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

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Links - 17th May 2019 (1)

Stripping the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a children's literature award causing anger - "When the Association for Library Service to Children, which gives out the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award” every year, announced that the author’s name would from now on be removed from the prestigious book prize, it touched a nerve.“This decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity, and respect, and responsiveness,” said the organization, which gives the award to authors whose work has made a lasting impact on the world of children’s literature.The honor will now be known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, written in the 1930s, definitely made an impact on generations of readers... The reason the award’s name was changed was that in her 1930s novels, Wilder was said to have referred to Native Americans and African Americans in terms considered offensive or insensitive... The books have been considered hallmarks of American literature for children for decades... One celebrity who spoke out was William Shatner, who said on Twitter: “Did you hear about the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award being renamed over negative lines on the indigenous peoples of America? Laura changed the lines in the 50s. I find it disturbing that some take modern opinion & obliterate the past. Isn’t progress @ learning from our mistakes?”Shatner was then widely attacked on Twitter for expressing his views, and told by some in academia he should “stay in his lane” and his opinions did not matter. The Washington Post wrote that the ALSC decision “makes Wilder the latest target of efforts to purge from the cultural landscape symbols that honor historical figures who owned slaves, espoused racist views, or engaged in racist practices.”"
Bowdlerisation is good when it's for liberal causes
First they came for Cecil Rhodes...

Should Lucasfilm CGI Clothes on Bikini Leia in Return of the Jedi? - "we reported on a court ruling that barred video-on-demand company VidAngel from digitally editing the scenes with Princess Leia's space bikini in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, as well as taking out "objectionable" material from other movies. Since legally, VidAngel is not allowed to filter out what they deem to be objectionable material, should Lucasfilm and Disney consider going back and sanitizing the scenes from Return of the Jedi themselves?... the bikini Leia is causing some distress amongst the masses who now find it highly objectionable.This iteration of Carrie Fisher's iconic character was once known as Slave Leia. That term has since been retired. Some now refer to this version as The Hutt Slayer. And Lucasfilm has already vowed never to make another piece of merchandise with bikini Leia's likeness on it ever again"

Just Imagine - "Imagine moving to Japan then attacking their traditions and culture and opening their borders to the third world and calling any Japanese who complains a "Japanese supremacist" and promoting censorship laws so their own government will imprison them if they criticize you"

Artists boycott Indigenous Music Awards over cultural appropriation concerns - "Several artists are pulling support for the Indigenous Music Awards over concerns about cultural appropriation of Inuit throat singing.Tanya Tagaq, Kelly Fraser and Iva are among the musicians who posted to social media pledging not to participate in the awards until the organization revises its policies or includes Inuit representation on its board.The throat-singing duo PIQSIQ, comprised of Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik, announced on Twitter Monday they are withdrawing the nomination of "Altering The Timeline" for best electronic music album.The Yellowknife-raised sisters said in an interview their decision was spurred by the IMA's nomination of a non-Inuit artist who performs throat singing, which they view as an "insensitive" appropriation of their culture... Ayalik emphasized that there are vast variations between Indigenous cultures, even in communities as close as 50 kilometres apart, and each deserves to be respected."
Better for the culture to die off than for it to be 'appropriated'

The secret cost of pivoting to video - "The strategy, which came into vogue around May 2016, goes like this, with apologies to a famous South Park episode:
lay off most of your writers, who produce stories fast and cheaply for your own website
produce more video, which is vastly more expensive and time-consuming and which only finds an audience on other platforms, like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube
Publishers who pivoted to video have forfeited the majority of their hard-won native audiences in only a year of churning out undifferentiated, bland chunks of largely aggregated “snackable” video. That’s no one’s idea of success... "the publishers that pivoted to video this summer have seen at least a 60 percent drop in their traffic in August compared to the same period from a year ago"... There are four reasons the pivot to video has failed: faulty metrics for measuring the audience; trusting other platforms, like Facebook, to do the hard work of distribution; low-quality video production and weak technological support for video content; and, ultimately, a failure to effectively turn video views into either higher readership or ad dollars... Facebook is claiming to reach millions more young Americans than actually exist in the US... The video that does work online—and drives the thirst among publishers—is about food, lifestyle, and animals"

Why the left can’t lead the yellow vests - "There is a tendency on the left to denounce any shock to the status quo as driven by reactionary forces. The revolting masses are often written off as fascists.That the yellow vests – a mass, largely working-class movement, defying the government and standing up for its interests – makes many on the left, at best, wary and, at worst, scornful is a damning indictment indeed."

SAS may make entry tests easier for women - "The SAS is reportedly considering changes to its notoriously difficult entry tests to ensure women have a fair chance of making the grade."
Funny, we were told that letting women in wouldn't result in standards dropping

Your Child Is More Resilient Than You Think - "The logic seems to be that some Brown students' belief in the existence of a rape culture in America is based, at least in part, on their own lived experience of sexual assault. If, during the debate, McElroy were to tell them that America is not a rape culture, she could be taken to be saying that their personal experiences are "invalid" as grounds for their assertion.Illustrating concept creep and the expansion of "safety" to include emotional comfort, the student quoted above and some classmates attempted to get McElroy disinvited from the debate in order to protect her peers. That effort failed, but Brown President Christina Paxson announced that she disagreed with McElroy and that at the same time as the debate, the college would hold a competing talk in which students could hear about how America is a rape culture without being confronted by different views.The competing talk didn't entirely solve the problem, however. Because students could still be retraumatized by the presence of McElroy on campus, the person quoted above worked with other Brown students to create a "safe space" where anyone who felt "triggered" could recuperate and get help. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members purportedly trained to deal with trauma.The threat wasn't just that painful personal memories might be reactivated; it was also that people's opinions would be challenged. One student who sought out the safe space put it this way: "I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs."... young adults are not candles. They are antifragile, not fragile. Research shows that is true even of victims of violence and those who suffer from PTSD. Studies show that most people report becoming stronger, or better in some way, after suffering through a traumatic experience.That obviously doesn't mean we should stop protecting young people from potential trauma, but it does mean that the culture of safetyism is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature and of the dynamics of trauma and recovery. It is vital that people who have survived violence become habituated to the ordinary cues and reminders that are inevitably woven into the fabric of daily life. Avoiding triggers is a symptom of PTSD, not a treatment for it. Cognitive behavioral therapists treat trauma patients by exposing them to the things they find upsetting—at first in small ways, such as imagining them or looking at pictures. By activating their fears, they help their patients grow accustomed to the stimuli. In fact, the reactivation of anxiety is so important to recovery that some therapists advise their patients to avoid using anti-anxiety medication while undertaking exposure therapy... A culture that allows the concept of "safety" to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences they need to have in order to become strong and healthy... The result may be similar to what happened when we tried to keep kids safe from exposure to peanuts: a widespread backfiring effect in which the "cure" turns out to be a primary cause of the disease."

Military Lessons Learned from the Battle of Wakanda - "The world is blessed that Steve Rogers never made it past captain. The Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War is a master class in how not to use an infantry battalion"

Look at the phone in your hand – you can thank the state for that | Rutger Bregman - "For years, Moore’s law has been almost single-handedly upheld by a Dutch company – one that made it big thanks to massive subsidisation by the Dutch government... A few years ago the economist Mariana Mazzucato published a fascinating book debunking a whole series of myths about innovation. Her thesis is summed up in the title – The Entrepreneurial State.Radical innovation, Mazzucato reveals, almost always starts with the government. Take the iPhone, the epitome of modern technological progress. Literally every single sliver of technology that makes the iPhone a smartphone instead of a stupidphone – internet, GPS, touchscreen, battery, hard drive, voice recognition – was developed by researchers on the government payroll. Why, then, do nearly all the innovative companies of our times come from the US? The answer is simple. Because it is home to the biggest venture capitalist in the world: the government of the United States of America... True innovation takes at least 10 to 15 years, whereas the longest that private venture capitalists are routinely willing to wait is five years. They don’t join the game until all the riskiest plays have already been made – by governments"
On the libertarian myth that government should just get out of the way, and that it always hurts, not helps

This bicentennial, let's take a more nuanced view of colonialism - "As a political economist, I am used to conducting a comparative institutional analysis, which just means looking at how social, economic and political structures change and evolve across time and place. This leads one to the realisation that colonial experiences differ markedly.One factor explaining the difference would be the varied strategies of rule used by the Western colonial powers. It would be a historical mistake to conflate the colonial experiences of Hong Kong and Singapore, for instance, where the predominantly Chinese population for the most part flourished under the British, with that of the French Indochina, Dutch East Indies and the Belgian Congo, where repression was rife, and atrocities commonplace.This means that in certain circumstances, Western colonisation can leave a positive legacy. In fact, the institutional economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, authors of the famous book “Why Nations Fail”, wrote in their journal article "Colonial Origins of Comparative Development" that in areas where disease environments were favourable, Europeans established pro-growth institutions like private property and the rule of law.These eventually contributed to economic success, whereas in other areas, extractive institutions persist, trapping societies in poverty over time.Of course, it also bears remembering that imperialism and colonisation are not solely Western phenomena. Japan colonised Taiwan in 1895, Korea in 1910 and other parts of Asia in the early 20th century. The Ottoman empire, based on Persian, and not Western culture, spanned more than five centuries and covered a large swathe of territories.Once we peer farther back in history, instances of imperial power projected from one society to another are aplenty... former British colonies tend to be more economically successful than other counterparts. The United States of America, once a British colony, has today become a hegemonic imperial power, of sorts... Significant segments of Hong Kong society also expressed fondness for British rule during the 1997 handover. Other former colonies in the Anglosphere include even Jamaica and Botswana, two success stories in a continent that has typically fallen behind... The historian Niall Ferguson put this best: “Without the spread of British rule around the world, it is hard to believe that the structures of liberal capitalism would have been so successfully established in so many different economies around the world.”"
Naturally, he got slammed for saying colonialism wasn't unashamedly bad

Half of foreign nationals in Tokyo experience discrimination, survey shows - "In the survey conducted by the Anti Racism Information Center, a group organized by scholars, activists and university students, 167 of 340 respondents including students said that they have suffered discriminatory treatment such as being told not to talk in a language other than Japanese. Some working as retail shop cashiers said customers asked for Japanese cashiers, according to the face-to-face questionnaire survey conducted in February and March in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. Among them, a Nepalese man working at a drugstore said one customer told him that they did not like to see foreigners working as cashiers and asked to be served by someone else.A Chinese respondent who works at a convenience store said that a colleague told the respondent not to speak Chinese when the respondent was asked for directions by a Chinese-speaking customer. There were also cases where foreign nationals had apartment rental applications rejected. Some said they were denied entry into stores, but none of the respondents took their cases to the public offices that deal with such issues."
Given that they provide actual examples of discrimination, this is more credible than surveys which just ask people if they think they've been discriminated against.
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