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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Links - 15th March 2018 (2)

Iran: The Shah, Mossadegh, and the CIA - "Mossadegh called a parliamentary election in late 1951. When he realized he was going to lose, he had the election suspended. (That should put to bed the notion that he was an idealistic democrat.)... Mossadegh — in the tradition of all great democrats — persuaded the parliament to grant him emergency powers, which he used to confiscate the Shah’s land, ban him from communicating with foreign countries, and exile his sister. Mossadegh also used his emergency powers to institute collective farming. According to Stephen Kinzer’s book All the Shah’s Men, “Iranians were becoming poorer and unhappier by the day. Mossadegh’s political coalition was fraying.” You may have noticed that, up to this point, the dark and shadowy hand of the CIA has not made an appearance... The U.S. had helped turn Persian public opinion against Mossadegh. However: There was no coup. In 1953, Mossadegh was prime minister of Iran; like many heads of state, the Shah had the legal, constitutional authority to remove his prime minister... The CIA was happy to take credit, exaggerating its involvement in what was, at the time, considered a big success — but a private CIA cable credited Mossadegh’s collapse to the fact that “the flight of the Shah . . . galvanized the people into an irate pro-Shah force.”... Mossadegh was no democrat, and the CIA was not responsible for his ouster; the CIA did not install the Shah in his place, and it did not become involved because of oil... Prison life was drastically worse under the Islamic Republic than under the Pahlavis. One who survived both writes that four months under [the ayatollahs’ warden] took the toll of four years under SAVAK. In the prison literature of the Pahlavi era, the recurring words have been ‘boredom’ and ‘monotony.’ In that of the Islamic Republic, they are ‘fear,’ ‘death,’ ‘terror,’ ‘horror,’ and most frequent of all ‘nightmare.’”
Even Wikipedia agrees that Mossadegh was dictatorial and tried to take over

Hydrocarbon Enema: An Unusual Cause of Chemical Burn. - "we present a 37-year-old female who suffered 6% TBSA partial-thickness burns to her perineum and buttocks, which she claims resulted from diarrhea after ingesting a bottle of lighter fluid. The patient underwent decontamination and medical treatment for her burns and during her inpatient stay, it became apparent that the burns were more likely sustained from an intentional rectal administration of lighter fluid. To our knowledge, this is one of the first reported cases of hydrocarbon enema"

Penn Students Hold Presentation on Environmental Racism - "The Jewish National Fund, an organization that plants trees in Israel, was a major subject of discussion... the presenters looked into the symbolism of “making the desert bloom,” a phrase the students argued connected the forest environment to whiteness, evoked the notion of “a vacuum that the European savior can come nourish,” and ultimately incentivized “artificially making these areas look more like Europe.” The students found a particular problem in the planting of pine trees in Israel and the West Bank, drawing a “connection between pine trees, forestation, and the way they further the colonialist agenda through capitalistic (sic) means of timber production.”... “If we are talking about environmental justice, we have to consider intersectionality,” one of the presenters said. “We have to consider the way that different environmental agendas are being used in order to romanticize and support things that may be in violation of human rights and ancestry rights.” Additionally, the students urged the audience to “look for the complexity in the way that issues are whitewashed.”"

KFC tracked down the guy who figured out their Twitter gag and sent him something insane - "Mike Edgette, a user with the Twitter handle @edgette22, realised that the KFC official Twitter account follows only 11 users on the social networking site. The five members of the Spice Girls, as well as six random dudes named Herb. 11 Herbs and Spices... The mailman would have then wheeled in a glorious portrait, this glorious portrait. No, your eyes are not deceiving you; that’s a painting of Mike Edgette getting a piggyback from none other than Colonel Sanders himself."

I Reviewed The KFC-Themed Romantic Novella And It's Utterly Insane - "As we speak, Tender Wings of Desire sits in my Kindle library... In real life, Colonel Sanders was a mythical figure of fast food who came across his fried chicken fortune late in life; he once shot a man, developed a notoriety for his sailor-like vocabulary, and when his second wife declared she was no longer into sex for pleasure after three kids, Sanders went on a quest for breasts and thighs of an entirely different kind. This, plus many more nuggets (pun intended) of information, would have made for a much better story than the one we eventually got, where a man and a woman boringly falling in love with the faint smell of the sea in the air. This book actually makes me want to eat KFC less."

Toys Are Taking Vacations and Seeing the World (Without Their Owners) - "Azuma quit her job in Tokyo’s financial industry to start a travel agency—not just any travel agency, but one that caters exclusively to stuffed animals... To date, Unagi Travel Agency has organized trips for more than 100 stuffed animals, many of which have become repeat customers. Prices for trips vary depending on the destination, but standard tours of Tokyo and its surroundings go for around $50. Clients ship their toys to Azuma, and they stay with her for two or three weeks, during which time their adventures are promptly reported back to their owners via social media posts. At the end of the tour, Azuma ships them home"

A Former AP Correspondent Explains How and Why His Colleagues Get Israel So Wrong - "When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted... In all of 2013... the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago... A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters. Corruption, for example, is a pressing concern for many Palestinians under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, but when I and another reporter once suggested an article on the subject, we were informed by the bureau chief that Palestinian corruption was “not the story.” (Israeli corruption was, and we covered it at length.) Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported... During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli)... Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story... The fact that Israelis quite recently elected moderate governments that sought reconciliation with the Palestinians, and which were undermined by the Palestinians, is considered unimportant and rarely mentioned. These lacunae are often not oversights but a matter of policy... it should be clear to everyone that peace is pretty elusive in the Middle East even in places where Jews are absent."
I wonder how many Singaporeans who play down the Hamas charter as symbolic obsess about 377A

LTA removes MRT artwork plaques following online comments - "The Land Transport Authority has removed the accompanying plaques for the mural “Welcome to Jingapore” at stations along the Downtown Line following comments from netizens that the word “Jingapore” was a misspelling... The award-winning artist, who has a series of works which have been exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, wrote on Facebook that “in the great tradition of Chinese and English linguistics, it’s called a Pun.”"
This is why we can't have nice things

Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials - "I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors. They cannot learn until their minds are freed from that prison. This year in my Foundations of Law course for first-year law students, I found my students especially impervious to the ancient wisdom of foundational texts, such as Plato’s Crito and the Code of Hammurabi. Many of them were quick to dismiss unfamiliar ideas as “classist” and “racist,” and thus unable to engage with those ideas on the merits... Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. Most of you have been taught to label things with various “isms” which prevent you from understanding claims you find uncomfortable or difficult. Reasoning requires correct judgment. Judgment involves making distinctions, discriminating. Most of you have been taught how to avoid critical, evaluative judgments by appealing to simplistic terms such as “diversity” and “equality.” Reasoning requires you to understand the difference between true and false. And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic. You have learned to associate truth with your subjective feelings, which are neither true nor false but only yours, and which are constantly changeful"

Dumbing Down What Students Read Didn't Make Them Any Smarter - "Possessed by the notion that low achievers in certain ethnic groups would be more motivated to read texts about and by people who looked or talked like them, but at the same time believing that poor readers couldn’t read the difficult titles required by College Board exams, educators gradually replaced more difficult works in the secondary English curriculum with weaker books on the grounds that existing works were by dead white males, Eurocentric, or reflective of an oppressive culture. Older, or “canonical,” works (almost anything written before 1970) were regularly discredited and replaced by more contemporary works. The result: it is difficult to find a currently popular contemporary work assigned in high school that is as difficult to read with respect to its vocabulary and syntax as the “canonical” work it may have displaced... To this day, no researcher has found a positive effect on student reading interest from eliminating what were denigrated as “canonical” works. According to Renaissance Learning’s annual reports on what thousands of K-12 students read, the average reading level of the top 25 titles assigned to or read by grade 11 students is at about the grade 6 level. Unsurprisingly, Congress, parents, and the public at large have no idea why all the practices now apparently “justified” by English educators have resulted in average student achievement levels in 2015 that are not very different from those in 1970 on the “Nation’s Report Cards.”"
Presumably this is a prescription for even more diversity to cure the problem

'Diversity': The Major Obstacle in Strengthening Teacher Quality - "As Dan Goldhaber noted in his article in the Spring 2016 issue of Education Next: “Of the characteristics [of teacher quality] that were measured in the still-revered 1966 Coleman report titled Equality of Educational Opportunity, those that bear the highest relationship to pupil achievement are first, the teacher’s score on the verbal skills test, and then his educational background.”... Many students failed a new test in Illinois required before admission to a teacher preparation program (called Test of Academic Proficiency or TAP), and many of those failing the test were black and Hispanic... The issue in Illinois became not why students admitted to a public college failed a basic skills test (an academic issue) but rather the pass/fail score that should be set to enable the right proportion of blacks or Hispanics to be eligible for admission to a teacher preparation program (a political issue)... The bandwagon is already rolling. Licensing teachers is being declared tantamount to excluding “teachers of color.”"

Fury as Cambridge don tells students to stop drinking - "Cambridge students accused a professor of ‘damaging their mental wellbeing’ by asking them to work hard and avoid getting drunk... ‘Nowadays, students are being treated as somewhere between children and psychiatric patients. ‘They need to be looked after, coddled rather than challenged, their wellbeing attended to at all times... Last month it emerged that Cambridge issues ‘trigger warnings’ about ‘upsetting content’ in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus in an effort to protect mental health"
Are universities mental institutions?

Are Iranian Women Overeducated? - "Women have outnumbered men in the entering classes of universities two to one for the last several years, but when they graduate they are one-third less likely to work as men, and even lower when they marry and have children... in universities, as the only co-ed institutions of education, women have an opportunity to meet men in an environment approved by their parents and the society at large, which most find a superior way to choose a spouse than through arranged marriages... if the proportion of men in universities were to drop too far, fewer Iranian women would be willing to spend four years learning skills that they do not intend to use in the labor market... In Iran, a large proportion of women are enrolled in fields such as humanities and social sciences that have low market reward, so men may not necessarily prefer them to work"

Sex worker with over 10K partners reveals what men really want - "Gwyneth Montenegro, 39, from Australia, spent 12 years in the industry and has now written a book revealing the surprising things that men will pay for. In her book, on “being financially successful in the sex industry”, she said “most gentlemen don’t always go for the kinky services.” In fact, in the decade she was in the industry, the most important thing to her clients was “feeling of being needed and wanted. Wanted badly by a horny woman. It is their ultimate fantasy after all.” She said that it is vital, therefore that whatever sex acts you are doing, “you make look like you want him bad and are enjoying him so much (even if you aren’t).”"

Transgender lessons for 2-year-olds - "Drag queens are being brought into taxpayer-funded nursery schools so that children as young as two can learn about transgender issues. The cross-dressers are reading nursery rhymes and singing specially adapted songs ‘to teach children about LGBT tolerance’... The ‘performances’ are the brainchild of Thomas Canham, a Bristol University law graduate and part-time cross-dresser who dismisses traditional notions of masculinity as ‘meaningless’. But critics last night said the sessions could ‘blind impressionable children of two and three to one of the most basic facts of human existence’. Leading child psychotherapist Dilys Daws, co-author of the book Finding Your Way With Your Baby, feared they could sow the seeds of confusion in young children about their own sexual identity, with long-term consequences. She said: ‘There’s this idea that’s sweeping the country that being transgender is an “ordinary situation”. It’s getting so much publicity that it’s getting children thinking that they might be transgender, when it otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to them... ‘They can include, for example, drag queen references within songs. So if you’re doing something like Wheels On The Bus, you can sing, “The skirt on the drag queen goes swish, swish, swish.”"
This doesn't help dispel fears about the gay agenda

Marxist Prof: Perhaps Art Classes Should Be Used To ‘Help Our Kids Turn Out Queer’ - "In the same paper arguing that young students need to be taught about gay sex, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently suggested art classes need to be used to turn children “queer” in an effort to fight “heteronormative realities.”"

Teacher suspended for praising pupil using wrong gender - "A teacher has been suspended and could face the sack after he ‘accidentally’ called a transgender pupil a ‘girl’ in class when the student identifies as a boy. Joshua Sutcliffe, 27, who teaches maths at a state secondary school in Oxfordshire, said ‘Well done girls’ to the teenager and a friend when he spotted them working hard. He apologised when corrected by the pupil, but six weeks later he was suspended from teaching after the pupil’s mother lodged a complaint.Following an investigation, he has been summoned to a formal disciplinary hearing this week to face misconduct charges for ‘misgendering’. According to documents seen by The Mail on Sunday, he also faces claims that he is breaching equality policies by referring to the pupil by name rather than as ‘he’ or ‘him’."
So much for it about just being decent to trans people

12-Year-Old Boy 'Transitions' To Female. Then This Happens Just Two Years Later. - "With guidance from medical professionals and his own mother, a 12-year-old Australian boy suffering from gender confusion began to transition into a "female." Just two years later, the young man told his mom he felt like his born sex again, and is now in the painful process of transitioning back, which includes surgery. Patrick Mitchell was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 12"

Does Evolutionary Psychology Promote Transphobia? - "Should academics no longer design surveys wherein a participant’s biological sex is measured as a binary variable? Would this be “transphobic systemic violence” since it perpetuates “fixed binaries and biological essentialism”?... Should evolutionists no longer explain how sexual selection works, namely the fundamental process by which sex differences evolve? This mechanism recognizes two sexes and hence it might “disenfranchise” those who reject “fixed binaries and biological essentialism.” Bottom line: Foundational tenets of evolution might be construed as legal transgressions under Bill C-16. Ongoing governmental efforts are pushing for a gender-neutral society to cater to an extraordinarily small number of non-binary or non-gendered people who feel marginalized at having to provide their biological sex as part of their profiles. This is the tyranny of the minority. 99% of the population should acquiesce to having a default feature of their personhood erased because a few individuals might be inconvenienced by it... I am weary of the ethos of victimhood that has parasitized our culture. The operative motto is not “I think therefore I am” but “I’m a victim therefore I am.” I refer to this condition as Collective Munchausen, namely the pathological quest for sympathy and empathy by proclaiming victim status using identity politics and intersectionality. People have the right to live as equal citizens under the law. They do not have the right to demand that their identities be coddled and celebrated lest they might otherwise get offended. Thank you.”
Bill C-16 was eventually passed."

First grader sent to office for 'misgendering' fellow student - "A first grader at a California charter school was sent to the principal’s office this week after she accidentally “misgendered” a classmate in what’s being called a “pronoun mishap.” The incident occurred at Rocklin Academy, a school roiled by controversy after a kindergarten teacher led an in-class discussion on transgenderism that included a “gender reveal” for a little boy who was transitioning to a little girl"

Conservatism and Ideology

"This small book is a defense of prudential politics, as opposed to ideological politics. The author hopes to persuade the rising generation to set their faces against political fanaticism and Utopian schemes, by which the world has been much afflicted since 1914. “Politics is the art of the possible,” the conservative says: he thinks of political policies as intended to preserve order, justice, and freedom.

The ideologue, on the contrary, thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature. In his march toward Utopia, the ideologue is merciless.

Ever since the end of the Second World War, the tendency of American public opinion has been more or less conservative. But there exists some danger that conservatives themselves might slip into a narrow ideology or quasi—ideology—even though, as H. Stuart Hughes wrote some forty years ago, “Conservatism is the negation of ideology.”...

The concept of ideology was altered considerably in the middle of the nineteenth century, by Karl Marx and his school. Ideas, Marx argued, are nothing better than expressions of class interests, as related to economic production. Ideology, the alleged science of ideas, thus becomes a systematic apology for the claims of a class- nothing more.

Or, to put this argument in Marx's own blunt and malicious terms, what has been called political philosophy is merely a mask for the economic self—seeking of oppressors—so the Marxists declared. Ruling ideas and norms constitute a delusory mask upon the face of the dominant class, shown to the exploited “as a standard of conduct, partly to Varnish, partly to provide moral support for, domination.” So Marx wrote to Engels.

Yet the exploited too, Marx says, develop systems of ideas to advance their revolutionary designs. So what we call Marxism is an ideology intended to achieve revolution, the triumph of the proletariat, and eventually communism. To the consistent Marxist, ideas have no value in themselves: they, like all art, are worthwhile only as a means to achieve equality of condition and economic satisfaction. While deriding the ideologies of all other persuasions, the Marxist builds with patient cunning his own ideology.

Although it has been the most powerful of ideologies, Marxism —very recently diminished in strength—has competitors: various forms of nationalism, negritude, feminism, fascism (a quasi- ideology never fully fleshed out in Italy), naziism (an ideology in embryo, Hannah Arendt wrote), syndicalism, anarchism, social democracy, and Lord knows what all. Doubtless yet more forms of ideology will be concocted during the twenty-first century...

To summarize the analysis of ideology undertaken by such scholars as Minogue, Aron, J. L. Talmon, Thomas Molnar, Lewis Feuer, and Hans Barth, this word ideology, since the Second World War, usually has signified a dogmatic political theory which is an endeavor to substitute secular goals and doctrines for religious goals and doctrines; and which promises to overthrow present dominations so that the oppressed may be liberated. Ideology's promises are what Talmon calls “political messianism”. The ideologue promises salvation in this world, hotly declaring that there exists no other realm of being. Eric Voegelin, Gerhart Niemeyer, and other writers have emphasized that ideologues “immanentize the symbols of transcendence”—that is, corrupt the vision of salvation through grace in death into false promises of complete happiness in this mundane realm.

Ideology, in short, is a political formula that promises mankind an earthly paradise; but in cruel fact what ideology has created is a series of terrestrial hells. I set down below some of the vices of ideology.

1) Ideology is inverted religion, denying the Christian doctrine of salvation through grace in death, and substituting collective salvation here on earth through violent revolution. Ideology inherits the fanaticism that sometimes has afflicted religious faith, and applies that intolerant belief to concerns secular.

2) Ideology makes political compromise impossible: the ideologue will accept no deviation from the Absolute Truth of his secular revelation. This narrow vision brings about civil war, extirpation of “reactionaries”, and the destruction of beneficial functioning social institutions.

3) Ideologues vie one with another in fancied fidelity to their Absolute Truth; and they are quick to denounce deviationists or defectors from their party orthodoxy. Thus fierce factions are raised up among the ideologues themselves, and they war mercilessly and endlessly upon one another, as did Trotskyites and Stalinists.

The evidence of ideological ruin lies all about us. How then can it be that the allurements of ideology retain great power in much of the world?

The answer to that question is given in part by this observation from Raymond Aron: “When the intellectual feels no longer attached either to the community or the religion of his forebears, he looks to progressive ideology to fill the vacuum. The main difference between the progressivism of the disciple of Harold Laski or Bertrand Russell and the Communism of the disciple of Lenin concerns not so much the content as the style of the ideologies and the allegiance they demand.”

Ideology provides sham religion and sham philosophy, comforting in its way to those who have lost or never have known genuine religious faith, and to those not sufficiently intelligent to apprehend real philosophy. The fundamental reason why we must set our faces against ideology—so wrote the wise Swiss editor Hans Barth—is that ideology is opposed to truth: it denies the possibility of truth in politics or in anything else, substituting economic motive and class interest for abiding norms. Ideology even denies human consciousness and power of choice. In Barth‘s words, “The disastrous effect of ideological thinking in its radical form is not only to cast doubt on the quality and structure of the mind that constitute man's distinguishing characteristic but also to undermine the foundation of his social life.”

ldeology may attract the bored man of the Knowledge Class who has cut himself off from religion and community, and who desires to exercise power. Ideology may enchant young people, wretchedly schooled, who in their loneliness stand ready to cast their latent enthusiasm into any exciting and violent cause. And ideologues’ promises may win a following among social groups that feel pushed to the wall—even though such recruits may not understand much of anything about the ideologues’ doctrines. The early composition of the Nazi party is sufficient illustration of an ideology's power to attract disparate elements of this sort...

I am not of the opinion that it would be well to pour the heady wine of a new ideology down the throats of the American young. If one summons spirits from the vasty deep, can they be conjured back again? What we need to impart is political prudence, not political belligerence. Ideology is the disease, not the cure. All ideologies, including the ideology of vox populi vox dei, are hostile to enduring order and justice and freedom. For ideology is the politics of passionate unreason...

Principles of the politics of prudence:

1) As I put it earlier, ideology is inverted religion. But the prudential politician knows that “Utopia” means “Nowhere”; that we cannot march to an earthly Zion; that human nature and human institutions are imperfectible; that aggressive “righteousness” in politics ends in slaughter. True religion is a discipline for the soul, not for the state.

2) Ideology makes political compromise impossible, I pointed out. The prudential politician, au contraire, is well aware that the primary purpose of the state is to keep the peace. This can be achieved only by maintaining a tolerable balance among great interests in society. Parties, interests, and social classes and groups must arrive at compromises, if bowie~knives are to be kept from throats. When ideological fanaticism rejects any compromise, the weak go to the wall. The ideological atrocities of the “Third World” in recent decades illustrate this point: the political massacres of the Congo, Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Cambodia, Uganda, Yemen, Salvator, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Prudential politics strives for conciliation, not extirpation.

3) Ideologies are plagued by ferocious factionalism, on the principle of brotherhood—or death. Revolutions devour their children. But prudential politicians, rejecting the illusion of an Absolute Political Truth before which every citizen must abase himself, understand that political and economic structures are not mere products of theory, to be erected one day and demolished the next; rather, social institutions develop over centuries, almost as if they were organic. The radical reformer, proclaiming himself omniscient, strikes down every rival, to arrive at the Terrestrial Paradise more swiftly. Conservatives, in striking contrast, have the habit of dining with the opposition.

In the preceding sentence, I employed deliberately the word conservative as synonymous, virtually, with the expression “prudential politician”. For it is the conservative leader who, setting his face against all ideologies, is guided by what Patrick Henry called “the lamp of experience”. In this twentieth century, it has been the body of opinion generally called “conservative” that has defended the Permanent Things from ideologues’ assaults.

Ever since the end of the Second World War, the American public has looked with increasing favor upon the term Conservative. Public—opinion polls suggest that in politics, the majority of Voters regard themselves as conservatives. Whether they well understand conservatives’ political principles may be another matter...

The triumph of ideology would be the triumph of what Edmund Burke called “the antagonist world”—the world of disorder; while what the conservative seeks to conserve is the world of order that we have inherited, if in a damaged condition, from our ancestors. The conservative mind and the ideological mind stand at opposite poles. And the contest between those two mentalities may be no less strenuous in the twenty—first century than it has been during the twentieth. Possibly this book of mine may be of help to those of the rising generation who have the courage to oppose ideological zealots."

--- The Politics of Prudence / Russell Kirk

Links - 15th March 2018 (1)

When Intersectionality Silences Women - "“People call you a bigot and a Nazi. To your face. People who actually like you tell you that it is dangerous to speak about those things. That you could lose everything very fast. They plead with you to shut up. Not actively expressing one’s views isn’t enough anymore, though. There is a new thing: Some students are no longer happy with people completely avoiding issues. They raise tricky topics indirectly and expect you to virtue signal back. If you stay neutral they become visibly upset and keep virtue signalling until they realise that you will not signal back. Then, they start whispering among themselves: ‘She is a Nazi.’”
“I’ve already been shunned from most of my old friends after they found out I was no longer into social justice. On my campus, kids with similar views to mine have been slandered by Antifa, they’ve had threatening posters made with their faces/full names on them. I’m afraid that if word spreads about my views, it could happen to me as well.”..
A German physicist and engineer reported finding her work constrained by an expectation that she must relate to STEM as a woman rather than as a scientist.
“The university often has special ‘women only’ seminars, scholarships, support services, etc, which I find completely abhorrent, collectivist, and counterproductive to the scientific work I’m involved in. I feel like I’m not valued as an individual, but as a particular set of genitals.”...
A German psychologist said that she could not include controversial findings in her work even though these could be addressed without prejudiced assumptions:
“Difficult findings must be talked about: A recent study with a very large sample (around 11,000 children) found that children who grow up in same-sex parent households have a significantly higher risk of mental health problems, among other things. I am pro same sex partnerships but if children are being negatively affected that must be addressed. If I spoke about those findings I would be ostracized for being a bigot. Data on migrants (crime, illiteracy, infectious diseases, costs to the tax payer) must not ever be mentioned. But we cannot plan ahead or fix issues if we don’t speak about them.”
Another social scientist found she was unable to look at gender and economics because of objections to the division by gender. ...
Five women reported being shouted at or facing verbal abuse and hostility for their views"
Modern feminism silences women who don't agree with it

The Next Wave of Extremists Will Be Green – Foreign Policy - "Radicals of all types share certain characteristics. According to Peter Neumann, the director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) and author of Der Terror ist unter uns (“The Terror Is Among Us”), people who become radicalized typically have a “sense of grievance” — sometimes real, sometimes perceived — and a belief that legitimate channels for redress are shut off, inaccessible, or ineffective. There is also usually a social element, in the form of a charismatic preacher or ideology, that spurs people to seek emotional fulfillment through otherwise forbidden methods for redemption... A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security warned of attacks from eco-terrorists who “believe violence is justified”"

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision-making - "“We discovered that people using a foreign language were not any more concerned with maximizing the greater good,” said lead author Sayuri Hayakawa, a UChicago doctoral student in psychology. “But rather, were less averse to violating the taboos that can interfere with making utility-maximizing choices.” The researchers, including Albert Costa and Joanna Corey from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, propose that using a foreign language gives people some emotional distance and that allowed them to take the more utilitarian action.""

What College Graduates Regret - "a third of college graduates who majored in social science, liberal arts or education regretted their decision. (In comparison, 24 percent of people with science and engineering degrees wish they'd studied something else.) But overall, when asked what they wish they'd done differently in college, "choosing a different major" wasn't the top answer. The most popular answer, given by half of all respondents, was "gaining more work experience." Choosing a different major was the fourth most popular response, after "studying harder" and "looking for work sooner.""
For all the eloquent defences of why you should take a humanities education, the numbers are interesting. If broken down by major they would likely be even more interesting

The Doom Loop of Liberalism - "Rich countries tend to redistribute wealth from the rich few to the less-rich multitude. But when that multitude suddenly includes minorities who are seen as outsiders, the white majority can turn resentful and take back their egalitarian promises. Take, for example, the Twin Cities of Minnesota. They were once revered for their liberal local policies—like corporate-tax redistribution from rich areas to poor neighborhoods and low-income housing construction near business districts. But since the 1980s, as the metro area attracted more nonwhite immigrants, the metro has become deeply segregated by income and race and affordable-housing construction has backtracked. Or take Finland, that renowned “Santa Claus State” of cradle-to-grave social services, where the welfare state is being “systematically dismantled.” The far right has emerged in the last few decades, just as foreign-born population has suddenly grown... cultural heterogeneity and egalitarianism often cut against each other. Pluralist social democracy is stuck in a finger trap of math and bigotry, where to pull on one end (support for diversity) seems to naturally strain the other (support for equality)."

A Million First Dates - "“You could say online dating allows people to get into relationships, learn things, and ultimately make a better selection,” says Gonzaga. “But you could also easily see a world in which online dating leads to people leaving relationships the moment they’re not working—an overall weakening of commitment.”... subjects who selected a chocolate from an array of six options believed it tasted better than those who selected the same chocolate from an array of 30."

Why Education is a Limited Determinant of Mobility - "increasing skills and educational attainment are often insufficient for disrupting economic trajectories"

Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s - "it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise... The fact that the body weights of Americans today are influenced by factors beyond their control is a sign, Kuk says, that society should be kinder to people of all body types."

Why I Hope to Die at 75 - "living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic... over recent decades, increases in longevity seem to have been accompanied by increases in disability—not decreases... There was an “increase in the life expectancy with disease and a decrease in the years without disease. The same is true for functioning loss, an increase in expected years unable to function”... creativity rises rapidly as a career commences, peaks about 20 years into the career, at about age 40 or 45, and then enters a slow, age-related decline. There are some, but not huge, variations among disciplines. Currently, the average age at which Nobel Prize–winning physicists make their discovery—not get the prize—is 48. Theoretical chemists and physicists make their major contribution slightly earlier than empirical researchers do. Similarly, poets tend to peak earlier than novelists do. Simonton’s own study of classical composers shows that the typical composer writes his first major work at age 26, peaks at about age 40 with both his best work and maximum output, and then declines, writing his last significant musical composition at 52"

The Medieval Knight With a Chinese Sword, Who Was Once A Bridge

A Graphic Guide to Cemetery Symbolism

Twitter just doubled the character limit for tweets to 280 - "About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters, Twitter says. It’s tough to do that on accident, suggesting that users frequently have to edit their initial thoughts to get them under the limit..The average length of a tweet in Japanese is 15 characters, and only 0.4 percent of tweets hit the 140-character limit"

When Did The Star Wars Prequels Become Cool? - "Nostalgia belongs to those with the defining culture voice. On the internet, that voice is fractured and twisted but typically comes from those aged 25-35. Today, on the lower extremity of that, you have those who were children when the prequels came out and possibly first experienced the galaxy far, far away with Anakin, rather than Luke. So, just as ten years ago the likes of Ghostbusters and Back to the Future – films that in 2017 are still universally accepted as greats but not readily raised touchstones – were the peak of throwback culture, now it’s shifting to The Matrix and, yes, Star Wars... They introduce a completely opposed galactic backdrop – a crumbling, corrupted Republic instead of a binary civil war – have a litany of fresh, sleek designs (before slowly evolving into the ships and planets we know), and for all the narrative parallels (as George famously said “it’s like poetry, they rhyme”) they’re telling a fresh story. Above all, they’re tonally separate. Anakin’s fall is a dark companion to Luke’s arc, yet it comes alongside Palpatine’s Machiavellian rise and dogmatic politics."

Palm Springs Council now entirely made up of LGBT members
Does this mean they're no longer "diverse"?

Married Pakistani doctor molested Muslim student nurse - "'Shortly afterwards Miss A was in the ward kitchen when he entered the room and closed the door behind him. He asked whether she had a thyroid problem before feeling her neck. 'She was backed into the corner when the registrant touched her chest at the top where her breasts start. She said he put his fingers there for a few seconds before she pushed them away. 'Miss A says she held her hand up to signal for him to move away and told him he was a disgrace. He asked for a hug and she refused but he did it anyway. 'Then he grabbed her right breast for a few seconds. Miss A said he was laughing and trying to make light if the situation and then became aggressive and said that friends do what he was trying to do.'... Qureshi was sentenced at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court to a 12-month community order with 20 days rehabilitation activity requirement after he was convicted by a jury of sexual assault."
Looks like the UK doesn't punish molest like Singapore does

NHS appeal for black blood donors 'drops straight knowledge' - "Using a string of references from Sinbad, to Ellen DeGeneres, to Bill Nye, the GiveBlood social media team explained the universality of blood, the exceptional need for different blood groups, and the prevalence of different groups in different races. Particularly, black people are more likely to have the rare Ro blood subtype, which only one in 50 people have, and which is used in the management of sickle cell disesase."
I thought race didn't exist

A black student wrote those racist messages that shook the Air Force Academy, school says - The Washington Post - "The person responsible for the racist messages, the academy said, was, in fact, one of the cadet candidates who reported being targeted by them... The announcement thrust the Air Force Academy Preparatory School onto a growing list of recent “hate crime hoaxes” — instances in which acts of racism or anti-Semitism were later found to be committed by someone in the targeted minority group. On Monday, police in Riley County, Kansas, revealed that a 21-year-old black man, Dauntarius Williams, admitted to defacing his car with racist graffiti as a “Halloween prank that got out of hand.” Scrawled in washable paint were racist messages telling blacks to “Go Home,” “Date your own kind,” and “Die.”... Officials decided not to file criminal charges against Williams for filing a false report, saying it “would not be in the best interests” of citizens of the Manhattan, Kan., community... There is even a website — fakehatecrimes.org — committed to listing hate crime hoaxes... BuzzFeed News found 154 total incidents of hate speech at more than 120 college campuses nationwide... authorities caught fewer than 5 percent of perpetrators in cases of vandalism or threats. In at least three instances, college officials determined the incident was a hoax"
Assuming hoaxers are equally likely to get caught, this means that at least half of reported hate crimes are hoaxes

Remember When Eastern Michigan University Erupted In Protest Over Racist Graffiti? It Was A Hoax. - "Eastern Michigan University erupted in protests after racist graffiti — red, white, and blue spray-painted "KKK" and "leave n*****s" — was discovered on school property on three different occasions. According to university police, the racist incidents appear to have been a hoax, allegedly perpetrated by a 29-year-old black man named Eddie Curlin... Protests instantly erupted over the incidents, gaining national attention and building a post-Trump racism-in-America narrative... "EMU even created a website to track updates regarding the vandalism. Those updates included holding a day-long teach-on on racism, diversity, and inclusion; creating the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion; another day-long teach-in called 'Know Justice, Know Peace'; promoting a campus-wide unity rally; providing psychological and counseling services to students affected by the vandalism and more.""

Working at Google seemed like a dream job. The reality has been a tedious, pointless nightmare. - The Washington Post - "In some ways, my experience is not so different than that of other twenty-somethings in corporate America. Yet Google’s low-level HR employees are barraged by higher-ups about Passion! and how we are Changing People’s Lives!... I began to wonder if I was crazy, eating alone in the cafeteria and wearing ear plugs so I wouldn’t have to overhear one more random Googler claim, without irony or visible self-consciousness, to have held “a mini-pow-wow on 360 wellness,” or to be “a product expert across a myriad of domains hoping to sync and gain best practices.” I can’t tell who believes themselves and who is just acting, because everyone participates. Every email has an exclamation mark, or ten. Google HR is a special type of hell ruled by the tyranny of positivity. It’s a privileged hell, for sure, but it’s hell, and its primary trait is hollowness."

The blue state depression - "Of the 10 blue states that Hillary Clinton won by the largest percentage margins — California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut — every single one of them lost domestic migration (excluding immigration) over the last 10 years (2004-14). Nearly 2.75 million more Americans left California and New York than entered these states. They are the loser states. They are all progressive. High taxes rates. High welfare benefits. Heavy regulation. Environmental extremism. Super minimum wages. Most outlaw energy drilling. The whole left-wing playbook is on display in the Hillary states. And people are leaving in droves. Day after day, they are being bled to death. So much for liberalism creating a worker’s paradise... pretty much the same pattern holds true for jobs"

Subjective Well‐Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation? - "Deaton (2008) and Stevenson and Wolfers (2008) find that the well-being–income relationship is roughly a linear-log relationship, such that, while each additional dollar of income yields a greater increment to measured happiness for the poor than for the rich, there is no satiation point... we find no evidence of a satiation point. The income–well-being link that one finds when examining only the poor, is similar to that found when examining only the rich. We show that this finding is robust across a variety of datasets, for various measures of subjective well-being, at various thresholds, and that it holds in roughly equal measure when making cross-national comparisons between rich and poor countries as when making comparisons between rich and poor people within a country."
Data complicating the Easterlin Paradox

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Links - 14th March 2018 (3)

How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners - "behavior is an emergent property—it arises from large groups of neurons working together, and isn’t apparent from studying any single one. You can draw parallels with the flocking of birds. Biologists have long wondered how they manage to wheel about the skies in perfect coordination, as if they were a single entity. In the 1980s, computer scientists showed that this can happen if each bird obeys a few simple rules, which dictate their distance and alignment relative to their peers. From these simple individual rules, collective complexity emerges. But you would never have been able to predict the latter from the former. No matter how thoroughly you understood the physics of feathers, you could never have predicted a murmuration of starlings without first seeing it happen... If the kind of neuroscience that has come to dominate the field couldn’t explain the workings of a simple, dated microchip, how could it hope to explain the brain—reputedly the most complex object in the universe?"

The Open-Office Trap - "The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve... The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell... they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. When David Craig surveyed some thirty-eight thousand workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared... as the number of people working in a single room went up, the number of employees who took sick leave increased apace... the better you are at screening out distractions, the more effectively you work in an open office. Unfortunately, it seems that the more frantically you multitask, the worse you become at blocking out distractions"

Why printers add secret tracking dots - "They were barely visible to the naked eye, but formed a coded design. After some quick analysis, they seemed to reveal the exact date and time that the pages in question were printed: 06:20 on 9 May, 2017 – at least, this is likely to be the time on the printer’s internal clock at that moment. The dots also encode a serial number for the printer."

Students Protest Intro Humanities Course at Reed - "During the nationwide upsurge of student activism tracing back to 2015, protesters have occupied administrative buildings, stormed into libraries, shut down visiting speakers in auditoriums, and walked out of classrooms—but they hardly ever disrupt the classroom itself. RAR has done so more than 60 times... One of the first Hum professors to request that RAR not occupy the classroom was Lucía Martínez Valdivia, who said her preexisting PTSD would make it difficult to face protesters. In an open letter, RAR offered sympathy to Martínez Valdivia but then accused her of being anti-black, discriminating against those with disabilities, and engaging in gaslighting—without specifying those charges. When someone asked for specifics, a RAR leader replied, “Asking for people to display their trauma so that you feel sufficiently satisfied is a form of violence.”... “I am intimidated by these students,” Martínez Valdivia later wrote, noting she is “scared to teach courses on race, gender, or sexuality, or even texts that bring these issues up in any way—and I am a gay mixed-race woman.” Such fear, she revealed in an op-ed for The Washington Post, prompted some of her colleagues— “including people of color, immigrants, and those without tenure”—to avoid lecturing altogether... a clear pattern emerged: intimidation, stigma, and silence when it came to discussing Hum 110, or racial politics in general... When the parent of a freshman rebuked RAR for derailing a lecture, a RAR supporter tagged the parent’s employer in a post... the more accommodation that’s been made, the more disruptive the protests have become—and the more heightened the rhetoric. “Black lives matter” was the common chant at last year’s boycott. This year’s? “No cops, no KKK, no racist U.S.A.”"
Is it any surprise that those who idolise thugs are thugs themselves?

Barney Lane's answer to What did the EU do wrong to drive the UK away? Is the EU really a bloated bureaucracy? - Quora - "The UK and the EU see things differently. They have a different view of politics, a different view of economics, law and most fundamentally of all, a different view of the malleability of political institutions in response to change... Fundamental in the UK is the notion of legitimacy and consent. The EU doesn't work like that. The EU’s mindset is, we lead, you follow. Public opinion is a bit dirty. This provokes an extreme and highly emotional reaction in the UK, which is never sustainable in the long term. Call a UK politician “out of touch” and he knows there's a problem. Call an EU politician out of touch and the response is a bemused, “your point is?”."

The Fragile Generation - "The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can't use tools, they can't play on grass, and they certainly can't be expected to work through a spat with a friend. And this, it could be argued, is why we have "safe spaces" on college campuses and millennials missing adult milestones today. We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us... Beginning in the 1980s, American childhood changed. For a variety of reasons—including shifts in parenting norms, new academic expectations, increased regulation, technological advances, and especially a heightened fear of abduction (missing kids on milk cartons made it feel as if this exceedingly rare crime was rampant)—children largely lost the experience of having large swaths of unsupervised time to play, explore, and resolve conflicts on their own. This has left them more fragile, more easily offended, and more reliant on others. They have been taught to seek authority figures to solve their problems and shield them from discomfort, a condition sociologists call "moral dependency."... the Boulder Public Library in Colorado recently forbade anyone under 12 to enter without an adult, because "children may encounter hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture, electrical equipment, or other library patrons." Ah, yes, kids and library furniture. Always a lethal combo... Boston College psychology professor emeritus Peter Gray was invited by the head of counseling services at a major university to a conference on "the decline in resilience among students." The organizer said that emergency counseling calls had doubled in the last five years. What's more, callers were seeking help coping with everyday problems, such as arguments with a roommate. Two students had dialed in because they'd found a mouse in their apartment. They also called the police, who came and set a mousetrap. And that's not to mention the sensitivity around grades. To some students, a B is the end of the world... In organized activities—Little League, for example—adults run the show. It's only when the grown-ups aren't around that the kids get to take over. Play is training for adulthood."

Kevin Spacey is innocent - "We are meant to side with the accused. It is the civilised thing to do: side with the accused. We are meant to insist upon his or her innocence until guilt has been properly and convincingly established. But today the Twitterati, the media, the feminist set and increasingly the political class — see the jumped-up, ‘me too!’ sex-harassment panic now brewing in the House of Commons — line up with accusers... ‘I believe’ has become the ultimate virtue-signal. But it is utterly lacking in virtue to say this. Sixty-two years ago a woman called Carolyn Bryant Donham accused a young man of sexual harassment. He grabbed her by the wrist and said ‘How about it baby?’, she said. He wolf-whistled at her, she claimed. Everyone in her local community believed her, uncritically, and instantly. ‘I believe.’ They went after her harasser, tied him to the back of a truck, and then beat him to death in a barn. His name was Emmet Till. He was a victim of uncritical belief in people who make accusations of sexual harassment. Crying ‘I believe’ in response to every accusation of a sexual crime isn’t progressive; it’s a species of savagery."

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? - "The "Weinstein contagion," as a Guardian columnist refers to it, has seen members of Parliament branded sexual predators for such small fare as a fleeting hand on a female journalist's knee or flirtatious letters written 20 years ago. Earlier this month, a Welsh Labor MP, Carl Sargeant, committed suicide. He stood accused of sexual misconduct. His party refused to tell him what the allegations were, and yet he was suspended from his job as a Welsh minister on the basis of them. Sargeant's lawyers said the mysterious accusations had plunged him into black turmoil. Although people refer to #MeToo as a progressive movement, it is starting to look like an exercise in public shaming, a rash extrajudicial application of stigma to supposedly wicked individuals. We need to recover the benefit of the doubt, just like Piven said."

Brokers of junk science? - "representatives of the EPA, the FDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said their agencies treat science equally, regardless of the funding source. Disclosure is encouraged by all three agencies but isn’t mandatory... Current sentiment “demonizes the industry side,” Caplan added, while ignoring potential biases created by private foundations or government money."

The Most Complicated Border Town in the World - "there are Dutch enclaves within the Belgian enclaves that are within the Netherlands. And, actually, the main part of Baarle-Hertog is about five miles southwest of the portions you see here, and completely in Belgium. Told you it was complicated."

Japan's fertility crisis is creating economic and social woes never seen before - "Adult diapers have outsold baby diapers in Japan for the last six years, and many jails are turning into de facto nursing homes, as Japanese elders account for 20% of all crime in the country. With no one else to care for them, many reoffend just to come back. Stealing a sandwich can mean two years of jail time, but it also means two years of free housing and meals."

Japanese elderly population prefer prison to normal life - "Prison life in Japan is far from easy -- talking is forbidden while at work, inmates must walk single file, and bathing is restricted. Even during rare events put on for their entertainment, they are only allowed to sit ramrod straight with their hands on their laps. Applause is generally forbidden. Life is monotonous, and naturally restricted, yet many prefer this predictable regimen where they have shelter, food, and medical care, to life on the outside... The recidivism rate for the over-65s is high: According to government data, about 70 percent of elderly offenders are back behind bars within five years. "The reason why many older ex-convicts return to prisons is because it's difficult for them to be financially independent""

“It’s okay to be white” posters are covertly racist - "signs were posted on the University of Maryland campus and at Montgomery Blair High School that read, "It's okay to be white." In its language, the phrase is unremarkable. In practice, this is a coded affirmation of white supremacy. The combination of these factors is no accident. The signs were designed to be political instruments that fit into a tradition of American hate speech."
4chan's campaign is brilliant
Comments: " The author complains that “white fragility” empowers racists while ignoring his own racist use of “black fragility” (i.e. fear that these poster statements will encourage white supremists) to stoke his own conspiracy theories. He says he despises speech that promotes anger and divisiveness while espousing the same. Your right Mr. Lewis, you took the bait and fell into the trap. By so doing you exposed your own hate and bigotry. Congratulations."
"Race agitators and the BLM folks will read anything they want in anything, like the person who sees the face of Jesus on a piece of toast."


Oregon Candidate Berated For Being A WHITE CIS-GENDER MALE! - "In Portland (of course), newly announced city council candidate Spencer Raymond has faced a wave of backlash throughout the community for daring to run for a seat that already features three “women of color” candidates... the usual Black Lives Matter and Antifa crowd took to his facebook campaign page and unleashed a barrage of mostly racist comments toward him."

British Council boss sacked for calling Prince George symbol of 'white privilege’ denied payout - "“White privilege. That cheeky grin is the (already locked-in) innate knowledge that he is royal, rich, advantaged and will never know *any* difficulty or hardships in life. “Let’s find photos of 3yo Syrian refugee children and see if they look alike, eh?”"

My mum and brother both ended their lives after he was falsely accused of rape
Feminists need to remember that false rape accusations hurt women in very real ways too

Racist Britain sent me to Isis, says jihadist bride Tania Georgelas
Comments: "There was much more racism in the UK in the 50s and 60s, but those on the receiving end did not become terrorists. So racism is not much of an explanation for this women's behaviour."
"In case you aren't aware, Harrow is one of the most diverse and tolerant areas / societies within the UK... The likelihood is that she's very happy to blame everything else other than herself."
"It had to be 'the far right' surely, why weren't they mentioned? What about Hitler and the Nazis too."
"Seems like you can excuse anything these days by claiming some sort of victimhood."
"Because, of course, Isis is in no way racist but is a shining beacon of liberal tolerance and love for one's fellow man."
"The Holocaust must be the worst racism anyone could suffer, yet the Jews did not become terrorists. That's the difference."


Male Mammoths Died in ‘Silly Ways’ More Often Than Females, Study Finds - The New York Times - "“In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways, and it appears that may have been true for mammoths also,” said Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist from the Swedish Museum of Natural History."
The original Testosterone Rex. Patriarchy is that strong!

Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man - The New York Times
Women thinking that it's better to be a man than a woman is proof that there's sexism against women
Republican men thinking that it's better to be a woman than a man is ALSO proof that there's sexism against women


In Singapore, Chinese Dialects Revive After Decades of Restrictions - NYTimes.com - "This struggle to communicate within families is one of the painful effects of the Singapore government’s large-scale, decades-long effort at linguistic engineering. Starting with a series of measures in the late 1970s, the leaders of this city-state effectively banned Chinese dialects, the mother tongues of about three-quarters of its citizens... “Singapore used to be like a linguistic tropical rain forest — overgrown, and a bit chaotic but very vibrant and thriving,” said Tan Dan Feng, a language historian in Singapore. “Now, after decades of pruning and cutting, it’s a garden focused on cash crops: learn English or Mandarin to get ahead and the rest is useless, so we cut it down.”... Although called “dialects” by the government, some of these Chinese tongues are at least as different as the various Romance languages. The government’s policy was something like ordering Spaniards, French and Italians to abandon the languages they grew up with in favor of Portuguese... In some schools, pupils who spoke dialects were fined and made to write out hundreds of times, “I will not speak dialects.” The population was bombarded with messages that dialect speakers had no future. By 1981, television and radio were banned from broadcasting almost all dialect shows, including popular music. That left many people cut off from society. “Old people suddenly couldn’t understand anything on the radio,” said Lee Hui Min, a writer whose best-known work, “Growing Up in the Era of Lee Kuan Yew,” recounts those decades. “There was a sense of loss.”... “Sometimes people say the Singaporeans aren’t too expressive,” said Kuo Jian Hong, the artistic director of The Theater Practice, an influential theater founded by her father, the pioneering playwright and arts activist Kuo Pao Kun. “I feel this is partly because so many of us lost our mother tongue.”... The head of the [Hokkien Huay Kuan] community center, Perng Peck Seng, said that it, too, had seen the effects of the government policy. When he joined in the 1980s, all meetings were held in Hokkien and Mandarin. Now they are held in English and Mandarin because too few people, even in his organization, speak Hokkien fluently enough to conduct meetings."

When Families Lead Themselves Out of Poverty - The New York Times - "The war on poverty was about movements at the beginning; then it became about programs and institutions. And that has created a listening gap. All these poverty conferences we go to — the families we’re talking about are never there except as examples of a successful social service program. They’re never there to represent themselves, their own successes. They always represent programs. And their stories are told to get more funding for the programs... In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that the paternalism of white moderates may be a greater barrier to fundamental change than outright racism."

Defending Suttee

"The main arguments of the defenders of suttee can be found in the petition against prohibition in 1830. It was signed by the founders of the Dharma Sabha, among them Radkhakanta and Gopimohan Deb. They demanded a withdrawal of prohibition because it marked an interference with the religion and customs of the Hindus - even though the Governor General and even parliament had ensured that the customs, rites, religion and law of the religious communities of India were respected. The Hindu religion was based on 'usage' as well as 'precept'. Suttee, 'the sacrifice of self-immolation', was sanctioned by both principles. The petitioners relied on several statements and measures taken by the government authorities, which showed that the British considered suttee an element of the Hindu religion...

[Learned Brahmins] had come to the conclusion that suttee was permitted by the shastras: according to Angira the only duty left for a woman after her husband had died was to burn herself with his body because her life and duties were inextricably bound with his.

The Vishnusmirli and other shastras mention concremation before the alternative of ascetic widowhood, and from this the conclusion was drawn that it was the preferred solution. Moreover, Manu permitted suttee; the version referred to by its opponents was forged. Finally, suttee was legitimized by the Veda, the highest authority.

The spiritual merits of the suttee were described: she would extinguish the sins of three families: her father’s, her mother’s and her husband’s. Personally she ‘partakes of bliss with her husband as long as fourteen Indrus reign’. Moreover, she was presented as acting voluntarily for her own happiness in life after death, as well as for her husband’s and their families’ sake. It would be unjust and intolerant to forbid her to follow her religious beliefs. As an illustration, they mention the case of a woman who starved herself to death after she was prevented from burning herself.

Thus, it was argued that the British government had no right to interfere: first, because it was neither competent nor authorized to judge about the religion of the Hindus; second, because a policy of non-interference had been ensured. Finally, the Bengali suttee opponents had misunderstood the shastras and were not authorized to interpret them...

The fact that these victims were women plays an important role. The British gentlemen had to rescue the Hindu women from the cruelty of their own male relatives or, at least, from self-destruction relating to superstition. As Spivak puts it: ‘White men saving women from brown men.’...

[Edward] Thompson was astonished that even educated Hindus defended suttee and respected it as an expression of an idealized connection of husband and wife: ‘The nonsense about the wonderful purity and spirituality of the Hindu marriage ideal cannot survive examination.’ This statement can be interpreted as a swipe at Ananda Coomaraswamy, half Indian, living in America, who played an important role in Hindu-traditionalist thinking of his time. His defence of suttee, written in 1924, has been discussed in India until recently. He is still used as a reference, as well as strongly criticized and refuted. Writing about the suttee, he stated:

The root meaning of the word is essential being, and we have so far taken it only in a wide sense. But she who refuses to live when her husband is dead is called Suttee in a more special sense […] This last proof of the perfect unity of body and soul, this devotion beyond grave, has been chosen by many Western critics as our reproach; we differ from them in thinking of our ‘suttees’ not with pity, but with understanding, respect and love. So far from being ashamed of our ‘suttees’ we take pride in them; that is true even among the most progressive among us.

In this view suttee was proof of the superiority of Hinduism over the western ‘industrial’ society because it was an expression of the feeling of one’s duty (dharma) and the fulfilling of one’s social role. These roles were unequal and clearly defined: ‘When man of necessity spent his life in war or in hunting, when woman needed personal physical as well as spiritual protection, then she could not do enough for him in personal service; we have seen in the record of folk-song and epic how it is part of women’s innermost nature to worship man.’

This differentiation of roles had nothing to do with oppression or slavery. On the contrary, it offered Oriental women the opportunity to be ‘a woman’: ‘The Eastern woman is not, at least we do not claim that she is, superior to other women in her innermost nature; she is perhaps an older, purer and more specialized type, and it is precisely here that the industrial woman departs from type.’ Thus, the superiority of the Hindu-society became visible in the superiority of Indian women.

Therefore Indian society must not seek orientation in the European mode of life, but find its own way. Coonmaraswamy sharply criticized colonial rule:

Aside from all questions of mere lust for poer […] untold evils have resulted from the conviction that it is our God-given duty to regulate other people’s lives – the effects of the current theories of ‘uplift’ and of the ‘white man’s burden’ are only single examples for this; and even when the intentions are good, we need not overlook the fact that the way to hell is often paved with examples of this.

... Coonmaraswamy saw the suttee as a symbol of the superiority of the Hindu culture with its faithful marriages, spirituality, sense for duty and sacrifice...

Even though Madhu Kishwar, editor of the feminist journal Manushi, does not support suttee she accused the western-influenced social reformers [in the 1980s and 1990s] of having interfered as arrogantly as British colonial officials in the life of India's rural population to enforce their own norms...

More radically, Ashis Nandy criticized the 'modernist' suttee critics. He claimed that they condemn suttee naively without understanding the underlying spiritual notions, that they were alienated from their own tradition while taking over the colonial perspective on Indian society"

--- Colonialism as Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India

Links - 14th March 2018 (2)

William Marshal: the greatest knight | Podcast | History Extra - "William's favorite tactic in tournaments from a modern perspective I was suggesting seems positively disreputable and underhand but what is striking is that it's lauded by contemporaries including the History of William Marshall and described in glowing terms in many ways. His technique was this: he would arrive with his entourage or the lord he was serving at a tournament. Tournament would be about to begin: they would say well actually we've come along to watch but we're feeling a bit tired so I think we'll just, we'll stay on the sidelines today, have a good tournament. We'll meet you at the end. Let things begin, the chaos would ensue and then when everyone else was exhausted William and his men would decide that actually they were now just going to sit on the sidelines. They ride onto the field, mop up as many prisoners as they could and achieved a stirring and striking victory. And remember even sources that are very positive about William present this as the kind of cunning that you would expect from a night. It is an example of William's life showing us the code, the ideal of chivalry doesn't always conform to our expectations... he was bringing in so much cash through ransoms on the tournament circuit that he actually had to employ a part time accountant to keep his books"

The Knights Templar | Podcast | History Extra - "How can you be going around murdering other human beings, maiming, killing, slaughtering other human beings and still claim to be following the teachings of Christ who told his disciples to turn the other cheek?... It is decided that no no no, we've got a better idea. Actually if you sign up to the life religious then your violence, your murdering, your maiming can be to the benefit and the big, the satisfaction of God, of Christ and not to the detriment of your eternal soul. And so that by killing the enemies of the Church you will not be committing homicide, you'll be omitting malicide - you know, the killing of evil... Templars were forbidden to wear pointy shoes or shoes with laces because it was thought that these abominable things belonged to pagans"

Victoria the matchmaker | Podcast | History Extra - "'The world's most exclusive dating agency'
'Well to be honest that is what it felt like because there you are with these grandchildren occupying a very pivotal position in these grand palaces. You know one good looking princess might find herself sought after by the heirs to several thrones. Several princesses ended up on several princes' shortest. You know it was an extraordinarily elite little club with Queen Victoria herself sort of adjudicating or trying to adjudicate the outcomes'"

Starkey on the Reformation | Podcast | History Extra - "The Reformation is taking a country England which had been at the heart of the international enterprise of Christendom and the Catholic Church for a thousand years which puts the forty odd that we've been in the European Union into perspective. Remember England was unique in that it was actually being converted to Roman Christianity directly by Rome... why Canterbury is as near as possible to Dover... For most of the Middle Ages we are part of a Greater France. Remember the Channel is not a barrier, the channel's a means of communication... The Church is also strikingly similar to the EU. Above all it's a system of law. It's a system of jurisdiction and again it is a self consciously international one. It has a particular focus. A locus, a capital in Rome. It's the universal court of appeal. Why else does Henry have to take his marriage there? Just like the ECJ you know? So the parallels are truly astonishing...
I am not a doubting atheist but we have become contemptuous of the force of religion. We must remember, those of those who are atheists in an essentially atheistical or least a society that is careful about religion, all of this vulgarity about skyfarers, we are the minority. Most people now and most human beings in recorded history have believed. We must recognize the power of this thing. Especially if we don't like it...
So much history on television, even it's about nasty and violent things, there's a kind of nice fairy tale, nice bedtime story about the whole thing. It's a long way away dear child, it's not going to hurt you. There there there. We've gotten over all that haven't we? We've got you know the welfare state and quantitative easing, there's nothing to worry about. I don't believe that and hence the wish to disturb"

When Working From Home Doesn’t Work - "Letting Chinese call-center employees work from home boosted their productivity by 13 percent, a Stanford study reported. And, again according to Gallup, remote workers log significantly longer hours than their office-bound counterparts. Another batch of studies, however, shows the exact opposite: that proximity boosts productivity... If it’s personal productivity—how many sales you close or customer complaints you handle—then the research, on balance, suggests that it’s probably better to let people work where and when they want. For jobs that mainly require interactions with clients (consultant, insurance salesman) or don’t require much interaction at all (columnist), the office has little to offer besides interruption. But other types of work hinge on what might be called “collaborative efficiency”—the speed at which a group successfully solves a problem. And distance seems to drag collaborative efficiency down... Back in 1977, the MIT professor Thomas J. Allen looked at communication patterns among scientists and engineers and found that the farther apart their desks were, the less likely they were to communicate. At the 30-meter mark, the likelihood of regular communication approached zero. The expectation was that information technology would flatten the so-called Allen Curve. But Ben Waber, a visiting scientist at MIT, recently found that it hasn’t"

The hidden strengths of unloved concrete - "Piso Firme means "firm floor", and when economists studied the programme, they found that the ready-mixed concrete dramatically improved children's education. Previously, the floors were made of dirt, which let parasitic worms thrive, spreading diseases that stunted kids' growth and made them miss school. Concrete floors are much easier to keep clean. So the kids were healthier, and their test scores improved. Economists also found that parents in the programme's households became happier, less stressed and less prone to depression"

Should we thank Steve Jobs or Uncle Sam for the iPhone? - "The real engine of innovation and American economic superiority is good old American companies like Apple, right? Actually, no. In large measure it’s the federal government. More specifically it’s the government’s funding for basic research"
A libertarian would probably claim that without government "interference" we would have gotten further, faster

The Attack on Truth - "It is sad that the modern attack on truth started in the academy - in the humanities, where the stakes may have initially seemed low in holding that there are multiple ways to read a text or that one cannot understand a book without taking account of the political beliefs of its author. That disrespect, however, has metastasized into outrageous claims about the natural sciences. The strategy is to say, "I refuse to believe this," and then filibuster in the court of public opinion. Anyone who has been paying attention to the fault lines of academic debate for the past 20 years already knows that the "science wars" were fought by natural scientists (and their defenders in the philosophy of science) on the one side and literary critics and cultural-studies folks on the other. The latter argued that even in the natural realm, truth is relative, and there is no such thing as objectivity... But then a funny thing happened: While many natural scientists declared the battle won and headed back to their labs, some left-wing postmodernist criticisms of truth began to be picked up by right-wing ideologues who were looking for respectable cover for their denial of climate change, evolution, and other scientifically accepted conclusions. Alan Sokal said he had hoped to shake up academic progressives, but suddenly one found hard-right conservatives sounding like Continental intellectuals. And that caused discombobulation on the left. "Was I wrong to participate in the invention of this field known as science studies?," Bruno Latour, one of the founders of the field that contextualizes science, famously asked. "Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we said? Why does it burn my tongue to say that global warming is a fact whether you like it or not? Why can't I simply say that the argument is closed for good?"... That is the price one pays for playing with ideas as if doing so has no consequences, imagining that they will be used only for the political purposes one intended. Instead, the entire edifice of science is now under attack. And it's the poor and disenfranchised, to whom the left pays homage, who will probably bear the brunt of disbelief in climate change.

Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus - "Perhaps because it was a professor who was injured, Middlebury students did not defend the use of violence in the way that some Berkeley students had. But even the students’ coordinated effort to silence Murray is harder to justify than the effort to silence Yiannopoulos... When two psychologists, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, asked 70 professors at various colleges to assess the political leaning of Murray’s speech — given to them as a transcript with no source attributed — they rated it as "middle of the road," leaning neither left nor right. But for many students and professors, what Murray intended to say was not relevant. The Southern Poverty Law Center had labeled him a "white supremacist" on the basis of his writings, and that was sufficient for many to believe that they had a moral duty to deny a platform to him... A month after the Middlebury fracas came the Heather Mac Donald shout-down at Claremont McKenna College. But this was no special case. Mac Donald is a typical campus speaker — a journalist and political commentator who wrote a book challenging prevailing wisdom on a matter of current concern... because Mac Donald challenged the dominant narrative and criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, some students at Claremont McKenna decided that she, too, must be denied a platform. They mobilized a mass action via Facebook with a call to "show up wearing black" and "bring your comrades, because we’re shutting this down." A mob outside the auditorium, estimated at around 300 people, prevented anyone from entering the building. The college decided to stream Mac Donald’s talk live from the nearly empty hall as hundreds of protesters pounded on the windows. Immediately afterward, she was whisked away through a kitchen exit by the campus police in an unmarked car. What are we to make of this? There were no reports of violence or property damage. Yet this event is potentially more ominous than the Berkeley and Middlebury violence, for we are witnessing the emergence of a dangerous new norm for responding to speakers who challenge campus orthodoxy... Because of flagrant "concept creep," however, almost anyone who is politically right of center can be labeled a racist or a fascist, and the promiscuous use of such labels is now part of the standard operating procedure. The call to shut down Mac Donald’s talk asserted, without evidence, that her agenda is "racist, anti-Black, capitalist, imperialist, [and] fascist." As with accusations of witchcraft in earlier centuries, once such labels are attached to someone, few will dare to challenge their accuracy, lest they be accused of the same crimes... From now on, any campus speaker who arouses a protest is at risk of a beating. Can this really be the future of American higher education?... The decision to turn so many events into collective moral struggles has profound ramifications for the entirecollege"

Don accused of rape to continue teaching - "Rogan reminded students: “It’s not just about sexual violence. For some students it’s just another way for Europeans to gang up against a prominent Muslim intellectual. We must protect Muslim students who believe and trust in him, and protect that trust.”"
Comment: "I grew up Catholic, does that mean I should have been protected against all the stories about pedophilia in the Catholic Church? Rogan’s comment reeks of paternalism – why do Muslim students need to be protected? And why is it his job to protect them? And does it occur to Rogan that there might be people – including the women who have brought cases against Professor Ramadan – who are both Muslim AND European?"

French official knew of Tariq Ramadan’s ‘violent’ sexual encounters but failed to act - The National - "That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I have never heard of rapes, I am stunned"

Listening to too much Christmas music is bad for your health, according to clinical psychologist - "People working in the shops at Christmas have to tune out Christmas music because if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on anything else"

Carousell: The New Black Market for Controlled Substances - "The Straits Times reported that smart drugs were increasingly being used by students, some as young as 16, to help with their last-minute exam revision"

You don’t need to make things up to embellish Trump’s idiocy - "Donald Trump is touring Japan at the moment, and within record time, his trip has already produced its first viral scandal. A photo of Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a koi pond quickly rocketed around the media yesterday, purportedly capturing Trump as he upended his box of fish food like a bored toddler chucking an entire bread loaf at ducks. The outrage and mockery was swift and, in some cases, scientific; many were quick to point out that overfeeding is a serious issue with koi, and that Trump’s carelessness had surely led them to gorge themselves to death... Except it didn’t happen that way, and reporting that it did is only making things worse... As you can see from the full, unedited video, Abe was the first to empty the rest of his fish food into the pond, meaning Trump was simply following his host’s lead... the story was reported as “Blundering Asshole Kills Fish”—and outlets such as CNN even edited around the video to make Trump look like an impetuous buffoon—is exactly the sort of petty bullshit that fuels the “fake news” narrative that Trump and his supporters so depend on to foster blanket mistrust of the media. Great. Hey, here’s another one! In a meeting with Japanese automakers, as both CNN and Business Insider reported, Trump suggested they “try building cars in the United States”—which, as many analysts haughtily pointed out, they already do, by the millions. Ha ha! What a maroon! Only, once again, this has been taken completely out of context"
If the media is lying and spreading fake news, why is it worrying to call it out?

Something is wrong on the internet – James Bridle - "This video, BURIED ALIVE Outdoor Playground Finger Family Song Nursery Rhymes Animation Education Learning Video, contains all of the elements we’ve covered above, and takes them to another level. Familiar characters, nursery tropes, keyword salad, full automation, violence, and the very stuff of kids’ worst dreams. And of course there are vast, vast numbers of these videos. Channel after channel after channel of similar content, churned out at the rate of hundreds of new videos every week. Industrialised nightmare production... online kids’ content is one of the few alternative ways of making money from 3D animation because the aesthetic standards are lower and independent production can profit through scale. It uses existing and easily available content (such as character models and motion-capture libraries) and it can be repeated and revised endlessly and mostly meaninglessly because the algorithms don’t discriminate — and neither do the kids."

How should we understand the teenage jihadists' mind? | Simon Jenkins - "The Islamic scholar Malise Ruthven has warned that while most religions tend to mature out of textual literalism, the idea of the Qur'an as a handbook of pluralism and democracy is fanciful. It is permeated with the language of struggle (jihad) and victory over unbelievers. It insists on the oneness of the political and the religious realm, of this world and "the next". He writes: "Once it is allowed that there are different paths to ultimate truth, an individual's religious allegiance becomes a matter of personal choice. Choice is the enemy of the certainties that religions, especially monotheistic ones, are supposed to uphold." Islam is a beautiful creed but a stern discipline... Another writer in the same vein, Hans Küng, points out that jihad was never just a defensive concept but "a struggle to advance God's cause among the unbelievers". To make it accord with western pluralism would require a theological upheaval, a "total paradigm shift". Yet even to suggest this "can still be as dangerous for a Muslim as a heterodox view was for a Catholic at the height of the Inquisition or for a liberal Protestant in Calvin's Geneva"."
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