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Monday, June 04, 2018

Links - 4th June 2018 (2)

Promise of world's first head transplant is truly fake news - "As if the moral failures rocking our world were not enough, now comes Italian professor Sergio Canavero to tell us that he will soon be performing the world’s first head transplant. Performing is about right since Canavero has no proven science to back up his hype... He has been touting his head transplant for years via media comments and news conferences. His actual publications about his technique, his method for reattaching the spinal cord, which is key to transplanting a head, or successful animal studies are next to nothing. There is not a chance this P.T. Barnum of transplantation could ever get approval for a test on a living human in North America, Europe or most of the rest of the world. His plans are all centered in China, where regulation of surgical innovation seems spotty at best and where tough scrutiny of his scientific claims is minimal... If you promise the most severely disabled the hope of a cure on the basis of crackpot science you are at best cruel. If you promise longer life to those whose bodies are ravaged by disease on the basis of one surgery on corpses and animal experiments that have not worked you are an immoral shyster."

Feminists have a new target: working-class women | Coffee House - "This is the nature of feminism today: it has become a well-off women’s racket. It has become a means for educated women to secure their position in the media, business and politics. Witness the new feminism’s myopic obsession with numbers of women on company boards, or the exact ratio of male-to-female guests on the Today programme, or how female MPs are addressed on Twitter. The vast majority of women, and men, do not work in these fields, of course. Feminism, clearly, isn’t for them. In fact, feminism is very often against them, especially if they are those ‘bad women’ who take jobs or have points of view that mainstream feminists disapprove of. Those women will be raged against by the sisterhood. The way feminists talk about certain working-class women is disgraceful. The young glamorous hostesses at that ridiculous Presidents Club dinner were utterly infantilised by those FT reporters, and others in the media, to whom these women are not conscious creatures who made a decision to do a certain job but rather are wide-eyed victims in need of rescue. The glamorous darts women are laughed off the public stage as if their choices and lives do not matter. As journalist and feminist Sally Howard said on This Morning yesterday, their job losses are ‘necessary’ — ‘every social change has people who suffer from it’. Imagine being so cavalier about women’s livelihoods. Page 3 girls? Sack them. Women who work for lads’ mags? Erase them. Women who question the MeToo movement, whether it’s film stars like Catherine Deneuve or just an ordinary working woman on Twitter who doesn’t think a hand on the knee is all that bad? Shout them down. Shut them up. ‘Be silent, woman, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ It increasingly seems that there is one kind of person who irritates the new feminists more than men do: women who don’t think or behave as feminists expect them to. Women who think for themselves. These women will be written off as suffering from ‘internalised misogyny’. Whether they’re voting for Trump or Brexit, or doing jobs that involve wearing revealing clothes, or questioning the sexual-harassment panic, or doing something else that the feminist elite disapproves of, these women will be diagnosed as having had their brains warped by The Culture. It is the most sexist idea of our times, this notion that certain women cannot think for themselves and thus must be corrected, saved or possibly condemned by rich, right-on women in the media and politics. Indeed, the feminist idea of ‘internalised misogyny’ rehabilitates the old, foul notion that women whose thinking diverges from the mainstream are mad somehow. The universe is barely large enough to contain the irony of this."

Ann Widdecombe is the feminist hero we need right now | Coffee House - "surely these older ladies are only restating what was once a core belief of women’s liberationists: that women don’t need chaperones or special protection and are quite capable of dealing with men, work and life? That Widdecombe and Barrie’s suggestion that women stand up for themselves, and reject or chastise men, was treated as a crazy ‘old lady’ thing to say tells us a lot about how feminism has changed — how a movement that once bigged up women’s strength now seems devoted to playing it down. But Widdecome wasn’t done. She tore through the house like a tiny storm of unpopular opinion, laying waste to new feminist orthodoxies that she thinks paint women as the fairer sex. She announced her opposition to all-women shortlists in politics because she thinks women should be judged by their beliefs and achievements, not by their gender. ‘You cannot wish the competition away’, she said. She rolled her eyes at some of the contestants’ tales of ‘discrimination’, including Ms Willoughby’s one piece of evidence that her life became harder when she transitioned from male to female: someone at work asked her to make coffee. She shut down a fact-lite debate about women getting paid less than men... And she told a wicked anecdote about the ‘Blair Babes’ of 1997. One of them complained to Widdecombe about the rudeness of male MPs to female MPs. ‘The men are rude to each other too’, Widdecome shot back. It turns out the male MPs weren’t rude to her because she was a woman but because ‘she was useless!’"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, To Be a Pilgrim - "A pilgrimage would always involve discomfort and expense and often also real risk. To this day in Germany the children's game of musical chairs is called the Journey to Jerusalem. Not everybody is going to make it to the end. Pilgrims might fall ill, be robbed or even killed and it's significant that many of the pilgrims badges now in museums in Britain were found in the mud of the Thames - when pilgrims docked safely they would often drop a pilgrimage badge into the water as a thank offering to God for their safe return from a perilous journey... The most frequently venerated relic of Beckett was the water in which his brains and blood had been washed which was endlessly diluted and little drops of which were put into lead capsules which would have a, an emblem of Canterbury of some kind. They enabled you to take away some of the holiness...
The place were things change is not necessarily the shrine or the sanctuary - it's often on the journey itself""

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Festivals - "'Some Protestants, Reformed Protestants or in England Puritans - that's what they objected to. Christmas is just an intruder and of course technically they were right'. And because they knew they were right the Puritans simply got rid of Christmas. The Pilgrim Fathers arriving in America in sixteen twenty made a point of working on Christmas Day. The Scottish Parliament abolished all celebration of the feast in sixteen forty and until nineteen fifty eight Christmas in Scotland was a normal working day. In England the holiday was also banned by Parliament under Cromwell to great public protest"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Replicating the Divine - "Supported by a wicker frame the bulk of the body is composed of clay. Great efforts are made to incorporate at least a bit of earth from all parts of the locality and there should always be some clay from the banks of the Ganges. Durga's a close connection to that sacred river. The whole of the community is present in this large image. A priest must beg for some soil from a prostitute's house in order to add it to the final mix"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Change Your Life - "I remember as a child looking at the crucifix. I had to tell myself: he did all this for me. This is a terrible burden to have... What is powerful one day may foster weariness or disgust the next. But objects like the two that we have been considering here have another much graver difficulty - in neither can the message be understood if we don't know quite a lot before we even begin to look. In a different cultural world, in another time or another place they are effectively incomprehensible. Left to our own devices few of us would I think guess at the effort of renunciation and detachment to which we are summoned by the tranquil Buddh'as hand gesture. And even fewer would read the crucifixion print correctly as a prayer to divine love. It's partly because images are so hard to read correctly and the emotions that they arouse are so powerful that most Protestant reformers were profoundly suspicious of them. Like many religious movements the Protestants believed that the best, perhaps the only reliable way of communicating supreme truths was by the word alone. The image was a danger to faith and was best destroyed"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Rejecting the Image - "Because of the prohibition in the Ten Commandments of graven images of making anything that is an image, people became very negative about any kind of image. I think my grandfather or my great grandfather must have been given a bust of Rossini the composer and because they didn't have images of the human body they knocked off his nose"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Living with Many Gods - "Romans treat their gods like they treat their citizens. When they conquer another place often they regularly give the conquered people some form of Roman citizenship, they incorporate them. And in many ways the same thing goes with the gods. When you conquer or bring somebody else into the empire then their gods become part of your world and it doesn't matter that you've just got you know a few more and it doesn't matter in some ways that they're slightly odd because one of the things that's happening is that oddity is being eroded - they're becoming you... In a hundred and seventy three BCE a decree of the Senate commented: iidem ubique di immortales - the immortal gods are the same everywhere. You can't imagine the government of any European colonial empire ever putting it quite like that...
Across the span of human history, one god systems have been very much the exception, not the rule. Living with many different gods, Mary Beard argues, allowed the Romans to live on good terms with many different peoples.
'One of the big advantages of having lots of gods is that you can have more or fewer according as you decide. So that there isn't that kind of head to head clash that you get when monotheistic cultures meet. Every polytheism is terribly porous at its edges'...
Ancient Mesopotamia gives a different angle on the potential benefits of having several gods and how useful it can be if they don't always agree... The flood had been a wrong decision taken by the group which a dissenter had put right. It's a governance model that's possible only if you have many gods and only if they're fallible. Placed side by side the two stories - Hebrew and Babylonian - raise the same fundamental question about natural disasters. But they radically different moral answers. For the Babylonians a lethal flood could be the result of drunken misguided gods. But that answer is not open to Jews or Christians with a single god who is both benign and just.
'When you have a monotheism you have to work out a different explanation for how is it that our god can do us damage, do harm. And the answer of course is that it's because we sin'"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Gods Living Together - "Our Lady of Glory is a tall brick church built in the best English Gothic style and as I stand on its steps I see on the other side of the road right opposite me a bright green mosque whose walls butt up against the orange and yellow temple of Hanuman the Hindu monkey god. A few hundred yards to my left is the synagogue and the same distance to my right the Zoroastrian fire temple and if I go just a little further afield I come to a giant sanctuary and then to a Buddhist temple. It may sound like a fantasy theme park for world religions but it is of course the very real, very modern, very noisy Mumbai on a busy weekday evening. Multilingual, multiracial, multifaith Mumbai. A city built over the last three hundred years by Christians and Hindus, Parsis and Jews, Muslims and Jains all living cheek by jowl in what has been for the most part astonishingly harmonious coexistence. In India the world's major faiths are practiced side by side in greater numbers than anywhere else in the world and there's a kind of civic faith here too - faith in a pluralist society and in a form of secularism grounded not in hostility towards religion but in what the Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has called the principle of equidistance - that the state should be religiously even handed. Respectful of but equidistant from all faiths"
And yet ignorant Singaporeans are proud that it is Uniquely Singapore that you can find 3 houses of worship near each other

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Living with No Gods - "Each of the new months was named after natural rhythms of agriculture and the seasons. Brumaire, Misty. Frimaire, Frosty. Pluviôse , Rainy. And so on. Or, as a skeptical commentator from just across the English Channel put it in the sporting magazine of eighteen hundred, the French months are now called queasy, sneezy and freezy, slippy, drippy and nippy"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Turning the Screw - "Anybody suspected of being a Christian was obliged on pain of death to appear in a nearby Buddhist temple and stamp on a small plaque carrying the sculptured image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. Some of these Fumi-e - literally stamp images, they're about the size of a smart phone, have survived. Evidence of how many Christians - real or alleged there must have been in Japan. They are I think inexpressibly poignant. In the history of art they form an almost unique category. Images of real quality made explicitly in order to be humiliated and destroyed"

BBC Radio 4 - Living With The Gods, Living with Each Other - "The decline of religion in the West, largely driven by a rejection of the faith narrative has not as many once feared led to an increase in immorality and crime. But it has I believe led to a profound loss of community. All the traditions we have looked at affirm that the life of the individual can be properly lived only in a community and all of them offer ways of making that belief. Jean Paul Sartre famously observed that hell is other people. All the narratives and practices that we have looked at argue precisely the contrary - that living properly with other people, living with each other is the nearest that we can get to heaven"

Hot Takes: Election Feels — The Art History Babes - "He's in Europe and he had been talking to a black girl at a club and he's very white, like Swedish looking white and someone came up to him and started explaining how by him talking to her he was exerting his white male privilege by being in a powerful position and that's why she was more attracted to him. But doing it, not explaining like the idea in an educational way but like shaming him about it and making him feel bad, or like talking to this girl"
The fact that they endorse the idea of white privilege being a factor in picking up black girls - even if not the delivery - is telling (even if they see the delivery, at least, as emblematic of why Trump won

Getting Graphic — The Art History Babes - "I have to go to a women's liter, literary conference versus just like a literary conference. Like that means I write differently, like yeah... I've heard men say that they can tell the difference between women's writing and men's writing, like you don't have to tell them who wrote it. If you give them two novels they can tell the difference and like shut up. That always bothering me, because just saying that you can is obnoxious...
Even if they can like so what? So maybe women have more empathy... we can touch on things that men can't exactly think of"

Ancient Greek Monsters — The Art History Babes - "The monster as Other in ancient Greek mythology and art exhibits both the fear of what is foreign and fear of being outside of or disconnected from Greek society. And by extension that train of thought leads to monsters being used as a visual, as a literary form of control. So monsters can act as markers of borders not to be crossed, whether this is a societal border not to be crossed or an actual geographical border not to be crossed. Like don't leave the city especially if you are a young woman and you're unmarried you might get raped by a centaur, something like that. They warn of the danger of moving outside of society and culturally held standards. To quote Cohen from his Monster Theory: to step outside of this official geography is to risk attack by some monstrous border patrol, or worse to become monstrous oneself. And really in their very nature as monsters they are beyond the norm. They are beyond the norm of ancient Greek society and warn against taking such actions oneself through their monstrosity, so they're just a warning in a lot of ways. And the interesting thing about ancient Greek monsters is they seem to embody this weird sort of juxtaposition between desire and repulsion. So on one hand they can embody the fantasy of escape. They can embody this desire to get outside of the city center and seek adventure and see new areas. There is fascination in the bizarre and monsters can really act as Cohen says, difference made flesh. Monsters can represent immortality or human, and human resilience. Like when we look at the ancient Greek monster the hydra, which is a multiple headed like serpentine water monster. If you cut off one of its heads two will grow back in its place. And when we look at sirens they represent beauty as well as danger with voices to lure sailors to their deaths. More often than not it's the monstrous bodies themselves in ancient Greek mythology and art, their deformities the - animal attributes that repulse and frighten us most. So it's difference that frightens the most... all wrong doings are blamed on the monster so its defeat can be a form of redemption"

Demographic Profile of Drug
Singapore releases statistics on drug abusers by ethnic group but data on arrests/convictions by ethnic group is not publicly released
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