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Monday, November 27, 2017

Links - 27th November 2017 (1)

Neo-Nazis are rallying in Virginia today. Here's how to think about the alt-right. - "What I criticized wasn’t identity politics in general but a specific version of identity politics that was about performative wokeness, and in particular the reason I didn't like it was because it was very inclined to censor and it was very inclined to gang up on people. I hate that, and I think it deserves to be criticized... in shutting down its political enemies, the left has also shut down its own internal dissenters, who have always made the left intellectually vibrant. These are the people who keep the ideology from becoming fossilized because they force everyone to constantly rethink things, and these are the very voices that have been shut down. No one on the left wants to discuss taboo subjects anymore. Everyone is shut down for the tiniest of transgressions and anyone who is off message is attacked, and that’s a climate in which ideas die... The crisis of liberalism is that it became so cocky about the hegemony of its own ideas that it lost the ability to make the case for itself. There’s this assumption that our ideas are brilliant and beyond question and anyone who questions them can be dismissed as sexist or racist or whatever. Well, that’s not good enough, and the taboos have been broken. It’s not enough to say what you are against. We have to specifically say what we are for and defend it"

Jonathan Kay resigns as editor of The Walrus amid cultural appropriation controversy - "The editor-in-chief of The Walrus resigned late Saturday after mounting criticism, including from some of the magazine’s own contributors, for his role within a swirling controversy over the toxic subject of cultural appropriation. Jonathan Kay, who took over the editor’s chair in December, 2014, left after days of expressing dismay over the fate of Hal Niedzviecki, who had stepped down from his position as editor of the Writers’ Union of Canada’s (TWUC) Write magazine earlier in the week amid criticism for an essay he had written for that publication’s spring issue, which was dedicated to Indigenous writers. In the essay, titled “Winning the Appropriation Prize,” Mr. Niedzviecki had declared: “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation.”"

Christie Blatchford: Magazine editor the latest to be silenced for the sin of free speech - "he joined the growing list of people who have committed sins against the modern orthodoxy and who for their troubles have been silenced or bullied and in some cases forced into abject apology"

The future of genetic enhancement is not in the West - "There are, then, two primary factors contributing to emergence of genetic enhancement technologies – research to develop the technologies and popular opinion to support their deployment. In both areas, Western countries are well behind China."

Blasphemy Conviction For Egyptian Teens Condemned: Mocking ISIS Is ‘Not A Crime’ - "The video shows the teens pretending to pray. One kneels while another recites verses from the Quran and two others stand behind him and laugh. One waves his hand under another’s neck to mimic beheading. The teacher filmed the scene. After the video’s content came to light, angry Egyptian Muslims called for the teens and the teacher to be evicted from their village. With cries of blasphemy, mobs attacked the teens’ homes and Egyptian security forces arrested them. The teacher and his family were told to leave the village by its leaders."
I thought ISIS isn't Muslim?

Living man in Ohio declared ‘legally dead’ despite appearing alive and well before a US judge - "Donald Miller Jr, sitting alive and well before a US judge, has had his request to be legally named among the living turned down"

Lawyers: The Lowest Health and Wellbeing of All Professionals - "lawyers, because of their long hours, high levels of stress, toxic work environments, and strenuous workloads, have the worst health and well-being of any white-collar professionals. And, as if that news isn’t bad enough, the study also showed that many lawyers resort to drugs and alcohol to combat the stress. There’s also research that shows the suicide rate among attorneys is higher than many other professionals. Perhaps it’s the adversity they face day in and day out or the fact that their working conditions have caused them to slump into a depression."

So You Want To Hire The Beautiful. Well, Why Not? - "I believe the only meaningful measure of productivity is the amount a worker adds to customer satisfaction and to the happiness of co-workers. A worker's physical appearance, to the extent that it is valued by customers and co-workers, is as legitimate a job qualification as intelligence, dexterity, job experience, and personality... Research studies, such as those by Daniel S. Hamermesh and Jeff E. Biddle in the 1994 American Economic Review, indicate that the wage differential between attractive and ugly people is about 10% for both sexes. The differential is substantially greater for women if one considers outcomes in the marriage market. Less attractive, or at least obese, women are much less likely to marry than non-obese women and tend to have husbands with sharply lower earnings. To really address this hard fact of life, ugliness would have to be protected as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the act would have to be extended to the marriage market"

This Is Just a Middle-Aged Man Dressed as a Japanese Schoolgirl - "He's called the "Sailor Suit Old Man." And he's called that for good reason, too. Whenever you see Hideaki Kobayashi on the weekend, he's dressed as a Japanese schoolgirl... Whenever he's in his schoolgirl gear, Kobayashi is surrounded by people—often, real schoolgirls—who want to get their photos snapped with him. He recently wrote on Facebook how he's mobbed for photos, in his own words, "like a popular celebrity""

You Can Rent Old Men in Japan - "you are renting an ossan to do things like, for example, going to art galleries, having lunch and talking about your love life, test driving cars with you, renting weepy DVDs, looking at new apartments together, complimenting you, and even giving you ideas... You can even hire an ossan to run your errands or do your shopping. And in Sendou's case, you can have him sign old baseball cards!"

A Horror Game Where The AI Learns From Your Every Move - "In Hello Neighbor, an advanced AI will come after you if your snooping catches his eye. Your mistakes will teach it how to best hunt you down, an excellent mechanic for a horror game."

Banksy forced to withdraw offer to send free artwork to non-Tory voters - "The street artist Banksy has withdrawn an offer to send a limited edition print of a new piece to voters who shunned Conservative general election candidates in and around his home city of Bristol. Banksy’s stunt had attracted the attention of the police, the Electoral Commission and would-be Tory MPs concerned it could skew the results in six constituencies"

Where the Five-Day Workweek Came From - "There’s reason to believe that a seven-day week with a two-day weekend is an inefficient technology: A growing body of research and corporate case studies suggests that a transition to a shorter workweek would lead to increased productivity, improved health, and higher employee-retention rates. The five-day workweek might be limiting productivity. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who worked 55 hours per week performed more poorly on some mental tasks than those who worked 40 hours per week. And Tony Schwartz, the author of Be Excellent at Anything, told Harvard Business Review that people work best in intense 90-minute bursts followed by periods of recovery"

How The Atlantic's September Cover Story, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind,’ Came to Be - "The resident assistants who implemented the program had been given training materials that sought to define racism, and included statements such as “the term [racist] applies to all white people living in the United States” and “people of color cannot be racists.” While such claims may be good topics for debate, they seem on their face to be examples of several classic cognitive distortions—overgeneralizing, dichotomous thinking, and an inability to disconfirm. Campus leaders seemed to be telling students that they should overgeneralize, personalize, and magnify problems...
The relationship of trust between professors and students seems to be weakening as more students become monitors for microaggressions. I don’t mind if students complain directly to me. Each lecture involves hundreds of small decisions, and sometimes I do choose the wrong word or analogy. But nowadays, e-mail and social media make it easier for students to complain directly to campus authorities, or to the Internet at large, than to come talk with their professors. Each complaint can lead to many rounds of meetings, and sometimes to formal charges and investigations. Increasingly, professors must ask themselves not just What is the best way to teach this material? but also Might the most sensitive student in the class take offense if I say this, and then post it online, and then ruin my career?"

Garland, Texas and the Right to Blaspheme - "even as Western societies have jettisoned their laws against blasphemy, many democratic societies have experimented with a different kind of speech restriction, intended to protect human beings rather than God... Blasphemy isn't bigotry. Applying the single term "Islamophobia" blurs that difference: conflating the denial of a belief with discrimination against the believer."

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits? - "economist Keith Chen released a working paper (now published) suggesting speakers of languages without strong future tenses tended to be more responsible about planning for the future. Quick example. In English, we say "I will go to the play tomorrow." That's strong future tense. In Mandarin or Finnish, which have weaker future tenses, it might be more appropriate to say, "I go to the play tomorrow."... speakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English."
This supports the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

Support for political diversity in Singapore halved, post-GE2015 survey finds - "the percentage of respondents who support greater political pluralism and change in the electoral system had halved from 35.8 per cent in a 2011 survey to 18 per cent this year. On the other hand, the percentage of “conservatives” in support of the political status quo doubled from 21.6 per cent in 2011 to 44.3 per cent in 2015... Those who have shifted from being pluralists to conservatives did so because they believed the Government did enough to change policies after 2011, to the point they did not see the need for a stronger opposition voice... Key segments in this group that swung to the conservative camp were those aged 21 to 29 as well as 65 and above"
If the party can change, why change the party?

32-year-old restaurant owner jailed 12 months for having sex with 15-year-old girl - "A 32-year-old Malaysian was jailed 12 months on Tuesday for having underage sex with a 15-year-old girl. He is also the first of five men to be convicted for the offence against the same minor... He told her that he would be on transit in Singapore on Oct 5 and suggested that they meet for sex. She agreed. That evening, she went to Changi Village Hotel at Netheravon Road where the offence took place"
Some victims get victimised a lot

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Privacy - "As Nigel Farage said, Trump's not running for Pope and Smith's not running for anything outside the gym and the dance floor. Can anybody be expected to live a life where everything they say and do is on the record? Or has our digital age created a clamour to expose and condemn that only colourless automatons need apply...
I think there're important but subtle distinctions between what's morally acceptable in the bedroom, the living room, the high street or a public platform and I worry losing this distinction disorientates us and stops us distinguishing between trivial indiscretions and profound wrongs"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Legalising Drugs - "A lot of reform around the world in drug laws has been driven by police who know that the War on Drugs is such a conspicuous failure...
So if the human brain doesn't develop until the mid 20s there's an awful lot of alleged neuroscience in this debate but anyway if that were the case then would you stop anybody in their mid 20s ingesting anything that was seen to have any influence on the brain. So for example alcohol would you make that illegal until somebody was twenty five or twenty six. Or until you or somebody else told me the brain stopped developing?... at this rate we won't let them vote until they're 30...
Why Prohibition causes violence... if we go out of here and we go to the local off license and we try to steal a bottle of vodka, that guy'll ring the police, the police will come and take us away. So they don't need to be violent, they don't need to be intimidating. They got the power of the law to uphold their property rights. If we went and tried to steal a bag of weed or bag o cocaine. Obviously that guy, he can't ring the police, the police would arrest him. He has to fight us. In fact he has to establish his place in that neighborhood through violence...
The reason I don't really get hot up about alcohol and tobacco is because I believe that people truly have the facts whereas there is a mountain of disinformation particular around cannabis... people are not making informed choices. They are being given false information mainly by organizations funded by George Soros...
What he asked us to do is to distinguish between the moral issue of what's right and the policy question of what works... [X] came along and said well actually from his perspective there's a question about what works is a moral question. Because if you do something which you know doesn't work and you keep doing it then you are immoral because you are not facing up to the consequences of your actions"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Summer of 2016 - "Politics is about contesting ideas ultimately. We're going to have, to have a debate. That's democracy. If we don't want mass participation we're arguing against democracy...
No set of facts will make your mind up about this referendum. There were, firstly there were far too many things we didn't know and secondly there were a set of principles and value judgments you had to make. That's the majesty of decisions like these. That's why we give them to voters and we should be excited about doing that in a democracy...
I don't really believe in such a thing as hate speech. I don't believe there's such a thing as hate crimes. It seems ridiculous to me that it's more of a crime to hit me than other people just because I'm gay. Everybody wants to hit me, it should be less of a crime. You know I think it's ridiculous and I don't really don't really believe in this sort of violent speech thing the left keeps pushing. It seems, strikes me as completely preposterous. The effect of Donald Trump is going to be to open up the Overton Window and to make things acceptable again which ought to be acceptable. Perfectly reasonable and respectable points of view...
You have to try and persuade people who voted Tory fourteen months ago to vote Labour so inevitably you stretch your coalition and this is the point I'm trying to get to about authenticity. It's quite easy to be authentic and narrow. It's very difficult to be authentic and broad. And a pressure group is narrow and deep. And a political party is by its nature broad but therefore shallower. I think it's the nature of democratic politics that that happens, not that there's some particular flaw in New Labour. It happens with all political movements"

‘Parrot Man’ in tussle with Ngee Ann City management - "Mr Zeng, 65, would be in his wheelchair, often with his parrot, and whenever he sets up his stall at the centre of the narrow and highly used linkway, the mall’s security would call the police to get him to leave, but he keeps returning. Last month, in a drastic last-ditch attempt, the mall’s management put up a notice along the walkway that reads: “Please do not donate any money to me. I am capable person that [sic] can walk and ride bike”. The sign also showed four photographs of Mr Zeng, dressed in his familiar white robes, and his activities along Orchard Road... Mr Zeng said that the management was “selfish” and “jealous” of him receiving money from the shoppers... since January, the police have recorded at least seven of Mr Zeng’s disclosed offences at Ngee Ann City, which include begging, use of abusive language on a police officer, and a case of assault of the mall’s security manager in April. He was arrested in several of these instances... Mr Zeng told TODAY he no longer goes to the temple since he dropped his colostomy bag there and felt embarrassed for the smell he caused at the end of last year... The management has also received feedback from “several” shoppers about Mr Zeng, and it is increasingly concerned that his presence might put off visitors to the mall. Most of them mentioned the bird droppings from Mr Zeng’s parrot, given the concerns over the spread of avian flu

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study | City, University of London - "Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL. The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated... “Biological differences give boys an aptitude for mental rotation and more interest and ability in spatial processing, while girls are more interested in looking at faces and better at fine motor skills and manipulating objects. When we studied toy preference in a familiar nursery setting with parents absent, the differences we saw were consistent with these aptitudes""
Considering this replicates what we see in wild animals, it is even more proof of how insidious patriarchy is!

Peter Allan:'Feminine care' signs should be gender neutral - "a high-profile hate-crime officer warned High Street stores that ‘feminine care’ signs on women’s sanitary products breached gender equality rules. Sergeant Peter Allan was branded ‘meddlesome’ and ‘over-officious’ in an angry backlash, after telling Tesco and Sainsbury’s that men might want to use the sanitary products and suggesting the signs were discriminatory. Sussex Police faced a deluge of condemnation and disbelief after the officer used social media to advise stores to swap feminine-specific signs for gender-neutral alternatives such as ‘personal hygiene’ or ‘personal care’... Some people thought his views were so misguided, they asked Sussex Police if it was a parody Twitter account. Lev Ben-Avraham tweeted: ‘This is the reason people have no confidence in the police. Two weeks to get a call back after a burglary because you’re too busy policing words’... Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel said: ‘This isn’t anything to do with policing and it’s a waste of time and irresponsible for an officer to be using his position like this to put pressure on supermarkets.’ Sgt Allan works with the lesbian, gay and transgender community and helps to recruit hate-crime ambassadors across the county. The officer’s controversial comments emerged after he joined shoppers in denouncing Marks & Spencer as ‘sexist’ – forcing a store to change its toilet signs. The women’s sign at the chain’s Shoreham-by-Sea store showed a woman with a baby, while the sign for the men’s toilet showed just a man. M&S added a baby sign to the men’s sign after the outcry."
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