"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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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Links - 6th December 2017 (1)

Germany’s World War Two | Podcast | History Extra - "Most Nazi projects including I'm afraid to say the Holocaust could be carried out by active minorities. The murder of psychiatric patients was carried out by normal bureaucrats, nurses, doctors. Probably a minority even of the medical profession which was involved in it would have actually consented to it and actively wanted the killing of the disabled to take place.. For Germans the war did not actually begin on the first of September nineteen thirty nine when they invaded Poland though that's when we think it began and for them the first of September was simply a reprisal action. It was simply retaliation to Polish border incursions and Polish aggressions against ethnic Germans on Polish territory. It was a side show. For them the war began on the third of September when Britain and France declared war on Germany and the fact that it was Britain and France not Germany which declared war turned out to be very convenient for the Nazi regime...
That film the Pianist by Roman Polanski about a wonderful Polish Jewish pianist in the Warsaw ghetto who goes into hiding on the other side of the wall. The only good looking German in the film is Wilm Hosenfeld because he's the only decent German... I'm sure it's not accidental. I'm sure it is his way of settling scores because he was a survivor of the Krakow ghetto himself...
In 1940 in the spring before the invasion of France the Germans of course occupy Denmark and Norway and their pretext is to defend the integrity of their neutrality. May seem slightly, slightly over generous form of protection. A sort of mafia type protection. But of course they could quote comments in the House of Commons including from Churchill about the British need to mine Norwegian territorial waters in order to prevent the shipment of iron ore down the Norwegian coast from Sweden to Germany which was indeed what the Royal Navy was planning to do, the admiralty wanted to do with Churchill and was indeed a potential violation of Norwegian neutrality...
In the spring of nineteen forty four, so six months later, the Wehrmacht occupies the Hungarian capital of Budapest and Jews are herded it into a ghetto. For the rest of Europe the question is what will happen to the Jews. In Germany the question is: my god they did it.They did something we should have done. What they talk about is not what will happen to the Jews but the fact that Budapest will now be safe from Allied air attack because they have Jews there in the city as human shields. And so there's still this equation of the air raids being a particularly Jewish inspired form of terror bombing...
The first lesson of the First World War which is very clear through the twenties and thirties is: do not go to war again and it's very clear through the pre Second World War crises that there is no appetite in Germany to fight another war. People are just as excited about the Munich agreement in Germany as they are in Britain and the Nazi press actually has to remind people to celebrate the fact that they won. They got the Sudetenland. Because people are so relieved to avoid the conflict"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Enzymes - "A reaction that might take the whole universe can be done by an enzyme in less than a second...
In school... we teach chemistry as the subject it was a hundred years ago. We don't teach chemistry as it is today, which is a big expansive subject...
There's always been that side to taking away enzymes. Some of them we don't have or we lose. And some of them we modify with chemicals. Most drugs work by inhibiting enzymes... we can smoke grass but we can't eat it because we lack the enzymes that break the bonds...
Bacteria were playing this game against one another for millions of years. Most antibiotics come from bacteria fighting one another in the game of survival"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The American Populists - "When you gild a piece of metal you put a very superficial veneer if you like of gold over base metal... the base metal is what America really is. When you strip away the gold, when you strip away the gilding, what you've got is corruption which the novel is all about. You've got inequality, you've got poverty, you've got unfairness. And you've got prejudice of many types as well...
It was cheaper to take stuff from Chicago to Liverpool than across two states in the United States... Monopolistic power. It's a general problem in the Gilded Age but it's a specific problem for farmers. They depend, if they're going to get their food and materials to market, they depend on railroad companies and the railroad companies have them by the throat and can charge what they like. Just as they complain about banks. They need credit. If you're a farmer you always need credit...
A black Methodist preacher who had given more than sixty speeches on behalf of Tom Watson was threatened with lynching and Tom Watson called in two thousand armed white populists to defend him from being lynched and that was an immense show of solidarity and Watson by the way told white farmers: you are kept apart separately that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings. In other words this racist talk is not really about white solidarity, it's about making you the dup so that you stay poor...
He is indeed when he emerges as probably the leading populist advocate in the early eighteen nineties. An advocate of an interracial coalition of poor whites and poor blacks but there's a problem with that which is many whites won't cross the color line. Many potential supporters of populism see that coalition as threatening to their status and they won't join with blacks in that situation and watson moves on therefore...
Blacks also feared reaching across the color line. They didn't want to lose what little power they had with the Republican party"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Bird Migration - "There was actually in Germany along twenty five occurrences of birds, storks coming back with spears. It's amazing that they could actually carry out that long migration carrying spearks like through the neck basically.. that one famous kind of in some ways game changing stork then of course met a sad fate when it returned to the breeding grounds and then it was shot because it was such an oddity and now it is visible for inspections as a preparation in a museum"

philosophy bites: Anthony Kenny on Aquinas' Ethics - "Bentham has a very different view of happiness from Aristotle and Aquinas. Both Aristotle and Aquinas thought that happiness was an activity not a feeling and that the supreme happiness was an intellectual activity of rational beings. Whereas for Bentham happiness is exactly the same as sensation. He makes no difference between pleasure and happiness. Now if you reflect on this it makes a very big difference as to the kind of relationship you see between say human beings and other animals...
Aristotle and Aquinas thought that animals weren't part of the moral community... they don't have duties and for Aquinas only those can have rights who can also have duties. Aquinas of course didn't think God was part of our moral community either. He was above it in the way that animals were below it but that doesn't mean that we don't have obligations to God...
Aquinas was the first to make a sharp distinction between two kinds of theology. What he calls revealed theology and natural theology. Revealed theology will take as its premises some sacred book or authoritative teaching, the church or something. But he says there's another kind of theology which is in fact a branch of philosophy which avoids the use of those premises even if it thinks they're true but starts only with things which can be proved by reason without any appeal to an alleged revelation"

philosophy bites: Richard Reeves on Mill's On Liberty - "John Stuart Mill was given an upbringing by his father so demanding, so arduous, so rigid that many blame it for his subsequent mental breakdown. By age three he was learning Latin and Greek. Economics, geometry and logic soon followed. His father James Mill was a friend and disciple of the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham and a notable philosopher and economist in his own right. John Stuart Mill was a sort of laboratory test and experiment in raising a utilitarian child... It's important for Mill personally to believe that he's made himself because he wants to show: I wasn't made by my father and Jeremy Bentham. I made me. But actually that then becomes the beating heart of his liberalism, his philosophy which is that that ought to be true for every single man and woman...
For Mill and he famously said this, protection against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough. We also need tyranny against public opinion. He called it the despotism of custom. We just do things because other people are doing it and he said that someone who chooses to do something merely because it is the custom makes no choice at all... he was explicit that On Liberty is not about political freedom... It's about intellectual and moral liberty. Whether or not we are living in an environment and have the capabilities to construct a life of our own choosing. That's the sort of liberty that animates him...
He is advocating dissent and argument and disagreement. In fact he says at one point that if there isn't an opposing view we should conjure one up. Even the Catholic Church he says appoint a Devil's Advocate to argue against someone being canonized as a saint and we should do the same thing because there is nothing more dangerous than the deep slumber of a decided opinion, in Mill's words. He would be very unhappy with a society in which we had the formal legal freedom of free speech but everyone went around agreeing with each other. He positively wants argument, he positively wants dissent and he believes that's necessary because it's only in the collision of the half truths which constitute most of our opinions that the real truth will emerge. He says himself very famously in Parliament each of us knows that some of our opinions are wrong and none of us know which they are for if we did they would not be our opinions. He hated politicians who said I will never change my mind. I'm right et cetera. You know of course he was passionate in his own convictions but if we ever give up the possibility that what we believe is right is actually wrong then we're in real trouble and so that's what he wants. He wants debate and argument and so if you like the formal structures of liberalism are only a very small part of his liberalism. He's actually arguing for something much more demanding... Mill is not only asking us to criticize ourselves but to hold each other to account...
There is a lovely moment. Thomas Hardy here of course was a big fan of Mill's. He wrote in his novel Jude the Obscure. He had one of the characters, the husband Richard Phillips the husband of Sue Bright and she's reading Mill and she says you must constantly be choosing your own opinions. She says John Stuart Mill's words those are. I've been reading them up. Why can't you act upon them? I always wish to and this is what he said: what do I care about JS Mill? I only want to lead a quiet life...
He famously was worried about universal suffrage and until levels of education had risen
This is good on how a Millian conception of free speech differs from a First Amendment one
JS Mill would be called a troll by liberals today


CNN's Wolf Blitzer Suggests Barcelona Attack Is A 'Copycat' of Charlottesville
Comment: "No wonder Wolf got -$4000 on Celebrity Jeopardy and was soundly beaten by Andy Richter. Never heard of Nice France which happened long before Charlottesville."

We've gone too far with 'trigger warnings' | Jill Filipovic - "generalized trigger warnings aren't so much about helping people with PTSD as they are about a certain kind of performative feminism: they're a low-stakes way to use the right language to identify yourself as conscious of social justice issues. Even better is demanding a trigger warning – that identifies you as even more aware, even more feminist, even more solicitous than the person who failed to adequately provide such a warning. There is real harm in utilizing general trigger warnings in the classroom. Oberlin College recommends that its faculty "remove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals"... a trigger warning for what Oberlin identified as the book's common triggers – racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide (and more!) – sets the tone for reading and understanding the book. It skews students' perceptions. It highlights particular issues as necessarily more upsetting than others, and directs students to focus on particular themes that have been singled out by the professor as traumatic... Trigger warnings don't just warn students of potentially triggering material; they effectively shut down particular lines of discussion with "that's triggering"... Traumas that impact women, people of color, LGBT people, the mentally ill and other groups whose collective lives far outnumber those most often canonized in the American or European classroom are set apart as different, as particularly traumatizing. Trigger warnings imply that our experiences are so unusual the pages detailing our lives can only be turned while wearing kid gloves. There's a hierarchy of trauma there, as well as a dangerous assumption of inherent difference. There's a reinforcement of the toxic messages young women have gotten our entire lives: that we're inherently vulnerable"

Post Grad Problems | This Hipster Marriage Announcement From The New York Times Is The Most Insufferable Yet - "It truly does not get much douchier than listing the professions of the people attending your wedding. Like, we get it, you’re high society. But if you’re old money and still rubbing it people’s faces that you mingle with an affluent crowd, you’re scum in my book"

Condoleezza Rice's Commanding Clothes - "Rice boldly eschewed the typical fare chosen by powerful American women on the world stage. She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps. She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame "Matrix" jump kick if necessary. Who wouldn't give her ensemble a double take -- all the while hoping not to rub her the wrong way? Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual."

Hillary Clinton's Estate Tax Raise Won't Increase Revenues - And No One Will Pay It Anyway - "When you look at the lengths people go to to minimise their estate tax bill you’ll see that people do care very deeply about this form of taxation. And here’s the dirty little truth about really large estates–they don’t pay the estate tax anyway. There’re so many ways around it that once an estate gets to a certain size there’s just no point in not structuring it to avoid it... such capital taxation actually shrinks the economy from where it would be without such capital taxation:
As pointed out by the JEC, the estate tax has since its inception decreased capital stock by $1.1 trillion due to discouragement of savings and the taxing of intergenerational transfers, which are perhaps the largest source of aggregate capital in the economy... Three studies found that the compliance costs associated with the estate planning industry exceed the revenue yield of the tax itself...
faster economic growth really does produce more tax revenue for all those nice things Hillary wants to buy us with our money"

Naked Hillary Clinton Statue Triggers Fight in Lower Manhattan - "A mysterious sculpture of a naked Hillary Clinton caused a commotion in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday morning. The Democratic nominee was depicted with horse hooves and standing on what appeared to be printouts of emails. The statue also featured a Wall Street banker pressed against her left breast... a dispute eventually broke out when a woman knocked it down, kicked it several times and sat on it... "I wouldn't be surprised to see a Donald Trump statue, but to see a Hillary one, I think is really interesting"... NY1 spoke to Zachary Cedarbaum, who said he represents the artists who made the Clinton caricature. Cedarbaum says the name of the statue is "The Empress Has No Shame." He said some of the artists support Donald Trump for president, while others actually support Clinton. "The idea is that there should be equality in any way, shape or form. Everybody has different opinions, and that we should be able to express them how we want without that kind of backlash. We're trying to fight for the right to have the government of the people by the people for the people. Instead of, of the banks, by the banks, for the banks," Cedarbaum said. Cedarbaum says the artists removed the statue to repair it. In August, a statue depicting a naked Donald Trump was erected in Union Square."

If Asians Make More Than Whites Then What Should We Do About The US Racial Pay Gap? - "'Asian women are gaining on American men and now earn only 3% less on average than the average male worker. White women are falling behind relative to female Asian workers, as are white men falling behind relative to the earnings of Asian men. If gender pay disparities prove discrimination and motivate legislation, then maybe we need laws to equalize pay between whites and Asians?'...
when you dig into the UK numbers you find that among the various racial groupings in that country, black women earn more than any other grouping of their sisters. Now I would stoutly insist (having lived and worked in a number of different countries) that my native Britain is one of the least racist societies that humans have even managed to construct: not perfect by any means but one that really has licked the grosser forms of racism that have disfigured so many other societies. But I wouldn't then go on to claim that this means that black women are in fact better paid than their sisters of other hues."
Of course no one is going to talk about "anti-white" racism in the pay gap

Woman Beats Up A Minor Over A Drone, Gets Mere Probation - "Despite the fact that her assault of a minor was caught on film, that she attempted to fabricate a story about the assault, and the victim expressed opposition to probation, Mears was nevertheless granted a form probation that will erase the charges from her record after two years... Haughwout said he believed that if a man had assaulted a woman, the court penalty would have been more severe, "If a guy assaults a girl, he'd be sitting in jail waiting for his court date." According to Haughwout, the police responded to the assault in 10 or more vehicles"
Feminists: *crickets*
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