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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Links - 26th April 2018 (1)

Sweden’s abolitionist discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers - "The Swedish criminalization of the purchase of sex aims to abolish prostitution through targeting the demand, while decriminalizing those selling sex in an ostensible effort to protect sex workers – constructed as passive victims of gendered violence – from criminalization... We argue that the law has failed in its abolitionist ambition to decrease levels of prostitution, since there are no reliable data demonstrating any overall decline in people selling sex. Furthermore, we argue that the law has resulted in increased dangers in some forms of sex work. Dangers are exacerbated by a lack of harm reduction services, which are seen to conflict with Swedish abolitionism. Moreover, discourses and social constructions informing the sexköpslagen have informed the attitudes of service providers. In addition to specific outcomes of the law, we note evictions of sex workers, problems with immigration authorities, child custody and the police, and briefly discuss these themes. Where Sweden continues to attempt to export the sexköpslagen to other parts of the world, these elements should be carefully considered."

Ruin - "Wired’s Laura Hudson calls public shaming “a core competency of the Internet” and argues that shamers vastly underestimate social media’s capacity to ruin lives. Where the mob seeks to castigate and punish, Ronson wants to call attention to flawed humanity. Where the mob treats offenders as inherently evil, Ronson sees ordinary people making understandable, and forgivable, mistakes. He is baffled at the lack of empathy shown to these individuals, as if they weren’t people but rather “like corporations that had committed PR disasters,” deserving of a boycott... He explores the idea of contagion in crowd theory and muses about the illusion of innocence the mob provides: “The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.” His most interesting observation is that shamers are often convinced they are doing good. The people who took down Sacco believed they were punching up, he argues. “They were cutting down a member of the media elite, continuing the civil rights tradition that started with Rosa Parks, the hitherto silenced underdogs shaming into submission the powerful racist”... If there is a political lesson to take from Ronson’s book, it is that too often the act of shaming is not a launch pad for social change but rather a cathartic alternative to it... When Sacco and Stone were fired from their jobs, the tone of their shamers took on the triumphant tenor of a civil rights victory, as though the world were a step closer to purging its remaining bad apples. But this attitude ignores the systemic nature of oppression; it personalizes social and political ills... The VA imbroglio, like so many public scandals, underscores the hazard of mistaking symbol for structure. The ritual takedown of a scapegoat may gratify, however fleetingly, an impulse for justice, but it often benefits the very institution supposedly under attack. We perpetuate the system when we limit our outrage to a single person... the enemy is homogenization: “We were creating a world where the smartest way to survive is to be bland.”"

Wikipedia Is More Biased Than Britannica, but Don’t Blame the Crowd - "Shane Greenstein of Kellogg and Feng Zhu of Harvard Business School measured the political bias of Wikipedia and Britannica by counting the number of politically charged words in pairs of articles. Previous research has demonstrated that political partisans use different language. In the U.S., Republicans are more likely to use terms like “illegal immigration” and “border security.” Democrats are more likely to use “war in Iraq”, “civil rights”, or “trade deficit”. These word choices predict the speaker’s ideological slant... Wikipedia is significantly more biased than Britannica by this measure, and a bit more left-leaning... “Wikipedia articles which have received more revisions tend to be more neutral.” The more the crowd works on an article, the less biased it is."
So Wikipedia overall has a slight liberal bias, especially for articles that aren't edited a lot (i.e. most of them)

NYU Mock Eviction Notices - "“Dorm Storming” is a tactic used by anti-Israel activists at many campuses to slide mock eviction notices under student bedroom doors in the middle of the night, allegedly to let students know how Palestinians feel when served with eviction notices prior to demolition of their homes. The content of the flyers, including the frequency, number, and practice of such pre-demolition eviction notices is disputed, but that’s somewhat besides the point. Students for Justice in Palestine frequently is the perpetrator of these dorm stormings, as happened at Northeastern University recently, resulting in SJP’s suspension. The point of sliding political flyers under dorm doors, rather than handing them out on the street as students enter and exit, is to intimidate students in their most vulnerable place, their bedroom, and at their most vulnerable time, while they sleep. That is why many if not most universities ban the practice... SJP and other anti-Israeli activists often deny that they target Jewish students, but it’s hard to understand why Palladium Hall, with its known concentration of religious Jewish students, was targeted. This is part of a growing aggressiveness of anti-Israeli activitists at NYU and elsewhere."

What Is “Austrian Economics” and Why Is Ron Paul Obsessed With It? - "“Austrians” in Paul’s sense refers to something narrower, specifically the thought of Ludwig Von Mises and his student Murray Rothbard. It is a form of capitalism that is even more libertarian and anarchic than that espoused by many libertarians. Rothbard‘s followers, most prominently longtime Paul associate and founder of the Mises Institute Lew Rockwell, have been waging a decades-long war against the Koch brothers and the more mainstream form of libertarianism the Kochs represent... the Austrian story of investment booms and busts doesn’t actually explain recessions and unemployment... Many of the original Austrians found their business cycle ideas discredited by the Great Depression, in which the bust was clearly not self-correcting and country after country stimulated real output by abandoning the gold standard and engaging in deficit spending. Then for a long time after World War II, policy elites more or less agreed on a combination of “automatic” fiscal stabilizers (the deficit naturally goes up during recessions as tax revenues fall and social service outlays rise) and interest rate cuts. And it worked, so nobody much cared about Austrian economics outside of crank circles"

Top Seven Reasons the Left is the New Moral Majority - "My father once told me, “The pendulum swings.” We were talking about history, and I was very young at the time. He explained how the licentious 1920s were a response to the prudish Victorian Era, how the conservative post-WWII of the 1950s was a rejection of the risk-taking 1920s that led to the Great Depression. The hippies of the 1960s were a response to the rigidity of his own generation, although he was unnerved by their libertine ways. In response to the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the 1960s came a group that feared the end of America as we knew it—an end to the nuclear family, an end to a Christian nation. And thus was born The Moral Majority...
1. Can’t take a joke
2. Espouses strict codes of virtue. The Moral Majority’s code of virtue was culturally familiar and contained in the Bible, which made it, at least, accessible. The Left’s current code of virtue is confusing. This is best illustrated by a guy named Adam Smith, who recorded an incident in which he berated a cashier at Chik-Fil-A because of the owner’s expressed belief in traditional marriage. Smith posted the video on Facebook, undoubtedly expecting to be heralded as a champion of the Left. What Smith didn’t take into account was that he berated a minimum wage employee, and he took all manner of backlash from the Left for having shamed her over her boss’s religious beliefs...
3. Is obsessed with rules about sex. As far as the Left is concerned, you can—and should—have sex with any other consenting adult whenever you want, as long as one party doesn’t actually pursue the other, that the word, “No,” is not uttered at any time before or during any sexual act, and that each partner should get permission from the other before doing anything remotely unexpected. In the 1987 movie Cherry 2000, men had turned away from real women and instead purchased sexbots to meet their relationship needs. The rare human-to-human sexual encounters required legal contracts prior to sexual activity and all parameters of the hook-up were negotiated beforehand. And the movie was set in the year—you guessed it—2017.
4. Engages in shaming. Shaming, for those on the Left, is a fine art. There are many rules—far more rules than in the Bible. You can’t fat shame or slut shame a woman, but you must shame her if she didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. You can mom shame her if she praises her child who just played a Beethoven sonata on the piano while neglecting to praise her other child who just scribbled all over the bathroom wall with a permanent marker. You can shame her if she lets her kids go to the park alone, unless she was at work and couldn’t afford childcare. Like I said, it’s confusing.
5. Wants to legislate morality
6. Prefers censorship to discussion
7. Believes dissenters are evil"

There Are Few Libertarians. But Many Americans Have Libertarian Views. - "Why should views on (for example) gay marriage, taxation, and U.S. policy toward Iran have much of anything to do with one another?2 The answer is that it suits the Democratic Party and Republican Party’s mutual best interest to articulate clear and opposing positions on these issues and to present their platforms as being intellectually coherent. The two-party system can come under threat (as it potentially now is in the United Kingdom) when views on important issues cut across party lines."

Six Reasons Libertarians Should Reject the Non-Aggression Principle - "The libertarian armed with the NAP has little need for the close study of history, sociology, or empirical economics. With a little logic and a lot of faith in this basic axiom of morality, virtually any political problem can be neatly solved from the armchair...
1. Prohibits All Pollution
2. Prohibits Small Harms for Large Benefits
3. All-or-Nothing Attitude Toward Risk
4. No Prohibition of Fraud
5. Parasitic on a Theory of Property
6. What About the Children???... taken to its consistent extreme, as Murray Rothbard took it, the NAP implies that there is nothing wrong with allowing your three year-old son to starve to death, so long as you do not forcibly prevent him from obtaining food on his own. Or, at least, it implies that it would be wrong for others to, say, trespass on your property in order to give the child you’re deliberately starving a piece of bread"

Women lose interest in sex after a year — unless couples keep talking - "Sydney-based sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell said desire can evaporate if a relationship is only based on lust but long-term sexual­ desire was more complicated. “Lust is only one reason people have sex … the reasons people have sex is because they feel obliged to, because it’s the glue for the relationship, the partner wants it and occasionally it’s because they’re horny”
Enthusiastic consent only works in short term relationships

The Gunpowder Plot | Podcast | History Extra - "We think of this as being a place of administrators and politicians. In the early seventeenth century there were private houses in the Palace of Westminster, there were taverns. In Henry the Eighth's reign there was even a functioning brothel right within the Palace of Westminster... that supplies a context to how it was that Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were able to sneak in and put that gunpowder under the House of Lords"

The death of Stalin | Podcast | History Extra - "There was no really effective medical treatment in the West or of course in the Soviet Union for high blood pressure. There were none of the medications that we are used to now. Plus he was not taking his doctor's advice for rest. He actually had arrested a number of the doctors who had been treating him and members of the inner circle as part of this notorious doctors' plot that had been announced in January of 1953. This also compromised his health care...
The rules of the dacha were that no one was to enter Stalin's private quarters, his private rooms without being summoned. This was part of his security scheme... They asked an elderly woman housekeeper who worked for many years at the dacha to enter Stalin's private quarters to see what was going on. They figured that if Stalin was conscious and okay he would be the least alarmed to see her. He wouldn't grab a gun and shoot her. Well she found him on the floor. He'd obviously collapsed. He was lying in his own urine, he was only semi conscious...
They called members of the Politburo, they did not call doctors... They said look Stalin's sleeping, he's snoring. Why did you bother us? Why are you worrying? And they left. They did not call medical, for medical help...
They had to follow his instructions. The idea that they could act spontaneously in a human way, they understood something was wrong. In a normal society they would have gone in the door, knocked on the door heavily, done something to get his attention and to be on the lookout for his health, his well being. But in the Soviet Union under Stalin there was such an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that if Stalin gave an order not to enter his quarters they wouldn't do it"

The search for King Arthur | Podcast | History Extra - "In Geoffrey's book Arthur represents about one third of the text, he is the big hero to whom the story is building up to and of course everyone's trying to identify who the real Arthur is and felt there's no smoke without fire. There must be an historical Arthur because there's so many stories about him and they've tried to go back to the fifth and sixth century and try to find him archaeologically. What I've tried to do is to go back to the first person who mentions him who is Geoffrey and say what does he say about Arthur and how does that fit in the context of his book? And what we can see is that everything that happens to Arthur has already happened to at least five other people... he's five separate individuals and the key one is a chap called Ambrosius Aurelianus"

‘Celtic Superhero’: King Arthur was actually created for 12th C Britons, study claims - "The five characters in question are Ambrosius Aurelianus who lived in the late 400s, Roman general Magnus Maximus, Roman emperor Constantine the Great and prehistoric warlords Arvirargus and Cassivellaunus."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Eugene Onegin - "The big question for Russia in Pushkin's lifetime was how could an autocratic monarchy cope with the challenge posed by the French Revolution? In other words how do Tsars who in theory have no restriction on their power cope with a world in which multinational empires are threatened by nation states and in which a whole series of new radical democratic and liberal ideas come up?...
He was joining things like a Masonic Lodge... in those days this was a place for liberal minded people to meet. He was hobnobbing with well a former girlfriend of Byron's. He was writing lots of poetry including a blasphemous poem called The Gabrieliad in which the Archangel Gabriel has a bit of hanky panky with the Virgin Mary...
'Somebody said in one of your notes that 'We write love letters in French, we work, we go to work in German and we talk to our servants in Russian'
'I think it's that we shout at our servants in Russian'...
She actually of course speaks and reads in French. We're told that she resists Russian like a lot of ladies, Pushkin says. And the more we learn about Russia at the time that certainly seems to be true. There seems to be absolutely no contradiction even in an era of Romantic nationalism between patriotism and Russianess and speaking in French. In this case French isn't to do with affectation or fecklessness at all it's to do with that, and there's a reason for that and that is that in this period in order to be Russian you have to be a citizen of the wider world. You have to have this involvement with the big cosmopolitan world as a whole. And the reason why Eugene Onegin was immediately received as a very important piece of literature by Belinsky for example, a great Russian critic was that here somehow Pushkin managed to synthesize the sort of folk elements and the superstitious stuff that we've been talking about with the greater literary tradition"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, al-Biruni - "The Greeks and the Indians share the same effective set of beliefs. He thinks that the Greeks have progressed more than the Indians have... he puts the blame very firmly on their language, on Sanskrit and it's the tendency to rely on synonyms and homonyms as opposed to exact terminology. So he thinks that there is something not scientific about Sanskrit... Islam of course is at the top"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Congress of Vienna - "They'd gone to war with France back in seventeen ninety three, when Edmund Burke had told the House of Commons that the Netherlands can be regarded as much a part of England as the county of Kent"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Germaine de Stael - "This is a text which is for the revolutionaries: think about this politically, think about the fact that if you kill Marie Antoinette who after all is only the Queen Consort - you know she just happened to have been married to the king, she had no political power at all. If you kill her as a political figure you're turning her into one. So that means you're making her into a martyr and you're giving her an importance which in a sense the Ancien Regime didn't give her and if she's a martyr figure people will unite around her. And you know the whole fashion around Marie Antoinette nowadays I think is in large part due to fact that she was executed"
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