"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Links - 13th November 2018 (1)

Episode 97: Art History BB: Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds — The Art History Babes - "‘His father had been imprisoned by the nationalist government on suspicion of being a leftist after the People's Republic of China was founded, his father was again accused - this time of being a rightest under Chairman Mao’s anti-intellectual campaign’
‘No wonder he has such a great sense of humour.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral Progress - "It was the late Tory MP Alan Clark whose louche reputation was hard earned. Taken to task on this program, I think, for making unwanted approaches to women famously replied: How do I know they’re unwanted until I make them?...
‘I don't think we want to confuse moral progress with puritanical intolerance and I fear that that's one of the things that's emerged at the moment. You can feel as though you're kind of on the side of virtue, if you shout burn the witch and identify things as evil and you can feel better about yourself, but whether it makes you a morally autonomous responsible person, I doubt it.’...
'I don’t think there’s any such thing as moral progress. Where do we get the idea from that motion is forward? Where is this strange -ometer which allows us to tell whether something is progress or just change? It seems to me the only way you can tell is whether things deteriorate in a serious way in the long run as a consequence.'"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Elite Universities - "‘All it will lead to is patronizing working class kids and people from disadvantaged backgrounds and I hate to say it, but now we have a situation where we put BAME into that. So ethnic minority, disadvantaged - so we categorize people in the worst possible way. And I also think it represents a degraded understanding of what going to university was. At least when I went to Warwick, I felt as though I competed with my equals, and got there intellectually as an equal, and I didn't feel inferior that way even though I didn't quite know what fork to use.’...
Predictive analytics and the facts shows that candidates who've been admitted on the basis of contextual offers tended to just as well in that final degree class. And if it's all about learning and getting the best possible students then what you have to do is find those with the greatest potential. Just looking at headline grades is not scientific, it's not what the university is doing, nor should they...
‘I grew up in a severely cash-limited working class household in Hackney, I went up to Lincoln College, Oxford to take their entrance exams in 1962 before A levels and they awarded me an exhibition. Had Lincoln College said to me, Geoffrey, you haven't done terribly well in our exams, but because your father is a packer in a Whitechapel warehouse we're going to lower the bar for you, I would have felt angry and deeply insulted...
I've got the 2016 figures in front of me for Oxford. In 2016, a UK-domiciled BME students admitted to Oxford as undergraduates represented 15.1% of the total admissions but the UK BME population is only 13 percent so Oxford's doing better than that particular benchmark...
[On the class divide in admissions] It's not a problem that you can reasonably expect Oxford or any other university to address by lowering the bar"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral Complicity - "In my experience, when you enter certain institutions, you hang your ethics on a peg outside and when you're in, you don't speak up because it's not just you who knows what’s going on. Everybody knows what's going on. I think this was the case in Hollywood and that includes, I expect, a lot of young hopefuls who chose to keep silent about what had happened to them because they were more interested in advancing their careers than in advancing feminism...
‘I spoke to my wife yesterday and she said that reading about Weinstein had just kinda reminded her of how many times in her life that she'd been subject to casual sexual harassment, verbal and physical. Should I hae told her not to be such a wuss?’
‘I think that you have to be careful in talking about sexual harassment. It’s interesting that she said casual sexual harassment. I think that sexual harassment means something very serious. It's quite a weighty term. It's not… what some people describe as you know, glances at the bar being called perhaps unpleasant names, being told to do rude stuff or being shouted at, catcalled - that kinda thing... that can be classed as bad behavior… tell women that they're not strong enough to deal with it themselves, but that they have to have the authorities or some celebrity tweet about it. That's very negative, I think.’...
‘She's quite... self confident person, but I suspect I think she suggests that people who were less self-confident would have found that very difficult.’...
The idea that every woman, especially every young woman is faced with sexual harassment, deviant sexual behavior and terrible things happening to them, is absolutely untrue. There's no evidence for it... What's now being classed as sexual harassment. And again it’s sort of unwelcome glances at the bar, it's being asked out on a date, it's being told that you look pretty. I'm really paraphrasing stuff that I've read on Twitter and that people have claimed against people. It has gone so far now that we can't have a serious conversation about sexual harassment and rape which are very serious issues, which I think potentially, we do need to have a conversation about, but the mass hysteria in this case is completely clouding any sensible argument… I think that banter, can sometimes be very enjoyable. It completely depends on how you deal with the situation. I think what you're in danger of arguing is that we should come to every relationship, every new encounter with each other, sceptically. That we need to completely distrust the other person in our relationship… We argued and women argued for years that we were strong enough and capable enough and ugly enough to deal with the public sector...
What often gets characterized as boorish behavior is just general flirting'
There's an interesting parallel with censorship where people think they are resilient enough to deal with controversial ideas, but other people need to be protected

Twitter is hit by furious backlash over Muslim group's FGM video - "'FGM is FGM no matter how you want sugar coat it. Leave alone cutting - even touching the female genitalia of a girl is still child abuse. Twitter must explain why they sponsored such a message.'... The Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom group - a branch of the Shi'ite Muslim community - promotes female circumcision and claims that it has been 'wrongly classified as female genital mutilation'. It also claims the procedure involves 'removal of a speck of superficial skin, a simple gentle process in which there is negligible, if any, pain'."
Amazing cognitive dissonance and silencing of a minority

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz: Continually Mistaken, Chronically Admired - "In 2006, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz praised the economic policies of Hugo Chávez... Stiglitz’s mistake is “consistently to downplay the possibility of human error—that is, to deny that human beings (or at least uncorrupt human beings such as himself) are fallible.”... Stiglitz had plenty of company among progressives in endorsing Chávez, but this hardly absolves him. When he met with the Venezuelan president in October 2007, there might have been no point in confronting the “endearing” leader with the civil rights abuses cited against him at the time. (In May, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch had publicly protested Chávez’s decision to shut down a television station critical of his policies.) As an economist with prestige and influence, though, Stiglitz might have urged that Chávez loosen his government’s chokehold on the private sector before it did lasting damage to the economy... Chávez wasn’t the only economic strongman and human rights abuser who won Stiglitz’s endorsement. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s dictator from 1991 until his death in 2012, hosted the Nobel laureate in September 2007"

Socialism Is So Hot Right Now - "S ocialism is on the march! It’s just that nobody quite knows what it is. A Gallup poll in August found that 57 percent of Democrats said they view socialism positively, while only 47 percent had a favorable view of capitalism. Only 16 percent of Republicans thought well of socialism... its chief utility is as a romantic indictment of the capitalist status quo... “Listen to today’s socialists, and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power,” Robin says. He’s right. But this has always been the case. As a matter of practical politics, socialism’s durability as a concept owes almost nothing to economics and almost everything to the desire for power—power for the poor, for the left-out, for the “workers of the world”—and for the intellectuals who claim to speak for them... To the extent that the labels “conservative” and “liberal” or “left” and “right” mean anything in this context, the difference stems from which authority the combatants cite. Möser looked to established tradition to legitimize his arguments. Marx (and those like him) looked instead to the future, to an idealized and utopian Shangri-la at the end of History. What unites both worldviews is that each is based on a fiction. Möser defended feudalism by resorting to wholly literary and folkloric tales of an imagined past. Marx invoked not just an imagined past, but more important, an imagined future. What ties these visions together is that they seek to impose one coalition of elite preferences on all of society... We can debate how much socialism there was in Hitler’s National Socialism. It is remarkable, however, that many of the people insisting that Norway or Sweden is obviously socialist even though they both are more free-market than Hitlerite Germany are aghast at the suggestion that the National Socialists were…socialists"

The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm? - "Save the Children looked at orphanages in Sri Lanka in 2005 and found that 92% of children had a living parent. A 2006 survey by Unicef in Liberia found that 98% of children living in orphanages were not orphans... the last thing a Guatemalan highland village needs is imported unskilled labour. People are desperate for jobs. Public works serve the community better and last longer when locals do them. Besides, long-term change happens when people can solve their own problems, rather than having things done for them... A study of 162 Americans who travelled to Honduras to build houses after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 found that years later, this work had made no difference to their giving or volunteering. And even if the houses they built didn’t fall over, they were expensive. The houses in Honduras built by international volunteers cost $30,000 apiece, including airfare, while local Christian organisations could build them for $2,000. If well-wishers had contributed money instead of labour, 15 times more houses could have been built. The helpful choice would have been to stay at home. Money goes far in poor countries. Two thousand dollars can pay for a week-long trip by an unskilled American volunteer – or it could pay the salary of a village teacher for four months... governments don’t have – or are not willing to spend – money for anti-poverty work. Funding for orphanages, by contrast, just drops from the sky. In many poor countries, it dwarfs funding for every other kind of relief or development work... Every single boy in that institution already had abandonment issues. If it was hard for me to leave these boys behind, how much harder was it for them to see me go? And the next adult who came for a few weeks? And the next one? They might have learned that there are people who love them and will take them on walks. But they also learned that these people always leave... the Australian parliament is considering a law to label orphanage tourism as child trafficking and ban it entirely"

Human dignity is an ideal with remarkably shallow roots

Eating meat, possessing child pornography: The dilemma of consumer responsibility - "an individual's decision whether or not to eat meat has no noticeable effect on the meat industry... In the second story, involving Simon and the judge, the judge represents society's attitude toward the possession of child pornography. In most Western societies, the mere possession of child pornography is considered a serious crime. In Australia and the United Kingdom, for example, maximum penalties for the possession of child pornography lie between two and five years. In the United States, in 2010, the average sentence for "non-production" child pornography offences was 95 months. Offenders are typically regarded as deserving such serious punishment because their activities contribute to the suffering of children... The argument given for making possession of child pornography a serious crime is a consequentialist one, directly analogous to the consequentialist argument for vegetarianism... our society sees the possession of child pornography as morally wrong, but generally sees nothing morally wrong with the consumption of meat."

How Misinfodemics Spread Disease - "Misinformation based on discredited studies continues to mutate and spread online—in memes, articles, and videos, through platforms including Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Like the germs running through the River Thames, toxic information now flows through our digital channels."

Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong - "In South America, soy farming (mostly for animal feed), is driving deforestation and the destruction of Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands. “Both release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and are a biodiversity disaster,” says Dr John Kazer, footprint certification manager at the Carbon Trust. Usually 90% less, tofu originating from deforested Brazilian pastures has a carbon footprint twice that of chicken...
Cooking in industrial food manufacturing is more efficient than cooking at home, which makes using pre-cooked rice or tinned chickpeas over dried an energy saver. (Don’t worry about the can: there is healthy demand for recycled steel.) Think about using a microwave, too, advises Kazer: “For smaller portions for one or two, compared to the hob, the energy use is a lot lower.”...
A Danish government study worries some experts. “There’s a fear people are not reusing heavier bags enough,” says Hemingway, “to the extent the volume of bag-plastic in circulation could actually be increasing.” As we all accumulate bags, could this be creating an eco-anomaly?"

Why Men Are the New Minority in College - ""at most college campuses the attitude is that men are the problem. … I’ve had male students tell me that their first week in college they were made to feel like potential rapists.” Added Maloney: “There’s a lot of attention on empowering girls. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but males are the ones in crisis in education.” Jackson thinks there’s a surprising racial component. There’s not much work being done to encourage boys to go to college, he said, because not all of those boys are from racial and ethnic minorities society regards as disadvantaged. A lot of them are white."
Alternatively, as a feminist I know proclaimed, if women can overcome patriarchy and outperform men in college/university, it just shows that men are inadequate and it's their fault that there's a gender gap and they deserve to be unsuccessful
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