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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Life in what Oxfam calls the Era of "Neoliberalism"

Au delà de tous les sophismes contre... - Corentin de Salle:

"Au delà de tous les sophismes contre l'abominable mondialisation capitaliste et la non moins exécrable financiarisation de l'économie, voici quelques chiffres sur l'état du monde. De quoi faire réfléchir tous ceux qui, quel que soit leur bord, appellent au protectionnisme et à la fermeture des frontières."

Translation: Going beyond all the sophistry about horrible capitalist globalisation and the no less awful financialization of the economy, here are some numbers about the state of the world. Food for thought for all who, regardless of their political leaning, call for protectionism and the closing of borders.

"Life in what Oxfam calls the Era of "Neoliberalism"
Hunger, Poverty, Illiteracy, Child mortality
Sources: Johan Norberg: Progress (Oneworld) - FAO, World Bank, UNESCO, World Bank, EPA"

Links - 20th January 2017

Skipping Saturday’s protests could be the most ethical choice Trump opponents can make - "thanks to the way that we tend to think about our own moral behavior, these public displays of political identity could actually hurt protestors’ long-term goals. The potential harm comes from a phenomenon known as moral self-licensing. When we do something we perceive as good, like attending a protest march, we give ourselves permission to do something bad, like skipping political activities with arguably more consequence. In other words, moral self-licensing can thwart our efforts to make the right ethical choices. “There are times when you should step out and be a hero and this [inaugural protests] isn’t one of them,” Brennan says. “Save your energy and your time and use it when it really matters.” This isn’t a position universally shared among political philosophers."

Vladimir Putin says Donald Trump didn't use prostitutes because he's met so many beautiful women - "Putin said that Trump wasn’t a politician when he visited Moscow in the past and Russian officials weren’t aware that he held any political ambitions. It’s “complete nonsense” to believe that Russian security services “chase after every American billionaire,” he said... Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”"

The White House Gets Into the Nudge Business - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "the national school lunch program, which offers low-income students free and reduced-price meals at school. And I remember hearing that unfortunately many, many kids who are eligible for free meals at school were actually going hungry every single day because of a burdensome application process. And this was really remarkable to me, right? You don’t think about barriers like application processes as actually deterring kids from being enrolled in programs. But I was excited to hear that the U.S. Department of Agriculture took steps to eliminate the need for an application altogether for those students whose eligibility could be determined through existing administrative data"
Meanwhile in Singapore the process is often designed to humiliate you

Is the Internet Being Ruined? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "BENKLER: When browsers first came out in the 1990s, the idea was: here is a universal standard for describing what it is you want to say or show and if you use that universal language, then anyone using any device can implement this reader. And essentially what the browsers did was they decentralized power from the operating system. If you were writing for Windows, you needed to write for Windows in this way. If you were writing for Apple, you needed to write for Apple in that way. Once you could write something on the web, you could write to this general purpose reader, the browser, and anything could run. What happened with the app is that you got special-purpose containers, if you will, for every kind of content. So you shifted from a general-purpose platform that’s based on open standards and anyone can write what they want, to a platform that says, “Write a very special program that fits only your data.” It’s a complete transformation...
Apple has been known to reject apps that it finds objectionable:
BENKLER: For example, someone developed a game that essentially criticized the manufacturing conditions and the worker conditions at the Chinese company Foxconn that was putting together the iPhone. That got banned on the App Store and removed from the App Store.
TUFEKCI: There was another app that was blocked that sent out a notification every time a drone had been used to kill people. So, it was a political statement to say, “Look, this is how much we’re using drones to do this.” And the App Store wouldn’t approve this"...
WERTH: And while these may sound like fairly minor examples, Benkler says, consider the deal that Apple made to restrict the use of Skype when it first became available on the iPhone in 2009. At the time, AT&T was the iPhone’s exclusive carrier. And AT&T essentially told its customers, “by the way, we have this rule about Skype”...
TUFEKCI: There’s all these really smart engineers. They’re the brightest computer scientists, and all they’re thinking about is: “How do I keep someone on Facebook for 10 more minutes? What’s the exact combination of things that will keep them staying on the site for as long as possible so we can show them as much advertisement as possible?” And given the amazing, revolutionary, fascinating disruptive potential of the Internet, it really feels like a waste to have this much intelligence and smarts being used to figure out how to keep you clicking on ten more animal videos. Basically Facebook is an environment in which you’re structurally, architecturally encouraged, to be positive and liking things. And that means that most people’s feeds are dominated by happy news"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Meet the Author: Jodi Picoult - "It's really hard to talk about racism without offending people. And honestly, that is what keeps most white people silent on the topic of racism. They're terrified and paralysed by saying the wrong thing. It is far more important for us to talk about this"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Russia: The Arrest No-one Can Quite Believe - "The interesting thing is that in all the discussion about it, what many people are focusing on is that that's such a small amount of money. People are saying things like $2 million, that's what a city mayor would ask, no a minister, so this is ridiculous. So that shows the peculiar Russian take on things but it also shows the level of doubt. People just don't believe this story as it's presented to them:"

Rationally Speaking: About Sam Harris’ claim that science can answer moral questions - "Harris begins with a rather startling claim: “The separation between science and human values is an illusion,” adding “facts and values seem to belong to different spheres [but] This is quite clearly untrue. Values are a certain kind of facts. They are facts about the well beings of conscious creatures.” This is a frontal assault on what in philosophy is known as the naturalistic fallacy, the idea — introduced by David Hume — that one cannot directly derive values (what ought to be) from facts (what is)... if we let empirical facts decide what is right and what is wrong, then new scientific findings may very well “demonstrate” that things like slavery, corporal punishment, repression of gays, limited freedom of women, and so on, are “better” and therefore more moral than liberal-progressive types such as Harris and myself would be ready to concede. The difference is that I wouldn’t have a problem rejecting such findings — just as I don’t have a problem condemning social Darwinism and eugenics — but Harris would find himself in a bind. Indeed, he seems to be making a categorical mistake: what he calls values are instead empirical facts about how to achieve human wellbeing. But why value individual human wellbeing, or the wellbeing of self-aware organisms, to begin with? Facts are irrelevant to that question."
Another critique of The Moral Landscape

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Burnt - "For acrylamide... the academic researchers who have studied dietary acrylamide that humans are exposed to haven't found strong associations...
The idea that acrylamide is something in food that we could actually reduce and have some control over, that might cause cancer is kind of appealing. And in a way the idea that oh industry could just reduce the acrylamide levels in cold cereal or potato chips and that would make us all healthier is nicer than thinking: oh, we really all need to be eating more fruits and vegetables. We need to be eating less processed food. We probably need just to be eating less overall and exercising more. And all of those things would reduce cancer risk. But those are pretty sweeping things that require people to make changes in their everyday lives. Whereas the idea that there is just one chemical that we could focus attention on and industry could focus attention on is kind of appealing as a way to reduce cancer risk"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Full English Brexit - "95% of the vets working in abattoirs in the UK are actually from the EU. It's very hard to get British vets to do this thing... when British people decide they want to be vets, remember it takes a long time to be a vet. It takes absolutely years. It's not much easier than being a doctor... and most people that do that have an image of them curing the family dog and seeing the looking of happiness on the girl's face. They're not really imagining that they're going to spend their life working in an abattoir watching cows get slaughtered and watching former convicts washing down the carcasses. That's not really what they're aiming for in their career"

What do these kind of feminists actually think... - Madelaine Hanson - "If you’re white, don’t call yourself an intersectional feminist because-
you do not experience the type of oppression that the term was coined to discuss
it has been used by white feminists as a shield to avoid being held accountable for bigoted actions or words
some white feminists fixate on it as a way to separate themselves from other white feminists in order to seem less problematic without putting in actual intersectional work (again, avoiding accountability)
intersectionality is often used without proper credit being given to the creators of the concept (Black women)
claiming it as a white woman erases Black women and pushes away the issue of anti-blackness"
"What do these kind of feminists actually think they achieve in our movement, other than massively pissing people off and creating unnecessary anger, frustration and division?... What they mean is: I'm angry at white women, I don't want them in my feminism. Which is, in itself, gender based racism."
"If you use caps for one ethnicity and lower-case for another in the same sentence, you're probably a racist cunt."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Italian vote 'big rejection' of the establishment - "'I'm skeptical of the term populism, which increasingly people are using for anything that's just popular. Oh and anything they don't like and want to put scare quotes around. Anti-establishment, I think, certainly. And that is the great mistake that Matteo Renzi made, which was to make a referendum that was on a very specific set of constitutional reform issues on to effectively a referendum on him, the establishment, the established order, even the EU. And every time the public are getting a chance to kick against that established order, they are taking it. And I think, instead of denigrating this trend, one should try harder to understand it. There's a lot of pooh-poohing of it but the public may not be on to nothing. And this is something that mainstream politicians really have to think about... instead of saying that... they're being, their brains are being stolen by crazy politicians and lying media and so on, we should consider that the public have a real concern. In Italy, for instance, with such high youth unemployment, the public have a real concern. When the Eurozone crisis has gone on, crisis after crisis, they have a real concern. When as many people as were in the Calais Jungle... arrive every single day on the Southern Islands in Italy, you know the public have a concern that's justified about immigration. And again and again we see this tendency from the political mainstream, instead of saying ok they are actually on to something, and we're going to do something in response, is either to sort of tweak around the ideas of their rhetoric or to describe the people as being wrong. As populist. As people who've absorbed fake news and so on. This is a big mistake in the long term'...
'It's used much too broadly. And people should really define it very carefully. I think populism is about parties that simply say it's impossible for there to be pluralism and for reconciliation of competing interests in society. They posit a claim that there is a corrupt elite and there's we the people and these two things cannot be reconciled and that they are fundamentally at odds with one another. And in an open society that's a real problem because it means that you can't go for the kinds of compromises and negotiations between interests that are the essence of democracy. So the question is whether political systems can now absorb the new energy coming from new upstart radical parties, some of whom will become part of the establishment in due course, just as the Greens have done in many countries'"

Man in the Netherlands euthanised due to his alcohol addiction - "More than 5,500 people ended their life using Holland’s euthanasia laws last year. One of those who died was a sex abuse victim who suffered severe anorexia, chronic depression and hallucinations. Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP, told the Daily Mail news of Mr Landedijk's death was "deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the UK". “What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction – which can be provided – not to be euthanised," she added. “It is once again a troubling sign of how legalised euthanasia undermines in other countries the treatment and help the most vulnerable should receive.”"
What was that about the slippery slope being a fallacy?

Singapore: From Third World to First? - "already by the 1970s, Singaporean GDP per capita actually exceeded that of the UK. But the main point to take away from that graph is that Singapore entered the community of independent states as a prosperous country, at least by the standards of the time. That Singapore has progressed tremendously since independence is true, but not a story of turning the “Third World” into the first. If anything, it is a story of how to escape the middle income trap."

'Power Rangers' Alum Amy Jo Johnson Talks Movie Reboot, Relocating to Canada in Trump Era - "Amy Jo Johnson, who played the Pink Ranger in the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series, did move north — only before the U.S. election — to launch herself as a Canadian film director. "I'm happy, I'm really happy here. I actually feel like I've become a nicer person, becoming Canadian," Johnson tells the Hollywood Reporter while attending the Whistler Film Festival. "I have friends here who say, 'We're not the backyard that you can just escape to. I tell them, good thing I did that 10 years ago,'" Johnson says of Toronto in the Trump era. The Power Rangers alum, who moved to Canada a decade ago, insists she crossed the border to leave Hollywood behind. "In my 20s, it was super fun (in Los Angeles). I was wild, and partied a lot. And when I got into my 30s, I started to panic. My mother had died, I was single, I couldn't find the right guy, my biological clock starts ticking""

Are animal ingredients included in white sugar? | Frequently Asked Questions | About PETA | PETA - "Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve its desirable white color. Other types of filters involve granular carbon or an ion-exchange system rather than bone char."
Oh no even sugar isn't vegan!

Eviltwin's Blog: Bollywood Veggies & Let's get Naked - "right at the furthest end of the farm just passed the Mr Pee Wee and the Jack-A-Loo eco toilet you get to The Sanctuary. During all my explorations I have come across many strange things I thought I would never see in Singapore but this must be the weirdest. Here it is for all those folks who enjoy an even more intense nature experience. The sign reads "Nudity is welcome in the Sanctuary - Be respectful - No cameras Please""
There is a nudist sanctuary in Singapore at Bollywood Veggies!

Genetic Structure, Self-Identified Race/Ethnicity, and Confounding in Case-Control Association Studies - "Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population"
Funny, I thought race was a myth

Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6 - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "where there is death there is hope, as a cohort of doctors who rubbished it moved into retirement and then death, the opposition disappeared."

Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Putnam found that social capital was relatively low in the U.S. in the early 1900s and rose fairly steadily through the 1960s. But that’s when the decline began.
PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.
“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”
HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time...
We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings...
If we were talking in America in the 1920s or 1930s, the difference between Irish people and Italian people would have been enormous. I have some friends who got married in the 1960s, he was from an Italian background, she was from an Irish background, and when they got married everybody called it a “mixed” marriage. Parents on both sides all said mixed marriages never work"

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Links - 18th January 2017

Avengers: Infinity War will only feature 67 characters, no big deal - "Sixty. Seven. Characters. Tallying up the main characters from the MCU, including those from the Netflix shows, only results in about three dozen names. So where exactly are these 30 extra characters coming from? The Marvel roster runs deep, but pulling 67 players into Infinity War seems ambitious, to say the least. Will some characters return from the dead to help reach that total? Can the Russos really wrangle 67 characters without losing control of the plot? Can 67 characters even fit on a movie poster?"

Andrea Bocelli backs out of singing at Trump's inauguration after receiving death threats | Daily Mail Online - "The revelation came as another singer – Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday – last night pulled out of the President-elect's festivities after being threatened and branded an 'Uncle Tom'."
A true basket of deplorables

Women’s March on Washington Opens Contentious Dialogues About Race - - "she read a post on the Facebook page for the march that made her feel unwelcome because she is white. The post, written by a black activist from Brooklyn who is a march volunteer, advised “white allies” to listen more and talk less. It also chided those who, it said, were only now waking up to racism because of the election... contentious conversations about race have erupted nearly every day among marchers, exhilarating some and alienating others... some complained that the event had turned from a march for all women into a march for black women. In Louisiana, the first state coordinator gave up her volunteer role in part because there were no minority women in leadership positions at that time... at a time when a presidential candidate ran against political correctness and won — with half of white female voters supporting him — is this the time to tone down talk about race or to double down?... “I needed them to understand that they don’t just get to join the march and not check their privilege constantly,” she said. That phrase — check your privilege — exasperates Ms. Willis. She asked a reporter: “Can you please tell me what that means?”"

Rosie O’Donnell Calls For Martial Law: 'Delay The Inauguration'

Islamic State: Where does jihadist group get its support? - "the dodgy dealings and strange alliances are beginning to look very similar to events that occurred during the Lebanese civil war, when feuding war lords would similarly fight and do business with each other. The point is that Islamic State is essentially self-financing; it cannot be isolated and cut off from the world because it is intimately tied into regional stability in a way that benefits not only itself, but also the people it fights."

France shaken up by Zemmour and 'new reactionaries' - "None of the neo-reactionnaires - not even Camus - claims allegiance to the FN. Many of them are Jewish. Nonetheless they stand accused, by expressing such strong views on Islam, identity and the nation, of promoting the cause of the far right. Zemmour says he is fed up with being asked about the FN. "Can't they understand that the FN is not a cause, it is a consequence. It is a consequence of the disintegration of France. "People vote for the FN to say to their elites, 'Stop doing what you are doing!' But they never do. "It was Stalin who first realised how effective it was to turn the enemy into a fascist. That is what they are doing to us today.""

Millions of historical images posted to Flickr - ""Most of the images that are in the books are not in any of the art galleries of the world - the original copies have long ago been lost." The pictures range from 1500 to 1922, when copyright restrictions kick in."

China 'seizes' eight Taiwanese from Kenya - "Taiwan has accused China of "extrajudicial abduction" after eight Taiwanese acquitted of fraud in Kenya were deported to mainland China."
China's peaceful rise

Rise in CO2 has 'greened Planet Earth' - "This is in line with the Gaia thesis promoted by the maverick scientist James Lovelock who proposed that the atmosphere, rocks, seas and plants work together as a self-regulating organism. Mainstream science calls such mechanisms "feedbacks"."

Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi's family lose Call of Duty case - "A French court has rejected a case in which the family of late Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi sued the makers of Call of Duty over his depiction in the best-selling video game... Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 shows him rallying his troops with phrases like "death to the MPLA". His family had said they were outraged at the depiction. "Seeing him kill people, cutting someone's arm off... that isn't Dad," Cheya Savimbi said."

Gay slur aimed at hairdresser 'not homophobic' - French ruling - "A Paris tribunal has ruled that calling a male hairdresser a "faggot" is not homophobic - "because hair salons regularly employ gay people"."

A Point of View: When does borrowing from other cultures become 'appropriation'? - "PC has its absurd aspects. It is funny because it puts more weight on the words we use than the actions we take, always a mistake... There is something funny about this undue weight given to words, because we can't be endlessly sensitive and attentive and courteous in every interaction we have in life. People who try end up seeming insipid and exasperating rather than entirely admirable. My own wife, Martha, for instance, who does try to be so in every exchange, is, though much loved, also famous for the length of time it takes her to extricate herself from a social occasion, having first to be certain that she has been nice to everyone. This leads her, perversely, to avoid many social occasions for fear of wearing herself out from attentiveness - the price of such niceness can be very high. Prolonged punctiliousness is exhausting to all, particularly to husbands - er, mates - er, partners - er, co-habitating life colleagues... One of my favourite stories of how healthy cultural hybrids happen involves Japan and the West, though not, in this case, the Mikado. You know those beautiful 19th Century Japanese prints, by Hiroshige or Hokusai or their friends, poetically depicting everyday events, or favourite places, all in charming comic book colour, with Mount Fuji often delicately if secretively included in every view (like a kind of sublime Where's Wally). Those delicate black-edged figures and long almost cartoonish faces, those startling juxtapositions of foreground and distance, that informal and haiku-like lyricism - Japanese prints had, as everybody is taught in class, an enormous influence on French Impressionist art in the middle of the 19th Century. They were, exactly, an exotic appropriation. Well, it turns out that they weren't really exotic at all. They were the product of the Japanese infatuation with Western perspective drawing and graphics... The Japanese appropriated Western perspective in ways that Westerners would never have imagined. Then the Japanese pictures got sent back to Europe, where they looked wonderfully exotic, and re-made the Western art they originally hailed from... Appropriation is far more often empowering than oppressing. There's no cheaper way to get the drop on a bad guy than to borrow his hymns and habits and make them your own. That's what diaspora Jews have done throughout their history. It's how German bred with Hebrew to become Yiddish and Yiddish became the great language of Jewish folk tale and protest"

'Cultural Appropriation!': Theater Forced To Rewrite Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Set In Japan By Leftist Bullies - "the left’s asinine fight against cultural appropriation means that nobody can produce Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado the way it was written, warts and all. Instead, Gilbert and Sullivan will be set in Italy -- which isn't cultural appropriation because Italy isn't a foreign country. Or something... Odd, then, that the same theatergoing community that finds The Mikado so offensive has no problem whatsoever with Hamilton, a piece of musical theater in which historical roles clearly hijacked from white Americans are played by minority cast members. When the producers of Hamilton put out a casting call asking for only non-white actors, members of the Actors’ Equity complained... when politics trumps art, art dies."

Slippery banana study wins Ig Nobel - "The Japanese scientists are interested in how friction and lubrication affect the movement of our limbs. The polysaccharide follicular gels that give banana skins their slippery properties are also found in the membranes where our bones meet."

Characterization of lactic acid bacteria isolated from infant faeces as potential probiotic starter cultures for fermented sausages

Report buried Trump-related ‘hate crimes’ against white kids - "The SPLC’s widely cited report — “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools” — reported that 40 percent of the more than 10,000 educators who responded to the survey “have heard derogatory language directed at students of color, Muslims, immigrants and people based on gender or sexual orientation.” The takeaway was that Trump-supporting white kids have been harassing minorities at the nation’s schools... The Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit self-censored results from a key question it asked educators — whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: “I have heard derogatory language or slurs about white students.” Asked last week to provide the data, SPLC initially said it was having a hard time getting the information “from the researchers.” Pressed, SPLC spokeswoman Kirsten Bokenkamp finally revealed that “about 20 percent answered affirmatively to that question.” Bokenkamp did not provide an explanation for the absence of such a substantial metric — at least 2,000 bias-related incidents against white students — from the report, which focuses instead on “anti-immigrant sentiment,” “anti-Muslim sentiment” and “slurs about students of color” related to the election. “They left that result out because it would not fit their ideological narrative,” former Education Department civil rights attorney Hans Bader said. “It was deemed an inconvenient truth”... Bader pointed out that most of the anti-minority “hate crimes” and “hate incidents” cited by SPLC do not legally constitute hate crimes, and many involve constitutionally protected speech. “It is simply ridiculous that SPLC treats ‘build the wall’ as hate rhetoric,” he said. The center counted people mentioning “build the wall” as 467 incidents of hate."

How the fairytale of New York can become a nightmare - "you can have anything you want, as long as you pay for it. Put another way, it's a great place, if you have money, and a terrible place, if you don't have money. Things have got so out of hand that you can actually pay to bypass normal security lines at the airport - $85 and a background check will give you the right to keep your laptop in your bag and your shoes on your feet. One mustn't be delayed by those huddled masses, I suppose. Then there's the aggression and annoyance to be found on every New York street, and most of its avenues. An hour after landing at the airport - having gone through security with the normal people - I'd been barked at by a pizza chef, a taxi driver, a guy selling bus tickets, and some random woman crossing the street. The city's rudeness is of course legendary, but what really sets it apart is its completely unapologetic nature. Actually it's even more than that. New Yorkers are proud of being brash, loud, and offensive. They like it."

Fifty Shades of Grey 999 call spike expected by London Fire Brigade - "London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it was "concerned" the 13 February release could lead to a "spike" in people being stuck or trapped in handcuffs or rings."

Woman could win cash payout 20 years after divorce - "In a statement, Mr Vince branded the court's decision "mad". "I feel that we all have a right to move on, and not be looking over our shoulders," he said. "This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago." Mr Vince said the time gap was "extremely prejudicial" and the fact there was "no paperwork in existence" had enabled the claim. It was "hard to defend yourself" under such circumstances, he said."

Delays on M74 after dog 'drives' on to carriageway

'Vicious' fox traps eight people in Cambridgeshire sports club - "A woman who tried to distract the fox with food sustained a bite to her hand. A man who tried to outpace the creature on his bicycle was chased into a field and fell off, losing his glasses in the process. "He had to fend the fox off with his bicycle," Mr Staines said."

Egyptians lambast 'ugly' new Nefertiti statue

The day I ordered pizza that 'doesn't exist' - " I made the mistake of asking her for a marinara - which is a simple tomato and garlic pizza - with the addition of mozzarella. As soon as I say the words, Emanuela looks at me with disbelief and, in retrospect I realise, disgust. "You can't have a marinara with mozzarella," she says. "It doesn't exist." "What do you mean, it doesn't exist?" I reply, oblivious to her hostility, since she's quite aggressive at the best of times. "I'd just like a marinara but with some mozzarella on top." Unwittingly I make matters worse by miming her mozzarella-sprinkling action. "La marinara is a pizza rossa," she states frostily. "A pizza rossa is made with tomato and without mozzarella. So you can't have a marinara with mozzarella because there's no such thing." Then she says something I find incredibly funny. "I suppose," she mutters grudgingly, "I could make you a margherita with garlic." (For those unfamiliar, a margherita is a pizza topped with tomato and mozzarella. )"
Comments: "I had a similar experience in Rimini (in the Emilia Romagna region) where their local specialty is piada. You could order it with various (but not all) combinations of rucola (rocket), tomato, squacquerone (cheese) and prosciutto. However, when I asked for one with the lot, they simply didn't understand... you simply can't have a piada with all 4 ingredients together. Strange but true...
"When visiting Budapest and out for a quick lunch, I ordered fruit soup and my husband ordered the Gundell pancake. But he had noticed that there were house-made pickles on the menu so he asked for an order of those just to try them out. Our waiter, a true professional, was appalled. He said we simply could not have pickles with such an order nor would he compromise with any other selection than the goulash. As goulash was too large and heavy a dish for our lunch, we never did get the pickles."
"A dear, dear friend of mine upsets French waiters by asking for her meat to be 'very well done'. Through clenched teeth the waiters explain that the chef will refuse to cook all the taste out of the meat; they have standards to uphold. My friend ignores their obvious disdain and asks, 'But it will be cooked properly? Not a hint of pink?' They seethe and mumble unkind things about expecting nothing else from a nation that boils vegetables like their washing, while I try to salvage international relations by ordering my meat sanglant."

Towson University Hosts Student Presentation Claiming ‘White People Are A Plague’ - "“‘White people are a plague to the planet’ lmao imagine if it said ‘black people’ instead… that wouldn’t be so pretty,” one user said. Another sarcastically noted, “#ItsNotRadicalToSay white people are a plague to the planet.” But leftist Twitter users seem to agree with the anarchic statement, some even repeating it for full efffect."

Friendships at Age 50, episode #176 of Question of the Day on Earwolf - "The arenas in which you really want or need good feedback can be the arenas in which it's really hard to get it"

BBC Radio 4 - The Public Philosopher, The Global Philosopher: Should the Rich World Pay for Climate Change? - "'They should actually contribute in some way. But not because of a historical argument. I think that the idea that to blame the rich countries for global warming when we didn't even knew the consequences during the Industrial Revolution seems to be immoral. And I believe that if they have any responsibility it should be for reasons like outsourcing all their production to China in modern days, but not because of something they did ages ago and no one that is alive at that time is alive today'...
'The proposed taxes on countries or the carbon offsetting for admissions is like doing a sin and then paying alms to a religious leader and asking for forgiveness' [Ed: This is telling - environmentalism as religion]...
'I just don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with the consume nature. It is important to protect environment, yes, but if we can develop ourself, if we can improve the living standard of our peers, why would you put environment superior to humanity? Why would you care more about the need of environment over the need of humanity?'"

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister challenges bias

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister challenges bias

"Gay marriage. Student harassment. Racial vilification. There’s an endless list of social issues dominating Australia’s culture wars, with ferocious lobby groups working hard to close down views that challenge the trendy orthodoxy. Well, there’s an eminent newcomer to town who loves getting up the nose of those trying to shut down proper debate...

Even since the 1970s when there was much excitement about research showing women’s capacity for multiple orgasms there’s been a strong feminist push arguing women’s sex drives are generally as strong as those of men. The psychology literature is replete with articles by women arguing this case — yet out in the real world everyone knows that’s not true...

Baumeister was the first to seriously investigate the truth of the matter, embarking in a series of studies, along with some female colleagues. One of these, Kate Catanese, started off totally convinced by the feminist rhetoric that there are no gender differences in sex drive, but as the evidence piled up ultimately she realised that was wrong.

The researchers examined more than 150 studies and concluded there was overwhelming evidence that men have more frequent sexual desires than women. The findings: men think about sex more often, desire more partners, masturbate more, want sex sooner, are less able or willing to live without sexual gratification, initiate more and refuse less sex, expend more resources and make more sacrifices for sex, desire and enjoy a broader variety of sexual practices, and have fewer complains about low sex drive.

“It’s pretty damn conclusive,” says a recent article in Psychology Today. Yet Baumeister still reports regular encounters with female academics, including some on his recent trip to Australia, claiming it just ain’t so...

Baumeister remains optimistic. “A nice thing about science is that one can assume the truth will win out in the end,” he says.

“To be sure, that requires freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. On politically charged topics there are strong and influential minorities who actively work against those freedoms.”

Gender, sexuality, and race are key areas in which there is limited openness to new ideas and new facts, suggests Baumeister. He resents what he sees as left-wing bias in social psychology: “White prejudice is studied frequently while inter-minority racism is comparatively ignored. If you have a finding that says the conservative viewpoint did better, no one wants to publish it.”

One topic that is hardly likely to win brownie points in the current social climate is research suggesting that men are better than women in anything whatsoever...

He concluded that most people who write about gender are “too intimidated by the feminist establishment to conduct an open-minded consideration of the relative advantages and disadvantages of both genders. The basic feminist dogma is that women are equal to or better than men at everything, and that all women’s problems and failures must be blamed on men.”

Take the common assumption that women are more social than men. Psychologists often make this claim but Baumeister points out the evidence is actually weak and applies mainly to one-to-one close relationships. He says if you define “social” in terms of large groups or networks, it is men who are more social as shown in team sports, military groups, even children’s playing styles.

“It was men’s ability to co-operate with casual acquaintances and strangers to work towards common goals that led to men creating wealth, knowledge and power — which led to the gender inequality that our society is struggling to overcome,” concludes Baumeister, who is happy to label himself a feminist.

Men’s unique social skills were a key theme when Baumeister found himself addressing the American Psychological Association in San Francisco on the topic “Is there anything good about men?”

This led to a book of the same name looking at how culture exploits men. In it he argues differences in gender roles are a trade-off. A few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture’s best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it. One mistake of many modern feminists, he writes, is that they “look only at the top of society and draw conclusions about society as a whole. Yes, there are mostly men at the top. But if you look at the bottom, really at the bottom, you’ll find mostly men there, too.” His examples: The homeless; the imprisoned; or people who do dangerous jobs (92 per cent of deaths at work are male)."

Friday, January 13, 2017

The 1920s

The 1920s: Roaring or tame? | Podcast | History Extra

"When the men came back in 1918, they got their jobs back, simply for 2 reasons: the unions were too strong. Because many employers wanted to keep women on for 2 reasons: they were seen as more docile and also they were much cheaper...

In 1917, Lloyd George said: we are facing 3 enemies: the Germans, the Austrians and drink. And drink is the worst... he brought in what was probably one of the strangest laws in 1917, that you couldn't go to a bar and buy someone else a drink. You could only buy yourself a drink...

In terms of population, we have, it pretty much rights itself in 1920, people psychologically felt it hadn't righted itself. They felt there were much more women than men... much more young women than men.

And they felt that these women were never going to get married, so they had to make their own fun and they had to go out and work. So they didn't spend, they didn't save up their money for when they became good housewives. They spent on clothes, they spent on makeup, they spent on the cinema and they spent it on dancing. And also they spent it on going to speakeasies, because even though these were not very moral places, they were absolutely filled with women, because they'd be no fun without them.

The new woman. She cuts her hair, she's glamorous, she's exciting. And she openly wears makeup and this doesn't make her a prostitute...

Steamboat Willy... 1929, the beginning of Mickey Mouse. And what's very striking about Mickey Mouse here is he's not a film for children. This is a film for adults. What becomes the hallmark of a children's film, for example extreme violence towards cats and swinging Minnie Mouse round by her bloomers, is jokes for adults but they become vital to this film for children. So the beginning of the Walt Disney of the dream of the cartoon...

If we look at the 1920s and we say women and men didn't want to get married, they wanted to have fun. They didn't want to spend their money on settling down, on buying a house, on buying a baby cradle. So we have this, what seems a soaring divorce rate - or 8 per 1,000, and a refusal to get married, of a late marriage among women.

This completely changes almost overnight after the Depression and people get married very quickly. So it's very interesting, and this is across the board that in times of... boom, we shorten our skirts and we don't get married. And in times of bust, we lengthen our skirts and we start getting married, and we start having babies.

And that's very striking because there's nothing more expensive... than a baby, whatever time you live in. It's the most expensive thing you can have. You simply can't buy as many lipsticks and silver, beautiful films in the 1920s. However many lipsticks and however many flapper dresses you buy, it's not as much as a baby's going to cost. And that's the same, I'd say now, in 2015, how expensive small children are.

And yet the birth rate absolutely soars during times of depression, and so does the marriage and settling down rate. And as a consequence of that, that human behavior that's what gets us out of depression. So the fact is that we all start settling down, we start getting married, we start having children and that generates a huge amount of income in itself because we spend so much money on baby cradles and houses and all the rest of it.

But even when, even although change their behavior with the beginning of the Great Depression, that wasn't enough and it took the Second World War and the aftermath really to get us out of the Depression"

Many liberals mock the economic argument that capitalism will provide pressure to eliminate wage discrimination (e.g. the gender wage gap) because profit-maximising companies would rather hire cheaper labour to do the same tasks. Yet this is empirical proof of this phenomenon

Links - 13th January 2017

12 Things You Should Never Take for Granted After Working for an Amazing Boss - "Take a moment and be grateful for those amazing bosses who taught you to be a better person, a better boss, and how to be decent to the employees. Don't take those bosses for granted again."

GrabHitch: an express Tinder? - "ONLINE dating is a daunting task. But a good friend of mine thinks he's figured out a uniquely effortless way to score dates. Like many others, he's doing it through a mobile app; it's just not one of those that immediately comes to mind, though. Forget Tinder, OkCupid or Coffee Meets Bagel. My friend (call him Al) swears by Grab - yes, that ride-hailing app - to find love... Grab's carpooling service that is being beta-tested, which allows regular drivers like you and me to give Grab riders a lift, using our cars. In essence, he gives female (and only female) users a ride - and asks out those he finds attractive."

‘Black people and fried chicken’ video: BBC accused of racism - "THE BBC has been accused of racism after it posted a video online asking “Black people and fried chicken — is there any truth in it?”"
How can one investigate reality when even attempting to do so is offensive?

Which country really has the cleverest students? - "The Dutch university system, with low fees, outperforms the United States and England, which charge much higher tuition fees... an efficient school system might not translate into success in higher education. South Korea and Singapore, both high achievers at school level, are below average in the graduate rankings... "When it comes to advanced literacy skills, you might be better off getting a high school degree in Japan, Finland or the Netherlands than getting a tertiary degree in Italy, Spain or Greece," says Mr Schleicher... the OECD findings highlight a longstanding question about priorities for higher education. Should countries invest in making sure there is a good overall standard - or should they focus on cultivating a few world-leading institutions?"

Milwaukee: Police Reveal Officer Is Black, Shooting Justified; Riots Continue - "The violence that erupted in Milwaukee Saturday after a police officer fatally shot a black man continued Sunday night, with rioters throwing glass bottles, rocks, and bricks at officers and firing shots, resulting in one man suffering a serious gunshot injury. The riots Sunday occurred despite the police department revealing earlier that the officer involved was black and releasing more information indicating that his actions were justified. On Sunday, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn told reporters that the officer (who remains unnamed) was a 24-year-old African-American, who appears to have been justified in his actions. The suspect has been identified as Sylville K. Smith, a 23-year-old African-American man with a lengthy criminal record. According to the officer's body camera, the entire incident took between 20 to 25 seconds. At around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Smith fled a traffic stop, holding a weapon. The officer pursued him a few dozen feet until Smith came to a fenced yard, where he turned toward the officer and appeared to raise his gun. The officer then fatally shot Smith in the chest and arm... The result of what appears to be a justified shooting is a city devastated by two nights of riots, cars and businesses set ablaze, racist violence, with rioters deliberately targeting white people, and Gov. Scott Walker forced to call in the Wisconsin National Guard"
Maybe many protests against 'police brutality' are just protests against policing

‘You’re Asian, Right? Why Are You Even Here?’ - "some in the group of rioters started chasing after me too. As a former back-of-the-pack runner in middle school gym class, I wasn’t surprised when they caught me. When they threw me to the ground, I reflexively curled up into a ball. Blows landed on my back, head and torso. “Stop! He’s not white! He’s Asian!” I wasn’t sure who said it, or how they knew my race, but within seconds, the punches stopped... Many immigrants also feel grateful for the U.S. justice system, after having left unstable Asian countries that lack civilian juries and rule of law. They believe that some activists, alarmingly, seem to want to blow the whole system up. “I’ve experienced the broken system in my home country and the working system here, so that’s why I really appreciate that everyone can have an opportunity to be judged by a relatively fair judge and jury,” says Xu, who is from China. “I hope the current system can be continuously improved, instead of suddenly broken.”"
Comment: "If you had found yourself caught in a lynch mob of "white" people attacking "black" people, how would you identify the people who said "Stop! He’s not black! He’s Asian! ...Don’t fuck with Chinese dudes "? Would you be so forgiving? You experienced what would have happened if you were "white" and the thing that saved you was not being "white", but "Asian". If you were not "Asian", how would that experience have ended. "

Kyrgyzstan president: 'Women in mini skirts don't become suicide bombers' - "Women can become radicalised to become terrorists if they put on Islamic dress, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, has claimed in his most recent intervention in a national debate on cultural identity... "If you do not like Kyrgyzstan you can leave our country and go wherever you want. We can pay your travel expenses, even to Syria," the president said - an apparent reference to his government's claim that around 350 Kyrgyz citizens are fighting with jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq... in 2014, while speaking at a session of Kyrgyzstan's Security Council, President Atambayev said that it was not the conservative clothing, or Muslim traditions, that he had a problem with, but more the "Arabisation of society [and the] deprivation of the Kyrgyz nation of its language and traditions"""

Monty Python stars: BBC is 'destructive' for comedy - "the pair said the corporation is now a “destructive” place for alternative comedy and their surreal and irreverent show would never have been made now"

German Catholics lose church rights for unpaid tax - "All Germans who are officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8-9% on their annual income tax bill. The levy was introduced in the 19th Century in compensation for the nationalisation of religious property... Unless they pay the religious tax, Catholics will no longer be allowed receive sacraments, except before death, or work in the church and its schools or hospitals."

Man fills lubricant dispenser with hydrochloric acid in Sydney gay club

The Alt-Right: Young White Men Sick Of Being Hated - "Hillary Clinton warned the nation of a grave threat to our way of life. It wasn’t ISIS or Russia that she warned us about, although Putin got a mention. Instead it was white men saying very bad things on the internet. The mortal danger to American life that has Hillary jumping in her pantsuit is the alt right. For Hillary, white men being as proud of their race and identity as black men or white women is profoundly disturbing. This is because in the ideological worldview of the left today, best identified I think as Cultural Marxism, white men are the perpetrators of injustice. We are the privileged, the powerful, the bigots and the oppressors. In the mind of the leftist, unrepentant white maleness is the mark of Cain... What they do see are the devastating consequences of leftist identity politics upon society and individuals. They may well have been raised by a single mother. They’ve seen girls favored in the classroom then thrive academically while the boys in the class have languished and become antisocial. They see older generations congratulate their own generosity when mass immigration changes the face of Western cities, when those older leftists won’t ever have to live with the consequences."
If young people should've gotten more votes for Brexit because they will have to live longer with the consequences...

Tiny New Zealand town with 'too many jobs' launches drive to recruit outsiders - "The scheme involves offering house and land packages in the rural community for an attractive NZ$230,000 (£122,000) in the hope that Kiwis struggling with life in big cities will be tempted to relocate."

'Ex-Muslims' organise 'eating' protests outside embassies of Islamic nations to defy Ramzan fast - "Members of the council gathered outside the London embassies of several countries where not fasting during the month of Ramzan is punishable by law. "

Is it really ‘heroic’ to take a selfie at an Islamophobic protest in a secular society? - "For the past few days, Zakia Belkhiri, a young Muslim living in Belgium has become one of the most discussed individuals on social media. This is because during an Islamophobic protest in Belgium, this young girl went to the rally and lodged a counter protest in a special way. As protesters gathered outside the expo, which celebrated Muslim lifestyle, art and culture, they were holding placards with messages such as “No headscarves” and “Stop Islam.” In response, the teenage Hijabi Muslim girl stood firmly in front of the protesters and took selfies as a counter protest. Soon, her selfies went viral all over the social media which were shared by thousands of her supporters around the globe who saw her as a "defiant" teen standing up to anti-Muslim protesters. As much as it might sound amusing and courageous for Muslims around the globe as well as western liberals, there are a couple of things that shouldn't be overlooked in this matter. First of all, no matter how much we oppose the secular western societies, these are much more tolerant than our Islamic Pakistani society or most other Muslim majority states. When an Islamophobic protest took place in Belgium, Zakia Belkhiri was able to register a counter protest without any consequences. How many of us can guarantee a safe exit for any Shia who goes to any similar sectarian Sipah-e-Sahaba rally in Pakistan?... we want all those rights and privileges for ourselves that we are in no way willing to give to others. This is why we enjoy a Muslim girl counter protesting in anti-Islamic rally, but we do not acknowledge that the freedom and space given by a secular society allows her to register this counter protest. If that society allowed an Islamophobic protest, it also allowed a counter protest. Maybe this is why I personally don’t find anything "heroic" in this act... You're a hero if you stand for something knowing that it will endanger your life. For me females defying the system by driving cars in Saudi Arabia, going to prison for dressing up the way they want in Iran, or holding up a picture of Salmaan Taseer at a pro Mumtaz Qadri rally in Pakistan are heroes... There are many heroes in the Muslim world who were well aware of the consequences of all that they stood for yet they stood their ground. Those are the heroes that western Liberals and leftists need to acknowledge. There are many Sabeen Mahmuds, Rashid Rehmans, Parveen Rehmans, Aitezaz Hassans just in Pakistan, Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, Fatemeh Estakhari in Iran, the tank man of Tiananmen Square, and many more. Calling Zakia Belkheri a hero puts her in the same league as them. And to me that is an injustice."

To Kill a Mockingbird removed from Virginia schools for racist language - "To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been suspended from the curriculum in some Virginia schools, after a parent complained about the use of racial slurs. Harper Lee and Mark Twain’s literary classics were removed from classrooms in Accomack County, in Virginia after a formal complaint was made by the mother of a biracial teenager. At the centre of the complaint was the use of the N-word, which appears frequently in both titles. The woman who made the complaint said her son struggled to read the racist language, telling the Accomack County public schools board: “There’s so much racial slurs and defensive wording in there that you can’t get past that.”"

The second brain in our stomachs - ""The modern thinking is that by doing the surgery you're producing changes in various hormones, chemical messengers which affect hunger levels and fullness levels, which in turn cause the weight loss. "Bob's gastric bypass surgery separated off and isolated the part of his stomach which produces most ghrelin, a hormone which appears to play a key role in making you feel hungry." The hope was that this would result in a permanent fall in production of ghrelin. His new shrunken stomach was then attached further down his small intestine, to a section known as the ileum which secretes a different gut hormone, PYY, which is responsible for making you feel full. When we eat, it normally takes 20 minutes for food to get from the stomach to the ileum, causing the release of PYY and the message to the brain, "I'm full". That is why it is better to eat slowly, to give the stomach a chance to tell the brain you have had enough before you overeat."

A Point of View: Loving pets v loving animals - "We go out of our way to ensure that the predators get through the hard days of winter, but do little or nothing for the mice and voles. Moreover we wage relentless war on the rats. There is a widespread habit in our neighbourhood of poisoning rats with warfarin, which then poisons the owls, buzzards and foxes that eat their remains. This habit has contributed to the near-terminal decline of the barn owl in our countryside... Both dogs and cats are predators, but dogs can be trained not to kill. They can be trained to focus their hunting instincts on a particular species, or they can be bred to focus the very same instincts on some other and more humanly useful pursuit, such as herding sheep or retrieving game birds. Not so cats. Everything in their nature tends towards the single goal of killing... One estimate puts at 180 million the number of wild birds and mammals lost to cats each year in Britain. The domestic cat is, without exception, the most devastating of all the alien species that have been brought onto our island. It is also protected, not only by law, but by the inquisitors sent round by the RSPCA, an organisation that claims to love wild animals, while devoting considerable resources to the creatures that destroy them... by loving our pets as individuals we threaten the animals who cannot easily be loved in any such way."

Pakistan: Policemen suspended as cat eats PM's peacock

Is Ed Houben Europe's most virile man? - "Mr Houben is a "charitable sperm donor". He helps lesbian couples, single women and heterosexual couples with fertility problems to have children free of charge... She wanted to know the man who was going to be the father of her child rather than use an anonymous donation... On his computer he keeps an up-to-date list of his progeny to reduce the risk that they might unwittingly interbreed... "They had been trying for 15 years in clinics… paid all their savings… doctors saying 'it will be all right, it will work' and so on - and it did not work. Usually probably it works but for them it didn't. "They came here three times and now they have a baby. They are beyond these feelings of 'ooh there's a stranger sleeping with my wife'." With mothers of his children dotted all around the Netherlands and Europe, how does Mr Houben protect himself against claims for financial assistance? He seems remarkably relaxed about it. He used to draw up contracts, but since a lawyer advised that they would not guarantee protection, he now relies on good faith."

The art of the awkward photo opportunity - "So why is that world leaders find themselves in these situations so often? The answer lies in our changing expectations of what politicians should be like, says Stephen Coleman, professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds. In the past, their watchword was "authority" whereas now, it's "authenticity". "Somehow they have to appear to be like ordinary people. So what they're trying to do is guess at what being normal looks like." This leads to a sort of "rehearsed spontaneity", he says, which few politicians are able to pull off - with the odd exception, such as Bill Clinton."

Eating cheese in China. - ""Although in some ways you could say the flavours of cheese and fermented beancurd are similar," said Mao, "vegetable stinky foods are very clean and clear in the mouth (qing kou), and they disperse quickly, while milky foods are greasy in the mouth (ni kou), they coat your tongue and palate, and they have a long, lingering aftertaste." Two other chefs said the cheeses had a heavy shan wei (muttony odour), an ancient term used by southern Chinese to describe the slightly unsavoury tastes associated with the northern nomads. Another said that the selection "smells like Russians". "The difference," he added, "is that the stinky things Chinese people eat give them smelly breath, while stinky dairy things affect the sweat that comes out of your skin"... The only cheese that provoked real consternation was the Brie. "It has this animal stench that assaults your nose," said Dai Jianjun. "Definitely the stinkiest," said Mao, "I really can't bear it." Most of the others agreed. Only one chef, Sun Guoliang, actually liked it. "It has such a complex flavour, like stinking beancurd, rotted thousand sheets and fermented beancurd, all mixed together."

Lithuania: Pothole problem mocked in comic photo shoot - "The series of spoof photographs made for the offbeat Bored Panda blog plays on the idea that potholes are big enough to be mistaken for swimming pools, streams or even lakes"

Why can't cats drink milk? Plus 6 other feline myths - "When an adult cat drinks milk, the indigestible lactose in its gut may start to ferment, causing a stomach upset... To train a cat requires a great deal more patience and perseverance than for a dog. This is because most cats only attend to people when they need something specific, while dogs do this all the time. They first have to be taught that there will be a payoff for paying attention, specifically a tasty prawn or morsel of chicken breast. Training sessions need to be kept short to begin with, since cats will walk away as soon as they get bored, and any attempt to drag the cat back to the training area will make it less likely to learn... Stress can arise between cats in the same house, where the owner has unwittingly selected two that do not get along, or between cats in neighbouring houses fighting over a boundary between their respective territories. Cats lack the sophisticated analysis of body-language that enables dogs to resolve such differences and can live in a state of conflict for months, even years, on end. A typical example of this was shown on the BBC Horizon programme The Secret Life Of The Cat, where two of the cats, Kato and Phoebe, living in houses opposite to each other across the street, were still disputing ‘ownership’ of the gardens between."

Nazi camps and St Augustine

Wolfson History Prizes: Nazi camps and St Augustine | Podcast | History Extra

"Repeatedly you will find books by great English historians in the bookshops abroad and like the book on the concentration camp, it is English based authors who in some cases have given the past back to European countries. And we're admired for it. We're admired for biographies. Of course we're admired for novels... The French can't write a novel, they just can't begin to. The Germans write history books as sort of bound in black with gold toothed spines and look like assembly manual for car parts. They're incredibly accurate and good but they're totally unreadable and unusable...

Why do people do things which are, to us unimaginable? And what became fairly clear to me early on was that just as there isn't a typical prisoner, there isn't a typical perpetrator either.

Different people are driven by different motivations at different times of the Nazi dictatorship. You have those who see their service in the camps as a kind of career. A profession. There's one camp commandant who's so proud, even his private notepaper he has a sign at the top saying: concentration camp commandant.

So these are people who rise through the... They make careers, they live, they think of themselves as living... there's a kind of, there's a quote I have in the books somewhere by a wife of a concentration camp commandant who's interviewed decades after the war and she's reminiscing about the wonderful time she had. I mean this is what Hess, the commandant of Auschwitz writes about as well in his memoirs. How wonderful his kids had it in Auschwitz. Just a a wonderful time. So there is that, there's careerism, there's certainly those who enjoy the violence. But these kind of sadists are in a fairly small number.

Others, again, believe in Nazi ideology of course. They do it because they believe they are doing the right thing.

I mean it's wrong to think of some of these men and they are predominantly men as Nihilists. As somebody like Heinrich Himmler the head of this system had, in his own mind, a very clear moral idea. It was just that his moral compass was completely perverse. But these people don't see themselves as nihilists.

And then you've got those who are dragged along in a way by false ideas of comradeship. By the wish to fit in. I mean certainly the work of social psychologists has been important in trying to make us understand more why people get dragged into things or commit deeds which even a few weeks earlier they would've never thought themselves as capable of doing.

And give you one example, there's a doctor who arrives in Auschwitz. SS doctor. And he is asked to perform a selection at the ramp in Auschwitz or take part in this. This is where incoming deportation trains are divided into those Jews who are murdered straightaway and those who are picked out for murderous slave labour. And this man *something* breaks down. He cries, he gets drunk. And he says I can't do this. I think he asks for a transfer to the front.

And within a fairly short period of time, he is doing it. He's doing it because he's getting used to it, he's getting accustomed to it. He has a mentor, a man called Josef Mengele who kind of takes him under his wing and makes him realise that what he's doing there is important somehow for Germany's future. They transfer *name* wife to Auschwitz so he has a bit of a home life there, stabilising in some way, and within a fairly short period of time this man is selecting people, victims, innocent women, children, all people for the gas chambers.

And you come across a lot of these stories where people, in a fairly short period of time get accustomed and used to doing the most heinous crimes...

'Augustine would not have actually sympathised in any way with the elimination of the Jews as somehow murderers of Christ, or whatever... he would concentrate quite often, being guided honesty by scripture... on the words of the Psalms: slay them not, that they be scattered. Better to scatter the Jews all over the place as evidence. And at the Last Judgment matters would be sorted out. But any idea that the early church would've engaged in an extermination policy-'...

'Death camps like Treblinka are set up in the Holocaust with a single function... to kill as many Jews as quickly as possible. And these pure death camps... in occupied Eastern Poland... murder some 1.5 million Jews in 1942 alone. And there you do not have selections like in Auschwitz. Because pretty much everybody on board of these deportation camps is doomed to be exterminated on arrival. So these camps only have this one function.

Concentration camps from the beginning are multi-functional sites. Early on they serve the purpose of breaking the opposition. Later on there is the function of supposedly cleaning Germany of 'asocials and other social outcasts'. It becomes a site of forced labour, of human experimentation. Sites like Dachau go through a huge change in a very very short period of time...

[On the stereotypical idea of a concentration camp] I... fast back to the first day in the camp in spring 33, where the camp looks again completely different. You've got a 100 prisoners, they're treated well. There're no uniforms. They eat with their captors who are policemen not SS men, and none of them think they're going to be there very long.

So though the Third Reich lasts only for a very very brief period of time, there are huge changes and you can see these changes in places like Dachau. That was the only one of those camps which lasts all the way through the Third Reich...

I always say... certainly, in the Ancient World, historians must resemble the God Janus, who had a head looking forwards and a head looking backwards. And it's not possible, nor should we suspend the views that we bring to the topics under consideration, but you can't just write presentist history and attack Julius Caesar for not being vegetarian, as it might be.

It may happen in 30 years time, I'm sure there could be a massive assault on every ancient figure for eating meat. You must keep in balance the views they held at the time and always one test to me is were there significant voices at the time which were strongly against, on moral grounds we may now share, what was being done?...

'The figure of the kapo. These were prisoners who gained a, some kind of administrative or supervisory function in the camp, be it as labour supervisors or barracks supervisors. And they quite often in the literature portrayed in rather stark terms as wholly evil henchmen of the SS, i.e. prisoners who do the bidding of the SS.

But if you probe a little bit more deeply, it becomes morally very very complex. Not every kapo is the same.

There are debates between them about should they, if the SS orders them beat prisoners, should they do that, should they not? And what does it mean if you take a stand to you? Should you maybe beat the prisoners but beat them less hard and pretend that you're beating them harder than you do?

Other kapos say: well, I only beat prisoners or lash out in order to prevent the SS from stepping in and doing even worse. There's an extraordinary case of a former kapo from Dachau who's on trial in Munich.

One of the witnesses says: I'm still glad that this kapo hit me, I'm still thankful to him to this day for the fact that he hit me because that prevented the SS from stepping in and doing even worse.

So is somebody like that a good man? A bad man? Or are these categories which in that starkness don't really help us very much?...

'Hitler very rarely talks about the concentration camps. As far as we know he never visits a concentration camp. And I think the reason for that is that he knows that they are not universally popular within Germany, even amongst ordinary Germans. So he's very conscious of his own nimbus, his popularity, his status, so he kind of tries to stay clear of this. When he mentions the camps he talks about, and he does that a few times in public, he effectively says: well, it's the British who invented the concentration camps'

'It's always... liberal imperialist historians'...

'It's nonsense because just because something is called a concentration camp doesn't make it Auschwitz.

There are, what we think of as concentration camps emerge in the late 19th century, around the turn of the 20th century in a colonial setting. They then take a very different form during the First World War. So there are these kind of detention camps for largely civilians who are locked up beyond the law, using often barracks or barbed wire and those things, but that's often where similarities end as well and my feeling in the end, you might get these questions here in Germany, kind of there've been all sorts of debates over the years over what is the relationship between the Nazi camps and the Gulag and there was a huge historians' quarrel in the 1980s because one German historian suggested that... the Gulag was primary and the Nazis in a way, copied in some ways what had happened earlier elsewhere and ultimately my conclusion was that while there are some similarities and parallels and connections, ultimately all of these camp systems are largely homegrown in a way.

And if you look at the Nazi camp system, the greater influences it seems to me come out of a German military tradition, the German prison system and also the paramilitary culture of the late 1920s and early 1930s of extreme political violence against your opponents. It's bearing in mind... the first camps - Dachau and others - are set up in a completely improvised way as effectively torture chambers very often and bunkers by SS, the same SS and SA men quite often who had run these street battles with Communists in the previous months.

So these are kind of street fighters who now are victorious and you know they brand their victory on the bodies of their opponents... a number of these... Berlin in 1933, there are over 170 of these improvised bunkers and torture chambers...

I'm told that it's important now in much of history teaching in schools where you go to the documentary evidence for Anne Bolyn's underwear. And you make a big thing about underwear and how women were then oppressed because of their underwear and the next thing is you then move over and discuss herrings in Holland. Spotty history. I really don't like that...

I live in an era where archaeology is more unquestioned and texts have become unduly questioned"

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Links - 11th January 2017

Updated! Hey, Here's That Obviously Fake 'Dossier' Claiming Trump Is Into Golden Showers! - "Sensational, provocative, insane, scatological (urological?), incredible—the dossier is all that and more. Read about how Trump supposedly insisted on staying in a hotel room used by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and hired prostitutes to urinate on the bed. Yes, it's that level of report. And it's all horseshit, if you believe Buzzfeed's own intro to the material, which stresses that we're talking about "explosive — but unverified — allegations." Worse still from a journalistic perspective is this sort of phony-baloney gesture that insulates the publisher evens as it distances any truth claims.
There is serious reason to doubt the allegations. You got that? But let's publish them anyway because, WTF, who doesn't want to read them? The press works better when it verifies information and brings it to the public's attention, and lets us plebes make of it what we will. In this case, all we have is a document that may or may not be "real" or a fake. Remember all the serioso discussions of fake news and how Trump and his deplorables were ruining everything good and clean-smelling in America? Well, the one thing you can say this time around is: Don't blame the billionaire"

2017 Lunar New Year | Jetstar - "With the younger generation increasingly flying the coop over Lunar New Year despite it being the one time of year families gather for reunions, Jetstar is taking a stand – put family first and stay home. For passengers who have booked flights departing Singapore on 27 and 28 January, and are now keen to stay home to enjoy get-togethers with family, we’re happy to move your flights to a later date, for free."
This is a great way to free up seats which can then be resold at higher prices

Moroccan TV show giving women tips on hiding domestic violence bruises provokes outrage - "the woman who did the make-up, Lilia Mouline, says that rather than “normalizing” domestic violence – which she “in no way condones” – she was merely providing realistic advice. “We are here to provide solutions to these women who, for a period of two to three weeks, are putting their social life aside while their wounds heal. These women have already been subjected to moral humiliation and do not need to also have others looking at them,” Mouline told Yabiladi, a news website. “Makeup allows women to continue to live normally while waiting for justice.”

For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch - "Lighter enforcement did not lead to more drug use. About 25.7 percent of Dutch citizens reported having used marijuana at least once, which is on par with the European average. In the comparatively strict United Kingdom, the rate is 30.2 percent and in the United States it is a whopping 41.9 percent... in Sweden, 52 percent of marijuana users report that other drugs are available from their usual cannabis source. In the Netherlands, only 14 percent of marijuana users can get other drugs from their cannabis source, according to European drug monitors. This is largely because the vast majority of cannabis users buy from coffee shops. In addition, the country has virtually eliminated injecting drug use as a transmission of HIV and enjoys the lowest rate of problem drug use in Europe. "

General Tso's Chicken creator dies in Taiwan aged 98 - "According to legend, General Tso's Chicken was named in 1952, when Mr Peng was cooking for a visiting US Navy Admiral, Arthur Radford. Low on inspiration, he fried some chunks of chicken and added sauces and seasoning in a bid to create something new. The admiral loved the result. When he asked the name of the dish, Mr Peng christened it on the spot: "General Tso's Chicken"... While General Tso's is best known as American Chinese food, its fame has seen some Hunanese chefs embrace the recipe."

Police probing Quebec maple syrup heist worth up to $30-million - "Quebec police are on the hunt for a sticky-fingered thief after millions of dollars of maple syrup vanished from a Quebec warehouse."

German intelligence officer 'arrested over Islamist plot' raising fears the spy agency has been infiltrated - "The BfV said the man "behaved inconspicuously" prior to his arrest. He had, since April, been engaged in gathering intelligence on Islamist extremists in Germany, Der Spiegel said. Online chats were apparently found between the suspect and other Islamists in which he attempted to recruit them to the intelligence agency to mount an attack on "non-believers", carrying out a bomb attack on the spy HQ "in the name of Allah". He used several different names online and his activities were uncovered about a month ago. The man's family reportedly knew nothing of his conversion to Islam two years ago and subsequent radicalisation... The BfV estimates there are about 40,000 Islamists in Germany, including 9,200 ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafists, Hans-Georg Maassen, who leads the agency, told Reuters... Isil claimed two attacks in late July - on a train near Wuerzburg and on a music festival in Ansbach - in which asylum-seekers wounded 20 people in total. In addition, security forces had to respond to an attack in a shopping centre in the city of Munich in which nine people were killed by an 18-year-old German-Iranian who had been in psychiatric treatment and was obsessed with mass killings."

Spain terror arrests - Four detained smuggling jihadis into Europe disguised as migrants - "Spain's interior ministry said ISIS was using the group of Algerian and Moroccan men to sneak fanatics into Europe via Turkey posing as migrants fleeing Syria's civil war. Officials also said they may have links to the Paris terror attacks last November."

The truths and tales of Cuban healthcare - "During the period when the Cuban government received generous subsidies from the former Soviet Union, the system more or less worked well. Hospitals were clean and, although they did not have state-of-the-art equipment, people could rely on them. But after the subsidies ended and Cuba's economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again. By the time I moved to Cuba in 1997, there were serious shortages of medicine - from simple aspirin to more badly needed drugs. Ironically, many medicines that cannot be found at a pharmacy are easily bought on the black market. Some doctors, nurses and cleaning staff smuggle the medicine out of the hospitals in a bid to make extra cash. Although medical attention remains free, many patients did and still do bring their doctors food, money or other gifts to get to the front of the queue or to guarantee an appointment for an X-ray, blood test or operation. If you do not have a contact or money to pay under the table, the waiting time for all but emergency procedures can be ridiculously long... I saw many hospitals where there was often no running water, the toilets did not flush, and the risk of infections - by the hospital's own admission - was extremely high... for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to healthcare than the majority of those living in many "developing nations", where public health is shockingly inadequate. And as with so many things in Cuba, the state health service offers some amazing paradoxes: you may have problems obtaining medicine, but getting a bust lift, or even a sex change, is no problem, and moreover, it is free of charge."

Why 30 Palestinians celebrated Jewish holiday with settlers - "Why would a population under occupation that bears the brunt of the settlement enterprise visit their occupiers?... Once the story was made public, the Palestinian security service on Oct. 21 arrested four of the Palestinians who had attended the settlers’ event. Bethlehem Governor Muhammad Taha told Israeli Army Radio that the four were accused of behavior that encourages “normalization with Israel,” which according to the governor is a violation of Palestinian law."

How domestication changes species, including the human - "Keeping pets meant inviting animals into the family. It also created new relationships of inequality. The anthropologist Tim Ingold at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, who has spent years studying the reindeer herders of Lapland, argues that it is a mistake to regard domestication as a form of progress, from living in opposition to nature to harnessing it for our benefit. In The Perception of the Environment (2000), he notes that foraging peoples generally regard animals as their equals. Hunting is not a form of violence so much as a willing sacrifice on the part of the animal. Pastoralists, on the other hand, tend to regard animals as servants, to be mastered and controlled. Domestication doesn’t entail making wild animals tame, Ingold says. Instead, it means replacing a relationship founded on trust with one ‘based on domination’. When humans start treating animals as subordinates, it becomes easier to do the same thing to one another."

China has always kept mum on Singapore’s defence ties with Taipei, so why is it complaining now? - "the pinnacle command positions in Singapore’s fledgling air force and navy were occupied by Taiwanese military personnel who served Singapore in the 1970s. Taiwan’s Colonel Liu Ching Chuan was once Commander RSAF (renamed as Chief of Air Force) while former Taiwanese officer Khoo Eng An once held the post of Commander Republic of Singapore Navy (retitled as Chief of Navy)."

Reactionary Democrats trash Bernie Sanders for challenging identity politics - "Liberals have begun scolding Bernie Sanders for challenging identity politics in a speech at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston on Sunday night. When an audience member asked him how she could become the second Latina senator in U.S. history, Sanders said her gender and ethnicity don’t entitle her to votes. “I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country and is going to take on big money interests,” Sanders said. “It is not good enough for somebody to say, I’m a woman, vote for me. No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry”... Despite pushback from triggered reactionaries, Sanders doubled down on his critique of identity politics"

Belief in Santa could affect parent-child relationships, warns study - "lying to children, even about something fun and frivolous, could undermine their trust in their parents and leave them open to “abject disappointment” when they eventually discover that magic is not real."

Justin Trudeau's Statement On Fidel Castro Criticized By Politicians - "The prime minister is facing criticism at home and abroad for his statement expressing "deep sorrow'' about the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro... some have condemned the prime minister's statement, pointing out human rights violations during Castro's half-century regime... Social media users took the opportunity to mock the prime minister using the hashtag "#TrudeauEulogies,'' which imagines eulogies of dictators and criminals written in the style of Trudeau's statement. For instance, user @MW_Johnson1 wrote, "While a controversial figure, John Wilkes Booth will be remembered as a lover of the theatre.''"

Neural Network Learns to Identify Criminals by Their Faces - "the neural network could correctly identify criminals and noncriminals with an accuracy of 89.5 percent... researchers revealed how they had trained a deep-learning machine to judge in the same way as humans whether somebody was trustworthy by looking at a snapshot of their face"

UK to censor online videos of 'non-conventional' sex acts - "In order to comply with the censorship rules, many mainstream adult websites would have to render whole sections inaccessible to UK audiences. That is despite the acts shown being legal for consenting over-16s to perform and for adults in almost all other liberal countries to film, distribute and watch... Pictures and videos that show spanking, whipping or caning that leaves marks, and sex acts involving urination, female ejaculation or menstruation as well as sex in public are likely to be caught by the ban – in effect turning back the clock on Britain’s censorship regime to the pre-internet era... “Although it is nominally designed to enforce the [Obscene Publications Act] guidelines of the Crown Prosecution Service, in practice it draws far tighter lines, many of them inexplicable. The ban on female ejaculation is a particularly strange example,” he said. The censorship regime has led to bizarre understandings between the producers and regulators, Barnett said. One is the “four-finger rule”, which limits the number of digits that can be inserted into an orifice for sexual stimulation"

Parents: let your kids fail. You’ll be doing them a favor - "we seem to be more worried about raising happy children than competent or autonomous ones... The children who had controlling mothers gave up when faced with a task they could not master. The others did not... The dirty secret of parenting is that kids can do more than we think they can, and it’s up to us to figure that out. (Apparently the French have sorted this out with kids and cooking, and they let their young toddlers wield large knives.) Kids can do dishes and clean a room without a bribe, but to get to clean kitchens and tidier rooms we have to face messier kitchens, not perfectly sorted laundry, and clothes stuffed in drawers while they figure it out... cheer like a grandparent and not a parent. College athletes wanted grandparents at their games because their support was not predicated on achievement."

(4) Riz Rashid - What Is Malay? Is Singapore in China? No but to... - "New York Times editor Michael Luo wrote an open letter to a woman who told him to “go back to China" in October and started the hashtag, #thisis2016. Asians/Asian Americans across the nation responded to Luo and his encounter by using the hashtag and sharing moments of racial insensitivity or ignorance. We decided to respond to the hashtag as well. These are all real statements, quotes and encounters that Bowdoin students have experienced throughout their lives, and while we acknowledge that not all of the things written were intentionally hurtful, they are a product of socially normalized stereotypes and misconceptions. Additionally, the statements are neither isolated, one-time incidents nor are they the worst things we’ve ever heard -- we emphasize that these experiences extend across time and space. We ask that you try to understand the participants' perspectives with an open mind even though their full stories are not posted, and we also encourage productive open dialogue. This is our version of #thisis2016."
"there are some really stupid AMERICANS (not just the white ones) out there. The other day I asked on the Guild Wars 2 reddit if ArenaNet would publish a physical copy in South East Asia for another expansion since it didn't the last time around. And idiotic American redditors went on a tirade about "servers" and "translations" issues or how ArenaNet is not responsible for distribution in CHINA.
This isn't a "white people" problem, this is an American problem.
As an African American woman asked me if I spoke English when I worked in a bar, only to find out she could barely read. And speaking to the solipsism of Americans, how many of these Japanese SJWs who bemoan internment are educated on the atrocities of their ancestors in WW2, are they even aware that Japanese POWs in Australia liked their living conditions so much they were hesitant to return to Japan after the surrender?

Not enough focus on soft skills in S’pore workforce: Study - "the SkillsFuture movement tended to focus on hard skills, paying inadequate attention to skills that may be used across jobs... Singapore’s heavy reliance on foreign workers and low productivity growth also pointed to it lacking a “strong indigenous production capacity”, the report said. This, in turn, triggers an “urgent need to re-orientate the education and training policy, and to re-examine the pace of change in industrial policy”."

Ten Years Ago Today, Hillary Voted For A Border Fence - "Ten years later, Clinton has a different mentality towards border fortifications. Now, Clinton denounces Trump’s plan to build a more robust wall along the Mexican border as not merely unwise but perhaps also immoral."

Hillary Clinton Sponsored a Bill to Punish Flag Burning? : - "Claim: In 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton co-sponsored a bill to make flag burning a punishable offense.
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