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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Links - 4th July 2020 (2)

The National Museum's Police Bicentennial Exhibition Is A Crime Against History - "Long story short: Singapore was very unsafe then, but very safe now. Along the way, we got radios, Gurkhas, FBI-style shooting and Crimewatch.This would be okay if I was attending a Singapore Police Force Career Fair, but I feel that a bicentennial history exhibition hosted by the National Museum should be held to a higher standard.Ultimately, my disappointment boils down to this: SPF200 does a disservice to Singapore’s history, by painting everything in shades of black and white, order and chaos, violence and safety—by reducing the fairly complicated issue of law and order into the usual story of upward progress. Even its title ‘Frontier Town To Safest City’ recalls the ‘Fishing Village To Thriving Metropolis’ cliche... I get it. It’s the SPF’s exhibit. It’s their birthday. There is limited space and budget. However, birthdays are not just celebratory occasions, but also a time to take stock and reflect, no? As it stands, the show is an exercise in strategic amnesia."

What to expect from the 2020s: the world’s big thinkers make their predictions | The Sunday Times Magazine | The Sunday Times - "The big mistake is to think that the future will simply be an extension of the present. As the author of The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, points out with his idea of “negative forecasting”, it is almost certain that the most recent developments are the most likely to fail. They have not been tested by time. The iPhone in your pocket still seems like modern magic, but so did the lowly iPod not that long ago...
Everyone wonders why year after year nothing changes for minorities, but that is why. We are posturing ourselves as progressive while ignoring the real issues. I think that once the mechanics of Brexit are out of the way, there will be a dialling down of hostile identity arguments and a return to a traditional British muddling along. I’m not particularly optimistic about the US when it comes to racial integration, because I don’t think it cares much itself. It’s a country founded on a frontier myth. My expectations of Britain, however, are high. This is the only country in the world where a sizeable mixed-race population has come about as a consequence of love rather than coercion and slavery...
You want to write a book that survives at least two or three decades? The instinct is to write something that is geared to the future. No. Make sure the contents are relevant both today and at some well-defined point in the past — say 30 years ago. The book is thus likely to be relevant in 30 years. Conversely, if you want the book to die, make sure it would have been of no interest to someone in the past...
The hiatus in manned spaceflight exemplifies that when there’s no economic or political demand, there’s a big lag between what is actually done and what could be achieved... Later this century, thrill-seekers may establish “bases” independent from the Earth. But don’t ever expect mass emigration. It’s a dangerous delusion to think space offers an escape from Earth’s problems. We have to solve these here. Coping with climate change may seem daunting, but it’s a doddle compared with terraforming Mars. No place in our solar system offers an environment as clement as even the Antarctic or the top of Everest. There’s no “Planet B” for ordinary risk-averse people."

Professor’s online students prefer when he teaches classes as anime girl - "In a bid to get students to pay attention in online classes, a college professor in Shanghai has been transforming himself into different digital avatars for live-streamed and recorded lessons"

Gabriele Galimberti photographs children with their toys in his book Toy Stories: Photos of Children From Around the World and Their Favorite Things (PHOTOS).

Grandmothers Posing with their Signature Dish - "Regina Lifumbo, 53 years old – Mchinji, Malawi
Finkubala (Caterpillar in tomato sauce)"

Satoshi Uematsu: Japanese man who killed 19 at disabled facility sentenced to death - ""I am aware that this is an outrageous thing to say," he wrote, adding that he dreamed "of a world where disabled people with severe difficulties socializing as well as severe difficulties at home are allowed to be peacefully euthanized.""

Japanese man who killed 19 at centre for disabled sentenced to death - "Police said Uematsu, described by neighbours as polite and helpful, was motivated by a deep-seated hatred of people with disabilities. He told police after his arrest that society would be better off if disabled people “disappeared”.... After his arrest, Uematsu expressed no remorse, telling the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper that people with mental disabilities “have no heart”, and “there’s no point in living” for them. “I had to do it for the sake of society,” he said of the attack."

‘Don’t call back those numbers’: Toronto woman warns others of call-back phone scam - "Since mid-December, Sharon Leamy has received as many as 15 calls a day from international phone numbers, all part of a call-back scam commonly known as Wangiri fraud.“It started December 16 — I started getting calls from strange numbers that I didn’t identify and they were just constant,” she said.“I would block them and as soon as I blocked them, I would get a new call from a different country.”Leamy said the calls became so frequent, she thought the only way to stop them was to call back and have them remove her number... “There was a woman speaking very softly – almost in an apologetic tone and in a foreign language – she kept talking and talking and talking. I realized at that point that this was a scam.” Leamy called her phone company and they informed her that she had been charged $10 for a 10-second phone call.“There doesn’t seem to be any boundaries. They call and wake me up in the morning and I have had to learn to turn my phone off at night”"

Are Women of Color Above Reproach? - "In the wake of President Trump’s controversial tweets about congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayana Pressley, most of the criticism has been that Trump’s comments were racist, sexist, etc., etc. Because it's far easier to launch canned accusations than to address the substance of what he said... Are we really supposed to accept the notion that AOC, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley have done nothing to deserve criticism? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accuses America of running concentration camps, and lies about conditions at migrant detention centers for political points. Ayanna Pressley, while speaking at the left-wing Netroots Nation conference on Sunday, said that Democrats don't need "any more black faces that don't want to be a black voice." Ilhan Omar has made repeated anti-Semitic remarks, including the accusation that “Jewish money controls Congress,” and on Monday refused to condemn al-Qaeda. Back in May, Rasida Tlaib bizarrely stated: "There’s always kind of a calming feeling [...] when I think of the Holocaust.” These people may have been elected by their districts but they are an embarrassment to the U.S. Congress. These women are not part of the mainstream of America. They believe America is evil, they are racialists and anti-Semites. Let’s stop pretending they are garden-variety freshman members of Congress. Irrespective of their race and sex, they’re dangerous women who have been propped up by the media as de facto leaders of the Democratic Party. The power they have can’t be overstated. Criticism from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forced Joe Biden to flip-flop on a number of issues. Yet any time they are criticized, the knee-jerk response to hurl accusations of racism and sexism at the one criticizing them. Recently, we’ve seen this happen internally in the Democratic Party, when AOC accused Nancy Pelosi of racism, with similar accusations being leveled against Joe Biden from Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. It’s the default attack setting of contemporary Democrats, even against their own. This is what happens after years of the left capitalizing on outrage culture and victim culture in order to increase and maintain their political power.  This is why they want minority and female candidates to run for office. Not because of some noble push for diversity, but to put out candidates they feel are untouchable because to attack them is to invite accusations of racism or sexism. Let’s not forget that the left spent eight years telling us that if you disagreed with Barack Obama you were racist. Then when Hillary ran for president, if you didn’t like her you were sexist. As someone who has written two fact-based exposes on Barack Obama’s presidency I know very well how this works. I’ve been called a racist regularly for a decade. The left learned a while ago it’s easier to just hurl accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/xenophobia/fill-in-the-blank-ophobia than it is to debate issues on merit.  We can’t talk about immigration without accusations of xenophobia. We can’t talk about religious liberty without accusations of homophobia. We can’t talk about biological differences between male and female without accusations of transphobia. This is what fascism in America really looks like in 2019: Silence the opposition with accusations of bigotry. Trump knows this game, and clearly won’t be intimidated by it"

Highway operator blames errant contractor for ‘Muslim toilet’ sign - "A sign purporting to restrict toilets to Muslims at a rest area on the East Coast Expressway (Phase 2) was installed by a contractor without the knowledge of operator LPT2 Sdn Bhd"

Nick Brown Smelled Bull - "A butterfly graph, the calling card of chaos theory mathematics, purporting to show the tipping point upon which individuals and groups “flourish” or “languish.” Not a metaphor, no poetic allusion, but an exact ratio: 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. Cultivate a “positivity ratio” of greater than 2.9-to-1 and sail smoothly through life; fall below it, and sink like a stone.The theory was well credentialed. Now cited in academic journals over 350 times, it was first put forth in a 2005 paper by Barbara Fredrickson, a luminary of the positive psychology movement, and Marcial Losada, a Chilean management consultant, and published in the American Psychologist, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the largest organization of psychologists in the U.S.But Brown smelled bullshit. A universal constant predicting success and fulfillment, failure and discontent? “In what world could this be true?” he wondered...  Friedman worries about “faddish things” in his field. As a disciple of the humanistic psychological tradition, he was chagrined when positive psychology erupted onto the scene in what he calls “a burst of negativity.”In 2000, writing in the American Psychologist, Martin Seligman and fellow positive psychology pioneer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote that humanistic psychology failed to “attract much of a cumulative empirical base,” that it, “spawned myriad therapeutic self-help movements,” and that the legacy of the movement is “prominently displayed in any large bookstore,” with the “‘psychology’ section (containing) at least 10 shelves on crystal healing, aromatherapy, and reaching the inner child for every shelf of books that tries to uphold some scholarly standard.”... By the late winter of 2012, Friedman, Sokal and Brown were all in touch via email and working together towards a draft of what would become “The Complex Dynamics of Wishful Thinking.”The three men brought different skills to the plate. Brown was the outsider, the instigator, who, knowing no better, dared to question the theory in the first place. Friedman provided psychological expertise and played a diplomatic role, helping guide the paper towards publication. Sokal was the finisher, the infamous debunker with the know-how needed to dismantle the theory in hard, mathematic language.The article they wrote not only took to pieces Fredrickson and Losada’s 2005 paper, but also two earlier articles written or co-written by Losada. Taken together, Brown, Sokal and Freidman tallied a litany of abuses, which they related, one by one, in painstaking detail. “We shall demonstrate that each one of the three articles is completely vitiated by fundamental conceptual and mathematical errors”... "Why is it that no one before Nick—and I mean Nick was a first semester part-time Master’s student, at, let’s be honest, a fairly obscure university in London who has no particular training in mathematics—why is it that no one realized this stuff was bullshit? Where were all the supposed experts?”“Is it really true that no one saw through this,” he asks, “in an article that was cited 350 times, in a field which touts itself as being so scientific?”"
So much for those (e.g. many Singaporeans) who would dismiss Nick Brown based on the fact that he didn't know anything and hadn't accomplished anything

The Coronavirus and Right-Wing Postmodernism - Scientific American Blog Network - "Kuhn. He is the philosopher of science who argued, in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that science can never achieve absolute, objective truth. Reality is unknowable, forever hidden behind the veil of our assumptions, preconceptions and definitions, or “paradigms.” At least that’s what I thought Kuhn argued, but his writings were so murky that I couldn’t be sure. When I interviewed him in 1991, I was determined to discover just how skeptical he really was.Really, really skeptical, it turned out... I brought up AIDS. A few skeptics, notably virologist Peter Duesberg, were questioning whether the so-called human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, actually causes AIDS. These skeptics were either right or wrong, I said, not just right or wrong within the context of a particular social-cultural-linguistic context. Kuhn shook his head vigorously... As if to demonstrate his own views on how language obfuscates, he endlessly qualified his own statements. He seemed incapable of saying something in an unambiguous way. But what he was saying was that, even when it came to a question as seemingly straightforward—and vitally important!--as whether HIV causes AIDS, we cannot say what the “truth” is. We can’t escape interpretation, subjectivity, cultural context, and hence we can never say whether a given claim is objectively right or wrong."

Continuity in Dutch Slavery in Indonesia

Slavery and cultural creativity in the Banda Islands

"In his influential edited volume Slavery, bondage and dependency in Southeast Asia, Anthony Reid suggests that long-term slave-based systems of production were absent from agriculture in Southeast Asia, and had an ambiguous presence at best in other areas of economic activity. The argument he presents suggests that indigenous slavery in the region merged into a 'kind of serfdom or household membership', a situation that continued after the arrival of Europeans whose slave-holding practices were profoundly shaped by the local traditions they encountered: 'slavery in the European colonies owed more to the Southeast Asian environment than to European legal ideas'. Reid's analysis is insightful and his conclusions persuasive. But he also notes a single exception to this general picture: 'the Dutch perkenier sys tem for producing nutmeg in Banda with hundreds of slave labourers on large estates'. The nutmeg estates of the Banda Islands, in eastern Indonesia, provide a rare unequivocal example of a slave mode of production in Southeast Asia, and its sole instance in an agricultural context. The islands have a similar status within estab lished accounts of slavery in Asia more generally. While some degree of geographic and historical variation is usually acknowledged, European slavery practices in Asia are regarded as distinct from colonial slavery in the New World, where European sys tems were imported wholesale. Against this conclusion, the perkenier system in the Banda Islands has been described as a form of exploitation 'unheard of in Asia', one that represented a 'Caribbean cuckoo in an Asian nest'. In other words, Dutch nutmeg cultivation in the Bandas constituted a New World style system of slavery operating in an Asian context.

This paper questions these depictions of slavery in the Banda Islands. I contend instead that slavery in the nutmeg estates was consistent with the general picture described by Reid, where 'the Southeast Asian character of slavery always asserted itself. Key traits include the prominence of domestic households in economic and social terms and the existence of spheres of slave autonomy, along with diverse opportunities for manumission. The perkenier system (Dutch perkeniersstelsel) for producing nutmeg and mace was certainly one of very few historical situations where Asian slaves worked on European-owned farms or plantations... One critical shortcoming, of most interest here, was that the Dutch administration failed to isolate slavery in the nutmeg estates from broader practices existing elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago...

Established views suggest the islands were transformed absolutely by the VOC conquest, in which much of the pre-conquest population was killed or driven from the islands to be replaced by imported slaves labouring in nutmeg estates. Bruno Lasker, an important early scholar of slavery in Southeast Asia, refers to the Bandas as the site of an 'iniquitous colonial experiment' whose 'unforeseen legacy' involved the creation of a uniquely out-of-place population, one he characterises as the 'social residue' of colonialism. Yet the bulk of the contemporary population today declares itself to be meaningfully Bandanese, a perspective enacted in part through a range of ceremonial and ritual activities viewed as inherited from the pre-conquest era...

While the Bandas provide a Southeast Asian example of a remnant island population enslaved (in part) within plantation estates, in this case an exotic commodity was not introduced for cultivation; this immediately distinguishes the per ken from both New World plantations and those in late colonial settings in Asia. The Bandanese enslaved in the islands following VOC conquest were cultivating a forest product they had themselves developed for trade many generations before, and doing so in their own lands, now under Dutch authority. The essential method remained much the same, though intensified: an understorey of nutmeg trees protected from strong winds and harsh sun by a semi-closed canopy of larger trees (notably Canarium spp., known locally as kenari). The newly enslaved Bandanese were not simply 'labour' in the perkeniersstelsel - they were the original silviculturalists and traders of the islands whose expertise was recognised and utilised by the VOC. Enslaved Bandanese were deliberately distributed about the islands to make use of their expertise in cultivation and spice production, with several hundred individuals initially exiled to Batavia being returned to the Bandas for this very purpose...

As Roy Ellen notes, 'the political economy of Banda had been transformed, but with the aim of main taining a pattern of production and export that had preceded it'. In short, key elements of the pre-conquest life-world of the Banda Islands remained of vital importance under VOC rule and in fact formed the very focus of the Dutch presence...

Alongside a proportion of the remaining Bandanese, the VOC initially sourced slaves through their established trading presence outside the archipelago (e.g. on the Coromandel and Bengal coasts of India). But it was not long, however, before local markets and suppliers were emphasised, especially in the eastern archipelago, where slaves became available in increasing numbers. The slave trade in the Maluku region - where the Banda Islands are found - was longstanding, consisting mainly of people seized in raids on enemy villages. This trade intensified dramatically after the arrival of Europeans, most notably the Dutch...

In practical terms, the Dutch administration in the Bandas seems to have been unable to isolate slavery within the perkeniersstelsel from wider related socio-cultural practices that were long established in the region. Perken boundaries quickly became porous economically, demographically and culturally, as Company-purchased slaves intended for the estates (the perkenslaven) blurred with the privately owned slaves of perkenier households. I suggest that it ultimately becomes difficult to separate the use of slave labour in support of spice production from that which served household economies. At times, the latter even appears to challenge the dominance of the for mer. In this sense the social practice of slavery in the Banda Islands can be said to have eluded VOC control, and exhibits key features that Reid argues were endemic throughout the archipelago and Southeast Asia. In this respect (as in many others), the 'firm grip' the VOC may have sought in the Bandas proved elusive here, as elsewhere.

As noted, Coen's original social vision for the Banda Islands was for an émigré settler-colony dominated by a class of independent Dutch burgers. But a far more diverse society actually emerged in the islands, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, its 'chief inhabitants or burghers were listed as comprising Europeans, Batavians, Ambonese, Ternatens and Chinese, in addition to regular in-migrants including Tanimbarese, Balinese, Butonese and Buginese, and 'many emancipated slaves'. Freed slaves, or mardijkers as they came to be called by the Dutch, constituted a large section of the population of all major settlements in the archipelago. Originally this term referred to manumitted slaves and their descendants associated with the earlier Portuguese presence. Usually Christian converts of Asian (particularly Indian) origin, the group was enlarged during the seventeenth century 'by mestizos and/or migrants from other parts of Asia', many of whom were freed slaves from within the archipelago. Doubtless the mardtjker population of the Bandas had a similar character...

The predominance of the household economy is a major element in Reid's depiction of European slavery practices in the archipelago as more influenced by existing regional patterns than able to impose European ones. The productive activities of slaves in Southeast Asia before the arrival of Europeans were integrated with the domestic or household realm of their owners, a situation that continued with the European presence. For Reid, this forms a clear contrast to the slave mode of pro duction seen in the New World - again, with the exception of the perkeniersstekel...

It appears that perken slaves exercised a degree of autonomy over their gardening activities, a situation that has been documented in contexts of colonial slavery else where. Indeed, standard conceptions of a 'slave mode of production' in the New World are themselves sometimes problematised by historical evidence of slaves culti vating their own food plots and independently selling surplus food. It is highly likely that perken slaves in the Bandas were involved in similar private market-oriented activities (almost certainly so in regard to kenari). In any case, the economic character of their labour cannot be wholly reduced to the production of nutmeg and mace for the VOC...

As with the cultivation of gardens, participation in inter-island trading offered direct benefits to slaves, including opportunities to escape from servitude: '[trading] afforded slaves the opportunity to become both affluent and mobile and a slave-sailor-trader soon earned his freedom or freed himself. Reid highlights the existence of diverse opportunities for manumission as another persistent feature of pre-colonial slavery. He notes that slaves 'often succeeded in buying themselves out of slavery with the money they accumulated in their own time'. That this applied in the Banda Islands once again points to continuities between the shape of slave holding practices in these islands and those elsewhere in the region, notwithstanding the presence of the perkeniersstelsel.

It seems clear that slavery in the Bandas Islands had a far wider significance than supporting intensive production of nutmeg in the perkeniersstelsel. A dense web of relations came to link perkeniers and slaves across diverse realms of social life, inside and outside the perken. Perkenier households became enmeshed with private and per ken slaves not just economically but socially, culturally and demographically, a situ ation that applied to European slave-holders throughout the archipelago. Indeed, Reid suggests that the most common function of European-owned slaves during the earliest period of the European presence involved various forms of 'domestic ser vice', in particular 'to display (and if necessary defend) the wealth and status of the owner'. This provides further evidence of the European adoption of extant Southeast Asian patterns of slavery. Here again, parallels are evident in the Banda Islands...

The VOC itself encouraged mixed marriages in 1633 after abandoning plans to import Dutch women to Batavia, in addition to turning a blind eye to 'irregular unions'. By the beginning of the eighteenth century Valentijn observed: 'there is hardly a single Hollander of any consideration in Java that does not have a concubine'. Reid notes that by the early nineteenth century, the trade in women through out the region 'came to resemble a large-scale "marriage market'", which provided a large proportion of the female population of the British Straits Settlements.

Importantly, the exercise of some level of agency by the women involved should not be discounted. Campbell and Alpers argue that servile labour in both Asia and Indian Ocean Africa often sought to ameliorate their conditions and status by secur ing a position in the dominant society that could be improved over time. If skills in sailing and trading offered such strategic possibilities for male slaves of the perken, concubinage and marriage would have formed potential routes for social mobility open to women, particularly where their children were to be 'born into important families' - which in the Banda context meant the perfcen-holders. Reid stresses con tinuities with pre-European slavery in this realm, observing that opportunities for upward mobility and an easier life appear to have been far greater for women than men...

Indeed, the rarity of slave revolts in Asia (and Indian Ocean Africa) has been attrib uted to the fact that most slaves were women 'often involved in intimate relationships ith their owners, and frequently offered greater opportunity to assimilate into the dominant society than male slaves, they were reluctant to take risks that might damage their children's interests'...

One suggestion in local terms is that labour contracts of this sort were only entered into by people of little social standing - not just impoverished, but lacking recourse to any kin who could assist them. This view sits alongside highly gendered perspectives of labour mobility valorising the exercise of a spiritually potent masculine agency in actively pursuing knowledge (ilmu) and good fortune (rejeki) through self directed travel. By contrast, tales abound of Dutch labour recruiters and their local assistants using dark powers (ilmu hitam) to coerce or trick the contract people into leaving their communities of origin. These recruiters are said to have targeted women in particular, in the street or marketplace, magically robbing them of their normal level of awareness (often using a secret touch). Full consciousness would be restored upon reaching the Banda Islands, at which time their signed contract would be brandished and their situation inescapable. The marked gender imbal ance among contract labour is often represented as a clever Dutch ploy to attract the arrival of free male labour migrants. A local aphorism invariably cited in this context suggests where there's sugar, there're ants' (adagula, ada mir). While such accounts appear rather dismissive of feminine agency, they are also somewhat recup erative of the status of female ancestors, who some suggest may well have been individuals of some status before becoming ensorcelled"

Links - 4th July 2020 (1)

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'The day before I was thinking, what am I going to play?' - "‘Brain surgery. A woman, a violinist is going under the surgeon's knife. But how does the surgeon know that he is not going to do something that could affect the person he's operating on? The woman carries on playing her violin throughout the whole surgery’...
[To the surgeon] ‘You had the kind of minor inconvenience that you were being hit by the bow at various times. And you also had another challenge, that you were worried that she might play something you didn't recognize.’...
‘It was a good opportunity for me to get Dagmar to play all my favorite songs... if we are monitoring Dagmar’s ability to correctly play the notes and the music and the violin, then we need to know that she's doing it correctly, and therefore at least one of the people in the theater, so either myself, my assistant, my anaesthetist, would have had to know the songs that she's playing.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Rob Young - "‘Is the Cayman Islands cleaning up its act?’
‘Relatively speaking. I mean but you need to recognize this is essentially, the Cayman Islands are three islands in the middle of nowhere. They have for 50 years found a way of making a living by selling secrecy to foreigners. That's how they make a living. So essentially, the existence of Cayman as a major financial center is just a function of the fact there are a lot of people who wish to dodge taxes and wish to dodge scrutiny. I mean, there is no other reason to be there. It's a very nice place, but it's also a long way from anywhere and before financial services came along its major industry was turtling.’
‘It's fascinating what is going on in the United State with individual states it seems competing to introduce new tax planning laws as they are called. So is the US becoming a more secretive place for companies and businesses?’
‘This is a really important finding of the index. The US has gone up to number two ahead of Switzerland now. And this is as you say, as a result of places like South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, all of whom are competing very hard to attract the kind of money that used to be in Switzerland. Switzerland has fallen in the index, that money needs somewhere to go. Needs in inverted commas and the Americans are competing hard to attract it and doing very well. And so there is an irony or big irony, which is that the US really led the charge 10 years ago against financial secrecy in places like Switzerland, and were successful. Switzerland has been cracked open in a way it never has before. And but as a response now, Americans are accepting that money and America is a much harder prospect to crack open. There is no big bully geopolitically on the block that can tell the Americans to clean up their act’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Today guest edits: George the Poet - "‘The wonder the number one thing we know from studying the effect of video games on people's real world thinking and behavior is that gamers are more confident in their ability to pick up new skills and are less likely to give up when they're trying to learn something new.’…
‘The game I co created zombies run is a game that you play by going for a run or for a walk in the real world. And we do stories in the zombie apocalypse in your headphones, to encourage you to go further and faster and make the whole business of getting a run in or some exercise in just a bit less boring’...
‘George the Poet describes as moral panic... And this is a shame associated with [computer] games, which isn't so much as when you mention novels. You know, there isn't so much shame is associated with reading.’
‘Yes, well, there certainly used to be shame associated with reading. If you think of Northanger Abbey, that is a novel about a young woman who perhaps has been over sensationalized by these very exciting novels. I agree. I agree with you, the Gothic novels. Yes. I agree with George the Poet that there is a moral panic and that people are saying, oh, dear, what about this art form, this new thing, but I think the thing to know is that people have always said this about new art forms, so novels in their time, at the time that cinema was invented, people were very panicked about what are people doing, going into this strange dark room all together, there's a sort of a, too much intimacy involved in being in this dark cinema place. And who knows what things might go. I mean, the classic one people quote is even under under Plato, we're worried about the effect of learning to read’"

The Job That Will Let You Do Whatever You Want in a Swedish Train Station, Forever - Atlas Obscura - "Each morning, the chosen employee will punch a clock in Korsvägen train station, currently under construction in Gothenburg, Sweden, which will turn on a bank of bright fluorescent lights. Other than that, “the position holds no duties or responsibilities besides the fact that the work should be carried out at Korsvägen. Whatever the employee chooses to do constitutes the work,” reads the job description. The employee can also choose how publicly visible or anonymous they would like to be while on the clock. Eternal Employment is the brainchild of Swedish artistic duo Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby, who often spin real-world economics into giddy, strange new forms. For this project they are investing a prize from from Public Art Agency Sweden in conjunction with the Swedish Transport Administration—about $650,000. This forms the Eternal Employment foundation, which will grow the initial sum and form a board to select and pay the forever employee. Anyone in the world can apply, and “the foundation will be an equal opportunity employer,” Goldin and Senneby say over email. And when the employee retires or chooses to leave, the board will select another. Korsvägen is one of three new underground stations being constructed to alleviate traffic pressure and create jobs in Gothenburg. Already Sweden’s second-largest city, its population is to projected to grow by at least 150,000 by 2035. Goldin and Senneby hope that the job will make the station more than a stopover between one place and another. Eternal Employment is also a response to the way Gothenburg is changing. The home of Volvo, it was once a major industrial and shipping center. In recent decades, it has developed into an arts and entertainment hub, boasting museums, concert venues, and a super-sized shrimp sandwich supposedly inspired by American portion sizes. As Gothenburg’s working class finds itself marginalized, Goldin and Senneby see a job that gives total control to the worker as an act of economic imagination."

Commentary: It's not okay to say 'OK boomer' - "The phrase “OK boomer” has become a catch-all put-down that Generation Zers and young millennials have been using to dismiss retrograde arguments made by baby boomers, the generation who are currently 55 to 73 years old... Comments that relate to a worker’s age are a problem because older workers often face negative employment decisions, like a layoff or being passed over for promotion... When I was an employment lawyer, I heard tons of hilarious stories of things people said in the workplace. But that’s the point: The story ended with a lawyer on the other end of the phone."
Ageism is good when it serves a liberal agenda

Indonesia's wealth gap spurs Muslims to join 'economic jihad' - Nikkei Asian Review - "Some 212 Marts were reportedly closed after they failed to attract customers. Some consumers spoke openly about boycotting the chain over its connection to the protests against Ahok, which they saw as a worrying sign of rising intolerance... The shift comes as conservative groups carrying Middle Eastern strands of Islam wield greater social and political influence. Their ideas are challenging the norms established by local Muslim groups with less-rigid teachings. Indonesians call the trend hijrah, derived from another Arabic word that describes Muslims who leave behind secular and hedonistic lifestyles to adhere to religious tenets.In a recent survey, 80% of Indonesian Muslim respondents said they consider religion "strongly important" in their daily lives, while 19% think it is "important." This is a stark contrast from just 10 years ago"
Is there a clear distinction between piety and extremism?

Hisashi Ouchi, the Victim of Fatal Radiation Kept Alive for 83 Days - "After being treated for a week, Ouchi managed to say, “I can’t take it anymore… I am not a guinea pig”. However, the doctors kept treating him and taking measures to keep him alive, which only ensured a very slow and very painful death."

Why fellow Canadians are joining the thousands of immigrants moving to the Maritimes | The Star - "last year saw a “record high” number of international newcomers head to the Maritimes but it also solidified a pattern that hasn’t happened in decades: people from other parts of Canada are moving to the East Coast... Fenech’s tenure position and marriage to his wife Jill Stewart, “a potato farmer’s daughter,” has anchored him to P.E.I. and made him see himself “as an Islander.” Still, he said he’s never had to give up the things he loved in a big city: The Island has great theatre, a wonderful local music scene, independent cinema and, yes, even employment opportunities... Maritime cities like Halifax, Charlottetown and Moncton are “booming” as larger centres like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have become too expensive for younger people... Those cities have also hit a “sweet spot,” he said, in that all are small enough that it doesn’t take long to commute or access nature and the ocean but are also big enough to have an international airport as well as entertainment and culture amenities... “I’ve been briefly to Toronto and I found how hectic it was and that everyone is rushing. But here while out walking or just jogging I can stop and talk with someone and everyone is happy to learn about you, to learn about your culture, and I feel like that is absolutely great.”

Why Have You Summoned Me GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY - *Cat shows up when can is opened*

Sparkling Wine Starts Coming Out Of Kitchen Taps In Italian Village - "a winery had cocked up and ended up pumping a load of wine into the local water system. That meant that, for a brief time residents were getting a lovely pink liquid spewing forth from their kitchen taps instead of water."

Lucas Lynch - "LGBT+ filmmakers boycott Israeli film festival in solidarity with queer Palestinians"
"The Palestinian Authority just banned all LGBT activities in the West Bank"
"Fabulous "Anti-Zionism" comes at you fast."

Illusion grid shirt by Japanese designer takes unusual approach to solving flat-chested problems - "While the shirt looks perfectly normal from the front, if you look closely enough, the grid is actually an optical illusion."

Kimberly Klacik on Twitter - "I hate when people say President Trump doesn’t act “presidential”. What does that even mean in a country where a man can be a woman, a woman can be a man, drag queens are entertainment for children, kids can transition, Shaun King can be black & Lizzo’s obesity is sexy? 🤷🏽‍♀️"

WealthX Billionaire Census: Majority of world's billionaires self-made - "There are 2,604 billionaires in the world, and 55.8% of them are self-made... Another 30.9% of billionaires made at least some of their wealth themselves, according to the report, while 13.3% inherited their wealth entirely. he data showed a “continuation of the long-term trend in the gradual increase in the proportion of self-made billionaires”... This was “despite a broad weakening of asset markets and more subdued global growth prospects,” which the report says “highlights the growing importance of entrepreneurship in creating and preserving substantial wealth.”... almost all of the current richest billionaires are self-made, from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with a current net worth of more than $155 billion, according to Forbes, to Google co-founders Larry Page (more than $53 billion) and Sergey Brin (more than $52 billion), the 10th and 11th richest respectively... However, overall, the number of billionaires in the world and their collective wealth declined in 2018 compared to the year prior... Of course, even “self-made” billionaires did not succeed alone... Warren Buffett, who founded Berkshire Hathaway and is the fourth richest person in the world with a more than $85 billion net worth, has also spoken about the role luck has played in his success.“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. [Both] my children and I won what I call ‘the ovarian lottery,’” Buffett told Christiane Amanpour in 2010. “I was born in the right country at the right time.”"
Presumably the people who mock the role of luck in success aren't as successful as Buffett, so since they're also the people who say that success makes your words credible we must ignore them

Not so pure after all: Most holy water 'is contaminated with faecal matter' and could be harmful to health - "Many people believe that holy water has healing properties but new research suggests it may actually do more harm than good.Scientists have discovered that 86 per cent of water samples from holy sources contain faecal matter.Austrian researchers also found that church fonts contain high levels of bacteria and that none of the holy springs they studied could be considered safe for drinking from... in every millilitre of holy water there were up to 62 million bacteria. They also found that the busier the church, the more bacteria it tended to have in its font... He recommends that the responsible authorities and priests put up warning signs by the holy springs.Dr Kirschner said that the springs got their healing reputation in the Middle Ages and that things have changed since then.He explained: ‘In those days, the quality of the water in towns and cities was generally so poor that people were constantly developing diarrhoea or other diseases as a result.‘If they then came across a protected spring in the forest that was not as polluted and drank from it for several days, their symptoms would disappear.‘So although in those days they were drinking healthier water, given the excellent quality of our drinking water today, the situation is now completely reversed.’Based on the study’s findings, Dr Kirschner recommends that salt could be added to holy water in fonts to reduce the chance of bacteria thriving, he also suggests that holy water in churches should be changed regularly."

Woman hit, killed by multiple cars on Pa. highway; none stopped, dragging her remains for miles

Marathon du Médoc - "This French marathon has regular stops for wine, cheese, and oysters"

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Links - 27th June 2020

Food And War | HistoryExtra Podcast - HistoryExtra - "‘You refer to Indians and Native Americans in the book’...
‘I think we're in a moment where the words we use are changing… It's still common in some circles to use Indian and I do it myself. It's a term that Native Americans used at the time to refer to themselves. But I think we're living in an era where everyone is just thinking quite carefully about the language that we use’...
‘I'm used to thinking of this idea of hangriness, this sensation of being hungry and angry at the same time. And it's useful to remind ourselves that that's a very modern idea. People in the past expected to go hungry. They expected to go without food. It didn't make them angry in the same way because hunger was part and parcel of everyday life. But during the Revolutionary War, you also had people who refused food, who destroyed animals, who destroyed crops, because that was a more powerful action than accepting foodstuffs from an enemy.’"
Apparently it's good historiography to use anachronistic terms to appease modern sensibilities

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Made in space - "‘There's been some really cool studies have been carried out that show if you give plants more UVB light, they actually make more flavors. So you can enhance the flavor of your herbs and your leafy crops by giving specific light diets to those plants’...
‘In the absence of gravity, plants will actually key in on other sensory systems. And so this is really fascinating. So on Earth, gravity is the main stimulus for plants. The shoots grow up, the roots grow down and they orient on gravity. You take a plant, you turn it on its side, it will reorient, the roots will bend to grow down and the shoots will bend to grow up.’
‘Gosh, I though that has to do with light’...
‘Yeah, you can do all of that in the dark. And the plants still perceive that with no problem… plants are really amazing because they're very plastic in their growth. And so if you take that signal away, their secondary sensory systems, the ones that maybe are still there but aren't quite as important, things like light or maybe nutrients or airflow become really important'"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Massive job cuts at HSBC - "‘Viktor Orban is well known for his hostility to immigration and particularly non European immigration. Is there a sympathy for what the British government is trying to do?’
‘I think there's a political sympathy in terms of sovereignty, reclaiming sovereignty, you know, slogans like this. But in terms of just how to fill jobs, obviously, it's been a big problem. The exodus of the labor force from Hungary, from Poland, from the Baltic states, from Romania. The countries here are hoping some of these people will come back here. Those I speak to and I was talking to people in secondary schools last week, are still pretty much planning to leave. On the other hand, there has been this huge bonanza, really, of all the money sent home. Hungry gets something like 2.5% of its GDP from the EU cohesion funds, but it gets 3.5% from the money sent home from Hungarians working in Britain, Austria and Germany.’
‘And for young people, Nick in Central Europe, are there other more attractive countries to go and work than the UK?’
‘It's difficult to measure what's more attractive. I think one of the things that people have liked about Britain in particular is they feel there's a fair work environment. They're expected to work hard, but the pay is reasonable, certainly compared, two or three times what they would get here in Hungary. And so there is this sort of, almost a love affair with Britain or certainly a positive feeling towards Britain, with why there's been such a disappointment about Brexit and why they would be reluctant to move to another country to find work in future.’"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Coronavirus infects the markets - "‘A new phrase entered the British lexicon this week, in what can only be described as a Twitter storm in a teacup. The row began to brew when the new British Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a photo of himself in front of a huge bag of Yorkshire tea. Note controversial in that you might think. Not least because he is a Yorkshire MP, but you'd be wrong. Politics and tea proved an inflammatory mix. For those on the left triggered by the idea that the tea makers might be backing a party responsible for years of cuts to public spending. The keyboard warriors of Twitter weren't afraid to express that anger on social media directly at Yorkshire tea’...
‘So you're shouting at tea. Okay, this needs a bit of explanation. Yorkshire is famous for liking a good strong cup of tea, and there's a brand of tea called Yorkshire tea. Given that the Yorkshire climate isn't quite like that of the hillsides of Assam, it's not actually grown there, but it said to be a blend that offers a suitably Yorkshire taste. To Yorkshiremen, that's code for: it’s tea that you can stand a spoon up in. We don't do delicate infusions. We like a proper brew. And the brand is like the people. Down to earth, straight talking, and doesn't take itself too seriously. So when Rishi Sunak, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer posted a picture on Twitter with a giant bag of Yorkshire Tea, there was a clear message. I am a man of the people. The problem was, not everyone likes the Tories and some assume that Yorkshire tea had done a deal and was endorsing the Conservative Party. They hadn't. A couple of years ago, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn had also posed with a giant bag of Yorkshire tea. Again, Yorkshire tea had nothing to do with it… One implacable critic, was a woman called Sue. She was furious, and she tweeted repeatedly and at length and nothing the tweeters of Yorkshire tea could do would calm her down, which led to this line. Sue, you're shouting at tea. Suddenly the mood shifted and those five words framed the online storm in a way that captured the truth and made it funny. Sue was shouting at Tea. Within minutes people were planning t shirts with the phrase on it. Yorkshire tea had won. British Twitter is in many ways a distillation of British character. Humour is the British solution to embarrassment. It is also the great leveler, the way we build rapport and the way we win arguments. No one admires you for being rich. They will always admire you for being a good laugh. So if you want to sum up why the tweet worked, it's down to three things. Yorkshire tea was trying its best to be reasonable. It was not condescending or pompous. And it was funny. Poor Sue was caught committing the crime of taking a photo of some teabags, too seriously’"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Julius Caesar - "Julius Caesar could be the ultimate case study for the view that history is made by great men. He extended the borders of Roman power to the English Channel, introduced political reforms that echo down to the present day, and left accounts of it all that are considered high points of the Latin literature...
‘He became a god but not a king... for most of us nowadays, you think, well, a God's a bit higher up than a king. So how did that work?’
‘In the Roman world King is much worse than God. King is, there are such things as living gods. You could see them around in different parts of the Empire in the Greek east. They were used to having monarchs who were also divine, as was Cleopatra. But King was a completely different thing because the whole sort of legend, the whole myth about Rome was that it had been founded as a kingdom, Romulus was a king. But then the Kings had been expelled and the Republic was born through the ancestor of Brutus who had killed the last king. Rome could never have a king again. And the big mistake that, one of the mistakes that Caesar seems to have made is not just to take on some of the attributes of a God, but to take on the attributes of a king. So he was given the honor of being at official ceremonies, being able to wear the old ceremonial clothing of a king: a purple cloak, long red boots, a laurel wreath, which incidentally he liked, because it covered his baldness. But he had all these features that looked as if he was aspiring to kingship… perhaps the last and the most well known, the moment when we hit our Shakespearean play, is the Lupercalia, the fertility festival where three times Mark Antony tries to put a diadem on his head, which is a laurel wreath with white ribbons in it, a sign of monarchy. And three times Caesar refused it because the crowd are crying out against it’"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Valladolid Debate - "‘How did you get to grab this land? You went there as a conquistador, there weren’t many of you. Did you have a piece of paper from the king? What was going on?
‘Essentially, you had a piece of paper from the king, it goes back to Columbus, discovering the land... by right of discovery, the Spanish crown go to the Pope. And in 1493, the Pope gives them a papal bull called inter caetera. And that grants them the land on the right, on condition they evangelize it. And this is important for understanding the encomienda because a lot of what the Spanish do in this period is about evangelization and proving they're doing that. But in practice on the ground, you need a contract from the crown giving you the right to either explore or to conquer or to settle. And there are slightly different kinds of contracts from the crown.’
‘The Pope claims authority over all the land in the world that is not christianized. He owns it and you have to get his permission to move in it.’
‘Not literally owns it, though that is how they behave… it comes into the Valladolid debates, there's a big debate about the right what's called dominion, the right to rule in your own lands. The Pope doesn't claim to have the complete secular right of Dominion, the right to rule everywhere, but he claims to have the right to tell people where they can go and teach the faith. And then there are big debates about the ways it's legitimate to do that. Can you use force or not?… from 1513. To legitimate the conquest you turn up with a with a copy of the requirement… and you read it out, and it says, basically, here's a potted history of the world according to Christianity. God gave the world to the Pope, the pope gave it to the Spanish, the Spanish have given the right to come here to me. Would you accept that and agree to listen to the faith? And if you don't, then we're allowed to make war on you. Now, of course, this is a joke. Often they didn't even understand you... Bartolomé de Las Casas said he didn't know whether to laugh or cry about the requirement, but this was enough to get the thing going. It was considered to be enough, considered to be a legitimating act, something that made your conquest legal, you were actually supposed to do it in front of a notary, someone supposed to write down that you'd fulfilled this requirement'"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Hildegard of Bingen - "Her sense of authorship was overwhelming. And that is why even today, she is like, she is the patron saint of the Die Grünen, the greens in Germany, she is considered to be someone who is impacted on thinking about the environment, you can go to any sort of really, really worthy bakery in Germany and you get Hildegard wort [sp?] which is wholemeal"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Evolution of Horses - "Bigger animals are easier to take out and with climate change, bigger animals are more susceptible to extinction. They evolve more slowly, broadly speaking. So horses are fascinating. The fact that they're still around, that they've survived despite all the odds, think about all the big mammals that went extinct in the ice ages. Horses just sneaked by."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Philosophy of Solitude - "‘Solitude isn't simply being alone. It's an active achievement, a distinctive condition of experience in which one can still the voices of society in the mind, and that allows a form of authentic experience. And that might be keeping company with oneself or it might be an experience of nature or of God.’
‘Are you distinguishing... solitude from loneliness or solitary confinement?’
‘Absolutely. So I think solitude, that is not simply being alone. You might be alone and not be in solitude if you're spending all your time thinking about society or engaging with social questions. I think solitude is normally something chosen. But it might be that if one were in solitary confinement, one might be able to, nevertheless choose that inner experience’...
‘One of the thinkers associated with the Desert Fathers was St John Cassian. What was his approach to solitude?’
‘So he's one of the amazing thinkers of this, this early movement that that John was describing. And one of the things that I love in his description of conferences that he had with many of these Hermit Desert Fathers, in fact, there were also a number of desert mothers but he doesn't discuss them, but we know about them from other sources. Erm, and he describes this amazing story of particularly one of them, another man named John, who had gone into the desert as a hermit and actually the Greek word, our word hermit comes from the Greek for wilderness or desert, and then discovered that in the desert alone, actually he was more preoccupied, both with providing for his material needs and actually with mulling over things that had been said to him, people would come into the desert to kind of marvel at his spiritual achievement and then he would be all puffed up with pride. And so he goes back into a community and actually says, in the community, I'm better able to achieve contemplation because my material needs are provided. And in fact, I'm more humbled. So paradoxically, the solitude of contemplation is better achieved in the monastic community than alone in the desert hermitage… paradoxically, if you become completely isolated, you might inflate yourself, you inflate your ego in a way potentially. That's a kind of danger, recurrent danger of that kind of spiritual practice. And living in a kind of community actually tempers that and allows us to keep the ego in its check so that particularly for religious idea you can be in communion with God.’"

Best of Today - Monday's business with Dominic O'connell - BBC Sounds - "'We did this groundbreaking research that looked at unemployment, precarious work, and the correlation between mental health. And I have to say that the finding is really a bit of a wake up call. Because we can see with the young black men and women, there's a fifth, 58% more likely to be first of all unemployed, at 47% more likely to be in precarious work. And so you can see there that the way it's compounded these racial penalties that are locking people out. And then I guess the third aspect was, is that in this precarious work, there's a greater likelihood that you have mental health issues'...
‘That'll be a very good case you make there for positive discrimination’"
Sounds like they didn't consider which issue the causation goes
I'm sure this will improve minorities' employment prospects

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Monday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "‘What happened in 2010, was a consequence of Facebook's push to create its own operating system. They had this thing called platform and they invited other software developers to create apps that ran on Facebook, because it felt that the whole world would be run on Facebook. And in order to do that, they had to give information of the users to these outsiders, and they were very generous and doing this. And 2010 was the moment they really gave a lot of the data away, because they wanted to push something called Instant personalization, where you would light on someone's website, not Facebook's but all your Facebook world will be there with you. Now in order to do that, when you show up at the website or sign up for an app from one of these developers, they would get not only your information, but the information about all your friends. Things like your friends’ relationship status, their political status, their likes. And what we learned is if someone knows your likes, they would know a lot about you. And so there are certain amount of likes they know more about you. One researcher found than your spouse knows about you’...
[On Mark Zuckerberg] Sometimes you'll ask him something, and he'll give you that which Andrew Bosworth, known as Boz, one of his most loyal lieutenants describes it as Sauron’s Gaze. Basically he could freeze everything in the room. You know, while that those eyes just bear into you, and it seems he's not blinking."

Europe’s Virtues Will Be Its Undoing

Europe’s Virtues Will Be Its Undoing

"We often forget that contemporary Europe was not born, as the United States was, in the euphoria of new beginnings, but in a sinking sense of its own abjection. The crimes of the Nazis affected the entire Old World, like a cancer that had long been growing inside it. Thus, the European victors over the Third Reich were contaminated by the enemy they had helped defeat, in contrast to the Americans and Soviets, who emerged from the conflict crowned in glory. Ever since, all of Europe—the East as well as the West—has carried the burden of Nazi guilt, as others would have us bear the guilt of North American slavery and Jim Crow. It has left us sullied to the very depths of our culture. Isn’t this what the Martinique poet Aimé Césaire contends when he de-Germanizes Hitler and makes him the very metaphor of the white man in general?...

The amazing thing is not that such masochistic theories should flourish, but that they are applauded by so many elites. For a few decades, the Cold War delayed the West’s self-examination, but since 1989 and the inclusion of ex-Soviet bloc countries into a widening European Union, the crisis of conscience has only deepened, and has partially, if not completely, guided political thought. Having scaled unprecedented peaks of barbarity, the Europe of Brussels has decided to redeem itself by privileging moral values over realpolitik... Western Europeans dislike themselves. They are unable to overcome their self-disgust and feel the pride in their heritage and the self-respect that is so strikingly evident in the United States. Modern Europe is instead mired in shame shrouded in moralizing discourse. It has convinced itself that, since all the evils of the twentieth century arose from its feverish bellicosity, it’s about time it redeemed itself and sought something like a reawakened sense of the sacred in its guilty conscience.

What better example of this proclivity exists than Angela Merkel’s embrace of about a million refugees fleeing war-torn Syria in 2015?... Already pre-eminent in Europe, Berlin would call the shots, whether exercising toughness or kindness. Merciless with the Greeks in July, when the Chancellery wanted to eject them from the eurozone, but beneficent with the Syrians in September, it could demonstrate severity or an ever so imperial charity...

Europe sees itself as a sacrificial offering, through which the entire world can expiate its sins. It offers to assume the shame for every misfortune that befalls the planet: famine in Africa, drowning in the Mediterranean, terrorism, natural disasters, they are all directly or indirectly our handiwork. And when we are attacked—by terrorists, for example—it’s still our fault; we had it coming and are undeserving of compassion... Two areas in particular reveal this delusion of sanctity—immigration and ecology.

When it comes to mass migrations, no one seems surprised that “migrants”—a vague all-purpose term—choose to journey exclusively to Western Europe rather than to the Maghreb, the Mashriq, the Gulf States, or Russia. That is because, like everyone else, they know that only in Europe will they find a sense of exacerbated culpability; it’s pretty much assured that they will be able to arrive on its shores, preferably under the gaze of the media, confident of being taken in, or at least listened to...

At a practical level, hospitality cannot be granted as a simple offering to the detriment of national sovereignty. The fear, not of the foreigner, but of the stranger in one’s home, of not being protected by the state, the fear of cultural insecurity and expropriation—these are not reactionary fantasies. How can the welfare state, already overstretched, cope with the costs of retirement benefits and medical care if it must also cater to the needs of new arrivals? In former times, such an influx would have been called an invasion, an occupation, colonization. Today, such pejoratives are forbidden. From now on, it is simply a matter of love and listening and radiant outwardness instead of ugly inwardness. But we are forgetting a simple truism: were it a matter of just a few thousand people, one’s duty to help would be clear. But when we talk about tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, priorities necessarily shift—where there are overwhelming numbers, morale collapses...

Nobel laureate Jean Marie le Clézio denounced the French Republic’s president’s “unbearable lack of human decency” for wanting to distinguish between economic migrants and political refugees. When we know that a majority of those seeking asylum come from Georgia and Albania, however, this is hardly a trivial distinction... Immigration, he writes, strengthens us and enriches us. But this trope of enrichment is peculiar. It suggests that, if left to our own devices, we would be poor indeed, lacking the necessary ingredients for prosperity.

Let us remember that, since 2015, Europe has rescued 730,000 migrants from the Mediterranean. But this fact meets the immediate objection that thousands of others drowned there. In this way, our generosity is turned against us. For having accepted the challenge of migration we have become accountable for every individual who has died at sea. In a strange twist, those who rescue people from the waves have become the executioners...

Today, the migrant has replaced the proletarian and the guerrilla warrior as the new hero of contemporary victimology. He is both the epitome of oppression and the source of our salvation. Every other consideration must fall before him. One isn’t allowed to have one’s own thoughts or entertain any doubts about him, because his wretched condition demands only charity. In the same way that a “racialized” person can never be a racist, the idea that someone wanting to leave his own country to come to Europe could be duplicitous, or lie about his identity or intentions, amounts to a thought crime. Deprecating the European goes hand in hand with idealizing the foreigner, who embodies all virtue. He is at once the persecuted and the redeemer who’s come to shock us out of our comfort and complacency.

Our only duty toward the refugee is to play the solicitous host, the zealous concierge, so that he may save us from ourselves and our shrinking demographics. Without him we’d be vegetating in a retirement home, or like the paralyzed old man pushed about in his wheelchair by a congenial black man in the 2011 hit movie Les Intouchables. Thus, the great nations of Europe have no other purpose than to serve as welcome centers and public lobbies for the world’s unfortunate. Take a look at the 10, 20, and 50 euro bank notes; they all feature arches, bridges, and empty public spaces waiting to be populated by citizens of the world. As Paul Yonnet pointed out in 2006, we want to make immigration the vector of our regeneration; France must become a collaborator in its own transformation...

This movement, we are told, is irreversible. Migrations cannot be stopped. They are written into humanity’s DNA, as stipulated in the Marrakesh Pact, a worldwide agreement on safe migrations signed by 160 countries on December 10, 2018. This document considers migration to be inevitable and beneficial....

According to Novosellof, walls only exist in our imagination, and the states that want to protect themselves behind them will be left more isolated than the people kept outside. What an odd idea: closing the door to one’s home means incarcerating oneself in it!

This is Otherness taken to an extreme. In this way, newcomers are able to dictate European behavior... The more religious practice recedes, the more we abandon ourselves to a kind of goodwill that is as ardent as it is wrong-headed. Chesterton was right: “This modern world is full of old Christian ideas gone mad.” And here we are, since 2013, having adopted the notion of the migrant as Christ figure. We might call this strange mix of passivity and piety altruistic fatalism. Since we can’t stop the influx of migrants, we must enthusiastically embrace them...

To welcome foreigners must we become foreigners in our own home? According to the novelist Marie Darieussecq, yes, we must...

One’s home no longer exists, my home is your home. Just like during the colonial period, the new global individual belongs on no particular soil. We have to dismantle and rebuild our society as if it were a Lego set. The old white European’s hegemony must give way to the richness of diversity. Migrant and minority identity is always positive, and that of the old nations always regressive. It’s not surprising that the people of Europe are unenthused by the reformers’ plans and fairy tales. They have forgotten the basic fact that an offer creates demand. The porousness of our borders, the constant stream of people traffickers, the haste of some rescuers to become service providers and create, via phone signals bouncing off satellites, an “uber-migration” (Stephen Smith)—all of these factors incentivize migration more than poverty or war...

Pulling on heart strings before the cameras is the celebrity’s favorite pastime. What happens to those saved from the sea receives less attention as they grapple with the substantial challenges of assimilating into strange societies, vulnerable to the predatory attention of smugglers, organized crime, and the exploiters of cheap labour. The zenith of goodness risks being transformed into a nadir of indifference when no thought is given to what will become of the survivors.

Let’s not confuse hospitality with world weariness, even when it is dressed up in cheap lyricism. The immigrant, the refugee, is now merely a stick with which we beat ourselves...

In 2018, for example, the human rights defender Jacques Toubon vituperated in Le Monde against the desire of the government to “control migratory movements.” According to him, we’d do better to “create pathways for migrants,” even though there are already legal procedures in place that grant French citizenship to between 100,000 and 200,000 people a year...

To every problem we encounter, we feel a need to offer the most unyielding solution, and then we torment ourselves when we don’t succeed. Another example of this moral maximalism is what we now call the climate emergency...

Ecology, in the sense of legitimate concern about animal suffering and the waste products of progress, has mutated into a doctrine of the Apocalypse. In concrete terms this means that the generations to come have only two options: either widespread death in the near future or the halting of economic growth through some outbreak of unforeseen frugality. This cataclysmic discourse is, however, based on a paradox: the claim that enterprise is in vain, only helps to discourage it. What good does it do to mobilize, to clean our rivers and oceans and lakes, to plant trees and decarbonize the economy, if we are doomed? This doctrine of despair does less to mobilize our conscience than to thoroughly demoralize us.

Those who speak in the name of the planet seek to oppress... Hans Jonas, the spiritual father of German ecologists, explained in his 1979 book, The Imperative of Responsibility, that for industry the party was now over. He called for a hermeneutics of fear, as the only means of jolting us into an acknowledgement of the dangers involved. His advice has been widely heeded. There isn’t a single green movement leader today who isn’t noisily beating the panic drum. We must doubt everything but the worst; we must sweep away all our immediate concerns and face the abominable future ahead of us.

We know the solutions proposed by these prophets of doom... With a straight face, the former green deputy Yves Cochet even proposed bringing back the horse-drawn coaches & ploughs of yesteryear, reducing travel distances, and putting an immediate stop to procreating so as to reduce humanity’s interference with the natural environment. And it goes without saying that we must abandon all fossil fuels—gas, coal, petrol—as well as nuclear energy in favor of renewables. We must voluntarily become poorer, divide our standard of living by 10, and choose a life-saving asceticism over the comfortable indecency of our present lifestyles. Cleverly, the doomsayers locate the end of the world between 2020 and 2030. It’s close enough to terrify us but still far enough away to escape verification. The high priests of disaster don’t want to save the human race as much as they want to punish it. They are calling for the destruction they pretend to fear: humankind—and the European, in particular—is guilty and must pay.

We must be permanently mobilized in the manner of a totalitarian regime to resist this scourge... For the adherents of this way of doing things, there are no actual material stumbling blocks, only enemies and the malevolence of shadowy lobbyists. This blackmail by countdown is furiously topsy-turvy: no achievement is ever enough, the only important thing is what remains undone because time is running out before the punishment of cataclysm befalls us all. We must change our way of life overnight and tolerate no exceptions.

Colonel Louis Rivet was the head of French military intelligence, who tried in vain to alert the military brass to the Germans’ plan to launch a springtime attack in the Ardennes. In a June 1940 letter to his wife, he wrote: “We weren’t defeated, we commit suicide.”...

The European elites, bunkered down in their visions of utopia, have convinced themselves that we must abandon our history... By choosing conscience over power, the Old World risks losing both. It will not only suffer denunciation, it will also succumb to fragility. It will continue to fall short of its moral ideals, but it will be too weak to achieve its lofty ambitions...

Elites wanted to strip Europe’s nations of their particularity and transform the continent into a merely legal entity. But a nation is more than just a contract that haphazardly brings together interchangeable entities. Peoples have strong memories, solid traditions, and they are rising up against Europe in the name of their flouted sovereignty...

It is an inviolable rule that moralists don’t practice what they preach. Open-handed promises are broken as soon as they are made. Tartuffe reigns supreme in this domain. Chaste believers trample on their faith, the friends of the indigent cry crocodile tears, the court disobeys the law it enforces. History is full of preachers and zealots who are caught redhanded after they’ve sworn to live according to their pure principles. As for the celebrities, those paragons of virtue who call upon the people to tighten their ecological belt—they jet themselves around the globe increasing carbon emissions thousands of times more than the average citizen. But, of course, they make up for this by their posturing of living the simple life, like Prince Harry delivering a climate-change speech barefoot, or Greta Thunberg crossing the Atlantic on a luxury sailboat, a journey that will produce four times the emissions of an ordinary flight.

In the same way, the theatrical confrontation between Matteo Salvini and Emmanuel Macron showed that, except for perhaps a slight difference in tone, there is very little to distinguish between the former’s migration policy and the latter’s, for which Macron was vigorously criticized by the NGOs. When a moral imperative takes precedence over any political solution it is even more difficult for a nation or a continent to deal with than for an individual. Without compromise, virtue quickly becomes a nasty behavioral tick, a self-abnegating exhibitionism. The more a democratic entity shows itself to be open and tolerant, the more its enemies refer to it as fascistic and dictatorial. If Europe refuses to countenance the use of force in any of its forms—the military, a common foreign policy—it renounces its own existence. Unless it wants to sink into insignificance, it must stop extending itself ad infinitum; it must live with clear borders. It must become a credible “sheriff,” that can inspire fear when it needs to.

It should be pointed out that since Europe was rebuilt in 1945, it has been the receptacle of all the chimeras of modernity: the late Roman Catholic priest Raymond Pannikar called upon Europe to do its part, for example, to de-occidentalize the world. George Steiner demanded it rediscover the poverty and austerity from which its culture was created. For Jeremy Rifkin, it must favor being over having, unlike the United States. It must create the reign of the spirit (Gianni Vatimo) and become the world’s hostage (Pope Francis). But this bombast and misty-eyed lyricism, as generalized as it is generous, requires us to sacrifice political practicality. We float in an ether of marvels when we lose a sense of the possible. We prefer to dwell in that paradise instead of admitting that democracy is made up of cacophony and tension, as Raymond Aron observed. Democratic governance is conducted in prose, not in poetry. Europe cannot turn itself into a charity. Unless it wants to disappear once and for all, it cannot, like the Catholic Church, seek political guidance from the gospels (which not even Rome itself can manage to follow). Either it becomes a convincing world player alongside the others (USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil), and forges a new balance between power and human rights, or it will be dismembered by hungry predators waiting to devour it piece by piece...

America may one day succumb to its vices of violence, inequality, and segregation. But it is sustained by religion and patriotism, which bolster it despite its divisions. Unless Europe changes course, it will die of its virtues. Its discourse of guilt has metastasized into one of self-annihilation. When a section of the ruling class abandons its responsibilities, the commonweal itself is attacked, and moral perfectionism becomes another name for abdication. Only mortally wounded civilizations can be destroyed. How can the Old World be resuscitated if it wants to disappear? Perhaps we must await a new generation to emerge to staunch our desire for self-destruction and save us from sleepwalking into oblivion as mystical penitents."

Friday, June 26, 2020

Links - 26th June 2020 (Apocalyptic Thinking)

Apocalyptic thinking in the age of Trump - "It’s almost as if being called the Antichrist is a compliment — it means you are a powerful man. Whether done in jest or not, describing Trump in apocalyptic terms is, in the end, about setting boundaries. When we call Trump “the Antichrist,” we transform his election into an event that’s comfortably out of our control but one that can also serve as a rallying point. “Belief in the Antichrist has fostered group loyalty by dramatizing the satanic nature of every enemy facing the faithful community”"

Apocalypse Not: Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry About End Times | WIRED - "When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives. And the prophets of apocalypse always draw a following—from the 100,000 Millerites who took to the hills in 1843, awaiting the end of the world, to the thousands who believed in Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster who forecast the final rapture in both 1994 and 2011.Religious zealots hardly have a monopoly on apocalyptic thinking. Consider some of the environmental cataclysms that so many experts promised were inevitable... Predictions of global famine and the end of oil in the 1970s proved just as wrong as end-of-the-world forecasts from millennialist priests. Yet there is no sign that experts are becoming more cautious about apocalyptic promises. If anything, the rhetoric has ramped up in recent years. Echoing the Mayan calendar folk, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight at the start of 2012, commenting: "The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth's atmosphere." Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome's The Limits to Growth in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander's word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes. So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated... The classic apocalypse has four horsemen, and our modern version follows that pattern, with the four riders being chemicals (DDT, CFCs, acid rain), diseases (bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, mad cow disease), people (population, famine), and resources (oil, metals)... Of all the cataclysmic threats to human civilization envisaged in the past 50 years, none has drawn such hyperbolic language as people themselves. "Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet," says Agent Smith in the film The Matrix. Such rhetoric echoes real-life activists like Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: "We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion ... Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach... The lesson of failed past predictions of ecological apocalypse is not that nothing was happening but that the middle-ground possibilities were too frequently excluded from consideration. In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate "lukewarmers" a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey."
"This time, it's different" doesn't just apply to financial crises

The end is always nigh in the human mind - "The latest incarnation of the destruction-redemption myth is brought to you by numerological number-cruncher and evangelical Christian radio host Harold Camping. Originally predicted to unfold on 21 May, the rapture has now been postponed until October after a no-show. It is easy to mock, but such apocalyptic scenarios are not the exclusive property of religion. Secular end of days may be found in Karl Marx’s end of capitalism and Francis Fukuyama’s end of history, along with scientistic doomsdays brought about by global warming, ice ages, solar flares, rogue planets, black holes, cosmic collisions, supervolcanoes, overpopulation, pollution, nuclear winter, genetically engineered viruses, the grey goo of runaway nanotechnology – and let’s not forget Y2K, the millennium bug. In 2004, UK Astronomer Royal Martin Rees put our chances of surviving the 21st century at 50 per cent. Stephen Hawking famously warned humanity that contact with aliens could result in our enslavement or extinction.Like Camping’s rapture, many of these prognostications have failed to unfold. Given that there can only be one apocalypse, most of the others will too.Why, then, do we find the basic narrative so appealing? What is the underlying psychology behind apocalyptic prophecies, both religious and secular? The answer lies in the emotional and cognitive processes of our brains.Emotionally, the end of the world is actually a renewal, a transition to a new beginning and a better life to come. In religious narratives, God smites sinners and resurrects the virtuous. For secularists, the sins of humanity are atoned through a change in our political, economic or ideological system. Environmental prognostications of calamity are usually followed with reproaches and recommendations for how we can save the planet. Marxists projected communism as the liberating climax of a multistage process that requires the collapse of capitalism. Proponents of liberal democracy proclaimed the end of history when the cold war was won by democracy and liberty.Most recently, the US Tea Party’s messiah is John Galt... Cognitively, there are several processes at work, starting with the fact that our brains are pattern-seeking belief engines... Apocalypse thinking is a form of pattern-seeking based on our cognitive percepts of time passing... Apocalyptic visions also help us make sense of an often seemingly senseless world. In the face of confusion and annihilation we need restitution and reassurance. We want to feel that no matter how chaotic, oppressive or evil the world is, all will be made right in the end. The apocalypse as history’s end is made acceptable with the belief that there will be a new beginning."
Most of the people who hyperventilate about how the coronavirus will kill us all seem to be different from those who were hyperventilating about how climate change would kill us all. Apocalyptic thinking manifests differently depending on one's pre-existing beliefs and dispositions. Of course there're also the environmentalists who gush gleefully about humanity's extinction - I suppose even if they or anyone related to them will not be able to see the new beginning, they take vicarious pleasure in the earth seeing it

Doomsday is (not) coming: The dangers of worrying about the apocalypse - "But apocalyptic thinking has serious downsides. One is that false alarms to catastrophic risks can themselves be catastrophic. The nuclear arms race of the 1960s, for example, was set off by fears of a mythical "missile gap" with the Soviet Union. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was justified by the uncertain but catastrophic possibility that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons and planning to use them against the United States. (As George W. Bush put it, "We cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.") And one of the reasons the great powers refuse to take the common-sense pledge that they won't be the first to use nuclear weapons is that they want to reserve the right to use them against other supposed existential threats such as bioterror and cyberattacks. Sowing fear about hypothetical disasters, far from safeguarding the future of humanity, can endanger it. A second hazard of enumerating doomsday scenarios is that humanity has a finite budget of resources, brainpower and anxiety. You can't worry about everything... And that leads to the greatest danger of all: that reasonable people will think, as a 2016 New York Times article put it, "These grim facts should lead any reasonable person to conclude that humanity is screwed." If humanity is screwed, why sacrifice anything to reduce potential risks? Why forgo the convenience of fossil fuels or exhort governments to rethink their nuclear weapons policies? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die! A 2013 survey in four English-speaking countries showed that among the respondents who believe that our way of way of life will probably end in a century, a majority endorsed the statement, "The world's future looks grim so we have to focus on looking after ourselves and those we love." Few writers on technological risk give much thought to the cumulative psychological effects of the drumbeat of doom. As Elin Kelsey, an environmental communicator, points out, "We have media ratings to protect children from sex or violence in movies, but we think nothing of inviting a scientist into a second-grade classroom and telling the kids the planet is ruined. A quarter of [Australian] children are so troubled about the state of the world that they honestly believe it will come to an end before they get older." According to recent polls, so do 15 per cent of people worldwide, and between a quarter and a third of Americans. In The Progress Paradox, the journalist Gregg Easterbrook suggests that a major reason that Americans are not happier, despite their rising objective fortunes, is "collapse anxiety": the fear that civilization may implode and there's nothing anyone can do about it... Those who sow fear about a dreadful prophecy may be seen as serious and responsible, while those who are measured are seen as complacent and naive. Despair springs eternal... As author and academic Eric Zencey has observed, "There is seduction in apocalyptic thinking. If one lives in the Last Days, one's actions, one's very life, take on historical meaning and no small measure of poignance." Scientists and technologists are by no means immune. Remember the Y2K bug?... As a former assembly language programmer, I was skeptical of the doomsday scenarios, and fortuitously I was in New Zealand, the first country to welcome the new millennium, at the fateful moment. Sure enough, at 12 a.m. on Jan. 1, nothing happened (as I quickly reassured family members back home on a fully functioning telephone). The Y2K reprogrammers, like the elephant-repellent salesman, took credit for averting disaster, but many countries and small businesses had taken their chances without any Y2K preparation, and they had no problems, either... the techno-apocalyptic claim that ours is the first civilization that can destroy itself is misconceived. As Ozymandias reminded the traveller in Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, most of the civilizations that have ever existed have been destroyed. Conventional history blames the destruction on external events such as plagues, conquests, earthquakes or weather. But the physicist David Deutsch points out those civilizations could have thwarted the fatal blows had they had better agricultural, medical or military technology"

How Apocalyptic Thinking Prevents Us from Taking Political Action - "sensationalist speculation attracts eyeballs and sells advertising, because fear sells -- and it can sell everything from pharmaceuticals to handguns to duct tape to insurance policies. "People react to fear, not love," Richard Nixon once said. "They don't teach that in Sunday school, but it's true." Nothing inspires fear like the end of the world, and ever since Y2K, the media's tendency toward overwrought speculation has been increasingly married to the rhetoric of apocalypse. Today, nearly any event can be explained through apocalyptic language, from birds falling out of the sky (the Birdocalypse?) to a major nor'easter (Snowmageddon!) to a double-dip recession (Barackalypse! Obamageddon!)... This over-reliance on the apocalyptic narrative causes us to fear the wrong things and to mistakenly equate potential future events with current and observable trends... The danger of the media's conflation of apocalyptic scenarios is that it leads us to believe that our existential threats come exclusively from events that are beyond our control and that await us in the future -- and that a moment of universal recognition of such threats will be obvious to everyone when they arrive"
Ironically the article also falls prey to apocalyptic thinking

Anthony Grafton on "Left Behind" and Apocalyptic Thinking | The New Republic - "By the early 1990s, in other words, the millennium was firmly established as a richly mutable object of historical research, one which rewarded study from many different points of view. Scholars realized that millennialists, in the west, were far too diverse to be characterized by simple formulas, and their goals and movements far too complex to be forced into a single analytical pigeonhole... Though our authors caution against simple explanations, all of them, in the end, resort to one: the desire for change, and hopeless discontent with the existing world... Humans, he points out, seem to have a propensity—one that appears in cultures and societies so disparate from one another, in time and in space, that it might even be natural—to look for an order in time. Time—or so humans wanted to believe for millennia, and many still do—is not a merely natural phenomenon. It embodies a deeper order. It has a direction—forwards or cyclical (or, more often, both at once). It is coded. And there is a key, which can take almost any form."

Apocalypse Not! How Science Is Distorted To Serve The Activist Agenda - "Take the Great Bee Hoax, for example. If you’re still relying on the mainstream and social media for your information, you probably believe that honeybee populations are crashing worldwide, that without bees to pollinate our crops we’ll all soon starve, and that we’re in this sorry state because evil pesticide companies are reaping huge profits and despoiling the environment, while crony regulators look the other way.At least, this is what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to believe. When the Agriculture Department recently suspended its annual census of U.S. honeybee hives due to budget cuts (a decision that was soon reversed), the Democratic senator from New York rose in high dudgeon claiming — what else? — collusion... the USDA’s beehive census has been one of the main sources of evidence that refutes alarmist claims of honeybee declines. According to the USDA count, honeybee populations, far from “plummeting,” have actually risen by about 150,000 hives in the last 20 years. Most foreign governments keep official counts of their bees, and bee populations are rising abroad, too... The Pseudo-Scientific Method was mobilized to create the “bee-pocalypse” narrative about honeybees over the past six years. An early, memorable landmark was the Time magazine cover story of Aug. 19, 2013, “A World Without Bees?” It shows the power of activists and a few rogue scientists, abetted by feckless magazine editors who uncritically parroted the latest alarmist studies’ claims without even bothering to check them against readily available facts... The scientists who glommed onto the “bee-pocalypse” narrative never bothered to go back and correct the record. As we’ll see in the next installment, they simply swapped out crises, jettisoning honeybees for claims that it was actually wild bees that were facing extinction, and then moving on to claims that all insect species will soon die out – because, of course, of neonicotinoid pesticides."

Why Computers Won't Takeover the World, with Steven Pinker - "I think that the arguments that once we have super intelligent computers and robots they will inevitably want to take over and do away with us comes from Prometheus and Pandora myths. It's based on confusing the idea of high intelligence with megalomaniacal goals. Now, I think it's a projection of alpha male's psychology onto the very concept of intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems, to achieve goals under uncertainty. It doesn't tell you what are those goals are. And there's no reason to think that just the concentrated analytic ability to solve goals is going to mean that one of those goals is going to be to subjugate humanity or to achieve unlimited power, it just so happens that the intelligence that we're most familiar with, namely ours, is a product of the Darwinian process of natural selection, which is an inherently competitive process."
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