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Monday, February 06, 2017

Links - 6th February 2017

Blog: Sarah Silverman calls for military coup against 'fascist' Trump

Facebook’s new anti-clickbait algorithm buries bogus headlines - "Facebook manually classified tens of thousands of headlines with a clickbaitiness score to train the new algorithm. Now it can detect headlines like “When She Looked Under Her Couch And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”"

BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Syria's Secret Library - "Anjad is one of many of Daraya's residents I've been speaking to over these last 5 months over scratchy Skype lines. It's the only way I can talk to them. The siege by pro-Syrian government forces means there's no way I can get in there or they can get out. But people there have been very inventive. Some have used their mobile phones to record the sounds of life around them...
This is a place where despite years of snipers, barrel bombs and hunger, life just carries on. For instance the local council still goes around repairing damaged buildings and even collecting garbage. Again, the determination to maintain some sort of normality is humbling. After all, Daraya is fighting for its very survival. But Annas (?) explains to me that the library is at the heart of that very fight...
'There is an old Arabic saying that goes something like a fighter who lacks knowledge has no principles. He'll become no better than a highway thief. War should be built on principles. So I see no point in sending young men to fight when they don't truly understand what they are fighting for. We've been under siege now for nearly 4 years. We have to be educated. Fighting itself isn't the answer, or you're a threat to your nation... We don't ban any books. We're open to everything, because we believe censoring books just increases ignorance. If we want to raise an intellectual generation then we need to let people think for themselves. To be honest with you, we even have explicit books here. We don't write them, though we place them on the top shelf. If anyone wants to borrow one of these books, they have to speak to one of the library staff'...
'We hold regular talks here. Someone will come to the library and give a lecture, and then after that we'll hold a discussion about the issues raised. We had one talk on how Japan managed to recover after the devastation of World War II because we're in a similar predicament. It was a really inspirational talk. We've also had several talks about the Civil War in Iraq because we want to learn how to prevent such awful things happening to us when this conflict is over...
The other day I described heaven to them... I then asked them to imagine their own vision of heaven. First, I nominated Ahdid [sp?]. 'Close your eyes tightly' I told him 'and describe your visions of heaven'. Adil's response shocked me. The picture in his head was of a plane swooping down from the sky dropping bombs on his family. I couldn't relieve his stress. I can't help any of the children take refuge in thoughts of a beautiful heaven. They just can't imagine a place like that'
How come you can have internet access and Skype during a siege?

BBC Radio 4 - Looping Swans - "How Khruschev started going to the ballet and whe international relations begin opening up, how he had to show the visiting foreign dignitaries something, something beautiful. And what are you going to show them? Opera? With long hours of singing in Russian that no one can understand. With ballet you can show them a beautiful woman. That's the simple reality of it. The Bolshoi didn't have a huge repertoire. So it was simple: give them Maya Plisetskaya in Swan Lake. The music is catchy, it's melodic... poor Khrushchev had to sit through 185 performances of Swan Lake half asleep. But he would sleep like a horse, with his eyes open"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Africa’s Ivory Dilemma - "[On poaching] 'Do you feel any regret for the fact that you're killing these animals that are endangered?'
'I don't regret it. I feel heroic because they terrorise us. They invade our farms. And we don't get any compensation'...
'It's third or fourth in terms of international crime... behind drugs, arms and human trafficking'"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, We Shall Fly, Dreaming the Wrong Dream? - "[On a Zambian space camp] One special afronaut, the only woman afronaut, the only woman astronaut actually at the time, Matha Mwamba a 16 year old girl, was raising a herd of cats which were to be released one by one when she got to Mars to make sure that the atmosphere was amenable to lifeforms...
He'd had to disband the space program because his top afronaut, Matha Mwamba had become pregnant and as he would say to one of the reporters: I've had troubles with my spacemen and spacewomen. They won't concentrate on spaceflight. There's too much lovemaking when they should be studying the moon'

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Debates Dissected - "'Someone who has said that pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers'
'I never said that'
'Who said that women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men'
'Didn't say that'...
'I think you know, part of the disheartening, all we've been doing here is trashing Trump. But now I'd like to say some negative things about Hillary Clinton just to balance the scales. Hillar Clinton is the second most unpopular person to run for President aside from Donald Trump. She is a prevaricator, we have seen this clear evidence of extreme dishonesty, carelessness in her handling of classified information. She openly lied about things in the debate. Policies that she supported. This ridiculous thing she said about how her support for open borders and open hemispheric agreement was about energy, which is absurd, and what I've heard time and again from people throughout this general election season is this: this is it? These are the 2 out of 330 million people in this country, this is what it comes down to?
So much for equal pay for equal work

The Zambian Space Programme of 1962 - Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog - "I’m getting [the astronauts] acclimatised to space-travel by placing them in my space-capsule every day. It’s a 40-gallon oil drum in which they sit, and I then roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point, I cut the rope – this produces a feeling of free fall.’
Nkoloso was, in short, one of those wonderful eccentrics who usually only appear after three or four generations of middle class parliamentary democracy, preferably with what Beachcombing likes to think of, with apologies to Weber, as the Protestant Mad Ethic somewhere in the background. And yet here in Africa, in that wonderful glow of colonial freedom, before everything went to hell in the 1970s and the 1980s, was the kind of genius that would not have gone amiss riding through the English shires in the 1700s in a turquoise stage coach, raving about Atlantis and Romish spies. Nkoloso revealed, for example, that he had been watching Mars from his ‘secret headquarters’ and had discovered that the planet was peopled by a strange race of primitive savages. He guaranteed, however, that he would not force their conversion, which was gracious of him. Perhaps memories of cack-handed Anglican missionaries in his part of Africa?"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Life of President Fidel Castro - "'The government here like North Korea, or the China or Romania and East Germany of the past, it tried to silence all the dissident voices. I believe Fidel Castro didn't realise in the early 1960s that he was opting for a model of Concentration Camp Communism.'
'While this repression was doing on inside Cuba, Fidel Castro was still actively championing revolution in the rest of the developing world. This willingness to export the ideals of the Cuban Revolution won Castro further support from radicals such as Jesse Jackson in the United States'...
In 1980, the situation reached a crisis point. In response, Castro opened the port of Mariel and more than 100,000 Cubans left for the US. Once again, he tried to turnthe crisis to his own advantage, releasing hundreds of criminals from prison and sending them among the thousands of ordinary people who wanted to get out...
[After the fall of the USSR] In an effort to show the openness of the regime, in 1998, Cuba even welcomed the staunchly anti-Communist Pope John Paul II to the island.
'You are and must be the protagonists of your own history' urged the Pope. And Fidel responded as he had hundreds of times in the past 4 decades by blaming all his country's misfortunes on the United States. Cuba he said had been the victim of genocide by the most powerful nation on earth simply because it wanted to decide its own destiny"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Taboo of Feminism - "There's this one phrase that I repeat aloud because I heard a lot was '*someting* tu eres mas bonita'. When you're quiet with your mouth shut you look a lot prettier... [it was told] to all of us. Think about what the phrase means too... that's more important right? How you look. And of course, you know what? Latinas, we love looking good...
At first glance there's nothing wrong with confidence, right? It's great to be confident. But if we look at it a little closer, we could also say that now women aren't only told to work on their bodies and to look beautiful but also to work on their mental state. So we have to be confident. It means that women now even have to spend more time and energy and money and effort on being in the right state of mind"

BBC Radio 4 - Crossing Continents, Torah and Tech in Israel - "Someone who has totally unfiltered internet access at home or in the office is considered to be on an inferior level. The regular Haredi schools won't accept his children. People in his synogogue and community will view him with a crooked eye. Another potential problem is that people won't let their children visit his home to play with his kids or even in the yard outside. And now for something much more dramatic. In Haredi society, you get married through matchmakers and no regular Haredi person will make a match with someone whose home has unfiltered internet access. You can sum it up with a very simple sentence: if you don't follow Haredi club's rules for electronic devices, you have to leave the club...
The tradition is that the temple fell in *something* because of *something*, which is hating each other for no reason. And the way that the temple will be built again... and that's like a symbol for everything being good is *something*, which is loving each other for no reason"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, America Revisited, America Revisited: The South - "[On picketing abortion clinics and yelling] 'Most of us communicate verbally right?... one of the daddies... came to bring, to have his baby killed. And I told him and Dad lost his temper right? We have that a lot here'
'Have you ever been hit?'
'I've been hit. I've had cars driven at me. I've heard all kinds of interesting things before schnelly [?]. Now he's in no better shape than an unborn child'...
'I was incarcerated with 5 of my biological brothers'
'So it was a family thing'
'Yeah, it was sorta like a family reunion in prison... honestly, most of the African Americans that I talked to had a very low opinion of President Obama. They didn't think President Obama was doing much of anything'"
Maybe the black prisoners had internalised the dominant paradigm of racism

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Jobs for the Girls - "Shanti runs a small garage with her husband. The couple came to the city from their village originally to find work and they used to run a tea shop, she tells me. But eventually found that they could make much more money repairing tyres and fixing truck and motorbike parts...
So why is Shanti the only woman working here as a mechanic?
'Why? Because other women want to earn money in easy ways. This is hard work. They like to dress up. These women working at tea stalls and so on. But look at me - I've got no makeup on. I'm here to work, not to look good'
'She's very proud of the fact that she's very simple. She dresses very simply. She's wearing a bright sari. Very Indian style of dressing but she's really emphasising on the fact that this is a tough job and she feels that women don't get into this job because they don't like the rough and tumble that this work requires'...
By day, Geetha Lahori [sp?] is like any other traditional housewife. A mother who takes care of the house, her husband and her children. But by night, it's a different story.
'As soon as I step out of the house, I feel stronger. In the house I wear sari or Indian clothes, but when I'm out and about, people keep a distance from me and I really like that. Whether I'm here at work or travelling in a bus or walking on the road, once I'm out of the house, I feel like a bouncer'...
India actually has a really good percentage of female pilots. The world average is 3% whereas in India the average is 11%
Another explanation for the gender pay gap

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Jobs for the Girls - Part Two - "Train them as masons so that they can claim equal wages with equal work. That way nobody can stop them then. But it was a Herculean task because no woman was willing to learn skilled labour like mason, because everybody will laugh at them. No woman was, had ever done this job before... Woman mason? They thought that it was culturally against God even. God does not design women for doing such kind of work...
You don't employ men anymore because your experience has been once they get trained, they migrate to the Gulf in search of better jobs. Whereas your experience with women is different because they tend to stay put
More reasons for the gender pay gap

BBC World Service - Assignment , Cleansing Turkey - "But Gulen condemned the coup and denies any role in it. And even if he was involved, it's hard to believe that a 100,000 people, or even a fraction of that number, can have known in any way about a conspiracy which by its very nature, had to be as tight as possible. The government says that all those dismissed supported the movement in one way or another. But in fact, at least some, such as *name* the history lecturer, actively opposed it...
'You've got a complete set of the works of Lenin... and Stalin's works as well. A little bust of Karl Marx... you're a leftist'
'Yes, I mean I have been sharp critic of political Islam and all kinds of religious sects all my life... it's visible to the naked eye, how can I be Gulenist?'...
'There is no evidence they can show against me except for the book'
The book that led to his dismissal and questioning by police. A book by Fethullah Gulen...
'I am an academic, I can read any books and this is ridiculous. You are making Turkey appear ridiculous in the eyes of whole world... and even that book I was against Gulen. I had underlined those lines where he says Islam punishes apostasy by death. He approves of it, yeah, unbelievably for some, because he is known as a moderate Islam'...
A woman who's facing the sack just because she scored a very high mark of 90% in the civil service entrance exam in 2010. That's the year that Gulenists are said to have stolen the exam questions beforehand so the candidates from their movement would be better prepared. Now anyone who did well in that exam that year is under suspicion"

The Pizza Project: A Taxonomy of the World's Great Pizza Styles, Great Fun No Matter How You Slice It - "I will begin my Pizza Project with the proposition that it is the makeup and thickness of the crust that defines a species of pizza, and that the infinite combinations of toppings create subspecies. In other words Neapolitan pizza is a species, while Margherita is a sub-species. Neapolitan pizza is defined by a very specific dough recipe (dictated by law in Italy) and there are many sub-species depending on the toppings. Margherita is the most famous sub-species, with just tomato sauce, cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and olive oil. But Roman pizza, which is a unique species identifiable by a different dough recipe, can also have a sub-species called Margherita made with the same toppings. Still with me?"

The Popular Myth That Right-Wing Extremism Kills More Than Islamic Terrorism in U.S. Since 9/11 - "The New America study does not count violent jihadist attacks from self-radicalized or “lone wolf” terrorists who swear allegiance to Islam in the same manner as terrorist attacks committed by a card-carrying member of Islamist terror organizations. If a terrorist yells “Allahu Akbar!” before going on a murder spree, you see, that's not enough. However, when right-wing terrorist attacks are coded by New America, those are attributed in a loose manner to mere statements made by the perpetrators that fit the left-wing's shibboleth that racist or anti-government views define someone as a “right-winger.” Thus, the conclusions are not only questionable, they are borderline deceptive. The professor concludes:
Right wing terrorism is more deadly for Americans only if you add a number of very limiting parameters (e.g. excluding the victims of 9/11, ignoring “lone wolf” attacks without solid connections to groups like al-Qaeda and their affiliates, etc…). But if you lift those limitations, and apply equal standards, then the raw and unfiltered numbers of deaths of Americans due to Islamic extremism in the United States over the last fifteen years dwarf the numbers attributable to right wing extremism by a ratio of over 62 to 1. Even if you leave out 9/11 victims and just focus on the ideological statements and goals of the attackers, then the deaths of Americans due to Islamic extremism still outnumber the deaths attributable to right wingers (which reveals an even greater disparity when compared with population groups). If we move beyond America’s borders, then the disparity becomes far greater, with somewhere around 90% of the world’s terrorism related deaths attributable to Islamic extremism, and only a fraction of 1% attributable to right wing extremism."
Addendum: This draws on work by Andrew Holt

100 Women 2016: I am a 'surrendered wife’ - "Despite considering herself a feminist, she follows - and now teaches others - the approach of a controversial book called The Surrendered Wife..
The six principles of being a 'Surrendered Wife'
Relinquishes inappropriate control of her husband
Respects her husband's thinking
Receives his gifts graciously and expresses gratitude for him
Expresses what she wants without trying to control him
Relies on him to handle household finances
Focuses on her own self-care and fulfilment"

Yes-Dearing Your Way to a Happy Marriage? - The New York Times - "''You liberated women are going to make men weak and then you won't want them,'' she warned. ''You'll be sorry!'' Naturally, I ignored her. Now I'm wondering if she was simply ahead of her time... ''Instead of throwing out traditional roles, try them on again,'' Ms. Doyle exhorts in Chapter 13, called ''Abandon the Myth of Equality.''The gist is that if men feel they are in charge, their wives, freed from constant decision-making, will be happier, too... The surrendered wife provides sex on demand (a rather innocuous edict compared with a zestier suggestion in Marabel Morgan's 1973 work, ''The Total Woman,'' which urged wives to greet their husbands naked and wrapped in cellophane). Being available, Ms. Doyle temporizes, ''doesn't mean you don't have to ask for what you want first.''"

U. Toronto lecturer: 'Misconception' that there's a thing called 'biological sex' - "“‘Cisnormativity’ is basically the very popular idea and assumption that most people probably have […] that there is such a thing as male and female and that they connect to being a boy or a girl, or a man or a woman.” “Cisnormativity,” Matte continues, is also the notion that everyone assumes “there is male and female,” but “very little is actually looked at to … understand what’s actually the case.” He claims scientists have refuted the sexual “binary” notion for over 50 years."
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