"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Links - 23rd September 2016

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Muses - "[On Pindar] He regularly refers to the Muses. And what he's often doing is developing actually individual and interestingly new versions of mythology. It's a mistake to think that myths are fixed. So Hesiod and Homer, they're making their intervention and they become authoritative, but it's still open for later Greeks. It's not, in other words, unorthodox, it's not heretical to have a different version of a particular muse, or a particular God or Goddess that you have a relation with...
The creativity can only happen if the poet is in this very passive-irrational state... That is new, that emphasis is new, because prior to Plato, poets had also been seen as active creators in their own right... but, and the key point here is that we learn in the Ion that poets don't understand anything about what they're talking about. They don't understand the topics of their poetry. And this of course is linked to Socrates in the Apology and the speech he makes in his trial when he says I was so disappointed. I went tramping around Athens interrogating the poets. I love poetry, I thought they'd be brilliant but actually they were useless. They had no idea what they were talking about. So the Ion starts off looking like... it's fine, it doesn't matter that poets are irrational but actually it's a problem. And then when we get to the Phaedo and the Phaedrus a bit later we find out that... the true servant of the Muses is not actually the poet at all but the philosopher
It is interesting to consider the myth of the Merlion in light of this active construction of myth

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Margery Kempe and English Mysticism - "Becoming the ultimate pilgrim and in poverty. And in suffering. And even the way to Jerusalem is a martyrdom of sorts, as she's being mocked and she's being abandoned and so on, but she reaches Jerusalem'
'She travels alone. She's a rich woman. Did she not even have a servant or was she alone alone?
'She had a servant and then she's forsaken by her servant. It'ss a series of absolute trials. And also finding people to travel with. Everyone travelled in groups in the Middle Ages. Groups for safety. And that's clearly a problem. She joins groups and then the groups find her irksome. Because she does go about in a way, correcting people, preaching. Well, maybe not preaching, but constantly inveighing when people want to settle down and have a good time like the Canterbury pilgrims of Chaucer in a way. And she's always there reminding them: don't, don't mention God's name in vain. Or don't behave this way or other'...
She dressed in white which was certainly a sign of purity and probably virginity. She's adopting a persona of a virgin, with 14 children"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Bronze Age Collapse - "In these societies, particularly in the West where I'm talking about, there're often levelling mechanisms by which if someone got too powerful, they had to give a big feast, they had to bury a large amount of the bronze in, either a horde, this very much takes place in Northern Europe or they had to put their materials into a burial. And so a lot of the aggrandisement was controlled by this process"

Wearing ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ insignia could be punishable racial harassment - "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among its other functions, decides “hostile work environment” harassment claims brought against federal agencies. In doing so, it applies the same legal rules that courts apply to private employers, and that the EEOC follows in deciding whether to sue private employers. The EEOC has already ruled that coworkers’ wearing Confederate flag T-shirts can be punishable harassment (a decision that I think is incorrect); and, unsurprisingly, this is extending to other political speech as well... Say someone wears “Trump/Pence 2016” gear in the workplace, or displays a bumper sticker on his car in the work parking lot, or displays such a sign on his cubicle wall, or just says on some occasions that he’s voting for Trump. He doesn’t say any racial or religious slurs about Hispanics or Muslims, and doesn’t even express any anti-Hispanic or anti-Muslim views (though even such views, I think, should be protected by the First Amendment against the threat of government-imposed liability). But in “context,” a coworker complains, such speech conveys a message “tinged” with racial or religious hostility, or is racially or religiously “insensitive.” The coworker threatens to sue. Again, say you are an employer facing such a threat. Would you feel pressured by the risk of liability to restrict the pro-Trump speech?... Workplace harassment law has become a content-based, viewpoint-based speech restriction, including on core political speech"
Isn't the American flag racist and sexist because of slavery and misogyny?

I always mispronounce my name for Americans. I'm reclaiming the original - "Anglicizing my name so that it would be easier for white people to pronounce – and harder to mock – just came with the territory... When a white friend tries to say my Urdu name in earnest, I wince"
If Robert Allen Zimmerman had refused to change his name, he might not have become famous as Bob Dylan
Comments: "Are you suggesting that you only modified the pronounciation of your name when speaking to 'white people', but not when speaking to black people, or any of the many other ethnicities who live in the USA?"
"The 'white people' thing really makes no sense. What she really means is non-Urdu speakers and possibly even some Urdu speakers as well if there are regional variations"
"I'm white and my roots in Alabama go back many generations. My last name is 4 letter and one syllable. It is butchered most of the time, and I always have to spell it for people regarding of their color, race, etc. I also frequently use a simple alternative name like "Smith" when making reservations because it's just more efficient to do. Other than for racist click bait, I'm not sure why the author has chosen to air her self-loathing."
"It's not necessarily disrespectful to not pronounce your name correctly. It may be actually impossible- we lose the ability to voice certain phonemes at an early age if they are not part of our native language. And if you wince when someone does make the effort, is it any wonder they might not bother persisting? Maybe simplest solution is just to get over yourself."
"I wonder how she'd react if a 'white' journalist said she 'winced' over how Pakistanis mispronounce her English name?"
"I knew a someone called Hughes who lived in Spain - he was called oo-guess."
"You'll be pleased to know it works both ways, I used to pretend my name was Karim in the Arab counties I've lived in. Nobody ever got anywhere near the real pronunciation of my name anyway, and it saved about 5 minutes on meeting someone. Still, I expect that'll be cultural appropriation nowadays."
"My husband's English surname is consistently mispronounced, even in England (and not because there are multiple ways to say it, there is only one pronunciation)."

The Radium Girls and the cotton revolution | Podcast | History Extra - "It was an incredibly expensive element because it was so difficult to find. There wasn't a lot of radium in the world. Literally only a few grams existed at one point so sometimes it would be advertised as being part of a product, but it wasn't always put into it. But it was absolutely everywhere... just going down the grocery store, you would find it in butter, you would find it in toothpaste, you would find it in milk. They sold jock straps and lingerie that had radium in it to kind of boost your sex life... te medical exploitation of it was not just for treating cancer but also for radioactive dressings and pads. People put it in pills so that you could take pills and it was also put in tonics, so you'd add it to water and then drink that radioactive tonic. Kind of 5-7 glasses a day was the recommended dose"

Battle of the Somme special | Podcast | History Extra - "I managed to find that during late 1915, the British were trading with the Germans. They were trading... rubber to buy German binoculars, telescopes and gun sights. This is trading with the enemy during the First World War to give the enemy tools with which to kill our soldiers and buying off them tools to kill their soldiers. So business always fluorishes, it doesn't matter if you've got a war or not"

NHS sets aside quarter of its budget for medical negligence claims - Telegraph - "The health service has set aside £26bn to cover medical negligence claims against NHS hospitals"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'Saddam has gone. We have one thousand Saddams now' - "[On the man who took out his sledgehammer to topple Saddam's statue] Like many Iraqis, Kadhim Al-Jabbouri. is nostalgic for the old certainties. Even though Saddam's regime killed 14 members of his family and imprisoned him for 2 years. But after 13 years of fear and killing, he wishes he'd left his sledgehammer at home on that day in 2003. 'I'd like to rebuild the statue, to put it up again because Saddam has gone and we have 1,000 Saddams'
'1,000 Saddams. You're talking about the leaders of the country, the politicians?'
'They destroyed the country. They are thieves and killers. Look at the killings, it's very clear. Saddam never executed people without reason. He was like a wall. There was no corruption or looting. It was safe. Saddam killed people and there were mass graves, but we never saw anything like this government. This government has turned the clock back 100 years'
'Before the invasion most Iraqis did not define themselves politically by their religious groups. But they retreated into their sects and the political system imposed by the Americans ran on sectarian lines... They are liars because they destroyed Iraq, Blair and Bush. They got us back to zero, and we went back to the Middle Ages or maybe before that'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, US election: Will Sanders' supporters back Clinton? - "Bernie Sanders Supporters, they're not even Democrats. They're morons, they're stupid. And Bernie Sanders is to blame because he's told them, it's like a cult. They're dumb. And they really believe that Bernie Sanders is still running"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'I would never go back to Turkey' - "'I... do not understand why there's concern. I understand why concern is being expressed. The Turkish people have clearly demonstrated over the past few days that how important their democracy is to them. How important the democratic system is. And to reduce this down to President Erdogan is going to make greater use of power and abuse the people even more is actually insulting to the Turkish people and it's an Orientalist approach that is outdated and should be reviewed. Turkish democracy is undergoing a test at the moment... Erdogan has as much power as the people will give him... It's time that the West respected the Turkish people'...
'Since Friday nearly 3,000 members of the judiciary: judges and prosecuters have been either suspended, have been arrested, many suspended. People will be understandably fearful that what the President is doing is crushing any form of dissent'
'Once again, the President's not doing this. The government is doing this. Please stop reducing everything that happens in Turkey to President Erdogan. There is a government, the government is in place, the government is functioning'"
Democracy is Orientalist

'American people are ready for something different' » Best of Today - "His greatest single quality in this race, the thing that's made him stand out, is the fact that he's entirely unprogrammed. He's unscripted. He is uncoached. So it's not phoney. In other words, you watch Hillary Clinton and you can see every word has come from a poll or focus group. It's all been round tabled and it's been committeed and it comes across as stale and it comes across as insincere. With Trump, what you see is what you get"

What Are Gender Barriers Made Of? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "STROBER: I realized that although people talk about occupations becoming feminized — that is, women taking them over — really what’s going on is that men are leaving occupations which are no longer relatively attractive in terms of salary, working conditions, and promotion opportunities... you can get more young women interested in engineering, if you discuss the ways in which engineers help people in society. Women like to help people in society. Well, engineers, by and large, do that. But that’s not the way that engineering is sold...
Sumner had “average American listeners” listen to two speakers speaking the same words — one with a New York City accent, the other with a “Southern Standard British English” voice. The difference in listeners’ perceptions was astonishing. They did a much better job remembering exactly what the English speaker said, and they judged the English speaker to be smarter than the New York City speaker"

Merkel vows to keep door open to refugees despite attacks - FT.com - "Horst Seehofer, the prime minister of Bavaria and a staunch opponent of Ms Merkel’s refugee policy, said he had been vindicated by the attacks. “All our prophecies have been proved right,” he said... German security officials have warned for months that Isis, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the Würzburg and Ansbach attacks, may have smuggled operatives into Germany under cover of refugees"

Should suspected terrorists like those held at Guantanamo be detained without trial? - "A major reason why Guantanamo remains open is that it contains several detainees — the precise number is unknown — who, if released, would almost certainly return to a life of terrorism. Indeed, some have, and many in detention have overtly stated their malignant intentions. Others have histories that suggest the likelihood of recidivism. But even some of the most dangerous detainees cannot be tried, either because there is insufficient admissible evidence of a specific crime or because the evidence comes from undercover sources the government is unwilling to out. If Guantanamo were to be closed, as it should be, and the detainees transferred to other facilities, the basic problem would still remain. Similar dilemmas arose in previous wars during which enemy combatants were captured and detained as prisoners of war until the cessation of hostilities, after which they were released without trial. The difference is that the war on terrorism has no predictable termination point, as the current campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS, demonstrates. Moreover, captured terrorists are not lawful combatants entitled to be treated as POWs. They are unlawful combatants who can, under the laws of war, be tried as ordinary criminals, as some have been. But with regard to those who cannot, there is a Hobson’s choice: either free them and risk renewed terrorism; or continue to detain them indefinitely, despite the absence of a firm legal basis for what could amount to life imprisonment without due process... There is no perfect solution to this problem under existing laws. Some academics have proposed an intermediate solution: Pass a preventive detention law that would afford detainees some semblance of the due process accorded to ordinary criminal defendants, but that would authorize a tribunal to order continued confinement based on evidence of continuing dangerousness. This is what the United Kingdom did during both world wars and, more relevantly, what Israel does today with regard to captured terrorists during its never-ending conflict with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups"
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