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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Links - 28th February 2018 (2)

Yale ‘decolonizes’ English dept. after complaints studying white authors ‘actively harms’ students - "Previous requirements for the major included two courses in “Major English Poets,” including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton and Eliot, among others. But that two-course series petitioners had deemed actively harmful due to its focus on white male poets. The series is no longer a graduation requirement for Yale’s English majors."

Calls for Cambridge Uni to 'decolonise' English course - "'If you distort the content of history and literature syllabuses to insert a statistically diverse or equal proportion of material from cultures taken globally you surely lose sight of the historical truth that the West explored the world from the sixteenth century and took control - colonially or otherwise - of a very large part of it. 'It is false to pretend that never happened.'"
Original letter: DECOLONISING THE ENGLISH FACULTY: AN OPEN LETTER | Fly. - apparently many people believe it's possible to make studying post colonial authors compulsory without dropping others

English Faculty begins decolonisation discussion - "Okundaye was caught in what is perhaps a similar sensationalist media outburst earlier this year in August, after tweets from his Twitter page such as ""ALL white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children. They can ALL geddit" were covered in the national media. He wrote then, also in the Guardian, that "The headlines made allegations that I believe all individual white people “are racist”, insinuating that I support violence against white people because of this.""

The Miserable Existence of Singapore’s Parrot Man - "He claims to be both Muslim and a Jehovah’s Witness, but also uses stories of Jesus and Guanyin to preach about the benefits of religion... By our second meeting, he has already chided me for my double helix piercings, asked why I’m not married at 27, and said that the kueh I buy for him has no nutritional value"

Gaming addiction probably isn’t a real condition, study suggests - "There may be no such thing as internet gaming addiction. People play excessively not because they are hooked on gaming itself, but because they feel unhappy about other areas of their life, according to a study that followed thousands of online gamers over six months."
Then again, the same might be said about other addictions

Lucas Lynch - It is rather odd how, despite the beauty ideal in... - "It is rather odd how, despite the beauty ideal in our society predominately being socially constructed as thinness, and despite the population being bombarded by images of how much better it is to be skinny, human beings in America continue a march towards obesity as never seen before. What could cause these blank slates inscribed by culture to go so against their own socialization?... The Soviets thought with just the right amount of propaganda and compulsion they could remake the proper Soviet man and make communism flourish. And yet when they finally let people have small private plots of land to grow vegetables, it quickly became an embarrassment just how the small plots of privately-maintained land outperformed the collective farms in terms of the contribution to the overall food supply. There as well, a properly socialized blank slate simply could not compete with selfish interest as a superior means of overall production"

Académie Française rejects push to make French language less masculine - "The esteemed Académie Française – France's highest authority on matters pertaining to the French language – has warned that proposals to use less masculine terminology pose a “mortal danger” to the language... According to French grammatical rules, the masculine takes precedence over the feminine. So while a group of women is referred to with the feminine, if just one man joins their ranks, the entire group is referred to as masculine. In recent years, activists have been pushing to change that. Increasingly, politicians, civil servants, associations and, notably, members of French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration are getting on board and taking care to address, for example, not just “Les Français” but “Les Françaises et les Français”. Activists are also pushing for more inclusive written language... The new style would have people refer to a group of students, for example, as “étudiant.e.s” or “étudiant-e-s” to allow for a diversity of genders. Some of the suggested formulations are admittedly clunky. To refer to a group of producers, for example, one might write “producteur.trice.s” or “product.eur.rice.s” (to represent the masculine producteur and female productrice). Essentially, the Académie Française says that this is just making things too complicated... Vouillot of the HCE believes that embedded misogyny or gender biases are the real reasons why people are opposed to these changes."
I'm sure making French more complicated is going to encourage more foreigners to learn it

Gender-inclusive language? Just say Non - "complicating the lives of our children when our language is not easy to master? When it is stuffed with grammar and syntax rules and exceptions? Frankly, when we know reading and writing cannot be taken for granted, to want to complicate their learning process is astonishing. Do you think that in the eyes of a little boy, a female doctor is less of a doctor if we do not label her a doctoresse? No.’ Other critics have rightly argued that the whole idea will be a nightmare for dyslexic children... We should always be wary of elite political groups seeking to alter our language. Behind the claims of inclusivity, there is always an authoritarian demand to police what we say and ultimately how we think"

The Politicization of Motherhood - WSJ - "“I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.”... The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth... “the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.” She began to devour the scientific literature and found that it reinforced her intuition... most liberals won’t even acknowledge the problem. “If we defend the idea that mothers are not necessary,” she asks, “what chance do we have to get a maternity-leave policy?” As important as her insights into child development are, her policy proposal seems destined for the political orphanage."

Clever toilet checks on your health - "The "Intelligence Toilet" system, created by Japan's largest toilet company, Toto, can measure sugar levels in urine, blood pressure, body fat and weight."

Students for Liberty - Singapore - Posts - "A RESPONSE TO LAW MINISTER SHANMUGAM ON THE DEATH PENALTY... Mr Shanmugam cited figures to show that the drug problem in East Asia and Southeast Asia is worsening. But the countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia already have the harshest drug laws in the world - and most of them also have the death penalty for drug traffickers. Yet the drug problem is still worsening! This shows that the “death penalty deterrent” just isn’t working as Mr Shanmugam claims... Mr Shanmugam cited Colorado as an example of where drug legalisation has “gone wrong” - as drivers under the influence of drugs were dying in accidents... a very recent study by American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) found that changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for states that legalised marijuana (such as Washington and Colorado) were not statistically different from those in similar states without marijuana legalisation. Other studies even found a reduction in traffic fatalities in states that legalised marijuana. E.g. after California and New Mexico legalised medical marijuana, traffic deaths fell by 16% and 17% respectively. Mr Shanmugam also said, “So I would ask the death penalty abolitionists to go and study the places where laws have been relaxed, places where drugs have been legalised, find out what has happened and look at the number of deaths that have taken place in society, and then come back and let’s talk.”... Portugal used to have serious drug problems. Then they tried the radical approach of decriminalising all drugs in 2001. Is Portugal now full of junkies dying in the streets? No - quite the opposite. Drug-related deaths fell to the point where Portugal now has the lowest rates of drug-induced deaths in the EU. Even if you chalk this up to coincidence, it’s clear that decriminalisation of drugs hasn’t led to the catastrophic scenarios that its opponents had predicted... It’s also worth addressing the MORAL aspect of the issue. The common narrative is that “drug traffickers deserve the death penalty because they destroy people’s lives”. But upon closer examination, that makes no sense. People who choose to abuse drugs are responsible for their own actions. Nobody forced them to take drugs. So they are not victims of a crime (let alone a capital crime). Alcoholism destroys people’s lives too - but we don’t sentence bartenders to death."

DNC Chair Gets The Constitution Wrong - "Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez falsely claimed that the Electoral College is not “a creation of the Constitution.”"

AKUH doctor 'sacked' over sending FB friend request to Sharmeen Obaid's sister - "A doctor at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) Karachi has allegedly been fired for sending a Facebook friend request to one of his patients... She added that the doctor had messed with the wrong women in the wrong family and she would definitely report him as harassment needed to be stopped... According to the Supreme Court lawyer Khalil Ahmed Siddiqui, sending an add request on social media does not fall under any definition of harassment"
Sending a Facebook friend request is harassment now

An Old Colonel Looks at General Kelly – Foreign Policy - "the longer you stay in uniform, the less you will really understand about the country you protect. Democracy is the antithesis of the military life; it’s chaotic, dishonest, disorganized, and at the same time glorious, exhilarating and free — which you are not... If you’re a career soldier, you may defend democracy, but you won’t understand it or be part of it. What’s more, you’ll always be a stranger to your own society. That’s the sacrifice you’ll be making."

Single, Unemployed and Suddenly Myself - NYTimes.com - "With appropriate romantic prospects, I had been overly polished and protective. Just like the men, I spun stories broadcasting fake confidence. But I confided in my neighbor about how hard the year had been and how worried I was about finding a job and a man to love. With nothing at stake, I was charmingly vulnerable."

Islamic teacher who sexually abused girl, 11, spared jail because he's on benefits - "AN Islamic teacher who repeatedly molested a terrified girl of 11 as he taught her the Koran has escaped a jail sentence because his wife’s English is so bad... ‘He is married with six children. His wife doesn’t work and speaks very little English, they are dependent on him to lead their lives and with the running of the household. 'One of the children has learning difficulties. Because he doesn’t teach now he is reliant on benefits.’"

Ottawa man not guilty of sexual assault because he thought he could have sex with wife anytime - "An Ottawa man has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting his wife because of his honest belief that he had the right to have intercourse with her whenever he wanted. In a written ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith said the Crown failed to prove that the accused had formed the required criminal intent — mens rea — to sexually assault his wife in 2002... the judge ruled the man was not guilty of sexual assault because the Crown had failed to establish that he knew his behaviour was, in fact, criminal."
According to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute: "The mens rea requirement is premised upon the idea that one must possess a guilty state of mind and be aware of his or her misconduct; however, a defendant need not know that their conduct is illegal to be guilty of a crime. Rather, the defendant must be conscious of the “facts that make his conduct fit the definition of the offense.”" Canadian sources seem to say something similar

Canadian man found not guilty of raping wife - "Her husband told the court he could not have had sex with her at the time because he had just received a hair transplant and he was following his doctor's orders to avoid intercourse"

EU Sanctions Punishing Poland & Eastern Europe Are Mistaken. Muslim Migration Serious Problem - "When public sentiment runs so strongly this way, and the sentiment of the political class runs the other way, coercive measures such as sanctions become inevitable. But that coercion may be dangerous to the continuation of the European project... Western European politicians often scolded Eastern European governments for retreating from European values, “the open society,” and democracy. And Eastern Europeans on social media just as often threw that rhetoric back in their face. Which looked more like an open democratic society, Paris with its landmarks patrolled by the military — or Krawkow, with its Christmas market unspoiled by the need for automatic weapons?... Western Europe’s policy on “refugees” has been dishonest from beginning to end. The vast majority of people arriving are not fleeing war in Syria or Iraq... Eastern European leaders have noted that once European communities accepted small numbers of immigrants, the demand for accepting more only grew... What Eastern European countries see is that in the past three decades, Western European countries have elected to import religious and racial divisions into their society. The early returns are bad enough to dissuade them from imitating their neighbors to the west. The threats from bureaucrats in Brussels are also counterproductive. After all, Eastern Europe has some recent historical experience of officious government employees who think that population transfers are just part of getting on board with the ideological project the future demands."

Hungary & Europe’s Crisis: Unelected Elites versus People - "the Hungarian government commissioned a public-opinion poll encompassing 28 member states of the European Union. It revealed that more than 60 percent of Europeans have no doubt whatsoever that a direct correlation exists between the escalation of terrorism, higher crime rates, and migration. By the same token, 63 percent believe that migration transforms the culture of the host country. Illegal migration presents a threat, facilitates terrorism, and boosts crime. It repaints Europe’s cultural face, brushing over national cultures on a massive scale... better standards of living cannot be regarded as a fundamental right, no matter how ardently we may wish to provide those standards to everyone... We have learned the principal law of assistance: If we help them where we are, they will flock here; if we help them where they are, they will stay at home, in their native land."

The Secret Betting Strategy That Beats Online Bookmakers - "bookmakers can hedge their bets by offering more favorable odds on the opposite outcome. In this way, they attract bets that cover at least some of the potential losses. Kaunitz and co say this process also creates an opportunity for anybody able to spot it. The trick that the researchers have perfected is to devise a method that consistently spots odds favoring the punter rather than the bookie."

North Korea’s ‘pink lady’: the newscaster set to announce the end of the world - "Ri Chun-hee is the most prominent face on the North’s Korean Central Television, appearing nearly every time the country takes a step towards fulfilling its nuclear ambitions, delivering the state’s proclamations in a booming voice and brimming with gusto."

The end of the age of South-east Asia's god-kings - "The outpouring of grief in Thailand over the death of King Bhumipol Adulyadej (Rama IX of the Chakri dynasty) has no comparison in recent history. For the majority of Thais who have lived their lives under his reign, their late King is viewed with deep affection as a fatherly figure, the head of the Thai family. But there is another aspect of King Bhumipol which is seldom discussed, and that is his personification as probably one of South-east Asia's last "devarajas" or god-kings."

Charging for plastic bags may have unintended costs - "Free plastic bags at least encourage people to wrap their food waste before tossing it into the chute... Advocates of charging for plastic bags have cited a similar policy in Hong Kong as an example. Yet, they may not be aware that the design of many residential buildings in Hong Kong differs from those in Singapore. My wife's family lives in Hong Kong. Their flat does not have a rubbish chute. Rather, a cleaner goes to each of the building's 24 floors to clear rubbish from a common bin at the fire escape. Newer apartment blocks in Hong Kong do have rubbish chutes. Concerned about the proper disposal of food waste, the estate management gives free rubbish bags to residents liberally... Some have suggested that people can wrap their food waste in newspapers. Are they serious? How would they like to clear the bins at the bottom of each apartment block? This is a job that no Singaporean wants to do. Making the job even more unpleasant will only increase our reliance on foreign workers."
Before you can save the earth, you must first save yourself
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