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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, July 04, 2016

Links - 4th July 2016

Composers Datebook for Friday, June 17 - "It’s possible that Bach’s Cantata No. 21 was first performance that day: its first part performed before the sermon, its second part right afterwards. The opening text, which Bach sets as a fugue, begins “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis” or, in English, I had much affliction.” Now even in Bach’s day, composers were afflicted with critics, including snide remarks in print from fellow composers. In 1725, a then-famous composer—and critic—Johann Mattheson took Bach to task for the way in which he had set his text by quoting exactly what is being sung:
"I, I, I, I had much affliction, I had much affliction, in my heart, in my heart. I had much affliction, in my heart…” etc…
Mattheson’s point, apparently, was that vocal music should not stutter, but flow gracefully in the “gallant” style that was becoming more fashionable and trendy back then. Even so, Mattheson knew that Bach was the real deal, and earlier had praised Bach in print for church and keyboard music so well written that (quote), “we must certainly rate this man highly.”"

Composers Datebook for Sunday, July 3 - "The piano became the dominant keyboard instrument in Mozart’s lifetime in the late 18th century. Before that, the harpsichord had ruled. But for more than a hundred years after Mozart’s day, the harpsichord seemed as dead as the dodo, and even the great harpsichord works of Bach and other EARLY 18th century masters were always played on the piano—that is, until Wanda Landowska came on the scene. This indomitable woman was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1879, and single-handedly brought the harpsichord back to life. It was on today’s date in 1927 that she inaugurated an historic series of harpsichord concerts at her summer home near Paris—and, two years later, in 1929, Landowska premiered the “Concert champêtre,” by Francis Poulenc, a brand new harpsichord concerto written specially for her"

WHAT PROTECTION CAN ROAD USERS GET AGAINST SELFISH CYCLISTS? - "Most cyclists and e-bikers have this sense of entitlement on the right to use the road. Also, they think that is the job of the drivers and motorists to pay them extra attention as they weave in and out of lane or cycle in the center lane or in huge groups. They want people to give way to them. Yet they ride in groups like this, Rarely do they follow the traffic rules. They choose which ever light is convenient for them."

Cybersecurity official warns selfies may be used for ’black magic’ - "CyberSecurity Malaysia is an agency under the Science Technology and Innovation Ministry. It was launched in 2007 by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to promote cybersecurity."

Beware of ‘trans movement’ as patriarchy in disguise - "today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair. As a culture, we are telling women that the feelings and sentiments of a particular group of men – in this case, men who regard themselves as women – matter more than they do. That’s patriarchy by definition, even if women happen to agree to it... my female identity was confirmed by science, which demonstrates that every cell of my being is female no matter how I look or what I do. My being a woman literally has to do with my being, not my doing. Hence, I can live out my life without fitting some ideal of a woman, whether it’s Mad Men’s or anybody else’s... any man, whether he’s identifying as a woman or looking for his next victim, may use the women’s restroom because he feels like it. So much for women’s rights. Nevertheless, the bathroom discussion is couched in the language of civil rights and discrimination. Talk about a culture-war trap... the bathroom wars indicate that we’re entering an entirely new phase of patriarchy which declares victory every time it destroys a safe space for women, including bathrooms, fitting rooms, locker rooms, and so on."

Check In China - "The bizarre practice of scalping is very common. Limited medical resour­­ces for the huge population force patients to queue up at hospitals well ahead of the opening time in order to purchase appointment tickets, which are usually snapped up by scalpers and resold at a high price"

Woman jailed 2 weeks for slapping, spitting at police officers after topless swim - "Ms Zhao had gone to Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa Island at about 1pm to meet her friends. They had drinks and remained there throughout the evening. At about 8.30pm, a security guard heard a sound coming from the swimming pool area. When he went to check, he found that Ms Zhao was topless in the pool. He asked her to put her bikini top back on, and she compliedd with his instruction. But she once again took off her top and went back into the pool soon after that. Noticing this, the guard asked her to produce identification, but she refused to co-operate and started behaving aggressively, prompting him to call the police."

Shonda Rhimes’ Real Talk for Dartmouth Grads: Dreams Are for Losers - "Elsewhere in the world, girls are being harmed simply because they want to get an education. Slavery still exists. Children still die from malnutrition. In this country, we lose more people to handgun violence than any other nation in the world. Sexual assault against women in America is pervasive and disturbing and continues at an alarming rate. So yes tomorrow may suck for you — as it did for me. But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky... a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing into your computer and then going back to binge watching your favorite show. For me, it’s Game of Thrones... Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life... ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU THEY ARE DOING IT ALL PERFECTLY IS A LIAR"

Uber for MBAs is a worrying sign for knowledge workers everywhere

Feeding the world: Can we preserve forests, go organic and eat meat? - "The study’s organic route is only likely to be able to support the FAO’s business-as-usual meat-eating scenario out to 2050 if cropland expands at least 20 per cent on 2000 levels. No scenarios allow for an organic approach to food production and global adoption of a North American style diet, the study suggests. On the climate-benefits of organic agriculture more generally, the paper explains: “[T]he benefits from increased soil carbon stocks of organic agriculture can be annihilated by the larger area demand resulting from lower yields of organic agriculture. In this regard, the massive greenhouse gas emission costs associated with the expansion of cropland into grazing land, currently not well documented, will be crucial.”

Beggar caught making over 70,000 USD per month in Dubai - ""Some of the beggars had passports issued with business or tourist visas," Al Badiawi told reporters. "During the campaign, we found that the majority of beggars had entered the country legally with a three-month visa, in order to collect as much money as they could during their time here," Al Badiawi explained. The seizures showed that one beggar was making about 73,500 dollars per month. "More money was collected on Fridays when beggars stood in front of mosques," Al Badiawi said."

49-Million-Year-Old Cockroach Fossil Reveals A New World Origin For The Old World Ectobius Genus - "The four species of cockroach discovered in Colorado soon became extinct in North America but continued to thrive in the Old World. It is believed that Ectobius disappeared from North America due to a drop in temperature, soon finding a home in Europe and Africa. It took 49 million years for an Ectobius cockroach, adapted to the cold, to return to North America. The researchers describe the Ectobius’ existence in North America as one that is reminiscent of horses, which were first found in North America but soon became extinct and later reintroduced by Spanish explorers."

The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses - "Consider this parallel. To all intents and purposes, the Mongolian wild horse (E. przewalskii, or E. caballus przewalskii) disappeared from its habitat in Mongolia and northern China a hundred years ago. It survived only in zoos and reserves. That is not domestication in the classic sense, but it is captivity, with keepers providing food and veterinarians providing health care. Then surplus animals were released during the 1990s and now repopulate a portion of their native range in Mongolia and China. Are they a reintroduced native species or not? And how does their claim to endemism differ from that of E. caballus in North America, except for the length and degree of captivity?"

Can You Identify These Medieval Weapons By Name?

Do plants feel pain? - "plants release gases that are the equivalent of crying out in pain. Using a laser-powered microphone, researchers have picked up sound waves produced by plants releasing gases when cut or injured. Although not audible to the human ear, the secret voices of plants have revealed that cucumbers scream when they are sick, and flowers whine when their leaves are cut. There's also evidence that plants can hear themselves being eaten. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that plants understand and respond to chewing sounds made by caterpillars that are dining on them. As soon as the plants hear the noises, they respond with several defense mechanisms. For some researchers, evidence of these complex communication systems -- emitting noises via gas when in distress -- signals that plants feel pain"

To truly end animal suffering, the most ethical choice is to kill wild predators (especially Cecil the lion) - "there are estimated 60 billion land birds and over 100 billion land mammals living in the wild. Who is working to alleviate their suffering? As the philosopher Jeff McMahan writes: “Wherever there is animal life, predators are stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and devouring their prey. Agonized suffering and violent death are ubiquitous and continuous.” If we believe that we should protect animals from unnecessary suffering and death, then it seems that we should be focusing much more on reducing the non-human causes of animal suffering and death that occur almost continuously in the wild... If wild animals don’t have lives worth living then we should try to either improve their lives to the point that they are worth living, or we should prevent such animals from existing in the future. In other words, we should focus on reducing disease, parasites and starvation among wild animals, or on reducing their population size."

Hookup culture is bad for women—so why do we force ourselves to participate? - "It wasn’t just the social pressure that drove me to buy into the commitment-free hookup lifestyle, but my own identity as a feminist. The idea that sexual liberation is fundamental to female agency dominates progressive media. True feminists, I believed, not only wanted but also thrived on emotionless, non-committal sexual engagements... If this was sexual liberation, it was hard to understand how it was helping women. But I was pretty sure my friends and I weren’t closeted conservatives who wanted to go back to an era of sockhops and going steady."

Sex on Campus - She Can Play That Game, Too - - "women at elite universities were choosing hookups because they saw relationships as too demanding and potentially too distracting from their goals... Susan Patton says women like A. are making a mistake. Ms. Patton, who graduated from Princeton in 1977 and is now a human resources consultant in New York, said in an interview that she wrote her letter after attending a conference on Princeton’s campus, where she took part in a discussion about careers with a group of female students. At one point, she asked the young women if any of them wanted to marry and have children. They at first appeared shocked by the question, then looked at one another for reassurance before, she said, “sheepishly” raising their hands. “I thought, ‘My gosh, what have we come to that these brilliant young women are afraid to say that marriage and children are significant parts of what they view as their lifelong happiness?’ ” Ms. Patton said. “They have gotten such strong, vitriolic messages from the extreme feminists saying, ‘Go it alone — you don’t need a man,’ ” she added... Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk. One girl, explaining why her encounters freshman and sophomore year often ended with fellatio, said that usually by the time she got back to a guy’s room, she was starting to sober up and didn’t want to be there anymore, and giving the guy oral sex was an easy way to wrap things up and leave... The close relationship between hooking up and drinking leads to confusion and disagreement about the line between a “bad hookup” and assault"

Boys on the Side - "“Here in America, the girls, they give up their mouth, their ass, their tits,” the Argentinean said to me, punctuating each with the appropriate hand motion, “before they even know the guy. It’s like, ‘Hello.’ ‘Hello.’ ‘You wanna hook up?’ ‘Sure.’ They are so aggressive! Do they have hearts of steel or something? In my country, a girl like this would be desperate. Or a prostitute”... Armstrong and Hamilton had come looking for sexual victims. Instead, at this university, and even more so at other, more prestigious universities they studied, they found the opposite: women who were managing their romantic lives like savvy headhunters"

Anti-trans conservatives borrow left-wing rhetoric. - "The ADF’s video was the latest example of the right’s attempts to marshal the language of campus-style social justice politics, with its emphasis on victimization, trauma, and triggers... It’s a kind of high-level trolling meant to highlight contradictions in mainstream feminist discourse, not to build support for rape victims. Those contradictions, however, are real. There’s no coherent ideology in which traumatized students have the right to be shielded from material that upsets them—be it Ovid, 9½ Weeks, or the sentiments of Laura Kipnis—but not from undressing in the presence of people with different genitalia... Some radical feminists believe that these contradictions should make people on the left reconsider their commitment to trans rights. Certainly, creepy men can and probably will take advantage of trans-friendly bathroom laws to try to prey on women. Shortly after Washington state allowed trans people to use bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their gender identity, a man barged into the women’s locker room at a local pool, announcing, “The law has changed, and I have the right to be here”... The ease with which conservatives are able to appropriate social justice arguments should, however, make some on the left reconsider the politics of personal fragility. If claiming to feel triggered operates as a political trump card, conservatives are going to play it... It’s not surprising that they’ve found it easy to adapt arguments premised on extreme female vulnerability to their own purposes. Those ideas always had a conservative streak to begin with. So far, progressives have mostly responded to conservative complaints about opening up bathrooms to trans people by loudly insisting that trans bathroom predators are a myth. This elides the fact that we have no working definition of what differentiates a trans woman from a man claiming to be a woman for iniquitous ends. There are, in fact, instances of men who’ve donned drag to spy on women in bathrooms or assault them in female-only spaces such as homeless shelters. There may well be more. Those who want to defend laws on gender-inclusive bathroom access should have an argument besides incredulous denial. Rather than engaging in a victimology arms race, they might ground their arguments in the language of civil liberties... It would be easier for people on the left to make that argument now, though, if they hadn’t spent the past few years arguing the opposite. "

The Jian Ghomeshi Rape Hoax Shows Why Due Process Matters - "In court one of the women who falsely accused Ghomshi of rape admitted under cross-examination tha she was sending him pictures of herself semi-naked after he “raped” her... The second woman to accuse Ghomeshi of raping her emailed him the next day asking for bonus sex... Do you know understand why feminists want to eliminate due process protections in rape cases?... We supposedly live in a rape culture, but a woman can destroy your life based on a false accusation."

Feminists, We Are Not Winning the War on Campus Sexual Assault - "In college I would have been one of the women attending the rallies, holding the signs, and celebrating the wave of expulsions and suspensions of men accused of sexual assault... And then I joined a firm known for handling student discipline cases, started representing students accused of sexual assault, and soon realized what an insane, Kafkaesque world these student disciplinary proceedings are."
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