. And so it was that, after dark, we gently tried to extract Mahalia from her perch to begin her treatment. The trouble is, she is black and her feathers are curly. In the dark I am afraid that, not only could I not see her, I could not tell her one end from the other. It wouldn't surprise me to find that black people are harder to see in the dark, given the logic of the situation.
Am I a racist?