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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Links - 15th September 2015

Meet the Unlikely Airbnb Hosts of Japan - The New York Times - "At the same time, he also worked to educate Airbnb guests on the Japanese way of doing things. When new guests checked into a place he managed, he met them personally, showing them how to remove their shoes at the door and explaining that they needed to speak more quietly than maybe they did at home. Sometimes, though, the gulf between cultures felt unbridgeable, the boundaries impossible to translate. Machida described running afoul of a building co-op board, forced to close one of his listings after a visitor from Europe was spotted, to someone’s apparent horror, charging her cellphone in the building’s lobby."

What the Guardian's Maajid Nawaz sting says about their team's journalistic ethics - "For their trouble, Maajid and his ilk are known of as ‘Uncle Toms’, ‘Coconuts’ and ‘Native informants’. All these are highly derogatory labels for ‘darkies’ who dare aspire of ‘white’ ideals for their own communities. As many brown-skinned liberals have pointed out, this attitude arises in fact from the ‘racism of low expectations’ – which imagines progressive ideas and ideals to be only the preserve of white skinned people. Unfortunately, the Guardian has been taking this route for some years now, which it is finding itself hard to bail out of – that of a pseudo-liberal sympathetic approach with cultural and religious minorities, whatever repugnant views they hold or activities they dabble in; along with an associated attacking of all those who dare address those issues, even if they be members of those minority communities themselves... Is heckling only alright if a Guardian journalist does it, either via articles or on Twitter? One of the foremost rules of journalism is that the journalist’s presence and especially his biases should not be visible in his articles – unless it’s a column or opinion piece. This interview of Maajid was supposed to be neither, although it ended up in essence an opinion piece. Yet even as an opinion piece, it breaks way too many bars to come plunging down into mud-singling territory. They didn’t just set the bar low, they plunged it. It’s so incredibly bad, that as a fellow journalist living miles and oceans way, I am embarrassed for the journalism profession which has sunk to this new low. As once colonized countries, I suppose we still look up to British standards in professionalism. Certainly that was very much the case in my own student days at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism. “Don’t look to the Daily Mirror,” we were told. That’s a tabloid. “Look instead to the Guardian. That’s the standard you ought to emulate.” Well, we are looking. Where are the standards?"

UK teacher jailed over teddy row - "She escaped conviction for inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs... Sudan's top clerics had called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam. She could have faced up to 40 lashes if found guilty on all three charges against her. In September, Mrs Gibbons allowed her class of primary school pupils to name the teddy bear Muhammad as part of a study of animals and their habitats. The court heard that she was arrested on Sunday after another member of staff at Unity High School complained to the Ministry of Education."

Muslim leaders unite in criticising deradicalisation efforts - "Extensive research work by Alan Krueger, Jitka Maleckova, Christine Fair and many others has demonstrated there is no causal link between terrorism, radicalisation and socio-economic conditions. Most of the notorious terrorists including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed come from educated, middle- or upper-class backgrounds. Yet arguing otherwise takes the burden of blame away from issues of religion and identity – the very narrative peddled by Muslim community leaders throughout the world. Moreover, the idea that the "problem lies not with Islam, nor even with some of the Muslims but with the environment Muslims are currently in" has no legs, since Sikhs and numerous other migrant communities are in equal if not lower socio-economic and political conditions than Muslims all over the world but without the radicalisation and terrorism prevalent in their communities. This tendency amongst the Muslim community leaders to remain in denial about the problem with religion is what is driving the identity crisis which is leading to radicalisation among Muslim youth. Why is it so hard to accept that there is in fact a problem with Islam – the way it is being used? Especially, when the trend of abusing and misusing Islam is nothing new, nor is radicalisation. Almost a thousand years back al-Ma'arri (circa 1010), a Muslim poet, criticised what he then saw as hate and radicalisation preached at mosques, arguing that nearer to God are those people that keep a distance from such preaching. Similarly, notable Islamic scholars like al-Afghani, Dr Muhammad Iqbal, Syed Ahmad Khan, Ali Shariati and others have been pointing out since 18th and 19th century that the Muslim world and Islamic thought needs to be reformed. Such voices, however, have mostly been silenced by forces of status quo within the Islamic world."

Half of young women unable to 'locate vagina' - "Half of young women are unable to properly label a vagina on a medical diagram, while 65 per cent have admitted they have a problem simply using the words vagina or vulva.
It's not just men who can't locate the clitoris...

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Al-Ghazali - "He was very keen in his famous work, The Revivification of Islamic Sciences, Ihya' 'ulum al-din, to write a clear exposition of what every Muslim should do at every moment in the day. A proper framework for a Muslim's life... [On the Incoherence of the Philosophers] He picks on 3 [errors] that are so significant that they are, they condemn the philosophers as heretics. And that states his position, if you like, that to an extent, the philosophical tradition should not have a place within the intellectual sciences of Islam"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Thucydides - "'Women are excluded - there are 50 references in the entire work to individual women or collectives of women. In Herodotus there're hundreds. He's not interested much in barbarians and that means especially Persia. And so you lose that whole dimension of the Greek world being within a barbarian framework. His own father's name was non-Greek. Thracian. He himself is either descended from non-Greeks or there's a very close family connection. This is rigorously excluded. He's very down on Thracians when he does men-, in an ethnocentric sort of racist way. Whereas Herodotus is a man of broad vision who tolerates the most extraordinary alien customs simply because that's what those people think are the best way to do things and who am I to judge whether they are or are not the best?'
'He's much more a 21st century thinker, Herodotus... the historical context in which you find yourself, was that thing to which you react. The idea of writing about war and saying, you must write a lot about women is, would be anathema?'
'Herodotus is. That's the thing. History. His Story. Thucydides is the progenitor'
'He's not writing about history in the same way. He's writing about culture, isn't he?'
Well, he's writing cultural history, exactly so. He's the father of cultural history, anthropological history if you like. And Thucydides is the father of diplomatic, military and political history'"

Study offers first genetic analysis of people with extremely high intelligence - "Genetic research on intelligence consistently indicates that around half of the differences between people can be explained by genetic factors. This study's unique design, which focused on the positive end of the intelligence distribution and compared genotyping data against more than 3,000 people from the general population, greatly enhanced the study's power to detect genes responsible for the heritability of intelligence... The researchers did not find any individual protein-altering SNPs that met strict criteria for differences between the high-intelligence group and the control group. However, for SNPs that showed some difference between the groups, the rare allele was less frequently observed in the high intelligence group. This observation is consistent with research indicating that rare functional alleles are more often detrimental than beneficial to intelligence... 'Our research shows that there are not genes for genius. However, to have super-high intelligence you need to have many of the positive alleles and importantly few of the negative rare effects, such as the rare functional alleles identified in our study.'"

Few women chefs lead Capital Region restaurants - "The reasons for the scarcity are varied, nuanced and more complicated than a glass ceiling or an old-boys' network or a masculine culture unwilling to let women advance, though those remain in pockets of the industry... According to Brown and seven other women chefs interviewed for this article, the largest factors keeping women from becoming executive restaurant chefs are lifestyle factors... First, advancing in restaurant kitchens means working long hours, usually nights and weekends and often six days a week. Second, a talented young chef's prime years for rapid advancement from line cook to sous chef, executive sous chef and executive chef are from the mid-20s to early 30s, when many women are thinking about starting a family. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 79 percent of Americans believe a woman should have her first child by age 29; federal statistics show that the average age for an American woman to give birth the first time was 25.2 in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, and 44 percent of women have had a baby by 25... industry trends show women are more likely to pursue career paths that allow for a better work-life balance. Pastry chefs and bakers generally work early morning until early afternoon; SCCC's baking concentration is 73 percent female, and it's 87 percent in the CIA's baking and pastry program. Also, women looking for predictable hours, regular daytime shifts and otherwise conventional work weeks as well as health coverage and additional benefits not generally offered by independent restaurants are opting for institutional settings such as colleges, retirement communities and similar corporate-food-service environments."

Why Does Neil deGrasse Tyson Hate Philosophy? - "In a controversial interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson dismissed philosophy as “distracting.” The host of the television series Cosmos even suggested that philosophy could inhibit scientific progress by encouraging “a little too much question asking.” He thus follows a growing secular trend that cordons Science off from all other forms of inquiry, denigrating whatever falls outside science’s purported boundaries – especially the more “speculative” pursuits such as philosophy. Fortunately for the progress of science, Albert Einstein didn’t take this attitude... Consider the topic of deGrasse Tyson’s T.V. show: how useful is it -- really -- to know that the universe began with the Big Bang, that the Earth orbits the sun, or that the seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth on its axis? These things may be useful for certain pursuits (astronomy, meteorology). But it’s useful for a student or teacher of philosophy to know the difference between dualism and monism or for a historian of 20th century Europe to know about the Zimmerman telegram. Stellar spectroscopy doesn’t help the layman pay the bills, pick the kids up from school, or lead a moral life... John Locke’s Treatise on Government, Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, Rousseau’s Social Contract, and Marx’s Communist Manifesto were hardly idle musings. The revolutions of 1776, 1789, 1848, and 1917 changed the world a whole lot more than the invention of the iPhone"

Israeli bill to consider loud Muslim call to prayer in public as noise pollution - "The call to prayer from muezzins occurs five times daily, including early in the morning before dawn, and has generated a notable amount of complaints from Jewish residents in cities such as Jerusalem over disturbed sleep."
Do those who complain about Seventh Month burning air pollution complain about Muslim Call to Prayer noise pollution?

Phuket Residents Protest at Resort Over Loudspeaker Prayer Calls - "A crowd of more than 300 residents was protesting outside a resort on Phuket's Cape Panwa today in a dispute about loudspeaker announcements. According to the crowd, the management of the recently renamed Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort had written a letter of complaint about calls to prayer and local news being broadcaster by loudspeaker from a mosque nearby."

Muslim leaders welcome high court order on loudspeakers - "For long many mosques, in violation of the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) Rules, 2000 have used loudspeakers much above the permissible decibel levels (50dB during day and 40 dB at night for silence zone and 55 dB during day and 45dB at night for residential area). Now many community leaders and activists demand that mosques should reduce the noise level or face the music... Khan complains that at many Sunni mosques the practice of reciting "salam" (devotional verses in praise of the Prophet) after the fajr (morning) prayer causes "pain" to many people. "I have no problem if the salam is recited by those who are praying inside the mosque. Why should it be amplified to disturb those who are sleeping in the morning?" asks Khan. "If Muslims have the right to give azaan, non-Muslims have the right to sleep peacefully.""
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