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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Links - 28th November 2018 (2)

The militarisation of anti-Semitism - "They are diminishing the scale and depth of anti-Semitism by pointing the finger of blame for the Pittsburgh massacre at President Donald Trump. No sooner had Robert Bowers allegedly executed his act of racist mass murder than anti-Trump commentators were describing it as the bloody offspring of Trump’s supposedly white-nationalist worldview and his divisive rhetoric... This rush to blame Trump for a massacre of Jews is not only profoundly cynical, where the militarisation of anti-Semitism is pounced upon to the cheap, low end of scoring points against a politician people don’t like. It also has the effect of whitewashing the true horror of anti-Semitism in the 21st-century West. It is in itself a form of apologism for the new anti-Semitism to the extent that it dehistoricises and depoliticises it by presenting it as little more than a function of the new right-wing populism... this dangerously distracts public attention – purposefully, I suspect – from the fact that anti-Semitism has been growing and becoming increasingly militarised for more than a decade now, among the left as well as the right and within Muslim communities, too... where was their rage, their concern about rhetoric, their existential handwringing over hateful ideas and hateful language, back when anti-Semitism was deepening and militarising pre-2016, pre-Trump, most notably in Europe?... Bowers’ own social-media output suggests he was more influenced by the shared left / right / Islamist conspiracy theory about Jewish power than he was by Trump’s divisive commentary. He was critical of Trump, on the basis that the president was granting Jews too much influence and presence in the US. This, worryingly, is now a mainstream view. You see it in Guardian cartoons showing Israeli leaders puppeteering Western politicians. You hear it in leftish panic about an all-powerful Israel Lobby. You see it in Press TV headlines about the US being ‘completely under the thumb’ of Zionists. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour Party, worked for Press TV. For years."

If You Want to Save the Planet, Drop the Campaign Against Capitalism - "some environmentalists are forthright in seeking to implement the principles of “ecosocialism.”... describing the call for climate action in economically or politically revolutionary terms is always going to be counterproductive, because the vast majority of ordinary people in most countries don’t want a revolution... It is true that when it comes to climate change, the political left is more closely grounded in science than the right (even if both sides often tend to deny inconvenient truths more generally). But the left also has proven to be blinkered when it comes to appropriate responses, a tendency that has seeped into the latest IPCC report. While it’s not surprising that the report advocates support for renewable energy, its authors fail to acknowledge the warming effect that scaled up renewable-energy generation would have on land use due to their low energy density (think of the enormous footprint of solar farms). Likewise, the pro-environmental left’s distaste for nuclear power persists, despite its status as a geographically dense, safe, virtually carbon-free energy source."

Satellite data strongly suggests that China, Russia and other authoritarian countries are fudging their GDP reports - The Washington Post - "China, Russia and other authoritarian countries inflate their official GDP figures by anywhere from 15 to 30 percent in a given year, according to a new analysis of a quarter-century of satellite data... "The suspicious excess growth in GDP relative to growth in lights that is present in authoritarian regimes is smaller in the presence of independent political institutions (e.g. elected legislature), economic institutions (e.g. central bank has authority over monetary policy), and judicial institutions (e.g. having a national constitutional court)""

Muslims of the West: "Civilisational traitors"? - "some of the very most insightful work into the pitfalls of modernity, notwithstanding certain flaws, has been done by European philosophers who embraced Islam. They saw in Islam a way to renew Western civilisation by reminding it of its own perennial wisdom. Even Prince Charles echoes this sentiment, when he declared:
Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is the poorer for having lost ... A comprehensive philosophy of nature is no longer part of our everyday beliefs. I cannot help feeling that, if we could now only rediscover that earlier, all-embracing approach to the world around us, to see and understand its deeper meaning, we could begin to get away from the increasing tendency in the West to live on the surface of our surroundings, where we study our world in order to manipulate and dominate it, turning harmony and beauty into disequilibrium and chaos … This crucial sense of oneness and trusteeship of the vital sacramental and spiritual character of the world about us is surely something important we can re-learn from Islam."
Ironically, when the "comprehensive philosophy of nature" comes from Christianity, it is reviled

4 Reasons Why Making a Business Out of Something You Love Is a Mistake - "1. You’ll do less of what you love to do
2. Passion doesn’t pay the bills
3. You can extinguish the flame
4. Successful businesses aren’t about you -- or your passion"

Should a self-driving car kill the baby or the grandma? Depends on where you’re from. - "participants from collectivist cultures like China and Japan are less likely to spare the young over the old—perhaps, the researchers hypothesized, because of a greater emphasis on respecting the elderly. Similarly, participants from poorer countries with weaker institutions are more tolerant of jaywalkers versus pedestrians who cross legally. And participants from countries with a high level of economic inequality show greater gaps between the treatment of individuals with high and low social status. And, in what boils down to the essential question of the trolley problem, the researchers found that the sheer number of people in harm’s way wasn’t always the dominant factor in choosing which group should be spared. The results showed that participants from individualistic cultures, like the UK and US, placed a stronger emphasis on sparing more lives given all the other choices—perhaps, in the authors' views, because of the greater emphasis on the value of each individual. Countries within close proximity to one another also showed closer moral preferences, with three dominant clusters in the West, East, and South."

Where’s the outrage over Hillary’s call for a ‘civil’ war? - "The president is right to worry that the character-assassination attempt on Kavanaugh may turn out to be a seminal moment in American political and cultural history. The ideas that the court is just another political branch and that the presumption of innocence no longer applies if you are on the other team represent a seismic shift in how we look at each other and the nation as a whole. If those ideas stick, we are in more trouble than we can imagine... “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton told CNN. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.” There you have it — a declaration of war and a license for violence. Where is the media outrage?... she has spent the last two years casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Trump presidency because the election didn’t go her way. That makes her guilty of the very thing she found “horrifying” when Trump suggested he might not abide by the results if he thought they were rigged...
The City Hall press release was overflowing with superlatives. The action was “historic,” a “landmark” and “groundbreaking.” Did Mayor Putz find a cure for homelessness? Did he solve the problem of failing schools? Did he fix public housing or the subways? Nah, the small stuff is beneath him. His “stop the presses” accomplishment was signing legislation putting a third gender on city birth certificates...
Do they have the same passion for public safety and good schools? Do they care as much about the unfairness of the tax system? My fear is that they don’t, and that their intensity about narrow issues is a fig leaf hiding their surrender on broad ones. There are superlatives for that, too. Disgraceful, cowardice and shameful come to mind."

'Escape the corset': South Korean women rebel against strict beauty standards - "Cha is part of a growing movement in South Korea fighting against unrealistic beauty standards that call for women to spend hours applying makeup and perform skincare regimes that involve 10 steps or more at each end of the day. Among their complaints is that women must wake up two hours before work to ensure perfect makeup, meticulously removing dead skin with peeling gel and steam towels before beginning their regimen... The movement is an interesting turn in South Korea, a nation that actively promotes its prowess in cosmetic surgery – as much as a third of young women have gone under the knife – and whose cosmetic brands are coveted around the world with an industry worth about $12.5bn (£9.7bn), according to Euromonitor... South Korea’s exacting beauty standards are the result of several factors that have combined to encourage women to aim for pale skin, big eyes, a high nose bridge, skinny legs, cherry-like lips, a small face and a nine-to-one body ratio, where the body is nine times as long as the face. While every country has its own sense of what is ideal, South Korea’s strong conformist streak has led to millions striving to achieve the same look... A Korean news anchor at one of the country’s main televisions stations sparked a flurry of debate in May when she became the first woman to wear glasses on air. Separately, Jiwon Park started an Instagram account last year to promote body positivity and fight back against the narrow definition of beauty in South Korea."
The worst standards are the ones you impose on yourself
Redefining more things as "beautiful" still means you're in thrall to the ideal of beauty

Women's Rights in the Victorian Era - "Due to their reproductive system, women were seen (by men) as emotional and unstable to the point where they were incapable of making rational decisions. Once they were married, many were treated little better than slaves. In the eyes of the law (prior to 1882), once a woman married she basically ceased to exist. On her wedding day, she became one person with her husband and thereafter everything she did was under his direction."
Women were once considered unable to consent, just as children are considered unable to consent today. But of course, if you view the present as the End of History you will be unable to see how just as many ancient mores are now seen as laughable or outdated, some present ones almost certainly will be one day, too despite pretentions to transcendental truth and validity

Should women be spelt womxn? - "when the Wellcome Collection - a museum and library in London - sent a tweet promoting an event using the word it led to a Twitter backlash from hundreds of women, and an apology from the organisation"

Bodyguard 'airbrushing reality' with powerful women portrayal - "Victoria screenwriter Daisy Goodwin says TV dramas are "airbrushing reality" by having too many powerful female characters. She refers to the recent successes of BBC dramas Bodyguard and Killing Eve, which both feature female leads. Both saw women in prominent positions, as the Home Secretary in Bodyguard and as an MI5 agent in Killing Eve. Goodwin told the BBC that these narratives pretended "sexism and racism in our institutions" had gone away. "
When you start with a conclusion/desired outcome, you can work backwards to justify anything

The fact that we're considering making misandry a hate crime should concern everyone who believes in equality - "It seems there’s nothing women can have – not even their status as a marginalised sex class – that men will not expect them to share"
"Feminism is about equality"

Michael Moore says ex-wife is trying to ‘smear’ him. Shame, shame … we must believe ALL women, now - "When it comes to allegations from his ex-wife, Kathleen Glynn, that he’s ripped her off for what might potentially be hundreds of thousands of dollars in film profits, filmmaker Michael Moore prefers that America’s judicial system NOT believe all women."

Does Sweden’s military alphabet need to get woke? Swedish women’s association ridiculed online - "Feminists in Sweden are taking on the alphabet, specifically, the phonetic alphabet used in the military to spell out letters over the radio. Activists are calling to make the system more female inclusive and diverse. Unlike the NATO phonetic alphabet which uses English words like ‘Alpha’ for ‘A’ and ‘Bravo’ for ‘B’, the Swedish phonetic alphabet has its own time-tested style. It’s made up of male first names that are intrinsically Swedish, such as ‘Johan’ for ‘J’ and ‘Ludvig’ for ‘L’... Author and politician Ann Heberlein slammed the idea, claiming that “the war on Swedish men continues”, adding that such a change will only cost “both money and time”. Heberlein suggested that if change is needed, Sweden should instead use the NATO alphabet to bring them into line with the rest of the world."

I’m a Male Teacher Surrounded by Women. But Please Don’t Call Me a Victim of Sexism - "Rarely, for instance, does one hear much complaint about lower-status professions such as construction, logging or roofing, all fields where, in the United States, men make up over 96% of workers... In regard to skilled occupations that women dominate — such as accounting, nutrition, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, veterinary medicine, social work and nursing — advocacy groups fighting for equal representation tend to fall mute... The Canadian Teachers Federation, a national trade group that represents teachers, holds an annual Women’s Symposium that “aims to gather women teacher leaders from across the country to study a particular theme or issue which will strengthen the status of women and improve the situation for women within the teaching profession.” Such an event would make sense in a field such as physics or manufacturing, where there really is a relative dearth of women. But in the teaching field, an event like this makes as much sense as a “Men’s Symposium” conducted by air force pilots... anything from a “stereotypical ‘geeky’” work environment to a workplace with “an emphasis on logical thinking.” [is considered sexist]... I sat around a table in the staff room as the lone male, and listened as female teachers discussed their experience at a male strip show in Las Vegas. Surely this could be categorized, by some, as a toxic and alienating work environment. I also was once warned by a fellow teacher that I should keep my distance from female students because one never knows when, and from whom, accusations may arise. If I were looking to cast myself as a victim, I would go to my bosses — or even the media — and claim discrimination, torquing these stories in such a way as to suggest that I had endured real emotional harm; that the field of education is truly hostile and exclusionary towards men. I would also name names and shame their alleged misandry. But I don’t have a victim mentality, so I would never do such a thing... If the advocates who claim socialization is the root cause of gender underrepresentation in professional fields truly believe their own claims, it’s worth asking why they spend so much time trying to convince students that defying stereotypes will lead them into dens of bias and toxicity"
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