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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Links - 1st July 2018 (1)

CAMPUS CONTROL – Air-Conditioned Nation - "In my time as an academic, I have given talks on campuses in around 25 countries. This is the first time that an invitation to speak has been, in effect, voided. It’s the kind of hitch that I’m mentally prepared for if I need to deal with universities in the People’s Republic of China. I wasn’t expecting it from my own country. I wonder if we’ve hit a new low (and new heights of irony), when the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in which foreigners occupy half the head-of-department positions, can’t freely decide to have a Singapore citizen visit for a couple of hours to share his research."

Damn - Album on Imgur - "90s boys falling in love in 3.. 2.. 1..."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Thursday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "A huge part of my job is saying: how much can you actually afford to lose? It's a horrible question to start with but actually that is the most important question when it comes to investing"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Muslims on Islam in Britain today - "Many of them had travelled and had come across Muslims either in the Middle East and the Ottoman world or increasingly India. You are also beginning to get a challenge in the Victorian period into the Edwardian period to Christianity, particularly amongst the intelligensia. Darwin, Theory of Evolution, rise of science but also biblical scholarship. You are beginning to get if you want academic scholarship of the Bible which is beginning to challenge the Bible's origins. So there's a number of christians who are disenchanted with Christianity, but they are not ready to make the leap to atheism somewhere or agnosticism. They want to find another faith, but a faith which believes in the same, the same God. Victorian Christianity was very class bound. Rather than turn to socialism they are beginning to think actually Islam doesn't have that kind of message, it promotes equality of everybody...
In my understanding in Islam none of the scholars would say that stunning itself is not permitted. I think the worry is that if the stunning process actually ends up killing the animal that would... not be considered Halal"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Do we need self-help books? - "Genuinely happy people do not stand in front of the mirror yelling about how happy they are. That is the view of James Rhodes, concert pianist and author of the anti self help book Fire on All Sides...
They have usually one or two quite good messages which are basically common sense. You know, be kind to yourself, don't try and kill yourself, try and do things for other people and try not to think so much about the future and the past... this whole idea of follow these six steps and within three weeks you'll have the woman of your dreams and you'll be a millionaire is toxic"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Irish PM Leo Varadkar on abortion laws - "'How would it feel to you as a gay man to be there alongside someone like Vice President Pence who's regarded as a deeply divisive figure by lgbt rights campaigners?'
'Yeah well you know I'm representing my country. It's not all about me... my view on all these matters when it comes to engagement overseas is that the best policy is actually to engage with people and to cooperate with them and to raise concerns to their face'"
So much for yelling at people that they're bigots

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 100 Years of Women: Maths and Science - "Kathleen Ollerenshaw who is just an absolutely remarkable woman with a remarkable life. She was deaf by the age of eight, she didn't get a hearing aid until she was thirty seven but she was so good at lip reading that she passed her Oxford interview without anyone realizing that she was deaf. She got her Ph.D without having to write a thesis because her work was so impressive including solving a problem in lattices that no one else could manage...
She damaged her thumb playing Rubik's Cube...
She was one of the first people to publish the solution to the Rubik's cube and had to have surgery on her hand because she played with it so much...
She was nominated to be a fellow of the Royal Society but was rejected not on the grounds of her work but on the grounds that as a married woman she wasn't considered a legal entity"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 100 Years of Women: Politics and public Life - "'The Queen has been a kind of totally reassuring presence for nearly seventy years through thick and thin, ups and downs, crises and calm, joy and despair - she's remained exactly the same and she embodies I think what people think the UK is about. She is the most famous woman in the world without ever having had to have a PR agent'
'But that is due to her rank and position largely isn't it?'
'No I think it's more than that. I think it's actually the way in which she has it were played the role... she was willing to adapt the monarchy after the very dark days following Princess Diana's death'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'I know I was raped' - "I was told in in the car going to the police station I had to try and not be too emotional in the interview because if it was played in court that would confuse the jury and they needed clean hard facts. So to be as concise as possible about what had happened. So when I was interviewed I kept this in mind and I was like totally detached myself from the situation, I was just telling them the facts as if it was happening to somebody else and then halfway through the interview the officer left the room to go and talk to his team which were watching from a different room. And he came back and he said I'm sorry, you know, you're not coming across as a credible witness because you're not upset, you're not crying. And I tried to tell him that that's what I'd been told to do and he said well I'm sorry, you're just not believable"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, John Cleese on what's changed in comedy - "There was, and it's quite amusing, for example where it was shown in Spain the first time it was suddenly mysteriously removed from Spanish television. For a few weeks and when it came back Manuel had become Portuguese...
Two ways of making fun of somebody. One is sort of a direct attack and the other is by becoming one of the people that you're making fun of and saying ridiculous things and discrediting them in that way. Well if people are going to think that they're meant seriously then they're going to be offended by things that are actually against prejudice... you can't cater to the stupid by cutting jokes that the intelligent will get"

He's not from Barcelona: how Manuel became a Mexican buffoon in Catalonian version of Fawlty Towers - "When TV producers in Catalonia came up against the same issue of how to cast Manuel in another dubbed version in 1986, they took their cue from a French version and decided that the clueless waiter should be from Mexico... Andrew Sachs’ character was to become once again “Manuel from Barcelona” when the Basque region’s ETB screened the BBC series. Apparently, no one from Bilbao or San Sebastián was offended by a dim-witted waiter coming from Barcelona."

Guy Who Had Sex With A Dolphin Explains How It Happened - "Despite what you may think though it wasn’t Mr Brenner who pursued Dolly it was the dolphin who courted him. During the making of the documentary Dolphin Lover, he claimed that Dolly would rub her genital slit against him, adding that when he tried to push her away, she would get very angry with him"
If you think dolphins are intelligent and deserving of more rights than other animals, you cannot rule out their ability to consent to sex

HumanProgress.org on Twitter: "Worried about income inequality? Consider the top 400 U.S. income-earners. Between 1992 and 2013, 72 percent of the top 400 retained that title for no more than a year. Over 97 percent retained it for no more than a decade

Understanding Student Mobbists - The New York Times - "Progress is less about understanding and liking each other and more about smashing structures that others defend. The second thing that happened was that reason, apparently, ceased to matter. Today’s young people were raised within an educational ideology that taught them that individual reason and emotion were less important than perspectivism — what perspective you bring as a white man, a black woman, a transgender Mexican, or whatever... In the conflict theorist worldview, most public problems are caused not by errors or complexity, but by malice and oppression. The powerful few keep everyone else down. The solutions to injustice and suffering are simple and obvious: Defeat the powerful. Passion is more important than reason because the oppressed masses have to mobilize to storm the barricades. Debate is counterproductive because it dilutes passion and sows confusion. Discordant ideas are not there to inform; they are there to provide cover for oppression... I’d just ask them to take two courses. The first would be in revolutions — the French, Russian, Chinese and all the other ones that unleashed the passion of the mob in an effort to overthrow oppression — and the way they ALL wound up waist deep in blood.The second would be in constitutionalism"

That Oxymoron, the Asian Comic Superhero - The New York Times - "I suppose the current push to draw diversity into comics and add variety to the canon is meant to reinforce the notion that anyone can be a superhero. But that only risks undercutting the genre’s universal appeal. It can’t be an accident that so many efforts to create an Asian superhero have failed... Try to adapt the superhero comic’s conventions to an Asian context and the genre collapses under the weight of traditional Asian values: humility, self-effacement, respect for elders and communal harmony... We geeks out here in the Asian hinterlands have always readily bought into American ideals because the American comic book makes us believe we can be special, too. The Asian superhero, steeped in our cultural baggage, would only undermine the fantasy."
In other words, diversity in comics fails because not all cultures are suited to the genre

Evolution’s Sweet Tooth - The New York Times - "Youngsters can’t make rational, informed decisions about their bodies, and our society agrees that parents don’t have the right to make disastrous decisions on their behalf. Accordingly, we require parents to enroll their children in school, have them immunized and make them wear seat belts. We require physical education in school, and we don’t let children buy alcohol or cigarettes. If these are acceptable forms of coercion, how is restricting unhealthy doses of sugary drinks that slowly contribute to disease any different?
Or comparing disciplining children with spousal abuse is ridiculous. As is giving kids hormone blockers

When Baby Boomers Delay Retirement, Do Younger Workers Suffer? - "The notion that younger and older workers are engaged in a zero-sum game for a fixed number of jobs is called the “lump-of-labor” theory... The lump-of-labor theory did not hold true during the Great Recession: there is no evidence that employment by Baby Boomers negatively impacted the labor force activity of younger workers"

It’s Rucksacks and Foxholes as Army Goes Old School for New Conflicts - The New York Times - "While some American military personnel, in particular Special Operations forces and a number of Marine and conventional Army units, operated out of small, spartan outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bulk of Army troops lived on bases that had running water, electricity and housing units. Some larger bases even had wireless internet, televisions, gyms and coffee shops. Civilian contractors guarded the bases, cooked meals and transported ammunition, food and fuel... a generation of soldiers with more battlefield experience than any since World War II is getting back to basics: learning how to cook their own meals, cover their faces in camouflage paint, dig foxholes and latrines, lay concertina wire and live out of their rucksacks... The Army’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan was partly for political reasons. The Bush and Obama administrations set strict limits on the number of troops assigned to the mission in each country, and contractors helped keep the numbers low. At times, there were as many contractors, numbering in the tens of thousands, in the war zones as there were uniformed service members. Life on military bases became so comfortable that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal ordered in 2011 that all Burger Kings, Dairy Queens and Pizza Huts on bases in Afghanistan be closed because, one of his deputies said in a memo at the time, “this is a war zone, not an amusement park.” A year later, General McChrystal’s successor, Gen. David H. Petraeus, had them reopened as part of an effort to improve the troops’ quality of life. With so many jobs being done by civilians, the Army sent soldiers into Iraq and Afghanistan who were trained to do one task: conduct counterinsurgency operations, including patrols and raids."

Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories - The New York Times - "if you think one of the theories above is plausible, you probably feel the same way about the others, even though they contradict one another... “The best predictor of belief in a conspiracy theory is belief in other conspiracy theories”... Psychologists say that’s because a conspiracy theory isn’t so much a response to a single event as it is an expression of an overarching worldview... 63 percent of registered American voters believe in at least one political conspiracy theory... believers are more likely to be cynical about the world in general and politics in particular. Conspiracy theories also seem to be more compelling to those with low self-worth, especially with regard to their sense of agency in the world at large. Conspiracy theories appear to be a way of reacting to uncertainty and powerlessness... Those who got information supporting the theories but not information debunking them were more likely to withdraw from participation in politics and were less likely to take action to reduce their carbon footprints... African-Americans who believe AIDS is a weapon loosed on them by the government (remembering the abuses of the Tuskegee experiment) are less likely to practice protected sex... the current scientific thinking suggests these beliefs are nothing more than an extreme form of cynicism, a turning away from politics and traditional media — which only perpetuates the problem."

Bhutan Is No Shangri-La - NYTimes.com - "After tightening its citizenship laws in the mid-1980s, Bhutan conducted a special census in the south and then proceeded to cast out nearly 100,000 people — about one-sixth of its population, nearly all of them of Nepalese origin, including my family. It declared us illegal immigrants, even though many of us went back several generations in Bhutan. It hasn’t let any of us move back. The enormity of this exodus, one of the world’s largest by proportion, given the country’s small population, has been overlooked by an international community that is either indifferent or beguiled by the government-sponsored images of Bhutan as a serene Buddhist Shangri-La, an image advanced by the policy of “gross national happiness,” coined by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s... Protests demanding an end to the absolute monarchy and persecution of the Lhotshampa beginning in summer 1990 were quashed, and repression — including torture, sexual assault, evictions and discriminatory firing — intensified"
Or, domestic abuse

Can Your Relationship Handle a Trip to IKEA? - WSJ - "Furniture assembly often causes more friction than the shopping experience... He estimates that it took him, his father and a friend about 10 hours to put the bed together, including two hours of arguing with Ms. Thomas. “She would give directions and then leave the room!” he recalls"

In Hong Kong, Should Expats Learn Cantonese? - Expat - WSJ - "“It’s a damned difficult language,” she says. Cantonese is structurally difficult, with simple yet tricky grammar and more tones than almost any other language. (In Asia, only Vietnamese comes close, with six tones.) There is an infuriatingly complex relationship between spoken and written languages: Standard written Chinese is based on Mandarin, but Cantonese has its own written version, too, which is used in many of Hong Kong’s magazines and newspapers. And it’s a language that changes from month to month, year to year, adding new vocabulary at a bewildering pace. Ms. McLane describes it as a “moving target.”... I’ve met a number of people who don’t plan to learn Cantonese because they like the distance it gives them from the people around them. In their case, it may stem less from a sense of superiority than from a romantic idea of being a foreigner in a far-away land, but either way, the outcome is the same. “It’s very colonial”"
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