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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Links - 9th June 2018 (2)

Sarah Vine: Hysteria over Presidents Club betrays feminism - "what mystifies me is why the women concerned didn't get the measure of what was on the cards. Put it this way: when the job description includes sexy knickers, see-through dresses and high heels, it's safe to assume you're not being hired to hand out fondant fancies at a vicar's tea party. And when someone offers to pay you cash to entertain 360 middle-aged men on a boozy night off from their wives and families, you would either have to be very naive or very stupid not to expect a certain amount of boorish behaviour. What happened between some guests and these young women at The Dorchester is not acceptable. But then nor is the behaviour of women with male strippers at hen nights very edifying, yet it provokes guffaws rather than outrage. The point is neither men nor women behaving in this way constitutes the crime of the century. And unless an actual crime is reported, it is not a matter for the police or a parliamentary emergency, despite Labour's Jess Phillips's melodramatic tabling of an urgent question in the Commons... in today's culture of dystopian moral panic, as with the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland, anyone who disagrees with the sentence passed should expect to lose their head too. Which of course is why the #MeToo way of thinking is gaining such traction: it's a very brave (or foolish) person who can stand up to the screeching... One by one feminism's wise figureheads — academic Germaine Greer, the brilliant novelist Margaret Atwood and even the Daily Mail's own great foreign correspondent Dame Ann Leslie — have felt the wrath of this new ultra-feminist puritanism because they questioned its path. And what's really depressing is that the rabble that form today's feminists owe their power and freedom to those trailblazers. They are strong women who have lived and battled genuine sexual prejudice (as opposed to half-imagined slights) and who now find themselves being torn down by those they helped liberate... I have tried to teach my daughter to stand her own ground, to learn to fight — and above all be strong. To command respect rather than obtain it through special pleading. And above all to be honest with herself about what she wants and how she intends to get it. The unspoken truth behind this hysterical condemnation of men — which with every ridiculous accusation only belittles genuine victims of abuse — is that too many women today refuse to admit their own questionable behaviour towards men, either in terms of sexual gratification or social and career advancement... The tragic irony of all this is that there are vitally important and worthwhile battles still to be had in the real war against inequality and the abuse of women. Compare the hysteria and air-time prompted by The Presidents Club to other all-too-real sexual scandals such as the nightmare of the girls in grooming and gang rape cases such as Rotherham as they struggle to obtain justice. Or the plight of the countless women subjected to forced marriage. If today's self-indulgent feminists could devote even half their energy to these genuine outrages, I would be the first to champion them. Instead they pass by with scarcely any comment while admittedly offensive but ultimately fairly harmless behaviour generates national, nay international, apoplexy."

Germaine Greer criticises 'whingeing' #MeToo movement - "Greer said she had “always wanted to see women react immediately” when they were faced with sexual abuse or harassment. “In the old days,” she continued, “there were movies – the Carry On comedies, for example – which always had a man leering after women. And the women always outwitted him – he was a fool. We weren’t afraid of him and we weren’t afraid to slap him down.”... Greer said that “if you spread your legs because he said ‘be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that”."

#metoo won’t solve sexism in China – just ask Germaine Greer - "She says the #metoo movement trivialises rape by allowing any woman propositioned by someone she does not find attractive to cast herself as a victim, and allowing women who regret a consensual encounter to re-badge it as rape... There was no need to send him for training or have him demoted or humiliated. A witty put-down from a powerful woman that showed he had overstepped the mark was enough. Yet many now believe that nothing short of sacking and shaming is sufficient"

After #MeToo, Men Are Uncomfortable Mentoring Women - "since the media reports of sexual harassment first emerged last fall, male managers are three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. The hesitation to meet with women outside of work is even more pronounced: Senior men were 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work dinner with a junior female colleague than a male one–and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior woman."
And they laughed at and mocked Mike Pence. Meanwhile people like Sheryl Sandberg blame men for not wanting to risk their careers and reputations

Google's A.I. Just Taught Itself How to Use Encryption

Separated at Birth? - "The only ones over here on the American side of the pond to engage in serious theological disputes any longer are proselytizing atheists. With religion’s supposed corollary, science, Americans are even more mainstream. Yes, creationism has more credence and evolution is more contested here than in other developed nations, but Americans’ scientific literacy is as high as or higher than that of most European countries, and our scientific production orders of magnitude greater. Besides, other cultures have their own scientific blind spots. Astrology is taken more seriously in several European nations than it is in the United States. Homeopathy effectively denies scientific causality and is thus arguably less scientific even than creationism, but it’s widely accepted in Europe; indeed, such quackery is often reimbursed by national health plans... U.S. abortion policy is, by European standards, quite liberal. Women have the right to abort largely at will for many months after conception. Outside the Scandinavian fringe where similar policies are in place, Europeans are much more restricted. German women have to prove various forms of hardship and gain their doctor’s permission. Ireland outlaws abortion almost entirely, and the Mediterranean nations have implemented the Romney position, allowing it only in cases of danger to the mother’s health, incest or rape. Recent attempts to liberalize Spain’s very restrictive policies have sparked huge demonstrations in support of the status quo. In other words, were U.S.-style abortion law rolled out across Europe, you can be sure that their debates would become at least as raucous as ours... In terms of BA-for-the-buck or cost per research citation, others get better outcomes. As Howard Hotson has argued, British universities get similar mileage on fewer resources. Much the same could be said for many European institutions... Finland’s performance is largely the happy outcome of a country with the most restrictive immigration policies in Western Europe and a correspondingly homogenous population... If we are much like other Western industrialized nations in many respects, with only a wiggle here and a twitch of difference there, where can we still thump the drum of exceptionalism?... some other nations are also full of gun buffs, like the Swiss, the Finns and the Swedes. But the Swiss own them as part of their military service, and the Nordic peoples are also eager hunters in sparsely populated countries. Though many, their guns are the rifles and shotguns needed for sport, not the handguns and semi-automatic weapons that wreak havoc in American cities. The NRA would have us believe that gun ownership and murder rates are completely unconnected. Is it really a coincidence that Finns, Swedes and the Swiss also kill each other much more often than other Europeans? (The Norwegians, though big gun owners, are curiously not killers.)... the richest 10 percent pay a larger share of total taxes in the United States than in any West European nation. The dirty little secret of the American fiscus is our refusal thus far to harness the workhorse of most other tax systems: indirect and consumption levies"

Foreign prisoners: findings of a study in foreign national only prisons in Norway and the Netherlands - "In 2013, there were over 150,000 foreigners in prison in the Council of Europe, representing nearly a quarter of the region’s prison population. While for some countries this is not a significant issue (Eastern Europe), many prison systems have to deal with between 30 and 70% foreign nationals"
As per the previous article, Europe jails more foreigners than the US

The Left, The Collapsing Star - "As things get worse and the privilege narrative becomes further extreme, not even intersectionality can keep the growing resentment from dividing the left further. As hatred for their enemies grows, each faction will see pieces of that enemy within their allies. That lady is still white, after all, and that black man is still a man. No matter what whites do, they still have white privilege. No matter how hard you advocate for women’s rights, no male can be called a “feminist,” only an “ally,” and of course they still inevitably have the stain of male privilege, as well"

The Sad Decline of VOX: How a Once-Promising Media Outlet Became a Bastion of Neoliberal Corporatism

Twenty-First Century Victorians - "Today, spin classes, artisanal food, and the college application process have replaced Sunday promenades, evening lectures, and weekly salons. But make no mistake, they serve the same purpose: transforming class privilege into individual virtue, thereby shoring up social dominance... Current exercise trends, like hot yoga, spin, and CrossFit, all demonstrate a commitment to self-denial and self-discipline, values much praised by the Victorians. Marathon running has become the ultimate signifier: competitors can post photos on social media to prove to everyone that they have tortured their bodies in a highly virtuous — and not at all kinky — fashion. This seeps over into everyday activities as well. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are filled with people dressed in workout gear with no sweat in sight. This clothing marks its wearers as the type of people who care for their bodies, even when they aren’t exercising. Yoga pants and running shoes display virtue just as clearly as the nineteenth-century wives’ corseted dresses did... Nowadays, the Internet registers cross-class horror on websites like People of Wal-Mart. Instead of being repulsed by the “great unwashed,” the modern Victorians blanch at the “great overfed.”... Just as Victorian women had to learn to play the piano and speak Italian — showing off a refinement unavailable to the other levels of society — modern kids play soccer, learn Mandarin, and volunteer at a local charity."

Food and Nutrition Myths - "Myth 1: You need to detox your body with a juice cleanse.
Myth 2: Diet sodas make you gain weight.. the diet-soda drinkers reported feeling more satisfied
Myth 3: Canola oil is made from rapeseed plants, which are toxic.
Myth 4: Sea salt has less sodium than table salt and is mineral-rich... Keep in mind, sea salt lacks iodine — and not getting enough of this compound can lead to goiter, intellectual impairments, growth retardation, and much more. In fact, iodine deficiency is a serious health threat, especially among pregnant women
Myth 5: Some foods, like celery, have negative calories.
Myth 6: It takes 21 days to break a bad habit (or form a new one).
Myth 7: Muscle can turn to fat ( . . . and vice versa)"

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: An Update - "The color is due to impurities. Pure sodium chloride is white. It is ironic that pink Himalayan sea salt is advertised as “The purest salt available today.” Its very color belies that claim... Pink Himalayan sea salt is advertised to contain “the 84 trace minerals valuable to the body.” Naïve customers assume that more is better, and that we need more trace nutrients, so those 84 minerals ought to make pink Himalayan salt healthier than regular salt. That assumption is completely misguided. Most sources list far fewer trace minerals and elements in the human body, from 41 to 60, some in barely detectable amounts. And many of those 60 are toxic and radioactive, not only useless to human physiology but harmful. Radioactive elements like uranium can be detected in trace amounts in the human body, but they should be considered contaminants, not useful nutrients."

Playing with History: What Sid Meier’s Video Game Empire Got Right and Wrong About ‘Civilization’ - "The game unfolds in a manner that echoes the Enlightenment-era belief in progress as a universal rule, as well as the Darwinian notion that societies, like species, evolved from states of simplicity to greater levels of complexity and sophistication. But the idea that history is the story of progress is not the only or even the most natural way of conceiving time. That optimistic view is on the wane now, with climate change increasingly changing the way we think about our present and future. Elsewhere and in other periods, people have understood time as a descent (a decline from a prior period of grandeur), a wave (the rise and fall of dynasties), as cyclical (a sequence of ages), and as a spiral (Hegelian dialectics). Civilization assumes that time is simply an arrow, pushing ever onwards"

This Is How the Military Could Kill Godzilla - "“It has and needs eyes,” the scientist told us on condition of anonymity. “First thing we need to do is blind it.” The military has munitions that can do just that, he pointed out. “Unguided rockets filled with white phosphorous would do the trick""

Agincourt: Henry's Hollow Victory - "Agincourt was a hollow victory because it engendered unrealistic expectations and, in particular, it blinded Henry and his advisers to the strategic impossibility that England could ever subdue its neighbour across the Channel."

Adam Grant: Penn's hypercompetitive culture is 'by far the worst I have ever seen it' - "Forced grading curves create a “toxic” atmosphere in classrooms... data suggests these curves undermine students’ intrinsic motivation to learn and discourage collaboration"

Mystery deepens over secret tapes of Lee Kuan Yew - "It’s an interesting tangle over the ownership of history between the Lees and the G. But what was it really all about anyway? Is this really a family fight? What was so politically sensitive about what the late Mr Lee said? What was interesting was that he had actually stated the year 2000 or five years after his death, which seemed to imply that he wouldn’t have minded the material being out in the open 15 years ago."

The G's hypocritical approach to vice - "the G has decided that we should ban more tobacco/smoking products like shisha, smokeless cigarettes and e-cigarettes (and is planning to ban menthols and clove cigarettes too). This stuff already nets the G a billion dollars a year in taxes – why not allow it for the love of money as well?... smokeless tobacco products have been shown to be less harmful than combusted tobacco, while online gambling is clearly not any less harmful than in-person gambling. And the G just threw away the entire “gateway” argument – if online gambling is not a gateway, then vaping isn’t a gateway, and soft drugs aren’t a gateway, and online porn isn’t a gateway… we have one vice liberalising (gambling), one vice getting a massive clampdown (smoking), and one vice maintaining the status quo (sex trade). What on earth is going on? If Singapore has aspirations to become Vice City, then please don’t hold back. If we want to be squeaky clean, then put the squeeze on all vices equally."

Europe's New Media Darlings: Terrorists - "Many of Europe's streets are plastered with the names of the Palestinian terrorists. The French town of Valenton named a street for Marwan Barghouti; and a few days after a priest was slaughtered this summer in France, a group of French cities planned to honor Barghouti. Towns such as Pierrefitte-sur-Seine have already awarded him honorary citizenship, and a photograph of the Palestinian terror leader was hung on the front of its city hall."

Could wearing a suit harm your career? - "When Swiss bank UBS's 44-page dress code, which advised client-facing staff on everything from appropriate underwear to the importance of regular haircuts, was leaked in 2010 it was widely mocked. The guide said a well-groomed outward appearance helped to communicate the firm's values. It prompted derision and disbelief... people are judged on their overall head-to-toe appearance within seconds, and clothing is a big part of that first impression. She found that a man in an off-the-shelf suit is judged as less successful and less flexible than his counterpart who wears a tailor-made suit, for example."
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