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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Links - 23rd February 2017 (2)

Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber — Susan J. Fowler - "Over the next few months, I began to meet more women engineers in the company. As I got to know them, and heard their stories, I was surprised that some of them had stories similar to my own. Some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being "his first offense", and it certainly wasn't his last. Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his "first offense". The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done.

The Tao of bao: a randomised controlled trial examining the effect of steamed bun consumption on night-call inpatient course and mortality. - "Medical superstitions remain prevalent in today's stressful and technology driven healthcare environment. These irrational beliefs commonly involve night calls, which are periods of volatile workload. In Singapore and Hong Kong, it is commonly held that consumption of steamed buns ("bao") by on-call physicians is associated with increased patient admissions and mortality, due to a homonymous interpretation of the word "bao" in dialect... The consumption of steamed buns ("bao") has no effect on inpatient admissions, mortality, or sleep duration on call."

Take a bao if you are not superstitious. - "RESULTS: Sixty-eight doctors, nurses and medical students responded to our survey. Only 11 admitted to being superstitious, yet 31 believed in the ill-fortune associated with eating bao or meat dumplings, 6 in the nefarious powers of black (5) or red (1) outfits on call, and 14 believed that bathing (6 insisting on the powers of the seven-flower bath) prior to the onset of a call portended good fortune, in terms of busy-ness of a call. Twenty-four believed in "black clouds", i.e. people who attracted bad luck whilst on call, and 32 refused to mouth the words "having a good call" until the day after the event. We discovered 2 hitherto undescribed and undiscovered superstitions, namely the benefits of eating bread and the need to avoid beef, for the good and ill fortune associated with their ingestion.
DISCUSSION: Superstitious practices are alive and well in modern-day Singapore, the practice not necessarily being restricted to the poorly-educated or foolish."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Young to inherit more but in less equal amounts - "'Could it be more popular to tax wealthier old people to pay for their own care which they don't currently pay for often, rather than inheritance tax which is somehow seen by people as immoral'...
'The problem with inheritance tax is the perverse incenstives... it encourages people to spend more rather than to save and invest and to put money in places that can actually value the rest of society as well as their own family'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Friday's business with Joe Lynam - "It's often said you come away from CES with problems you never knew you had. Like how well you're brushing your hair"

The Aberfan disaster and women who made history | Podcast | History Extra - "Barbara Castle was my favourite MP ever... always very funny, always absolutely full of opinions and she was one who said to me one day: oh you know, Jenni, I think you young feminists go a bit far. I don't care, y'know, if they call me the chair or the chairman or the chairwoman or the chairperson, as long as I'm in the chair...
Margaret Thatcher was the most frightening interviewee I've ever encountered because I think it was her great delight to catch journalists out with being slightly loose with the facts. It would delight her to be able to tear you limb from limb so I've never been so well-researched as when I went to interview her"

Meryl Streep said nothing when... - "Meryl Streep said nothing when Obama's Justice Department was targeting reporters and intercepting their communications; she said nothing when Obama's Justice Department was arming Mexican drug lords, resulting in murder; she said nothing when Obama's IRS was threatening and intimidating private citizens because of their viewpoints; she said nothing when Obama's NSA was gathering a massive amount of telephonic activity by American citizens; she said nothing when Obama threw Israel over the cliff at the UN; she said nothing when Obama's policies (or lack thereof) contributed to the growth of ISIS and its genocide, rape, slavery, and torture; etc"
Words speak louder than actions

Every month, 20 SIA girls get pregnant - "if we didnt notice, the service sector & hospitality sector have been hiring pinoys & ahtiongs in droves. soon, we can expect to hear foreign accent lingo coming from SIA girls.
singapore airlines new advert tagline “帅哥,你要去吗?”
SQXXX pinoy SIA girl: "excuse me sirrrr, tank you for plying wip singaporrr airrlines, what woot chew like to driing por represh-meant, coppee, tea, or mee?""

Refusing to reverse, 2 women drivers face-off for 2 hours - "Two women drivers who found themselves on opposite sides of a narrow back lane and refused to reverse so the other could pass, found themselves in a two-hour face-off last week. According to a report by The Star Online, the incident took place at approximately 11am on Thursday in a back lane off Jalan Dato Abdul Rahman in Seremban town. A video of the incident, shot by one of the women shows the other driver flashing vulgar signs at her, then exposing her bra and later resorting to staying put in her car as she listened to music on her earphones. The video also shows a male passenger, who was with the other driver, getting out of the car and walking towards the woman listening to her earphones. He is heard saying, “Reverse lah. Reverse lah!” to which he received a middle finger flashed at him in anger by the woman."

McDonald’s Miri outlets remove halal-certified cake sign - "All McDonald’s outlets in Miri have removed notices allowing only halal-certified cakes to be brought into its premises, following the state government’s criticism of the rule. Commenting on the swift action by the fast food chain’s outlets, Michael Tiang, who is political secretary to Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, said: “Such prompt action by McDonald’s constitutes a wise move as well as a positive response to the strong objections among Sarawak people towards its recent unpopular policy”... "they received a further instruction from their headquarters to take down such notices so as to complement the tolerant spirit in Sarawak,” he said in a statement released yesterday. He urged McDonald’s to dispense with their latest policy as such a move was “not welcomed in the racial and religious harmonious society in Sarawak”. Tiang had previously said consumers were entitled to reject unreasonable requirements, and if necessary, would boycott the establishments. “It is always the Sarawak chief minister’s stand that racial or religious extremism has no place in Sarawak as the state practises a culture of tolerance, moderation and mutual understanding towards all races and religions,” Tiang said."
Looks like East Malaysia is Less Strict about Islam than Singapore

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, John Dalton - "Like most Protestants, non-conformists of all sorts were very committed to studying the works of God for themselves. Not, say, in contrast to the Catholics who allegedly believe everything that the priests tell them. The Protestant tradition is that you investigate God's works for yourself. And the point about this in relation to science: that God's works mean both the written work, the Bible, but also the works of creation. So there's a long standing interest in Protestantism in studying the natural world and seeing that as the work of God, and trying to understand the power and wisdom and benevolence of God through looking at the natural world.
So that's one thing that influenced this general Protestant interest in the natural world. But there's another thing I think specific to the late 18th century, particularly to non-conformists is that: think about what you could do as a leisure activity if you're in the late 18th century. Now, there's no television, there's no radio, there's no cinema. So what're you gonna do? You might read novels... you could do that. But that's fiction and lots of non-conformist traditions would frown on wasting your time on such idle frivolity.
And the theatre is not necessarily much better. And as for gambling, drinking, horse-racing, that's not really appropriate either for people from the stricter non-conformist traditions like Quakerism. So what can you do?
Well, one thing you can do study the natural world. It's a form of what was called rational recreation. So it's recreation, but it's respectable and rational recreation...
Public spectacle... what else do you do as a kind of leisure activity... you don't have football matches to go to. You go to hangings, you go to races and celebrity funerals... it's a big civic event"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Garibaldi and the Risorgimento - "Latin America... Democracy is taken for granted while everybody everywhere else in the world except the United States and Switzerland, democracy was a bad word. Was up to the 1870s was just unacceptable, like Communism and Bolshevism for a later generation"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Should the West have intervened? - "We tried intervening and occupying in Iraq, and that didn't work. We tried intervening and not occupying in Libya, and that did not work. We tried not intervening and not occupying in Syria, and that did not work either. And that crude analysis is almost always followed by a shrug of the shoulders"

British MPs bear some blame for Aleppo tragedy, says George Osborne - "“Let’s be clear now: if you do not shape the world, you will be shaped by it. We are beginning to see the price of not intervening,” Osborne said... The inescapable reality, Johnson said, was that “we as a House of Commons, we as a country, we vacated that space into which Russia stepped, beginning its own bombing campaign on behalf of Assad”... “I think we are deceiving ourselves in this parliament if we believe that we have no responsibility for what has happened in Syria. The tragedy in Aleppo did not come out of a vacuum; it was created by a vacuum, a vacuum of western leadership, of American leadership, British leadership”... The Labour MP John Woodcock, a long-term advocate of intervention, said: “We’ve said ‘Never again’ so many times, and we mean it when we say it, but then, a few months, a few years later, it comes to nothing.”

Scribie Transcription Service | Free Podcast Transcription - "At Scribie.com, our big vision is that eventually all audio/video content created by man will be available as text and the knowledge capital therein will be unlocked for the greater good of humankind. To further this vision we are offering our transcription service free of charge to podcasters. The files will be transcribed whenever we are able to schedule it in and we will send you the transcripts once it's complete. We will also post the audio and transcript on our blog."

Contact Us - McDonald's® - "We do not condone the use of offensive / inappropriate language and we reserve the right not to respond to correspondences that contain vulgarities or derogatory content.
[Checkbox] I agree to McDonald's Restaurants Pte Ltd Terms of engagement."

Singapore: Troop carriers held in Hong Kong should be freed - "Professor Simon Chesterman, dean of law at the National University of Singapore, said sovereign immunity should apply in this case. "Given China's strong position on sovereign immunity, which it has invoked in other jurisdictions for its own protection, it would be surprising if this matter is not resolved - eventually," he said."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, What does Sir Ivan Rogers' resignation mean for Brexit? - "He said... Don't be afraid to speak truth unto power. Well, the word truth is quite an interesting word. I would say actually the word should've been: the opinion unto power. Because I've had many times in the department where I've had civil servants sit in front of me telling me adamantly that some things can or cannot be done, and you look at that and you argue back and debate about it, think about it and then you come back and say there are different ways to do things and I don't agree with that and I'm going to do this. Ministers have to make those decisions. That's what they're there for"

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma meets with Trump, pledges to create 1 million US jobs - "The meeting comes just a few weeks after Trump met with another Asian technology powerhouse, Masayoshi Son the CEO of SoftBank. At that meeting, Trump took credit for a previously announced investment by a fund run by Son and said that the fund would help to create 50,000 jobs."

Jamshid Piruz who beheaded Dutch woman is allowed into Britain unchallenged - "A convicted murderer from Holland was able to walk through Britain’s porous borders without any checks and went on to attack two police officers with a claw-hammer... Court documents in Holland said he was ‘inspired by Taliban movies in which beheadings were seen’... ‘This offence was committed at a time of stress for my client. He was in a foreign country. He seems to have been vulnerable. He seems to have been hallucinating. ‘He was very confused by the vehicles driving on a different side of the road than he was used to’... it is not enough for an EU citizen to have a serious criminal conviction – if it is some time in the past, the UK may fall foul of Brussels directives if they refuse to allow that person into the country."

Bad Medicine

BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Addicted in Suburbia

"After any injury, many Americans expect to be pain-free. The US consumes around 80% of all opiate painkillers produced in the world. But for too many people their dependence on prescription medication has led them to heroin. Addiction is everywhere, even here in the upmarket suburbs of Lorain county west of Cleveland...

In Ohio, we hear many stories of opiates unnecessarily prescribed even after minor dental work. And across the US, the tentacles of the heroin epidemic reach back to the over-prescription of pills that started in the 1990s. Pain became a fifth vital sign."


Bad Medicine, Part 2: (Drug) Trials and Tribulations - Freakonomics Freakonomics

"The majority of new cancer drugs are marginal, that they offer sort of very small gains at tremendous prices, and to give you an example of that, among 71 drugs approved for the solid cancers, the median improvement in overall survival or how long people lived was just 2.1 months. And those drugs routinely cost over $100,000 per year of treatment or course of treatment."


Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis - Freakonomics Freakonomics

"ANUPAM JENA: Prescription opioid use has gone up about 300-400 percent since the year 2000. America is a world leader in the consumption of painkillers. Here’s what a 2007 report found:

WAILOO: We were consuming about 83 percent of the world’s oxycodone in the United States. And it is not because we had 83 percent of the world’s pain. It’s because we are a consumer society that believes in the power of the magic pill...

In the late 1980s and early 90s, there was a push to mandate the recognition and treatment of pain. This culminated in the promotion of pain as the fifth vital sign, along with temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. Which made pain the only vital sign that is determined not by objective measurement, but by the patient’s own assessment...

One result of this prescription onslaught? It is believed to have contributed to a recent uptick in mortality rates. Anupam Jena is a physician and a healthcare economist at Harvard.

JENA: Mortality rates in the U.S. have risen for the first time in 10 years. Which is striking, considering that mortality rates have been falling for at least 100 years...

WAILOO: Yeah, so pain management was really emerging as a recognizable and legitimate area of medical practice and care in the 1960s, early 1970s, with the development of multidisciplinary pain centers... There was a general recognition that you needed more than just drugs to deal with people in chronic pain. You needed social workers, you needed surgeons, you needed psychologists, you needed a wide range of others as well as people with pharmacological expertise. But those multidisciplinary pain centers were really expensive.

WAILOO: And so, you know one of the economic trends, since the 1980s, with the rise of cost containment, is to sort of see drugs as the cheapest and the fastest solution to our problem.

This coincided with a big shift in how drugs are marketed to the public...

“Physicians who do not comply with patient requests,” the authors wrote, “may be the recipients of poor ratings on patient satisfaction scores, possibly resulting in emotional, financial, and professional penalties.” So imagine this. You are a doctor and your patient asks, maybe by name, for a prescription pain-killer. You may think the patient doesn’t really need it; you may, in fact, be worried they’ll abuse it, maybe even sell it. But if that consumer has the ability to punish you professionally … well, you might just write the scrip...

The third-leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, was … medical error. I’m going to say that again: the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 10 percent of deaths annually, is medical error...

If you happen to be treated by a doctor who is 10 years or 15 years out of residency, your mortality within thirty days of being hospitalized is higher... We don’t see this effect among high-volume doctors — doctors who are seeing a lot of patients. So what that suggests that if you are an older doctor who is seeing a lot of patients, you are protected from this adverse effect


The Cost of Satisfaction

"Higher patient satisfaction was associated with less emergency department use but with greater inpatient use, higher overall health care and prescription drug expenditures, and increased mortality."

Links - 23rd February 2017 (1)

Investing in the ‘little things’ for the benefit of Singaporeans - "quite often, policy misunderstandings were intertwined with cynicism — even lack of trust — about the Government and its intentions. Our ambassadors would excitedly tell a pioneer citizen about his annual Medisave top-ups and show him how this would help to offset his MediShield Life premiums, only for him to reply: “Zheng hu (the Government) give me money, zheng hu take it back.” In one heartbreaking case, ambassadors told a wheelchair-bound senior about the Disability Assistance Scheme, which would give him $100 every month. They filled in his application form, made an appointment with a doctor for him, and left him a postage-paid envelope to submit the form in. Six months later, they visited him again, only to find that he had not submitted his form. Why? Because his friends had told him there was no way that the Government would “give out money for free”. That piece of misplaced coffee-shop chatter cost the senior $600 in cash benefits."

Scientist Dr David Goodall, 102, wins the right to keep job at Perth university - "A 102-year-old scientist has won his battle to continue his research on university campus after initially being kicked off amid concerns he was a safety risk."

Interesting Facts about Chinese Relationships, Marriages - "Generally, Chinese single men put most of their energy into work while women tend to arrange an enjoyable single life for themselves. To some extent, this has been an outcome of the popular idea that successful men and beautiful women are the most favored spouses... While gender equality has been widely supported in the country, Chinese women still prefer husbands who can earn two times their level or even more, so the men can be the major breadwinners in the family. In contrast, men prefer wives with comparative incomes."

Project Fear Brexit predictions were 'flawed and partisan', new study says

Feminists Defend Man Who Harassed Ivanka Trump on JetBlue Flight - "Progressives have a habit of shrieking about “harassment” any time one of their own is met with criticism. They define any sort of disagreement as abuse, but have no problem lobbing their own attacks at anyone whose views are not in alignment with their own. And when a man does it, it’s called “mansplaining.”"

How Pope Francis Became the Leader of the Global Left - WSJ

14 questioned over Christmas tree adorned with word "Allah" in Indonesia - "the chairman of Jambi's Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Adri Hasan slammed the hotel for the incident, which he claimed was blasphemous. "We want this case to be thoroughly investigated to prevent restlessness among Muslims," he said."
Maybe they will censor bibles next

Drexel Professor: 'Abolish The White Race' - "Cicariello-Maher, a white man who specializes in race and racism among other topics, has been the subject of criticism from media outlets and social media users after he tweeted on Saturday, “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.” He subsequently deleted the tweet and brushed it off as a joke, saying that “White isn’t a race”... Ciccariello-Maher said that the massacre of whites during the Haitian Revolution was a “good thing.” During the Haitian massacre in 1804 as many as 4,000 whites were killed."

Stallion Imagery Too Sexist For Kentucky School - "Frederick Douglass High School, named in honor of the famed civil rights leader who was also a male, had intended to use a graphic of a stallion as the school’s mascot because of the community’s rich horse-breeding heritage. But Cahill’s online petition, that only elicited a relative handful of respondents, has killed the idea. Some of the 214 people who responded to the petition to stop the stallion found the imagery “inappropriate and sexist.”"

Preserving a unique slice of Singapore's rural life - "the agricultural sector, though small, plays a strategic role in the nation's food security, supplying some 10 per cent of its food."

How ‘Rogue One’ Brought Back Familiar Faces - NYTimes.com - "“When Peter Cushing makes an ‘aah’ sound, he doesn’t move his upper lip. He only opens his jaw about halfway, and makes this square shape with his lower lip, that exposes his lower teeth.” Before nuances like this were accounted for, Mr. Knoll said their creation “looked like maybe a relative of Peter Cushing and not him exactly.”"

How The Fuck High Was This New Yorker Guy When He Wrote This Star Wars Take? - "Listen. I am not going to try to unpack and critique the bonkers Rogue One review published by the New Yorker’s Richard Brody today. I do not even know where to begin. I am just going to blockquote some portions down below this paragraph, and I invite you to join me in making halting, inarticulate, baffled vocalizations at them."

Why 'Rogue One' Is Superior to 'The Force Awakens' - "Rogue One contains more Star Wars head nods, hat tips and hidden treasures than an eight-year-old's toy collection and a San Diego Comic-Con exhibit hall combined. So why is it, then, that the film somehow feels fresher than The Force Awakens' nostalgia?... While The Force Awakens contented itself with putting a contemporary gloss on tried-and-true formulae, Rogue One took a shot at something new. The former used nostalgia as a currency and fan service as a cudgel; this semi-peripheral addition to the canon uses both of these elements for riffing and a big-picture–narrative spackle, but also as grist for making a statement"

Rogue One’s CGI Princess Leia: The sands of time are so cruel you can't even do motion capture for your younger self - "People have aged so much that you can’t even get them to do the motion capture. As you get older you’re not the same, your whole body language is different"

'Rogue One' director based battle scenes on real war photos

Admit it: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' stinks -- and here's why - "Sitting in the theater at "Avatar," I felt like I was being pounded into submission by a giant hedge fund. Watching "The Force Awakens," I felt as though I was being shown a trailer for the next four movies in the series. Except that trailers aren't normally two hours long and you don't have to pay $12.50 to see them. "The Force Awakens" will reinforce even more strongly a blockbuster, sequel-oriented style of moviemaking and marketing that has sapped Hollywood of its creative energies. Why be creative when that will merely interfere with merchandising, and when recycling is more dependably profitable?... One can envision Hollywood eventually turning out only two products: "Star Wars" movies and James Bond movies, each periodically "rebooted" for a new generation of customers by casting the latest new young stars in new costumes facing the same old perils and uttering the same old quips, with every other vestige of creative originality relegated to the void and forgotten."

Android Is Different, In A Good Way - "even though the Samsung Galaxy SIII got frozen at Android 4.3, it still retained the ability to see nearly all of its basic functionality updated up to current 2016 standards. Did it lose something? Yes, it lost some technical improvements within Android 4.4.2, 5.0 and 6.0 which improved smoothness and battery saving (though new versions then eat that away). However, most of the more important new version features which remain within the core Android OS deal mostly with support for new hardware. Since the hardware doesn't change on an old device, most of those improvements are meaningless... This trend towards making Android more modular and migrating more functionality away from the core OS remains in force. This trend makes the actual updating of the core OS less and less important... Many iOS users will be familiar with the experience. When updating iOS in their older devices, the new version bogs down their old device to near-unusable status... The thesis this article seeks to advance is that the OS update landscape is not as clear-cut as most people would have it. While a lot more Android devices will be stuck in earlier OS versions than Apple devices, when it comes to the actual core functionality Android is structured in such a way that even older OS versions have access to the latest core apps and most of the latest OS functionality. As a result, most of Android's core app functionality will actually be updated more often than in iOS"

Intrasexual Competition Shapes Men’s Anti-Utilitarian Moral Decisions - "Killing someone in order to save several lives seems more morally acceptable to men than to women. We suggest that this greater approbation of utilitarian killings may reflect gender differences in the tolerance to inflicting physical harm, which are partly the product of sexual selection. Based on this account, we predicted that men may be less utilitarian than women in other conditions. In four studies, we show that men are more likely than women to make the anti-utilitarian (hypothetical) choice of causing three same sex deaths to save one opposite sex life; and that this choice is more likely when there are fewer potential sexual partners, more likely for heterosexual men and less likely if the female character to be saved no longer has reproductive value."

The strange history and ugly core of Donald Trump Jr.'s Skittles tweet, explained - "The online “poisoned candy” metaphor started with feminists pushing back against the complaint that “not all men” are misogynists. Anti-feminists shot back, substituting Muslims for men in the analogy to demonstrate how offensive it would otherwise be. Then — truly missing the point — conservatives adopted it over the past year as a genuine argument that any migration from Syria is too big a risk... Ben Grelle, who turned the tweet into an image that went viral, argued that he only wanted to justify why marginalized people should fear the powerful majority, not the other way around: “What harm befalls an oppressive group if people are cautious of them?”"
Vox seems to think that "the point" is that men are evil

Italy told to brace itself for 'September assault' after arrival of 150,000 migrants - worldnews - "This is idiotic. The Mediterranean migrants are "rescued" about 12 km off the Libyan coast. The governments and NGOs patrolling just outside Libyan waters aren't rescuing anyone. All they're doing is providing a free taxi service for illegal immigrants. They might as well just charter free, ongoing flights between Italy and every African capital. Come one, come all.
FFS. Is it any wonder that the numbers keep growing?"

Google and Mozilla Remove Extension That Was Caught Selling User Data - "Ironically, the extension's purpose is to provide information on the reputation of websites that users are trying to access, if they're safe for kids, contain spam, are trustworthy, or don't respect user privacy."

Must-see artworks at National Gallery Singapore - "Commissioned by the Japanese army, Meeting of Generals Yamashita and Percival ( 1942 ) by Miyamoto Saburo immortalizes probably one of the darkest moments in the British history. In 1942, the Japanese government sent Miyamoto Saburo to Singapore to create a painting based on the surrender incident. But he did not witness the actual surrender; he came after it was done,” said Low. Therefore, he made sketches of the room where the event took place. He also had the chance to make detailed sketches of Yamashita and Percival. However, some elements of the painting are fictitious. “We know that the British were carrying a white flag and a British flag, but they were not allowed to bring those flags into the room where the ceremony took place,” said Low. However, the flags were later inserted into the painting at the request of Japanese military authorities. In addition to the actual event, the painting became proof that Japanese art is equally as impressive as Western works. “One idea that we want to bring forward in the exhibition is [that] painting is a subjective expression for artistic activity. So we have to understand how the arts were produced, [by] whom they were produced, and why they were produced,” Low explained.

‘Clinton quite effective at discrediting herself, doesn’t need Putin’s help’ - ex CIA analyst - "The report lacks any factual evidence, because the intelligence services apparently don’t have any, Larry Johnson believes"

Trump Uses Twitter as Strategic Weapon - "they do garner enormous media coverage and allow Trump to drive his message home... Alex Conant, former adviser to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's Republican presidential campaign in 2016, told Politico, "The challenge is by being spontaneous, it's hard to build an echo chamber of surrogates and supporters to consistently drive home the message. The opportunity is that Trump is able to connect with the American people in an authentic and real way that other recent presidents haven't been able to. When he tweets, people understand it's actually coming from him." Kevin Madden, a GOP strategist and former adviser to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, told Politico, "Trump understands one important dynamic: In a world where there is a wealth of information, there is always a poverty of attention, and he has this ability to generate four or five story lines a day. In the face of that, how can his opponents break through on even one of them? He is always in control.""

What's It All About, Shakespeare? - "The very thing I love about Shakespeare's girls is the very thing that means they're not really representative of the rest of their gender...
Shakespeare's women all, to my mind, have this in common. They are stronger than their sex. Or, at the very least, stronger than their sex is 'expected' to be. And, in many ways, that's to be applauded. Unlike some of Shakespeare's contemporaries, he didn't write insipid, weak female roles. Yet, unfortunately, this means he's not telling 'real' women's stories, either. These are girls who are breaking men's rules in order to play in a man's world. But what about all of those women who couldn't do that? Well, the fact is, their stories wouldn't have been anywhere near as entertaining!"
Similarly, the fetishisation of strong female characters makes them unrepresentative

Queering the Gaze: Calgary Hockey Breasts, Dynamics of Desire, and Colonial Hauntings - "This paper compares two hockey-related breast-flashing events that occurred in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The first was performed by Calgary Flames fans, the ‘Flamesgirls’, in the 2004 NHL Stanley Cup final, and the second flashing event occurred when members and fans of the Booby Orr hockey team participated in lifting their shirts and jerseys at a lesbian hockey tournament at the 2007 Outgames/Western Cup held in Calgary. We deploy an analysis of visual psychic economies to highlight psychoanalytic framings of masculinized and feminized subject positions in both heteronormative and lesbigay-coded sporting spaces. We suggest there is a queer twist to the Booby Orr flashing context, which we read as disruptive and potentially resistive. The paper ends by turning to Avery Gordon’s (1997) Ghostly Matters, to consider how even in its queer transgression, the Booby Orr flashing scene is simultaneously haunted and saturated by the absent presence of colonial technologies of visuality and sexual violence. It is argued that in this case, openings for transgressive gender dynamics might be imaginable – even as those logics themselves are disciplined and perhaps made possible through racialized colonial framings of appropriate desire."

Blair babes 'have failed' women in politics - Telegraph - "BLAIR'S babes, the record number of Labour women MPs elected in 1997, have put back the cause of women in politics by concentrating on their own working conditions since entering Parliament, says Gillian Shephard, the former Tory minister... She had "high hopes" that they would transform Parliament and make a big difference to government. But the new women were "whipped into line" and became mostly compliant, hopeful of preferment... by concentrating on their working conditions, they may have deterred other aspiring women from becoming politicians. In the book, she singles out Tess Kingham (Lab, Gloucester), who said she would not be standing at the next election because of late night sittings, and Julia Drown (Lab, Swindon S), who led an unsuccessful campaign for mothers to breast-feed anywhere in the House. Mrs Shephard quotes approvingly a reported comment from Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, that she would have more sympathy when she saw check-out girls at Tesco breast-feeding their babies while doing their job. Criticism could be levelled at some of the "sillier aspects" of conditions at the Commons but all-night sittings and the "rough and tumble" of the place were not a secret. There could hardly be a workplace whose conditions were better known in advance. "If such conditions are unacceptable, and they may be to parents of young children, then it is better to wait to get elected until it is an easier proposition. Other professional women - lawyers, accountants and teachers - do not demand the right to breast-feed while in court, with clients or in front of a class. I imagine there would be uproar if they did. Why, then, do women MPs choose to give their own profession a bad name by demanding privileges not available to other women?""

Female MPs are useless not victims of sexism: Ann Widdecombe lashes out at the Blair Babes with a 'sense of grievance' - "Female MPs who complain about how macho politics are not the victims of sexism but simply ‘useless’, Ann Widdecombe has claimed. The outspoken former Tory minister dismissed the idea that Westminster was biased against women, and insisted both sexes were ‘roughed up’ during debates. In remarks likely divide opinion in Parliament, Miss Widdecombe said women must not go into politics with a ‘sense of grievance’. Miss Widdecombe, who was prisons minister in John Major’s last government, insisted those women who do choose a career in politics had to prove their commitment, and realise having a family might not be conducive to the rough and tumble of life in Westminster... ‘About sixth months afterwards, one of them came up to me in the corridor and she said to me: “Ann, isn’t it horrible how the men are so rude to us?” ‘And I said “yes, and isn’t it horrible how they are so rude to each other?” And she hadn’t thought of that."

The Overblown Harms of Underaged Sex

"University of Georgia social work professor Allie Kilpatrick.. In 1992... published the results of a study based on a thirty-three page questionnaire about childhood sexual experiences, administered to 501 women from a variety of class, racial, and educational backgrounds. Instead of employing the morally and emotionally
freighted phrase sexual abuse, she asked specific questions: How old were you, how often, with whom did you have sex? Did you initiate or did the other person? What acts did you engage in ("kiss and hug," "you show genitals," "oral sex by you," etc.)? Was it pleasurable, voluntary, coerced? How did you feel later?

Kilpatrick found that 55 percent of her respondents had had some kind of sex as children (between birth and age fourteen) and 83 percent as adolescents (age fifteen to seventeen), the vast majority of it with boys and men who were not related to them. Of these, 17 percent felt the sex was abusive, and 28 percent said it was harmful. But "the majority of young people who experience some kind of sexual behavior find it pleasurable. They initiated it and didn't feel much guilt or any harmful consequences," she told me. What about age? "My research showed that difference in age made no difference" in the women's memories of feelings during their childhood sexual experiences or in their lasting effects.

Teens often seek out sex with older people, and they do so for understandable reasons: an older person makes them feel sexy and grown up, protected and special; often the sex is better than it would be with a peer who has as little skill as they do. For some teens, a romance with an older person can feel more like salvation than victimization. Wrote Ryan, a teenager who had run away from home to live in a Minnesota commune with his adult lover, "John was the first person in my life who would let me be who I wanted to be. . . . Without John I would have been dead because I would have killed myself." Indeed, it is not uncommon for the child "victim" to consider his or her "abuser" a best friend, a fact that has led to some dicey diagnostic and criminal locutions. William Prendergast, a former prison psychologist and current frequent-flyer "expert" on child abuse, for instance, talks about "consensual rape" and young people's "pseudo-positive" sexual experiences with adults.

Of course, there are gender differences in the experiences of early sex. The law did not invent these. Boys are used to thinking of themselves as desirers and initiators of sex and resilient players who can dust themselves off from a hard knock at love. So among boys, "self-reported negative effects" of sex in childhood are "uncommon," according to psychologists Bruce Rind and Philip Tromovitch's metanalysis of national samples of people who have had such experiences. Girls and women, on the other hand, are far more often the victims of incest and rape than boys are, and gender compounds whatever age-related power imbalances an intergenerational liaison may contain. Phillips found that girls spoke of entering such partnerships willingly and often rationally and of satisfaction with the adult status they borrowed there. Yet they also often "let their guard down with older guys," agreeing not to use a condom, to drop out of school, or cut off ties with friends and families who could have helped them after the relationship was over. Her older informants offered another vantage point from which to view such relationships, often speaking disparagingly of their past older lovers and regretfully of their choices. Phillips pointed out that such bad behavior and twenty-twenty hindsight aren't exclusive to older-younger relationships. A younger lover might have been just as unfaithful and just as likely to leave a young woman with a baby and no help.

The subjects of Sharon Thompson's Going All the Way represented such love affairs in far more positive ways. Just over 10 percent of the four hundred teenage girls she interviewed through the 1980s "told about actively choosing sexual experiences with men or women five or more years older than they." These girls "had no doubt that they could differentiate between abuse, coercion, and consent." They represented themselves as the aggressors, persisters, and abandoners in these relationships, adept at flipping between adult sophistication and childlike flightiness to suit their moods or romantic goals.

Which story is true—freely chosen love or sweet-talked dupery? Both, said Thompson wisely when I asked her. Phillips seemed to agree. "Rather than presuming that adult-teen relationships are really a form of victimization or that they really represent unproblematic, consensual partnerships—rather than maintaining either that willingness means consent or that an age difference means an inherent inability to consent—we need to step back and probe the nuances of adult-teen relationships from the perspectives of young women who participate in them," Phillips wrote. If we are going to educate young women to avoid potentially exploitative relationships, "those strategies must speak to [their] lived realities and the cultural and personal values that they, their families, and their communities hold regarding this issue." Phillips admitted to ambivalence about age-of-consent laws."

--- Harmful to Minors - The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex / Judith Levine

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Links - 22nd February 2017

List of Shark Products
Sharks are the coconuts of the sea - every part of them is useful

Gravity Payments’ $70K minimum salary: CEO Dan Price shares result over a year later - "sales skyrocketed after the announcement, and Gravity Payments continues to take on new clients at a rate it never had before. It reports nearly doubling profits in a year, from $3.5 million in 2014 to $6.5 million in 2015. So Price is re-evaluating the metrics, and still trying to decide what his income should look like. "

Does True Love Exist? A Social Escort Responds. - "if my clients didn’t love their partners despite whatever that is lacking in their relationships, they would’ve left. But they didn’t. Maybe their partners don’t pay attention to them in the bedroom, or they have certain fantasies that they know their partner would never be comfortable with doing. Paying me (and other escorts) is also an admission to the fact that they never wanted to leave their relationship at all. Love, sex and relationships are complex things, and while they do overlap, understanding that they can be separated has allowed me to continue believing in love."

Virologist urges HIV 'bug chasers' not to infect themselves - "A leading scientist has expressed alarm at a trend in the West in which gay men use social networks to seek HIV-carrying sex partners in order to get infected. The "bug chasers" are often motivated by a desire to secure life-long medical care and social welfare benefits. French virologist Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for her life-long work in fighting Aids, said in an interview with the Post that she was unhappy to see such abuse of valuable medical resources and warned that the people doing it might not be well informed of all the risks."

Jay Liu's answer to Has political correctness made it impossible to communicate honestly or effectively? - Quora - "People are always quick to point out that political correctness is not a form of censorship because it's not part of the law. The obvious problem is how "censorship" is confined to "state censorship".
Yes, violating the subtle rules of political correctness will usually not land you in jail, but getting your entire career, public image and social standing destroyed is arguably just as bad as a stint in an actual prison. The reality is that political correctness is a far more effective and sophisticated form of censorship and thought policing than anything Goebbels could have come up with. The closest parallel I can think of to modern day America in terms of political correctness is the Cultural Revolution in China... Don't these Red Guards remind you of some other young, energetic people in the US who have tendency to organize and persecute those who hold beliefs other than their own? Oh yeah, the Social Justice Warriors!"

Why salad is so overrated - "Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources... Charles Benbrook... and colleague Donald Davis developed a nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain. Four of the five lowest-ranking vegetables (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, iceberg lettuce and celery. (The fifth is eggplant.) Those foods’ nutritional profile can be partly explained by one simple fact: They’re almost all water... The corollary to the nutrition problem is the expense problem. The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken... Salad fools dieters into making bad choices... Salad has unfortunate repercussions in our food supply. Lettuce has a couple of No. 1 unenviable rankings in the food world. For starters, it’s the top source of food waste, vegetable division, becoming more than 1 billion pounds of uneaten salad every year. But it’s also the chief culprit for foodborne illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, green leafies accounted for 22 percent of all food-borne illnesses from 1998-2008"

Polish nationals less likely than Dutch to claim welfare - "Polish nationals are less likely to claim welfare benefits than the native Dutch, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS which were released on Thursday. However, other groups of immigrants and refugees are much more likely to be on benefits, the figures show.
For example, the CBS says seven out of 10 Somali nationals and six out of 10 Syrians live on welfare (bijstand), compared with just 3% of the Dutch. Afghans, Eritreans and Iranians are also much more likely to be living on welfare. ‘A high percentage do not speak the language sufficiently and a relatively large percentage are low-skilled or without any relevant education,’ the CBS said."

Trump Supporters Are Prejudiced—and So Are You - "“People with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup bias,” write psychologists Mark Brandt of Tilburg University and Jarret Crawford of the College of New Jersey, “but toward different sets of groups”... “people with lower levels of cognitive ability express more prejudice towards ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians.” However, the researchers also found that “people with higher levels of cognitive ability express more prejudice toward Christian fundamentalists, big business, Christians, the Tea Party, and the military.” Overall, “lower levels of cognitive ability are associated with prejudice towards groups perceived as liberal/unconventional, and as having less choice over their group membership,” the researchers write. (You have no say in your ethnicity.) “At the same time, the data also suggest that higher levels of cognitive ability are associated with prejudice towards groups perceived as conservative/conventional, and as having more choice over their group membership.” (No one forces you to become a business executive.) Brandt and Crawford argue that some cognitive processes utilized by less-intelligent people do lead to prejudice, including an inability or unwillingness to see things from another’s perspective; elevated sensitivity to threat; and the need for certainty. But they note that brighter people can come up with “more self-convincing justifications for prejudice.” In other words, we can use our superior minds to convince ourselves that our emotion-based assumptions actually have merit."

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Year Everything Changed - "Vaclav Klaus is one of Europe's longest serving political leaders. A former Prime Minister and President of the Czech Republic.
'What we really wanted in the moment of the fall of Communism... was freedom, democracy, market economy and... to be again a normal European sovereign and independent state. After 3 centuries of belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. after half a century belonging to the Soviet Empire, we really wanted to be free. Nothing more... Our slogans on the streets in Prague in November 89 were 'Back to Europe'. And I was the first one who very soon started to explain the people here: back to Europe doesn't mean exactly avante [?] into the European Union... we wanted to become a normal European state.'
'That's what you are isn't it?'
'We are not. We are a member of a very specific conglomerate, grouping of countries called the European Union. To speak about independence is a joke. We wanted to be integrated in the EU but not unified. I think that the role of the national government is now rather limited. Most of the decisions come from Brussels, not from Prague here, so this is not independence'"

BBC Radio 4 - Today, 03/07/2014, What books should politicians read? - "The idea of Harold McMillan going into the garden on No 10 Downing Street and reading Jane Austen novels when it all got too much, I've always found very appealing. And I think voters might that quite appealing. I always thought it was PR but actually when you read Harold McMillan's letters, he mentions terrible times when he's Prime Minister over the Middle East and he says my only solace was reading Emma. Thank goodness for that...
Some of those classics we've mentioned, of course they're books we should all read but the thing a lot of them have in common: Emma, Middlemarch, Great Expectations is that they're wonderful studies in what is surely a politician's abiding vice, which is self-deception"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Monday's business with Rob Young - "He believes his life of crime has left him with, I suppose recruitment professionals might call them 'transferable skills'... One of my parole hearings... she said you treat crime like it's a corporate venture. You do a cost-benefit analysis to everything you do. I had to agree. A lot of guys that do that crime at that level - if you put them in running Apple or Microsoft, they would do just as good as a CEO"

DTR Podcast from Tinder & Gimlet Creative - "Mixed Signals" - Product Hunt - "Glasses make a right swipe 12% less likely"

Pornhub's 2016 Year in Review – Pornhub Insights - "Countries like Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, Norway and Colombia are all hitting up our ‘lesbian’ category the most. While South America, Russia, and a good portion of Western Europe and Northern Africa are more common frequenters of Pornhub’s ‘anal’ category. The sage color you see represents the higher proportion of views in the ‘Ebony’ category, which is more concentrated in Africa. And the orange that covers most of Asia, shows where the ‘hentai’ category gets the most love. There is still quite a bit of yellow spread throughout the map, which indicates a preference for the ‘teen (18+)’ category."

Isolated Low Temps May Reassure Climate Skeptics - "cold-influenced-denial may be playing out across the U.S., in particular in Appalachia and the South. Because it turns out those areas have had lots of record low temperatures in the last 12 years. And they're also by and large the same parts of the country that have high numbers of global warming skeptics. So researchers have a theory that personal experience with cold snaps could be trumping scientific facts"
The reality of lived experience!

Shoppers who wear pyjamas in Tesco are given a dressing down - "So-called "all-day pyjama syndrome" is widely seen as a growing social and sartorial problem in the UK. Earlier this year a headteacher at a school in Darlington appealed for parents to stop wearing their pyjamas at the school gates after she noticed an increase in the number of parents failing to get dressed for the school run. Some were even wearing pyjamas to school assemblies and meetings, she said."

Can't remember Marina Bay before Marina Bay Sands? This photographer captured it all through the years

Study: Ice Cream For Breakfast Boosts Brain Performance

11 really good reasons why your country should have a monarchy - "monarchical states seem to promote cohesion. A study by Sascha Becker and others shows higher trust and less corruption inside the borders of the old Habsburg empire than among the people who live just outside the empire’s historical borders... Former Bank of England rate-setter Tim Besley wrote a working paper earlier in the year suggesting that “in a country with weak executive constraints, going from a non-hereditary leader to an hereditary leader, increases the annual average economic growth of the country by 1.03 percentage points per year.” That’s a lot!"

The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation - "ethnocentrism eventually overcomes its closest competitor, humanitarianism, by exploiting humanitarian cooperation across group boundaries as world population saturates"
"Racism" is evolved

Automated book-culling software drives librarians to create fake patrons to "check out" endangered titles - "Two employees at the East Lake County Library created a fictional patron called Chuck Finley -- entering fake driver's license and address details into the library system -- and then used the account to check out 2,361 books over nine months in 2016, in order to trick the system into believing that the books they loved were being circulated to the library's patrons, thus rescuing the books from automated purges of low-popularity titles."

Healthcare workers prioritize helping people over information security (disaster ensues) - "In Workarounds to Computer Access in Healthcare Organizations: You Want My Password or a Dead Patient?, security researchers from Penn, Dartmouth and USC conducted an excellent piece of ethnographic research on health workers, shadowing them as they moved through their work environments, blithely ignoring, circumventing and sabotaging the information security measures imposed by their IT departments, because in so doing, they were saving lives... IT's imposition of password rotation schedules meant that no one knew what their passwords were from moment to moment, forcing them to write them down and share them (in some cases, IT might have had this policy set by vendors or regulators/insurers). Aggressive timeouts on terminals meant that clinicians spent an undue amount of time logging in, making it impossible to get their work done."

Elderly Catholic woman has mistakenly been praying every day to Elrond from ‘Lord of the Rings’

High marks for standardized tests - "If an exam effectively gauges a student’s mastery of U.S. history or English grammar, then teaching the test is simply a matter of helping students develop that knowledge. Teachers who feel that a test ignores something essential should commit to fixing the test, not condemning the entire practice of testing."

Japanese company replaces office workers with artificial intelligence

Muslim Groups Are Reportedly Circulating This Illustration of Santa Getting Punched in the Face - "The Anatolia Youth Association’s Istanbul University branch released an illustration of a bearded Muslim punching St. Nick in the face... a similar illustration of Santa being punched was also seen in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia"
No wonder Santa shot up the Istanbul nightclub

The Reina atrocity shows how deeply Islamic fanaticism has taken hold in Turkey - "The victims of terrorism are called “martyrs” while the names of urban landmarks are changing, slowly, into Martyrdom Hill or Martyrdom Street. Ministers greet police officers, wishing them to sacrifice themselves for the nation. “God willing, you shall be martyrs too,” says the minister of urbanisation, Mehmet Özhaseki. The government is trying to cover its incompetence in both foreign and domestic policy with the language of jingoism and patriotism. Those who question the official line are labelled “betrayers” and “pawns of western powers”. Young people are told that we are a country surrounded by water on three sides and enemies on all four. As paranoia, distrust and fear intensify, the culture of coexistence dissolves... even after the horrific act of cruelty in Reina. Islamist commentators appeared on TV to say: “We are against New Year. We are against drinking alcohol and celebrations. Whoever wants to blow up whatever place may do so.” What is puzzling is how, in a country where anyone who writes anything critical about the government can be instantly sued, and possibly even arrested and put on trial, such religious or nationalist hatemongers rarely have action taken against them... Once we thought Turkey would be a shining role model for the Muslim world; now we are worried that our country may in fact be following some of its worst examples"

Santa Gets Circumcised in Turkey - "Just a day after Christmas, the Islamist whippersnappers took to the streets of Istanbul with an inflatable Santa Claus to protest against Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in Turkey. One of the protesters took a blade to the doll’s genital region and stabbed it multiple times. Prior to the knifing, demonstrators placed empty beer cans and a syringe in front of Santa, supposedly as a warning about the dangers of celebrating Christmas."

Anglo vs Hispanic Family Culture

"Going to the airport in San Juan and in Hartford exemplifies one significant, tangible difference between Puerto Rican and Anglo Protestant culture. For us, picking up a relative at the airport is a chore; we may do our wife or son “a favor” by going along for the ride, but if we can stay home and let someone else do it, we will. After all, no one wants to miss the latest episode of Survivor or Lost. But for many Puerto Ricans a trip to the airport is an anticipated, loving family experience. Six or eight family members crowd into a car bound for the airport and wait eagerly at the gate for an arriving spouse, son, or daughter. In San Juan, the crush of relatives is an everyday phenomenon. Some wait on the glass walkway, spot the relative, throw excited kisses, and then rush to the gate to embrace the relative who is already kissing the other family members. Anglos accentuate the individual and disparage the waste of time. Puerto Ricans key on the family, and for the family they have all the time in the world"

--- America Beyond Black and White. How Immigrants and Fusions Are Helping Us Overcome the Racial Divide / Ronald Fernandez

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Links - 21st February 2017

South Korea Appoints 'Twitter Officer' to Monitor Donald Trump's Tweets - "The JoongAng Daily reported: “The Korean government is still in the process of building ties with Trump and does not have a lot of insight into his foreign policies—like most of the world. “His 140-character posts are currently the most effective insight into policies of the incoming administration.”"

FIFA fines British teams $100K for poppy displays - "FIFA forbids players and fans of its 211 member nations from displaying political or religious symbols during international games. This includes the poppy emblems used to remember those in the armed forces who died in the line of duty."

How Intersectionality Makes You Stupid - "whoever shouts the loudest and claims victimization on account of more facets of their identity can expect to get what they demand, regardless of the quality or even logic of what they have to say. Proponents of intersectionality have elevated its categorical paradigms of all-encompassing, omnipresent “oppression,” and its attendant, identity-based hierarchies of virtue, to that of a Weltanschauung, a new morality to replace the basic, classical liberal principles of freedom, individual rights, and equality before the law on which Western civilization is based. Because of intersectionality’s insistence that identity politics trumps all, reflexive condemnation replaces reasoned discussion, and those claiming to represent a higher good smother the rights of individuals. Likewise, intersectionality compels one to adopt agendas that have nothing to do with his or her own. Worse, in the name of “solidarity” with other supposedly “oppressed” groups, it leads to alliances with those actively hostile to one’s cause. This is how a gay rights organization led by well-meaning progressives can be duped into disinviting private citizens of the one country in the Middle East respecting the humanity of gays, all at the behest of people who use cultural relativism to excuse Muslim societies that throw homosexuals from the tops of buildings."

‘Chess worse than gambling & eating pork’ – Turkish imam

Syrian refugee 'who asked ISIS for money for cars he could drive into crowds' arrested - "Prosecutors said the man 'admitted contact with the ISIS but denied terrorist motives' - suggesting he claimed to have attempted to defraud the extremist group."

ACLU: Obama Worse Than Bush On Civil Liberty Issues

‘Screw for Denmark’ sex campaigns produce baby boom in months - "According to research by Denmark’s Politiken newspaper, the summer months of June-August this year will produce 1,200 more Danes than last summer. In total, some 16,200 babies are due to be born."

PAX South 2015: Why We Need Games Like Social Justice Warriors - "as a game journalist (represented by the Mage class here), you could greatly deplete your opponent's reputation (one of their two health bars) by choosing the "public naming and shaming" attack, but at a great cost to your own reputation too, as well it should be. Meanwhile, sticking to options that involve empathizing with, listening to, and educating your foes grants you bonuses. The dirty stuff might work in the short term, but in the long term, you really only hurt yourself and the discussion."

Tourists didn't recognise the Queen when she left her tiara at home on Balmoral walk - "Richard Griffin described how Her Majesty had gone for a walk near the grounds of Balmoral dressed in tweeds and a headscarf. So low key was her look, that a group of American tourists completely failed to realise who she was. Mr Griffin, who was speaking at a recent talk about his time working with the royals, said the Queen was keen not to blow her cover... She played along when the American tourists asked: 'Do you live round here,' simply replying that she had a house nearby. And when asked if she had met the Queen, she simply gestured to her companion and said: 'No, but he has,' according to the policeman."

Michael Fitzjohn's answer to Were soldiers returning from Vietnam really spat on in airports? - Quora - "My university was a liberal, activist place where the Vietnam war was widely condemned... The professor looked at me as if he was having a heart attack. He screamed “you’re a baby killer.” He threw me out of class and everyone cheered him as I left the room. I tried to say I was a medic. He didn't care. I learned to keep my mouth shut, live with fellow veterans, and drink. I got my degree."

Gender Differences in Partner Influences and Barriers to Condom Use Among Heterosexual Adolescents Attending a Public Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic in Singapore - "condom use at last intercourse for both genders was negatively associated with Malay race and peer connectedness and was positively associated with confidence in the ability to use a condom correctly. Being employed was positively associated with condom use for female respondents only. For male respondents only, condom use showed a positive association with living in better housing, older age at first intercourse, and engaging in sexual intercourse with commercial sex partners. Almost all (90%) commercial sex partners suggested condom use and provided condoms compared with 8.1% of non–sex worker partners. Condom use showed a negative association with inconvenience in its use among male respondents but not female respondents."

35,000 Brits sign up for dating site helping Muslim men find multiple wives - "According to the site’s creator, 33-year-old Azad Chaiwala, secondwife.com promotes “fidelity, morality and old-fashioned values.” “Users police each other and every picture is vetted for decency. We do not allow cleavage,” the East Midlands-based businessman explained."

Iceland wants UK to join Nordic alliance of non-EU countries - "“When Britain leaves the EU, we will see a triangle that covers a large part of the globe: Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway - and now the United Kingdom,” Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said in an interview to Iceland Monitor. The countries do not belong to the European Economic Area (EEA) or any part of the EU... The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), made up of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, will also become much more relevant after UK’s escape from the European bloc, according to the president."

Shelby Donovan Completely Misunderstood Her Mother's Christmas Gift - "Her gathered family quickly realized what Donovan thought, and they themselves began laughing, punctuated by her mother bursting out with, “Do you actually think I would get you a dildo for Christmas?” Turns out, the teen was holding the present upside down, and it was actually a cupholder to use with her morning coffee"

“Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8 × 8”? - "No scientific studies were found in support of 8 × 8. Rather, surveys of food and fluid intake on thousands of adults of both genders, analyses of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, strongly suggest that such large amounts are not needed because the surveyed persons were presumably healthy and certainly not overtly ill. This conclusion is supported by published studies showing that caffeinated drinks (and, to a lesser extent, mild alcoholic beverages like beer in moderation) may indeed be counted toward the daily total, as well as by the large body of published experiments that attest to the precision and effectiveness of the osmoregulatory system for maintaining water balance. It is to be emphasized that the conclusion is limited to healthy adults in atemperate climate leading a largely sedentaryexistence, precisely the population and conditions that the “at least” in 8 × 8 refers to. Equally to be emphasized, lest the message of this review be misconstrued, is the fact (based on published evidence) that large intakes of fluid, equal to and greater than 8 × 8, are advisable for the treatment or prevention of some diseases and certainly are called for under special circumstances, such as vigorous work and exercise, especially in hot climates"

Premarital Sexual Intercourse Among Adolescents in an Asian Country: Multilevel Ecological Factors - "Independently significant factors for premarital sex among boys were pornography viewing (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 5.82 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.34–14.43]), lack of confidence to resist peer pressure (OR: 3.84 [95% CI: 2.27–6.50]), perception that more than one half of their friends had engaged in sex (OR: 3.37 [95% CI: 1.92–5.92]), permissiveness regarding premarital sex (OR: 3.41 [95% CI: 2.10–5.55]), involvement in gang activities (OR: 3.45 [95% CI: 1.66–7.15]), drinking (OR: 1.77 [95% CI: 1.07–2.94]), smoking (OR: 1.91 [95% CI: 1.14–3.20]), and living in low-cost housing (OR: 3.25 [95% CI: 1.64–6.43]). For girls, additional factors were previous sexual abuse (OR: 7.81 [95% CI: 2.50–24.41]) and dropping out of school (OR: 2.72 [95% CI: 1.32–5.61]), and stronger associations were found for lack of confidence to resist peer pressure (OR: 5.56 [95% CI: 2.94–10.53]) and permissiveness regarding premarital sex (OR: 6.25 [95% CI: 3.30–11.83]). Exposure to persons with HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted infections in the media was negatively associated with sex for boys (OR: 0.27 [95% CI: 0.16–0.45]) and girls (OR: 0.24 [95% CI: 0.13–0.47])."

Someone Drew the Disney Princesses With Normal Bodies and They Look Beautiful - "
Comment: "what does snow white having blue hair and Jasmine having tattoos have to do with anything? That doesn't make them "normal". Smh social media..."
"Ummm ... they're cartoons. I've never seen a "normal" mouse that looked like Mickey Mouse, but I never felt the urge to complain."
"Before you know it, they are going to start criticizing Sci-fi and calling those unrealistic too."
"so all white girls are chubby with a large waist?"
"instead of shaming bigger girls we can start shaming skinner girls. Brilliant!"
"Artist seems to only make the white characters overweight - interesting"
Why not redraw the Disney princesses so they look as good as normal people, i.e. make them uglier? Why celebrate body positivity, i.e. being fat, but not being ugly?
If you redraw them as they would be in an African country, i.e. as black, is that blackface?
Friend: "They should draw Disney princesses with type 2 diabetes
Body positivity is fucking dangerous for Asian people
We are more vulnerable to obesity related diseases than Ang Mohs, who tolerate being hamplanets much better"


Weird crash with multiple windows showing up - "This same thing happened to my computer just the other day. I had been away and came back to discover well over 50 mysterious windows open with strange titles, including:
- igfxtrayWindow
- MCI command handling window
- PersistWndName
- ReceiverMessageWindow
and many more, some of which were extremely cryptic. Some did not have titles at all. Several of them were tiny, not much bigger than a short title bar. A few looked like they had something to do with Citrix. Most of them looked like they were spawned from the applications I had running at the time, especially Windows/Internet Explorer, which claimed at least 40 of the windows. I looked at the task manager and saw that sidebar.exe and several instances of iexplore.exe were hogging the CPU. Also, the Start menu was blank."

"Fuck Trump": Four In Custody After Man Tortured In Facebook Live Video - "“Fuck Donald Trump, fuck white people,” the man says... Johnson said police were investigating if the incident was a hate crime, but so far he said there was no indication it was motivated by politics or race... A second video shows the victim being threatened with a knife until he says, “Fuck Donald Trump,” gets on his knees, and kisses the floor."
If white people kidnapped and tortured a black person, made him say "Fuck Obama" and the police said "there was no indication it was motivated by politics or race...

CNN Panelist Blames Trump For Racist Torture of Mentally Disabled Man

Pro-Trump narratives converge in one awful attack streamed on Facebook - The Washington Post - "If the attackers had been white and the victim had been black, the incident would have, of course, conjured America's ugly history of white mobs committing violence against black people. There is no parallel history of the reverse happening on anything remotely approaching the same scale."
Comment: "So Callum Borchers wrote this? No more credibility for him. Is he living in the real world?

Lucas Lynch - A disabled child is tortured in Chicago and the... - "A disabled child is tortured in Chicago and the Whataboutery being tossed around by members of the social justice left is predictable and depressing as ever. What about George Zimmerman not being in jail and Eric Garner being murdered? Well, at the time, you pointed out how ridiculous it was to divert the focus from the victims of the crimes just as they happened. "All Lives Matter" and "Not all men" rightfully became objects of ridicule and satire as people tried to deflect from the horrific reality of what had just taken place... Even worse, are you *more* concerned that the assailants saying "Fuck white people" makes your ideology look bad more than the state of the victim? Because you basically are saying your ideology is more important than a human being - pretty similar to people choosing to defend the Confederate flag in the wake of the Dylan Roof shooting rather than focusing on the victims and the pernicious ideas that inspired Roof to take their lives. Lost in it all is the victim himself. I wish him a speedy recovery, even though he's a privileged white male and thus the root of all evil."

Wide Racial Divide in Sentencing - WSJ - "Prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes in recent years, an analysis by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found... the findings drew criticism from advocacy groups and researchers, who said the commission's focus on the very end of the criminal-justice process ignored possible bias at earlier stages, such as when a person is arrested and charged, or enters into a plea deal with prosecutors"

Black Lives Matter activist giving Yale lecture compares protests to Boston Tea Party - "A prominent Black Lives Matter activist has offered a defense of violent looters who plundered U.S. cities like Ferguson and Baltimore in a lecture series delivered at Yale. DeRay McKesson, 30, was invited to the prestigious school to lecture on the movement... McKesson, a former math teacher is a prominent activist associated with Black Lives Matter. He often speaks to the media from large-scale protests in strife-ridden areas across the country. He has amassed 234,000 Twitter followers and Hillary Clinton has personally invited him to political meetings."

Merkel wanted refugees to be lorry drivers - "German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September tried to push through a plan that would allow refugees to be trained and hired as lorry drivers – just months before a lorry was used by a suspected asylum-seeker to mow down civilians during Monday’s Berlin terror attack. Merkel encouraged companies to hire refugees – even if they hadn’t yet been granted asylum – as drivers and also wanted to make it cheaper for migrants to trade in their foreign driver’s license for a German one... the Organization of German Profession Lorry Drivers (BDBK) fought back. “We give a definite no to use refugees as lorry drivers,” BDBK chairman Wolfgang Westermann said at the time. “Professional lorry drivers need a thorough and qualified education. You cannot let everyone drive off in a 40-ton lorry.”

English Kings and French Homage

"The peculiar status of the English kings in the French political order dated back to the treaty of Paris of 1259. Before that treaty the dukes of Aquitaine had acknowledged no superior on earth. They had performed no homage to the kings of France since the confiscation of their continental dominions had been proclaimed by Philip Augustus at the beginning of the thirteenth century, an act which they regarded as unlawful and which they refused to recognize. It was an unsatisfactory stalemate which the parties proceeded to replace in 1259 with an even more unsatisfactory compromise. The treaty doubled the size of the duchy, suddenly extending its boundaries from the coastal plain to the steep valleys of the interior and into regions which had not known English rule for half a century. But the surrender of these great territories was hedged about by qualifications and exceptions. The English dynasty recovered certain ill-defined rights in the ‘three bishoprics’ of Limoges, Perigueux and Cahors. Subject to equally ill-defined conditions, they were also promised the return of the diocese of Agen and parts of Saintonge and Querey. There was no comprehensive territorial settlement of south-western France. All that was finally settled in Paris in 1259 was that the Duke held his lands there as the vassal of the King of France and owed him liege homage, the feudal bond to which all other loyalties yielded. On 4 December 1259 Henry III performed the act of homage in a fine ceremony in the garden of the royal palace in Paris, but what were the territories for which he was doing homage and what were his rights within them were questions which were left for his successors to argue out with increasing vehemence in the courts of successive French kings and finally on the battlefield. It was ‘a defiance of good sense’ as an Archbishop of Canterbury acidly observed twenty years later, and more than any other act it earned Henry his place in that region of Dante’s Purgatory reserved for children and negligent kings, ‘il re de la semplice vita’."

--- Hundred Years War Vol 1: Trial by Battle / Jonathan Sumption

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Museum Of Lost Objects

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Museum Of Lost Objects: Palmyra

"[On Russia flying in an orchestra to play in Palmyra] I really felt it was ridiculous. It was ridiculous in terms of the continuous tragedy of Syria. I mean, let's assume that you are in the BBC going to give the Syrian news 30 seconds today. They stole those 30 seconds from the hundreds of people that were killed that day...

[On Boris Johnson's replica of part of Palmyra] Nasser feels this zeal for restoration misses the point.

'I do not think that reconstructing the temple would be the best way of honouring its memory. And if the idea is to actually create a Palmyra, let's do a Disney Palmyra somewhere else. There's no value to reconstructing fake monuments in an authentic site. Perhaps what I'm saying is a bit of an extreme opinion and perhaps there is a way of reconstructing something but also the difference is that Palmyra was always in ruins. We have to allow it to age and to die. We have to allow it to turn into ruins. Even if it's actually by a wanton act of criminality as what Daesh did in Palmyra.'

Let ruins be ruins. In that case, should we do nothing in the face of the cultural destruction?...

'My dream would be to reconstruct them using only the pieces that remain'...

'The very very earliest figures, representations of leaders we have in Mesopotamia from around 3500 BC. One of the key things they do is also fight lions. They're not shown fighting, killing other people because that's almost demeaning. They have to have a lion who is the only real sort of, not quite equal but near rival because they're incredibly powerful and sort of unpredictable'

From the imagery of Babylonian and Assyrian kings to Islamic miniatures of the medieval and early modern period, we find scenes of the hunt. Of brave princes struggling with lions. The lion was both regal and untameable. The quintessence of strength and Man's ultimate opponent. So much of the male Kingly obsession with the lion had to do with imagining its destruction.

In modern Syria, there is no escaping the lion. The last name of Syria's ruling dynasty, Al-Assad means the Lion. It features prominently on the regime's propaganda. One slogan goes 'Syria and Al-Assad for eternity after eternity'. But the family name only became Al-Assad a few generations ago...

Saddam posing like an Assyrian king. He is on an Assyrian chariot, led by two horses and the horses are trampling on a lion that must have been killed by Saddam with an arrow on it... there he is, Saddam pointing his bow and arrow at... American missiles and a helicopter"


BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Museum Of Lost Objects, Bombed and Bulldozed in Syria

"[Al-Mari's] deep skepticism about organised religion led him to critique both Islam and Christianity, to imagine Mohammed shouting from a minaret and Jesus banging a bell. Al-Mari suggested that religion was just sound and fury, signifying very little.

'He was someone who doubted all the received wisdom and the received religions around him. And you have to remember if you lived in 970, 980 which is when he was a young man, in the area where he lived, you were not surrounded only by Sunni Muslims. But you had all the Christian churches in huge numbers, I would say in huge proportion and also you had all the splinter group from Islam, namely the Alawis that rule Syria today were staring to appear then. But also you had the Ismailis. And then you had the Sunnis and you had the Shia.

So he lived already in a multiple faith environment and reflected on if you want the stupidity of all of these followers of the different faith in terms of fighting over what he thought of as undeserving of the fighting, his importance if you want in his poetry is that he knew his Islam. This is not someone who is coming from outside.

And he basically started questioning the validity of the claim that this is divine. Now of course if you say that today you lose your life. And as a matter of fact you don't need to be in ISIS land to lose your life for that"


BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Museum Of Lost Objects, Looted in Iraq

"I feel as an Iraqi, there is not a lot in our modern history to be very proud of. So for many Iraqis we draw a lot on our ancient history, on the history of Mesopotamia, home to the first civilisations of the world. I feel very proud...

[On sculpture] The big curly beard is also a sign of virility and the beards kind of got smaller and less complicated as you got less important...

[On a Nimrud Genie head locked away in Scotland Yard] Its looting may have prevented its destruction...

Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu are aggressors, ecological thieves. They come to Humbaba's forest to take its timber back to their treeless homeland in Mesopotamia. In this newly discovered tablet of the epic, we find remarkably a sense that the heroes of the tale were in the wrong... it points to the ambiguity of the Gilgamesh epic.

In so many other ancient epics like the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf for example, we find a black and white world: a clear binary of good and evil. In Gilgamesh there is plenty of grey...

'You can think of archaeology as kind of like crime scene investigation in the ancient past, so what you want is not just the knife but the knife on the floor next to the blood splatter with the footprints and the, you know, if someone just turns up at the police station and hands them a knife. And it's like look I found this knife. Aren't you guys always collecting knives? They'd be like, no, not really but okay, thanks'...

Lamia describes how Arab friends had a hard time accepting that Baghdadis were responsible for the looting of their own treasures.

'Literally I had a telephone from Algeria... right across the Arab world... everyone had its own theory of who looted the museum... I started doing statistics.

So it depends whom you don't like. Was it the Americans? Was it the Israelis? Was it the Kuwaitis?... they never ever accused the actual people in Baghdad that looted it'"

Links - 19th February 2017 (2)

Londoners launch anti-Tube Chat campaign - "London commuters have attempted to prove they are insular and unfriendly by wearing badges discouraging fellow passengers from talking to them."

Why Do Women Risk Pain and Injury Wearing High Heels? - "as heel height increases, men pay more attention to women—much more attention... Men lust after women, and some women experience male-style desire. But many women feel less motivated by lust than the need to feel desired, to attract and hold male attention. High heels attract male gazes. Women often complain about the downsides of high heels, but continue to wear them. Apparently, the yearning to appear desirable beats the desire to feel comfortable."

Want a helping hand? Try wearing high heels. - "Are men more likely to respond to women in heels because they find them more attractive, and are they more likely to answer survey questions from or help an attractive woman? Or are the men who help a woman in heels pick up her glove correctly perceiving that a woman in heels is in fact, physically, less stable than a woman in flats, and might therefore be more likely to need their help? Or, more interestingly still — and more troublingly — does a woman’s perceived instability and vulnerability make her more physically attractive to some men?"

Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context - "This experiment tested the assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection."

Gardener accidentally triggers ‘red alert’ for northern lights while cutting the grass

Hamas condemns video of Muslim and Jewish people dancing as 'disgraceful spectacle' - "Officials from Hamas have criticised a video appearing to show Muslim and Jewish people dancing together at a Hanukka ceremony, describing it as a “disgraceful spectacle”. The Islamist group said the video from the event, hosted by the king of Bahrain and attended by members of the local Jewish community, was “humiliating” after it was posted on YouTube."

Disney to reportedly receive £41 million insurance payout after death of Carrie Fisher

Who Said It: A Suffragette or a Member of the KKK?

Witchcraft banned from Rwandan soccer matches after bizarre incident

Self-driving cars will exacerbate organ shortages. - "There’s also evidence that both monetary and nonmonetary compensation offer strong incentives for donation. In 2008, for example, Israel instituted a benefit package for living donors that included full wage reimbursement for 40 days and up to five years of paid expenses for a variety of services, including health and life insurance. The country also amended its organ transplant law again in 2010 to allow a patient to gain priority allocation on a transplant list if a member of his or her family demonstrated willingness to donate an organ. The number of living organ donors increased by 67 percent between 2011 and 2013 compared with the previous three-year period."

Man convicted of bacon attack on mosque dies in jail - "Kevin Crehan, who was from Knowle in Bristol, was jailed in July. He was convicted along with three others of committing a racially aggravated public order offence. In January 2016 they shouted racial abuse at a member of the Jamia Mosque on Green Street in Totterdown in Bristol while rashers of bacon were placed on the door handles and a St George’s flag was tied to the fence."

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election - " The US government's much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election."

Shanghai working woman opens Instagram account to document lucrative affair with her boss

Malaysian man says he is living in fear after wife buys million-ringgit insurance in his name - "The man, who has been a construction safety officer since retiring in 2011, said two men posing as civil engineering students attempted to strangle him inside a car on Sept 10."

Steve Martin deletes tweet calling Carrie Fisher 'beautiful' after backlash
Comment: "so she was not beautiful? or she was not a creature? which is it? is it wrong to say a person is a creature of habit? that's what feminists are for sure - they are creatures of habit when it comes to criticizing anything a man states..."

Monkeys Make Stone "Tools" That Bear a Striking Resemblance to Early Human Artifacts

This Chinese Billionaire Is Moving Production to the U.S. to Cut Costs - "Wage and transportation costs are getting higher in China, Cao says. "Compared with four years ago, labor wages [in China] today have tripled," he told China Business Network. Meanwhile, "transportation in the U.S. costs the equivalent of less than one yuan ($) per kilometer, while road tolls [in China] are higher," he added, pointing out that some mid- and small-sized Chinese enterprises have already started moving to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia for cheaper wages and materials."

Indonesia's Growing Islamist Populism - "There is one group in particular, the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam/FPI), which has always been around since 1998, but it was seen as a splinter group; it was seen as a group that was only active at the very Islamist margins. They have now proven that they can mobilize numbers of people that was unprecedented in Indonesian history. Again, the demonstration on the 2nd of December probably had around 750,000 people on the streets of Jakarta. That is larger than any demonstration we have seen, including in the 1950s and 1960s. So that has catapulted the leader of this particular group, Habib Muhammad Rizieq Syihab, into the center of Indonesian politics."

This smart urinal will clean your dick entirely hands-free

Three British Airways passengers treated like 'rock stars' when they found they were the only people on board their flight

People think they've seen 'Shazaam,' but it never existed - "If you fondly remember the early-1990s film "Shazaam," starring the comedian Sinbad as an incompetent genie who tries to help out two young children — then you are wrong. Not because the movie isn't good, but because it never existed in the first place."

Somali-American teen becomes the first Miss USA hopeful to wear a hijab and a burkini - "she stuck to her conservative Muslim dress code, covering her head with a hijab and wearing a burkini during the swimsuit competition. A burkini is a swimsuit worn by many Muslim women, which covers most of the body"
If you don't stick to the rules, shouldn't you get thrown out?

It’s time to accept reality – Hong Kong is a city in decline and it’s our fault | South China Morning Post - "Virtually everything that is wrong with us is rooted in our fight for so-called true democracy. We lie to ourselves that our promised high degree of autonomy equals self-determination with elections free of any Beijing input. We delude ourselves that this so-called true democracy will shield us from the mainland."
???

Singapore named second most vegan-friendly city in Asia by Peta - "Taipei, Taiwan, pipped Singapore to the top spot on the list by the international animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or Peta."

audioBoom / Today: Should women fight on frontline? - "We are physically different... as an example, in my squadron, we deployed with a lot of very heavy communications vehicles. We had, there were quite a lot of physical tasks to be done every time we deployed on exercise. We had a maximum of 4 girls in my squadron, 4 women in the squadron and it was perfectly natural and normal that the guys would do all the heavy jobs and those jobs which were physically demanding, whilst women would do the slightly less physical. I mean it was just the normal course of events. It was absolutely fine in the situation that I was in. But when we're talking about an infantry section of 8 guys and you've got 1 person who is not actually as physically strong or as physically capable as the other 7, over possibly an extended period of time, which is what has not been tested, that could create an effect on our combat effectiveness... Captain Katie Petronio who was a combat engineer, an American combat engineer, who herself was definitely up for anything that a man could do when she joined. She spent an extended period of time in Afghanistan, had to carry a very heavy load and was physically affected very seriously and she has said herself: Stop. Stop. Women should not be placed in these situations
Which is more valuable? A feminist perspective or the perspective of someone (who is incidentally a woman) who has on the ground military experience?

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, The fall of the Soviet Union: The Rosenberg reports - "'By nature, I am a typical monarchist'
'You'd like a Tzar back'
'I want the Tzar. I understand that the country is so big, and it has so many problems that I don't see anybody else but a strong mighty powerful person who's gonna run this country'
'Does Vladimir Putin fulfil that need for a Tzar?'
'To my understanding, yes'
'Western governments would say the President is being aggressive. The West doesn't trust Vladimir Putin'
'So why should they like him? He's not a girl. He's not a pretty woman. Why should they like him? Not everybody likes people who have their own point of view'...
'The West has very often believed that Russia was insulted, that Russia was humiliated and that the West has done wrong and the West should look at its own mistakes, where did we get Russia wrong. I would say no. The West did not get Russia wrong. Russia got itself wrong. Russia constructed its own grief. Russia constructed its own litany of concerns, cos this was a new ideology that was very much befitting the authoritarian drift in Russian domestic politics. We needed an external enemy. And we needed a new sense of confrontation with the West in order to consolidate Putin's domestic power'"

Stupid Reasons to Go to War in the Middle Ages - "Another strange medieval conflict was the so-called ‘War of the Bucket’, fought in 1325 between the Italian city-states of Bologna and Modena. They had been foes for many years before this, and during a period of heightened tension, a group of Modenese soldiers sneaked into Bologna, and stole a bucket from the main city well. The Bolognese demanded the return of the bucket, which was refused, and then mustered an army of 32,000 men to attack Modena. However, the Modenese met them at the Battle of Zappolino. Two thousand men were left dead on the battlefield, and the Bolognese being routed. You can still see the famous bucket on display in Modena."

The War on Stupid People - "[In the 1950s] hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”... The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement... Harvard Business School professor Chris Argyris argued that smart people can make the worst employees, in part because they’re not used to dealing with failure or criticism. Multiple studies have concluded that interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and other “emotional” qualities can be better predictors of strong job performance than conventional intelligence, and the College Board itself points out that it has never claimed SAT scores are helpful hiring filters... Intelligence and academic achievement have steadily been moving up on rankings of traits desired in a mate; researchers at the University of Iowa report that intelligence now rates above domestic skills, financial success, looks, sociability, and health... the less brainy are, according to studies and some business experts, less likely to be oblivious of their own biases and flaws, to mistakenly assume that recent trends will continue into the future, to be anxiety-ridden, and to be arrogant."

The Three Stages of Stupidity - "I suggest there is a three stage mental process undertaken by thinkers of the New Left...
The three stages are:
1: Holding the urge to protect and support the underdog above all other motivating forces to the point of myopia. Support for the underdog is felt by most humans, thankfully, and should be. But it is so strong in some that it is followed unequivocally and other motivations are ignored.
2: With that as a motivating principle each problem is approached, subconsciously and consciously, by dividing all actors in a situation into the ‘oppressor’ and the ‘oppressed’. This is done along demographic lines, be them race or gender or sexuality or whatever. If you are part of that group you’re treated as the group. The view struggles with seeing individuals at all.
3: The thinker then falls for Bertrand Russell’s fallacy of ‘The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed‘. The weaker group in the binary situation is of superior virtue. No. Matter. What...
let’s say there is an article in the Guardian about the oppression of women in the Muslim world. The Muslim woman becomes part of the oppressed minority of Muslims against the oppressor, which is the West, and her individual struggle as a woman is then subsumed. Despite solicitous studies in the field of intersectionality, you really are only part of one group at a time with this process. Because the people speaking of feminist ideals become part of the West they have to be bad. For although feminists are on the oppressed side in a UK based topic, these ones are up against Muslim men, who are lumped in simply as Muslims, and therefore the feminists must conform to their larger identity, Westerners. Hence why we see committed feminist writers, plagued by this process, willingly abandon their sisters in a Muslim country under talk of cultural relativism and of different standards applying."
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