The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'valentine's day'


The inimitable Rhodri Marsden has some uplifting thoughts for the day, the day being, of course, the 14th of February:

I was 14 when someone first said to me: "You're not my type". It felt like a sophisticated comeback for a 14-year-old girl. She evidently knew what she wanted from a 14-year-old boy – mainly that he had to be older than 14. My dissimilarity to the socio-economic profile she'd carefully constructed meant that I had to change, quickly, to try and tick some more boxes, but in this particular case it seemed to involve joining Spandau Ballet, which was going to be tricky. Then a friend told me that it was shorthand for: "I'll never go out with you no matter what you do," which was demoralising, but also something of a relief because Spandau Ballet weren't keen.
But then you meet someone and you fall in love and out of love and then in love with someone else and before long you realise that you have a "type", too, which becomes reinforced by every subsequent romantic liaison. And then someone comes along who's not your type, but they like you and you remember the burning injustice you felt when you were 14, so you try to explain, as best you can, that it's not going to happen. But of course it doesn't go down well, because there's no excuse yet devised that's able to cushion that kind of blow. And then you drift on, with an uneasy feeling that your "type" has now become so scarce that there's probably only one example left on the planet and it's already been shot, stuffed and exhibited in some museum somewhere, with a label that simply reads: "Sorry."
In a similar (though less melancholic) vein, Rhodri also has a very entertaining book out consisting of dating catastrophies recounted through the medium of Twitter. (I attended a reading of this book last week; it was the best comedy show I have seen this year so far.)

For those more inclined to action, Occupy Valentine's Day (subtitle: "Down with couple-talism!"), a call to arms against the romance-industrial complex. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, here's Savage Chickens:

And one from Gemma Correll, a London-based illustrator specialising in all things twee:

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Something to do this Valentine's Day in London: anarchist speed dating, organised by hardcore anarchist group Class War, no less:

Proceedings at the Cross Kings - a boozer in an as-yet un-gentrified corner of north London - will be overseen by a dominatrix known as Miss Scarlett L'amour. There will be no segregation by gender, out of respect to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender attendees.
Anarchist literature will be on sale all through the anti-Valentine's evening. And entertainment will be provided by punk bands with such names to set the heart a-flutter as Active Slaughter and Headjam.
The BBC piece, of course, starts with the "Anarchist speed dating? What a laugh." angle; after all, in the eyes of the tabloid-reading public, anarchists are nihilistic thugs who like smashing stuff, and the idea of them engaging with romantic love is a piece of wacky juxtaposition. The piece is, to its credit, quite sympathetic to the anarchist position, and goes beyond the stereotype:
He doesn't mind if that somebody is "a boy or a girl, as long as they're pretty". And he doesn't find anything strange about agitators being equally committed to bringing down the system and finding companionship.
"From a distance, when you think of anarchists you think of big boots and fighting with policemen," he says. "But all the ones I've met have been very nice, very committed people. They believe in something and they want to find love, just like everyone else. Why would that surprise anyone?"

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Today is Hallmark Day, um, Valentine's Day, but tomorrow is the as yet mercifully uncommercialised Singles Awareness Day, for the snarkyalone in all of us.

The goal of Singles Awareness Day is to let singles have celebrations, get-togethers, etc. and to exchange gifts with their single friends. The awareness day was established by single people who were just sick of feeling left out on Valentine's Day, and support of the day is growing every year.
Suggested activities for this day are sending yourself flowers, planning parties for other singles to mix and meet and to participate in some sort of single's event. This is especially recommended if you don't WANT to be single. Of course, for those who kind of like being single it's a blessing and a reason to have some fun!
Originally, most singles referred to February 14 as Single's Awareness Day (acronym: SAD) until it just became too depressing! Choosing the next day allowed single people a chance to turn this into a celebration rather than a festival of self-pity or whatever they were doing before. It seems like a refreshing change of pace to know that you can survive Valentine's Day and move on to YOUR day, doesn't it?
(Not to be confused with Shingles Awareness Day.)

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A 26-year-old Oregon man has been arrested for organising an Valentine's Day suicide pact, using a chat room. Had he succeeded, as many as 32 users of a chat room, presumably all strangers brought together by a shared sense of hopelessness and disaffection, may have committed suicide on 14 February.

The authorities are busy trying to track down all chat room participants in order to prevent them from communicating on Valentine's Day, and thus from carrying out the synchronised mass suicide. Meanwhile, across the interweb, a thousand lonely misanthropes are probably kicking themselves for not having thought of it first. Though, given the existence of the Werther effect, i.e., the tendency of reports or fictional accounts of suicides to inspire waves of copycat suicides, one wonders whether the news of this foiled plan will be, in itself, enough to kick off a tradition of Valentine's Day online mass suicides.

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In this pre-Valentine's Day romance-related-article silly season, health experts are claiming that unrequited love is a real illness that can kill.

He said many are "destabilised by falling in love, or suffer on account of their love being unrequited" and this could lead to a suicide attempt. Few studies deal with the "specific problem of lovesickness", he said.

Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me; I don't doubt that unrequited love has caused many mental breakdowns and suicides, though I wonder how much of that comes from the biology of the condition and how much comes from the social expectation that, when someone you fancy doesn't fancy you, you're entitled to whine, pout, go all emo and become temporarily unresponsible for your behaviour. For example, during the Victorian era, many women would faint in certain social situations. This was not due to the biology of the female gender being susceptible to sudden consciousness loss, but due to programmed-in social expectation. Could it be that losing one's shit over that one special person in the world who doesn't reciprocate one's passion is a similar case of cultural conditioning?

(Which is not to say that romantic love or sexual attraction is culturally constructed; I don't for a moment entertain the blank-slate theory of human nature. However, it's more than conceivable the expectations of how such urges are expressed, and how much they can affect one's behaviour, are strongly influenced by cultural expectations, and that, as biological and physical causes of behaviours are revealed, they gain more influence as the self-sustaining illusion of the sovereign free will becomes weakened.)

Then again, now that unrequited love is recognised as a bona fide medical condition, perhaps some pharmaceutical company will seize the opportunity and bring out an anti-unrequited-love drug, a sort of Prozac for the heart which quickly and conveniently cures this debilitating ailment, further streamlining the human condition.

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Japan will soon have musical roads; the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute has developed a way of encoding melodies in patterns of grooves on road surfaces so that, when a car drives over them, the vibrations reproduce the encoded melody. They are planning to encode different, locally appropriate, melodies on specific sections of roads.

Also on Dottocomu, special Valentine's-day RAM modules.

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And now, a few topical stories for today's Hallmark Event:

  • The latest plague in the dating ecosystem is the "Whimpster"; which seems to be like a cross between a metrosexual and a pathologically insecure emo boi:
    Simply put: He is male. He is white. He is wimpy. He looks a little bit emo, a little bit hipster, and he's more dangerous than you'd think. So, the next time you wake up next to someone whispering acrimonious nothings about his ex-girlfriend instead of going down on you, you'll know a little more about this seemingly gentle boy you went home with. This is the 'dark side' of Lloyd Dobler, of our precious Duckie, and life with him is much different after the credits roll. Whimpsters are men who use cultural artifacts and politically correct platitudes in place of the empty spaces where real thought and emotion should be. Whimpsters are men who unwittingly enjoy Bukowski's misogyny. Whimpsters walk a tenuous tightrope between their secreted, terribly warped masculinity and the mainstream manliness that they claim to abhor.

    (I wonder what happens when a whimpster meets a quirkyalone.)

  • If you have the fortune to be non-heterosexual, there are now lots of things you can call yourself, from traditional words like "gay" and "lesbian" to niche genders like "boydyke", "genderqueer" and "boi" (which, here, doesn't mean "masculine specimen of alternative yoof subculture") (via FmH)
  • A US psychologist has devised a mathematical model that can predict divorce with 94% accuracy, by studying videotapes of arguments within couples and analysing modes of interaction and physiological data to get "bitterness ratings".

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Just in time for Valentine's Day: virtual girlfriends for sale on eBay; i.e., for a fee, someone will pretend to be your absentee girlfriend, and hopefully make you look and/or feel like less of a pathetic loser. (Because, as everybody knows: having a girlfriend/boyfriend is essential to being a valid human being.) (via TechDirt)

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Proof that sometimes, just sometimes, religious fanatics accidentally do something sensible: Hindu militants raid shops, burn Valentine's Day cards. (via bOING bOING)

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Happy Hallmark Day: Mobile phone operators in the UK are bracing for a bumper crop of SMS messages this Valentine's Day, as people send flirtatious text messages to each other. I wonder if they'll take a hint from the floral industry and jack the price of SMS messages up on Feb. 14? (Remember, if you express your love on any other day of the year, it doesn't count.)

Yet all this consumerism, patriotic as it may be, is not without cost: A survey has found that the effort people put into sending amorous text messages, buying cards, arranging romantic dinners with a loved one and seeking out gifts is estimated to cost British business more than £92m. Which is an outrageous toll on productivity. Perhaps we need a levy on Valentine's Day price hikes to make up for lost profits and productivity?

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A Valentine's Day card has caused a homeland security alert in Pittsburgh; the man who bought the card for his daughter noticed that it contained the word "Jihad", and the message "It's Time To Be Mine". Could Osama bin Laden be using Valentine's Day cards to communicate with his sleeper agents?

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As Interflora/Hallmark Relationship Tax Payment Day approaches, an interesting article about how good sex is neurochemically indistinguishable from being in love. The thing that does the magic is a neurochemical called oxytocin, which is released during orgasm and triggers the bonding behaviours in the human brain. So the more sex you have, the more oxytocin you have in your brain, and the more "in-love" you feel. Which can be somewhat problematic if you're not suited to each other outside of the bedroom.

(Yes, it's that time of year. Remind me to keep up the tradition and post some links about how (1) being "in love" is biologically indistinguishable from (a) shooting up heroin, or (b) obsessive-compulsive disorder, (2) the sexual marketplace is not the positive, life-affirming thing it's represented as but rather a brutal, atavistic and ugly form of capitalism-red-in-tooth-and-claw, and (3) it's all a con to take your money and prop up florists, trinket-manufacturing sweatshops and the DeBeers diamond monopoly, and so on.)

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Don't feel like celebrating Valentine's Day on February 14? Commemorate Emperor Norton's birthday instead. Hail Eris! (via Slashdot)

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Destroy everything pink and fluffy: The FBI has warned of a possible Valentine's Day terrorist threat after a man, "possibly of Arab descent", was detected buying 14 gas canisters, 12 packages of lead gun pellets and nine white Valentine teddy bears in January. Perhaps this is Saddam's follow-up to his dastardly plan to steal American childrens' Christmas PlayStations a year and a bit ago?

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Today is F14, the international day of protest against the oldest and most cutthroat form of Darwinian capitalism, the sexual marketplace. Today is a good day to listen to your Smiths records. (Even if you are happy wherever you are, you can surely remember a time when you weren't, perhaps in your distant youth; or in the immortal words "and when you're dancing and laughing and finally living, hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly". So spare a thought today for poor old Moz, sitting alone in his Los Angeles home with an album's worth of songs nobody will give him money to record.)

Tonight, however, I won't be spending the evening alone with my Smiths records; I'll be going to the Punters Club, to see Sir, Ninetynine and some outfit named Love Of Diagrams. (Sir and Ninetynine are not to be missed; both of them together, and at the fourth last ever gig at the Punters, even more so.) If that's not enough, the show is subtitled "Love in a Casio World". (What is it about the humble Casiotone keyboard?)

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"Won't you ever ask me / who's going to make this night / the loneliest night of the year:" Valentine's Day, that celebration of the essentiality of coupledness to human self-worth and the essentiality of conspicuous consumption to the maintenance of coupledness, is approaching. Already the signs are appearing, just like shop-window Christmas paraphernalia in early November: pink, fluffy ads for romance-related goods and services are hung in shop windows, and spam reading "VALENTINE MUST: VIAGRA ORDERS MADE EASY" is flooding into inboxes.

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Destroy anything pink and fluffy: Islamic morality police staged a Valentine's Day crackdown, arresting lovers making out in cars and hotel rooms. Those who could produce marriage certificates were released; others found holding hands unchaperoned were sent home separately. No idea what happened to more severe cases; caning perhaps?

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Valentine's Day is nigh upon us; the Hallmark event when florists mark up their prices steeply and rake in the cash, those who are in sexual relationships are obliged to give money to multinational corporations to prove their love for their partner, and those not in relationships are considered less than complete members of human society. Mind you, if you're a cynic, there are still cards made for you, courtesy of Meg. And if you actually want to send a card, rather than look at pictures, here are some more.

How will I be celebrating this hallowed day? In the traditional manner: by listening to all my Smiths records. I might throw in some Leonard Cohen as well, just for fun.

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