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Friday, June 15, 2018

Links - 15th June 2018 (2)

Chinese sky lanterns are fire hazards and endanger wildlife, expert warns - "Sky lanterns are illegal in Austria, Germany and Malta, with the RSPCA calling on local authorities to ban their use"

Michael Caine: 'I voted Brexit. It was about freedom, not immigrants' - "I’d rather be a poor master than a rich servant"

The new status symbol: it’s not what you spend – it’s how hard you work - "This is the genius of conspicuous production. It not only promotes a culture of overwork, it makes our dwindling amount of leisure time economically productive"

Alien: Covenant to Blade Runner 2049 – why does Hollywood keep ruining the mystery of sci-fi? - "Perhaps the current prominence of TV writers in Hollywood is to blame for this constant desire for exposition... Here’s a suggestion: rather than ruining the mystery of movie sci-fi with a neverending array of sequels, studios might consider giving us original visions that are intended from the very beginning to be the first in a series"

'It was quasi-religious': the great self-esteem con - "In 2014, a heartwarming letter sent to year 6 pupils at Barrowford primary school in Lancashire went viral. Handed out with their Key Stage 2 exam results, it reassured them: “These tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique… They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister.” At Barrowford, people learned, teachers were discouraged from issuing punishments, defining a child as “naughty” and raising their voices. The school’s guiding philosophy, said headteacher Rachel Tomlinson, was that kids were to be treated with “unconditional positive regard”. A little more than a year later, Barrowford found itself in the news again. Ofsted had given the school one of its lowest possible ratings, finding the quality of teaching and exam results inadequate. The school, their report said, “emphasised developing pupils’ emotional and social wellbeing more than the attainment of high standards”. Somehow, it seemed, the nurturing of self-esteem had not translated into higher achievement... this kind of parenting and teaching has contributed to a measurable rise in narcissism: witness the selfie-snapping millennials. Although their findings are disputed, Twenge points to other research done in the US and beyond – “twenty-two studies or samples [that] show a generational increase in positive self-views, including narcissism, and only two [that] do not”."

‘Black Lives Matter has a plantation mentality’ - "BLM’s uniquely pessimistic brand of anti-racism rehabilitates racial difference in politically correct form. The constant insistence on black victimhood and white privilege has brought back the old, backward idea that different sections of society are ultimately distinct, alien to one another. Though the Black Panthers held black oppression over and above all others – and their rhetoric struck many as divisive – party members (most notably Chicago Panther Fred Hampton, who was slain by police at the age of 21) worked to forge alliances with all oppressed peoples, including poor whites. Politics is about seeing the world as it is and how it might be. But BLM’s pessimistic, conspiratorial views on ‘white supremacy’ render it incapable of seeing either. And its chronic lack of vision has brought it into conflict not just with former Panthers, but with the old civil-rights establishment. As the US-based journalist Jenny Jarvie notes, civil-rights veteran and former mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young recently said BLMers were ‘unlovable little brats’ who lacked ‘a clear message’... BLM’s politics didn’t spring from nowhere. It owes more to the Safe Space movement than it does to the civil-rights movement. And its idea-lite, leaderless approach comes straight out of Occupy – the post-2008 anti-capitalist movement that soon dissolved into little more than a talking shop"

Is tuition necessary? No, but how long can we hold out? - "In Singapore, nearly eight in 10 households with primary school children have tuition, according to a new Straits Times survey... enrichment classes in non-academic subjects aren't considered tuition in the survey... Many Singaporean parents I know spend their weekends rushing from one class to another... seven in 10 parents do not think tuition improved their children's grades noticeably... the current maths syllabus is three years ahead of the level taught to pupils 30 years ago. Our Primary 3 and Primary 4 pupils are learning the equivalent of our Primary 6 and Secondary 1 maths from back then"

Tuition has become an educational arms race - "In 1992, this newspaper undertook the first major survey on private tuition in Singapore. It found that a third of all students, from Primary 1 to pre-university, got extra help with their school work, for which parents paid about $150 a month. Educationists expressed concern at the extent of tuition and the money being thrown at it... Four in 10 parents with pre-school children now purchase extra academic coaching for them... Several correlational studies, including one done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), have found no link between tuition and better performance... Today, families spend a median monthly amount on tuition that ranges from $155 to $260. It adds up to a staggering $1.1 billion a year spent on tuition... University of Hong Kong academic Mark Bray, one of the foremost experts on tuition, said it was bad enough when Hong Kong parents began sending their pre-school children for tuition. Now they are sending babies as young as six months for lessons on recognising colours... the majority of pupils in the Gifted Education Programme - an elite programme for the academically gifted - were taking supplementary tuition lessons outside of school."

Star Wars - SJW's Don't Buy Toys : A Kathleen Kennedy Story - YouTube

Disney's 'Last Jedi' Box Office Fails Expectations - "Last year, "The Last Jedi" raked in $1.3 billion in box office sales around the world, making headlines and warranting applause from the Street. However, due to various factors including a faster-than-expected falloff at the box office, weaker-than-expected toy sales and a poor debut in the massive Chinese market, the most recent Star Wars franchise film has fallen about $200 million short of analysts' expectations... "Disney started off with an incredible touch with Star Wars, but now it's looking a little less magic," said B. Riley FBR analyst Barton Crockett... While the numbers may indicate a negative headwind for one of Disney's most lucrative assets, it's important to note that not all of its series have followed in a similar pattern. Marvel Studios, which Disney also bought for $4 billion, has churned out 17 superhero films in the past decade with no signs of a slowdown"

BBC Radio 4 - The Public Philosopher, Citizens of Nowhere? - "'My name's Mohamed, and I think there seems to be a pressure against nations protecting itself when it's intrinsically the most human thing to do, as much as we want to be unnecessarily good and unnecessarily benevolent. For example, if I have a family and I have food, do I give it to my son? Or do I give it to a homeless guy out there? Technically he needs it more.'...
You just heard Park [sp?] say that even a parent favoring his or her needy child over somebody else's needy child is in effect, a kind of prejudice. It's a morally illegitimate prejudice...
I don't think we have the same obligation or human beings. I think our obligations are primarily to our families and our friends, that rollout from that, to our neighborhoods and our nations, and then to all of humanity there. Charity begins at home but doesn't end there... For the world to work, we have to behave in that way. If the nation state is the root, essentially of our freedoms, of our welfare or all the things that we most want politically and morally, in some ways - democratic accountability, redistribution between classes, regions, generations, this happens, essentially, at the level of the nation state. And if the nation state has no emotional support behind it, this is the point that Theresa May was making with her citizens of nowhere. If it doesn't have the support, even of the powerful and the influential and the rich, then it's diminished. And we're all diminished by that...
The state of Germany took in over a million refugees, and that came out of that collective sense... of guilt for how they treated the Jewish people, and that only came out of that collective feeling of guilt that you got by being part of a broader community. And if you don't appeal to what actually will motivate people, then you won't get the outcomes that you want...
It's often easier to love humanity than to love your neighbor. That in general, it's easy to love the human race... the thing about neighbors is you don't choose your neighbor, it's the person who happens to be in front of you... Your neighbor's often difficult...
We've heard some powerful arguments for universal or cosmopolitan conceptions of identity and community... One of the logical implications of that universalist or cosmopolitan ethic of Montesquieu's is that it's not so easy to account for the moral weight never mind of fellow citizens in the nation state, but to account for friends. If our encompassing loyalties should always take precedence over our more local or particular ones, then perhaps the distinction even between friends and strangers should ideally be overcome. Montesquieu doesn't shrink from this radical conclusion. A truly virtuous man he wrote would come to the aid of the most distant stranger as quickly as to his own friend. And then he adds, if men were perfectly virtuous, they wouldn't have friends... The problem, it seems to me, is not that such a world would be difficult to bring about, but that it would be difficult to recognize as a human world... we learn to love humanity, not in general, but through its particular expressions"

Stewardess claims first-class passengers pay flight attendants for sex - "When meals have been dished out and there is a quiet point in the flight, the cabin crew worker alleges, she regularly hears of staff performing sex acts on each other in the crew rest area."

I save strangers’ sex lives by sleeping with them - "As a sex surrogate, this is my area of expertise – using intimate touch and intercourse to help heal a whole range of problems, both sexual and otherwise. It’s sex work with a difference. I don’t work in a brothel or advertise online – rather, clients are referred to me by their psychologists to help work through their intimacy issues."

History of the word "tea": How the word "tea" spread over land and sea - "The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe."

Map: The Countries That Drink the Most Tea - "The Turkish, for one, don’t merely enjoy drinking tea; they downright adore the stuff. Turkey’s nearly 7 pounds per person per year is easily the largest in the world"

Harvard Commits to Ban on Single-Sex Organizations, But Will Allow 'Gender-Focused' Female Groups - "While many at Harvard championed the new policy as a necessary antidote to the campus's sexual assault problem, others were concerned about how the ban would impact single-sex female groups. Legions of female students protested across campus and #HearHerHarvard became an online rallying cry. The Crimson felt the ban was unfairly targeting "spaces for women," yet hailed the ban's treatment of male organizations as rightfully addressing "the role exclusionary social organizations play in perpetuating outdated notions of elitism, classism, and exclusivity on campus.""
Power relations means feminism is unapologetically about double standards

Video Shows Toddlers Understand Consent - "Consent really is that simple. And if toddlers can understand, so can the rest of us."
And the corollary of this is that...

What if the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples counted for indigenous Europeans? - "States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities"

Doner kebabs 'to be outlawed across Europe' - "Legislation has been put forward by the European Union that would make them illegal because of the phosphates that they contain... The doner sandwich is in fact a recent European interpretation of the Turkish roast classic which was introduced to Germany by immigrants from Turkey. In recent years the ‘Berlin doner’ variety has even spread to London and New York."

Here's The Nation's Easiest College Major - "Research over the years has indicated that education majors, who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. Some of academic evidence documenting easy A's for future teachers goes back more than 50 years! The latest damning report on the ease of majoring in education comes from research at the University of Missouri, my alma mater. The study, conducted by economist Cory Koedel shows that education majors receive "substantially higher" grades than students in every other department... the low academic standards required of education majors can extend to low expectation of teachers after they leave college."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Invisible Scars - "Sea sickness can affect even the best of sailors as Admiral Lord Nelson, victor of the Battle of Trafalgar confessed. 'I am ill every time it blows hard and nothing but my enthusiastic love for the profession keeps me one hour at sea', he wrote"

The Possum Drop - Wikipedia - "The Possum Drop is any one of several New Year's Day celebrations in which a possum is lowered from height at midnight."

The history of sleep | Podcast | History Extra - "[On sleep in the early modern period] They have very powerful motivations for looking after their sleep in this period and that's because getting a good night's sleep - between eight and ten hours per night on a regular basis - sat right at the center of a preventative culture of health care. So it's, it's very different to the kind of responsive mode, the situation that we have now. Medical interventions were expensive and not particularly effective in the early modern period. So actually it's the household that is the central space in which people's sleep quality is managed on a daily basis. So they make sure that they look after their sleep because keeping that in good regulation along with getting enough exercise in the day, enough fresh air is how you keep your bodily fluids in harmony with each other and how you maintain good long term physical and mental health... sleeping well and having good regular bedtimes is also a really important way of people demonstrating that they're a good Christian... I'm also disrespecting the god that I believe in by not practicing regular bedtimes...
They also made sure that they, that their diets were well set up to encourage a natural and healthy night sleep. So they prioritized foods that wouldn't irritate the stomach at night time. And they prioritized ingredients that were thought to have a cooling effect. So they ate an awful lot of lettuce... households were also manufacturing sleep remedies that they could just put on the shelf and pull off whenever they were having a disturbed night sleep...
I've even found one episode of somebody hanging a piece of cow's dung at the end of their beds to try and attract the bedbugs away from the sleeper's body"

Animals that changed us - History Extra - "Lessening the amount of agrichemicals that we're putting on to farmland - so I've heard people talking about GM-organic, which is really peculiar. I mean that just, if you think back to the nineteen nineties you never thought that those two words are going to appear in the same phrase quite so joined together. But you know it's the idea that if you were to make crops more productive by genetically modifying them then perhaps you need less in the way of chemical fertilizer. If you make them more resistant naturally to pests then you need less in the way of chemical pesticides"

Alfred the Great and science at Christmas - History Extra - "He's fantastic, Alfred isn't he? He's perfect. What we know of him, he comes across as a brilliant man. A man who sort of shines out from his age. A man of intellect, a warrior king. So he's a successful general, he's a warrior king. He seems to be magnanimous in victory. He has all the sort of great virtues that you want from a medieval king and when something seems too good to be true, as a historian I just want a little closer look. Far and away the most we know about Alfred is from either his own pen or the pens of people he commissioned to write"
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