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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Links - 1st November 2018

The homophobic legacy of the British Empire - "Despite the prevalence of anti-LGBT laws throughout the former British Empire, there was no blanket decree outlawing homosexual relations. Instead, it was the sensibilities of individual colonial administrators which led to the first laws and then their quick spread across the Empire from 1860 onwards. Enze Han, author of "British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality," said the laws were partly the product of a strict Victorian moral code, which defined any sexual activity not for procreation as taboo. "(The British also) had this conception that the 'Orient,' the non-Western subjects, were overly erotic and over-sexed, and that's the reason why they were worried young colonial officers going abroad would be corrupted by those sexual acts," he said. Many of the laws which were put in place under the colonizers have long since been amended or even strengthened by local governments, which Mendos said could also show that colonial legislation at least partially reflected conservative opinions common within those countries at the time."

The Met has a problem with hate-crime. It can't explain what it means. - "The Metropolitan Police has a rather strange notice about “hate crimes” on its website. It has attracted quite a bit of attention on social media...
“Though what the perpetrator has done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are. This means it may be possible to charge them with an offence.”
We are back to the suggestion that a person may be charged with“the reasons for doing” an act which is itself lawful. The Met is in a terrible muddle here and it is very hard to understand what they mean... although there are some cases where doing an act is illegal irrespective of your state of mind, there are no cases where your state of mind can make you guilty of an offence if you don’t actually do anything capable of amounting to a crime... The Met’s website seems to presuppose the existence of an entirely novel type of criminal offence: a crime which requires only a guilty mind, mens rea but not actus reus. If such an offence existed then “thought-crime” would be a very good description of it"

Metropolitan Police drops tens of thousands of cases within hours of them being reported by victims - "The Metropolitan Police has been accused of dropping tens of thousands of investigations into serious crimes, such as sexual assault and arson, within hours of them being reported by members of the public."
It's sexier to be obsessed with hate crimes

South Yorkshire Police relentlessly mocked after urging people to report one another for 'offensive or insulting words' - “In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.”

Britain Turns Offensive Speech Into a Police Matter - "In essence, South Yorkshire Police want people to report on everyday conversations. This is Stasi territory. Coppers asking citizens to file reports on things they have read or overheard really should have disappeared from Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet here it still is, this GDR-style instruction to eavesdrop and squeal, though now it's happening on the other side of the old Iron Curtain. It is testament to how entrenched censorship has become in 21st-century Britain that a police force can so casually call for reports about speech. This is a country whose communications laws and public-order legislation can be, and regularly are, used to punish hateful expression. Last year The Times reported that British police are arresting nine people a day for posting "offensive messages online." In 2016, 3,300 people were detained and questioned for things they said online. In some parts of Britain the arrest rate for offensive speech has risen by nearly 900% in recent years. We Brits are sleepwalking into a police state."

Why Brits are turning against the police - "They have been under political pressure from lobby groups obsessed with attaining rape conviction quotas – as if justice was about achieving statistical targets, rather than punishing guilty individuals and letting innocent individuals go free... The police have been alienating their erstwhile natural friends for some time. This first became evident at the end of the last century, with the jailing of the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin for shooting dead a burglar who had broken into his home. The consequent outrage in the conservative press stemmed from a belief that the police were now more concerned with the human rights of criminals than with crimes against private property, in this case. In ensuing years, the police have continued to antagonise a large swathe of the British public, who are increasingly convinced the Old Bill no longer take seriously burglary and theft. According to Home Office figures from last year, nine out of 10 burglary cases are closed without even a suspect being identified. Today, the police don’t even attend reports of shoplifting if the value stolen is less than £200. No wonder this nation of shopkeepers no longer respects its police... nationwide, shoplifting and violent crime continues to rise as criminals feel less afraid to break the law. Cries by the police that they are financially stretched arouse little sympathy when we read about police forces dressing themselves and their vehicles in LGBT-friendly colours, scouring Twitter for offensive words, or filling libraries with leaflets about ‘hate crimes’. Post-Macpherson, the police seem more desperate to prove their PC, anti-racist credentials than to address crimes that affect us all. The failure of the forces of law and order to prevent, investigate or suitably punish the rape gangs in the north of England has entrenched a suspicion that the police have become either enfeebled or politicised."

A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and Women - "So-called "starch blockers" are listed among natural weight loss supplements. Theoretically, they may promote weight loss by interfering with the breakdown of complex carbohydrates thereby reducing, or at least slowing, the digestive availability of carbohydrate-derived calories and/or by providing resistant starches to the lower gastrointestinal tract... The present research study examines a dietary supplement containing 445 mg of Phaseolus vulgaris extract derived from the white kidney bean, previously shown to inhibit the activity of the digestive enzyme alpha amylase, on body composition of overweight human subjects... Phaseolus vulgaris extract produces significant decrements in body weight and suggest decrements in fat mass in the face of maintained lean body mass."

China to take over Zambia's international Airport for debt repayment - "Signing a contract with China is like, ascribing to the boiling frog effect; a fable describing a frog being boiled alive slowly... The Zambian government contracted the Chinese, lazy-thought and glossed over details thinking they were granting consent to gernuine terms but the whole thing just morphed into modern day colonialism. China is now proposing to take over the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport should Zambia Government fail to pay back its huge foreign debt on time. The issue of whether Zambia posses the required economic muscle to repay that debt is in contention considering the amount involved. It’s typical of the Chinese strategy. That moreover is not the only thing Zambian suffered from China; the Chinese own 60% shares of the Zambian National Broadcasting corporation which means, Chinese have an influence over what should or should not be premiered on their sets."

Ancient farmers spared us from glaciers but profoundly changed Earth’s climate - "ancient farming practices led to a rise in the atmospheric emission of the heat-trapping gases carbon dioxide and methane – a rise that has continued since, unlike the trend at any other time in Earth’s geologic history. It also shows that without this human influence, by the start of the Industrial Revolution, the planet would have likely been headed for another ice age."

Bush as Hitler, Swastika-Mania: A Retrospective - "protesters have shown up with signs comparing Obama to Hitler (i.e. depicting him with a Hitler mustache), or displaying swastikas in the context of implying that Obama and/or his administration are Nazi-like. One would think that this would not be particularly newsworthy, but Democrats, the White House and their supporters are expressing outrage at this “horrifying” and “menacing” turn of events. (Or faux-outrage, at least.) Pundits, bloggers, media outlets and even top politicians like Nancy Pelosi are claiming that such signs are unprecedented, racist, and even that anyone who brings a swastika to a protest must be self-identifying as a Nazi (instead of accusing their opponents of being Nazis). When anyone tries to point out that the Left continuously compared Bush to Hitler and brought swastikas to rallies for six straight years during the Bush era, Obama supporters mock such claims, demand proof, and then try to ignore any individual examples proffered. Since I had a front-row seat between 2003 and 2008 at anti-Bush protests in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I saw literally THOUSANDS of Bush/Hitler comparisons and swastikas, I thought perhaps it would be useful to compile here in one place a small sampling of them — to prove beyond any doubt that Hitler and swastikas were referenced incessantly at basically every single protest during the Bush administration"
Nazi mania predates Trump, of course. The boy has been crying wolf for a long time

Poorest will gain most under Brexit, says Labour report - ""The reduction in prices and immigration control are particularly important for lower income households. "These households spend more on food and housing, the prices of both of which are raised substantially by EU protectionism. "Unskilled immigrants settle in poor communities which, therefore, carry a disproportionate cost in public services as well as suffering from a fall in wages. Our estimates show that the lowest decile household would gain £36 a week from Brexit; the second lowest decile (60 per cent of the median) would gain £44 a week.""

Money Really Does Lead to a More Satisfying Life - The New York Times - "Lottery winners said they were substantially more satisfied with their lives than lottery losers. And those who won prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars reported being more satisfied than winners of mere tens of thousands. These effects are remarkably durable. They were still evident up to two decades after a big win... What’s new here is the evidence that higher income is causing higher life satisfaction... A further set of questions probed the mental health of respondents, finding that greater income had no effect, although in related work, the same authors find that lottery winners are prescribed fewer mental health drugs. I interpret this as suggestive but not conclusive evidence that wealth improves one’s mental health... Contrary to popular stereotypes, those who win hundreds of thousands of dollars don’t blow most of their winnings at once. Instead, they slowly spend their newfound wealth over many years. Many don’t quit their jobs, but they do tend to work a bit less and retire a bit earlier. Surprisingly, the increase in wealth caused by winning the lottery has few effects on the physical health of the winners or their children. It seems possible that family wealth might have quite different effects in a less egalitarian society, like the United States."

The New York Times | Facebook - "Before Fashion Week, the model and activist Ashley Graham spoke with us about the power of depicting female bodies as they really are — without doctoring their form."
Comments: "The thing that’s doctored her form is those additional 3,000 calories she’s consuming every day."
"The term 'real women' is absurd - all women are real unless of course they are robots - and every woman is a different shape either by genes or by a medical problem or by choice ..... voila !"
"Well, except from the obvious doctoring of Ashley walking on the water, she very conveniently forgot to mention the full doctoring (it's called retouching) they always make to her face
" I don't want an unfiltered body. Only fashion models don't need much retouching to look their best. Photoshop my pics, please!!"
"As a photographer, I can see no sign of human presence in this image, it is THAT heavily Photoshopped; the skin, the creases in the clothes, the hair, the legs, and of course, the fine art of walking on water. Maybe it should belong in the humor section of the New York Times"
"There are simply body shapes that are more appealing than others to the general public. Period. Magazines and advertisements will use these body shapes to call attention to sell their products. The goal is not to show a regular body. Greek statues don't show regular body, showing even anatomically impossible structures to the human being. But this is art, depiction of the beauty for the time being. The concept of beauty changes culturally over time. Middle age paintings show "overweight" girls since they were the considered the most beautiful, and the thin girls were the ugly ones. I'm not traumatized for not having a David statue body or the muscular shape of guys in Speedo advertisements."
"then why all the makeup and fake eyelashes?"

The national question - "Americans are defined by our relationship to a literary discussion of the relationship of men in society. The canon is not well defined but certainly includes the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist (a kind of operating manual for the Constitution) plus influential works such as John Locke’s treatises on government and the nature of property. The result was a radical departure from all previous ideas of national identity. The notion that you can become an American, as much an American as anyone born here... The first problem is these people come with no conception of what it is that made us this wealthy: free enterprise, sensible laws governing labor and business, and a general acknowledgement that what you make is yours to keep minus a tolerable levy for the upkeep of the country as a whole. We’re now accepting people who appear to believe what we have is the result of luck – or worse, theft. People who do not care to assimilate, and in fact reject the idea out of hand. The second problem is we appear to have lost the will to insist on it. That native-born Americans have lost sight of what created this outpouring of wealth unprecedented in human history. We can’t bring ourselves to say anymore, “Come and bring the richness of your culture. We welcome it. But you must leave behind your old loyalties and your old hatreds. You must learn a new way of thinking about yourself and become a new kind of person. We ask much, but in return much is given.”"
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