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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Links - 2nd May 2018 (1)

The New Yorker on Twitter: "In her series of self-portraits set in the New Mexican desert, Laura Aguilar is at once part of the American land, and the viewer’s eye, and…" - "In her series of self-portraits set in the New Mexican desert, Laura Aguilar is at once part of the American land, and the viewer’s eye, and apart from them"
"Day 4. The rocks still think im one of them."
"Not my proudest fap"
"The need for 'validation' from others..makes ppl do futile things. This is no art...just a reminder that the universe doesn't give a fuck one way or the other.."
"Looks more like something for Hoof & Plow magazine"
"I can’t believe someone drunk and passed out on a rock is art!"
"If I get my wife to take pics of my flabby body draped around my yard, can I also be in New Yorker magazine for my "art?""
"This is a perfect metaphor for today's progressive culture. Striving for a collective mediocrity in which everyone deserves recognition and validation for literally anything. Anyone else besides me know where this takes us? Anyone? Bueller?"
There're so many shitlords on Twitter!

Fritz Haber: Jewish chemist whose work led to Zyklon B - "Haber personifies too the tragedy of a Jew desperate to be a patriotic German, whose life was destroyed after the Nazis came to power. And in the cruellest of all the ironies, his work was developed under the Nazis to create the gas used to murder millions in the Holocaust - including his relatives... The fertiliser went on to be used on a large scale, bringing about a huge increase in crop yields, and practically banishing the fear of famine in large parts of the world. One observer describes it as "the most important technological invention of the 20th Century". But the process was also highly useful for the military in making explosives. And when World War I broke out soon afterwards, Haber - now working for the Kaiser's research institute in Berlin - was desperate to prove his patriotism. He began experimenting with chlorine gas which, he said, would shorten the war"

Pakistan law minister resigns; blasphemy protests disperse - "Protesters in Pakistan are dispersing Monday after the country's law minister Zahid Hamid resigned under pressure following weekend clashes that killed two people. For weeks, protesters have been demanding Hamid's resignation because they claimed a change in the wording of the oath of office weakened rules requiring lawmakers to reference the Prophet Mohammed.
The government has apologized and denied making the changes, calling them clerical mistakes. The issue came to a head on the weekend, when the government called in Pakistan's armed paramilitary force to remove protesters who've been blocking a key road between Islamabad and the neighboring city of Rawalpindi.
We should be proud of Pakistan for People's Power succeeding and the army declining to quell protests

Stanford University data glitch exposes truth about scholarships - "“All fellowships are need-based,” claims the school’s website, which was updated on Wednesday. Before then, the site included an assurance that the business school “does not offer merit-based scholarships.” But it does discriminate — often favoring female applicants, international students, and those with backgrounds in finance"

Bulletproof glass protecting city store clerks may have to come down — over ‘indignity’ to customers - "A bill headed through Philadelphia City Hall would force businesses to remove bulletproof glass protecting employees inside stores... The owner of Broad Deli said the bulletproof glass in his store was installed after a shooting and that it saved his mother-in-law from a knife attack... Choe told the station that the bill “targets Korean Americans” and will “endanger” them... Bass said stores could install more security cameras and use security guards in place of the bulletproof glass"

Black privilege - "[Ta-Nehisi] Coates' anti-whiteness centres white people, makes them the adults of the story, gives them all the potential action — to observe themselves, correct themselves, better themselves — while blacks are mere ‘bodies’ for whom history is a violent act upon themselves rather than something they act upon. (Coates continually uses the term ‘black bodies’ to refer to black people.). No, it isn’t his style and certainly not his optimism — there is none — that endears Coates to the liberal establishment, and most passionately to the white sections of it. Rather, this increasingly spiritual and needy celebration of Coates speaks to one of the darker, more socially destructive elements of the latest manifestation of the politics of identity: the use of historic black suffering to justify the self-loathing and fear of the future of the late, decadent bourgeoisie; the privileging, indeed, of the painful black experience as a means not of ensuring historic clarity about past events but as a key prop, the starring role, in fact, in the contemporary political establishment’s turning against its founding values and loss of faith in its project... there has been a further shift in the post-1960s rehabilitation of the politics of identity by those who profess to be left — a move away even from the tangible if limited question of inequality towards more therapeutic notions of pain and recognition; of the right of identity groups not merely to have equal access to public life but to feel validated in their self-professed suffering and to be accorded resources or respect on that basis. As Christopher Lasch argued in his 1985 book, The Minimal Self, ‘the victim has come to enjoy a certain moral superiority in our society’; we have witnessed the ‘moral elevation of the victim’. Competing groups now ‘vie for the privileged status of victims’, as Lasch said. And this creates a situation where they increasingly ‘appeal not to to the universal rights of citizenship but to a special experience of persecution’... This is not reading for intellectual expansion or pleasure — it is reading as self-punishment, the use of black pain to justify white self-loathing and liberal self-doubt. A perversely symbiotic relationship has developed between Coates and his largely white liberal readership, the former dutifully providing horror stories about ‘black bodies’, the latter dutifully lapping them up and feeling disgusted with themselves for their part in it all. This isn’t intellectualism — it’s a public performance of identitarian S&M... Behold the new anti-humanism, in which self-pity or self-hatred are increasingly the only moral games in town"

Mexico: Land of the Japanese Peanut - "other than their packaging and soy sauce coating, they didn’t seem very Japanese at all. They weren’t served in Japanese restaurants. Many of the people I saw eating them did so with lime juice and hot sauce. Some years ago, a writer for the newspaper El Universal addressed this question in a very succinct way: “The Japanese peanut is Mexican.” It was invented in Mexico City by Yoshigei Nakatani in 1945. So, yes, it is Mexican. But it is also Japanese."
Aka cracker nuts

What women want - "Take the Reclaim the Internet campaign, which seeks to combat ‘online abuse’. As one of the movers behind it, MP Jess Phillips, puts it, ‘I want spunky women shouting up and facing honest-to-goodness debate and challenge. Not men with spunky names bullying women into silence.’ Yet, as Whelan points out, if you want to see bullying and abuse online, just look at the viciousness meted out to any woman – especially of the spunky kind – who refuses to recite verbatim the received opinion on sexual harassment. Or take a peek at the vitriol tweeted at older, anti-trans feminists, or ‘Terfs’. It’s enough to make the most rabid alt-right geek blush... It is a short book, but it packs a real punch in its five chapters, covering feminism’s disdain for free speech; its morbid obsession with the body; its war on sexual pleasure; and its corrosive influence on the workplace... Whelan rightly notes that ‘Twitter is a hotbed of knee jerks and troublemakers. Our message to shrinking violets should be: if you don’t like it, stay away from it. There is no social obligation to tweet.’ She also defends the right to get angry: ‘The freedom, that is, to let a few expletives end a boring online argument… Do women really want to take the emotion out of public discussion for the sake of a few hurt feelings?’... she rightly excoriates those who conflate flirtation or regretted sexual entanglements with the serious abuse that does pose a threat to women. Hence she criticises those feminists who ‘encourage women to see every sexual encounter not as a potentially exciting experience, but as something risky and dangerous’. She admits that most women will feel uncomfortable catching late-night transport alone: ‘If I bump into a man on my own late at night on a dark street, my heart will still race a little faster than if I had come across a woman with a baby.’ But she puts these fears into historical perspective, recalling the important struggles for freedom that mean that ‘women have won the right to walk home in tiny skirts without shame or harassment’ – and, indeed, without chaperones. She reminds us that as recently as the 1960s, women were still ‘literally put under curfew to protect them from the imaginary dangers of the opposite sex’. Here she quotes freedom-fighter Camille Paglia’s famous dictum that women fought for the freedom ‘to risk rape’... If feminism was once about the ‘fight for a woman’s right to leave behind the dishcloths, baby bottles and kitchenware of the private sphere, and be as much part of the public world as any man’, it is now about ‘pushing women back into the bathroom with a mirror in hand, encouraging them to find meaning in staring up their own arseholes’."

FUREY: Trudeau labels legit terrorism questions as ‘Islamophobia’ - "There’s an old joke in political circles that says a racist is what you call someone who is winning an argument against a leftist... Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used such a cheap shot earlier this week when faced with questions from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on the government’s position on reintegrating Islamic State adherents from Canada who’ve since returned home from battle. While a lot of attention was given not just in Canada but around the world to the government’s bonkers notion that at least some extremists who have committed serious offences under Criminal Code terror provisions just need a good hug and an uplifting poetry jam in lieu of prosecution, few picked up on the added low blow that Trudeau snuck in on Tuesday during his back and forth with Scheer... There’s been no public opinion polling release yet on the idea of reintegrating jihadists in Canada. But past numbers showed Canadians of all political stripes were keen to go hard on ISIS, with two thirds opposing Trudeau’s decision from 2015 to stop bombing them."
I thought ISIS had nothing to do with Islam?
Gad Saad: "If only I knew someone who warned that M103 will be used to label any discussion of Islam as Islamophobic."

The difference between robot-generated art and human-generated art is that human art tells stories.

Of kimono and cultural appropriation - "Japan’s kimono industry has long been in decline... A recent “Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan” exhibition in Japan and America, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, incidentally incorporated some promotion of kimono culture... A small group of young protesters, mostly Asian-Americans, came to the first Kimono Wednesday event with placards to protest its “Orientalism,” “racism” and “cultural appropriation” which they claimed was victimizing Asian-Americans. The protesters created a Facebook page, “Stand Against Yellowface,” and posted sophomoric manifestos on Tumblr featuring tone-deaf karaoke of their hero: the Palestinian scholar Edward Said, author of “Orientalism”... Twitter hashtags appeared — or, like #whitesupremacykills — were appropriated, provoking widespread derision, while the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Facebook page was inundated with accusations about the exhibition’s “racism” and “Orientalism”... Japanese-Americans, Japanese residents in the United States and their supporters counter-protested at the museum and on social media in vain. Counter-protesters pointed out that very few of the protesters were Japanese, and that they had no right to dictate what counted as racism or cultural appropriation against Japanese or Japanese-Americans. They complained that the protesters had chosen the wrong event to protest against with their parochial identity politics agenda... Said’s thesis hardly applies to the Japanese or Asian-American cases. When early 20th century French designers “appropriated” kimono styles and transformed European women’s dress lines, Japanese textiles manufacturers happily accommodated these trends. For their part the Japanese reciprocated with their own fascination for, and assimilation of Western fashions. By then Japan was also a colonial power which was turning its own Occidentalist gaze — and naval guns — back on the Western powers... Said would have mocked the ressentiment of alienated middle class Americans wallowing in victim cosplay... Author Manami Okazaki, whose book “Kimono Now” analyses modern kimono fashions, told me that her main worry was “that this (protest) will affect museums/ event organizers wanting to do kimono shows in the future, which is the last thing the industry needs.”... unlike the international media, Japan’s mainstream media barely touched the story. There was also a muted reaction from the fashion and cultural establishment within Japan.Japanese social media briefly lit up in exasperation and bewilderment... Kaori Nakano, a professor of fashion history at Meiji University put it to me this way: “Cultural appropriation is the beginning of new creativity""

How to Call B.S. on Big Data: A Practical Guide

The Future of Work, Robotization, and Capitalism’s Ability to Generate Useless Jobs - "In a 2013 survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no “meaning and significance,” and an equal number were unable to relate to their company’s mission, while another poll among 230,000 employees in 142 countries showed that only 13% of workers actually like their job. A recent poll among Brits revealed that as many as 37% think they have a job that is utterly useless... Anybody who fears mass unemployment underestimates capitalism’s extraordinary ability to generate new bullshit jobs... if basic income sounds Utopian to you, then I’d like to remind you that every milestone of civilization – from the end of slavery to democracy to equal rights for men and women – was once a Utopian fantasy too. Or, as Oscar Wilde wrote long ago: “Progress is the realization of Utopias.”

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future - "With antibiotics losing usefulness so quickly — and thus not making back the estimated $1 billion per drug it costs to create them — the pharmaceutical industry lost enthusiasm for making more. In 2004, there were only five new antibiotics in development, compared to more than 500 chronic-disease drugs for which resistance is not an issue — and which, unlike antibiotics, are taken for years, not days... Many treatments require suppressing the immune system, to help destroy cancer or to keep a transplanted organ viable. That suppression makes people unusually vulnerable to infection. Antibiotics reduce the threat; without them, chemotherapy or radiation treatment would be as dangerous as the cancers they seek to cure... without antibiotics, one out of every six recipients of new hip joints would die... Out of all the antibiotics sold in the United States each year, 80 percent by weight are used in agriculture... In countries such as as Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, government regulation of medical and agricultural antibiotic use has helped curb bacteria’s rapid evolution toward untreatability. But the U.S. has never been willing to institute such controls, and the free-market alternative of asking physicians and consumers to use antibiotics conservatively has been tried for decades without much success"
In a libertarian world, people are smart and enlightened enough not to use antibiotics, and companies churn out endless lines of antibiotics despite the lack of patents, because government is evil

Phage treatment of human infections - "Phage therapy involves the targeted application of bacteriophages that, upon encounter with specific pathogenic bacteria, can infect and kill them. As typically practiced, phages then lyse those bacteria, releasing virion progeny that can continue the cycle, including migrating to other sites of infection anywhere in the body"

As locals flee, Instagrammers strike poses with erupting volcano - "Instagram is blowing up — with photos of tone-deaf travelers posing in front of Bali’s erupting volcano. These insensitive social media stars mug for the camera as Mount Agung, in the eastern swath of the popular Indonesian vacation destination, spews out plumes of gray smoke in the background."

Will we ever… understand quantum theory? - "no one actually understands quantum theory. The quote popularly attributed to physicist Richard Feynman is probably apocryphal, but still true: if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t. That point was proved by a poll among 33 leading thinkers at a conference in Austria in 2011. This group of physicists, mathematicians and philosophers was given 16 multiple-choice questions about the meaning of the theory, and their answers displayed little consensus... most scientists who use quantum theory never fret about its meaning – in the words of physicist David Mermin, they “shut up and calculate”, which is what he felt the Copenhagen interpretation was recommending."

Extra 5: The Actress Who Never Takes a Sick Day | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "'Off Broadway would be all theaters for ninety nine seats to one hundred. Once you hit five hundred it's considered a Broadway theater. If you go below one hundred, ninety nine and under, you are off off Broadway'
'And I'm just looking now to see if are there any off Broadway theaters on Broadway'
'Yes, my theater'"

Denied entry for wearing dhoti, says filmmaker; Kolkata mall refutes charge

Lyon (69) : le marché de Noël de la Croix-Rousse annulé pour manque de budget sécurité - Fdesouche - " Près de 20 000 euros auraient été nécessaires cette année. Une somme qui aurait exigé de multiplier les stands ou d’augmenter les prix de location des emplacements."

The hidden history of identity politics - "One of the most momentous developments in the history of identity politics was its convergence during the 1970s with the emerging politics of victimhood. This was not accidental. Both trends expressed the crisis of confidence of the left. During the 1960s and 1970s, liberal and radical politics underwent a major transformation. Radicalism became exhausted and less and less invested in the project of social transformation. During this period, many of the left’s traditional allies came to be characterised as victims of the system. A similar pattern was in evident in the women’s movement. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminists argued vehemently against the representation of women as victims. By the late 1970s, however, this perspective had been fundamentally revised. Campaigns now stressed the woman as victim – battered, violated and raped. The left, too, regarded suffering as an important resource for mobilising a constituency behind its causes. During the 1970s the meaning of victimisation was radically revised. Initially, the victim tended to be portrayed as the victim of a specific experience — for example, a victim of crime. However, during the 1970s, the meaning of victimisation expanded to encompass the experiences of a variety of different groups. This new approach also sought to transform the meaning of victimisation: it was no longer an exceptional form of harm suffered by an individual; it was also a condition integral to an unjust society. Through the redefinition and expansion of the victim experience, different groups claimed that being victims of society was a fundamental feature of their identity... Competitive victimhood quickly led to attempts to create a hierarchy of victims. According to a study by an American sociologist, the different movements joined in an informal way to ‘generate a common mood of victimisation, moral indignation, and a self-righteous hostility against the common enemy – the white male’... A key innovation in the construction of the victim in the 1970s was its representation of the victim as blameless. Indeed, one of the most widely used rhetorical devices of victim advocates was to dismiss any querying of an individual’s or a group’s claims as ‘blaming the victim’... The notion of the ‘blameless victim’ endowed self-proclaimed victims with moral authority. Consequently, over time, the victim identity came to be seen almost as sacred. As one study observed, ‘victim’ was increasingly used as a moral concept... Some proponents of identity politics refer to one another as allies. However, the politics of culture has rarely allowed the forging of strong bonds between different groups, as today’s acrimonious dispute between feminists and trans activists shows. Human solidarity is one of the main casualties of identity politics. Once different groups retreat into their respective safe spaces, there will be little common ground left for those committed to the politics of solidarity and the ideal of universalism."
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