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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Links - 10th August 2016

If women want to equal men, they must change their notion of happiness - "Hoiking men from public life at a moment’s notice for being unable to give completely 100 per cent satisfactory answers on head-bangingly complex gender issues does not, I fear, help women’s road to equality. It makes us look like a sinister, peculiarly thin-skinned, laughably volatile Lidl-brand Stazi... I find it ironic that it is women, not men, who propel the cult of motherhood and who the spread the frightening notion that life will never, ever be truly complete without a baby, and that no career plaudit can compare. Then, as women fall like dominoes after their mid-twenties, quitting the race to the top in droves, regurgitating this same self-placating idea that "smiles on little faces" make up for power, prestige and big bucks, we want Kevin Roberts fired for cheerfully agreeing with us... Maintaining the top position in almost all corporate and artistic fields requires 18 hours a day, six-and-a-half days a week unyielding focus. It requires boring dinners, foreign business travel, legal wrangles, endless hiring and firing. It requires going to work and everyone disliking you, but then fretting all night that their livelihoods and children’s potential empty bellies depend on you. Your own child or ageing mother will be way down on your list of priorities. For decades men have grabbed this poisoned chalice. It has made them happy. If women want to equal men in top roles, they must change their notion of "happiness" too"
"Patriarchy" means you get fired if you say something anti-feminist

Suspended for sins against feminism - "Publicis values diversity and inclusion so much that it will not tolerate diversity or inclusion of political opinion in the workplace... Business Insider reported that in the advertising industry, only 11.5 per cent of women are creative directors, which means that there is something stopping women from taking big roles in that sector. It could be because of pressures outside the workplace, or it could be because lots of people don’t want a career that consumes all their time. But one thing is for sure – given the current appetite for shaming old white men, it is highly unlikely that women are being stopped from achieving by sexist bosses. The crazy thing about this whole debacle is that Roberts’ comments don’t actually harm women... Gallop and her feminist supporters however, are undermining women’s freedom. In their assertion that women need a leg-up in the workplace, they paint women as incapable of being independent agents in the world. Gallop and other proponents of gender equality believe that women are incapable of forging their own destinies"

As an Arab, the Middle East's reaction to Orlando left me speechless… - Arab Humanists العرب الإنسانويون - "As a bilingual Arabic and English speaker from the Middle East, I took the liberty of browsing through Arabic news pages on Facebook earlier today; namely Al Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC Arabic and a number of Egyptian news outlets to gauge how the Arab world was responding to the Orlando shooting. The results were disappointing, alarming, and depressing to say the least. Each page’s comment section was inundated with comments showing sympathy towards the attacker, praising him for his actions and wishing death upon members of the international LGBT community. Comments ranged from jokes about the incident and how “the gays had it coming,” to long du’as (religious supplications), wishing death upon gays and lesbians, as well as asking God to grant the killer “the highest place in paradise.” I considered collecting screenshots of these comments to raise awareness about the amount of hatred towards the gay community in the Middle East, but it soon dawned on me that such a task would be impossible. There were simply too many hateful comments, with thousands celebrating the attack, from Tunisia to Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was only through deep digging that a single person who expressed so much as a shred of sympathy to the victims and their families, or even condemned the blatant massacre that took place could be found. If you don’t speak Arabic, visit Al Jazeera Arabic’s Facebook page and scroll down until you see a post about the Orlando attack and note what the top three “reactions” (newly added Facebook feature) are... It has now become commonplace in the Arab world to wish death upon minorities and celebrate their murders. Gays, Christians, Jews, atheists, apostates, heterodox Muslims, liberal Muslims, and secularists are seen as subhuman. Celebrating their deaths is now a norm... Members of the left who claim such terrorism has nothing to do with Islam need to become aware of the issue at hand that is Islamism, and understand the ramifications of evading discussions on it."

As ISIS brutalizes women, a pathetic feminist silence - "The upcoming annual conference of the National Organization for Women does not list ISIS or Boko Haram on its agenda. While the most recent Women’s Studies annual conference did focus on foreign policy, they were only interested in Palestine, a country which has never existed, and support for which is often synonymous with an anti-Israel position. Privately, feminists favor non-intervention, non-violence and the need for multilateral action, and they blame America for practically everything wrong in the world."

Orthodox Jews Can't Protest Parade, Hire Mexicans Instead - "A group of Orthodox Jews hired Mexican day laborers to dress in traditional Jewish garb and protest against the New York City gay pride parade Sunday... “The rabbis said that the yeshiva boys shouldn’t come out for this because of what they would see at the parade”"

Confucius on Gay Marriage - "Chinese parents and society as a whole put intense pressure on young people to marry and produce offspring. According to one estimate, 90 percent of gay men in China marry women, often without telling them their actual sexual orientation. Understandably, this can lead to frustration, adultery, and unhappiness. This emphasis on producing children can be traced in part to the Confucian tradition. Mencius, one of the most influential Confucian philosophers of all time, argued that to fail to have children is the most unfilial of all acts. Consequently, the online edition of The People’s Daily, a source with close ties to the Chinese government, claimed that Chinese were “baffled” by Kennedy’s use of Confucius. Professor Zeng Yi of the Philosophy Department of Tongji University was blunter, stating that Kennedy had “distorted” Confucius, and opining that any Confucian should view homosexuality as “a crime against humanity.” Critics like Zeng point out that the Classic of Changes, a seminal Confucian treatise of divination and cosmology, claims that traditional gender identities are an immutable reflection of cosmic principles."

Tracing the Sharks’ Fin – From Ocean to Wedding plate - "You have been lied to and mis­led all this time. I kid you not. You’ve al­ways thought that the fins you’ve been eat­ing at wed­ding din­ners were forcibly re­moved from a group of sharks be­fore these sharks are thrown back into the ocean, still alive, only to slowly bleed to death? That story is as true as the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. “Most of the videos that you see are ei­ther re­ally old footage, we’re talk­ing 10 to 15 years ago, or de­lib­er­ately con­strued. The en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists pay a poor fish­er­man from the Philip­pines to rip the fin off from the shark so that they can film it,” de­clares Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer An­thony Ci­conte from the South­ern Shark In­dus­try Al­liance... When it comes to sharks, at the moment, there is only one certified dogfish (a type of shark) fishery in the MSC programme, which “uses every piece of the shark including the fins”... That doesn’t mean that the other fisheries around the world, outside of those in the MSC programme, are engaging in these barbaric practices. Rather, it just means that they’ve decided to forgo the eco-labelling for a multitude of reasons. For example, the strict regulations governing Australia’s fisheries regarding finning and fishing mean that the seafood catch are already sustainable and traceable. And indeed, the MSC applauds any and all the environmental efforts by the people in the seafood industry... 'if I were to tell you that the fins you are eating are sourced from a sustainable fishery recognised by the Australian government and that they were being harvested under a proper management regime, would you eat shark fin soup again?'"

A deeper dive into Tyranny, an evil RPG without the "moustache-twiddling" - "“If you want to be the good character, what’s the price of being good in this world?,” asks Heins. “In a lot of RPGs, the good choices are the easy ones to make. For this game, making the good choice will have a lot of people hate you. So are you willing to pay that price to make that decision?”"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Sikh Empire - "[On Ranjit Singh] Others criticse him for not living up to the Sikh Tradition and that his downfall in a sense can be ascribed to his deviation from the Sikh tradition and in accommodation of other religions and so on and so forth"

Splain: The rise and fall of a suffix in the age of Internet know-it-alls. - "As Benjamin Hart pointed out in Salon in 2014 (the same year that mansplain breached Oxford Dictionary’s online database), the term can now describe men talking at men, or men neutrally sharing information with women, or women pompously holding forth as they imagine a conceited guy might. Worse, mansplainers have grown indistinguishable from men saying something a listener does not agree with... One might even say a mansplaining accusation is the literal definition of an ad hominem attack, in that it attempts to discredit a person’s statements on account of his being a man."

The Internet Under Siege - The Defense Quorum - Quora - "What this means is that someone is intentionally creating a multitude of fake users to go about vandalizing every topic which has served as a collection place for answers which show Islam in a less than perfect light."

Outgoing CEO: Many MAS employees were doing nothing, some sleeping - "Mueller said MAS also suffered from a bloated and overpriced supply chain, partly because the airline bought products from suppliers at prices 20 to 25 percent higher than the market value... MAS had about 20,000 suppliers and, as a result, the glut made it difficult for the airline to get a volume discount from anyone"

CAUGHT: Lenovo crams unremovable crapware into Windows laptops – by hiding it in the BIOS - "This comes on the back of Lenovo's Superfish scandal, in which the PC maker shipped laptops with adware on them that opened up people to man-in-the-middle eavesdropping. Miscreants could exploit the bundled crapware to snoop on victims' encrypted connections to websites."

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Thomas Paine's Common Sense - "[John Adams] was alarmed at Paine's suggestion that you would only have one house, you would have annual elections. It would be too democratic... Adams begins this long, I mean he's still talking about this 40 years later, this long campaign to try to undermine that side of Thomas Paine. So it's crucial to think about Common Sense as having two big arguments. One is that America should be independent. So that's really an anticolonial revolution. The other is that it should be much more democratic. That's a political revolution. And in fact you have to understand the American Revolution as containing two sets of arguments. One about how big this British Empire should be. Should American be independent from it? And the other one: how should it be governed? And Paine is always the radical on that second question... He'd been involved in the French Revolution. There's nothing so conservative as those people who've had a revolution and want to keep it that way... being a radical was no longer such a good thing... the historian Gordon Wood put this very well. That before the Revolution people talked about their family lineage and how grand their lineage was. After the Revolution they talked about how common they were"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Michael Bloomberg on Brexit and Trump - "I also have received the Freedom of the City of London award... which means I can drive cattle and sheep over London Bridge... Both Boris and David Cameron have assured me that no matter what happens with Brexit I'll still have that...
You trade, you make agreements to do things that other countries also agree to do in the interest of mutual cooperation. Does that mean that you cannot go and do something independently? No, you can do a lot of things independently, but you have to be willing to do things jointly as well...
People say things during campaigns which later on have nothing to do the way they govern, so that's the first thing. Number two, you should worry about everybody that runs and try to see, try to support, particularly if it's your country, support the candidates that will give you the best opportunities for you and your family. You're never going to agree 100% with any candidate. But you still can have a preference. I have a preference, and I'll perhaps down the road express that publicly. I'm certainly going to express that in the voting booth"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Hillary Gets There - "Why is everybody focusing on the fact that she hasn't been able to excite young voters? Why isn't everyone asking: why didn't Bernie Sanders managed to get more support from Latinos, from African-Americans, from women above 30? And their explanation within the Clinton campaign was that Bernie Sanders made it his one focus to excite the young progressive base...
I was asked... why British voters didn't seem very worked up about such an historic choice... British people just aren't very interested in politics. It's one of the things that makes the country so agreeable...
We mourn [Muhammed] Ali not only for his greatness, but the poverty of what came later. Not just for what he took away, but what he's left us with. If he could, he would surely cry after the ageing actress Norma Desmond in the classic film Sunset Boulevard: I'm still big. It's the sport that got small. Having said all that, perhaps it's my age. Did I mention that? And the solipsistic feeling you have on the day of a funeral as you get older. That it's a marker of your own mortality. When Ali was the king, well that was back when we were kings. Or could feel that way on a good day"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, How Orlando is playing into the US presidential election - "You get these polarised reactions. On one hand, for example, the reaction to the Council of Islamic Ideology when they said that a man can lightly beat his wife was outrage. Women took to social media, they took their pictures, they had this hashtag: try beating me lightly and bear the consequences. But then you speak to other women and they say: look, it's within the Koran and Sunnah. Everything should be kept within the family. The government shouldn't get involved in any matters within the family. And frankly, if a husband beats his wife, if someone is abusive, they can solve it with relatives"

Race and Sport

What Makes a Great Olympian? Sometimes It’s Genetics

"For the last several years, West African nations—or nations with West African–descended athletes, like the United Sates, Jamaica, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago—have each turned out more elite sprinters than all of white Europe and Asia combined.

Running is the most egalitarian of sports, a natural laboratory. Unlike the props and costumes required for, say, fencing, or the intense coaching demanded of gymnastics, one can just lace up and go for a jog. Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila proved this quite memorably in the 1960 Rome Olympics, when—shoeless, coachless, and inexperienced—he won the marathon.

Theoretically, then, the medal podium for runners should resemble a rainbow of diversity. But just the opposite has happened: running has become segregated. The trends are eye-opening: Among men, athletes of African ancestry hold every major running record, from the 100m to the marathon. Of the past seven Olympics men’s 100m races, all 56 finalists have been of West African descent. Only two non-African runners, France’s Christophe Lemaire, who is white, and Australia’s Irish-aboriginal Patrick Johnson, crack the top 500 100-meter times. There are no elite sprinters who are Asian—or, intriguingly, East African.

The story of distance running is equally remarkable. Runners of West African ancestry don’t tend to do well at endurance races, which are dominated by North and East Africans—note the medal haul in London by Kenyans and Ethiopians—who themselves are often less well known for sprinting...

The director of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Institute, Bengt Saltin, has concluded that an athlete’s “environment” accounts for no more than 25 percent of athletic ability. The rest comes down to the roll of the genetic dice—with each population group having distinct advantages. In other words, running success is “in the genes”.

Here are the facts. Genetically linked, highly heritable characteristics such as skeletal structure, the distribution of muscle fiber types (for example, sprinters have more natural fast-twitch fibers, while distance runners are naturally endowed with more of the slow-twitch variety), reflex capabilities, metabolic efficiency, and lung capacity are not evenly distributed among populations...

The so-called sprint gene is more common in those of West African descent than in Europeans, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics...

As UCLA’s Jared Diamond has noted, “Even today, few scientists dare to study racial origins, lest they be branded racists just for being interested in the subject”...

Why do we readily accept that evolution has turned out Jews with a genetic predisposition to Tay-Sachs, Southeast Asians with a higher proclivity for beta-thalassemia, and blacks who are susceptible to colorectal cancer and sickle-cell disease, yet find it racist to suggest that Usain Bolt can thank his West African ancestry for the most critical part of his success?...

“Differences among athletes of elite caliber are so small,” said Robert Malina, a retired Michigan State University anthropologist and former editor of the Journal of Human Genetics, “that if you have a physique or the ability to fire muscle fibers more efficiently that might be genetically based … it might be very, very significant. The fraction of a second is the difference between the gold medal and fourth place.”

Indeed, Empirical evidence makes hash of the myth that culture makes the athlete. Look at Kenya: with but 43 million people, the country holds more than one third of top times in distance races. What explains this phenomenon? It’s in their culture, say many social scientists. Kenyans dominate distance races because they “naturally trained” as children—by running back and forth to school, for example.

“That’s just silly,” Kenyan-born Wilson Kipketer told me. Kipketer currently holds eight of the 17 all-time fastest 800m times, a middle-distance track event. “I lived right next door to school,” he laughed, dismissing cookie-cutter explanations. “I walked, nice and slow.”

What motivated Kipketer to pursue running? Like most young Kenyans, while growing up Kipketer hoped that he might catch the eye of a coach who combs the countryside to find the next generation of budding stars. He had dreams of being cheered as he entered the National Stadium in Nairobi.

Only one problem: the national sport, the hero worship, the adoring fans, the social channeling—that all speaks to Kenya’s enduring love affair with soccer, not running... East Africans do tend to excel at long-distance running, and many suggest that’s due to an increased natural lung capacity and a preponderance of slow-twitch muscles. That’s a perfect biomechanical package for long-distance running, but a disaster for sports that require anaerobic bursts, like sprinting or soccer...

Although people in every population come in all shapes and sizes, body types and physiological characteristics follow a distribution curve as a result of evolutionary adaptations by our ancestors to extremely varied environmental challenges. Elite sports showcase these differences.

Asians, on average, tend to be smaller with shorter extremities and long torsos—evolutionary adaptations to harsh climes encountered by Homo sapiens who migrated to Northeast Asia 40,000 years ago. China, for example, excels in many Olympics sports, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons, according to geneticists, is that they are more flexible on average—a potential advantage in diving, gymnastics (hence the term “Chinese splits”) and figure skating.

Whites of Eurasian ancestry are mesomorphic: larger and relatively muscular bodies with comparatively short limbs and thick torsos. No prototypical sprinter or marathoner here. These proportions are advantageous in sports in which strength rather than speed is at a premium. Predictably, Eurasians dominate weightlifting, wrestling, and most field events, such as the shot put and hammer. At the London Olympics, with the exception of North Korea, the top lifters come from a band of Eurasian countries: China, Kazakhstan, Iran, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. Despite the image of the sculpted African body, no African nation won an Olympic lifting medal."

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Links - 9th August 2016

This Video Mocking Journalist Who Claimed AR-15 Gave Him PTSD is Going Viral

European Patriarch Meme: Kelsea Akelseaaamarieee - "kelsea @kelseaaamarieee
The Senate approved a bill to require women to register for the draft
1 the draft should be outlawed
Ahh... feminism

'Footman' exposes Tupperware secret of the Queen's table - "In an effort to justify a photograph of a breakfast table laid for the Queen and Prince Philip, Parry explained: "It looks innocent, but I could have been a terrorist with plenty of time to poison it." Of rather more surprise will be the fact that the royal cornflakes and porridge oats were present on the table in Tupperware containers."

The Last Kingdom and Agincourt | Podcast | History Extra - "There's been a whole sort of revisionist thing recently. Which try to make out that the Vikings were actually some sort of peace-loving vegans. Which is equally totally nonsense... in many ways they're very similar to the Saxons. You could say that the whole of the period between the end of the Roman Occupation and 1066 is a period of Germanic-Scandinavian invasions of Britain"

The battle of Jutland and 1950s domestic dangers | Podcast | History Extra - "Liberating the woman from her drudgery... Hotpoint calls one of its washing machine you know The Liberator. There's this sense that women are having opportunities for freedom and so processed food becomes associated with that"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, 60th Anniversary Special - "One of the issues that comes up quite often that I frequently get asked is: is it more dangerous for female foreign correspondents than for men. And I think it's a really important question because on the whole I don't think that it is and I think that there is a sort of moral panic about this. There was a particular time in Egypt where there were some very nasty sexual assaults of women in Tahrir Square. Both journalist and activists as well. But I don't think that there's any empirical research that says it's more dangerous as a woman to be a foreign correspondent than to be a soldier or a firefighter or any other profession that we might choose...
The Israeli waiter is a living, alas living, living testimonial to the inapplicability of Milton's line that 'they also serve who only stand and wait'. The Israeli waiter stands and waits. Presumably for the end of the working day. He doesn't serve. Or at least he tries to avoid it...
'Humour, light touches, joy. Foreign news journalism tends not to do that stuff'
'I think there's quite a good reason for that. Because often people try it and it doesn't really work and I think tere's something about the tone of that broadcast itself. It's very patrician and kind of slightly sneery tone about other people which I think you have to be really careful of and I think one thing that has really changed. It's no longer a case of you have a middle class middle aged white man going abroad and pointing at people growing mangoes on trees and kind of finding that entertaining'...
I did a piece... about rediscovering the only grand piano in Gaza. What I found partly in the reaction was many people liked it exactly for the reason that it was personalising, humanising. But there was quite an assault from both sides as we know in that very very controversial Israel-Palestine, saying that by humanising, I depoliticised and that was wrong...
You can't be objective about genocide. It's not on the one hand, you know, the victims are good, on the other hand they're bad."

The invention that stops girls missing school every month - BBC News - "And then the answer that I somehow found saddest of all: "Do your mothers help you?" Their heads shake again: "No," says Benku's friend. "My mother asked my aunt to explain everything to me when I got my first period." Another girl was given an old chitenge and a lesson in what to do by a neighbour. A third was sent to her grandmother's for a week... girls often don't leave the house while they're bleeding"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Cupboard is Bare - "Xinjiang was a paradise until 2008, he continues. But since the terrorist attacks began, it's been so hard to live here. We're constantly stopped by the Chinese police, who go through our text messages to see if we have any symbols of independence or Islam in our phones. Their searches can last for hours. He shows me his second, secret mobile phone with a wink. They mainly look through our phones for corrupt reasons, he says. If they find anything they take you straight to jail and your family will have to pay big sums of money to get you out. Ali looks at my fairly short and tidy beard and adds, if I had a beard like that, they would take me to prison"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Drama for Dilma - "[On Norway] They gaze down on you glassy-eyed in every home. The ancestors, as far back as photography goes. Here are my grandparents, I'm told, my great grandparents, and the further we go down the line of stern, shoulder-to-shoulder couples, the longer the husbands' beards become... [This] led the Czech president to compare Norwegian social workers to Nazis. Partly this is just crude nationalism - don't you dare take a kid which is at least half ours. But it's not just that. These stories hit a particular nerve in former Communist countries, where many feel that the state tried to destroy the family as the main building block of society, partly by insisting that the authorities, not parents, were ultimately responsible for children's welfare. We overthrew that tyranny, protestors are saying, don't you - in the old democracies of the West now voluntarily submit to it. Children belong to parents - not the state...
When women do get into positions of power they're often accused of pulling up the ladder behind them and abandoning the concerns of the other women who got them into office...
[On Malawi] One parent of a 13 year old girl with HIV tells me that he simply doesn't know how to keep her safe from predators after she was abused by two men over different periods. One lured her to his home and then paid her 50 Kwacha, some 6 pence. Another threatened to slit her throat if she told anyone. He gave her 7 macadamia nuts...
Chief *something* has also managed to outlaw a practice called kusasa fumbi or cleansing. This, she says, involves girls as young as 7 being sent to camps and taught how to please men. It usually ends with the girls being forced to have sex with the teacher or, back at home, being forced to go with a so-called hyena. An older man who comes to the house to take the girl's virginity or make women pregnant...
[On Germany] If the nation that's always been at the forefront of tourism has passed the point of peak wanderlust, other countries will suffer. The traditional trade arrangement has been the Germans make plenty of money exporting great cars then they export themselves on foreign holidays to spend that cash. Now, they plan to spend more time at home with their Schlossies."

King Richard's Return, Imprisonment and Ransom - "Disguised as a Templar knight, or possibly as a merchant, Richard headed north into the heart of Europe, making for safe territory controlled by his brother-in-law Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony. However, after an icy, gruelling, dangerous journey on poor roads, the King was apprehended by Duke Leopold of Austria’s men. It was only a few days before Christmas, the weather was awful and the King was apparently sheltering in a ‘disreputable house’ or brothel in the outskirts of Vienna. Some stories suggest that it was his aristocratic habit of demanding roast chicken for dinner, rather than humbler fare, that led to his discovery; other tales say that it was his companions’ practice of calling him ‘Sire’ that somehow gave away his royal identity.

Affirmative Consent Is Still Confusing to College Students - "Fifty-four percent believed that nodding in agreement constituted consent, but 40 percent thought it did not, and 3 percent said it depended on the situation. Forty-seven percent of respondents believed that a person taking off their own clothes showed consent, while 49 percent did not. And 40 percent believed getting a condom showed consent, but 54 percent did not... As for affirmative consent—a standard adopted by some college campuses across the country—83 percent of students had heard of it and 69 percent felt it was very or at least somewhat realistic. About three in ten students thought it was the best standard for determining whether sexual activity was consensual while 42 percent preferred a “no means no” standard, and 23 percent thought there wasn’t rmuch difference.
Even college students can't agree on what constitutes affirmative consent, and more think it's a bad than good idea. Non-college students are undoubtedly even more opposed to it. I guess most people are rapists

The Incest Argument & Same-Sex Marriage - "Reflecting on incestuous marriage has, interestingly enough, given me some sympathy for people who have reflected on same-sex marriage and believe that there is something wrong about it. After all, I am against incestuous marriage and thinking of it makes me feel ill. However, I am at a loss for a truly compelling moral argument against it that would not also apply to non-related couples"

German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government - "“They feel their fundamental freedoms have been violated and are forced into secrecy or to deny their love. “The Ethics Council has been told of cases where half-siblings did not grow up together and have only met in their adult lives”... In a statement outlining its recommendations, the Ethics Council said the law against incest “put couples in a tragic situation”. “The majority of the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that it is not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo,” it added."

Incest a 'fundamental right', German committee says - Telegraph - "The Council said it based its recommendation on extensive research, in which it found many incestuous couples are forced to live in secret. In one case, it found a woman was being blackmailed by her father and ex-husband, who threatened to depive her of access to her children unless she ended a new relationship with her half-brother."

Incest Is 'Taboo' but Shouldn't Be Illegal, German Experts Say - "In its 90-page analysis [link in German], the council concluded that "the right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination in a consensual relationship weighs heavier in these cases than the abstract good of the family." It added that “neither the consequences for the family nor the possibility for descendants from such incestuous relationships can justify a ban under criminal law.” The panel's members include experts in "scientific, medical, theological, ethical, social, economic and legal concerns.""
The 90 page report is in German

Dangerous Love: German High Court Takes a Look at Incest - "Some 2-4 percent of the population have "incestuous experiences", according to an estimate by the Freiburg-based Max Planck Institute. There are fewer than 10 convictions for incestuous sex in Germany per year."

Do Women Really Want Equality? - "Another concern is how the merging of more traditionally feminine and masculine roles in women and men will affect gender identity and relationship success. The question remains whether or not women would still find their stay-at-home partner as attractive than if he were their stay-at-work partner. Thus far, it appears this kind of man, often referred to as a “beta male,” turns women off. For example, psychologist Lori Gottlieb found the risk of divorce is lowest when the husband earns 60 percent of the income and the wife does 60 percent of the housework, and women report higher levels of sexual satisfaction when there is a more traditional division of chores... Being a man and a stay-at-home partner is not seen as valuable and does not communicate alpha male behavior, which many women are attracted to. Indeed, even as women become more financially independent, they want an older and wealthier male partner... more often men have to pay their own way. The trend of parents spending more on their sons’ education in the 1970s not only equalized in the 1990s, but was reversed by the late 2000s; parents now spend about 25 percent more money on their daughter’s education than their son’s. In addition, there are plenty of scholarships offered to people of all sexes and ethnicities, but more scholarships — both academic and athletic — are offered exclusively to women than to men. For example, on scholarships.com — one of the most popular sites on which to find and apply for scholarships in the US — women’s scholarships outnumbered men’s four to one... You know what’s worse than catcalling? No one ever asking you out. Never feeling desirable. Always having to take the initiative sexually and getting rejected most of the time. One of the luxuries of being a woman is that we don’t have to ask for affirmative consent because we don’t have to take the initiative and therefore are not held responsible or accountable for anything that happens. Sure I am smaller and more physically vulnerable, but at any point I can accuse any man of saying something sexist or touching me in an inappropriate way and he could lose his job and family. He is guilty until proven innocent. Even if he’s found innocent, I would face no repercussions. Ultimately, if we actually wanted equality we would be asking men what life is really like for them. Because as long as male roles are limited, female roles will be limited, too. If we actually wanted equality, we would be talking about equal responsibilities alongside equal rights; we would be having honest conversations around biological differences and attraction. Until we do these things, we will find ourselves in a continual gridlock, complaining about such trivial things as manspreading and wondering why we can’t have it all while mistakenly believing men do"

Episode 28: “Christmas Pudding with Arsenic Sauce” - "Lee spent more time in meetings with British politicians, lobbying for support and seeking to build friendships and alliances, than he did meeting with his own delegation. Lee clearly had his own agenda, which was to promote himself to the British as a viable future collaborator, and to dispel any idea that he was a tool of the communists... The man who inherited the 1959 constitution, Lee Kuan Yew, would use the Internal Security Council as cover to detain his political opponents without trial while blaming it the British and Federation governments.

Episode 30: Pah Mata - "The Council subsequently dissolved the Singapore Farmers' Association and Singapore Wooden House Dwellers’ Association on 1 November... Lee Kuan Yew had stabbed a knife into the back of his allies. His message to the British was clear. He was saying that yes, my colleagues, the PAP left-wing are communists. And I am working with them, yes. Why? because I would rather support communists than colonialists. So I will fight you. But the moment colonialism ends, I will fight the communists. Therefore, you should hand me all the power of government, and then leave."

World War Two Spies and Alexander von Humboldt

World War Two spies and an extraordinary naturalist | Podcast | History Extra

"Germany as a whole under the Nazis made war incredibly incompetently. And an extraordinary almost paradox. Whereas on the Allied side, I've argued in my book that our successes with intelligence went quite a way to compensate for the fact that the British and American armies were frankly not as good as the German army... in the end it's having the hard power that is critical [not intelligence]...

Agent Max had told the Germans that Operation Mars was coming. And enabled them to move reinforcements up there to deal with it. And... the British said, absolutely nobody is gonna deliberately leak information and cost 77,000 lives just for a deception. But Stalin did... Stalin personally authorised the NKVD to leak through Agent Max who was the NKVD's agent... to deflect attention from Operation Uranus down south around Stalingrad. And only in Stalin's ghastly universe could such a stunt have been organised and all those lives lost, purely to sell the deception. So that was an intelligence operation that undoubtedly did make a difference at a critical moment

[He] couldn't drive a car... he suggested to OSA that they should inflict some disability on him to prevent him from being eligible for forced labour by the Germans... They said if they disabled him the government would be liable for paying the disability pension after the war...

It's a basic principle that you can't trust a word about anything to do with intelligence, and certainly not spies' memoirs. That you have to remember the basic nature of espionage. It's all about deception and treachery. And half these people, they lose track of whether they're telling the truth themselves and so you have to approach everybody's accounts and memoirs, and a lot of the reports in the archive with great skepticism because you can reckon that parts of it are true... but which parts?... you never believe a word any spy says. It's just the nature of the beast. Treachery is their business... I throw in the dustbin as soon as I see on the dust jacket of any new book the word definitive. This is the definitive account... Nothing any of us do can be definitive. We're all having a stab at working out what happened. But you have to be suitably modest...

When Hitler invaded Russia in June 41, absolute crisis, panic. He went to Beria, Stalin's spy chief. And he said we're desperately short of intelligence officers because nearly all the best ones have been sent to the gulag. We gotta get some of them out because otherwise, how are we gonna fight this war? And he said Beria never asked him whether they were innocent or guilty. He just said how badly do we need them? And Sudoplatov said very. And he did agree to let out several hundred. But the two aspects is Sudoplatov writes in his memoirs: after I had got the order for their release signed, unfortunately we discovered that some of the best had already been shot. He describes as though it was sort of everyday experience, but also he said again as a reflection of the madness of Soviet life.

He said after the war, he said I was very fortunate. I'd taken good care in 1941. I did not personally sign the release orders for these people. I got Merkulov, his superior, to do it. He said if I'd signed them, he said I'd probably have faced the firing squad as Merkulov did. Because of course in another of these twists, half of them were accused of being enemies of the state. And Sudoplatov spent 10 or 15 years in prison. But at least he kept his head.

And it's such a mad, monstrous world in which, I mean most of Stalin's best agents in Western Europe - when they went back to Russia in 1945, they were promptly sent to the gulag because they were assumed to have become tools of the capitalists. You can hardly believe it. And some of them were shot. It's an absolutely insane world and reading about it, you know we can read about being with the 8th Army in the desert and thinking it might've been fun to be there. Nobody in their right mind who reads about this mad world of espionage could believe it was fun to be there...

[On Alexander von Humboldt] She was, his mother was so emotionally cold and such an overbearing presence, I think, in his life, because she wanted both sons to be Prussian civil servants and was quite controlling over their education and what they had to do. And Humboldt always wanted to travel. He always wanted to go away. He wanted to be an explorer, and there was no way she was going to allow this. And when she dies in 1796, he immediately writes to his friends like basically: yay, my mom is dead. And then, because he inherits a lot of money, he brags something like: I am so rich, I can gild my nose and my mouth and my ears...

He is a polymath, so when he dies, which is the moment when scientists specialise, these expert scientists look down on someone who knows everything because it's almost like an amateur. So it becomes seen as
something negative"

Monday, August 08, 2016

Operation Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa | Podcast | History Extra

"This is rather underestimated by historians... the occupation of Ukraine by Field Marshal von Eichhorn in late 1918... Ukraine would be the breadbasket for the Germany in the future and prevent any repetition of the British blockade and the starvation which that caused to Germany during that particular period. So it was strategic as well as sort of visceral in his hatred of Bolshevism... [Hitler] justified his declaration of war on the United States on the grounds that this was one way to force Britain out of the war. I mean it's very very very very bizarre in thinking, but we know Hitler had this curious confusion. Certainly also a confusion of cause and effect as well...

He, ever since the Spanish Civil War was completely obsessed that anybody living abroad had been corrupted by abroad and therefore was somehow instinctively anti-Soviet. And that's why he rejected the warnings from Berlin. Even the fact that they had managed to send back a minature dictionary for German troops which they got hold of showing terms like, you know, take me to the collective farm chairman and hands up and all the terms that you'd expect for German troops to need in the event of an invasion. So I mean he had a whole raft of it. But he was convinced that this was all *something in Russian* i.e. an English provocation to force a fight with Germany to save Britain and that was why he a) rejected all the British ones but also as I say the ones coming from his own sources...

'So his suspicion of his own sources and of the, I suppose, capitalistic West, sort of overrode his suspicion of the Nazis then, in a way'...

'He even accepted the assurance of Hitler that the reason why so many troops were being moved... to the East, deployed in East Prussia, occupied Poland and further south, was to get them. out of the range of the bombing of the British... you'd have thought that he'd have done a little bit of research on the range of British bombers and all the rest of it. And also to know that the British bombing arm, Bomber Command at that particular stage was so weak and pathetic, I mean just Wellingtons and so forth, that they'd have been almost incapable of making any form of dent, if you like, into German forces...

As far as Churchill was concerned, you know, the moment that Pearl Harbor happened and America was brought into the war, Churchill knew from then on that the Allies could not lose. Obviously he had some very nasty nasty shocks. Fall of Singapore etc etc... that period of 1942 when one horror after another happened, you know. The British pushed... back virtually almost to the gates of Cairo and you've only got to look at the diaries of the time.

The danger of looking at history retrospectively. You've got to see how things were at the time and what they looked like... the British actually at that particular stage were even wondering: do we start destroying the Abidjan oil wells because they thought they were going to lose the whole of the Middle East. And they thought that the Germans were going to come down through the Caucasus and Rommel was going to charge through and link up and all the rest of it. And there was really a feeling that we've lost it completely. But that was not the case because what they had underestimated was this question of the cumulative point"

Links - 8th August 2016

NUS suspends freshmen Orientation Week after reports of inappropriate activities
This is why we can't have nice things. I hope people are happy now
"Why they never suspend NS during the Purple Light saga."
"I quote a friend's foreign colleague's diagnosis re Singapore: be ignorant and complacent when no one says anything, and when something happens overreact like it's the end of the world"
[On itai itai yamete] "Many cheers have no meaning and it just rhymes and easy to catch up with. E.g. Arts faculty T-house 6-7 minute cheer. R-house haka cheer... we have the fight, kill, fight, kill, fight kill fight kill fight kill [cheer]" (killing culture!)

Left-Wing Supporters Boo as Bernie Sanders Says 'We Must Elect Hillary Clinton' - "
If Clinton is corrupt and Sanders endorses her, does that mean he is corrupt too?

'White People to the Back!': Black Lives Matter Segregates Media by Race - "Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets in Philadelphia to protest police-involved shootings of African-Americans. During the demonstrations, protesters attempted to segregate members of the media based on their race. "White media get to the back! Black media come to the front!" one activist shouted into a megaphone. When white journalists didn't immediately comply, she singled one of them out. "Excuse me, sir!" she yelled. "Somebody needs to tell this person to get to the back. Go! Somebody needs to tell these folks to get to the back!" "We are not afraid to put people out! White people to the back! Black people to the front!""

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, How does the media shape propaganda in Putin's Russia? - "'Although during Soviet times, Russians rejected the propaganda or recognised it as such. they don't recognise what's going on now as propaganda'
'Well, this is the subtlety of it. Is the saving grace of the Soviet propaganda was that very few people believed it, because your everyday experience went against it. You were told on the radio or the television that the country's economy is booming, it's producing, it's much more successful than any capitalist economy. And then you went to the shop and you saw empty shelves. And that was a very good reality check on what was happening. Now the propaganda of today which is very much focused on the outside, on the experiences which people cannot check with their own lives, with their own eyes, this is the propaganda which people choose to believe. It's not just imposed on them. It's a much more subtle relationship. It's the state realising what are the weak points in people minds. What do they want to hear. And people choose to believe it. And it's playing on all sorts of things: on the humiliation after the Soviet collapse. On the craving for Russian greatness and empire. The horrible thing about this propaganda is that people want to believe it... the very first thing that Vladimir Putin did when he became President. Way before he got control of the oil and the gas and all the commanding heights of the economy. He took control of a television. And since then, television became the primary tool of his rule, basically"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Richard Dawkins on 40th anniversary of The Selfish Gene - "'If you breed for being good at the high jump, you'll find that you've bred for bad things at the same time. I don't know what they would be but a champion, a super champion high champion who could jump many feet higher than anybody can today would almost certainly be defective in other respects'
'On a much more prosaic level, though, if one wanted to change the genes so that one had a baby with blue eyes instead of brown eyes'
'You could do that. And a lot of people are very uneasy about that. Also uneasy about, say, breeding a mathematical genius. Or a musical genius. And again I think it's partly because that's what Hitler wanted to do and so obviously anything Hitler wanted to do, automatically suspicious of. It's in a way a little bit curious that we're more suspicious of trying to breed a brilliant musician than we are of forcing a child to do 5 finger exercises for many hours per day - and there are parents ambitious for their children who will do that. And so the environmental pressure on a child is not regarded with the same suspicion as the genetic pressure to breed a perfect musician.'
'Why not, you think?'
'I think partly because of Hitler. And there's a sort of feeling that breeding or genetic manipulation, you're doing something for the distant future, which is contrary to the precautionary principle in a way that merely training, forcing a child to be a brilliant musician - even against its will, that only lasts for one generation'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Are 1 in 5 children reported to social services before the age of 5? - "We have this mantra which says it's everybody's job to safeguard children. Unfortunately, what we're doing doesn't safeguard children. Creating this huge number of referrals of concerns is like creating a huge extra big haystack in which we're trying to find the needle of the children who are really at risk

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Thursday's business with Rob Young - [On Tata Steel pensions] "We are getting rather carried away with ourselves. I believe in the cockup theory of government, rather than conspiracy theory of government. I don't believe... that people in (?) have actually been working on this for a long time. They haven't. They're making up on the hoof in response to events, which is never a good outcome"

The war in Malaya, 1948-60 - "Between 1948 and 1960 the British military fought what is conventionally called the “emergency” or “counter-insurgency” campaign in Malaya, a British colony until independence in 1957. The declassified files reveal that Britain resorted to very brutal measures in the war, including widespread aerial bombing and the use of a forerunner to modern cluster bombs. Britain also set up a grotesque “resettlement” programme that provided a model for the US’s horrific “strategic hamlet” programmes in Vietnam. It also used chemical agents from which the US may again have drawn lessons in its use of agent orange... Britain used the emergency, declared in 1948, not just to defeat the armed insurgency, but also to crack down on workers’ rights... Templer famously said in Malaya that “the answer lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people”. Despite this rhetoric, British policy succeeded because it was grossly repressive, and was really about establishing control over the Chinese population. The centrepiece of this was the “Briggs Plan”, begun in 1950 – a “resettlement” programme involving the removal of over half a million Chinese squatters into hundreds of “new villages”. The Colonial Office referred to the policy as “a great piece of social development”... Many complained both that the new villages lacked essential facilities and that they were no more than concentration camps... A government newsletter said that an essential aspect of “resettlement” was “to educate [the Chinese] into accepting the control of government” – control over them, that is, by the British and Malays. “We still have a long way to go in conditioning the [Chinese]”, the colonial government declared, “to accept policies which can easily be twisted by the opposition to appear as acts of colonial oppression”. But the task was made easier since “it must always be emphasised that the Chinese mind is schizophrenic and ever subject to the twin stimuli of racialism and self-interest”. A key British war measure was inflicting “collective punishments” on villages where people were deemed to be aiding the insurgents”"

Episode 26: The Lion of Singapore - "David also thought he’d bring in his friend S Rajaratnam and his friends, Goh Keng Swee, Kenny Byrne, Toh Chng Chye, and Lee Kuan Yew. All of them met in Lee’s home in Oxley Road in January 1954, but, as David wrote in his diary, the meeting left a “bitter taste”. Fundamentally, they were apart in matters of principle and attitude. Marshall focused on principles, what was right and wrong; Lee on power, what worked and didn’t work. Marshall saw Lee as disguistingly amoral; Lee saw Marshall as hopelessly idealistic. And most of all, Marshall and Thomas recalled, they could not stand how Lee looked down upon them. The elitist arrogance of the man. Years later, Lee confirmed this in his own autobiography, where he wrote very condescendingly about David Marshall and Francis Thomas"

One-armed athlete pleads guilty to child trafficking, recruiting women for prostitution - "National para-athlete Adam Kamis pleaded guilty on Monday (Jun 20) to 11 charges of recruiting women for prostitution and one count of child trafficking, for recruiting a 16-year-old girl with the intention of sexually exploiting her. Adam, also known as “Adam OneArmRunner”, lost his right arm in a motorcycle accident, which also left his left arm paralysed. The para-athlete, who represented Singapore at the Commonwealth Games and ASEAN Para Games, said he had started the social escort agency in early 2013 to get out of debt... Adam told the women to strip, so he could “inspect the condition of their bodies”. To prove that they were indeed willing to provide sexual services, Adam would “try out” the women by having sex with them... If the women did not perform satisfactorily, or were “awkward and lacking in skill and personality”, DPP Sripathy-Shanaz said, Adam would have sex with them again for “further verification”. Prosecutors said between early 2013 and October 2015, when he was arrested, Adam had recruited 15 women. His victims included several students, a dental assistant, childcare teacher and an accountant, and were aged between 16 and 38."
Why are 38 year old women also "victims"?

Para-athlete 'Adam Onearmrunner' convicted of vice charges - "Although Adam successfully recruited 15 women, he only managed to secure five customers as several women declined assignments for various reasons, the court was told. He has not received any commission to date."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Thursday's business with Rob Young - "When Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, it was actually prohibited to have a private business. Yet I think the people during the Soviet times were very entrepreneurial because the only way you could get something is essentially if you built it yourself"

What’s the difference between dolls and action figures? - "The word “doll” is weirdly fraught for a very straightforward concept: Dictionary.com defines a doll as “a small figure representing a baby or other human being, especially for use as a child’s toy.” Which is to say that while not every doll is an action figure, every action figure is, by definition, a doll... Hasbro coined the phrase to market the earliest G.I. Joe figures to boys who considered dolls to be a “girl’s toy.” Today, an “action figure” is considered to be any poseable doll marketed to boys... Play patterns with dolls versus action figures also overlap considerably"

Loretta Lynch: 'Islam,' 'ISIS' to be Censored on Orlando 911 Tape - "She told Chuck Todd on NBC News’ Meet the Press that the “FBI is releasing a partial [printed] transcript of the killer’s calls with law enforcement, from inside the club,” but added: “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.” Todd responded, incredulously: “We’re not going to hear him talk about those things?” Lynch added: “We will hear him talk about some of those things, but we are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance and that.”"

Episode 27: “The Living Buddha” - "If you read only English language sources, like the official documents, the Straits Times, and Lee Kuan Yew’s autobiography, then you get an image of the David Marshall period as being really turbulent and unstable. Marshall’s government is called ‘weak’ and ‘soft’, capitulating to subversive elements, and allowing communists free rein. LKY, of course, takes this a step further. He linked Marshall’s principles of justice and democracy with chaos and instability. Look, Lee appears to say, if you want democracy, you also get instability. He uses the Marshall government as an instructive contrast to the relative peace and stability created by the repression and detentions of Lee’s own government. Lee accepts that Marshall established abstract principles, and demonstrated ideals and values, but argues he had little practical impact. Lee writes rather condescendingly of Marshall and describes him as, among other things, ‘naïve’. But of course, the English-language perspective is just one set of perspectives, and a minority one. If you look at the Chinese-language sources – and remember, those who spoke Chinese as a first language comprised over 70% of the island back then – if you look at the Chinese language sources, we see a very different Marshall. That’s the Marshall we will be talking about today... Nicoll refused to allocate a separate Chief Minister’s office, until Marshall threatened to set up his desk under a tree in front the secretariat. Then, miraculously, they managed to find a tiny office for Marshall. Like Harry Potter, they gave Marshall the office under the staircase. It was a tiny cubicle, 12 by 14 feet, but Marshall gave it dignity... During the riot, several students were arrested and three Chinese schools closed. The outraged students barricaded themselves in Chung Cheng High School. Nicoll warned that another climb-down could weaken the administration and offered to take full responsibility for the use of reserve powers to evict the students, but Marshall refused this deception, saying it would be dishonest on his part. This principle is, of course, in stark contrast to Lee Kuan Yew, who would later repeatedly use the British as cover, by publicly blaming them while privately ordering the detention without trial of his own comrades. But for Marshall, the issue was not just honesty but responsibility. If you make a decision, if you take up a policy, you take responsibility for it."

Ramsay Bolton actor Iwan Rheon: 'Game of Thrones writers joked that I would end up on the Iron Throne' - "Earlier this year, Rheon spoke to the Telegraph about the controversy the rape scene caused when it aired in 2015. “I was surprised by the outcry because I thought that they had handled it, creatively, very well,” he said. “They hadn’t oversexualised it or made it too gratuitous. They hadn’t trivialised it. I thought it moved the characters forward.” “I think maybe if people put more effort into the charities that help women in the world today deal with the horror of rape, and put less effort into social media about a fantasy show, then maybe things could change."

Wo-Hen Resurgence

Something a friend in California saw on Sunday:


Make your way to Cache Creek Casino Resort on Saturday, September 17th 2016 to see Tuan Anh!
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