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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Links - 18th April 2018 (2)

Germany, Austria: Imams Warn Muslims Not to Integrate - "In the debate on migrants in Germany and Austria, no other term is used more often than "integration." But the institution that is most important for many Muslim migrants does not generally contribute much to this effort — and often actively fights it: the mosque. That is the finding of an official Austrian study as well as private research conducted by a German journalist. In late September, the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), a department of the foreign ministry published a study, "The role of the mosque in the integration process". For the purposes of the study, employees of the ÖIF visited 16 mosques in Vienna, attended several Friday sermons and spoke with the individual imams — that is, if the imams were willing to have a conversation, which was often not the case. The result of this, according to the ÖIF, is that only two of the mosque associations foster the integration of their members... the mosque associations are "closed spaces in terms of ethnicity and language." That difference fosters "social integration into an internal ethnic environment, and thus ethnic segmentation." In eight of the 16 mosques surveyed, this trend is further reinforced by "widespread and openly-propagated nationalism"... six of the 16 mosque associations examined (37.5%) pursue "a policy that actively impedes integration into society and to some extent exhibits fundamentalist tendencies." Half of the 16 mosques examined "preach a dichotomous worldview, the pivotal tenet of which is the division of the world into Muslims on one side, and everyone else on the other." Six of the mosques were found to practice "explicit denigration of Western society... scholars of Islamic studies and Islam experts "are very obliging in offering to be interviewed on current political issues." That openness does not exist, however, when it concerns sermons in German mosques... The danger of this approach is demonstrated by the murder of Farima S., an Afghan woman who was murdered in the Bavarian town of Prien. Eight years ago, she renounced Islam, adopted Christianity and, two years after that, fled to Germany. On April 29, she was murdered by an Afghan Muslim in broad daylight. While a number of Muslims living in the town attended the funeral, the mosque associations pretended that the murder did not concern them. Karl-Friedrich Wackerbarth, the pastor of the Evangelical parish of Prien, where Farima S. was a member, asked the associations to condemn the crime. In October, half a year after the murder, he responded to an inquiry from Gatestone Institute: "Unfortunately, to this day," he said, "there has been no reaction." Wackerbarth suspects that the Islamic associations do not want to make a pronouncement against fatwas by Cairo's Al-Azhar University, and others, according to which "apostates" [those who renounce Islam] are to be killed."

Lena Dunham tweets women don't lie about rape before defending Miller - "The Girls star has attracted major backlash after issuing a statement in defence of producer and writer Murray Miller, who has been accused of rape by Aurora Perrineau... Many people have criticised Dunham for seemingly choosing to ignore a woman’s allegations because they’re aimed at a friend, rather than a stranger – and one of the actress’s tweets has resurfaced, providing a very different opinion from Lena. On August 4, she tweeted: ‘Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape’... On Lena’s Twitter feed, she has supported women who have spoken out on alleged sexual assault and harassment including Olivia Munn, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd and Asia Argento. Argento, who has alleged she was raped by Harvey Weinstein, tweeted a link to Lena’s Miller statement and wrote: ‘You wrote me an email of support a few weeks ago and now you defend a rapist? WTF @lenadunham?’"

Lena Dunham no longer believes rape victims because her show's producer has been accused of rape - "Lena has claimed on several occasions that the percentage of women who lie about rape is close to 3%, but has failed to provide any evidence to back it up"

Writer Leaves Lenny Letter Citing Dunham’s ‘Known Racism’ - "a writer for Dunham’s Lenny Letter is publicly walking away from the online publication, citing what she calls the writer-actress-producer-activist’s “well-known racism.” Author Zinzi Clemmons says that she has known Dunham since their college years, and that the two share overlapping social circles. During that time, Clemmons says she “avoided those people like the plague because of their racism,” adding, “I’d call their strain ‘hipster-racism,’ which typically uses sarcasm as a cover.”"
The lady doth protest too much, methinks

Lena Dunham accused a woman of lying about rape. It fits her history. - "this controversy is not an isolated incident. Since 2012, when Girls first catapulted Dunham into her current cultural status as a walking think piece topic, she has been plagued by accusations of fake feminism, white feminism, and outright racism. For many, her statement on Perrineau is a last straw of sorts, and Clemmons’s allegations about her past are all too believable... By 2016, patience with Dunham’s I-am-always-learning-about-racism syndrome was running low. So when she claimed that football player Odell Beckham Jr. ignored her at the Met Ball because “I was not the shape of a woman by his standards” — apparently projecting a sexualized and misogynistic attitude onto a black man when all he did was sit quietly and mind his own business — few were willing to pull their punches in response... she was beginning to face new criticism: not just over the question of whether she was racist, but whether she was a child molester."

Why Have Female Superhero Movies Failed (So Far)? - "Sometimes these films failed because the directors or writers tried too hard to pull the Strong Independent Woman angle, but other times gender was irrelevant and the film was just plain bad... In a recent Q&A, Patty Jenkins said that the “real challenge” of making a Wonder Woman movie was challenging the belief that women’s stories are only relatable for women, while men’s stories are universal. The director explained that when she first saw Richard Donner’s Superman, she had a great deal of empathy for young Clark Kent. “I was Superman,” Jenkins recalled. “I was that little boy. I took that ride and that journey.” So, when she finally got the chance to make a Wonder Woman movie, her goal was to create a character that girls and boys alike could relate to. “It ends up being funny because this sexism comes to the fore, because she’s walking into 1918 and she’s completely oblivious… And so there ends up being accidental comments about it, but I also went into it not making a movie about a woman at all. I’m making a movie about Wonder Woman, who I love, who to me is one of the great superheroes. And so I just treat her like a universal character. That’s what I think is the next step, is when we can start doing that more and more and the studios have confidence to do that.”"
In other words, and especially given the failure of Ghostbusters, feminism makes for bad movies

How Living in Amsterdam Is Killing the Woman in Me - "It is indeed liberating to wear whatever you like when you go out and not having to worry about it. Are you wearing a nice dress and heels for a night out? That’s fine, no man will harass you. Are you wearing your pijama when going to the Albert Heijn downstairs to buy croissants and orange juice on a Saturday morning? That’s also fine, people in the shop will mind their own business. Whatever you wear – and whenever you wear it – in Amsterdam you will be just fine. Looks are not the most important thing here, and this goes for both men and women. What matters is your contribution... living in Amsterdam is killing the woman in me. Not only am I losing my ability to dress and act elegantly, I also feel like I am becoming, well, invisible. I am not looking for a partner, I have one. So flirting with men doesn’t interest me. What I would like though is a clue that I am being noticed. I see you and you see me. That’s all. But it will not happen in Amsterdam. There are other places in the world for that.
So either you complain about being valued for your looks, or you complain about not being valued for your looks. You can't win

Do Employers in F&B Hire Hot Girls For You, or For Themselves? - "when she applied to work at Everything With Fries, she was asked for her cup size. Places like Awfully Chocolate, according to a former intern at Rice, allegedly gives their servers T-shirts that are a size smaller than the one they request for. Norman Then, the 29-year old owner of Stickies Bar, which is known for cheap beer and servers who are young, attractive “influencer types”, argues that this is just business and marketing... “Guys like to look at girls and talk about girls, girls also like to look at and talk about other girls. And also with girls the service is better. They’re more attentive, and they have a gentler touch, which people like”... “Places like Frolick will say, we look for girls with a nice smile. But you look at who they hire, and it’s quite clear how we understand things like ‘having a nice smile’. Usually it just means we want pretty girls or handsome guys”... "We hire people across different ages and races, but we look for people who are young, cool and hip, with like a fun personality, people that our customers might look at and say, eh I want to be like that"... “I didn’t know why he was telling me all this, but it made me feel special. Fuck, so embarrassing to say this now. But I was so naive. It was like, I liked that I seemed to make him happier than this other woman.” One evening, after post-work drinks, he told her that he was falling for her. “He even said, “If you want me to leave my girlfriend, just tell me. I’ll do it.” I believed him. That night, we went back to his place. And yes, whatever you think happen happened.”"
Having been to Everything With Fries many times, I have to say I doubt they had a cup size hiring policy (unless it was the opposite of what one would presume)

White inventor of ‘white fragility’ tells University of Texas: Whites must stop becoming teachers - "The white professor who quit her full-time position to tour the country, leading seminars on “white fragility,” asked for whites in the room to come forward. About 15 people walked to the stage and each one read a quote from the projection screen that addressed their “internalized superiority,” “racial privilege” and other deficiencies as whites. When they finished reading, the professor told the audience to “not clap” for the white people as they returned to their seats. She announced there would be no question-and-answer session. Then Robin DiAngelo, a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington who coined the term “white fragility” and wrote a forthcoming book on it, summarily dismissed the three-hour exercise in getting whites to feel bad about themselves... DiAngelo told participants that even as someone who leads seminars on the subject, it’s hard for her to talk about white fragility because it makes all whites uncomfortable and “very irrational”... She declined to answer a question about why men are the overwhelming majority of the prison population if they are a dominant group. The Fix had asked to play “devil’s advocate,” to which DiAngelo responded that such phrasing is a “power move” coming from a male."
I wonder why, if you keep condemning people of a certain race, putting them down, claiming you are infallible and anything they say is wrong, they would get uncomfortable, try to defend themselves and exercise critical thinking and critically examine your claims, instead of self-flagellating and accepting everything you say

Singapore’s sex trade: licensed brothels, ‘sugar babies’, and laws you can run rings around - "The licensing of brothels is controversial because they operate in so-called designated red-light areas, where the law against pimping is not enforced, critics say. (These areas include the Geylang district, Keong Saik Road, Flanders Square and Desker Road.) They argue that the brothels operate counter to the Women’s Charter, an act passed in Singapore in 1961 that prohibits knowingly living “wholly or in part on the earnings of the prostitution of another person”, and carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine not exceeding S$10,000. “It is not just a grey area. It flies in the face of the rule of law,” Ho says... “It is clearly not easy work, but they are caught in a very difficult place,” says Nicholas Harrigan, a sociologist from the Singapore Management University. “I would think the ethical thing to do is to look at how we can make their work safer and less precarious.” They should be able to ply their trade safely, without harassment, and with dignity, Harrigan says. After all, says Jaafar: “I am not just a prostitute. I’m actually a professional entertainer for the men in Singapore.”"
Maybe brothel owners feel oppressed that they are technically criminals, just like 377A technically criminalises gay men

Johor's Malays tilt towards conservative Islam: Survey - "Most Johorean Malays prefer Muslims in key leadership positions. Three in four are supportive of strict Islamic criminal laws called hudud that have punishments, such as stoning for adultery and amputations for theft, being implemented in the state. And slightly over half, or 57 per cent, want those laws applied to all Malaysians regardless of religion. ISEAS fellow Norshahril Saat said such conservatism was previously associated only with Malays living in the rural Malay belt states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah... "After I die and am lying in my grave, which identity will secure me heaven? Do I tell God I am Muslim or a Johorean and Malaysian?""
Looks like the Sultan is not in tune with his people

David Cronenberg Says Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrecking Film Criticism - "A movie critic's job is to offer informed analysis of a film, based on an understanding of the medium's history as a popular art form. Usually this involves judging whether the movie succeeds in a number of ways, from storytelling and acting to sheer aesthetic beauty. A good critic usually has a nuanced enough view of a movie that it might be hard to reduce the entire thing to "thumbs up" or "thumbs down.""

Raqqa's dirty secret - "The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared. But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part... "we saw IS fighters with their weapons and suicide belts on. They booby-trapped our trucks. If something were to go wrong in the deal, they would bomb the entire convoy. Even their children and women had suicide belts on"... Despite the abuse they suffered, the lorry drivers agreed - when it came to money, IS settled its bills... Raqqa was effectively IS’s capital but it was also a cage - fighters were trapped there. The deal to save Raqqa may have been worth it. But it has also meant battle-hardened militants have spread across Syria and further afield – and many of them aren’t done fighting yet"

Indonesia's Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith - ""For now we are focusing on the children. It's easier to convert them - their mind isn't filled with other things. With the older ones it's harder," he says... "So that our children can have the same opportunities as the outsiders, the people of the light, we had no other choice. We had to all convert to Islam." ... The surrounding majority Muslim population calls the Orang Rimba "Kubu". "It means that they are very dirty, they are garbage, you can't even look because it is so disgusting," explains anthropologist Butet Manurung, who has lived with the Orang Rimba for many years. "It also means primitive, stupid, bad smelling - basically pre-human. People say their evolution is not complete."... "After a while, we wanted to send our children to school, but the teacher wanted to see their birth certificates, and for that you have to have a state religion that the government recognises. "So we had a tribal meeting, and discussed what religion we would choose, and decided to choose Islam," says Yusuf. Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim country - officially recognises six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Indigenous rights bodies are fighting to get recognition for the hundreds of other faiths practised across Indonesia. The country's constitutional court recently ruled in their favour, finding that it was against the constitution to force people to state a religion... The fact that they hunt and eat wild pigs also creates social tensions, he added. "This is a Muslim community. If they see the pig's blood and the leftover bits, they are disturbed," the officer explained. What is taboo, or haram, for the Orang Rimba directly contrasts with what Muslims eat, explains Mr Manurung. "Orang Rimba will not eat domesticated animals such as chickens, cows or sheep. They think it's a form of betrayal. You feed the animal, and when it gets fat you eat it. The fair thing to do is to fight. Whoever wins can eat the loser." This clash of cultures began in the 1980s, when then-President Suharto gave land and incentives to migrants from overcrowded Java to move and open up the jungles of Sumatra"

Your gut bacteria could determine how you respond to cutting-edge cancer drugs

Swedish woman Raped by Syrian migrant commits Suicide after Prosecutor drops her Case - "Angelica is not the only one whose rape case fell through. Swedish police, he says, is getting worse and worse at researching sexual crimes and 13 rape cases are closed without prosecution each day... Lamotte recorded his telephone call with police, inquiring after the rape of a 12-year-old girl. In it, the police admits that it “can no longer cope with the scale of sexual violence”."

BHU doctor creates app to block porn websites, play bhajans instead - "A doctor in Varanasi’s Banaras Hindu University and his programmer associate have created an application that will block access to pornographic websites and begin playing Hindu devotional songs when a user makes an attempt"

Defending Xi Jinping

On China's Weibo banning LGBTQ content and reversing this after an outcry

John Lombard: This is a smaller part of a much bigger story. For those who don't know me, I've been living in China for a quarter of a century now. During most of that time -- from 1993 to 2013 -- China was heading in a positive direction, with steady improvement in freedoms. Certainly not as good as in democratic nations, but still moving in the right direction.

That has all changed under Xi Jinping. He recently grabbed headlines when he was successful in getting the People's Congress to revoke previous term limits that prevented a President from serving more than two terms...with tons of speculation that he's setting himself up to maintain power for a much longer period. Under Xi, we've seen massive crackdowns on the internet, harassing or imprisoning those who say anything the government doesn't like, etc. Worse, there have been cases of Hong Kong citizens who were vocally critical of the Chinese gov't actually being kidnapped and spirited into China, where they are then detained by Chinese authorities.

This latest anti-LGBTQ campaign is quite pervasive. Multiple TV shows have been canceled entirely...either because they contain objectionable content (ie. showing LGBTQ behavior), or just because a particular host/actor is known to be LGBTQ.

Most of my time in China, I've been quite the cheerleader, supporting and praising the reforms and changes that were taking place. But now, for the first time, I'm feeling real concern over the direction China is taking. It is actively moving backwards, rescinding many of the reforms that have been accomplished in the past. Even Xi's greatest 'accomplishment', of cracking down on corruption, seems to have been intended more as a tool to take down his opponents.

This is a small victory, in a sea of many more losses. Nor do I expect it to last for too long...the gov't may well simply turn around and force Weibo to enforce restrictions on LGBTQ content, regardless of what users say.

Mike Pete: Who gets to decide that these changes were "progress" of any sort? Because the West somehow believes it to be true? And in what state is the West today?

If anything one could argue that tightening of the grip on media - especially in the age of the internet - is a response to observations of quite catastrophic consequences their unbridled spread has caused in the West.

The Chinese are very observant and the last thing they will allow is transplanting weaknesses from other countries.

Me: It's telling that even many Chinese are dismayed by the direction the country has taken. But of course they can all be dismissed as bananas

Mike Pete: "Many" - how many exactly? Last I read general support for authorities stood at about 80%. Of course 20% out of a billion+ society is going to be a lot but that doesn't mean anything.

At any given time large portion of ANY society is going to complain about how their countries are managed. Besides that, Chinese are complaining about many things all the time. Not necessarily the general direction of the country though.

Ca. half of the societies in the West (more less, depending on the country) either don't participate in elections or mistrust their politicians. Is that somehow superior to what Chinese practice?

That's the point of centralized, authoritarian rule - to overrule the whiners and steer the ship in the right direction.

What exactly does the West have to show for its ways? Democracy and unbridled free speech are fairly new inventions there, regardless of historical background.

Nobody has ever elevated more people out of poverty in shortest period of time than the Chinese have. Nobody has completed more infrastructural feats in shorter period of time than the Chinese have. Nobody has moved more people from impoverished countryside into bustling cities faster than the Chinese have. And they are still plowing ahead.

You want to tell me that what you can babble about on Weibo is somehow more important than that?

The only reason China has managed to elevate itself so quickly and plays today such a strong role in global geopolitics is the fact that is wealth is controlled in an organized, technocratic, centralized way that only USA can match - and only to a limited degree. Europe is nowhere near.

About 30% of Singaporeans have been "dismayed" by the direction their country has taken since the 80s. I think they can be dismissed as bananas, so I don't see why complaining Chinese in PRC shouldn't be.

Regardless of how amazingly the country performs, a lot of people will never shut up.

John Lombard: Mike Pete -- Not sure exactly what the "point" of your question is: "Who gets to decide that these changes were "progress" of any sort?"

I came to China in 1993. At that time, most people had their entire lives controlled by the government. What they studied in school, what job they would have, where they would live...even who they could marry. They lived in constant fear that saying something negative about the government could cause them to lose their job, or even be put in prison. Virtually no Chinese were allowed to leave China. And they knew almost nothing about the outside world beyond what the government told them.

Today, the vast majority of Chinese have complete freedom to choose what they will study, where they will work, who they will marry, etc. They have much greater ability to criticize and question the government (albeit within specific boundaries). The only limiting factor in leaving China and traveling to other countries is usually how much money they have (and millions travel every year). And even with the controls on the internet, they are far, FAR more aware of the outside world, and what is going on.

I consider that to be progress. Every Chinese person I know considers that to be progress. In fact, every person I know who is NOT suffering from gross ignorance or denial, considers that to be progress. it your argument that this is NOT progress? Or that it is somehow wrong to call it progress?

By that same token -- recent government actions to PUNISH people who are criticizing the government...or kidnapping Hong Kong citizens and spiriting them into China...or many of the other ways that the current Chinese gov't is cracking down...

I consider that to be moving backwards. Almost every Chinese person I know considers that to be moving backwards. Is it your argument that it is NOT?

Me: Given how much resources they need to pour into suppressing dissent...

Mike Pete: John - you're comparing things belonging to different categories and it all is jumbled under a post about restrictions of a certain topic on Weibo (which was even lifted in the end). These are not things of the same caliber even if Westerners are inclined to equate them.

Your perspective is that of an individual - which is, again, a very Western thing. Perspective of Chinese authorities is that of a 1.5 billion country - a continent in itself, an entire civilization. The most populous state in the world, barely lifting itself from 150 years of humiliation, internal strife, civil wars and rebellions, which have consumed way over 100 million lives.

So you will excuse me if I say that whether some overzealous Hong Konger gets silenced is quite meaningless in comparison.

Whether certain individuals in that massive pool of people are treated in one way or another is irrelevant as long as the general direction benefits the masses.

What you see as going backwards can be the only way forward for the entire country, protecting future stability in a world where new, modern internal forces are already undermining many others.

Deng Xiaoping said, quoted by LKY, about the Tinananmen protests: "'If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it."

So whether someone is kidnapped or arrested for potentially subversive criticism of authorities does not bother me. I don't see it as an issue because individuals do not come before the society.

Chinese are not blind, they see what individual liberties produce in the West and are extremely cautious, trying to prevent anything that would undermine political and economic integrity of the Middle Kingdom.

And that's a good thing. In fact, that is the best thing (for China, of course).

Since when is democracy better than authoritarian rule? Progress of mankind happened predominantly under strong, centralized, often absolute power. That's how we've developed for thousands of years.

Proper democracy - i.e. a system that allows all citizens to vote - is not even a century old. And the reality of it combined with free speech - where everybody can actually have a voice without substantial barriers - has only emerged in the past 20 years, with the internet.

Where does the assertion of superiority of giving power to the people (vast majority of whom are complete morons) come from exactly?

Me: Is your real name Michael Petraeus?

John Lombard: Mike Pete -- I'm curious -- do you actually LIVE in China? I do. Been here 25 years. So my perspective isn't that of an outsider. It is that of someone who experiences these things on a daily basis.

Further, the vast majority of Chinese people agree with my again, this isn't just a Westerner's perspective. This is a perspective shared by a significant number of Chinese people.

Third, when you are JUSTIFYING a government that IGNORES the rule of law (kidnapping people against their will is against both Chinese law and Hong Kong law, and completely violates the principles of 'One Country, Two Systems' that the Chinese gov't agreed to), you are obviously just a apologist who will mindlessly justify ANYTHING that the Chinese gov't does.

And fourth, I have NO DOUBT that Xi Jinping believes he is doing "what is good for China". Just as Mao Zedong thought he was doing "what was good for China" when countless millions of people died because of the "Great Leap Forward", or the terrible abuses of the Cultural Revolution. But BELIEVING that you are doing something good, doesn't MAKE it good.

So again -- do YOU actually LIVE in China? Do you have to live with and deal with these issues on a daily basis, as I do, and as 1.5 billion Chinese do? Or are you singing the praises of the Chinese gov't, while living somewhere else that you don't have to actually EXPERIENCE the results of that government's decisions?

Please note -- I am not some mindless critic of the Chinese gov't. I've actually been quite a strong advocate of the Chinese gov't for most of the time I've been in China. It is only under Xi's leadership that I've come to have real concerns.

Paul Gainer: John Lombard I lived there for a decade and can vouch for your story

Mike Pete: So you know the vast majority of Chinese people? Amazing, you must have been really busy talking to hundreds of thousands quite literally every single day for 25 years.

How big is your social circle really? 150 people? 500 people? 1000 people? On what basis do you extrapolate your experiences onto the billion+ inhabiting the same country?

No I don't live in PRC but I have lived in Asia for several years now (getting close to 10), in a few different countries with either Chinese influence or dominance. So I understand how the culture of the civilization actually shapes local politics. I now live in Singapore, which is actually one of the sources of inspiration for the current Chinese government. And yes, local authorities in Singapore have also skirted the law or outright enacted legislation that permitted them to fight against, jail or expel potentially subversive individuals and reduced political opposition to a manageable minority. If they haven't done that this little island wouldn't be the amazing city-state it is now, clearly one of the best if not the best place to live in the world.

I have never said your perspective is that of an outsider but your perspective is that of an individual - which inhibits you from seeing the big picture. It appears to me, then, that despite a quarter of a century in China you have really failed to absorb the way its societal management is layered from down to the top and the other way back, and the guiding principles that have been in place in this society for at least 2500 years, if not more, since even Confucius said that he merely described what he observed, not created anything new.

Laws cannot and will not stay in the way of fundamental, strategic Chinese interests as well as the country's basic stability and territorial integrity. That's why I brought up the quote from Deng, who was committed to slaughtering any opposition if only to save China from another century of internal turmoil.

This point I made about that century you, clearly, have also ignored.

Your remarks about complaining individuals are completely irrelevant because you can go to ANY country in the world and ask the locals about their government and you will hear a cascade of complaints as well.

Most people in the West are disillusioned with their politicians, about half in most countries doesn't even participate in elections. Even in the fabled "land of the free" priding itself on its superpower status and civil liberties enshrined in its constitution saw 45% of the eligible voters stay at home for the presidential elections, with a large part of those who voted still rather unconvinced by the choices they have.

In fact 71% of Americans say they have little to no confidence in Congress. Wow, imagine that...

Your quip about Mao is hardly relevant here. Yes, he was a terrible economic manager and a bent ideologue who caused immense damage and millions of deaths but he was also the man who reunited and pacified the country torn by a century of wars and rebellions. In a way he was the first representative of the new order and the last of the old one.

Individual citizens in any society are not equipped to judge the gravity of geopolitical maneuvers and the impact they have on their lives. But it's these moves that decide the future of the country (so, again, whether certain individuals end in jail or get kidnapped is a small price to pay).

Clearly, you have exhibited your ignorance of the matter here as well. It's also why you are unable to understand the importance of the moves Xi Jinping makes - much like you ignored the strategically critical legacy of Mao, who was the first Chinese leader in 100+ years successfully managing external threats along Chinese borders.

He subjugated Tibet and Xinjiang, pushed back Indian ambitions along the Himalayas, managed Soviet Union and Stalin's machinations aimed at weakening Beijing, and, finally, kept Americans at bay, successfully reinforcing the regime in Pyongyang during and after Korean War, while defying potential nuclear threats in a time China was not yet equipped with atomic weapons itself.

The problem with most people is that they are incapable of any foresight. Plus, they have a tendency to take their good fortunes for granted. This is a deadly combination which brought even the most powerful empires down in the past.

Situation in the 90s cannot be compared to the reality of today. What could have been seen as progress then, has evolved into a significant threat today. And it is the role of the leadership to keep this threat under control, regardless of whether the public understands or agrees with its decisions.

In short, the ruling class has to save people from themselves.

So while you whine about the consequences of what the government does (how does that impact you directly anyway? how has your life deteriorated due to that? any examples?), you're quite blind to what would likely happen in the future, had it not acted in advance.
Coincidentally it's the reason why the only way for the West is down so, as you're living in China, I would be rather more grateful for the preemptive nature of the moves Chinese authorities make as it does protect your future rather more effectively than what anybody in the "developed" world does these days..

John Lombard: Okay, so let me get this straight.

A guy who DOESN'T live in China, and has only 10 years of experience in Asia as a whole, is nevertheless more of an expert on "what is happening in China" and "what Chinese people think" than a guy who's lived in China for a quarter of a century.

A guy who has NEVER EXPERIENCED most of the issues being discussed, is nevertheless more of an authority on it than a guy who has PERSONALLY lived through and experienced those events first-hand.

A guy who has NO personal investment in China at all, somehow knows more about it than a guy who has worked hand-in-hand with the government (consultant to the Beijing gov't for the 2008 Olympic Games), and started a non-profit organization to help a Chinese ethnic minority group (

It's AMAZING to me just how many people, whose entire "knowledge" of China is basically what they've read in newspapers or online articles, nevertheless consider themselves to be "experts" on "what China should do".

You're a troll...and a terribly ignorant one, at that. This will be my last response to you. You can write whatever other nonsense you want, I will leave it to others who are reading this to judge for themselves who actually makes the better arguments, and has more actual knowledge of the issues being discussed.

Good bye, Mike

Mike Pete: The irony is that I have a lot more reasons to worry about Xi's policies. He does what he is supposed to do - in the best interest of China - the real problem is that nobody else seems to be doing what they should to balance that in response.

John Lombard: Okay...I DO have to respond to this. Mike Pete is now claiming that HE HAS MORE REASON TO BE WORRIED ABOUT XI'S POLICIES than the actual people living in China do! This man's world is so egocentric that not only does he think he's an authority on China, without ever having lived here at all, but that he's threatened by Xi's policies more than the Chinese people are!

"The Chinese people shouldn't be worried about Xi. It is GOOD that he is kidnapping people, and cracking down on freedom of speech! But I should be worried about him, despite the fact I don't even live there!"

Ken Alexander: Xi Jinping personifies "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Mike Pete: False. It would be true if he did it for personal reasons - but he isn't. It's not about him but about the future of China. If anything, Xi Jinping shows that concentration of power can bring more efficiency - even on a global scale.

Me: Err where is the efficiency?

Mike Pete: Are you seriously asking me this question Gabriel?

You never cease to amaze me. A lot of the time you sound like quite a reasonable, even smart guy, but then you pop something so astonishingly facile and obtuse that my jaw drops. Which is also why I unfriended you because I simply had enough of this ignorance.

李恩嘉: Xi Jinping is a religion. I was just in China. He’s worshipped like a god on all large character propo posters and every day you get a text message to study Xi’s quotes.

Me: You were never on my friends list

Anyway good to see that even questioning the gospel of xi gets you so worked up. It's a clear sign to others that you're a true zealot

Links - 18th April 2018 (1)

Wednesday polling day is 'troublesome': Mahathir - "Dr Mahathir said during his tenure as prime minister, polling days fixed on weekdays usually coincided with holidays... He said the recent redelineation exercise also posed problems for the Opposition and he expects more “funny things” in store."

Let’s talk about Donald Trump vs. the ‘deep state’ - The Washington Post - "it is worth pointing out a very disturbing dynamic emerging within the executive branch. The national security bureaucracy is clearly stacking the deck in an attempt to constrain the president’s choices, and the president is pushing back in a manner that is almost as reckless."

Two White Men Under Fire For Opening Ramen Restaurant With Extremely Racist Name - "Two South African men are finding themselves in an uncomfortable spotlight now that the name of their new restaurant has been made public. The men, who are both white, are opening an Asian eatery in the city of Melville, a suburb of Johannesburg. The pair have opted to name the establishment "Misohawni.""
If you're offended by gay marriage, don't get a gay marriage. If you're offended by a restaurant's name, flame the restaurant until they change it

Amagasaki rail crash - Wikipedia - "Investigators speculate that Takami may have been attempting to make up this lost time by increasing the train's speed beyond customary limits. Many reports from surviving passengers indicate that the train was travelling faster than normal. Plus, the driver might have been stressed because he would be punished both for having passed by a red light and for having overshot the platform at Itami Station. Ten months before the crash, Takami had been reprimanded for overshooting a station platform by 100 meters. In the minutes leading up to the derailment, he might have been thinking of the punishment he would face, and not totally focused on driving... cumulative changes over the previous three years had reduced the leeway in the train's schedule from 71 to 28 seconds over the 15 minutes between Takarazuka and Amagasaki stations. Drivers face financial penalties for lateness as well as being forced into harsh and humiliating retraining programs known as nikkin kyōiku (日勤教育, "dayshift education"), which include weeding and grass-cutting duties during the day. The final report officially concluded that the retraining system was one probable cause of incident. This program consisted of violent verbal abuse, forcing the employees to repent by writing extensive reports. Also, during these times, drivers were forced to perform minor tasks, particularly involving cleaning, instead of their normal jobs. Many saw the process of nikkin kyoiku as a punishment and psychological torture, and not as driver retraining. The driver had also received a non-essential phone call from the general control station at the time he was rounding the bend"

Fix your company culture before it becomes a full-blown crisis - "SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, an army general who took the helm in 2012 after the company experienced massive disruptions the year before, attributes the problems to “deep-seated cultural issues.” But you don’t need half a decade to fix a company’s culture, if you identify problems early enough. Consider Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who engineered a successful change in the software giant’s culture within three years. Microsoft has about 10 times the number of employees of SMRT."

Crime Wave Engulfs Sweden as Fraud, Sexual Offenses Reach Record - "A survey by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention showed that 15.6 percent of people suffered one or more offences against the person (defined in the survey as assault, threats, sexual offences, robbery, fraud or harassment) last year. That’s up from 13.3 percent in 2015 and the highest number recorded since the annual Swedish Crime Survey started in 2006... Of the six types of offences against the person, five of six rose to their highest level on record last year. The number of assault cases reached its second-highest level."

Left-wing men are the 'actual worst' sexists, says Labour MP Jess Phillips - "Jess Phillips, the Labour MP, has claimed left-wing men are the “actual worst” sexists... When asked if the “out and out sexists of the right” were worse than the “well-meaning” of the left she claimed: “They [the left-wing men] are the worst, the actual worst."

Labor MPs to ignore huge 'no' votes in their multicultural electorates - "Labor MPs across western Sydney – and in two Melbourne seats – will defy the will of their electorates and vote "yes" to legalise same-sex marriage in Parliament. More than any other area in Australia, the people of western Sydney voted "no". Here, where up to three quarters of the population in the electorates of Blaxland and Watson voted against same sex marriage, the cultural clash of marriage equality and the conservative values of immigrant cultures told the story of the polls"
Democracy means ignoring the unwashed masses

Same Sex Marriage — The White Pride result no-one dares talk about - "Some may argue it’s about religion. But the heavily religious Hills and Northern Beaches, and the Sutherland Shire, still recorded strong yes votes... Why has Ireland, with an 85% Catholic population, and only 10% irreligious population, far below Australia’s figure of 30% irreligious, produced a stronger result for same-sex marriage than Australia?... The conservatives and nationalists have talked about maintaining our culture and values, but the foreign invaders, blamed for the decay of our culture, have been the ones who have most strongly voted to preserve it. But perhaps the left is in an even more uncomfortable position. The haters and the bigots, as it turns out, are the minorities they’re apparently seeking to defend. We’ve heard from the left that people who oppose SSM are unenlightened dinosaurs with no place in today’s society, well who have they called unenlightened dinosaurs? Muslims, Asians, and pretty much every non-white group in Australia who clearly voted no in greater numbers."

It's time to confront this taboo: First cousin marriages in Muslim communities are putting hundreds of children at risk - "leading geneticist Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, warned that ‘inbreeding’ in Islamic communities was threatening the health of generations of children... ‘It is not fair to the children or to the NHS which has to treat them. If you go into a paediatric ward in Bradford or Keighley, you will find more than half the kids are from the Asian community,’ she said... British Pakistanis, half of whom marry a first cousin (a figure that is universally agreed), are 13 times more likely to produce children with genetic disorders than the general population... Many NHS doctors, while admitting privately there is a crisis, refuse to speak out for fear of being branded ‘racist’... I was told by charity workers, doctors and counsellors working with families in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Midlands that many parents also believe it is an ‘act of God’ or the ‘will of Allah’ that their children are born disabled... ‘I cannot understand why cousin marriages are not forbidden in Islam. The Koran doesn’t forbid it and this encourages people around me to disbelieve what the doctors say."

UK Pakistani views on the adverse health risks associated with consanguineous marriages - "Emerging themes included a limited knowledge, opposition to evidence and need for a more culturally sensitive health services approach. Findings from the focus group and interview discussions indicated that participants had a limited and varied understanding of genetic risk and indicated a lack of discussion within the community regarding genetic risk. They also opposed evidence that may link consanguineous marriages with infant mortality, stillbirth or genetic disorders that led to disability"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Rowan Williams on the rise of Protestantism - "Because Luther and other reformers of that age felt they couldn't depend on the Pope to push forward reforms in the Church they had find some other leverage. The most obvious one was local rulers so another of the slightly unintended consequences of the Reformation was to push up the status of local and national rulers. In other words to give nationalism a bit of a push"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, How do we define sexual harassment? - "How do you codify this? How, are you say that there must not be no reference to sex, no sex at all. That you mustn't say to a woman or even to a man - you look lovely today or you look very handsome today which is part of socializing, which is civilized. which makes people feel good. You cannot codify this. As I said it goes back to a question of good manners. Michael Fallon is a thoroughly unpleasant man and he's unpleasant to men as well as women, period...
'Many of the women who are coming out and saying you know get a thicker skin, deal with it are women who are privileged, in positions of privilege to be able to say that. There are lots of young women in Westminster'
'But I was a young woman'
'I'm talking about right now. Who are, who don't feel like that'...
'We are being told what we must feel, that we must feel traumatised by a... rather sad little text message that Mr Hopkins sent, or a rather ridiculous and unfunny remark that Mr Fallon made. For a woman who wants to become Prime Minister'...
'Women's voices are being drowned out'
'They're not being drowned out at all, what about the #metoo fashion show?'...
'Last time I came in here was to talk about the pay gap. I had to first have a whole conversation about whether it exists or not'...
'If you start talking about it being all about manners then you, you belittle the serious stuff'
'No no, you're belittling the serious stuff because you're equating a silly text message or a grope with rape and that belittles rape'
'It's all on the same spectrum'
Grievance politics means only women who feel victimised have a voice, and women who don't are silenced, and we cater to the lowest common denominator. And that women are strong enough to make it in politics but so weak that they get triggered by SMSes and throwaway remarks

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Living in the shadow of North Korea - "Not everyone here opposes Trump. We have talked to the general who was a deputy Chief of Staff in South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. He thinks the good cop bad cop double act between Trump and Rex Tillerson his Secretary of State could work...
'Do you personally think there is going to be a war?'

How the barcode changed retailing and manufacturing - "the barcode was changing the tilt of the playing field in favour of a certain kind of retailer. For a small, family-run convenience store, the barcode scanner was an expensive solution to problems they did not really have. But big supermarkets could spread the cost of the scanners across many more sales. They valued shorter lines at the checkout. They needed to keep track of inventory. With a manual checkout, a shop assistant might charge a customer for a product, then slip the cash into a pocket without registering the sale. With a barcode and scanner system, such behaviour would become conspicuous. And in the 1970s, a time of high inflation in America, barcodes let supermarkets change the price of products by sticking a new price tag on the shelf rather than on each item."

Money via mobile: The M-Pesa revolution - "When 53 police officers in Afghanistan checked their phones in 2009, they felt sure there had been some mistake. They knew they were part of a pilot project to see if public sector salaries could be paid via a new mobile money service called M-Paisa. But had they somehow overlooked the detail that their participation brought a pay rise? Or had someone mistyped the amount to send them? The message said their salary was significantly larger than usual. In fact, the amount was what they should have been getting all along. But previously, they received their salaries in cash, passed down from the ministry via their superior officers. Somewhere along the line, about 30% of their pay had been skimmed off. Indeed, the ministry soon realised that one in 10 police officers whose salaries they had been dutifully paying did not exist... In Kenya, similarly, drivers soon realised that the police officers who pulled them over would not take bribes in M-Pesa: it would be linked to their phone number, and could be used as evidence. Estimates suggest that Kenya's matatus - public transportation minibuses - lose a third of their revenue to theft and extortion."

How economics killed the antibiotic dream - "this is all about incentives. What the world really needs is new antibiotics we put on the shelf and use only in the direst emergencies. But a product that does not get used is not much of a money spinner for drug companies. We need to devise better incentives to encourage more research."
And yet there're libertarians who claim that governments don't need to enforce intellectual property rights - in the libertarian wonderland, most consumers and informed and motivated enough to force companies to do things

How the invention of paper changed the world - "When it comes to writing, though, some say paper's days are numbered, believing the computer will usher in the "paperless office". But this has been predicted since Thomas Edison, in the late 19th century, who thought office memos would be recorded on his wax cylinders instead. The idea really caught on as computers started to enter the workplace in the 1970s and it was repeated in breathless futurologists' reports for the next decades. Meanwhile, paper sales stubbornly continued to boom. Yes, computers made it simple to distribute documents without paper, but printers made it equally easy for recipients to put them on paper anyway."

Rise of the robots: What advances mean for workers - "Some economists reckon robots and AI explain a curious economic trend. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue there's been a "great decoupling" between jobs and productivity - how efficiently an economy takes inputs, like people and capital, and turns them into useful stuff. Historically, better productivity meant more jobs and higher wages... It's possible that some of the jobs humans will be left doing will actually be worse. That's because technology seems to be making more progress at thinking than doing: robots' brains are improving faster than their bodies. Martin Ford, author of Rise Of The Robots, points out that robots can land aeroplanes and trade shares on Wall Street, but still can't clean toilets."

Battery bonanza: From frogs' legs to mobiles and electric cars - "Gradually, the cost of renewable energy is coming down. But even cheap renewables pose a problem - they don't generate power all the time. You'll always have a glut of solar power on summer days and none on winter evenings. When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, you need coal or gas or nuclear to keep the lights on, so why not run them all the time? A recent study of south-eastern Arizona's grid weighed the costs of power cuts against the costs of CO2 emissions, and concluded that solar should provide just 20% of power. And Arizona is pretty sunny."
So much for base load being a myth

The tiny pill which gave birth to an economic revolution - "Abortion was legalised, laws against sex discrimination were put in place, feminism emerged as a movement, and the drafting of young men to fight in Vietnam forced employers to recruit more women. But a careful statistical study by the Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz strongly suggests that the pill must have played a major role in allowing women to delay marriage and motherhood, and invest in their own careers. Goldin and Katz tracked the availability of the pill to young women in the US, state by state. They show that as each state opened up access to contraception, so the enrolment rate in professional courses soared, and so did women's wages. A few years ago, the economist Amalia Miller used a variety of clever statistical methods to demonstrate that if a woman in her 20s was able to delay motherhood by one year, her lifetime earnings would rise by 10%... In Japan, one of the world's most technologically advanced societies, the pill wasn't approved for use until 1999. Japanese women had to wait 39 years longer than their American counterparts for the same contraceptive. In contrast, when the erection-boosting drug Viagra was approved in the US, Japan was just a few months behind."
Despite what feminists claim (at least in other scenarios like welfare for single mothers), people respond to incentives - even for very personal decisions

Jordan Peterson Is Causing Problems at Another University Now - "For the record: Jordan Peterson is a transphobic YouTube crank with basically nothing interesting to say about free speech or gender expression, and who very obviously has no idea what any part of the phrase “post-modern neo-Marxist” means. He is a bad political and social thinker, and many of his ideas about gender roles are genuinely dangerous. (Tabatha Southey has already written his intellectual obituary by clocking him as “the stupid person’s idea of a smart person,” which is immediately obvious to anyone who listens to his awful honking voice for more than thirty seconds.)
It's quite funny how all the liberals are doing hit jobs on Jordan Peterson that basically amount to "he is dangerous", without providing any evidence. It is telling that comments on this sort of article are overwhelmingly negative (even if other articles published by these outfits have the usual type of comments praising the virtue signalling, showing that it's not dogpiling)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Links - 20th March 2018 (2)

Conspiracy Theorists Have a Basic Cognitive Issue, Say Scientists - "the compulsion to find patterns in an observable situation was in fact correlated with irrational beliefs: People who saw patterns in random coin tosses and chaotic, abstract paintings were more likely to believe in conspiratorial and supernatural theories... “Following a manipulation of belief in one conspiracy theory people saw events in the world as more strongly casually connected, which in turn predicted unrelated irrational beliefs”"

FACT CHECK: Was a Woman Attacked on Camera for Wearing a 'Make America Great Again' Hat in Hollywood? - "WHAT'S TRUE
YouTube star Blaire White did get into an altercation over her red "Make America Great Again" hat when she went to an anti-Trump protest on Hollywood Boulevard.
Police said White and her boyfriend initiated the altercation by crossing an LAPD dividing line meant to keep opposing sides separate to prevent violence."
Comments: ""Yeah people beat the shit out of her, but hey she was asking for it by just being there. Verdict: MIXED" Wow, fuck Snopes."
"By this logic, you could say of a woman who was raped upon entering a dark alley at night while wearing provocative clothing that it was only "partly true" that she got raped. This is worse than victim blaming, it's intentionally obscuring the fact that there was a victim in the first place"

Vancouver Island University didn't protect women from student with diaper fetish, complaint alleges - "Is it sexual harassment or a simple misunderstanding of a man’s disability? That’s the issue currently confronting the Vancouver Island University in British Columbia, Canada, after its former director of human rights and workplace safety filed a complaint alleging that the school didn’t do enough to protect women from a student in his 40s with a possible diaper fetish. But the man, who remains unnamed, told CBC that “I am special needs and 3, so I am not in my 40s”... the student engaged in “fetishistic behaviour in and out of the classroom” that included: talking and acting like an infant in classes, following women to isolated areas and leering at them before asking them out on dates, the Journal reported. Roth originally submitted the complaint in July, also alleging that the student included an image of himself wearing nothing but a diaper in a 2015 English essay and asked a nurse practitioner at the university to change his soiled diapers twice
Given trans mania logic...

The Ignorance of Mocking Mormonism - "it’s precisely the pro-social beliefs of Mormons—the eternal nature of families, obligations to the poor and oppressed, accountability to God, the importance of clean living, and the value of self-reliance and personal agency—that result in specific shared behaviors and actions by the likes of Flake and Romney... As much as South Park or Andersen desire to decouple behavior from belief, the reality is that, in the words of the columnist David Brooks, “Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn't actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice, and definite in their convictions about what is True and False.”"

The Words Men and Women Use When They Write About Love - The New York Times - "When writing about love, men are more likely to write about sex, and women about marriage. Women write more about feelings, men about actions. Even as gender roles have merged and same-sex romance has become more accepted, men and women still speak different languages when they talk about love — at least, if Modern Love essays submitted to The New York Times are any indication."

Canadian driver fights to keep 'Grabher' registration plate - "A Canadian man whose surname was deemed too offensive for his personalised car registration plate says it is a case of "bureaucratic hypocrisy". Lorne Grabher argues in a recently filed affidavit that there are plenty of potentially offensive signs and place names dotted across Canada. Those include Crotch Lake (in Ontario) and Dildo (in Newfoundland). Mr Grabher's personalised plate was cancelled because it could be seen as a "socially unacceptable slogan"."

Indulgent grandparents 'bad for children's health' - "grandparents are often inclined to treat and overfeed children. The study also found some were smoking in front of their grandchildren and not giving them sufficient exercise.

Thomas Salbey who stood up to Munich shooter facing charge for insulting killer - "Thomas Salbey, 57, saw the shooting happening from his balcony in the Bavarian capital on July 22. In an attempt to stop 18 year old Ali Sonboly from further slaughtering people, he swore at the shooter as he was standing in a car park below... Loner Sonboly had just shot dead nine people, mainly young teenagers he had lured to McDonald’s on the premise of free food. The German-Iranian also injured 16 others during the rampage before he killed himself a kilometre away from the Munich Olympiad shopping centre he carried the shooting out at. Now, in a twist of German justice, Mr Salbey is now facing charges for standing up to the killer who shot himself in the head."

Non-Western Immigrants Consume 59% Of Denmark's Tax Surplus - "A recent study conducted by Denmark’s Ministry of Finance concluded that in 2014, immigrants and their descendants cost Danish taxpayers at net loss of 28 billion Crowns per year. Furthermore, when Western immigrants were removed from the equation, the net cost rose to 33kr billion... Consider that ethnic minorities, who are by definition immigrants to Denmark, represent 84% of all welfare recipients, as of 2016... non-ethnic Danes are 2-3 times more likely to commit crimes than Danes... healthcare costs for immigrants groups are proving significant. For example, 40% of patients in Denmark’s largest mental health hospital have immigrant backgrounds."

Kids for cash scandal - Wikipedia - "The "kids for cash" scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, were convicted of accepting money from Robert Mericle, builder of two private, for-profit youth centers for the detention of juveniles, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh adjudications on juveniles brought before their courts to increase the number of residents in the centers"

The Ukrainian famine | Podcast | History Extra - "Activists both from Russia and Ukraine went village by village and went into people's homes and literally confiscated all of their food. So people came into other people's houses, they took all of their food and they took it away. And that's not a normal famine. It wasn't even just grain that they were taking away - they took away corn, and they took away seeds that people were storing, and they took away bread that was in the oven, and they took away soup that was on the stove, and they took away vegetables and they took away carrots and squash and beans so that really people had nothing at all to eat. And then the second thing that was done after that, they essentially closed the borders of Ukraine so they took food out of people's homes, they shut the borders so that people couldn't leave to find food anywhere else and that meant that people stayed inside Ukraine and died and so that, there's really no more direct way to cause a famine than that...
[On the activists] These were people who had been brought up to believe that you know the revolution was all important, revolution was in danger and the biggest threat to the revolution, the sort of thing that was standing in the way of its success and the reason why it wasn't succeeding and remember by the end of the twenties it was clear that it wasn't succeeding, it wasn't bringing people paradise on earth and people were not richer, they were poorer and so on. So why wasn't it succeeding? And problem was the peasants. You know the backwards looking, you know sort of Luddite, anti-Soviet, surly, uneducated peasants were standing in the way of our great revolution and progress and therefore the peasants need to be eliminated. And therefore they are the barrier that's keeping all of us from success and the reason why the workers are hungry is the recalcitrant peasants are preventing them from progressing. And that mentality coupled with a kind of blind faith in the system urged on also by really a decade's worth of kind of fanatical hateful rhetoric about the peasantry and about the so called kulaks or the rich peasants and then also about Ukrainians shaped people's minds. You have to think today of fanatical groups fed on you know hatred who go off and do terrible things. We can all think of modern and twentieth century, other twentieth century powers - that's essentially what this was"

Christianity and the classical world | Podcast | History Extra - "There are these people who are so keen to be martyrs that they don't even wait to be killed they just commit suicide. These extraordinary people in North Africa called the Circumcellions who terrify North Africa because they would just do things like set themselves on fire or jump off cliffs or drown themselves... they are promised specifically by one text one hundred times what everyone else will get in heaven. Origen says you're going to get a hundred times the children, one hundred times the oxen, one hundred times everything... you will be lording it over everyone else in heaven it's not a humble thing... they took themselves to Roman governors, they say, they turn up ready chained and say I'm ready to die a martyr...
'Well he doesn't want to kill them. He will kill them, right he's Pliny, he's a Roman. He has a job to do, he has a province to keep quiet but he would really rather not. And you get these amazing martyrdom tales where the Roman governors say things like are you sure you want to kill yourself? Look outside, it's a really sunny day.'
'What about your poor mother?'...
'What a lot of people don't really understand either about persecutions is no ancient Roman governor or Greek governor or Syrian governor under the Roman Empire, whatever, remotely cared what you actually believed inside your head either. They didn't care. It was all a matter of whether or not you attended public city sacrifices... It's a bit like Obama being made sure that he lowers, lowers his head you know during a prayer or something... they would not do this and in fact when they all get into power as well actually interrogating what's deep inside your head. Right, they actually did want to thought control and stop people'...
'Standing up during the National Anthem. Or something like that. It was just doing what you did to be a good citizen'"

Nigerian Youths take lizard dung and gutter water to get "HIGH"

ISIS fighters packing human bodies, kids' toys and fridges with BOMBS as they flee Iraq's towns and cities - "The situation is so grim that one man a day from Iraq’s bomb disposal teams is being killed by the devices.

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Kenya: election rerun exposes chasms - "Many Thais worry that he's got a rather cruel streak to him. There's many rumors that we can't discuss here but things that we know on the public record: we know that when he divorced his third wife a couple of years ago, he then jailed almost all of her family. Including her parents and her three brothers and so on. We know that he operates a private prison in one of his palaces where people who displease him can be punished without really any oversight. And there's been at least five unexplained deaths of people in his inner circle over the last few years which the Thai authorites really struggled to give a proper explanation for"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Lifting of Saudi Arabia driving ban a political distraction? - "This is a long story of dictators engaging with women rights. From Saddam Hussein and Bashar Al-Assad and Bourguiba in Tunisia, we find that they all champion them, women's rights. For a particular reason - they feel that this goods them a good, feel good factor, divert attention from real political reform"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Niall Ferguson on social media and revolution - "I just moved quite recently out to near Silicon Valley, from Harvard to Stanford and I was amazed to find that people there essentially don't care about history at all because they think that history began with the Google IPO or the founding of Facebook... it's not entirely unique what we're seeing today. There have been periods in the past when social networks have been empowered by new technology and have been hugely disruptive of established hierarchical structures... When Martin Luther launched the Reformation. If there had been no printing presses in Germany in fifteen seventeen we'd never have heard of him...
Mark Zuckerberg I think very sincerely believes that if you connect the whole world and he's now got past two billion users on Facebook, you'll create a global community. And the general assumption in Silicon Valley - he's not alone in this - has been really since the nineteen nineties is that everything will be awesome if we are all connected. The bad news from history is that it doesn't work that way. That actually when you connect everybody networks have a tendency to polarize because of something called homophily... Birds of a feather flock together on social networks and what you see is the kind of polarization that happened in the Reformation because not everybody agreed with Luther...
Socialism starts to look attractive when inequality reaches a certain level and one of the interesting things about the network world is that it does actually amplify inequality... young people have no memory of the last great experiments with Socialism that the UK ran in the mid to late twentieth century which went pretty horribly wrong. Old geezers is like me can remember double digit inflation, three day weeks and so on. My kids have absolutely no memory of that and I think from that point of view are tempted by the promises that the Labour Party offers of jam today and jam tomorrow"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Today at 60: How our attitudes to sex have changed - "Allison Webster was to become the last principal Page Three photographer. She lost that job when Rupert Murdoch gave way to the rising chorus of protests and said enough. To this day Ms Webster regrets the passing of Page Three.
'Yeah, everyone's entitled to criticize things. I think banning things is wrong because I think we should all be allowed to do what makes us happy as long it's not hurting anybody else and I don't think physically it was hurting anybody else'
'Weren't the women exploited?'
'I would say not. They would say that they were exploiting the Sun. They worked very little for a fair amount of money and had a great time doing it so where's the exploitation in that?... in America where they create more porn than any other place in the world you're not allowed to sunbathe topless on a beach. I just think it'll go round in a circle and come back to somewhere again'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, John Grisham on new novel and Trump - "I don't like the idea of taking down historical monuments because I don't think it's one generation's right to go, to view history differently. The monuments tell only one side of a conflict. I think there should be other monuments next to the Confederate monuments that tell the rest of the story. To honor the slaves who suffered, the abolitionists who were brave enough to stand up to the slave owners and those people should be studied and honored and memorialized but I just, I have not come to the point where I think the monuments should be removed. But they should be there to, so to tell the entire story"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, How fake news works - "We do know that in the Summer election here in the UK that both, that all of the major political parties used these tricks. So unfortunately this is now a normal part of modern political campaigning, even in democracies'
'So political parties are using computational propaganda. In other words, trying to get the conversation moving their way with false users and robotic accounts'
'Right. And spreading rumours about your opponents'"

Helena Schrader's answer to Why did King Richard I execute the civilian population of Acre after capturing the city during the Third Crusade? - Quora - "To ensure that Saladin upheld his part of the bargain, an estimated 2,500 men (accounts vary) from the garrison were held as hostages. It is important to note that these hostages were not women or children, not innocent civilians, nor were they technically prisoners; they were hostages. According to the rules of war at this time, their lives were forfeit if the terms of the surrender agreement were not met. Saladin, possibly because he had not been consulted about the terms the garrison negotiated, or possibly because he couldn't raise the money or find the hostages or didn't have the True Cross any longer, failed to comply with the terms of the agreement. He asked for first one extension and then a second, but still failed to deliver.;.. To this day, the massacre of hostages at Acre is almost always cited by Richard's detractors as an act of "barbarism." It was far from that, but it was an act of cold-blooded realpolitik in a brutal age."

The Media and Privacy in Japan

Just Bento/Just Hungry - Makiko Itoh on Food and Japanese Culture

"An aspect of the entertainment industry, or how the media deals with all public figures in Japan actually, is that any family members, relatives, partners and so on that are not already publicly known and/or in show biz themselves are not identified by name, and their faces are not shown, unless they indicate it’s ok to do so. In other words if they wish to remain private citizens (called ippanjin 一般人 - “regular person”) their wishes are respected by the media.

This privacy extends to children. Most celebrity parents display family photos with the kids’ faces blanked out, and don’t make their names public. (Non-celebrity parents in Japan tend to do this too, although I’m not quite sure of the thinking behind that. Just copying celebrities?) Some celebrity parent simply don’t show or even mention their kids (except their existence) at all.

Some examples:

- When Tokio member (who’s better known as a TV newscaster these days) Taichi Kokubun got married, his wife was simply identified as an “ippanjin”. This is standard procedure for any celebrity-“ippanjin” marriage or partnership.
- TV personality Hiromi is married to former pop idol Iyo Matsumoto. One son, Ryo’o Kozono, is an actor, but their other son has remained an “ippanjin”. When they show family photos the face of that son is blocked out or pixelated and his name is not mentioned.
- In 2015 an alleged affair between TV personality Becky and Enon Kawatani, the leader of the band Gesu no Kiwami Otome, dominated the gossip headlines for weeks. His wife at the time was an ippanjin, and she was never identified by name, nor was her face shown, even though she was the one who gave (or sold) the story to a gossip magazine."

Links - 20th March 2018 (1)

Japan's mysterious 10 yen vending machines

The working rich are driving income inequality, not the rentiers - "Have passive rentiers replaced the working rich at the top of the U.S. income distribution? Using administrative data linking 10 million firms to their owners, this paper shows that private business owners who actively manage their firms are key for top income inequality. Private business income accounts for most of the rise of top incomes since 2000 and the majority of top earners receive private business income—most of which accrues to active owner-managers of mid-market firms in relatively skill-intensive and unconcentrated industries. Profit falls substantially after premature owner deaths"

What Do You Say to a Roanoke Truther? - "Chris was the boyfriend of Alison Parker, who was shot and killed on live television in August by a mentally ill man who had an invented grudge and easy access to firearms... according to millions of conspiracy theorists online, Chris Hurst is a part of my imagination. In the minds—and YouTube videos—of some conspiracy theorists, Chris is not a news anchor at WDBJ in Virginia. Chris, the videos say, is a “crisis actor" invented less than a month ago by the United States government as part of a false flag operation that will eventually allow the New World Order to take away every American citizen’s guns and force them into a life of subjugation and tyranny... “Conspiracy theorists are, I submit, some of the last believers in an ordered universe,” Pitzer College philosophy professor Brian Keeley wrote in Of Conspiracy Theories. “By supposing that current events are under the control of nefarious agents, conspiracy theories entail that such events are capable of being controlled”... “This happens for every president. It’s not just birthers, with President Obama. In 2001, a building blows up, and some people think George W. Bush did it,” says Uscinski. “In fact, there are the same number of [9/11] truthers as there are birthers.” Uscinski wrote “Conspiracy Theories Are for Losers,” which posits that conspiracy theories pervade amongst members of parties who are out of power and feel helpless in a political tide moving in the opposite direction... On the Internet, everything’s a false flag if you look hard enough"

Writing Invisibility: Conversations on the Hidden City - Why sex workers should be recognised as feminists, and other thought-provoking essays - "when journalists write about slums and the people who happen to inhabit them, there is a tendency to exaggerate and sensationalise, and ‘focus on crisis, poverty and squalor, and on the ever-rising numbers.’ Caroline’s essay offers a refreshing change from all that. In Migrant Nigerian sex workers and feminism, the award-winning novelist Chika Unigwe (author of the novel On Black Sisters Street) examines her own preconceived ideas about prostitutes as victims and the role of poverty in the transatlantic sex trade, and argues for the recognition of sex workers as feminists... Many of the women I spoke to were not working in order to be able to eat three times a day. The motivation was stronger than that. Roegler’s work follows four Nigerian ex-commercial sex workers from Benin City who have been deported from Italy. Even though all the women cite “wanting a better life” as their prime motivation for being voluntarily trafficked, all but one links the “better life” to escaping poverty. Their “better life” has a feminist ideal to it: independence. Far from being passive victims, many of these women are risk takers."

The obscure religion that shaped the West - "The idea of a single god was not the only essentially Zoroastrian tenet to find its way into other major faiths, most notably the ‘big three’: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The concepts of Heaven and Hell, Judgment Day and the final revelation of the world, and angels and demons all originated in the teachings of Zarathustra, as well as the later canon of Zoroastrian literature they inspired. Even the idea of Satan is a fundamentally Zoroastrian one; in fact, the entire faith of Zoroastrianism is predicated on the struggle between God and the forces of goodness and light (represented by the Holy Spirit, Spenta Manyu) and Ahriman, who presides over the forces of darkness and evil. While man has to choose to which side he belongs, the religion teaches that ultimately, God will prevail, and even those condemned to hellfire will enjoy the blessings of Paradise (an Old Persian word)."

PhD thesis: The earth is flat - "a huge scandal rocked the Tunisian and Arab scientific and educational world: a PhD student submitted a thesis declaring Earth to be flat, unmoving, young (only 13,500 years of age), and the centre of the universe."

LKY’s Haram Truths - "Malaysia’s government has said that a book on Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew is “still being studied” despite federal Islamic authorities earlier confirming that it has been placed on a list of books declared “haram”, or forbidden to Muslims."

Can a bald head person can wear a wig ? - "The scholars and jurists in Islam are of the opinion that any medication or treatment which allows ones own hair to re-grow naturally would be permissible; but to place or graft or transplant any other type of hair (real or artificial), which neither forms root nor grows naturally, would be absolutely impermissible."

“Chijo” - "Anyone who has lived for any length of time in Japan and knows a little bit of the language and culture knows the word chikan. The meaning of this word is a molester, but basically refers to a male who is prone to be a Peeping Tom, stealing woman’s underwear from their clothes lines, or even groping woman on the trains, catching a quick feel here and there, or pressing themselves into females. In other words, a pervert!... The female counterpart of chikan is “chijo” and basically has the same meaning, and yes there are some chijo in Japan, but they are rare or hardly reported to the police

Details of 2000 Ramallah Lynch of IDF Soldiers Revealed - "The Yediot Aharonot newspaper revealed Tuesday new details of the brutal murders of reservists Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz (z"l). The soldiers were lynched in Ramallah in October 2000. The soldiers lost their way to their base on October 12, 2000, ending up in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled city of Ramallah by mistake. PA police forces took the two into custody. Word reached local PA residents that undercover Israeli agents were being held in the building; some 1000 rioters reportedly gathered outside. The IDF declined to take action to rescue the soldiers; they were eventually stormed by the rioters... The crowd then dragged the bodies to a central square, beating them further before setting up a victory celebration. PA police forces did not attempt to intervene and in some cases, participated in the barbarism. "
And yet it is Israel that is at fault here

‘Naive’ young jihadis should rejoin society without facing court, says watchdog
Yet tweeting "hate speech" can land you in jail

Satanists Approve Drag-queen Dressed as Demon Reading to Children - "There was a recent event at the Michelle Obama Public Library during which a drag queen dressed as a demon read to small children."

Girl Scouts slam Boy Scouts' decision to accept girls: 'The Boy Scouts' house is on fire' - ""The Boy Scouts' house is on fire," Girl Scouts told ABC News in a statement today. "Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA's senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls."
Why do the Girl Scouts hate women?

Why I Don't Want To Hear Both Sides Of Rape Cases - "When I read Jackie's story of trauma, institutional betrayal, and survival at the University of Virginia, I was horrified to read the details, but I was not surprised. As a college survivor and advocate for rape-free campuses, I am well acquainted with these kinds of events. Unfortunately, my experience has also made me familiar with another ugly part of sexual assault activism: the rampant minimizing, rape denialism, and victim-blaming that exists in our culture. Yesterday's letter from Rolling Stone backing away from the story is now a part of that. And it is downright dangerous. One of the implications of the letter is that the reporter should have spoken to the alleged assailants to verify whether Jackie was raped.
Fact checking is sexist

Prof frets that female students don't feel oppressed enough - "Cristina Mogro-Wilson, who teaches social work at UConn, surveyed 118 students pursuing a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree and found that the overwhelming majority of respondents—94 percent of whom were women—do not believe that “discrimination and subordination” are “salient issues in women’s lives”... The findings are problematic, Mogro-Wilson contends, because without a sense of their own oppression, students may be disinclined to “embrace the notion of change through unification,” such as in the form of protesting. Worrying about the potential of a “post-feminist standpoint among younger women…who no longer see discrimination against women as being a salient issue,” Mogro-Wilson calls for incorporating more intersectionality into the social work curriculum.
When a woman says no, she means yes
Comments: " Why are they so threatened by women who are happy with their lives? Misery really does love company."
"Um, didn't liberals get angry when bill maher and others wanted to convince muslim women in the middle east that they were oppressed? There was a point a few years ago where i observed liberal logical inconsistency to surpass that of conservatives, but now it's blown way past."
"These well off women who are highly educated disagree with me. Obviously their knowledge on how oppressed they are is lacking, and need reeducation!"

Birth of the Dragon: makers of film about Bruce Lee respond to 'yellowface' row - "Glaring missteps such as Mickey Rooney’s Mr Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be a thing of the past, but Johannson’s casting in Ghost in the Shell, as well as Matt Damon’s “white saviour” character in the Zhang Yimou-directed The Great Wall, have focused attention on claims of more subtle forms of cultural appropriation. Says Chan: “Caucasian actors may no longer don the makeup and the prosthetics but they nonetheless occupy a space on the screen as a stand-in for something/someone else.”... The recent upsurge in activity from China itself – both in terms of box-office clout and willingness to participate and shape Hollywood offerings – is also a factor. The Great Wall, for example, is produced by Hollywood outfit Legendary (best known for the recent Batman trilogy and The Hangover series), who are now owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda. “My own sense,” says Chan, “is that Chinese investment in Hollywood films is less concerned about the politics of representation than about profits. They seem quite happy to pump money into films such as Star Trek Beyond and the Kung Fu Panda franchise. The Chinese in China do not need to justify their cultural identity to western audiences, and are quite happy to sell stereotypes if it means moving merchandise."
Ironically you still have white saviors coming in to tell the Chinese how they are oppressed

The GOP has a feminine face, UCLA study finds - ""Female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker's voting record," said lead author Colleen M. Carpinella, a UCLA graduate student in psychology. The researchers also found the opposite to be true: Female politicians with less stereotypically feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats, and the more liberal their voting record, the greater the distance the politician's appearance strayed from stereotypical gender norms. In fact, the relationship is so strong that politically uninformed undergraduates were able to determine the political affiliation of the representatives with an overall accuracy rate that exceeded chance, and the accuracy of those predications increased in direct relation to the lawmaker's proximity to feminine norms."
This is more evidence that feminists are ugly

Migrant Crime in Germany: Focus on North Africa - "No other group of foreigners has fallen into disrepute in Germany in recent years as much as young men from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. In 2016, only 2.4 percent of asylum seekers came from these North African countries, and yet 11 percent of immigrants suspected of committing a crime are from the Maghreb region. In Cologne, random samples showed that in 2015, more than 40 percent of migrants from the Maghreb committed robbery or theft within the first year of their arrival, says criminal division chief Thomas Schulte, who headed the investigations after the 2015/2016 New Year's Eve assaults on women in Cologne... Many of the criminal migrants are repeat offenders. A 34-year-old Moroccan who allegedly raped a woman in a bathroom in Hamburg's Reeperbahn entertainment district in December had a criminal record, and yet the local authorities felt they were not in a position to deport him. In fact, only 660 Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians were deported in 2016, even though deportation orders had been issued for close to 9,000 of them. In response, the federal government now intends to speed up deportations... there were demonstrations in Tunis against the [Tunisian failed asylum seeker] returnees, with protesters holding up signs in broken German reading: "Angela Merkel, Tunisia is not the garbage of Germany... German authorities faced significant hurdles in deporting rejected asylum seekers to the Maghreb. They often lacked documentation, and the countries of origin were in no hurry to issue replacement passports. Or they simply claimed that the deportees were not their citizens."

This Woman Is Fighting Rape By Allowing Strangers To Touch Her Vagina - "Many people are afraid to express themselves. But Swiss performance artist Milo Moiré? Well, not so much. And recently, the 32-year-old wanted to teach people a thing or two about a hot-button issue: consent."

I Dressed Like an Idiot at London Fashion Week to See How Easy It Is to Get Style Blogged - "people were taking me seriously, despite the fact I was wearing one knee-length golfing sock and holding an alarm clock"

Soon, married Italians might not have to promise to be faithful - "The proposed amendment to Italy's Civil Code would remove the word "fidelity" from Italian marriage contracts. The promise not to cheat is a "cultural legacy from an outdated and obsolete vision of marriage, family, and the rights and duties of spouses", according to the senators who have signed the bill... References to fidelity and faithfulness were removed from Italy's civil unions bill which was passed earlier this year - a change which provoked outcry from some of the LGBT community, who saw this as a failure to acknowledge the parity of same-sex and opposite-sex romantic relationships... Laura Cantini, one of the senators arguing for the fidelity clause to be dropped from heterosexual marriage, said that the wording of the civil unions bill is "a much more advanced model"... A 2013 poll showed that 55 percent of men and one in three women in Italy admitted to cheating on their partners, making them the most likely to be unfaithful in Europe."
The obsessive pursuit of equality can lead everyone to be equally badly off

How to win the war on free speech - "parents need to be involved in what their children are being taught, even before they reach university. As a testament to how entrenched these loopy ideas are, the indoctrination process begins as early as elementary school – take, for instance, social justice lessons in phys-ed class. We can take comfort in knowing that ideologues don't bother to hide their agenda – according to Dr. Peterson, if your child's teacher uses words like "diversity, equity, inclusivity," and "white privilege," these should tip you off that something is amiss... Like many, I believed this would be a passing phase, but instead I now see how ideology has mutated not just policy and education, but scientific inquiry. Studies in the hard sciences – including neuroscience, biology and sexology – now tout findings that are politically driven. Academic researchers actively choose to play along because they know that doing so will be lucrative for them; others are terrified of the public backlash they will endure if they don't."
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