"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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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Links - 5th December 2019 (2) (Tolkien)

The People of Middle-earth: One Ring to Rule Them All - "From humble beginnings as a mere trinket bartered in a game of riddles (see the original Hobbit), the Ring grew in power and influence until it did indeed include all of Middle-earth in its simple band of gold. “One Ring to rule them all” wasn’t just meant to sound intimidating—it was hard truth. Even Sauron couldn’t escape the confines of its powers. It was his greatest weakness."

Tolkien was ‘racist’ to orcs?! Sci-fi author echoes dank memes, totally unironically - "Because everything is racist in 2018, a US sci-fi writer has blasted JRR Tolkien for his portrayal of orcs in the Lord of the Rings. He claimed they were simply misunderstood, comparing them to today’s migrants and refugees... Science fiction and fantasy author Andy Duncan, however, thinks this is all a bit... problematic.“It's hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others”... "I can easily imagine that a lot of these people that were doing the dark lord's bidding were doing so out of simple self preservation and so forth,” he added, ironically echoing the ‘just following orders’ defense that Nazi war criminals used at Nuremberg.Rather than drive Sauron’s armies back from the walls of Minas Tirith with sword and spear, Duncan argued that Gandalf the White (supremacist?) and the leaders of men and elves should simply have let them in. After all, the orcs probably brought great cuisine and some much-needed cultural enrichment to Gondor... Whereas President Donald Trump wants a wall to deal with border-jumpers and rock-throwers, the Denethor administration had to contend with armored war-trolls and trebuchets raining severed human heads down on Gondor’s terrified population.Still, if the modern media had been around during the War of the Ring, what would they have made of Tolkien’s heroes’ last stand against the Orcish horde of Mordor? Bigotry? Racism? Shameless elven supremacy?Bizarrely, Duncan’s argument actually sounds like the #orcposting memes - which use the world of Tolkien to mock the modern left - taken at face value. If liberal journalists existed in Middle-Earth, the orcposters joked, surely they would have pointed out that #notallorcs are responsible for acts of radical Orcish terrorism. There may have even been long-read  think-pieces justifying the orcs’ behavior as noble cultural traditions. This is not the first time Tolkien and his fantasy magnum opus have come under fire for “racism,” either. In 2002, amid the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, cultural studies professor Dr. Stephen Shapiro wrote that “Tolkien's good guys are white and the bad guys are black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde.”Some Tolkien fans have responded to Duncan’s claims by arguing that the orcs were the actual racists, using Tolkien’s letters and the novels themselves as proof."

'Lord of the Rings' Slammed for Perpetuating Racism through Depiction of Orcs - "I think that it is important to point out that orcs are A) not people and B) not real, so starting some sort of social-justice movement over their treatment is probably the biggest, most idiotic waste of time that I’ve ever seen — and this is coming from an adult woman who spends time playing a game called “Pet Shop” on her phone... the only “dire consequences” that I can see coming from this whole debacle would be the consequences that any thinking like Duncan’s might have on the arts of fiction and fantasy. Think about it: If we’re going to say that the treatment of the orcs in Lord of the Rings perpetuates racism, then we’re also going to have to have a Wizard of Oz without flying monkeys. We’re also going to have to have a Beauty and the Beast without the wolves, a Lion King without the hyenas, and a Jungle Book without the vultures. The whole concept of a fantasy story with evil fantasy villains is actually put in jeopardy by this kind of stupidity. I may not know J. R. R. Tolkien personally (he never returns my calls, because he’s dead), but I can confidently say that he didn’t make the orcs completely evil creatures to advance the notion that some race of humans is completely evil. No, I’d guess that the much more likely scenario is he was trying to make his fantasy story as scary as possible, and he realized that the nature of fantasy gave him the freedom to do exactly that. After all, what’s more frightening than a large swarm of completely evil, irredeemable creatures? If the orcs were just misunderstood, if they had redeeming qualities and maybe volunteered at their local animal shelter in their spare time, then the story just wouldn’t be as frightening or captivating as it is when they’re completely evil"

Why does the Left hate Tolkien? - "It’s interesting that some of Tolkien’s earliest fans were the hippies of late 60s and early 70s. Their enthusiasm came as quite a surprise to the crusty old professor, but there is in fact a place where the borders of traditional conservatism meet those of the pacificist, anarchical Left – because both share a distrust of over-centralised, overbearing power.But perhaps that’s also why other elements of the Left dislike Tolkien. At key points in its history, when it could have embraced its anti-authoritarian, decentralising tendencies, the Left has gone the other way – replacing the hierarchies of the old order with an equally hierarchical new order. Whether it was the ‘democratic centralism’ of the communists, the well-meaning bureaucracy of the social democrats, or the foreign interventionism of the Blairites, the Left in power has always taken up the Ring… and tried it on for size."

Master of his universe: the warnings in JRR Tolkien’s novels - "The narrative of The Lord of the Rings and the “legendarium” of The Silmarillion and other writings are presented as a set of imaginative structures in and through which people can think and feel with the same consistency, intelligence and growing wisdom as they did through the stories of Olympus, Troy, Asgard or the Arthurian cycle. This is not an entertainment. It has to take itself seriously – which explains why Tolkien had no time for his friend CS Lewis’s Narnia. Narnia was a world that characters could drop in or out of; it was cheerfully eclectic in its use of mythical and legendary raw material, and the stories were narrated with a good deal of the tongue-in-cheek waggishness of the great Edwardian children’s writers whom Lewis loved. For Tolkien, all this was embarrassingly trivial... the story repeatedly reminds us that all this is taking place in a post-heroic age: the great days of elves and humans are over, and the elves are on their way across the sea, never to return. For all the triumph of the king’s return, some things can never be restored. Straightforward fortissimo heroics are rare and often ineffectual. Back in the Shire at the end of the book, the young hobbits, Merry and Pippin, enjoy a grand reputation as champions against the forces of darkness; but the focal figure of Frodo (not, in the book, a youth at all but – like the exiled king, Aragorn – a taciturn middle-aged figure) fades from popular view and suffers physically and mentally as a result of his earlier struggles. Second, throughout the narrative, “noble” figures succumb to temptation, are corrupted by passion and ego, and have their judgement clouded by partisan loyalty... The dynamic of the relation between Frodo, his servant Sam, and Gollum – surely one of Tolkien’s most disturbing and original creations, at once monstrous and pathetic – is one of his subtlest achievements. He deals with complex emotional rivalries, with the “homosocial” intensities of patron and client, or master and servant relationships – which seem a long way from our contemporary social or sexual politics, but which still offer illuminations about power, projection and desire. In short, one thing that Tolkien does not do is to tell his story as though conventional heroics solved anything at all... not enough readers reflect on the fact that at the crucial moment of the story, Frodo himself fails: he gives way to temptation, a temptation of genuinely apocalyptic implications. We have seen him wrestling with the addictive power of the Ring, and can understand how smaller yieldings finally make this culminating disaster possible.... The work is ultimately a fiction about how desire for power – the kind of power that will make us safe, reverse injustices and avenge defeats – is a dream that can devour even the most decent... Some, including Michael Moorcock, have accused Tolkien himself of implicit fascism because the story ends with everyone going back home and order being restored. But this is a travesty of the narrative’s logic. The return home is a return to a bitter conflict with exploitation, malice and petty tyranny. And, as we have seen, the whole story is haunted by memories of loss, awareness of fallibility and, above all, scepticism about anyone’s fitness to wield absolute power. Tolkien’s work is indeed more than just “fantasy”"

JRR Tolkien’s orcs are no more racist than George Lucas’s Stormtroopers - "They are a metaphorical embodiment of wickedness – his equivalent of Star Wars’s Stormtroopers or the ghosts in Ghostbusters. Just as significantly, given Tolkien was an officer in the First World War, they are the manifestation of the nightmare of mechanised war... it wasn’t as if in the Lord the Rings he placed his “Westernised” characters on a pedestal either. The great warrior Boromir is unmasked as weak and opportunistic. The hobbits, early on in particular, are as much feckless as steadfast –and many retain to the end a selfish naivety. Saruman the White – the closest in the novels to a Merlin-like archetype –is revealed to have a soul as rotten as a barrel of apples left in the sun for a week.Nor should it be forgotten that one of Tolkien’s motives for writing Lord of the Rings was to furnish England with a national mythology of its own – the equivalent of the Norse sagas, the Irish tales of the Fianna and the bed-hopping and limb-lopping of Greek legend... Every myth cycle and box office brand requires heroes and villains and demands they be etched essentially in black and white. For all their pretence towards nuance, even the Marvel Universe and the Harry Potter saga ultimately abide by these same rules (Marvel’s Thanos might be a melancholy evildoer – but his heart is still as black as the void from whence he came). "

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms — HUSSEIN ABOUBAKR

"On the evening of September 11, 2001, Cairo time, I watched on TV as Americans were being terrorized by the sight of two towers set to blaze. The following weeks, the atmosphere around me in Muslim Egypt was that of joyous festivities. My parents, my teachers, and my imams were all pleased by the well-deserved punishment Allah brought upon the infidels. TVs broadcasted images of people across the Muslim world expressing joy, some even handed out candy in the Palestinian Territories (Jordanians reportedly also did). As a child, I rejoiced like all the adults, as an adult I agonize over the memory. Why did my parents and my school teachers, who are not terrorists nor are they violent people, have no moral objection to such terrorism against Americans? Why did we hate them? The answer lies in the history of the deadly alliance between Saudi money and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and its toxic impact on Arab culture...

To find the origin of contempt held in the collective Muslim loathing ofthe west, one needs to understand the Muslim view of western civilization as well as history itself. To understand the former, one need not turn but to the main theologian of militant Islamism, Sayyed Qutb himself. Qutb spent two years in the United States between 1948 and 1950. His writings about that period are characterized by deep resentment and a very negative view of the United States. For Qutb, America was the ultimate personification of western decadence and western moral degeneracy. The lack of traditional sexual morality and the near absolutism of freedom of speech were among his chief complaints, complaints which are still echoed today by the majority of Muslim scholars. American materialism and emphasis on individual liberty are seen, sometimes legitimately, as a threat to the social cohesion, spiritual well being, family structure, and collectivism of Muslim societies. This is the truest meaning of the iconic George Bush line “They hate us for our freedoms.” In this sense, the hatred for America is not for what it does, but for what it is.

The Muslim view of history is of no less importance. Historical awareness in the Muslim world is much deeper and much more important than it is in the western world. References to early and ancient history are very common in public discourse. Being a product of the Egyptian state curriculum, I received instruction in a painfully detailed fashion in the history of the crusades as well as imperialism. In Muslim collective consciousness, the medieval hostility of the crusades was transferred unto European colonialism, and later unto American hegemony. The American world order is seen as nothing but the continuity of the historical rivalry between the House of Islam and the House of War as it appears from the referring to Americans as “crusaders” in Islamist literature. The first Iraq war, for example, is viewed by Americans as an American intervention on behalf of a Muslim nation to protect it against the aggression of Sadam Hussein. However, in the Muslim world, it is generally viewed as  Christian aggression on a Muslim nation. This is the most problematic aspect in the relationship between the west and the Muslim world as it is very poorly understood by the west.

The rise of nation-states in the Muslim world in the 20th century is generally viewed in the west as the end of the old world order, but this superficial change is yet to penetrate into Muslim collective consciousness. There is no international organization of protestant cooperation in which the state leaders of the UK, Scandinavia, Germany, and the US meet to express solidarity. There are no summits for Hindu or Buddhist nations. There is no Catholic world league. There are, however, Muslim ones. Christian or Catholic nations do not try to act as a bloc in the different bodies in the UN, Muslim countries do. The Muslim world is profoundly Muslim in a way the western world stopped being Christian. Islam in this sense serves not just as a religion, but as a pan-Islamic identity that sees the world through a binary prism.

This very strong sense of identity also generates one of the most profound grievances against the west which were in their totality incurred by the United States as the current “leader of the infidel world.” In a bin Laden tape released in October 2001, he mentioned the “humiliation and disgrace” Islam has been suffering for the past 80 years. Westerners were clueless but the average Muslim listener immediately picked up on the reference; the end of the historical Islamic Caliphate and the division of the Muslim world into nation-states by European powers... A sense of collective victimhood combined with cultural religious adherence -- even without religious Islamic education, led to the Arab world’s celebrations on September 11, 2001. Sadly, in a world where entire societies are opposed to critical thought, such tragedies are perceived through a distorted lens, in which the most evil of actions can be interpreted as heroic."

Links - 5th December 2019 (1) (Chick-Fil-A)

Protesters at New Toronto Chick-fil-A Outnumbered by Customers, 100 to 1

Reading Chick-fil-A outlet to close in LGBT rights row - "A US fast-food chain will cease trading at its first UK outlet amid a row over donations to anti-LGBT groups. Gay rights campaigners called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, which opened its first branch at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading on 10 October.A spokeswoman for the centre said "the right thing to do" was to not extend the restaurant's lease beyond the "six-month pilot period". Chick-fil-A said its donations were purely focused on youth and education."
Clearly the only choice liberals let you have is whether to get an abortion

Chick-Fil-A Trades Adoring Christian Fans For Outraged Mob That Won't Be Appeased Until Their Every Demand Is Met | The Babylon Bee - "Cathy said the Christian fans have been great, but it's boring just having loyal fans who support you through thick and thin, and he'd much rather have fans who stage die-ins and cancel you when you don't cave in."Sometimes you just want to be loved by a group that protests you for years and calls you a bigot," he added, shrugging. At publishing time, a source had confirmed that Chick-fil-A was paid a sizable bribe of thirty pieces of silver to defund the Christian organizations."

Chick-fil-A denies capitulating to LGBT activists; Christian groups won't be excluded from donations - "Amid reports that fast food chain Chick-fil-A was halting donations to Christian groups, the restaurant's foundation is maintaining they are philanthropically restructuring, not caving to political correctness in pursuit of higher profits... "Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger. No organization will be excluded from future consideration – faith-based or non-faith based," the spokesperson said, noting "I also wanted to add that Chick-fil-A will not be opening on Sundays.""

Don’t be such a chicken about Chick-fil-A | The Spectator - "America’s third-largest restaurant chain opened its first British outlet earlier this month. But after not much more than a week the Oracle Shopping Centre announced that it was not intending to renew Chick-fil-A’s lease past its present six-month trial period. A local paper slightly histrionically claimed that the restaurant’s opening had ‘bitterly divided’ the people of Berkshire. In fact all that happened was that some local gay rights groups including Reading Pride announced that they were going to demonstrate outside the shop... Chick-fil-A has become part of that trend of our times: the politicisation of absolutely everything. Specifically Chick-fil-A has become one of those tests of political virtue in America. At the start of this decade the owners of the business were found to have made a set of donations to ‘family values’ organisations in the US. These included the Salvation Army and other groups who were accused of harbouring opposition to gay marriage. The family owners of the Chick-fil-A franchise are Christian and run their business as a Christian business, paying workers roughly twice the national average, giving to Christian causes and remaining closed on Sundays. They also say in their corporate mission statement that Chick-fil-A’s intention is ‘to glorify God’. And if you cannot see how the production of chicken nuggets is either here or there to the creator of the universe then we’ll just have to put that into the bucket marked ‘things that other people think that we may not think ourselves’.  Unfortunately this last attitude has become increasingly unpopular in modern America. And as is so often the case, a bad American idea rarely stays within American borders, instead bursting out and becoming the norm everywhere else. So the idea has spread that you cannot give business to people who do not precisely share 100 per cent of your own views. A trend exacerbated by the fact that whereas it used to be quite hard to find out whether a particular business was entirely aligned with your own ideological world view, today the necessary shaming can be done by absolutely anyone. In August it was discovered that Stephen Ross, the chairman of the parent company of the high-end Equinox Fitness gyms, had held a fundraiser for Donald Trump. Of course Trump is the President of the United States and one of only two people likely to be running in the next American presidential election. Meaning that quite a lot of people must like him, vote for him and raise money for his campaigns.  But accepting that this may be the case offers no opportunity for grand-standing or bullying. So after the Equinox revelation, a range of celebrities and others announced that they could not possibly push weights or fall off a yoga ball in a gym whose parent company was chaired by someone not in alignment with their own political positions. That episode once again showed how vulnerable even the smallest form of intimidation makes companies in an age whose interconnection was meant to make us more free... As though it could appease anyone, Chick-fil-A tried a little of this over the past decade. It never said it had been wrong all along and actually loved gay marriage. So far as I know it never gave a donation to any minority ethnic transgendered dance community. But it did regularly and generously donate not just to the usual foodbanks and other charities but to LGBT film festivals and a ‘Pride picnic’ in Iowa. It didn’t exactly beg for its corporate life, but it did suggest that it would be nice if it could have one.  Well, in Britain at any rate it was not to be... tolerance is becoming a one-way street and the street is global."
Amusingly a lot of liberals online claimed that this was the free market in action, showing that boycotts worked - i.e. they were utterly ignorant of why Chick fil-A was not going to continue operating in the UK
Of course, if the free market boycotts a gay charity... good luck to it


Escape The Echo Chamber - Posts - "1969: Stonewall - We're fighting for our liberty
2019: We're unfriending anyone who likes Chick-Fil-A
On the "myth" of the slippery slope and that it's all about tolerance

Chick-fil-A Makes More Per Restaurant Than McDonald's, Starbucks and Subway Combined … and It's Closed on Sundays - "Chick-fil-A only operates 2,225 restaurants. That’s less than one-sixth as many as the top-three earning restaurants -- less than half as many as the rest of the franchises ahead of it. Of the top-50 earning restaurants, Chick-fil-A ranked 21st in the number of units...
Could it be that closing its doors one day a week actually helps Chick-fil-A make more money, not less? Here are three reasons why that might be the case.
    Closing creates a craving. It’s like the old saying: “You never know what you have until it’s gone,” and sometimes, when you want Chick-fil-A on a Sunday and can’t have it, it only makes you more likely to get it on Monday.
    It helps attract better employees. When S. Truett Cathy founded Chick-fil-A, he wanted employees who would stick around for the long haul. According to a piece in The Washington Post, Cathy used to tell applicants, "If you don't intend to be here for life, you needn't apply." By allowing employees to have a day off -- to go to church or an NFL game or simply live their lives -- Chick-fil-A can create a healthier environment and provide better service to its customers.
    Its customers appreciate the mindfulness. While many customers find Chick-fil-A problematic due to Chairman Dan Cathy’s stance on same-sex marriage, many others also appreciate that the company gives its workers a break. As S. Truett Cathy once said, “We aren't really in the chicken business, we are in the people's business.”"

Monday, December 02, 2019

Links - 2nd December 2019 (2)

Malcolm Gladwell's 'Talking to Strangers' Doesn't Say Much - "his attitude to social science remains unquestioning. When he encounters a study published in a journal with a complicated name, he defaults to swallowing it whole. At times he approaches self-parody. Just follow the footnotes... Gladwell often builds his arguments from other peoples’ sketchy statistical manipulations and the far-fetched results he’s managed to cull from social-science journals. The data, taken uncritically, served to buttress anecdotes that were intended to dramatize some general truth about the human animal. What’s new in Talking to Strangers is that Gladwell doesn’t use these bits of pseudo-science to point to any larger lessons. It seems he’s no longer trying to explain much of anything. By book’s end, the best he can do is counsel a sense of realism about what we can and cannot know—a kind of epistemological modesty... Talking to Strangers can also be seen as an advance for the author—an unexpected step in the right direction. Rather than offering made-up rules and biases and effects, Gladwell has chosen to issue a plea, asking that we recognize how difficult it is for us to understand one another. Of course, if Malcolm Gladwell had practiced epistemological humility for the past 20 years, he would have sold millions fewer books."

Imam of Peace on Twitter - "I sat in front of Tommy for over an hour. He had EVERY opportunity to attack me, but didn’t. He was actually interested in what I had to say even though he disagreed with most of it. Let’s disagree peacefully and move on. “Far-Right Extremist” is a lie—He’s actually a Liberal."

Couples who have sex weekly are happiest: More sex may not always make you happier, according to new research - "Although more frequent sex is associated with greater happiness, this link was no longer significant at a frequency of more than once a weekthese findings were specific to people in romantic relationships and in fact, there was no association between sexual frequency and wellbeing for single people... Sex may be more strongly associated with happiness than is money... there was a larger difference in happiness between people who had sex less than once a month compared to people who had sex once a week than between people who had an income of $15,000-$25,000 compared to people who had an income of $50,000-$75,000 per year... There wasn't a strong link between sexual frequency and overall life satisfaction"

Sexism vs cultural imperialism - ""Does physician gender have a significant impact on first-pass success rate of emergency endotracheal intubation?" and showed the abstract which began,
    It is unknown whether female physicians can perform equivalently to male physicians with respect to emergency procedures...
The first thing that struck me was the author affiliations - both are associated with hospitals in Seoul, South Korea... It hardly seems a stretch, therefore, to assume that female Korean doctors experience persistent sexism in their work. And here we have a doctor at the beginning of her career trying to tackle that sexism by providing incontrovertible evidence that she and her female colleagues are every bit as capable of performing a life-saving procedure as her male colleagues... They spent 3 years (2013-2016) collecting data and it's taken until now to get it analysed and through peer review to be published. This isn't something cobbled together one night over beers.It finally gets published online, gets spotted by someone on Twitter and all hell breaks loose. No matter the cries of people who try to provide context. it's apparently been decided that the paper is sexism at its worst and must be stopped.So now we have a woman at the start of her career who was probably incredibly proud that she’d not only got a paper published, but in an international journal and on a subject that matters to her and her colleagues.  Her paper might even reduce the sexism they face every time they perform an intubation. And she’s worked with an established male researcher who has used his position of authority to help guide this paper to publication because he’s aware that the sexism in Korea is rife and needs challenging. These are two people doing good work that should be celebrated and applauded.But instead we have this... Feminists who support equality and want women to enter into traditionally-male fields have forced a woman at the beginning of her career to withdraw a paper from publication because it wasn't framed the way they wanted. This paper could have been the ammunition female physicians around Korea needed to shut their sexist colleagues up when they attempted to perform an intubation but instead they'll have nothing... Just because it's published in an American journal doesn't mean the primary audience is American and to impose American moral frames is cultural imperialism. No one has disputed the evidence, only the way it was framed."
Apparently in science there are questions that you're not allowed to ask - even if the answers are politically correct

U.K. Politician David Smith, Advocate For Gender Neutral Bathrooms, Charged With 9 Counts Of Child Sex Offenses - "According to a report published on July 15th, 2019 on the BBC, the 30-year-old Smith resigned from the Conservative party when the allegations first appeared, but he’s claiming that he’s innocent.Smith stated that the charges against him are “spurious” and that he will fight them, telling the media outlet... it looks like this is yet another entry for the SJW Sexual Misdonduct master list, which seems to grow at a steady clip each month."

Policewoman who revealed the truth about Rochdale sex gangs breaks her silence - "On July 7, 2005, four home-grown terrorists had exploded bombs in London, killing 52 people and injuring almost 800. The last entry on the Augusta database had been made on July 6 — and the operation had been shut down the following month. To the police, I believe, revealing the extent of child grooming of white girls by Muslim men would have been akin to adding petrol to an already inflammatory situation.By shutting down the operation, the police could avoid accusations of Islamophobia and the threat of riots on the streets... There was a lot of boasting from the abusers about ‘chilling with white girls’. Indeed, looking back, I believe strongly that we should have brought in a ‘racially aggravated’ element to the investigation. There was no doubt these girls were being targeted for their ethnicity — and the perception that white girls are ‘easy’... My heart ached for Ruby as she named the men and identified where they’d taken her. At one address, they kept a list of 20 names on the back of the door. Each man would tick a box to say he’d had sex, and then leave cash in a paedophile ‘honesty’ box for use of the premises... Only one white girl was abused at a time, no doubt because a lone child is more vulnerable and easier to control. There are also no witnesses should she one day decide to cry rape."

MAGGIE OLIVER reveals what happened after she exposed the Rochdale grooming gang - "one of the Operation Span officers came out of the meeting and walked over to my desk. ‘I can’t believe it, Maggie,’ she said. ‘They say they’re not going to use Amber any more.’‘What!’ I looked at her with astonishment.‘They’re saying she could undermine other witnesses,’ she continued. ‘I honestly can’t believe it.’Unfortunately, I could. The police already had form on pulling back from prosecuting Asian paedophiles.By ignoring what Amber had said on tape [the tapes], and all the evidence to back up her allegations, they’d hit on a convenient way to reduce the number of Asian defendants.Why? Because the people at the top perceived the ethnicity of the offenders and the low status of poor white girls as a toxic mix. I’d go further: by putting fewer Muslim defendants in the dock, the police calculated they’d be less likely to incite accusations of Islamophobia.After six months of work, after pursuing Amber on the direct orders of senior officers, after all the gold-plated assurances we’d given the sisters that they could trust us this time — well, here we were again.Yet Amber’s evidence made it impossible to pretend that there wasn’t an epidemic of abuse in Rochdale. How could I, as a police officer, live with that knowledge?... ‘senior officers make the decisions, and as a detective constable, you do as you’re told. Simple as that. You carry out orders — and if you can’t do that, then maybe you’re in the wrong job.’I couldn’t help thinking back to a recent speech by the Manchester Chief Constable, in which he’d said the police should always ‘do the right thing’ and ‘challenge policies when we think they are wrong’.That was precisely what I was doing, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere.It was at this point that I had a light-bulb moment: my loyalty, I realised without a shadow of doubt, belonged to the children. And so I started raising my concerns with everyone I could think of, including the Chief Constable himself. He replied with a bland email. In the end, my only recourse was to go through the police’s grievance procedure.Among the things I pointed out in my complaint was my belief that Manchester police were ‘knowingly failing in their duty to properly investigate horrendous crimes . . . and as a result we are allowing offenders to escape justice and failing to protect the most vulnerable in our society’.The verdict? ‘No case to answer.’... Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, there was a horrific development.The Crown Prosecution Service had belatedly realised that they did need some of Amber’s evidence for the trial, after all. Unfortunately, they had alienated her to the point where they knew she wouldn’t help.So they did something utterly inhumane. They listed Amber as an offender so that some of what she’d said on tape could be used in court. To cap it all, they didn’t even tell her.This meant Amber couldn’t have access to legal representation and had no chance of defending herself. I’d never heard of anything like this in my life; nor has any lawyer I’ve spoken to since."

Bishop to spray holy water over city from helicopter in mass exorcism of 'demons' this weekend - "A Catholic bishop will spray holy water over an entire city from a military helicopter in an attempt to conquer the demons he believes are plaguing it.Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya will perform the mass exorcism for the Colombian seaport of Buenaventura during the city’s annual patron saints’ festivities."

Meet Wrinkles the Clown, the Real-Life Pennywise Who Scared Kids Into Behaving - "In 2014, a couple of fed-up parents in southern Florida paid Wrinkles the Clown to hide under their unruly daughter’s bed. Wrinkles was to scare her so that they could spend the rest of her young life threatening to bring him back if she ever put another toe out of line... “No one was hiring me when I was just a regular clown”"

If you love milk chocolate, but don’t like dark chocolate, you actually like sugar more than chocolate. : Showerthoughts - "If you like pickles but dont like cucumbers you actually like vinegar more than cucumbers."
"If you like roasted chicken but not raw chicken, you actually like the heat from your oven more than chicken."

martin lucky charms jr on Twitter - "The cool part about the increasing popularity of both the clinical language of abuse and astrology is that we’ve created a world where you can be accused of gaslighting by someone who thinks the planets told them to cheat on you"

Karen McGrane on Twitter - "Unpopular opinion: your just-for-fun flirtation with astrology apps is normalizing belief in anti-scientific bullshit that undermines important, life-and-death public health and policy debates."
"@seldo Unpopular opinion: hating on astrology is masculine distaste for female-coded interest in emotions and psychology which feeds misogyny that denies women access to scientific spaces"
"Everybody I know who talks about astrology is a gay man so that interpretation has never occurred to me."

Does pizza protect against cancer? - "We analyzed the potential role of pizza on cancer risk, using data from an integrated network of case-control studies conducted in Italy between 1991 and 2000. Cancer sites were: oral cavity and pharynx (598 cases), esophagus (304 cases), larynx (460 cases), colon (1,225 cases) and rectum (728 cases). Controls were 4,999 patients admitted for acute, non-neoplastic conditions to the same hospital network as cases. Odds ratios for regular pizza consumers were 0.66 (95% confidence interval, CI = 0.47-0.93) for oral and pharyngeal cancer, 0.41 (95% CI = 0.25-0.69) for oesophageal, 0.82 (95% CI = 0.56-1.19) for laryngeal, 0.74 (95% CI = 0.61-0.89) for colon and 0.93 (95% CI = 0.75-1.17) for rectal cancer. Pizza appears therefore to be a favorable indicator of risk for digestive tract neoplasms in this population."

Mark on Twitter - "The world in 2019
Women have penises, men have periods
Temperature change is a climate crisis
Real socialism has never been tried
Authoritarianism is liberalism
You cant be racist to white people
Democracy is voting till you get the right result
Disagree? You're a Nazi"

【 奇正武術論壇 】 - "左鈎拳" (funny animated GIF)

on Twitter - "I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You, as a black man, cannot be pro black while dating/marrying/procreating with non black women. It cannot be. These rules do not apply to black women because the men outside the race who date them are surrendering privilege."
How convenient. You'd almost think this was working backwards from a conclusion

卧薪尝胆

I excerpted this in "所谓“君子报仇,十年不晚”" (to which I only just added the title today), but the original website is now down, so I now mirror the full story, thanks to the Internet Archive:

卧薪尝胆

公元前496年,吴王派兵攻打越国,被越王勾践打得大败,吴王也受了重伤,临死前,嘱咐儿子夫差要替他报仇。夫差牢记父亲的话,日夜加紧练兵,准备攻打越国。

过了两年,夫差率兵把勾践打得大败,勾践被包围,无路可走,准备自杀。这时谋臣文种劝住了他,说:“吴国大臣伯喜否 贪财好色,可以派人去贿赂他。”勾践听从了文种的建议,就派他带着美女西施和珍宝贿赂伯喜否 ,伯喜否 答应带西施和文种去见吴王。

文种见了吴王,献上西施,说:“越王愿意投降,做您的臣下伺候您,请您能饶恕他。”伯喜否 也在一旁帮文种说话。伍子胥站出来大声反对道:“人常说‘治病要除根’,勾践深谋远虑,文种、范蠡精明强干,这次放了他们,他们回去后就会想办法报仇的!”这时的夫差以为越国已经不足为患,又看上了西施的美色,就不听伍子胥的劝告,答应了越国的投降,把军队撤回了吴国。

吴国撤兵后,勾践带着妻子和大夫范蠡到吴国伺候吴王,放牛牧羊,终于赢得了吴王的欢心和信任。三年后,他们被释放回国了。

勾践回国后,立志发愤图强,准备复仇。他怕自己贪图舒适的生活,消磨了报仇的志气,晚上就枕着兵器,睡在稻草堆上,他还在房子里挂上一只苦胆,每天早上起来后就尝尝苦胆,门外的士兵问他:“你忘了三年的耻辱了吗?”他派文种管理国家政事,范蠡管理军事,他亲自到田里与农夫一起干活,妻子也纺线织布。勾践的这些举动感动了越国上下官民,经过十年的艰苦奋斗,越国终于兵精粮足,转弱为强。

再说吴王夫差自从战胜越国后,以为没有了后顾之忧,从此沉迷于西施的美色,过着骄奢淫逸的生活。他又狂妄自大,不顾人民的困苦,经常出兵与其它国家打伏。他还听信伯喜否 的坏话,杀了忠臣伍子胥。这时的吴国,貌似强大,实际上已经是走下坡路了。

公元前482年,夫差亲自带领大军北上,与晋国争夺诸侯盟主,越王钗践趁吴国精兵在外,突然袭击,一举打败吴兵,杀了太子友。夫差听到这个消息后,急忙带兵回国,并派人向勾践求和。勾践估计一下子灭不了吴国,就同意了。公元前473年,勾践第二次亲自带兵攻打吴国。这时的吴国已经是强弩之末,根本抵挡不住越国军队,屡战屡败。最后,夫差又派人向勾践求和,范蠡坚决主张要灭掉吴国。夫差见求和不成,才后悔没有听伍子胥的忠告,非常羞愧,就拔剑自杀了。

启示:夫差放虎归山,又沉迷于骄奢淫欲的生活,而越王勾践发奋图强,吴国的失败早已注定。所谓“君子报仇,十年不晚”其间的含辛茹苦,值得大家细细体味。

Links - 2nd December 2019 (1)

Why Are American Houses So Big? - ".S. houses are among the biggest—if not the biggest—in the world. According to the real-estate firms Zillow and Redfin, the median size of an American single-family home is in the neighborhood of 1,600 or 1,650 square feet. About five years ago, Sonia A. Hirt, a professor of landscape architecture and planning at the University of Georgia, was working on a book about land-use patterns in the U.S., and when she tracked down the average size of dwellings for about two dozen countries, the U.S. came out on top. Her comparisons were rough because she’d cobbled together her data from various sources, but she found that American living spaces had a good 600 to 800 square feet on most of the competition. Looking just at the average size of newly built houses—as opposed to an average for all houses in a country, which is a smaller number—Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are on par with the U.S.; the averages for new houses in these countries approach or exceed 2,000 square feet. These same four countries have the most rooms per household occupant of 40 mostly wealthy countries studied by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development... It’s not that the U.S. has large houses because it has more land than other countries do. “People intuitively often think that this is the explanation … because America is such a big country,” Hirt told me. “Well, this is true, but Russia is a big country. Kazakhstan is a big country. Space itself doesn’t really make people do one thing or another.”Government policies, however, do... “[A] nation of homeowners, of people who own a real share in their own land, is unconquerable,” Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1942. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a nation of homeowners must own big houses, but a slew of policies—from the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934 to the zoning mandates of individual towns and cities—fueled the growth of suburbs, and in turn the growth of the houses of which they were composed. Many houses in postwar suburbs—such as those in the famous preplanned Levittowns—were actually quite modest, at roughly 850 square feet, says Dolores Hayden, a former professor of architecture and American studies at Yale. But over the course of the 20th century, government policy, the invention of cheaper, mass-produced building materials, marketing by home builders, and a shift in how people regarded their houses—not just as homes, but as financial assets—encouraged ever larger houses... One key difference is that America’s period of suburban expansion (which, it’s worth noting, largely excluded whole categories of Americans) coincided with the uptake of the automobile and the development of a more connected network of highways. Being able to drive farther from a city center meant cheaper land, which meant more space and bigger houses... She added that there seems to be a fascination with “newness” in the U.S., whereas Europeans tend to be more content “recycling [buildings] and therefore living within the spatial parameters of the past.”... Perhaps a fondness for space helps explains why Australia and Canada—both former British colonies with some cultural roots similar to those of the U.S.—also tend to have really big houses...  the median size of a newly built house in the U.S. has risen as the average number of people per household has declined, such that the average number of square feet per person in the median new home nearly doubled from the 1970s to the 2010s."

How Boris and his cabinet broke the left - "Since becoming PM, Johnson has been called a ‘fascist’ and has been accused of leading a ‘far-right’ administration. Calling Johnson a ‘fascist’ and labelling his new cabinet ‘far-right’ doesn’t only trivialise the suffering of those who experienced the brutality of fascist regimes — it is also an odd way to describe a liberal Tory like Johnson. While fascist dictators of the past systematically oppressed and brutalised minority groups, Johnson has long supported an amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants and has just removed the government’s cap on new migrant arrivals. He has also handed two of the great offices of state to ethnic-minority ministers: Sajid Javid is now chancellor and Priti Patel is home secretary. Javid, of Pakistani-Muslim origin, and Patel, of Gujarati-Hindu stock, are part of a diverse cabinet which also includes Alok Sharma as international development secretary and Rishi Sunak as chief secretary to the treasury. But this development was also greeted with rage. Had Johnson selected an all-white, all-male cabinet, he would have been absolutely hammered by the left. But his appointment of non-white cabinet members was also derided. It was dismissed by the likes of Kehinde Andrews, a commentator and professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, as ‘window dressing’. According to Kerry-Anne Mendoza, editor-in-chief of the Canary, the black and Asian MPs serving in Johnson’s cabinet are ‘turncoats of colour’. By being Tories with non-white skin, they are legitimising ‘oppression’... This is nothing but vile bigotry. Ethnic-minority conservatives are increasingly being subjected to slanderous attacks from the left. Instead of being congratulated for reaching the highest offices of state, the likes of Javid and Patel are derided as ‘coconuts’, ‘bounties’, ‘turncoats of colour’ and ‘Uncle Toms’. They are accused of being traitorous upholders of ‘white privilege’. One of the worst responses came from Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal. Gopal asserted that ‘Asian Toryism’ is primarily based on ‘anti-blackness’. According to her, ‘Asians have a good line in white supremacy’... if ‘Asian Toryism’ is based on anything, it is a belief in economic self-sufficiency, a positive approach to integration and a deep love for family. It has nothing to do with ‘anti-blackness’ or racism of any kind... Mirza is a vocal critic of the British model of multiculturalism for its championing of difference over cohesion. She has also called out misogynistic behaviour and patriarchal structures within migrant communities.But for the left, it seems that ethnic-minority achievement is only worthy of celebration if it fits within the left’s own agenda or narrative... There is another reason why the likes of Mirza, in particular, will be targeted by the more regressive sections of the left. It is because their personal life stories undermine the left’s prevailing narrative of ethnic-minority victimhood... For all of his many flaws, Johnson is a welcome break from the stale, lacklustre and uninspiring leadership we have recently had to endure as a country. The PM’s confident, optimistic, inclusive brand of patriotism will go down well with many voters – including those who do not usually vote Conservative. In sharp contrast, the British left increasingly offers very little apart from divisive negativity and personal attacks against anyone who challenges the politics of grievance and victimhood. The left’s divisive identity politics and hysteria could play right into Johnson’s hands. The wing of British politics which supposedly celebrates diversity is increasingly hostile towards diversity of thought. And our politics is much poorer for it."
Maybe Gopal thinks blackness is about welfare dependance, non-integration and single parenthood

Boris should scrap our archaic Sunday trading laws, and let people choose when to shop - "The Sunday Trading Act 1994 came into force 25 years ago this weekend, allowing shops to open but restricting the opening times of larger stores – those over 3,000 sq ft – to a maximum of six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm... The current rules were supposedly designed to protect small, family-run stores from the growth of the major supermarket chains. They have done no such thing. The supermarkets have moved on to the street corner anyway, and towns are awash with their “Express”, “Local” and “Little” stores, designed to get around the rule on square footage. And consumers have paid the price. The big retailers’ smaller shops charge up to 11 per cent more for the same family shopping basket compared with their larger stores. Some items are more than twice the price... During the 2012 London Olympics, the Government was so embarrassed by the archaic Sunday trading laws that they were suspended for an eight-week period. Visitors, tourists and British shoppers were free to shop at a time of their choosing, with no harmful side-effects. In fact, sales rose 3.2 per cent compared with the previous year for those two months... When the coalition Government tried to liberalise Sunday trading in 2015, it was thwarted by the votes of Scottish Nationalists, seeking to deny shoppers in England and Wales the same freedoms that Scots already enjoy... Even in over-regulated France, shops in designated tourist zones in Paris have been allowed to open on Sundays since 2009. The current Sunday trading laws do not preserve any valuable cultural aspects of our way of life. They can make it harder to get to church and to serve a traditional family Sunday lunch at home with fresh produce... The argument that people need a day off is valid. But in today’s society, that doesn’t always have to be a Sunday. More and more people are in work Monday to Friday and so can only shop at the weekend. A poll for Open Sundays found that 64 per cent were in favour of a permanent extension of Sunday trading hours. The Sunday economy also gives those who cannot work on weekdays the chance to earn some money – from students wanting to keep down their student loans to those who care for elderly relatives or children. Sunday shopping can actually help to sustain modern family life. Children inclined to spend time on screens alone are brought out of the house to participate in an enjoyable family experience. Not all shops would opt to open at all hours of the day, even if the law allowed them to. It is a matter of choice for shopkeepers, as it should be for individuals as to whether they choose to shop on a Sunday."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Monday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "There's a fascinating study out from the International Monetary Fund about the real nature of foreign direct investment... 40% of all foreign direct investment around the world is not real investment at all. It's just multinationals shuffling money around between various subsidiaries in order to lower their tax liabilities. This is an amazing study, because politicians paying so much attention to foreign direct investment when it's really all just tax management"

The Lazy Susan, the Classic Centerpiece of Chinese Restaurants, Is Neither Classic nor Chinese - "Sixty years ago, Chinese food got a makeover. Its new look—in American restaurants, at least—revolved around a single piece of furniture, the “Lazy Susan” rotating table. Through the 1950s, many Chinatown restaurants had a reputation for being dingy and cramped, but the introduction of lazy susan tables was the key element in a transformation toward refined and spacious restaurants... The first known mention of a Chinese revolving table, and the source of much speculation about the Lazy Susan's origins, comes from the 700-year-old Book of Agriculture. Its author, Wang Zhen, was a Chinese official who helped pioneer movable type. He faced the challenge of organizing thousands of individual Chinese characters (alphabetic languages, by contrast, require about 100). Wang's solution was to make the table move, so the typesetter didn't have to. In this sense, it worked very much like a tabletop Lazy Susan."

Disney+ ruins classics with new trigger warnings - "I adored the story of Cinderella as a child. The prospect of having a man so in love with me that he’d crisscross the Kingdom searching for my size 6 ½ foot, was heady stuff. It never occurred to me that Cindy was oppressed by the patriarchy or that she should just buy her own darn pair of shoes.Similarly, I was untroubled by the fact that Snow White was victimized by her stepmother or lived with a variety of short men to whom she was not married. While the scenario seemed to present a negative view of both blended families and female sexuality, my 8-year-old psyche survived unscathed. I emerged from that Disney-centric childhood with happy memories and a deep appreciation for the power of imagination.Sadly, the current employees of Disney must think of me as some aberration... Disney deserves credit for not censoring the films and cartoons, and tailoring them to meet 21st century sensibilities. John Legend and Kelly Clarkson recently recorded an updated version of the Christmas song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in recognition of the #MeToo movement and out of a desire not to offend those who said it conjured images of rape. But instead of improving the flirtatious holiday standard, they sexualized it even more by adding the line “It’s your body and your choice,” making what was a clever back-and-forth between two adults into a primer on consent...   Isn’t it at all possible that the little girl who sees the handsome prince on bended knee with the crystal slipper will both sigh with delight and one day grow up to be president? Must every childhood memory be tweaked so that it fits the evolved narrative?  Can’t we just enjoy the movie?"

‘Adorkable’ or rapist? Uncovered documents challenge Zoe Quinn’s abuse story (but #MeToo won’t care) - "In 2012, feminist activist Zoe Quinn called her romance with game creator Alec Holowka “adorkable”. Seven years later, she decried the same relationship as abuse. The troubled Holowka was then disgraced and took his own life.There is something touchingly naïve about journalists at Canadian alternative news site The Postmillenial going on an old-fashioned internet deep dive to compare Quinn’s contemporaneous accounts of her relationship with indie developer Holowka, with her current description. As if they assume that her credibility with the mainstream media and #MeToo campaigners rests on facts, the psychological plausibility of her narrative, or personal trustworthiness, consistency and objectivity.Nonetheless, it all makes for interesting –if somewhat macabre– reading now... actual details do not matter. Even by virtue of these emails it had been possible to somehow prove what her plentiful social media detractors had accused Quinn of. Namely, that she had opportunistically misrepresented a failed but not strictly abusive dalliance from years ago, in a bid for attention and sympathy, and thus pushed a man she knew was emotionally unstable towards suicide, the path that Holowka chose on August 31, shortly after being dismissed from his latest project due to the allegations.What then? Within the paradigm of “Believe all women” that is embraced by #MeToo, it changes nothing. A woman can be in a consensual coupling, but the moment she decides that it wasn’t such, she is the victim... In fact, there seems to be a perverse and tribal tendency here – the more toxic the person on the movement’s own side is, the harder they get defended, as a matter of principle. Despite countless accounts of Quinn’s dubious conduct and integrity – regardless of what happened in Winnipeg - each time she gets into a new pickle her supporters double down. Inconvenient facts are tossed away or aggressively countered.One example: most of the mainstream media has stayed awkwardly silent on Holowka’s suicide (despite covering the allegations). A column in Wired bemoaned “male fragility” – the feminist equivalent of the “snowflake” putdown. Apparently, Holowka’s very real death was about keeping women “hostage” to male feelings. That hardening, that lack of empathy, that cruelty is only possible for decent people when you are no longer aware of your biases. At best what we will get now is a treatise on how questioning the victim is just another form of male abuse."

ZeroHavens - "It's absurdly hilarious that Zoe Quinn's mere tweet accusations killed a man and now she's being given a job writing a comic about bringing death to people."
On her being hired by DC Comics to write "The Infected: Deathbringer

Black Sheep Memes - Posts - "Woman: "you keep on hurting me. you need to stop"
Ex: "I'm sorry I'm a piece of shit.. I should kill myself."
Woman with demon eyes: "FUCK your Emotional manipulation!""
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