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Friday, June 20, 2014

Links - 20th June 2014

The New York Times Weighs In on the Kudzu-Like Spread of Trigger Warnings - "Express the tiniest doubt about the usefulness of trigger warnings—or their ubiquity and overuse in some corners of the web—and you will be accused of not caring about rape victims. But pause to consider that people are demanding trigger warnings on everything from discussions about colonialism to the works of William Shakespeare to, ahem, certain sex-advice columnists and it becomes clear that this isn't just about protecting rape victims from content that may "cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder." (Gotta get this off my chest: If someone experiences anti-Semitism-related PTSD symptoms after reading The Merchant of Venice in a college course... then someone failed to read the whole play and someone deserves to be flunked. (Failing grades, of course, should probably come with trigger warnings.) And gotta get this off my chest too: "Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct," reads Oberlin College's draft guide on trigger warnings, "but also to anything that might cause trauma." (Emphasis added.) Put a trigger warning on anything that might cause trauma—doesn't that seems impossibly broad?)... Someone who uses a trigger warning before writing about rape or sexual violence will probably write about rape and sexual violence with enough sensitivity that the trigger warning wasn't necessary... So what purpose, then, do trigger warnings serve? It seems to me that they exist not to protect the reader, but to draw attention to the writer. You've heard of false consciousness? Well, trigger warnings are false conscientiousness. The writer who uses trigger warnings isn't saying, "I care about you." The writer is saying, "Look at meeeeee." It's narcissism masquerading as concern. And then there's this: there's really no way to predict what could possibly trigger someone"

Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm - NYTimes.com - "Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace... “Any kind of blanket trigger policy is inimical to academic freedom,” said Lisa Hajjar, a sociology professor at the university here, who often uses graphic depictions of torture in her courses about war. “Any student can request some sort of individual accommodation, but to say we need some kind of one-size-fits-all approach is totally wrong. The presumption there is that students should not be forced to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable is absurd or even dangerous”... “Frankly it seems this is sort of an inevitable movement toward people increasingly expecting physical comfort and intellectual comfort in their lives,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that advocates free speech. “It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended. Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects”... Wellesley College this year after the school installed a lifelike statue of a man in his underwear, and hundreds of students signed a petition to have it removed. Writing in The Huffington Post, one Wellesley student called it a “potentially triggering sculpture,” and petition signers cited “concerns that it has triggered memories of sexual assault amongst some students”... Here at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in March there was a confrontation when a group of anti-abortion protesters held up graphic pictures of aborted fetuses and a pregnant professor of feminist studies tried to destroy the posters, saying they triggered a sense of fear in her. After she was arrested on vandalism, battery and robbery charges, more than 1,000 students signed a petition of support for her, saying the university should impose greater restrictions on potentially trigger-inducing content... “If I were a junior faculty member looking at this while putting my syllabus together, I’d be terrified,” Mr. Blecher said. “Any student who felt triggered by something that happened in class could file a complaint with the various procedures and judicial boards, and create a very tortuous process for anyone.”"

Trigger Warnings Have Spread from Blogs to College Classes. That's Bad - "The trigger warning signals not only the growing precautionary approach to words and ideas in the university, but a wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm and a paranoia about giving offense. And yet, for all the debate about the warnings on campuses and on the Internet, few are grappling with the ramifications for society as a whole... In 2010, Susannah Breslin wrote in True/Slant that feminists were applying the term "like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan"... now that they've entered university classrooms, it's only a matter of time before warnings are demanded for other grade levels. As students introduce them in college newspapers, promotional material for plays, even poetry slams, it's not inconceivable that they'll appear at the beginning of film screenings and at the entrance to art exhibits. Will newspapers start applying warnings to articles about rape, murder, and war? Could they even become a regular feature of speech? "I was walking down Main Street last night when—trigger warning—I saw an elderly woman get mugged"... As the list of trigger warning–worthy topics continues to grow, there's scant research demonstrating how words "trigger" or how warnings might help. Most psychological research on P.T.S.D. suggests that, for those who have experienced trauma, "triggers" can be complex and unpredictable, appearing in many forms, from sounds to smells to weather conditions and times of the year. In this sense, anything can be a trigger—a musky cologne, a ditsy pop song, a footprint in the snow... Two people who have endured similarly painful experiences, from rape to war, can read the same material and respond in wholly different ways. Issuing caution on the basis of potential harm or insult doesn't help us negotiate our reactions; it makes our dealings with others more fraught. As Breslin pointed out, trigger warnings can have the opposite of their intended effect... they reinforce the fear of words by depicting an ever-expanding number of articles and books as dangerous and requiring of regulation. By framing more public spaces, from the Internet to the college classroom, as full of infinite yet ill-defined hazards, trigger warnings encourage us to think of ourselves as more weak and fragile than we really are... Trigger warnings are presented as a gesture of empathy, but the irony is they lead only to more solipsism, an over-preoccupation with one’s own feelings—much to the detriment of society as a whole. Structuring public life around the most fragile personal sensitivities will only restrict all of our horizons. Engaging with ideas involves risk, and slapping warnings on them only undermines the principle of intellectual exploration. We cannot anticipate every potential trigger—the world, like the Internet, is too large and unwieldy. But even if we could, why would we want to? Bending the world to accommodate our personal frailties does not help us overcome them"

Hospital cleaner sacked for speaking Polish during her lunch break - "Johanna Renclawowicz received a letter saying she was fired from Sykehuset Telemark hospital because 'you have been given information that only Norwegian shall be spoken during working time'. It continued: 'Your colleagues and hospital users have repeatedly complained that Polish is spoken in the eating area, cleaning department and corridors etc.'"
She got 60,000 kroner for economic losses and damages and 130,000 for something else

The 5 Hainanese Curry Rice stalls to know - "It is no doubt that the Singaporean flavour is a beautiful mix of various traditions and influences. One of the most prominent influences on the local food culture comes from the Hainanese tradition. Of course, everyone would know about the Hainanese Chicken Rice and all its goodness. However, the one dish that holds a special place in the hearts of many Singaporeans is the unbeatable Hainanese Curry Rice. Hainanese Curry Rice is a dish that looks like an absolute mess on the plate but tastes even more delicious than it is ugly. An upgrade from your regular economic rice, it leaves you wanting more with its sweet, sticky and gooey gravy packed full of flavour that always sends your tastebuds raving for more."

Celebrities Read Mean Tweets About Themselves, And Their Responses Are So Funny - "What's wrong with having a dick in my mouth?"

Can You Freeze This? - "CanYouFreezeThis.com is a site that is meant to help you if have any questions or doubts related to freezing various products. If you don’t know whether you can freeze a product, how to do it properly, or how freezing affects this particular product, CanYouFreezeThis.com will help you!"

5 Most Horrifying Things About Monsanto—Why You Should Join the Global Movement and Protest on Saturday - "Fed up with the fact that she has to spend “a small fortune” in order to feed her family things she says “aren’t poisonous,” Tami Canal of Utah has organized a global movement against the giant chemical and seed corporation Monsanto"
So some anti-GMO activists want to get subsidised organic food. 'Sustainability' indeed

Revealed -- why men love sex! - "‘A University of British Columbia survey interviewed hundreds of women who reported feeling ‘erotically neutral’ at the start of sex. Only when they started making love – and enjoyed it – did they warm up and feel actual desire,’ the report added. According to sex therapists, men become intimate to gain sex whereas women have sex to gain intimacy... For women, however, one-night stands aren’t that satisfying. If we believe researchers at Indiana University, most of the women aren’t achieving orgasm in casual encounters. ‘Only one quarter of women reliably experience orgasm through intercourse alone while another third rarely or never have orgasms from intercourse,’ according to a review of 32 studies conducted by Dr Elisabeth Lloyd at Indiana University. ‘Like generations before them, many young women are finding that casual sex doesn’t bring the physical pleasure that men experience’"
Yet more problems with 'enthusiastic consent'

Unsafe sex: why everyone's at it - "The increase in risky sex among my age group (I am 26) led to American journalist Ann Friedman describing us as the "pull-out generation"... "These women describe a deliberate transition from the pill to the pull-out," wrote Friedman. "They buy organic kale and all-natural cleaning products, and so can't quite get down with taking synthetic hormones every day. They see orgasms as a right, not a privilege"... "Sexual liberation has trumped other kinds of liberation. We've basically linked hormonal birth control with sexual liberation, which is interesting because many women experience a negative impact on their sexual libido. And that is apparently fine."

Want your kid to eat veggies? Don't tell her it's healthy - "children who are told certain foods will make them stronger, smarter or taller are less likely to want to eat them. "We propose that young children infer from messages on food instrumentality that if a certain food is good for one goal, it cannot be a good means to achieve another goal," says Dr Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. "Similarly, if food is presented as something that makes them strong, then these children will conclude that the food is not as tasty, and will therefore consume less of it," Fishbach adds. In short, the study concludes that the best way to foster healthy eating habits in young children is to avoid telling them how fruits and vegetables will make them stronger, taller or smarter"
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