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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Links - 19th August 2017 (2)

CNN Deleted A Story Linking Trump And Russia, Then Issued A Retraction After Questions Were Raised - "CNN late Friday deleted a story from its website that claimed Senate investigators were looking into a Russian investment fund whose chief executive met with a member of President Trump’s transition team, later issuing a retraction in the story's place. The now-deleted story, by investigative reporter Thomas Frank, was published Thursday and cited a single, unnamed source who claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into a "$10-billion Russian investment fund whose chief executive met with a member of President Donald Trump's transition team four days before Trump's inauguration"... Deleting stories without explanation is considered a serious lapse of journalistic ethics"

The future of feminism: The gender revolution has stalled because feminists think empowement is more important than power - "In the age of celebrity feminism and performative male feminists, the idea that feminism is about “equality for all genders” has become increasingly fashionable. And yet, to me, nothing says misogyny like defining feminism as equality for all—as if focusing a movement, or policy, or activism on women alone is taboo... a successful women’s movement in America must ally the 99% and the 1%, black women and white women, straight women and lesbians. Any activism that pits women against each other is not feminism, because sisterhood is our most powerful tool
A feminist admits and proclaims that feminism isn't really about gender equality. Doubtless she will be condemned by other feminists - but only if this is brought up, and otherwise ignored
Does this mean intersectional feminism isn't feminism?

Canada’s Secret to Resisting the West’s Populist Wave - The New York Times - "In 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau faced a crisis amid the rise of French Canadian separatism in Quebec. His party was losing support, and his country seemed at risk of splitting in two. Mr. Trudeau’s solution was a policy of official multiculturalism and widespread immigration. This would resolve the conflict over whether Canadian identity was more Anglophone or Francophone — it would be neither, with a range of diversity wide enough to trivialize the old divisions. It would also provide a base of immigrant voters to shore up Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party... Virtually every immigrant to Canada is brought here deliberately. Research suggests that uncontrolled immigration, for example the mass arrival of refugees in Europe, can trigger a populist backlash, regardless of whether those arrivals pose a threat."

Hong Kong’s part-time girlfriends (and a boyfriend) tell their stories - "The phenomenon of part-time girlfriends – or PTGFs – for rent in Hong Kong has blossomed on social media in recent months. They offer services ranging from dining out to watching movies, but also the full gamut of sexual services, with dates costing between HK$100 and HK$4,000, depending on what’s on the agenda. The trend made headlines last week when 10 Hong Kong women, including a secondary school pupil, were arrested on suspicion of advertising sexual services as part-time girlfriends on their Instagram and Facebook accounts... Being a PTGF has helped Celine to better understand the way men think and behave, she says. It’s also given her a clearer idea of the kind of man she is ultimately looking for. She says it will help her to better understand a future boyfriend or husband. She has no problem with the social stigma attached to being a PTGF. “People pay to hang out with me. It’s not much different from seeing a social worker. I have nothing to fear about people finding out I’m a PTGF. After all, I’m not selling my body”... “I differ from other PTBFs in that I have low self-confidence. While other PTBFs highlight their strengths on their self-introduction on Instagram, I emphasise that I’m not a good PTBF. When I think I haven’t performed well, I feel I don’t deserve the customer’s money.”

Hong Kong singles ‘world’s most desperate’, suggests data from dating app - "According to Coffee Meets Bagel, which claims to help singles look for meaningful relationships rather than one-night stands, 66 per cent of Hongkongers who have downloaded the app log on every day. That’s the highest rate of all the app’s markets... Hong Kong women were more forward than their counterparts in the US, which could be linked to the city’s higher female-to-male ratio."

Underage girls, rape … and handbags: inside the murky world of Hong Kong’s compensated dating scene - "Chief Inspector Frances Lee King-hei from the police family conflict and sexual violence policy unit said teenagers often saw compensated dating as a business and had no moral objections to such transactions. “They often think of themselves as entrepreneurs ... and they market themselves,” Lee said. “But they overestimate their ability to control the situation. They think they are in control of the situation and say they have an agreement with their clients about boundaries and rules. But who would really adhere to those rules once you’re already out with that man?”... “We got to know a case [through NGOs] in which a girl was shopping and found something she wanted to buy, but she didn’t have the money. She immediately found a client online and a few hours later got enough money to buy what she wanted”"

Chinese passenger delays flight after chucking coins into plane’s engine for luck - "A superstitious passenger delayed a flight from Shanghai for several hours Tuesday (June 27) after throwing coins at the plane’s engine for good luck"

Swedish Christian Kids Prohibited From Saying Grace or ‘Amen’ At Mealtimes - "A Christian preschool in Sweden has banned children from saying grace at mealtimes, talking about the Bible, or saying “Amen”. The decision to forbid children at the school in Umea to engage in religious practices was reached after a school inspection. The municipality’s supervisors in charge of education noted that the Christian activities violate Sweden’s educational policies"

What’s the best age gap in a relationship? - "A bright young thing considering a silver fox should also take heart from a study by Britain’s Office of National Statistics. It did not find a strong link between age gaps and divorce rates in England and Wales, though there was some evidence that women marrying later than 30 who were more than ten years older than their spouse were more likely to divorce... men with younger spouses survived for longer than those with ones of a similar age. The older their spouse, the worse their survival chances, even after controlling for things like education and wealth... mysteriously, this phenomenon does not appear to apply to women, where the bigger the age gap, the worse their survival chances, regardless of whether they were younger or older... What evidence there is, therefore, vindicates the choices of OKCupid’s users: women should pick men who are as close as possible in age to them, while men should look for younger women"

The Message in Arafat's Headdress - "Arafat's oddly-arranged keffiyeh is meant to resemble the map of "Palestine" -- the Arab state whose creation is his all-consuming goal. It is an emphatic symbol: Without uttering a word, Arafat conveys to everyone who sees him that Palestine is always on his mind. But look again. The shape of Arafat's keffiyeh doesn't correspond with Palestine at all -- not if Palestine means the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the territories Israel took from Jordan and Egypt during the Six-Day War. What it resembles is the map of Israel -- the whole of Israel, from the northern peak of the Galilee, down along the Mediterranean coast, and from there to the southern tip at Eilat. In short, the Palestine that is always on Arafat's mind is not an Arab state that coexists with Israel, but an Arab state that takes the place of Israel. The message conveyed by his keffiyeh is indeed emphatic: It is a message of war without end... Fatah isn't the only PLO faction whose emblem features a map of Palestine that comprises all of Israel. Most of them do, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestine Liberation Front, Al-Saika, and the PLO itself"

Cheetahs Are So Shy That Zoos Give Them Their Own Emotional “Support Dogs”

Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree. - The New York Times - "some men who might have been willing to consider lower-paid jobs in typically feminine fields encountered resistance from their wives, who urged them to keep looking... while work is important to both men’s and women’s identities, there remains a difference. “Work is at the core of what it means to be a man, in a way that work is not at the core of femininity”... many clients remain suspicious of male home health care aides, worried about abuse or sexual predation, and convinced that women will be more caring. “A lot of families prefer females,” he said. “It’s sad because there’s a lot of patients who could stay at home longer if there were more males in the field. They need assistance like getting in and out of the bed, transferring to the shower — it’s a very physically demanding job.” He has also found that many patients, often older women because they live longer, enjoy having male home health aides to talk to... he interviewed recruiters for female-dominated jobs that are also expanding in this economy, such as administration. They were outspoken about their preference for women, he said. “Their rationale was that men are going to be bored in this job,” he said. “The man who is applying for this kind of job would be desperate. And you’re going to leave as soon as you get that other job.” Men can also face resistance from their female peers. Jason Mott, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said some of his male students were teased by their female classmates. “They feel they need to really express their manhood, stressing the athletics they take part in,” he said... “I sometimes wonder if health organizations don’t want men to come into these jobs because they’ll demand higher wages,” Professor Dill said. “They’re happy to have a work force of women they can pay $8 or $9 an hour.”"
If women support "patriarchy", either it isn't really bad for women, or the women are deluded (which ironically is an anti-feminist notion which is presumably okay if deployed to defend feminism)

Seattle’s Minimum Wage Hike May Have Gone Too Far - "In January 2016, Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $11 an hour to $13 for large employers, the second big increase in less than a year. New research released Monday by a team of economists at the University of Washington suggests the wage hike may have come at a significant cost: The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline... Most — though by no means all — past research has found that modest increases to the minimum wage have little impact on employment, and that if employers do eliminate jobs or cut back hours, those losses are dwarfed by the income gains enjoyed by the majority of workers who keep their jobs. But those studies were mostly based on minimum wages that were much lower than the ones beginning to take effect now. Even some liberal economists have expressed concern, often privately, that employers might respond differently to a minimum wage of $12 or $15, which would affect a far broader swath of workers than the part-time fast-food and retail employees who typically dominate the ranks of minimum-wage earners"

Why the Cross Put Chickens on a New Road - "“Interestingly this time period coincides with a…substantial increase in chicken consumption known from the archaeological record. Historians suggest that a key driver behind these changes was the rising popularity and spread of Christian traditions, which discouraged and also on occasions even banned eating meat from four-legged animals.” But fowl were fair game. “What is really exciting about this new study is that for the first time we can directly link genetic changes in domestic animal with cultural shifts in human food preference"

Keep Rolling Luggage Upright with Physics - ""And the first reaction you will have maybe is to slow down. But actually if you slow down you'll experience very big rocking oscillations." The way back to a smooth ride, he says, is to keep up your speed, or move even faster, once rocking begins. The study is in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. [G. Facchini et al., The rolling suitcase instability: a coupling between translation and rotation] There are other solutions to suitcase instability—like doing a better packing job. "If you put heavy stuff close to the axis of symmetry, or close to the wheel axis, then it's stable, too." And Courrech du Pont has one more piece of advice to avoid rocking in the first place: "If you go slow enough it will always be stable." Keep that in mind, next time you're running to your gate."

Measures to mitigate risks from ibuprofen, other painkillers adequate: HSA - "In Singapore, low-dosage ibuprofen (200mg) was reclassified from pharmacy-only to general sale list (GSL) in 2016, which means that it can be obtained freely from any retailer without a prescription."
Given how in many places it's OTC...

Your Identity is Not an Argument - "If your physical features, constructivist identity tropes and subjective experience are the only grounds on which you feel confident to give an opinion then you are at once both underselling your value as a rational thinker and overselling your value as a speaker for all who share some arbitrary feature. As Douglas Murray so pithily said upon admitting that this sentence starter was his personal bugbear: “If your point is good it will be valid whoever is saying it.” So, no, I don’t care who you are speaking as but I do care about the full contents of what you’re saying. Insofar as it is on the spectrum of reasonable and supported in some regard by reason itself, it will have value. Insofar as it is self-referential, grounded in narcissism, funnelled through personal biases, hampered by subjectivity, built around your lived experience and intuitive only to those who share your specific piecemeal identity, well then the value is in entertainment only. Facts are facts precisely because they have been proven to be true free from biases, tested under the rigor of empiricism and embraced or questioned along humanist lines... the authority we grant to certain identities does real world damage. For example, I have heard of white feminist groups at two different universities who were so obsessed – and evidently threatened – by intersectionality theory that they felt they could not debate Beyoncé’s feminist credentials as they did not feel comfortable giving a full account of the racial dimension of her activism, not being black themselves. Such a corrosive reduction of humanity to the unthinkably narrow-minded and the impossibly apathetic is worrying."

Mizzou Loses Applicants Thanks To Political Correctness, Forced To Rent Dorms For Football Games - "After the debacle in 2015 when the University of Missouri embraced political correctness, allowing flimsily-supported racism charges to go unchallenged, resulting in the resignation of the university’s president, enrollment plunged. As The Daily Wire has reported, “Many parents and alumni responded by refusing to contribute money to the public university. For example, donations to its athletics department dropped 72% last year.” Now the University of Missouri is attempting to recoup some of its massive losses by renting dorm rooms to football weekend visitors."
Is the University of Missouri a small, unrepresentative elite college?

FROM BAD TO WORSE: After Caving to Black Lives Matter, Mizzou Closes Seven Dorms, Cuts 400 Jobs - "the university is temporarily closing seven dormitories and cutting over 400 positions, including those of some non-tenured faculty members... You might expect that the decline in enrollment occurred primarily among whites... But here’s the big surprise: as the Times notes: “Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42%, than among whites, at 21%.” Mun Choi, the new University of Missouri System president, told the Times, “The general consensus was that it was because of the aftermath of what happened in November 2015"
The invisible hand is more powerful than social justice

Muslim contributed terrorism - "Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini said: "Why do they hate us?! If they didn't, there would be something mentally wrong with them." Claiming that the Muslims have contributed nothing to the West except slaughter, massacres, and terror attacks, Al-Husseini said: "And you still expect them to love us?!""

Mia Khalifa punches a fan for taking her picture - "Khalifa later implied on Twitter that the man had jumped in front of her and shoved his camera in her face"

Charlie Gard's parents lose their final appeal - "Chris Gard, 32, and Connie Yates, 31, wanted to take their 10-month-old son - who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage - to the US to undergo a therapy trial. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, where Charlie is being cared for, said they wanted him to be able to 'die with dignity'... specialists at Great Ormond Street said therapy in the US is experimental and will not help and added that life support should stop... the ECHR rejected a last-ditch plea and their 'final' decision means the baby's life support machine will be switched off"... barrister Richard Gordon QC, who leads Charlie's parents' legal team, has given indications of the case the couple are mounting in the European court. He has suggested that British government ministers may be in breach of human rights obligations as a result of decisions by judges in London. He has said parents should be free to make decisions about their children's treatment unless any proposal poses a risk of significant harm. Mr Gordon also suggested that Charlie's rights to life and liberty might have been breached and the couple's right to respect for family life infringed.
This is an inevitable consequence of the fetish for ""protecting" children" and the slippery slope of euthanasia

Distrust of vaccinations on the rise across EU - "“I would like to give people two pieces of advice. Firstly, there should be no rush to vaccinate babies, as their immune systems are too fragile to receive vaccines in the first year. Secondly, be vigilant for side effects and declare them to the pharmacovigilance organisation,” Serge Rader said. “This is in the interest of public health, which today is dominated by financial interests,” he added.
If doctors stand to benefit financially from vaccination, then they are biased sources and cannot be trusted, and we should discard their recommendations
Post-modernism and autistic banging on about conflicts of interest have consequences

Feminists vs the Reality of Jane Austen

Today program podcast 30/10/13: 'It perpetuates the myth of the safe Jane Austen'
(on the portrait of her used on a bank note)

"The warm cozy consensus has been shattered by an argument over the picture that is going to be used of her. Joining us now is Paula Byrne, a biographer of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Proudman who's chairman of the Jane Austen Society which worked with the Bank of England in fact on the selection of a picture for the note...

'There's only one authentic sketch but really we don't know what Jane Austen looked like and the authentic sketch was done by her sister Cassandra in eighteen ten and it's not a particularly attractive picture. All you really know about what Jane Austen looked like was she had very expressive dark eyes and that her hair curled naturally around her forehead'...

'It was by people who did have some connection to Jane Austen.'

'They were people who knew her and it seems to me this is the best, really the best image of her we could have'

'It's a Victorian highly sentimentalized makeover. She looks like a doll. Her eyes have been, her eyes are over large. It is honestly, it's like a Katie Price makeover of the funniest writer who walked this planet. And she's made to look dim witted'

'And it's a kind of frilly little bonnet kind of thing'

'Exactly. And it just perpetuates this image that Jane Austen is a safe cozy writer. She's not. She's a subversive writer, she is a feminist, she writes about social class. And it perpetuates this ridiculous myth of the safe Jane Austen and to make her look like a doll honestly I find it unforgivable'...

'It seems to me that she is looking out of some fairly fairly appraising eyes. She is looking out with a fairly sharp look I think'

'Elizabeth, do you agree with Paula's interpretation of who Jane Austen was and what she represented. This biting person of a feminist and all these feisty characteristics'

'No I don't. I think she was a very, a critic, very much critical of the mores of her age but she was not a feminist. I don'-'

'She was. She wrote about women. She wrote about women's situation, she wrote about female consciousness, she wrote about women's status, limited power'

'She wrote the gray heroine centered novels. She put the novel on the map. How could she not be a proto feminist? I simply can't understand how anybody who reads Jane Austen can think that she's not writing about women'

'Oh she's certainly-'

'Well that's proto feminism!'

'She's certainly writing about women but I don't think she's a fighter. She was- *feminist gasps* She was describing what she saw and I am not sure that she wanted to change necessarily what-'...

'When they thought they were going to put Jane Austen on the banknote they thought it was an uncontroversial decision. They thought it was safe'...

'Well, come off it. What, I mean there is no other portrait they could have used of her. I would say that it's prettified and she's wearing a bonnet and so on but of course she always did, she did always wear it'

This is yet another instance of how feminists are eager to make up stuff to push their agenda.

It's okay for feminists to fem-splain non-feminists apparently (though maybe not if a male feminist does it to a non-feminist female).

Links - 19th August 2017 (1)

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Richard III - "'Within a few days of becoming Prime Minister Winston Churchill sank the French fleet with massive loss of life. Do you think if he had been empathetic and conscientious we would have won World War II?... I think I'd feel a bit happier not being led by someone empathetic and conscientious you know if for example Mr Putin becomes a difficulty to us...
She seems to make a division, division between the past and the future and there is no such division you know. We are just in a point of time. So basically her view seemed to be it was perfect alright to have ruthless people in the past because we needed them in the past but in the future we didn't need ruthless people we want people with soft skills and empathy and so on. And I think that is a dangerous that point of view because we don't know what the future holds but to judge by the past it's likely to hold a very large numbers of dangers and it seems to me that we've done pretty well by having some of these people, some of whom may have been quite close to being psychopathic but they've turned out to be people who could defend our values at times when-...
[On celebrities] I think they are the jesters of modern society. They provide vast amounts of entertainment. The people who hound them ruthlessly, who are the tabloid press would of course be immensely disappointed, not to say put out of business if these people didn't have these exotic private lives to be hounded"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Moral imagination and migration - "For me the issue is the way that those two people make an extraordinary logical leap between identifying a problem which is deeply emotionally awful and a solution which is let everyone into Britain. I don't understand the leap between those two things. Why can we not experience the emotion and then have a rational debate about what to do about those people that could include for instance, refugees safe zones around their country, spending more money on their countries, dispersing across Europe. Why is it that particularly here in Britain it feels, we always jump on to: and let everyone in...
'Eritrea is a giant concentration camp. Somalia is a total mess. Everybody in those countries could, have a you know a reasonably justified fear of prosecution. They all might qualify as asylum seekers. I mean would you have more?'
'Absolutely. So here's the thing. I think when, the point at which I think that we can't or people think that they can't take any more, I think is the point where we fail. Our moral imagination has failed. Our capacity has failed. I don't prize it, I don't say this is absolutely fine. I think we should, we must, it's like how much you give to charity. When people ask me how much to give to charity, I go: give as much as you can, give until it hurts and then give a bit more and I think that's the number of people we should have in this country'
'When it comes to empathy, I find this example useful. A father is sailing with his son and his son's friend. The boat capsizes. The father can only save one of them. Who does he save? If he saves the stranger he is an amazing humanitarian because he's put his son aside and he saves someone he didn't even know. But he's a bad father. And the same goes for nation states... It is understood when we elect MPs or we elect governments it is understood they will act primarily in our interests... it will be a pretty odd democratic government if it said: let in everyone at the cost of the welfare of their own people...
If we do allow in another hundred thousand will there not be another hundred thousand encouraged to set sail? Will we not then be responsible for the next five thousand who drown in the Mediterranean because we have given them the impression that if they can just make it to France or Italy they will be admitted to the United Kingdom?"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Work Ethic - "'The protestant work ethic is a big mistake by Max Weber. In in the heart of Protestantism is the belief that we are saved by grace and not by works and Max Weber was making a sociological point but absolutely not a theological point'...
Anyone who's read any Greek philosophy or any philosophy indeed or ever listened to a piece of music or read a novel or read poetry will know that idleness is the source of all culture and all that's good because idleness leads to a sort of loosening of the creative juices. They start to flow when you're resting, when you're going in between wakefulness and sleep. Idlesness is also called contemplation. It's called prayer. It's called reflection. It was valued by the ancient Greeks, it was valued by the Romans. The Romans had the word otium for leisure"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Islamic Terrorism - "Should we change our foreign policy then? Tell you what, we need to the kids who apologizing and apologists for ISIS. I mean I wish I'd read a few books on foreign policy. I mean a lot of them don't know anything about the history of the Middle East. They've got absolutely no interest. They talk about the ummah, but then they sound like kind of identity politics kids at uni just like a feminists or something moaning about the-...
We should have more confidence in Western liberal values. The thing is is that I think he slightly underestimated how under assault they were and not from ISIS. That's my problem, I mean. You know if you kind of talk to me when you go and talk to a lot of young people and say you know they're the ones who'll sort of say oh well we know we've made terrible errors, we've got to compromise. You know who believes in progress anymore? These aren't, you know, Muslim kids. It's got nothing to do with religion. Guess what? They're members of the Green Party or something. Sort of say we've got to curtail our free speech you'll find out that they're feminist. So it seems to me that there's a major assault on all of the gains of western society"
If terrorists not knowing a lot about Islam means terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, terrorists not knowing about the history of the Middle East means terrorism has nothing to do with the Crusades, Sykes–Picot etc

Word of the Day: Acronym | Merriam-Webster - "When acronym first entered English, some usage commentators decreed that it should refer to combinations of initial letters that were pronounced as if they were whole words (such as radar and scuba), differentiated from an initialism, which is spoken by pronouncing the component letters (as in FBI and CEO). These days, however, that distinction is largely lost, and acronym is a common label for both types of abbreviation."

Original Recipe | This American Life - "The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. Locked in a vault in Atlanta. Supposedly unreplicable. But we think we may have found the original recipe. And to see if the formula actually might be Coke, we made a batch. Or, anyway, we asked the folks at Jones Soda and Sovereign Flavors to whip up some up, to see if it tastes like Coke"

The Legend of the Chanel Logo's Double C - "The explanation that Chanel (the modern company) and biographer Justine Picardie subscribe to is that the answer can be found at the Chapel of Aubazine, a Cistercian monastery and abbey that also housed an orphanage where Chanel spent the latter half of her childhood."

The History of the Condom - "In ancient Egypt, historians believed people used a linen sheath around the penis as protection against troublesome insects and tropical diseases. To prevent infection, the Chinese wrapped oiled silk paper around the penis, while the Japanese used leather and tortoiseshell sheaths. During this time period, using materials made from animal parts was very common. The Romans developed condoms made of goats' bladders."

Faut-il mettre un accent sur les majuscules ? - "En imprimerie on a longtemps utilisé des caractères de plomb à taille fixe. Toutes la majuscules avient la même taille. Si on accentuait ces capitales alors leur hauteur aurait été supérieure. Pour la réduire il aurait fallu graver des caractères spéciaux pour les capitales accentuées afin de réduire leur hauteur pour leur ajouter au-dessus l’accent. Solution trop complexe et surtout peut-être trop coûteuse. De plus les machines à composer ayant été le plus souvent d’origine anglo-saxonne il n’était pas prévu de mettre des accents sur les capitales."

Evolution, Accelerated - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "If you knew that your potential mate was of high likelihood of developing early dementia, you might think twice before getting married. Phenotypes are for hookups but genotype is forever. So the technology for that is here now. It could be used in fertility clinics. It could be used on dating apps, where people could put their genetic profile linked from 23andme to OKCupid."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Turning a Blind Eye and the Law - "Apparently there's still a law on the statute book dating back to the Middle Ages that all males over fourteen should do a minimum of two hours a week with a longbow in front of a vicar too. The police seem a bit slack on following up on this which is hardly surprising but then they seem increasingly reluctant to enforce a whole raft of more modern laws which raises more serious questions. Many forces it seems have effectively stopped taking shoplifters to court. Most are largely turning a blind eye to people using cannabis. Prosecutions for using a mobile while driving have halved in five years and they've already singled they haven't the time or the manpower to enforce the new law against smoking with a child in the car...
Recently a theft allegation was taken up by the police of a daughter who used one perfume puff of her mother's perfume. Another case where an element of theft was investigated by the police by someone who mowed someone else's lawn by accident and there was theft of the grass"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Finsbury Park attack: How can different religions work together? - "'Some of the interfaith work not only avoided the difficult conversations that were needed but it also provided an unchallenged platform or legitimacy to those whose views and values actually undermined cohesion. It's the argument that you're trying, all trying so hard to be inclusive that you end up with a rather soft feeling initiative.'
'I completely agree and tea and samosas does not only not do the job sometimes it acts as a smoke screen. And what we need to do and is starting to happen are real, tough conversations. Conversations around Israel-Palestine. Conversations around British values. Conversations around conspiracy theories'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "People were very enthused by price comparison websites until they found out the technology was being used not to give them necessarily the best price but the one that the people who set up the website have been incentivised to provide"

TV ads 'have little effect' on children - "Television advertising has little influence on children's real desire for consumer products and cannot provoke irresistible pester power against parents, according to new research. After analysing 20 international studies on children as consumers, Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College, London, said there was no evidence to support calls for stricter controls on the advertising of sweets, toys, music and other goods aimed at children... "When children are as young as three they can tell ads from programmes and by the time they are seven they realise that advertisements can mislead," he said. "Television advertisements are far less intrusive upon children's lives than is imagined. German data shows children between three and 13 spend only 1.4% of their waking time watching television advertisements... The evidence showed authoritative parenting styles - laying down rules and expectations, but explaining decisions and valuing the child's point of view - were more likely to nurture responsibility in children. This was better than authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. "Agreeing rules about pocket money and what it should and should not pay for helps turn children into responsible consumers. Banning advertising delays a child's understanding and decision making""

Singapore is falling behind Hong Kong, just do the math - "People in Hong Kong on average have US$29,000 each a year to spend on themselves while Singaporeans have only US$19,000, and the margin is growing rapidly in Hong Kong’s favour."

BBC Radio 4 - Our Man in the Middle East, Part 3: Retreat to the Mountains - "[On non intervention post Gulf War I] 'Mr George Bush is reponsible for all this. He could destroy Saddam and his army but he don't try. All this because he don't want Kurdish and Shia to be leader in era. To run Iraq. Kuwait is one million. We are five million. Saddam Hussein bombing bomber helicopters destroyed us. Why? We are human!'"
America is evil if they intervene. America is evil if they don't intervene. Maybe non-intervention also radicalises Middle Easterners into becoming terrorists

BBC Radio 4 - Our Man in the Middle East, Part 4: Jerusalem - "Jews had prayed for a return to Jerusalem since the temple was destroyed and by building on top of its ruins, Abdul Malik sent them a message - that history had moved on. He had one for Christians too, inscribed around the top of the arches that support the Dome. Sternly, a verse from the Koran pointed out errors in their beliefs. It tells how god could only be one god. He couldn't be split into a trinity as Christians believed, and he could never have a son...
I was filming near the Western Wall when a woman stopped with her own peace plan... 'The only hope for Jerusalem is you take God and move him somewhere else'"

BBC Radio 4 - Our Man in the Middle East, Part 9: A Blunt Instrument - "The regime - the tiger - could without a doubt have done more. It used money to rebuild palaces that could have been spent on food and medicines. But sanctions were a blunt instrument. Twenty years on they're still seen as a way of exerting pressure short of all out war. But since Iraq in the nineties the UN, the US and the European Union have tried to target sanctions. The Syrian leadership for example has been heavily sanctioned so far without any noticeable effect"

BBC Radio 4 - Our Man in the Middle East, Part 13: The Unravelling - "I used to go jogging in the early mornings in Baghdad. People looked at me as if I was mad. In most of the Middle East it is not dignified for a grown man to run down the street like a child. But it wasn't dangerous or difficult. I never felt unsafe alone on the streets of Baghdad in my sports gear. That was during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The thing about brutal police states is that there's very little violent crime unless someone gets ordered to do it"

New Christopher Nolan WWII Movie 'Dunkirk' Portrays White People as White, Runs Afoul of Diversity Police - "It used to be that high-profile Hollywood World War II movies got called out for taking liberties with the facts. These days, they’re getting in trouble for being too historically accurate."

USA Today Complains About Lack of 'Women' and 'No Lead Actors of Color' in Movie 'Dunkirk' - "Complaining about the lack of women and minority actors in a movie about Dunkirk is like complaining about the lack of Sinatra music in Straight Outta Compton or wondering why cancer failed to get equal time in Philadelphia or hectoring Hollywood over the omission of realistic sex scenes in the Toy Story trilogy."

Why Does Hollywood Get World War II So Wrong? - "Some movies have altered perceptions of the war itself. Historian W. Patrick Lang has pointed out how the story of the Pacific War has been twisted over the decades to become what is essentially a PR success for the U.S. Marine Corps. After WWII, General George C. Marshall, the US Army Chief of Staff, had in mind a plan to trim the Marines back to little more than a small naval landing force, naval prison guards, detachments on board capital ships and the like. The Marines were saved from that fate by John Wayne’s movie Sands of Iwo Jima. “This film made such an impression on the collective American mind that a massive reduction in marine force structure became impossible,” argues Lang. There is no mainstream postwar Hollywood epic centered on the Philippines Campaign of 1944-45 in which about 300,000 Japanese soldiers died, probably because virtually no Marines took part in the Philippine campaign. Overall, black-and-white movies were more accurate than recent ones, as there were more people alive in those days to rebuke producers and studios if they weren’t, and they also hired veterans as consultants. One of the greatest color movies of WWII, Patton, was co-produced by no less a figure than Frank McCarthy, who had been military secretary to General Marshall."

The joy of hate-watching - "“Today’s media culture is one of constant mockery and cynicism and evaluation,” Joli Jensen says. “Social media has made us all creators, in a sense, so we feel like we have more of a right to be snotty about someone not doing it as well as we think they should. We feel more entitled to judge and critique.” If only we knew how close our hate is to love."

A man helped a lost toddler find her parents, police say. He was smeared online as a predator and fled town. - The Washington Post - "A man trying to help a lost toddler find her parents was misidentified as a kidnapper on social media over the weekend, according to police in Lakeland, Fla., prompting him to leave town in fear for his safety and the safety of his family. The man was also punched by the child’s father who told local media that he “thought he was trying to take my daughter” and “wanted to kill him.” The whole episode prompted the Lakeland Police Department to warn citizens to “be careful about what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person … Before posting information on matters such as this, we encourage people to identify the source and the validity of such claims before sharing them”... The father made no apologies for his actions but told The Post, “All that matters is that my daughter is home safely.”"
Ahh, the moral panic about "protecting children". Now in future fewer people (or men, anyway) are going to help lost children and more children will suffer

Sex offenders including paedophiles should be allowed to adopt, Theresa May told - "Helen Reece, a reader in law at the London School of Economics, called on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying that this could breach their human rights. In an article in the respected Child and Family Law Quarterly, Miss Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not high among sex criminals, adding: “despite growing public concern over paedophilia, the numbers of child sex murders are very low”... Individuals are placed on the “Barred List” and banned from working with youngsters or vulnerable adults if they are convicted of a sexual or violent offence, or one involving the mistreatment of a child. Miss Reece criticised the rules for leading all sex offenders to be “tarred with the same brush,” saying that while “careful screening” was “important,” the issuing of a “blanket ban” violated the rights of criminals who wanted to adopt or work with young people. She highlighted the case of a grandfather with a conviction for having sex with a 15-year-old dating back to when he was 29, who was refused permission to adopt his own grandchildren... Comparing sex offenders to cohabiting couples, she suggested that if blanket bans on the former were allowed, it would make sense to bar those who were not married from adopting because parents who were wed were less likely to separate with harmful consequences for the child. She also highlighted the case of four nurses who recently won a High Court challenge after being barred for having convictions. One of the nurses was banned over a police caution for leaving her own children alone in their home... A Home Office spokesman said: “It is safe to say that the vetting review will not be considering allowing paedophiles to adopt. It wouldn’t exactly go down well with the public"
It is better that 1,000 children have no parents than one is at risk of being abused

Friday, August 18, 2017

Marx on Alienation

philosophy bites: Jonathan Wolff on Marx on Alienation

"The worker is alienated in four different ways under capitalism... the most straightforward is alienation from the product. Imagine someone on a production line or someone in a factory makes things and those things are taken away from the worker. The worker doesn't come to own them... It's not just that the product is taken away from the worker. But rather the product sort of reappears in alien form. One thing to bear in mind in all the notions of alienation is not just that something is removed, two things come apart. But what is lost reappears in some sort of alien form. It will often be that something that is part of the human essence comes back to dominate or oppress human beings in some unexpected way... [On things like boom-bust cycles] Marx says that we become playthings of alien forces but the facts about them, the metaphysics of these forces is that they are our own product. Capitalism as a monster that controls us that we created so this really I think it is the notion of alienation from the product at its deepest for Marx...

Alienation from productive activity and here he has particularly production line technology in mind. Human beings in producing reduce themselves to a level of a machine so that human beings have this tremendous potential. Human beings can Marx says even create in accordance with the laws of beauty but for most workers under capitalism certainly as Marx saw it they didn't exercise their will or consciousness or design. They were just told what to do, act in a mechanical way and Marx says that though human beings are essentially productive we feel most human when we're away from work. When we are eating, drinking and procreating which is a sort of parody of what human life should be because we should be at our most human when we creative and working...

Alienation from species essence and alienation from other human beings. Now all of these categories are somewhat merged together but we've got the third one now which is alienation from species essence. What Marx means by this is a human beings as a species have a particular essence. There are things about human beings that are distinctive to those human beings and Marx claims that under capitalism the vast majority of human beings don't enjoy their essence in their daily activity. For Marx the essence splits into two: part of it is the notion of what is special about human beings? What distinguishes human beings from animals in terms of what can we do? And here a point we've already touched on. Marx says that human beings are essentially creative... many animals produce things. We do the same thing but we learn from each other. One generation is better at producing things than the previous generation... under capitalism the vast majority of us are not able to do that...

Marx and other economists have distinguished two different forms of division of labor. One is a social division of labor - some people make shoes, some people make hats and you exchange it and there's a division of labor within the workplace whereby you get great specialization of tasks. Very famous example of this: Adam Smith wrote about a pin factory... Imagine an alien looking down on human life and seeing people going to shop people going to work and not understanding money. And think of what human beings have achieved is this incredible global system of cooperation. The martian might think how wonderful. Human beings can cooperate in this fantastic way. They're all doing these things for each other...

For the ordinary person, unreflective person they go to work, they get some money and they go to shops and they buy things with that money and they're cut off from this incredible division of labor that we're all part of... Marx says were alienated from other human beings...

'Marx said it's not for him to write the recipes for the cook shops for the future'

'That does sound a bit of a cop out'...

Marx's working method quite often was to pace around the room dictating. It's said that Marx couldn't read his own hand writing"

Links - 18th August 2017 (2)

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, A first glimpse of life under Taliban rule - "How was I supposed to know it was out of date? I can't read he shouts. It is no good. His punishment for selling out of date food? Three nights in jail and a fine. It is an astonishing sight: the Taliban carrying out health and safety checks...
Here we first encountered the strange compromise that is allowing this place to function. Despite being deep in Taliban territory this school is still being funded and inspected by the national government in Kabul. The teachers say there are some small changes in the way these subjects are taught in school but from the time when these schools were burnt by the Taliban to now when Taliban encourage the running of these schools is a big step forward for these children here... but there are no classes for the girls in this district. Though he insists they are taught elsewhere...
There's been studies saying that the average Afghan is spending two months of their annual salary on bribes. Everybody you speak to complains about having to pay bribes to local police, how they can't get justice and can't get any cases listened to without paying huge amounts of money. So it's easy for the Taliban, they can come in and say we provide security, we will give you speedy justice and we will not charge this money"

Why is the CPS spinning rape stats? - "the conviction rate for rape actually fell by three per cent. This means that, of all the cases brought to court, fewer cases ended in conviction than in the previous year. Worryingly, this drop in the conviction rate is the second drop of three per cent in two years. It now stands at 57 per cent, which is the same as it was in 2008. In 2013, the CPS was celebrating increasing this rate from 57 per cent in 2008 to an ‘all-time high’. Now, the rate has reverted right back to where the CPS started. This means that while rape convictions have risen numerically, they have fallen proportionately. Looked at another way, there have been significantly more acquittals in the past 12 months than in previous years. This means more innocent people have been prosecuted for rape than ever before. It has become clear over recent years that the CPS simply spins statistics in order to suit its purposes... the CPS still used that three per cent fall to justify the implementation of a new rape-action plan, which involved challenging the persistent ‘rape myths’ that allegedly exist among the public and ensuring that more people are charged and convicted of rape. Now, when the conviction rate drops again, the CPS simply focuses on the total number of people convicted of rape, a figure that says nothing about the success of the CPS in performing its function – which is objectively and impartially to select cases for prosecution that it thinks are more likely than not to end in a conviction."
Feminism has consequences

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Freedom of Expression - "The real reason we want to ban things is because we find them distasteful. And there're lots of things. Remember that there're lots of inoffensive images and stories and books that can have terrible effects. I mean a great deal of violence against sex workers has been perpetrated in the name of religion or in the light of texts about, images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And we're not going to ban images of the Mother of God because they've incited people to violence. If we're talking about cause and effect then beautiful things can produce monstrous effects...
[On Mein Kampf] Really it's about collective distaste. It masquerade sometimes as: if we don't publish this then we can prevent something bad happening but really it is the way that the modern German society choses to express its distaste and its distance from the past...
I did my PhD on Nietzsche. Nietzsche made me a Christian. Nietzsche had almost the opposite effect of what he intended, and that's what books can do"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Assisted Dying - "We have an old saying in the law, which is freedom in fetters. And what it means is that sometimes we have to restrict liberty in order to maintain the conditions that make liberty possible...
The rate of euthanasia in the Netherlands for example is increasing by 15% a year. It's estimated that a minimum 4% of all deaths in the Netherlands are by euthanasia... The current estimate is that twenty three percent of all deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands is not in accordance with the law and in one study in Belgium they resurveyed doctors who had said that they'd done euthanasia and 32 percent of those who'd carried it out said they'd done so not in accordance with the law so those are the sorts of utilitarian risks and harms that legalizing this does. And that's very relevant to whether or not you should legalize it if you are a utilitarian...
Actually the whole you know evidence that suicide is contagious. There's all this stuff about suicide contagion. Marilyn Monroe kills herself and twelve percent rise in, you know my children are more likely to kill themselves by thirty percent. It doesn't just affect me"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Public v Private Life - "Some of the qualities that made Lloyd George a remarkable war leader were his extraordinary energy which may have had some connection with his sexual energy...
Such evidence as exists in the late 20th century at least rather suggests that the public don't care very much about bad misbehavior in that category. I mean Clinton seemed to be almost more popular after the Monica Lewinsky scandal...
[On the press keeping quiet about Kennedy's infidelities] Maybe the press were compliant because the age we're talking about and some of the people we've been mentioning like Lloyd George and Kennedy lived in the age of terrifyingly dangerous issues. We were all on the brink of war: nuclear threats of the Cuban missile crisis and so on. What one wants from a leader then is somebody who makes the right calls and the right decisions and if he's philandering on the side this may tell us something about his character but I think the public feel the professionalism and excellence of his judgment, especially on war and peace issues, is what really counts...
There's a sense in your attitude or view of politics. Which suggests that the only people worth having in politics are either saints or cynics. People who are too good to be true, we don't have those kinds of saints in the world. Or people so cynical that it doesn't mater they don't care what's exposed about them... it's better to have... a saint with poor political views or a sinner with good political views?...
They become erotic figures. I mean John Kennedy may have decided to sleep with a lot of women but a lot of women decided to sleep with John Kennedy. When Nelson arived in Naples in 1797 Emma Hamilton threw herself at his feet. She was a married woman. And they then went on and had a child. I mean I feel very pleased that the News of the World didn't exist in 1797 because Nelson would never have made it through to the Battle of Trafalgar and we would have lost the Napoleonic War... They have that energy which makes them risk takers but they also then attract temptation as it were because there are people who want to do extraordinary things with them...
I was reading a Member of Parliament's website today which doesn't mention which party he's from. It's got to the point where their politics is the least important thing of all they do...
The paucity of leadership and the lack of big issues is one of the reasons that's led to this focus on people's private lives"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Just War and Gaza - "I've spoken to many military officers. I've spoken to many politicians out here who are directing the current conflict. I've spoken to soldiers on the ground. I've spoken to pilots who've flown combat missions into Gaza. It's at the top of their list of concerns. I spoke to a pilot who told me he had to abort 17 missions in 1 day and I said isn't that frustrating? He said it's not frustrating because we aborted them because there were civilians and the last thing we want to do is kill innocent civilians. This is not an army that is after killing civilians. If it was as I said earlier there would be many many more thousands killed...
Author of After the Terror which was described as a moral defense of Palestinian terrorism. Do you think Hamas is morally right to try to kill Israelis?'
'Civilians as well as soldiers?'
Asymmetric warfare does not justify asymmetric morality and you cannot start saying that it is fine to kill civilians in the way that Hamas have... They're inviting a pattern of warfare in which their civilians can, will inevitably be killed and that is negligent in my view. I think they have to find a way. Resistance does not always require violence, we know that...
If you could win the propaganda war then the other side's going to have to back off even if they've got right on their side because if you can get enough terrible TV pictures of children who are drawn into a crossfire and killed, then that is an argument of terrorism in effect...
I found it chilling that in the end what he was arguing was that grievance allows any behavior... Let's think for example about Eastern Ukraine. There are mutual grievances. And if we live in a world that says if my grievance is right then anything is justified in pursuit of that grievance then we are in a very dangerous world"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of the Imagination - "We're not talking about a decent society, we're talking about eradicating prejudice, which is a utopian program. It's impossible. And all utopian programs lead to totalitarianism and tyranny...
'You have an artistic work like Exhibit B. Produced by somebody who thinks they're making an Anti-racist artistic work exposing racial domination of slaves in the past. And it's called a racist play. There's a huge furore about it, there's a twitch on all the rest of it, and it's closed down. Artistic freedom is compromised massively by this atmosphere'
'Ultimately, thinking is the ultimate private sphere and that's what troubles me in trying to police thinking'"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, British Values - "I don't think that secular schools should be following their own curriculums. I am very much of the view that is the problem here is to do with academies and free schools which have been given far too much freedom to devise their curriculums. And in so doing they allow communities to devise their own conception of what they think is a good education. I think the state should have control over that because part of what gives us a common sense of solidarity and sense of who we are are the shared ideas, the shared debates that we have through education. And what we do through these schools is we stop people being able to have those shared discussions about the same kinds of topics...
There's this idea of people in Britain who hate British values and its culture. You know nihilistic, narrowly exclusionary, inward looking, not involving other people, contemptuous of the rule of law. You know not interested in free speech and so on... could I just suggest that maybe that problem is most widely expressed in academia rather than in the Koran. I mean all of the things I've just described are typical of what's happening at university campuses. As liberals I mean they hate British values, they hate British culture, they won't let you say that British history is this. They're completely obsessed with identity politics and free speech, don't even go there. They're banning everything...
According to a national report only thirty five percent of teachers actually felt confident in teaching in a multicultural school...
He and everybody else has missed what I consider to be one of most important points here which is that the issue to me is not about people living separate lives or segregated lives. I mean you know the ultra Orthodox Jewish community lives very segregated lives in America. The Amish live very segregated lives. These people don't concern anybody because they don't present any kind of threat to anybody. The problem we have is with certain strains within Islam which believe in colonizing British secular institutions like secular schools for values which are inimical to our own such as preaching hatred and intolerance and inequality. That's the problem that we have. It's not the segregation...
He thought the people who believe in Britishness most are ethnic minorities and working class people and people who believe in it least... middle class... university people and people who write for the Guardian"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Anonymity and sex offences - "In ten years' time after when you Google search my name it won't be about anything to do with anything that came out about the trial but it will all be about that I was accused of rape... The stigma I think is very much attached with the accusation of rape and sexual assault which for all sorts of reasons is set aside from almost anything else apart from murder...
I wonder why people like yourself insist on singling out sexual offenses of this kind of special treatment. I mean let's look at the conviction rate. It is simply not the case that the conviction rate is very low. The CPS report that you mentioned said that it was up to sixty three percent... at court stage and it's higher than the conviction rate for other serious offenses so what is all this nonsense about the conviction rate being low?... you're assuming that those reports are true. You're assuming that because a woman - let's assume it's a woman - makes a report of rape, therefore we must assume it's true and the defendant we must assume according to you must be guilty... you are assuming that men are guilty until proven innocent...
We shouldn't underestimate a very unpleasant intolerance that's emerged among some feminist campaigners who if you kind of query the statistics on rape cases, juries that get it wrong on victims and this has actually been studied by the DPP that they're victims of rape myths - i.e. they're not going along, you know that the juries are overly brainwashed by rape myths. That's why they keep getting the wrong verdict. And this is the kind of if you don't go along - so the reason I'm saying that is because I think that has made the whole thing more fraught. And I don't think it need be and I think that from a feminist or a kind of women's equality point of view, women want equality then we must accept that that extends to you know all walks of life and being open and public about identifying ourselves when we testify against someone who if our testimony can lose them their liberty...
If you have to be public in your pointing of the finger that changes things. I mean you know it's on the one hand there's a stigma associated with a false allegation. There's a terrible stigma of pointing a finger accusing someone of rape when they haven't. So I think it should all be out in the open and if you are going to falsely accuse let's see you and if you aren't falsely accused but you even get a not guilty in the court you shouldn't be embarrassed or ashamed"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Politics, personality and principle - "Politics can't be all about personality if only because the man a panel of historians judged to be the most significant British politician of the last century didn't have one. Clement Atlee was so shy he could barely bring himself to say good morning. He was famously described by George Orwell as a recently dead fish before it's had time to stiffen. Yet he ushered in the welfare state and started to dismantle the Empire with brisk, understated efficiency. All substance and no show as Margaret Thatcher the most unlikely of admirers put it...
If you look at opinion polls of the great British public oppressed by 'the system', they will say they want lower taxes and better public services. They will want cheaper energy and action on climate change. They will say they want the power to be decentralized but they want public services to be the same everywhere. Isn't part of the problem of our politics the unrealistic demands that we make on politicians?...
Elections are always fought in the middle ground. It's just that that middle ground changes. The middle ground that existed in the 1950s and 60s was much more comforting to social democrats and the middle round that existed in the nineties was much more comforting to free market liberals...
'She wanted more people because they were young or because they were women rather than because of their-'
''But you made a point I thought that actually that she kept away pretty well but you rather smartly suggested that she at one point that she was suggesting that women weren't quite up to the stressful demands of the vicious politics that she decried'
'Well yes I think there's a lot of winging comes, coming from women who subscribe to this, need for special treatment for women and, and blaming the system. The system must be wrong. And if we have lots more women the system will somehow magically change. And I think it's a very sort of tired argument. I thought we'd done away with it many years ago. And I do think that actually she should be saying to women: shape up and get on with it'"

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Sex Education - "'I don't think that young people are hermetically sealed in the world without any stimuli other than those presented by the classroom. On the contrary I would suggest that sex education is the one area in which they will seek. It is the last bastion of protection if you like against some of the ills in the wider society'...
I am suggesting the relationship education is inappropriate and completely dangerous and for the reasons I've said and I think that the sex aspect of it is, it's quite dangerous because it's negative. But it also is quite, it's pretty clearly conformist you know. We all know what the good relationship according to the PSHE looks like. Now listen, go out with your mates, only the other night I was on an argument. I said they seem really happy, somebody said no they're not, he's very controlling. I said oh I don't know. We ended up with six of us having a row about whether this couple was happy or not... who knows what a good relationship is and how dare the state try and tell our kids...
There's something about childhood, something about play. Being able to say things without meaning it, having imagination. All those sorts of things that get encrouched upon by this doing things by numbers, official guide to relationships, that type of thing...
One place where we all think we obviously know is the issue of consent. But I'm actually very nervous about this when you actually read this stuff because it, first of all if we're talking about the legal definition of consent then you know introduce a law GCE. You know it's actually quite complicated in the law by the way, it's not quite straightforward, it sounds as though it's all very black and white. But when you heard the people sort of said consent and then they started saying people being pressurized... pressurized, that's what, that's how relationships start. Somebody usually doesn't know, somebody actually has to take the first step, put pressure on them... I'm just trying to have a human conversation about the clumsy ways that kids and young people and adults relate to each other when they're trying to form relationships. Now I think we're in danger of paralyzing young people by saying there's a yes and a no, there's a consent and if you do this it's wrong"

Women 'don't understand' fracking, leading scientist claims - "Women are opposed to fracking because they "don't understand" and follow their gut instinct rather than the facts, according to a leading female scientist. Averil Macdonald, the chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said that many women are concerned about fracking, yet often lack a scientific understand of the topic... Research has shown that men are nearly twice as likely to support fracking. Only 31.5 per cent of women believe that shale gas exploration should be allowed in the UK compared with 58 per cent of men... women are much less likely than men to know which fossil fuel is produced by fracking. Shale gas was correctly identified by 85 per cent of men but only 65 per cent of women. Prof Macdonald, who is a board member of Women in Science and Engineering, said that women were more likely to form opinions based on “feel” and “gut reaction”. Merely showing them more facts demonstrating that fracking was safe would not change their minds, she said. “Why are men persuaded? That’s because an awful lot of facts have been put forward,” she said. “[Men] will say, ‘fair enough, understand’. But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Social Inclusion - "[On poor doors] 'Are you against classes on trains and planes?'
'Yeah. Yeah pretty much. I think that people shouldn't be valued by their ability to pay. I think there is much more interesting things about people than their ability to pay'...
'I think rich people have got a lot to learn from us'
'Okay, so you say that class hatred is a prejudice and its wrong is what you said earlier. But you have a class hatred of rich people'
'I don't have a class hatred of rich people'
'But everything that you have said just now shows that you put them in, you have a double standard towards them, you think they can benefit from mixing with poor people but you're not prepared to say that poor people can benefit from it in mixing with rich people. You think that rich people have, all the onus is on rich people to give to poor people. You have a prejudice against rich people. You are a living embodiment of class hatred'...
'When she refused to say that she could learn anything from rich people I just think that's a refuse to listen and I think that's a failure of the very sort of celebration of diversity that I would want to have about the other'
'She wasn't really a witness for integration because you know it her society we wouldn't need integration because we would all be of the same status anyway'... 'I mean if any if anybody said I know nothing at all about poor people they would be howled down and they would be stigmatized but she thought it was perfectly reasonable to say I know nothing about rich people'"

On Torture

philosophy bites: Raimond Gaita on Torture

"The convention against torture and the Declaration of Human Rights [something] immediately after the war. These were not drafted by naive people. These were people who lived in a blood-soaked century. And yet far from thinking that maybe torture should be one of the instruments to protect citizens, they banned it completely...

In the actual argument in public life, as opposed to the sort of things that might go on in philosophy classrooms, I didn't think that people were tempted to think that torture might in certain circumstances be permissible because they had been convinced by a consequentialist.

It's true they thought the consequences of not permitting torture might be truly horrible, but it was my impression that they thought that torture would then be the lesser evil. And they meant it as an evil.

Whereas a consequentialist, if he's a strict consequentialist, can't think that something you're morally obliged to do in order to prevent these terrible consequences can itself be an evil...

[On torture not working] There's some controversy about that. Michael Ignatieff did make the observation: If torture is so ineffective how come people keep wanting to use it?

But supposing it's true that it doesn't for the most part work. It probably would work if the people who were doing the torturing threatened to torture the victim's children or wife if he led them up a garden path.

It's very interesting actually because some people say there are no moral absolutes, but everybody wants to stop somewhere...

The people who felt incredulous that torture was as they put it again on the agenda had the idea that there ought to be some things that are undiscussable. Now that of course very seriously offends liberal instincts because the thought is everything should be discussable.

But as a matter of fact and this is where philosophers can just remind people of some things, society is to some degree defined by what is undiscussable. For example in our society it's undiscussable whether we should enslave our black population. The point here is not that we have on balance thought it's a bad thing - it's just not an option. The things that we find undiscussable are things for which we treat as having no two sides.

Nobody thinks in our society that it's discussable whether homesexual should be publicly castrated. Or even take a much more modest example - nobody thinks it's publicly discussable whether politicians should routinely be up for assassination.

Now there are people who live in the society who come from countries that do believe that and someone who came from another country might think that's a bad way to live and I would much rather live here but that person who thinks on the whole that's a bad way to live and I've seen is not like a person for whom it's never been an option.

So this has enormous implications for the idea of what would count as a sober discussion."

Trigger Warnings vs Content Warnings

I was asked why I was against the trigger warnings that some university students nowadays demand, and how this is different from rating labels that say "Warning: this movie contains strong language / violence/ partial nudity".

For one, trigger warnings are expected to be a lot more detailed rather than in the general category of "strong language / violence/ partial nudity". For example, in 2017 Monash University launched a pilot requiring academics to look for "emotionally confronting material" relating to "sexual assault, violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, pornography, abortion, kidnapping, hate speech, animal cruelty and animal deaths including abattoirs". Evidently, this is a lot more detailed than "strong language / violence/ partial nudity". And if that isn't enough the Network of Women Students Australia has an even more extensive list.

For another, content labels are not mandatory. Trigger warnings on the other hand are demanded and sometimes even mandatory.

Also, people can and are allegedly triggered by almost anything. So you end up having to shrink wrap everything under the sun. For example the Network of Women Students Australia list includes as triggers: Classism, Eye contact (scopophobia), Flashing lights, Food, Insects, Medical procedures, Misophonia, Needles, Panic attacks, Pregnancy, Slimy things, Snakes, Spiders and Vomit. Nope, I am not joking.

In addition for movies (where content warnings are sometimes put) there might be a case to be made that graphic depictions onscreen are salient enough that people need to be warned. But people are objecting to phrases like "violate the law" - used when teaching law (or indeed, to asking that rape law not be taught in law school).

Consider too that while movies are discretionary entertainment that people choose to consume - and thus have leeway about consuming, in an academic setting you are expected to deal with the material as part of course requirements. So you should have to deal with it.

There's also the point that the psychological framework of trigger warnings is totally bogus (and indeed counter productive).

(Someone else added that "giving a trigger warning is almost akin to a semi-spoiler if it's a fictional work, or may make audience feel overly wary about a scene/production/work and miss out on a valuable experience.")

Links - 18th August 2017 (1)

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Me and the President - "[On not celebrating Trump's win] It's a bit disappointing to see when two parties can't come together and drop some of the campaign rhetoric and just for one day root for the country to come together. There's plenty of time for the Democrats to be in opposition...
[Gorsuch]'s someone that was a very smart pick by the Trump administration because it is very tough to oppose someone that the Senate voted unanimously in favor of just ten years earlier. I think at some point the Democrats' sort of hypocrisy is going to wear thin on the the travel ban, on the court nomination. But on the same token they have nothing else. You know the party has been voted out of office of the House, the Senate and the White House. There is nothing they can do but obstruct or protest. So buckle up I guess. We should be in for a very long four years...
I don't think the media have a right to have this understanding that they're somehow immune from criticism from the people they cover. It's almost like there's this false pretense of incorruptibility that the White House press corps wants to operate in...
I think the first hundred days have been successful. And I think the biggest failure whether people want to hear it or not is the failure of the media who's been obsessed with this Russian collusion. I mean, these type of stories have run like a blooper reel for the first hundred days and yet still after all this time ever since the election there is not one credible bit of evidence to support it... The Trump economy is surging. Investor confidence is high. Consumer confidence is high in this country. And nearly every economic indicator that's been released since Trump's inauguration has been positive. These are good things"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Robots' Story - "'Do you find that some of your customers are very, become quite isolated from the rest of the world?'
'Well I've never looked at the dolls or the robot as any kind of replacement for a regular relationship. I look at it as an alternative. Many of the people who you describe where isolated and alone probably were that way already and for that reason in those particular cases the doll or the robot might be a very good fit for them. There are people who do not have social lives. There are people who are very lonely. So should we just ignore them should we say oh well it's their fault that they're not getting out there making friends or meeting a partner? Or should we look at the reality that perhaps it's not their choice and they still really long for companionship. And if the robot makes them happy, I think that only a very short sighted and cruel person would say: don't let them have that'
I guess feminists are very short sighted and cruel

BBC World Service - The Documentary, The Khan Mutiny - "[On the Muslim Bollywood stars] When you talk about the Khans you have to understand that these men are essentially one man studios. So when they say they want to do a film the film happens. There is no studio above and beyond and bigger than them that can stand in the way and say no. I mean for example when Brad Pitt was making a film called Moneyball with Sony Pictures but a few weeks or even days before that money, that film was going to start the plug was pulled because the script wasn't convincing enough or interesting enough. That's impossible in India. There's nobody who has the authority or the clout or anything to pull the plug on a Khan film"

Disabling the "Enable notifications?" popup in Firefox - "Go into about:config and set dom.webnotifications.enabled to false. This seems to work for me in FF 47."

/pol/ News Forever on Twitter: "Leftists are shocked that Trump would let a gay teacher pose w/ him. News flash: he's the first President elected as pro-gay from the start. https://t.co/WDXX3MjMzF" - "Leftists are shocked that Trump would let a gay teacher pose w/ him. News flash: he's the first President elected as pro-gay from the start."

Terrorist attack on UK’s Finsbury Mosque: Why this vigilante snapped - "Of course, it was wrong that Osborne decided to fight terrorism with terrorism, and that is indeed what his act was. (That particular mosque has been a terrorist recruiting mosque for years. It’s inaccurate to think of it as a house of worship; comparing it to a Hells’ Angels clubhouse is more accurate.) Now remember, after the Manchester concert bombing, lefties said, as they always do: Keep on acting as if nothing has changed. But there was none of that today. London Mayor Sadiq Khan always says that Muslim terrorist attacks are, “part and parcel of living in a big city.” Of course, he rarely uses the word "terrorist," and rarer still “Muslim terrorist”. But he sure used the word terrorist last night — and certainly didn’t call for people to accept it. It’s a double standard. Which is why this vigilante snapped."
Comments from elsewhere: "You know the best way to tell if it's perpetrated by a POC or religious minority is if the initial reports forgo all mention of name or race even if the subject is in custody."
"The real victims of the Finsbury Park van incident are white people who will have to deal with the anti-white backlash. Muslims are just going to have to accept that terrorism is part and parcel of living in a big city."
"We may never know the motives for attack on the Muslims at Finsbury Park mosque in London... This will increase Christianphobia and Anglophobia. The more we criticise their community the more we will alienate them. We should go out and hug a white person. Most white people are peaceful and hard working."

Finsbury Park suspect 'turned against Muslims' after London Bridge attack - "After being dragged from the van by an angry mob, he was protected by the Imam of the mosque, Mohammed Mahmoud, who ordered people not to attack him, but hand him over to the police. Describing what happened, Mr Mahmoud said: "By God’s grace we managed to surround him and to protect him from any harm. We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him, that were coming from every angle. Mr Mahmoud has been hailed a hero by members of the community for upholding the law."

AK-47 training held at London mosque - "British Islamic extremists have been involved in weapons training with assault rifles at a mosque in London, intelligence sources have told The Observer. The disclosures that hardline Islamists practised with Kalashnikov AK-47s at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London underline the pivotal role that Britain has played in the recruitment of volunteers to fight alongside Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group all over the world... a video showing the execution of Algerian conscripts by hardline militants had been circulated at the mosque... MI5 has been told by their agents that scores of young men were being sent from the mosque for training at camps in Afghanistan. They reported that consignments of supplies including radio and telecommunications equipment were dispatched to Pakistan for eventual distribution in the Afghan training camps allied to or run by al-Qaeda. They also revealed a complex operation run by some men attending the mosque to provide volunteers with false documents. Although the men recruited by MI5 were not directly involved in the logistics of supplying overseas Mujahideen, the operation was openly talked about at the mosque. Several men involved with the al-Qaeda group have already been linked to Finsbury Park mosque"

A programmer came up with a hilarious way to shut down dangerous Windows scammers - "He built the bot army after a telemarketer called his house and used nasty language with his son, now he sells it as a service to businesses and consumers. When a telemarketer calls, you transfer the call to the bot service and the bot gabs with the telemarketer as long as the telemarketer wants, until the telemarketers figure out they are being played and hang up. It wastes their time so they’ll stop calling... “I called 100 times on 20 simultaneous channels. They answered, talked to my bots. Then they started to put my bots on hold. Then they started swearing, shouting to each other, about what is going on, I could hear in background. Then I made 500 calls on 20 simultaneous channels to the number. After 300 phone, they disconnected the number,” he laughs. It took about 15-20 minutes to put them out of business, he said. “I completely annihilated them.” Anyone else getting that pop-up with that number will find it out of service"

News exposure predicts anti-Muslim prejudice - "News coverage of Islamic extremism is reigniting debates about the media’s role in promoting prejudice toward Muslims. Psychological theories of media-induced prejudice date to the 1950’s, and find support from controlled experiments. However, national-scale studies of media effects on Muslim prejudice are lacking. Orthogonal research investigating media-induced prejudice toward immigrants has failed to establish any link. Moreover, it has been found that people interpret the news in ways that confirm pre-existing attitudes, suggesting that media induced Muslim prejudice in liberal democracies is unlikely. Here, we test the association between news exposure and anti-Muslim prejudice in a diverse national sample from one of the world’s most tolerant societies, where media effects are least likely to hold (N = 16,584, New Zealand). In support of media-induced Islamophobia, results show that greater news exposure is associated with both increased anger and reduced warmth toward Muslims. Additionally, the relationship between media exposure and anti-Muslim prejudice does not reliably vary with political ideology, supporting claims that it is widespread representations of Muslims in the news, rather than partisan media biases, that drives anti-Muslim prejudice."
This was reported in the media as "People who read the news more likely to be Islamophobic, study finds" but the abstract is more nuanced
Maybe it will later be found that people who read the news more are likely to disapprove of Donald Trump

New pride flag divides Philly’s gay community - "A flag meant to bring the gay community together has ended up ripping it apart. Last week, the city of Philadelphia revealed a revamped version of the gay pride flag, a collaboration between the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Philadelphia design firm Tierney. The revised flag has a black and brown stripe added on top of the traditional rainbow flag, meant to represent people of color who are ”marginalized, ignored, and even intentionally excluded,” according to the More Color More Pride website... some LGBT activists think that the addition is unnecessary at best and divisive at worst. Charley Beal, a friend of the original flag’s designer Gilbert Baker, told NBC: “The stripes were not chosen for skin color — they were chosen to reflect the spectrum of color in nature”... The original flag had eight colors that represented sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, harmony and spirit. Eventually pink and turquoise were eliminated for practical reasons, leaving red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple."
How come there's no yellow stripe? Or white one?

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar - Posts - ""Arguing that Islamist terror attacks are a direct result of western foreign policy is the same as arguing that anti-Muslim attacks are a direct result of Islamist terror attacks. Either you can acknowledge the role of hate narratives and individual vulnerabilities in both forms of extremism or claim they are merely reactive. You can't be selective"
G. Hussein"

Faisal Saeed AlMutar on Twitter - Reza Aslan: "What would you do if foreign country dropped a bomb on your apartment building killing your wife and children. Seriously, what would you do?"
Faisal: "Not joining a murderous, religiously fundamentalist, yazidi raping, gay beheading terrorist organization is what I would do."

Remembering Helen Reece - "In 2010, she attracted opprobrium for arguing that a blanket ban on those convicted of sexual offences being allowed to adopt was disproportionate and wrong. In the last paper she wrote before she died, she argued that judges should be wary of considering sexual ‘deviance’ as a factor in family-law disputes when considering which parent a child should live with. Those who understood her work saw that this was far from contrarianism; every piece she wrote was shot through with a deep humanism, a desire to protect people’s rights and to enable them to live their lives with as much independence as possible. This was why she was willing to mount thoughtful and profound defences of people’s right to intimacy and privacy, even in the most difficult cases and circumstances, despite knowing that doing so might make her unpopular... The debate was titled ‘Rape and the law: he said, she said?’. Again, Helen’s concern was with people’s ability to live their private and intimate lives without being unnecessarily fearful of others. She was sceptical of the idea that the public did not understand what rape was, pointing to the positive rates of jury convictions and the lack of evidence for any bias against rape complainants. She also questioned advocacy research that suggested women held other people ‘responsible’ for being raped. She argued that women in general have a complex idea of responsibility that allowed room for individual agency in sexual interactions. She was adept at identifying the nuance in excessively polarised debates. In 2013, her contributions to that debate were developed into an academic paper, titled ‘Rape myths: is elite opinion right and public opinion wrong?’, which was published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. Helen questioned whether ‘rape myths’ were preventing society from dealing with rape and sexual violence. She was concerned that society’s response to rape was being distorted by a focus on people’s ‘attitudes’, when there was scant evidence that public attitudes were the real problem. This involved challenging the methodology of researching rape myths. She claimed that one of the key scales used to measure rape myths failed to account for nuance in public opinion. And she questioned whether many ideas about rape, which are often described as ‘myths’, should be described as myths at all. The paper caused an outcry. But the problem for those who sought to present the paper as bigoted or ignorant was that Helen’s work resisted such caricatures. Even the paper’s harshest critics conceded that it was meticulous in its research and consistent in its argument. What makes this article so hard to write is that Helen had so much more to say. In 2013, I saw her speak at an LSE event called ‘Is Rape Different?’. The auditorium was packed, and the debate combative. In the months afterwards, a petition was organised by a group of academics calling for the LSE to apologise for holding the debate. The LSE stood by Helen, recognising that her willingness to ask difficult questions was precisely why she was such a necessary voice in the academy. She was a thinker with a willingness to upset orthodoxy; and she had the independence of mind to commit to arguments that are unpopular but which she felt were right."

Europe’s Elites Seem Determined to Commit Suicide by ‘Diversity’ - WSJ - "There is also, for Europe, the sense of what I call tiredness—the feeling that the story might have run out: that we have tried religion, all imaginable forms of politics, and that each has, one after another, led us to disaster. When we taint every idea we touch, perhaps a change is as good as a rest. It is often argued that our societies are old, with a graying population, and so we need immigrants. When these theories are challenged—by asking, for instance, why the next generation of Germany’s workforce might not come from unemployed Greece rather than Eritrea—we are told that we need low-skilled workers who do not speak our languages because it makes Europe more culturally interesting. It is as though some great hole lies at the heart of the culture of Dante, Bach and Wren. When people point out the downsides of this approach—not least that more immigration from Muslim countries produces many problems, including terrorism—we get the final explanation. It doesn’t matter, we are told: Because of globalization this is inevitable and we can’t stop it anyway... They tell me with fury that it “must” work. I suggest that with population change of this kind, at this speed, it may not work at all... Earlier this year, a poll of European attitudes was published in which citizens of 10 countries were asked a tough question: whether they agreed that there should be no more Muslim migration into their countries. Majorities in eight out of the 10 countries, including France and Germany, said they wanted no more Muslim immigrants... Today “more diversity” remains the cry of the elites, who insist that if the public doesn’t like it yet, it is because they haven’t had enough of it."

Why Islam doesn’t need a reformation | Mehdi Hasan - "The truth is that Islam has already had its own reformation of sorts, in the sense of a stripping of cultural accretions and a process of supposed “purification”. And it didn’t produce a tolerant, pluralistic, multifaith utopia, a Scandinavia-on-the-Euphrates. Instead, it produced … the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The law on sex - Factsheets - "In Scotland the range of sexual assault offences relating to ‘sexual touching’ is similar, with the addition of sexual penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth; ejaculating semen onto someone; spitting or urinating onto them"
Maybe the Scots are very kinky

Why do police shoot so many times? FBI, experts answer on officer-involved shootings - "police shooting scenarios often occur in poorly lit places with "little to no warning." The consequence of missing the shot, he said, can be the potential death of the officer or others. In addition, he said most local police officers or sheriff's deputies carry pistols, which are more difficult to aim than other types of guns... Wounding someone in the leg or another less lethal body part will not stop the person from potentially inflicting serious injury or death on an officer or another member of the public, he said. Thus police are trained to aim for the torso or the middle of a person's body... Unless an airway or certain parts of the central nervous system, such as the brain stem or upper spinal cord, are struck by a bullet, a person isn't guaranteed to lose consciousness until they lose about 40-to-50 percent of their blood, Huber said. If a person does not lose enough blood, he or she is "still able to fight," he said. That's why officers are trained to fire multiple times when they are justified in doing so... many of the gunshots generally miss the target... a more critical factor than the number of total shots fired when evaluating proper use of force is the number of bursts. For example, some guns fire a handful of shots in quick succession before there's a lapse in time. "If we're talking about four-or-five shots in a single burst, it is not that unusual"... in a life-or-death situation, a toy gun, which can look nearly identical to a real gun, is just as threatening to an officer. He showed side-by-side examples of a real gun and a fake gun. The only difference was the orange tip on the fake gun. Some officers have encountered situations where a subject has colored or painted the orange tip black, to look more like a real gun, he said. Likewise, a fake orange tip can be added to a real gun to make it appear real... Huber said any situation in which an officer is unable to see what a non-compliant subject may or may not be holding is a dangerous one. "The time you can't see his hands is the time you need to stay worrying"... Scharf said most law enforcement officers are generally restrained when it comes to using deadly force, considering the number of scenarios that occur when it is constitutionally acceptable to fire their weapons. "When a police officer wakes up in the morning, they want to go home," Scharf said. "They don't want to get into a shooting.""
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