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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Links - 9th June 2018 (2)

Sarah Vine: Hysteria over Presidents Club betrays feminism - "what mystifies me is why the women concerned didn't get the measure of what was on the cards. Put it this way: when the job description includes sexy knickers, see-through dresses and high heels, it's safe to assume you're not being hired to hand out fondant fancies at a vicar's tea party. And when someone offers to pay you cash to entertain 360 middle-aged men on a boozy night off from their wives and families, you would either have to be very naive or very stupid not to expect a certain amount of boorish behaviour. What happened between some guests and these young women at The Dorchester is not acceptable. But then nor is the behaviour of women with male strippers at hen nights very edifying, yet it provokes guffaws rather than outrage. The point is neither men nor women behaving in this way constitutes the crime of the century. And unless an actual crime is reported, it is not a matter for the police or a parliamentary emergency, despite Labour's Jess Phillips's melodramatic tabling of an urgent question in the Commons... in today's culture of dystopian moral panic, as with the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland, anyone who disagrees with the sentence passed should expect to lose their head too. Which of course is why the #MeToo way of thinking is gaining such traction: it's a very brave (or foolish) person who can stand up to the screeching... One by one feminism's wise figureheads — academic Germaine Greer, the brilliant novelist Margaret Atwood and even the Daily Mail's own great foreign correspondent Dame Ann Leslie — have felt the wrath of this new ultra-feminist puritanism because they questioned its path. And what's really depressing is that the rabble that form today's feminists owe their power and freedom to those trailblazers. They are strong women who have lived and battled genuine sexual prejudice (as opposed to half-imagined slights) and who now find themselves being torn down by those they helped liberate... I have tried to teach my daughter to stand her own ground, to learn to fight — and above all be strong. To command respect rather than obtain it through special pleading. And above all to be honest with herself about what she wants and how she intends to get it. The unspoken truth behind this hysterical condemnation of men — which with every ridiculous accusation only belittles genuine victims of abuse — is that too many women today refuse to admit their own questionable behaviour towards men, either in terms of sexual gratification or social and career advancement... The tragic irony of all this is that there are vitally important and worthwhile battles still to be had in the real war against inequality and the abuse of women. Compare the hysteria and air-time prompted by The Presidents Club to other all-too-real sexual scandals such as the nightmare of the girls in grooming and gang rape cases such as Rotherham as they struggle to obtain justice. Or the plight of the countless women subjected to forced marriage. If today's self-indulgent feminists could devote even half their energy to these genuine outrages, I would be the first to champion them. Instead they pass by with scarcely any comment while admittedly offensive but ultimately fairly harmless behaviour generates national, nay international, apoplexy."

Germaine Greer criticises 'whingeing' #MeToo movement - "Greer said she had “always wanted to see women react immediately” when they were faced with sexual abuse or harassment. “In the old days,” she continued, “there were movies – the Carry On comedies, for example – which always had a man leering after women. And the women always outwitted him – he was a fool. We weren’t afraid of him and we weren’t afraid to slap him down.”... Greer said that “if you spread your legs because he said ‘be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that”."

#metoo won’t solve sexism in China – just ask Germaine Greer - "She says the #metoo movement trivialises rape by allowing any woman propositioned by someone she does not find attractive to cast herself as a victim, and allowing women who regret a consensual encounter to re-badge it as rape... There was no need to send him for training or have him demoted or humiliated. A witty put-down from a powerful woman that showed he had overstepped the mark was enough. Yet many now believe that nothing short of sacking and shaming is sufficient"

After #MeToo, Men Are Uncomfortable Mentoring Women - "since the media reports of sexual harassment first emerged last fall, male managers are three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. The hesitation to meet with women outside of work is even more pronounced: Senior men were 3.5 times more likely to hesitate having a work dinner with a junior female colleague than a male one–and five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior woman."
And they laughed at and mocked Mike Pence. Meanwhile people like Sheryl Sandberg blame men for not wanting to risk their careers and reputations

Google's A.I. Just Taught Itself How to Use Encryption

Separated at Birth? - "The only ones over here on the American side of the pond to engage in serious theological disputes any longer are proselytizing atheists. With religion’s supposed corollary, science, Americans are even more mainstream. Yes, creationism has more credence and evolution is more contested here than in other developed nations, but Americans’ scientific literacy is as high as or higher than that of most European countries, and our scientific production orders of magnitude greater. Besides, other cultures have their own scientific blind spots. Astrology is taken more seriously in several European nations than it is in the United States. Homeopathy effectively denies scientific causality and is thus arguably less scientific even than creationism, but it’s widely accepted in Europe; indeed, such quackery is often reimbursed by national health plans... U.S. abortion policy is, by European standards, quite liberal. Women have the right to abort largely at will for many months after conception. Outside the Scandinavian fringe where similar policies are in place, Europeans are much more restricted. German women have to prove various forms of hardship and gain their doctor’s permission. Ireland outlaws abortion almost entirely, and the Mediterranean nations have implemented the Romney position, allowing it only in cases of danger to the mother’s health, incest or rape. Recent attempts to liberalize Spain’s very restrictive policies have sparked huge demonstrations in support of the status quo. In other words, were U.S.-style abortion law rolled out across Europe, you can be sure that their debates would become at least as raucous as ours... In terms of BA-for-the-buck or cost per research citation, others get better outcomes. As Howard Hotson has argued, British universities get similar mileage on fewer resources. Much the same could be said for many European institutions... Finland’s performance is largely the happy outcome of a country with the most restrictive immigration policies in Western Europe and a correspondingly homogenous population... If we are much like other Western industrialized nations in many respects, with only a wiggle here and a twitch of difference there, where can we still thump the drum of exceptionalism?... some other nations are also full of gun buffs, like the Swiss, the Finns and the Swedes. But the Swiss own them as part of their military service, and the Nordic peoples are also eager hunters in sparsely populated countries. Though many, their guns are the rifles and shotguns needed for sport, not the handguns and semi-automatic weapons that wreak havoc in American cities. The NRA would have us believe that gun ownership and murder rates are completely unconnected. Is it really a coincidence that Finns, Swedes and the Swiss also kill each other much more often than other Europeans? (The Norwegians, though big gun owners, are curiously not killers.)... the richest 10 percent pay a larger share of total taxes in the United States than in any West European nation. The dirty little secret of the American fiscus is our refusal thus far to harness the workhorse of most other tax systems: indirect and consumption levies"

Foreign prisoners: findings of a study in foreign national only prisons in Norway and the Netherlands - "In 2013, there were over 150,000 foreigners in prison in the Council of Europe, representing nearly a quarter of the region’s prison population. While for some countries this is not a significant issue (Eastern Europe), many prison systems have to deal with between 30 and 70% foreign nationals"
As per the previous article, Europe jails more foreigners than the US

The Left, The Collapsing Star - "As things get worse and the privilege narrative becomes further extreme, not even intersectionality can keep the growing resentment from dividing the left further. As hatred for their enemies grows, each faction will see pieces of that enemy within their allies. That lady is still white, after all, and that black man is still a man. No matter what whites do, they still have white privilege. No matter how hard you advocate for women’s rights, no male can be called a “feminist,” only an “ally,” and of course they still inevitably have the stain of male privilege, as well"

The Sad Decline of VOX: How a Once-Promising Media Outlet Became a Bastion of Neoliberal Corporatism

Twenty-First Century Victorians - "Today, spin classes, artisanal food, and the college application process have replaced Sunday promenades, evening lectures, and weekly salons. But make no mistake, they serve the same purpose: transforming class privilege into individual virtue, thereby shoring up social dominance... Current exercise trends, like hot yoga, spin, and CrossFit, all demonstrate a commitment to self-denial and self-discipline, values much praised by the Victorians. Marathon running has become the ultimate signifier: competitors can post photos on social media to prove to everyone that they have tortured their bodies in a highly virtuous — and not at all kinky — fashion. This seeps over into everyday activities as well. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are filled with people dressed in workout gear with no sweat in sight. This clothing marks its wearers as the type of people who care for their bodies, even when they aren’t exercising. Yoga pants and running shoes display virtue just as clearly as the nineteenth-century wives’ corseted dresses did... Nowadays, the Internet registers cross-class horror on websites like People of Wal-Mart. Instead of being repulsed by the “great unwashed,” the modern Victorians blanch at the “great overfed.”... Just as Victorian women had to learn to play the piano and speak Italian — showing off a refinement unavailable to the other levels of society — modern kids play soccer, learn Mandarin, and volunteer at a local charity."

Food and Nutrition Myths - "Myth 1: You need to detox your body with a juice cleanse.
Myth 2: Diet sodas make you gain weight.. the diet-soda drinkers reported feeling more satisfied
Myth 3: Canola oil is made from rapeseed plants, which are toxic.
Myth 4: Sea salt has less sodium than table salt and is mineral-rich... Keep in mind, sea salt lacks iodine — and not getting enough of this compound can lead to goiter, intellectual impairments, growth retardation, and much more. In fact, iodine deficiency is a serious health threat, especially among pregnant women
Myth 5: Some foods, like celery, have negative calories.
Myth 6: It takes 21 days to break a bad habit (or form a new one).
Myth 7: Muscle can turn to fat ( . . . and vice versa)"

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: An Update - "The color is due to impurities. Pure sodium chloride is white. It is ironic that pink Himalayan sea salt is advertised as “The purest salt available today.” Its very color belies that claim... Pink Himalayan sea salt is advertised to contain “the 84 trace minerals valuable to the body.” Naïve customers assume that more is better, and that we need more trace nutrients, so those 84 minerals ought to make pink Himalayan salt healthier than regular salt. That assumption is completely misguided. Most sources list far fewer trace minerals and elements in the human body, from 41 to 60, some in barely detectable amounts. And many of those 60 are toxic and radioactive, not only useless to human physiology but harmful. Radioactive elements like uranium can be detected in trace amounts in the human body, but they should be considered contaminants, not useful nutrients."

Playing with History: What Sid Meier’s Video Game Empire Got Right and Wrong About ‘Civilization’ - "The game unfolds in a manner that echoes the Enlightenment-era belief in progress as a universal rule, as well as the Darwinian notion that societies, like species, evolved from states of simplicity to greater levels of complexity and sophistication. But the idea that history is the story of progress is not the only or even the most natural way of conceiving time. That optimistic view is on the wane now, with climate change increasingly changing the way we think about our present and future. Elsewhere and in other periods, people have understood time as a descent (a decline from a prior period of grandeur), a wave (the rise and fall of dynasties), as cyclical (a sequence of ages), and as a spiral (Hegelian dialectics). Civilization assumes that time is simply an arrow, pushing ever onwards"

This Is How the Military Could Kill Godzilla - "“It has and needs eyes,” the scientist told us on condition of anonymity. “First thing we need to do is blind it.” The military has munitions that can do just that, he pointed out. “Unguided rockets filled with white phosphorous would do the trick""

Agincourt: Henry's Hollow Victory - "Agincourt was a hollow victory because it engendered unrealistic expectations and, in particular, it blinded Henry and his advisers to the strategic impossibility that England could ever subdue its neighbour across the Channel."

Adam Grant: Penn's hypercompetitive culture is 'by far the worst I have ever seen it' - "Forced grading curves create a “toxic” atmosphere in classrooms... data suggests these curves undermine students’ intrinsic motivation to learn and discourage collaboration"

Mystery deepens over secret tapes of Lee Kuan Yew - "It’s an interesting tangle over the ownership of history between the Lees and the G. But what was it really all about anyway? Is this really a family fight? What was so politically sensitive about what the late Mr Lee said? What was interesting was that he had actually stated the year 2000 or five years after his death, which seemed to imply that he wouldn’t have minded the material being out in the open 15 years ago."

The G's hypocritical approach to vice - "the G has decided that we should ban more tobacco/smoking products like shisha, smokeless cigarettes and e-cigarettes (and is planning to ban menthols and clove cigarettes too). This stuff already nets the G a billion dollars a year in taxes – why not allow it for the love of money as well?... smokeless tobacco products have been shown to be less harmful than combusted tobacco, while online gambling is clearly not any less harmful than in-person gambling. And the G just threw away the entire “gateway” argument – if online gambling is not a gateway, then vaping isn’t a gateway, and soft drugs aren’t a gateway, and online porn isn’t a gateway… we have one vice liberalising (gambling), one vice getting a massive clampdown (smoking), and one vice maintaining the status quo (sex trade). What on earth is going on? If Singapore has aspirations to become Vice City, then please don’t hold back. If we want to be squeaky clean, then put the squeeze on all vices equally."

Europe's New Media Darlings: Terrorists - "Many of Europe's streets are plastered with the names of the Palestinian terrorists. The French town of Valenton named a street for Marwan Barghouti; and a few days after a priest was slaughtered this summer in France, a group of French cities planned to honor Barghouti. Towns such as Pierrefitte-sur-Seine have already awarded him honorary citizenship, and a photograph of the Palestinian terror leader was hung on the front of its city hall."

Could wearing a suit harm your career? - "When Swiss bank UBS's 44-page dress code, which advised client-facing staff on everything from appropriate underwear to the importance of regular haircuts, was leaked in 2010 it was widely mocked. The guide said a well-groomed outward appearance helped to communicate the firm's values. It prompted derision and disbelief... people are judged on their overall head-to-toe appearance within seconds, and clothing is a big part of that first impression. She found that a man in an off-the-shelf suit is judged as less successful and less flexible than his counterpart who wears a tailor-made suit, for example."

Suffragette Terrorism

The Suffragettes - History Extra

"Rather an amusing campaign called pestering the politicians. And that was rather amusing. It sounds a bit like stalking to us today although it was very fun and it was, it wasn't threatening or malevolent but suffragettes would find out where cabinet ministers were playing golf or where they were going to church or were going away for the weekend and would turn up - perhaps three or four or five of them and they would just follow them everywhere and they would, whenever they had a chance approach them...

You could actually go up and buttonhole them and say when are you going to give women the vote... they would regularly hide in the bushes on golf courses and when cabinet ministers were teeing up for their shot they would jump out and say: Mr so and so. Mr Asquith when are you going to give women the vote? So they were a real nuisance.

It was quite funny... it wasn't threatening at all, physically dangerous at all... police manhandling and violence was so extreme it sometimes would end in a riot...

Burning down churches which is quite a step forward, quite a decision for lots of those members to take. That was really one of the most difficult decisions I think a lot of the women had to take was were they going to go and burn down an empty church or not and actually quite a lot of them did"...

The press was quite hostile. I think most members of the public were pretty, well at best indifferent, and at worst hostile. Most people didn't want women to have the vote and that included a lot of women too...

People thought the suffragettes, if they were roughly handled at police demonstrations. Well, you know, if that's what you do, if that's how you behave, this is what will happen to you. So generally, the British public are pretty unsympathetic and towards the end where they see newspapers full of stories of burnt house, burnt sports facilities, burnt grandstands, football grounds attacked - that kind of thing. And of course, churches burnt down, then the public actually are openly hostile and really rather dangerous."

If a man tried doing this "very fun" thing to a woman, a court would not agree it "Wasn't threatening at all" or "quite funny"

Strangely the suffragettes can do no wrong - their violence was a justified reaction to patriarchy, so we are told.

One way to summarise the suffragettes: "men had to wait 2,500,000 years to get the right to vote and women had to wait 2,500,100 years and that's why we need feminism <3" Suffragette 'plot to assassinate Asquith'

"Suffragettes plotted to assassinate Herbert Asquith, the Liberal prime minister, as part of their campaign to achieve votes for women... two members of the movement were perfecting their pistol shooting in the hope of killing Asquith as he arrived at the House of Commons"

Maybe feminist assassination attempts are very fun, quite funny and not threatening at all.

Were the suffragettes terrorists? - History Extra

"The anger that women have that change hasn't come and Kitty's retaliation at that time was to pick up a bomb, and become a suffragette bomber...

No one actually knows about this post over our history, and I think that's an incredibly interesting thing. We're taught about the suffragettes marching, we're taught about window smashing, but we're not taught about the bombs, we're not talked about the arson attacks. I wasn't taught it in school. We know today that people have very little knowledge of this. We don't know it at large. Not that it's not something everyone knows. And changing cultural memory is really the job of historians and stories like this that have been hidden in archives that have been forgotten or ignored, or passed over because either they weren't fashionable or people had their own agendas and didn't want to draw attention to them. Means that young historians like me get to discover them for the first time, and that's incredibly exciting...

I think it helps us reset this dormant understanding that we've had of womanhood in the last 200 years, which is as purely a state of victimhood. And as someone who works on this period, all I can find this incredibly strong, passionate and powerful women - not victims. And I kept getting really angry as a PhD student...

People have always told me that this wasn't happening, and the women didn't know anything about sex. And actually, I'm finding female birth control campaigners in the 1870s who were publishing hugely popular books that talk about condoms and the withdrawal method. And I was never taught this in school... reassessing how we see women and not seeing them just solely as victims before the vote...

In the 1930s, the suffragette fellowship, which was putting together the record from which all of our suffragette history has been built... very clearly decided that they were not going to talk about the bombings... police hadn't really decided what they were going to do with the people who had committed very serious criminal damage... A lot of these women who were starting to wonder if they should talk about that part of their lives in their memoirs were very aware that it could leave them open to criminal prosecution...

Anywhere in British society where you could find a woman you could find a suffragette bomb. They put bombs in theatres, in churches, in railway carriages, in railway stations. They burnt down railway stations, they burnt golf greens, they burnt postboxes.

Literally every facet of economic and social life, the suffragettes attack. From the Roslyn Chapel in Soctland down to churches and theatres in Somerset to St Paul's in London to theaters in Dublin. They are everywhere. They attack everywhere. In terms of the scale of these bombs.

One of the bombs that's discovered at the Southeast London post office, which was a huge central depot, has enough nitroglycerine in it to blow up the entire building and kill the 200 people who worked there. They put two bombs on the same train line between Waterloo and Kingston-upon-Thames at the same time, one coming out of London and one going in.

This is a hugely skilled and highly organized group who are determined to terrorize the British public and they're very open about that. Emmeline Pankhurst states very clearly: we did this because we wanted to terrorize the British public who would then put pressure on the government to say yes to our demands... They were owning their violence, they weren't embarrassed or ashamed by it. They were absolutely dedicated to it.

And I think one of the things that really surprised me the most when I was researching it was just how many bombs that were in one month alone in 1913. If you think they're bombing throughout 1913 and 1914. In one month alone in 1913 in May, there are 52 attacks - either of a bomb or an arson attack...

This is an incredible scale of violence. Unlike anything else we've ever experienced at the time... The police at the time were absolutely convinced that the suffragettes were the most dangerous organization working in Britain at that time. Not the Irish, not the anarchists...

'Do you think that it's fair to refer to the suffragettes as terrorists?'

'Absolutely. And one of my favorite things to find, which has never been found before, was the headlines: suffragette terrorism, which they use about the bomb, that blew up Lloyd George's house. And when we know that it was referred to as suffragette terrorism at the time, when we know that Emmeline Pankhurst specifically says we wanted to terrorize the British, the greater British public, and we know that they are taking out communications.

They cut down trunk telegram wires and telephone wires between London and Glasgow. That's like taking out the internet between London and Glassgow today. Can you imagine what that would do? They would put serious phosphorous chemicals in the post, in postboxes that resulted in horrendous burns on the postman who were emptying those or finding them later. That they were putting bombs on public transport, that they were hoping to target timber yards, that they burned that they absolutely burnt and gutted MPs' houses and churches, and theaters.

This is everything that we understand as domestic terrorism today, and it is everything that they understood as domestic terrorism.

The question of whether or not we should call the suffragettes and the WSPU terrorists is redundant to me because they are and they were, and they were proud of it then... when you're looking at civil rights organizations across the board, across the world, every single civil rights movement has an extremist violent element... They really were committed to showing that if you aren't going to listen to women speaking... we are going to show you the women have the same capacity to fight as men, and to scare you, and to terrorize you as men can...

A lot of people found that reality incredibly difficult, were very upset and almost traumatized by discovering this in a movement that they idolized and they thought of as close to perfect as possible. Personally, I think we have to know our history in its totality. A half history, or a sanitized history serves no one. It's a corruption.

And if you can present people with the facts that actually gives us a far more interesting conversation and it makes us ask questions of ourselves, and it makes us as questions of the past that we haven't before. And history isn't easy, it shouldn't be comfortable. It shouldn't be something that is safe. It should always challenge you. It should always be challenged. And that's why we have to look at these women, and we have to understand their motivations and understand how people have fought for our rights. Because if we don't, we're going to ignore how hard and those incredibly difficult decisions they made to get us here, and that does a disservice to them. And it does a disservice to history."

Links - 9th June 2018 (1)

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Friday, June 08, 2018

Links - 8th June 2018 (2)

Why Mickey Mouse’s 1998 copyright extension probably won’t happen again - "The rise of the Internet has totally changed the political landscape on copyright issues. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is much larger than it was in 1998. Other groups, including Public Knowledge, didn't even exist 20 years ago. Internet companies—especially Google—have become powerful opponents of expanding copyright protections. Most importantly, there's now a broad grassroots engagement on copyright issues... even some content creators aren't keen on ever-longer copyright terms. The Authors Guild, for example, "does not support extending the copyright term, especially since many of our members benefit from having access to a thriving and substantial public domain of older works," a Guild spokeswoman told Ars in an email. "If anything, we would likely support a rollback to a term of life-plus-50 if it were politically feasible.""

The Empathy Gap in Tech: Interview with a Software Engineer - "Adults with Aspergers or HFA had an average score of 35.8, much higher than the controls who had an average score of 16.4, (with men on average scoring slightly higher than women). Among the Cambridge University students the average score was the same as the control group, except mathematicians and scientists scored significantly higher than humanities and social sciences students, which, the researchers claimed, “confirm[ed] an earlier study that autistic conditions are associated with scientific skills”. Within the sciences, those studying mathematics scored the highest. This was again reflected in the scores found in the winners of the Mathematics Olympiad, who scored significantly higher than the male Cambridge humanities students... individuals working in STEM careers had a higher average score (21.92) compared to those who didn’t work in STEM (18.92)... 'The technology industry is one of the most Aspie-friendly places that there is. The social demands on software engineers mostly consist of collaborating with colleagues to build a product, so if your social skills are good enough to handle that and you’ve got good technical skills, you can be very successful.'...
The articles in The Atlantic and New Yorker contained the same reasoning. which can be reduced to the following syllogism:
The ratio of men and women in the tech industry is uneven,
There are cases of sexism and sexual harassment within the tech industry,
Sexism and sexual harassment has caused the imbalanced gender ratio...
There is little evidence that shows that harassment in tech is any higher than other industries, such as public administration, government, academia or media (in fact there is evidence that the prevalence is lower). Statistics collected on sexual harassment find, overwhelmingly, that the majority of reported cases occur in low-wage and service sector jobs. The causal evidence showing that sexism causes the gender imbalance simply isn’t there. What we do know, however, is that while girls and women do meet the diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder, the ratio between men and women sits somewhere between 5:1 to 3:1... I asked Gideon if he thought that the American media painted a distorted picture of the gender gap in tech. He told me yes. He chalked it up to three factors: a growing tendency towards collectivism in American culture, combined with a blank slate view of human nature and an empathy gap towards men."

Huffington Post Writer And Male Feminist Christian Chiakulas Was Charged With Domestic Abuse - "The physical and emotional abuse had been going on for years, according to Sweeney, all while Chiakulas put on an act via his writing and online persona that he was all about third-wave feminism."

Life Lessons From Chinese Children's Books Differ From Those In The U.S. - "The book celebrates perseverance, of course — but also another value Cheung and her collaborators tracked: steering clear of bad influences. As Cheung puts it, "avoiding a negative person and staying on track and not being distracted by things that would derail you from achieving your goals."... this emphasis on happiness comes up a lot in the books from the U.S"

The Myth – and Reality - of the “Andalusian Paradise” - "university presses tend to perpetuate the myth of a benevolent Islam – against all evidence to the contrary... Musa ibn Nusayr gave the defeated Hispano-Visigoths three options: 1) convert to Islam, 2) submit as dhimmis to Islamic supremacy and pay tribute or 3) be killed (in the case of men) or enslaved (in the case of women). The invaders burned cities, wasted the land, destroyed churches and sacked diocesan libraries and treasuries for booty. Fernandez draws upon multiple primary sources, both Muslim and Christian that chronicle the brutality of the Islamic conquest. Jewish communities, he finds, typically sided with the invaders and were given the role of guardians over major cities after they had fallen to Muslim armies. A case in point, Toledo, the Visigoth capital, offered no resistance. Musa nevertheless executed seven 700 notables and then left the Jews in charge as he moved on to Guadalajara. Fernandez is particularly incensed by Houghton Mifflin’s Across the Centuries, a popular textbook that teaches children that jihad is an “inner struggle” that urges the faithful “to do one’s best to resist temptation and overcome evil.” He shows this to be the purest nonsense. The legal texts of the Maliki School of Islamic Law do not speak of “spiritual inner struggle.” Rather they speak of a theologically mandated war against infidels, a “sacred combat” or Holy War. Ibn Khaldun, the respected fourteenth-century historian and philosopher quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in his famous Regensburg Address, has acknowledged the indivisibility of the religious and secular motivation of those who exercise power at the highest level within Islam... Fernandez devotes separate chapters to subjects such as: “The Truth about the Jewish ‘Golden Age’” in which he debunks the claim that Islam granted Spain’s Jewish communities, composed largely of Sephardic Jews, a substantial degree of liberty and tolerance; and “Women in Islamic Spain,” that does not make for pleasant reading. The subtitle of that chapter, “Female Circumcision, Stoning, Veils and Sexual Slavery,” says it all."

Why Inequality Matters - "Take a look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. About half the people on the list are entrepreneurs whose companies did very well (thanks to hard work as well as a lot of luck). Contrary to Piketty’s rentier hypothesis, I don’t see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since. In America, that old money is long gone—through instability, inflation, taxes, philanthropy, and spending."

The History Thieves by Ian Cobain review – how Britain covered up its imperial crimes - "as the sun sets on the greatest empire the world has ever seen, long columns of smoke fill the tropical skies. In a thousand bonfires, Britain is burning the historical evidence"

Winnie-the-Pooh 'a philosopher to rival Plato and Confucius' - "AA Milne’s creation, supposedly a bear of “very little brain”, is actually “the greatest philosopher in all the world”, according to 25 per cent of respondents in a poll marking the anniversary. Nearly one-third said their behaviour had been influenced by Pooh-isms."

Superheroes a 'cultural catastrophe', says comics guru Alan Moore - ""To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence," he wrote to Ó Méalóid. "It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times"... he rebutted the suggestion that it was "not the place of two white men to try to 'reclaim' a character like the golliwogg", telling Ó Méalóid that this idea "would appear to be predicated upon an assumption that no author or artist should presume to use characters who are of a different race to themselves". "Since I can think of no obvious reason why this principle should only relate to the issue of race – and specifically to black people and white people – then I assume it must be extended to characters of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, religions, political persuasions and, possibly most uncomfortably of all for many people considering these issues, social classes … If this restriction were universally adopted, we would have had no authors from middle-class backgrounds who were able to write about the situation of the lower classes, which would have effectively ruled out almost all authors since William Shakespeare"... "sexual violence, including rape and domestic abuse, should also feature in my work where necessary or appropriate to a given narrative, the alternative being to imply that these things did not exist, or weren't happening. This, given the scale upon which such events occur, would have seemed tantamount to the denial of a sexual holocaust, happening annually." In the real world there are, Moore tells his interviewer, "relatively few murders in relation to the staggering number of rapes and other crimes of sexual or gender-related violence", but this is "almost a complete reversal of the way that the world is represented in its movies, television shows, literature or comic-book material". "Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented?" he asks. "Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status"... "While many of you have been justifiably relaxing with your families or loved ones, I have been answering allegations about my obsession with rape, and re-answering several-year-old questions with regard to my perceived racism," he said. "If my comments or opinions are going to provoke such storms of upset, then considering that I myself am looking to severely constrain the amount of time I spend with interviews and my already very occasional appearances, it would logically be better for everyone concerned, not least myself, if I were to stop issuing those comments and opinions. Better that I let my work speak for me, which is all I've truthfully ever wanted or expected, both as a writer and as a reader of other authors' work.""

How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read - "our culture, argues Bayard, is wrought with “obligations and prohibitions” that have created a repressive system full of hypocrisy about what books we have actually read — and our lies tend to be in proportion to the perceived significance of the book in question. “I know few areas of private life, with the exception of finance and sex,” he quips, “in which it’s as difficult to obtain accurate information.”"

Why Have Our Brains Started to Shrink?

The Great Brain Scan Scandal: It isn’t just boffins who should be ashamed - "“Philosophy is dead,” boasted Professor Stephen Hawking at the start of his bestseller The Grand Design. "Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge... when critical researchers examined the raw data generated by fMRI behind neuroscience, they found the papers’ mean statistical power was just 21 per cent. That means if you were to run one of the experiments five times, you’d only find the effect once. Other surveys put the number even lower... The most useful criticism of the neuroscience project – as all conquering explanatory device - came from philosophers from across the spectrum, and I've recommended that newcomers start with two. Marxist Ray Tallis called it “neurotrash”; conservative philosopher Roger Scruton pointed out that far from dispensing with philosophical questions, it had simply moved or hidden them. So Professor Hawking had been wrong: just like you need a plumber when there’s a funny smell, we actually needed philosophers after all. Another problem arises when we hand over politics to behaviourists. It places the watcher - the "scientist", or "policy maker" - in a peculiarly privileged position"

Birth Control May Alter The Structure Of A Woman's Brain

Viewpoint: Changing the world is more important than changing nappies - "She argues that adults are so obsessed with children - and so exhausted by the effort of looking after them - that they have no energy left for anything else."

EXCLUSIVE: Leftist Twitter Rage Mob Gets Gaming Developer Fired for Retweeting Conservatives - "Subnautica developer and sound designer Simon Chylinski became the target of a social justice-driven hate mob on Twitter after he shared tweets by conservative journalist Paul Joseph Watson... “They began asking me how I would react if they hired a Muslim or trans person. I said I’d debate them like anyone else on the team if I disagreed with them,” said Chylinski. “They said that this would create an unwelcoming working environment and that they see it as a problem that almost only white men are working there, and they need more diversity and that what I said would make that difficult to achieve.”"
Equality means treating Muslims and trans people differently

Iceland MPs propose ban on circumcision of boys - "Circumcising girls has been illegal in Iceland since 2005, but there are currently no laws to regulate the practice against boys"

20,000 people own 3 to 10 private residential properties in Singapore: MND - "A total of 20,000 Singaporeans, Singapore PRs and foreigners own three to 10 private residential properties in Singapore... 381,000 owned one private residential property, while 59,000 owned two. Fewer than 200 own more than 10 of such properties. Of these private residential property owners, 15 per cent also own a Housing Board flat"

Women are speaking out about being sexually harassed during Hajj - "One woman, who chose to remain anonymous, told StepFeed she has been sexually harassed multiple times during her many visits to Mecca for Umrah, the non-mandatory Islamic pilgrimage"

'It's insane': Ont. patient told she'd have to wait 4.5 years to see neurologist - "When Dr. Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist in Kingston, Ont., recently tried to send a patient to a neurologist at the Kingston General Hospital, she received a letter from the specialist’s office telling her that the current wait time for new patient referrals is 4.5 years. The letter said that, if the delay is “unacceptable” to Dr. Hataley, she should instead refer the patient to a neurologist in Ottawa or Toronto... Dr. Fitzpatrick said hospital officials are working to address the problem, and noted that urgent cases are always prioritized. He said wait times vary across medical specialties and even within specific fields, such the neurology sub-speciality of movement disorders, where Dr. Hataley’s patient was referred. Dr. Fitzpatrick said that only a small number of specialists in Ontario treat patients with movement disorders... According to a 2016 Commonwealth Fund survey of people in 11 developed countries, Canadians reported the longest wait times to see specialists. Fifty-six per cent of Canadians surveyed said they waited longer than four weeks to see a specialist, compared with the international average of 36 per cent. The same report found that less than half of Canadians could get a same or next-day appointment with their family doctor, and only one in three had access to after-hours medical care. Earlier this year, the Healthcare Access and Quality Index published in The Lancet medical journal placed Canada 17th when it comes to death rates from diseases that are normally considered treatable."
This is not an urgent case, Kingston, Ontario has a population of 130,000, and the patient didn't want to travel (Ottawa is under 200 km away)

Is Sweden about to have its Trump moment?

Is Sweden about to have its Trump moment?

"Sweden will head to the polls on September 9th. The pre-election polls predict that this will be a watershed election for Swedes, perhaps the first since 1917 where the Social Democratic Party does not finish first. The reason this might happen, though, is familiar to anyone following politics in the West. Blue-collar voters, who have traditionally voted for the centre-left, are leaving the party over its views on immigration...

Even if the Social Democrats do finish first, polls predict they may “win” with only 23 to 26% of the vote, their worst result for over a century.

This is all the more striking given that the government has benefited from a favourable business cycle, with declining unemployment and a budget surplus. Sweden has experienced a credit boom with low interest rates, solid wage growth and declining unemployment, as well as benefiting from the global recovery with rising exports. This would normally guarantee re-election, but for the first time in Swedish electoral history, it is immigration and crime that top voter concerns. And Swedes are not happy with the Social Democratic record on those issues.

Only 27% of Swedes believe the country is heading in the right direction, while 50% think that it is going in the wrong direction. Other surveys confirm widespread discontent, which tends to be higher outside major cities...

Defying the historic stability of the Swedish party system, the Sweden Democrats have roughly doubled their vote share in each election since 2002, when they scored little more than 1%. The average of recent polls puts them around 19 to 23%. In fact, this may be an underestimate, since polls have in the past significantly undercounted their vote share...

Attributing opposition to immigration to underlying bitterness with economics is as common among the Left in Sweden as in America, since they too would prefer not to confront the underlying tension in their movement. Swedish blue-collar workers are generally economically left wing, but right wing in their views on multiculturalism, whereas left wing party elites tend to lean left on both.

Swedish media has written stories on why the Swedish equivalent of “deplorables” or “white van man” have abandoned the Left. The tone of those stories – as with many in America and Britain – is revealingly reproachful. But nothing suggests that these voters are confused on the issues or scapegoat migrants for their own economic woes. The generous refugee migration championed by parties on the Left was not particularly popular in the first place, never really enjoying majority support outside culturally liberal urban areas. Today, opinions towards restricting migration and the generous support migrants receive has hardened among all segments of the Swedish population, and is particularly strong among blue-collar union members.

In-depth polling indicates that the majority who favour restrictive refugee migration policies are fairly well informed. Most express sympathy for refugees, but offer specific arguments for restrictive policies. Many offer some version of the view that Sweden can help refugees in other ways. In polls, very few Swedes express fear that migrants take native jobs, but tend to point to crime, pressure on the welfare state and, most importantly, the lack of integration into Swedish society. These views are not unique to low-educated rural voters, although they may be more common among them, but rather are held by many people across social and educational groups...

The growth of the Sweden Democrats owes much to the fatal strategy pursued by the Social Democrats of silencing and antagonising their own core-supporters expressing the majority opinion on immigration.

At the core of it, shifting Swedish politics is simple, and has little to do with either deindustrialisation, racist deplorables or bitter clingers – however emotionally appealing it is for progressives to blame these factors. Sweden’s highly generous refugee policy never had majority support among voters, including Social Democratic voters. Blue-collar voters who dared to express even mild protest were bullied and branded as hateful or ignorant by their own party. The only outlet for that built-up resentment has been the Sweden Democrats, and while in the run up to the election the Social Democrats have moved sharply to the Right on migration and crime issues, the mistakes of the past years may prove difficult to repair for this once invincible party."

Sweden Elections 2018: Immigration Drives Center-Left Voters Away

"The Moderates have not been able to been able to capitalize on this to the extent that would be expected in many other countries. That’s because during their last period in government (under Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt) they embraced an arrogantly relaxed immigration policy for reasons that ranged from simple-minded libertarianism to junk economics to a sense of their own moral superiority"

Links - 8th June 2018 (1)

REPORT: Creston Valley Advance Article Circulating Online Refers To Justin Trudeau 'Groping' Young Female Reporter - Spencer Fernando - "Screenshots of an article from the Creston Valley Advance newspaper’s Monday, August 14, 2000 edition are causing growing controversy online. The article refers to Justin Trudeau apparently apologizing to a young female reporter for being “so forward.” The Creston Valley Advance referred to it as Trudeau “groping a strange young woman…”"
But he said peoplekind so he's a feminist
Tellingly the quote is "If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward"

Trudeau says zero tolerance on misconduct toward women applies to him as well - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says women who come forward with complaints of sexual assault and harassment must be supported and believed. And he's confident no one will be able to accuse him of the kinds of behaviour that have brought down several high-profile politicians this week... Trudeau accepted Kent Hehr's resignation from cabinet pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. Kristin Raworth alleged on social media that Hehr made the inappropriate comments — which included calling her "yummy" — when he was an Alberta MLA a decade ago and she was an employee at the legislature."

TRUMP-KIM TALKS My take on what to expect from the Trump-Kim talks - "But both leaders are unpredictable; both are given to extravagant statements that nevertheless conceal a logic that is comprehensible if we rid ourselves of prejudices. And both seem to have a sense of theatre. It may well be that they instinctively understand each other better than others do. At any rate, Mr. Kim’s offer of a meeting, after months of exchanging insults and fierce threats, was quickly accepted by Mr. Trump... Mr. Trump had in fact periodically signaled his willingness to engage, even while threatening to rain ‘fire and fury’ on North Korea. We should have taken him at his word... North Korea understands the US far better than the US understands North Korea, and it understands the Trump administration without the emotion that clouds too many judgements of the administration."

The Difference Between Saying 'Thank You' in Chinese and English - "One of the most jarring yet subtle aspects of my experience with Mandarin Chinese was the counterintuitive use—or lack of use—of thank you (xiexie), please (qing), and other softeners like “would,” “could,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me” that liberally season vernacular American English."
When I thank people in China sometimes they reply in a bemused "there's no need to thank me"

'Thank You' in Hindi and English Mean Very Different Things - "when I travel to India, I often offend people by saying thank you to them. On a recent trip home, I was invited to my uncle’s house for dinner. He’s been a father figure to me, teaching me many things and advising me at every step of my life. As a kid, I spent more time at his home, and ate more lunches there, than at my parents’ place. That day, I made the mistake of telling him, in English, “Thank you for inviting me” before leaving his house, realizing the import of my words only after they had left my mouth. He didn’t respond, but I saw his expression turn sour. He was filled with disgust. I couldn’t even apologize for thanking him. The damage was done. In India, people—especially when they are your elders, relatives, or close friends—tend to feel that by thanking them, you’re violating your intimacy with them and creating formality and distance that shouldn’t exist. They may think that you’re closing off the possibility of relying on each other in the future"
Related: The Difference Between Saying 'Thank You' in Chinese and English

The Tart That Travelled the World - "not only do egg tarts in Singapore represent a melting pot of cultures and flavours, they also tell stories of our beginnings as a country of immigrants."

So here is the eternal debate: Instead of he says versus she says, let’s look at what data says. - "When it comes to safety, east may not be the best. Petty theft and outrage of modesty cases seem to be a little higher here, folks. Ladies especially are advised to stay vigilant in case of outrage of modesty cases (1.6x higher in the East than the West)... It also looks as though vehicles in the East might also be more appealing to thieves, (2.7x more than the North)"

Transgender Dolls Have Hit The Children's Toy Market
Given that normal male dolls don't even have genitalia, this is ???

Tribute to Rorke's Drift heroes erased after being accused of 'celebrating colonialism' - "It was meant to be a simple, factual tribute to the handful of British soldiers who held off 4,000 enemy warriors at Rorke’s Drift. But when a member of staff at Dollis Hill underground station in North London wrote a brief account of the battle on their station noticeboard they were accused of “celebrating colonialism”."

How overseas Chinese answered China’s call to return ‘home’, but couldn’t take the culture shock and left, many for Hong Kong - "Manufactured patriotism for an ancestral homeland that most Chinese families had left at least two generations earlier was an extraordinary Nationalist-era success that greatly benefited the early People’s Republic. Providing Mandarin-language schools, qualified teachers and Sino-centric textbooks to Southeast Asian Chinese had been a Nationalist policy since the late 1920s, with the aim of creating a generation of overseas Chinese who identified with China as a nation-state, rather than a cultural idea."

QLD licence change: Reason state dropped gender, height from card - "“TMR has received complaints and suggestions from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community about displaying gender/sex (M or F) on TMR cards,” the leaked document said. The leaked document also claimed personal information such as a person’s hair and eye colour was also scrubbed because it could be potentially “perceived as discriminatory”."
From Queensland

Half of Jerusalem's Palestinians Would Prefer Israeli to Palestinian Citizenship - "52% of Palestinians living in Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem said they would prefer to be citizens of Israel with equal rights -- compared with just 42% who would opt to be citizens of a Palestinian state. This remarkable result confirms and extends a trend first observed five years ago... Their everyday access to Israel has probably also made Jerusalem's Palestinians more sanguine about that country's long-term future. A majority (62%) think Israel will still exist, as either a Jewish or a bi-national state, in 30 or 40 years -- compared with just 47% of West Bankers and 42% of Gazans who think so. They are also somewhat more aware of the city's history, if perhaps not so much as might be expected. Thirty percent of East Jerusalem's Palestinians, as against a mere 18% of West Bankers, say that there were Jewish kingdoms and temples in Jerusalem in ancient times. In some other respects, too, East Jerusalem Palestinians have acquired relatively moderate attitudes toward Israel. A stunning 70% say they would accept the formula of "two states for two peoples -- the Palestinian people and the Jewish people." In the West Bank, the comparable figure is 56%; in Gaza, 44%. An equally noteworthy 40% in East Jerusalem say that "Jews have some rights to the land along with the Palestinians" -- as against just 13% in the West Bank or 11% in Gaza. And concerning Jerusalem itself, only 23% of its Palestinian residents insist on Palestinian sovereignty over the entire city -- just half the percentage with that view in either the West Bank or Gaza. This does not mean that Jerusalem's Palestinians are moderate in every respect. For example, 55% say that even after a two-state solution, they would still want to "liberate all of historic Palestine," though not necessarily to expel or disenfranchise Israeli Jews. Combined with their comparatively widespread preference for Israeli citizenship, this may indicate a drift among East Jerusalem Palestinians toward a "one-state solution." Meanwhile, however, a majority (61%) also offer at least verbal support for "armed struggle and car attacks against the occupation." This figure is somewhat lower than among West Bankers or Gazans, but not by much. Most surprising of all in this connection are the findings about partisan affinity. Fully 39% of East Jerusalem Palestinians say that Hamas "most closely represents your political affiliation."... Interestingly, declared support for Hamas is only half as high in Gaza, whose residents have had to live under actual Hamas rule since 2007. And in the West Bank, where the PA rules and sometimes arrests Hamas activists, a mere 11% openly affiliate with that party. A plurality of 44% identify as "independent.""

Palestinian kleptocracy: West accepts corruption, people suffer the consequences - "These documents, reports from senior Fatah officials and Palestinian social media reveal extensive corruption at the highest levels — the Abbas family and a Palestinian elite manipulating the political and financial systems to benefit themselves at the expense of the people... Abbas is currently in the eleventh year of a four-year term. He rules by decree, and parliamentary and presidential elections are not on the horizon... The PA fails to submit budgets for required audit, eliminating oversight of how over $4 billion is spent each year. As part of its “development budget” of $17.9 million for the first quarter of 2014, funds specifically designated for projects to benefit the Palestinian community, $9.4 million was budgeted for Abbas’ presidential plane and another $4.4 million was budgeted for “other” expenses."

“How long have I got, Doc?” Why many cancer patients don’t have answers - "patients like him are largely kept in the dark because their doctors either can’t or won’t communicate clearly. Many patients compound the problem by avoiding news they don’t want to hear... Patients who don’t understand how long they have to live often choose overly aggressive therapy that can cause pointless pain and suffering. Nearly one-third of cancer patients end up in the intensive care unit, or ICU, in the last month of life, according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Although intensive care can save the lives of younger, healthier people, it doesn’t improve or lengthen the lives of people with terminal cancer... In surveys, people with cancer overwhelmingly say they want doctors to be honest with them. In the real world, doctors can pay a price for honesty... more than 70 percent of patients based how long they expected to live on personal beliefs. Six percent based their estimates on religious beliefs, while 18 percent based their estimates on information from their doctor... The American Society of Clinical Oncology, the country’s largest group of cancer specialists, now recommends that everyone with advanced cancer receive palliative care within eight weeks of diagnosis. Several studies show that early palliative care has been shown to help patients live longer and better."

Telling Poor People to "Just Cook" is Stupid - "Cooking is not just a trip to a grocery store. You need a basic set of cookware for starters. I’ve been on a $70 Tools of the Trade set for more than a decade, and trust me, it really wants to retire. You’re going to need some knives for chopping, butterflying, mincing, etc. The low-end of those starts at $20, but they are absolutely essential. Of course, you’ll require a cutting board as well. These things add up quickly"
Basically requiring people to plan beyond the short term (or to be intelligent in choosing recipes) is stupid. Unsurprisingly his bio reads: "Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful."

Beware the new outrage over plastic - in politics, consensus leads to cock-up - "no one is asking why plastic has gone from being a wonder material – a cheap and durable replacement for metal, leather, glass, ceramics and more – to being denounced as a modern-day menace, a threat to coastlines, sea life and the planet. Almost no one in parliament, it seems, has a word to say in defence of it. Look more closely, and it’s hard to see how the country – let alone the planet – has been helped much by the plastic bag charge. Even before the 5p tariff, they barely made the top 10 litter offenders in the list drawn up by Keep Britain Tidy. Cigarette butts, sweet wrappings, fast-food containers, drinks bottles and car parts: they’re the real scourge. Plastic bags make up about 0.2 per cent of household waste; and bear in mind that almost half of the old plastic bags were themselves used as bin liners. If people are now buying more bespoke bin liners, instead of free plastic bags, is that such a win for the environment? My local supermarket now doesn’t even sell normal bags, charging 15p for thicker ones. This leaves me with higher-quality bin liners, but I’m not sure the planet is much better off."

Foursquare Swarm is the only social network for being social - "In an age of social media where Facebook gets you into arguments, Twitter makes you anxious, and Instagram makes you jealous, Swarm is programmed like a game to help you actually explore the real world and meet up with friends in your real life"

If gender and race are artificial constructs, does diversity matter? - "We proclaim that gender and race are social constructs, completely removed from science and reality. Women, men and people of different races are perfectly uniform in all abilities, interests and aptitudes. This is an incredibly subjective stance to take… but let’s entertain it for a minute. If this were true, then there’d be absolutely no need for diversity. If we are all uniform, then we are all interchangeable. This is an exemplary case of mutual exclusivity. Either we are all different, therefore we need a good mix to capitalise on unique qualities… or we’re all the same, and each human possesses the same abilities to the same degree of competence as every other human. If we acknowledge diversity, we *must* also acknowledge lack of uniformity. And if we acknowledge lack of uniformity, we *must* also acknowledge inequalities of ability... no one would bat an eyelid were I to suggest that the average height of Dutch people is greater than the average height of Senegalese people. But swap height for beauty, IQ or some other politically charged subject and the reaction completely changes—because human prejudices cause us to assume “beauty” and “IQ” are more valuable (or humanising) qualities than height... We push groups identified as being marginalised to measure their value based on how identical they are to groups which are considered to be unfairly free of marginalisation. Equality has been (wrongly) conflated with uniformity. Similarly, Apple’s diversity officer lost her job because she dared to suggest that a group of white men can still be diverse. Is whiteness so overpowering now, that it completely nullifies every other aspect of a person’s existence? Their nationality? Their sexuality? Their socio-economic background? Their religious background? Their philosophical background?... Any good scientist (or problem solver) will tell you that to change an outcome, you must first accurately diagnose its cause. If you try to affect the wrong cause, you will not reverse the negative outcome. This is why I’m so opposed to the politicisation of these issues. When we politicise them, people stop looking for answers and start looking for scapegoats. Throw the exaltation of subjectivity into the mix and you get a recipe for obscurantism and ego tripping. Meanwhile, people are still suffering the very real consequences of these problems. This is not a game where the blacks win and the whites lose, or the women win and the men lose. It’s a reality where we all win or lose together—because there’s only one Earth and we *all* have to share it...
I’ve gotten loads of responses and private messages to this article. 99% of them supportive—unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority from women and ethnic minorities. But there’s a small sect of people—many of whom admit to not even reading the article—who’ve sent me abuse because “this could only have come from a privileged white, male pig”. LOL. Ironically, most of these people have been white men"

Vienna police charge 3 men for waving Israeli flag at rally - "The criminal notice, dated January 3, states that the activists “showed an Israeli flag at a rally in an extremely provocative way and manner that was visible for participants at the rally and thereby produced considerable offense and provocation among the Palestinian protesters.”... “An Arab-speaking friend from Israel was able to translate some of the slogans yelled [at the rally], for example, the Arab battle cry to massacre Jews: ‘Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,’ and... ‘Death to Israel.’”... The police, according to Matthias, made efforts to discourage the waving of the Israeli flag, but the protesters were permitted to wave the Palestinian and Turkish flags. Immediately after Matthias and his friends rolled out the Israeli flag they were confronted by Palestinian demonstrators, who triggered a scuffle with the pro-Israeli activists, according to the Vice interview. The police confiscated the Israeli flag and took down the personal information of the three men. The Palestinian attackers were allowed to return to the demonstration."

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Links - 5th June 2018 (2)

Facebook North America DAUs drop for first time - "The drop could also be a result of a steady drumbeat of negative press about Facebook, including concern over foreign governments using Facebook posts to divide the U.S. electorate during the 2016 election season, and growing concern over violent and other inappropriate content on the site."

Mothers suffering 'pay penalty' at work, report suggests - "Mothers in part-time jobs are being hit by a "pay penalty" and are often not given pay rises linked to experience, a new study has suggested. The Institute for Fiscal Studies report found by the time a couple's first child is aged 20, many mothers earn nearly a third less than the fathers. A key factor was women working part-time in motherhood... Monica Costa Dias, associate director at the IFS and a co-author of the report, said: "It is remarkable that periods spent in part-time work lead to virtually no wage progression at all.""
Feminist agenda - equal pay for unequal work

Why so many French firms are stuck at 49 employees - "In France, some small companies go to great lengths to avoid hiring a fiftieth employee, and it’s not hard to see why. Firms with 50 employees or more must follow a set of rules that don’t apply to smaller firms: they must organize and fund works councils, report more detailed statistics to the government, and face more barriers to laying off or firing workers. The desire to avoid these requirements leaves France with a disproportionate number of smaller firms compared to Germany or the United States.. The authors measured the productivity of firms of various sizes and found that the firms just below 50 workers stick out. They are noticeably more efficient, and their apparent reluctance to expand means the French economy isn’t as productive as it could be. The authors find that the 50-employee rules are crimping the French economy by more than 3%"
You can't legislate productivity

The Number That Many French Businesses Fear - The New York Times - "Taking on a 50th person would unleash nearly three dozen French labor regulations that he estimates would cause operating costs for his company, Travaux Grande Hauteur, to rise by about 4 percent. That could mean the difference between making and losing money, he says, in a business whose profit margins are as thin as his climbers’ margin for error... Rather than expand his company, he set up a second, and then a third, all capping the work force at fewer than 49 employees. Like-minded business owners are the reason France holds the curious distinction of having more than twice as many companies with exactly 49 employees, as it does those with 50 or more... after he hired his 50th employee, “it didn’t go well,” Mr. Roelandts said. The change added about €32,000 to Puyricard’s annual operating costs, and Mr. Roelandts said he wound up spending half his time dealing with administrative issues and state bureaucracy. Recently, for example, the government required him to calculate how much chocolate he could ration for France in case of a war, a task that took days... the biggest problem came when Mr. Roelandts created the works council, which French employers have long argued can raise workplace tensions in a country where unions often strike, and have even held bosses captive to prevent layoffs... “In France, there is this image of the boss as a thug, and if he’s successful, it’s because he’s exploited workers”"

I’m Malay Muslim & I don’t really care if Subway goes halal or not - "[The news] brought relief to some of the Muslims out there who were begrudgingly judged for their “no pork no lard” lifestyle... just like how Muslims are entitled to have a new halal fast food option, this dude right here is entitled to share and retain his love of pork. And these replies to the same tweet, which are apparently posted by Singaporean Muslims, got personal. Translation of last sentence: “Not long from now, you will look like a pig too.” “No wonder your face like pig, you ate too much pork, lol. You eat non-halal food we never say anything but when we want halal food you complain. What an attitude.” All this hate for a sandwich. Sad... if Subway does decide to open a halal sister chain, I hope the people from Subway can name it Subpar. Because they always say halal food not as nice as non-halal food."

I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets - "“You are lured into giving away all this information,” says Luke Stark, a digital technology sociologist at Dartmouth University. “Apps such as Tinder are taking advantage of a simple emotional phenomenon; we can’t feel data. This is why seeing everything printed strikes you. We are physical creatures. We need materiality.”... “Your personal data affects who you see first on Tinder, yes,” says Dehaye. “But also what job offers you have access to on LinkedIn, how much you will pay for insuring your car, which ad you will see in the tube and if you can subscribe to a loan. “We are leaning towards a more and more opaque society, towards an even more intangible world where data collected about you will decide even larger facets of your life. Eventually, your whole existence will be affected.” Tinder is often compared to a bar full of singles, but it’s more like a bar full of single people chosen for me while studying my behaviour, reading my diary and with new people constantly selected based on my live reactions."

Trudeau compares ISIS fighters to Greek, Italian, Portuguese immigrants - "Trudeau made it very clear he welcomes the return to Canada of Canadians who went to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State. Gone is the law stripping dual citizens who have taken part in terrorist activities of their Canadian citizenship. Of course these people are never referred to as “terrorists” by the Liberal government. Those who have returned to Canada have been given the cutesy label of “returning foreign fighters.” Gee, they sound just like Canadian vets returning to Canada except the terrorists get much more respect and better treatment from the government than do members of the military... Trudeau then went into his rambling answer about how Canada is a welcoming country that takes in people from all over the world who are fleeing persecution and poverty. He then made reference to other groups of people who came to Canada in large numbers, specifically Greek, Italian and Portuguese immigrants. In other words, ISIS fighters are no different than the immigrants who came to Canada in years gone by from Western European countries... when CPC leader Andrew Scheer questioned Trudeau on giving group hugs to ISIS fighters instead of jailing them, the prime minister shot back the reason the Tories lost the last election was because “they ran an election on Islamophobia and division.” In Trudeau’s world, any criticism of ISIS is Islamophobic."

‘Feminist Business School’ Teaches Students To Shun Profit-Seeking - "The Feminist Business School, founded by Evergreen State College graduate Jennifer Armbrust, teaches that capitalism is an “economy that values masculine traits” such as “meritocracy,” “competition,” and “individualism.” The California-based site recently launched two more online courses to coach aspiring businesswomen on how to “topple the patriarchy” and promote a more “feminist economy.” Shunning the “profit seeking motive” of traditional commerce, the Feminist Business School advocates that businesswomen adopt more “feminine traits” such as “gratitude,” “intimacy,” and “connecting with nature.”... It will not teach business skills, such as accounting or marketing... The program’s founder -- and only faculty member -- does not appear to have any experience launching a business prior to selling courses on how to launch a business."
When their businesses fail, the feminists can blame patriarchy

Scientists say chemical in McDonalds chips cures baldness - "The Japanese team's breakthrough came after they managed to mass produce 'hair follicle germs' (HFGs) in the lab for the first time. These are the cells that fuel follicle development. They are the 'Holy Grail' of hair loss research, as they have never been regenerated before. And the secret was to use the 'McDonald's fries' chemical dimethylpolysiloxane in the vessel in which they were cultured."

School cancels 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' due to white student getting lead role - "Members of Ithaca High School’s Students United Ithaca — all five of them (below, left) — got together and wrote up a letter and list of demands after the role of Esmeralda went to a Caucasian peer. “It shows you that theater wasn’t made for you,” said Maddi Carroll, a member of the Students United group who is African-American. “And it shows you that, if you can’t get the parts that are written for you, what parts are you going to get?” Students United’s letter conceded that the student cast as Esmeralda “is a stellar actor, singer, and dancer” and that any production would be “lucky to have her.”... The group’s demands, listed on its Facebook page, included a cessation of play rehearsals, a stoppage of hiring (production) people who have not “changed their actions” following complaints from “parents of color” and “social justice activists,” and an end to the “racist and openly stated policy of ‘color blind’ casting.” According to the Ithaca Journal, the activists got their first wish, helped by “a flood of letters from members of the community.”"
Gypsies are black?

Sex differences in human brain structure are already apparent at one month of age - "Since birth, babies at this age have spent most of their time sleeping and suckling with limited eyesight, so profound socialisation effects aren’t going to be a factor. And yet, the new findings reveal that sex differences in a number of brain areas are already apparent... These sex differences were smaller than has been observed in adults, which suggests that maturation continues this differentiation, likely through the high volume of sex steroid receptors in these brain areas. The alternative suggestion is that the subsequent differentiation is due to socialisation, but for the forces of socialisation to work along the same lines as pre-existing biological forces would suggest that socialisation is at most a feedback loop between biology and society."
Patriarchy is that strong. Maybe all the people who claim to have read Damore's memo and think he was saying women are biologically incapable of being software engineers will read this and think it's saying women need to be circumcised

Manchester Art Gallery removes picture of naked nymphs - "The heavy hand of political correctness has struck at one of the country’s most important art collections in these unsettling times following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The Manchester Art Gallery has removed from its walls one of its best known and most popular paintings, Hylas And The Nymphs, by Victorian artist J. W. Waterhouse, which features naked pubescent girls enticing a handsome young man into a water pool. Postcards of the picture will no longer be sold in the gallery’s shop. The gallery insists it is not banning the picture, painted in 1896, but simply wants to provoke debate — to ‘prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks’ and how to make them ‘relevant’ in the 21st century. Clare Gannaway, the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, said the room where it was hung — entitled In Pursuit Of Beauty — perpetuated ‘outdated and damaging stories’ that ‘women are either femmes fatale or passive bodies for male consumption’. So all too predictably in today’s intolerant world, this ‘conversation’ turns out to be dogmatic and one-sided. We are being told by earnest New Puritans that we should be ashamed of ourselves for even looking at this picture... Once the gallery’s ‘conversation’ takes hold, why should it stop at Hylas And The Nymphs?... At my Oxford college, we used to smile at the puritanism of our Victorian forebears. In the 18th century, Sir Joshua Reynolds, the greatest painter of his day, executed some wonderful windows for the chapel. A hundred years later, the Victorian Head of College ordered that the naked figure of Adam be clothed like Tarzan in a leopard-skin. But the truth is that we are now far more puritanical than that Victorian don. Because in our generation, we do not simply object to depictions of nakedness. We take a high moral tone towards our ancestors and think our attitude is always morally superior to theirs."

Banning artworks such as Hylas and the Nymphs is a long, slippery slope | Letters - "Nazi curators, too, challenged us by removing art from public view because it conflicted with their political aims and puritanical taste"
"The Manchester curators would do well to study their art history before getting themselves into such a muddle. Back in 1885, a Royal Academician called Horsley, writing indignantly to the Times under the pen name of “A British Matron”, urged that nudity in art should be banned on the grounds that it is illegal to go out in public naked... The same Horsley was adamantly against women art students at the RA school studying life drawing for similar reasons (thus limiting their ability to train professionally and earn as a professional on a par with men)... Decent young women who made a living as models and the artists who employed them were accused of immorality. The Manchester curators risk dragging women back 150 years."
"I hate the sick, sadistic violence of Spanish Baroque paintings of Christian saints and martyrs. Are we going to ban all these because somebody might be offended? It all betrays a lamentable understanding of the history of art, and of the style and meaning of this painting in particular. Rather than waste time entering into this bogus “conversation”, the Manchester Art Gallery should be boycotted until this decision is reversed."
"in the ancient myth that inspires the picture, the youthful Hylas is about to be drawn to his death by the sexually predatory nymphs. The pursued and objectified body is male."
"How insightful it was of Orwell when he wrote in 1984 of the Anti-Sex League as an important facet of totalitarianism. It has arrived now, big time, on the back of a lot of generalisations and hysteria following media over-reporting of recent events that, however bad they were, only affected a minority of people"
Even Guardian readers are shitlords and must be purged

Steven Pinker at Davos: excessive political correctness feeds radical ideas - "Pinker thinks we should be “mindful of excessive taboos” on opinions because the demonization could “backfire by sapping the credibility” of academics and journalists, especially when discussing certain topics that are self-evident to many people. This can only help poisonous opinions grow... If there are some opinions that are squashed and proper debate is not allowed, then who is to say that the bigger claims from the experts like climate change should be trusted?... '“Human beings are highly fallible," proposed Pinker. "Most of the things we think are right, history will show to be wrong. A lot of human progress was advanced when people voiced heterodox opinions in the face of opposition.”'
Our world today has features, like improved civil rights, that were banned just recently, pointed out the professor. And many of these changes that we experienced in our society began as opposition voices that were allowed to be heard under the commitment to free speech. For that reason, it's important to not sink into tribalism or make free speech “an alt-right issue." He also cautioned that societies which enforce their version of political correctness are often the ones experiencing a “descent into totalitarianism.” Just look at Soviet Russia, Maoist China, and Nazi Germany. They all began by criminalizing speech"

Opinion | Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A. - The New York Times - "a video surfaced of a Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, which appeared to show him lauding members of a racist movement... this sort of informational Balkanization has been going on for a while and long predates Twitter. What social media is doing is slicing the salami thinner and thinner, as it were, making it harder even for people who are otherwise in general ideological agreement to agree on basic facts about news events. That’s because the pernicious social dynamics of these online spaces hammer home the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on any controversial subject, even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect. On a wide and expanding range of issues, there’s no such thing as good-faith disagreement... Steven Pinker will be O.K. A fleeting Twitter blowup isn’t going to bruise his long and successful career as a public intellectual. But this is happening more and more — and in many cases to people who don’t have the standing and reputation he does. It’s getting harder and harder to talk about anything controversial online without every single utterance of an opinion immediately being caricatured by opportunistic outrage-mongers, at which point everyone, afraid to be caught exposed in the skirmish that’s about to break out, rushes for the safety of their ideological battlements, where they can safely scream out their righteousness in unison. In this case: “Steven Pinker said the alt-right is good! But the alt-right is bad! We must defend this principle!”"

Canadians love to say 'sorry' so much, we had to make this law - "The “Apology Act“, passed in 2009, is a direct result of Canada’s overuse of the word “sorry”. See, once upon a time, lawyers in court were probably able establish guilt quite easily. All they would have to do is prove someone apologized at the time of the incident and presto! the verdict would swing in their favour. Of course, in Canada, such a trend would create massive problems, as everyone says sorry whether they are at fault or not. That’s why lawmakers cleared it up, stipulating that an apology of any kind “means an expression of sympathy or regret” and not “an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate.”"
The British also reflexively apologise, so we can blame colonialism for this

Why do the British say ‘sorry’ so much? - "A recent survey of more than 1,000 Brits found that that the average person says ‘sorry’ around eight times per day – and that one in eight people apologise up to 20 times a day. “The readiness of the English to apologise for something they haven’t done is remarkable, and it is matched by an unwillingness to apologise for what they have done,” wrote Henry Hitchings in his aptly-titled Sorry!: The English and their Manners... a recent YouGov poll of more than 1,600 British people and 1,000 Americans revealed that there would be approximately 15 British ‘sorries’ for every 10 American ones if they sneezed, if they corrected someone’s mistake, or if someone crashed into them... in her book Watching the English, social anthropologist Kate Fox describes experiments in which she deliberately bumped into hundreds of people in towns and cities across England. She also encouraged colleagues to do the same abroad, for comparison. Fox found that around 80% of English victims said ‘sorry’ – even though the collisions were clearly Fox’s fault. Often the apology was mumbled, and possibly people said it without even realising it, but compared to when tourists from other countries were bumped, the difference was marked. “Only the Japanese seemed to have anything even approaching the English sorry-reflex,” Fox writes."... Brits might say sorry more often, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more remorseful. “We can use it to express empathy – so I might say ‘sorry about the rain’,” says Battistella. “It might be that British and Canadian speakers use that kind of ‘sorry’ more often, but they wouldn’t be apologising, per se. Other researchers have talked about the use of ‘sorry’ to communicate across social classes, where you’re sort of apologising for your privilege.”... Harvard Business School’s Alison Wood Brooks and her colleagues recruited a male actor to approach 65 strangers at a US train station on a rainy day and ask to borrow their telephone. In half the cases, the stranger preceded his request with: “Sorry about the rain”. When he did this, 47% of strangers gave him their mobile, compared to only 9% when he simply asked to borrow their phone. Further experiments confirmed it was the apology about the weather that mattered, not the politeness of the opening sentence."
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