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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Links - 21st July 2018 (2)

Malaysian police seize 284 luxury bags, 72 bags of cash and valuables from Najib-linked apartments - "Mr Singh said early Friday morning that the police are still working on opening a safe in that house. Mr Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Harpal Singh, said the police took action to drill through the safe as the key had been misplaced, and the safe had not been opened in two decades."

Chinese school installs facial recognition cameras to keep an eye on pupils - "A school in eastern China has installed cameras to monitor pupils’ facial expressions and attentiveness in class.. China has been spearheading the use of cameras to monitor its population since 2015, when the Ministry of Public Security launched a project to build the world’s most powerful facial recognition system. Its goal was to identify any of the country’s citizens within three seconds, by matching someone’s face with their ID photo."

No emphasis and poor teachers the causes, say employers - "JobStreet.com’s country manager Chook Yuh Yng said poor communication skills in English was the se­­cond biggest problem among fresh graduates – the first being poor attitude and unrealistic salary expectations."

PM: Poor English eroding Malaysian graduates’ self-belief - "poor English proficiency led over 1,000 medical graduates to quit their ambitions to become doctors"

Which countries are best at English as a second language? - "The Netherlands has emerged as the nation with the highest English language proficiency, according to the EF English Proficiency Index, with a score of 72. It is ahead of five other northern European nations at the top of the chart. In fact, the only non-European nation in the top ten is Singapore at number six... better English in a country correlates with higher income, higher levels of innovation and a better quality of life In nearly all countries surveyed, women had stronger English skills than men"
So much for Singaporeans being good at English

Knocker uppers: Waking up the workers in industrial Britain - "Until the 1970s in some areas, many workers were woken by the sound of a tap at their bedroom window. On the street outside, walking to their next customer's house, would be a figure wielding a long stick. The "knocker upper" was a common sight in Britain, particularly in the northern mill towns, where people worked shifts, or in London where dockers kept unusual hours, ruled as they were by the inconstant tides... While the standard implement was a long fishing rod-like stick, other methods were employed, such as soft hammers, rattles and even pea shooters."

China Proves Marx Right
When evidence that would disprove a theory is used to claim it is right...

Cannes 2018: Kristen Stewart removes heels on red carpet in protest over dress code - "Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux responded to the uproar on Twitter at the time, writing: “For the steps (red carpet), nothing has changed: Smoking (tuxedo), black tie. No mention of heels.”"
Apparently Kristen Stewart doesn't know that there's a dress code for men

Trump Refers To Immigrants As 'Animals.' Again. - "Referring to subgroups as animals has been used to justify violence"
An earlier version of this article, IIRC, didn't even mention the gang
First liberals conflated illegal immigrants with all immigrants. Now they're conflating MS-13 gang members with all immigrants
Somehow, Trump making a remark to Comey is obstruction of justice, but criticising a Democrat mayor warning criminals that law enforcement is an "attack on a Democratic politician" (presumably it's not obstruction of justice to tip off criminals)
Presumably using the term "Trumpanzee" is not an issue

Celebrities Freak After Trump Calls MS-13 Gangsters ‘Animals’: ‘Dehumanizing Bigot Monster’ - "It is not the first time that Trump has used the phrase to describe the bloodthirsty organization, who have been classified by the FBI as the most violent and organized criminal network in the United States... Disgraced comedienne Kathy Griffin, who previously posed in Photos of herself holding Trump’s bloody head, claimed that the president really meant “all immigrants” and that she was left “fucking disgusted” by his remarks"

The Associated Press on Twitter - "AP has deleted a tweet from late Wednesday on Trump’s “animals” comment about immigrants because it wasn’t made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members."
Unlike the Huffington Post and a lot of the lying media, AP has integrity

Muslims are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol as punishment in China's Islamic 're-education' camps, former inmates reveal - "Around 900,000 to one million Muslims are estimated to have been detained in such re-education camps in China's western province of Xinjiang as Beijing tries to clamp down on potential separatist movements... Asked to comment on the camps, China's Foreign Ministry said it 'had not heard' of the situation... Before meals of vegetable soup and buns, the inmates would be ordered to chant: 'Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!'... a government instructor claimed said that Uighur women historically did not wear underwear, braided their hair to signal their sexual availability, and had dozens of sexual partners.
China's peaceful rise. And some Muslims cheer the US being replaced by China

How Rhetoric on the Left Fuels Bigotry on the Right - "“Failing to draw distinctions between people like Sam Harris and people like Richard Spencer strips the designation ‘alt-right’ of its power and meaning,” she wrote on Twitter. “When that label is used promiscuously, people start to take it less seriously … And when conservatives, classical liberals or libertarians are told by the progressive chattering class that they—or those they read—are alt-right, the very common response is to say: ‘Screw it. They think everyone is alt-right.’ And then those people move further right.” Weiss’s concerns did not imply the need for any great progressive concession—merely describing people like Sam Harris accurately would suffice to address them. Yet they were met with anger and mockery... An observer could be forgiven for supposing that the progressive left has always rejected the notion that promiscuous labeling can push people toward extremism. Yet progressives have long championed a variation on that same position. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, most progressives have argued that it is counterproductive to label violent extremism by groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS as “Muslim” or “Islamic” or “Islamist” terrorism, despite the professed beliefs of its perpetrators, in part because doing so would make it easier for terror groups to gain converts and harder for us to win over moderate Muslims... The left should stop promiscuously labeling popular figures as ideologically diverse as Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro as members of the alt-right. Doing so is wrong simply because it is inaccurate. And strategically, if you want the term to retain any stigma, you could hardly do a dumber thing than expanding its scope to inaptly include very popular figures. Their fans will sooner conclude that they cannot trust the mainstream to apply the label, or that it doesn’t mean anything, or that they must be alt-right if it definitionally includes someone who likes Harris or Shapiro, than abandon commentators to whom they’re drawn"

Hippos Poop So Much That Sometimes All the Fish Die - "the mud and water at the bottom of these hotspots is a stagnant mess of ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other chemical grotesqueries. It’s also starved of oxygen: Almost all of the gas is consumed by bacteria as they slowly digest the accumulated hippo poop... the duo showed that migrating wildebeest nourish the Serengeti by drowning en masse in the Mara, adding about 1,100 tons of dead meat to the river every year"

Why US TV host James Corden should stop dissing Asian foods as disgusting for cheap laughs – it’s cultural chauvinism

8 Baffled Foreigners Reveal The Weirdest American "Food" They've Seen - "“I think most (not all) American cheese tastes like plastic and that they have misunderstood the concept of what cheese is," Sandberg explains to FashionBeans. "In the U.S. 'cheese' is basically just understood as a way to get fat."
Too bad Americans can't blame racism

The Secret to Magic Mornings? Put the Kids to Work - The New York Times - "We devised a personalized morning checklist for each child — with their input. And we created a breakfast menu and a lunch menu, just like the ones they give you in hotels. We’re talking the works here. For breakfast the children can have cereal, muffins, eggs however they want, smoothies. You name it! And the lunch menu is equally expansive. Each night the kids complete their menus for the next day’s breakfast and lunch. We’re not serving as their cook, maid and butler. And we’re not forcing them into servitude, either. We’re teaching them life skills, based on the theory of the University of Rochester psychology professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. They suggest that for kids (and adults) to be motivated and happy they need three basic psychological needs to be satisfied: relatedness, competence and autonomy."

Someone, somewhere, is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect - The Washington Post - "Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed 25 percent since 2012, despite the chemical being part of a group of ozone pollutants that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol... A U.S. observatory in Hawaii found CFC-11 mixed in with other gases that were characteristic of a source coming from somewhere in eastern Asia, but scientists could not narrow the area down any further... The ozone layer is slowly recovering, and ozone-depleting substances are still declining. But the apparent increase in emissions of CFC-11 has slowed the rate of decrease by about 22 percent, the scientists found. This, in turn, will delay the ozone layer’s recovery and, in the meantime, leave it more vulnerable to other threats."
"Eastern Asia"

Singapore Airlines has some of the best plane food out there — here's an inside look at how the airline makes 50,000 meals a day - "For safety purposes, Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew have their own meal options separate from passengers’ options. Pilots and copilots must also be provided with different meals from passengers, as well as different meals from one another. No shellfish is allowed in the cockpit either."

The truth about being a single woman over 30 examined in Singled Out documentary - "Ms Gibson said she wasn't surprised to hear women struggled to find a suitable man in Australia. She attributed part of the problem to another issue Singled Out identified: Women are more economically independent than ever before and yet the quality of male partners hadn't necessarily improved. "We're seeing more professional women who sort of basically have impressive lifestyle resumes and we're not really seeing men matching that.""
In other words, the problem is female entitlement and hypergamy

What truths does "truth serum" sodium pentothal actually reveal? - "Wilbur then founded an organization which trained therapists to use drugs and hypnosis and probe for childhood abuse. After many leading questions, patients would finally go along with what their therapists were saying, the therapist would declare that a memory had finally be recovered, and the cause of the illness would be reinforced. Recovered memory abuse would range from Sybil's false memory of being flown to (occupied) Holland during World War II to help an English officer smuggle out his wife, all while in the persona of a twelve-year-old, to fantastic stories of Satanic cults sacrificing humans inside regular towns. When cases against parents started falling through, and lawsuits started piling up, truth drugs fell from favor fast"

Muji products to get cheaper outside Japan? - "A wooden spatula from Muji Singapore would set one back nearly S$30, while a similar one from Muji Japan costs only half that... Muji’s eventual goal, Mr Matsuzaki added, would be to set product prices based on a country’s per capita income"

Amber Rudd: viewers of online terrorist material face 15 years in jail - "“I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law,” said Rudd. “There is currently a gap in the law around material [that] is viewed or streamed from the internet without being permanently downloaded"
Since everything is "far right" nowadays...

UK among worst in Western Europe for freedom of press after 'staggering decline', Reporters Without Borders index claims - "Freedom of the press became further imperilled when Home Secretary Amber Rudd threatened to restrict encryption on messaging services such as WhatsApp and announced plans to criminalise the repeated viewing of extremist content"
Maybe antifa will go after Reporters Without Borders next since they are against criminalising repeated viewing of "extremist" content

S’poreans question “double standards” between permits granted for St. Patrick’s Day & Thaipusam - "St Patrick’s Day celebrations and parade are markedly non-religious events, as they are organised by secular groups — the Irish community in Singapore and Singapore River One — and did not show any religious elements, symbols or insignia... The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has said before that outdoor religious foot processions are not allowed, with an exception for the Hindu community for Thaipusam, in light of the importance and significance of the festival to the community"

Deception technology - Wikipedia - "Deception technology automates the creation of traps (decoys) and/or lures which are mixed among and within existing IT resources to provide a layer of protection to stop attackers that have penetrated the network. Traps (decoys) are IT assets that either use real licensed operating system software, or are emulations of these devices."

Mum changes son's name after mistake in new tattoo - "To make sure her new ink was accurate, the mum (who wants to be known only as Johanna) decided to officially change five-year-old Kevin's name to Kelvin."

Parent Outraged After School Gives Students Worksheet on Writing Islamic Faith Declaration - "A Christian parent in West Virginia has voiced outrage after his seventh-grade daughter brought home a packet from her social studies class this week that includes a page asking students to practice writing the Islamic declaration of faith in Arabic calligraphy... Brielle's homeroom class was shown a suicide prevention music video that, in one scene, shows two male high school students in bed together and a sex toy. The Berkeley County School District later admitted that the video shown in the class was not the same one approved by the district and that the video that was shown had "unapproved content."... In 2015, parents in Tennessee voiced outrage with the Maury County School District after their seventh graders were instructed to write "Allah is the only god" when learning about Islam's pillar of creed... a Maryland couple sued a school district claiming that it was guilty of indoctrinating students when teaching about the five pillars of Islam by "requiring" them write out Islamic statements of faith. Earlier this year, a parent filed a lawsuit against a school district in New Jersey after students were subjected to videos that she claims featured Islamic propaganda and even encouraged conversion to Islam in their World Cultures and Geography class."

Occupy Wall Street and Identity Politics

(apparently formerly from but now deleted off 4chan)

"As someone who participated in OWS, I can confirm that this is one of the reasons why the protest failed -- if not the main reason.

I can't begin to tell you how many meetings were derailed by women and minorities obsessed with identity politics.

Time and again, white guys would provide plans for organization, suggest strategies, and begin outlining steps to the realization of a goal that the group agreed upon.

Their plans were almost always met with objection from feminists, queer activists, blacks, latinos, et al. A lot of the time these people didn't even have points of concern. They just stood up and started complaining about lack of diversity, the victimization of their specific identity group, etc.

Always, always, always reminding everyone about how everybody was victimizing them.

What happened?

Smart, able, organized white guys left the protest. They threw up their hands and walked away.

I was one of these people.

It did more to change my political views than any book or screed or barroom conversation.

I'm still a far leftists -- but I fucking despite "identity politics" more than anything. I'm convinced its the reason why the left is absolutely fucked and useless today...

While there were several factors that led to the rapes and assaults (including NYPD redirection of homeless people, drug dealers. and criminals to Zucotti Park), one of the major unspoken factors was the lack of strong and decent men to provide protection. They were around during the early days. Several grew disenchanted with unending focus on minorities and feminism. didn't like being dismissed as "privileged." and so they left. They stopped sleeping at the park.

Security then became a growing issue. Feminists tried grouping together to provide security, but this did little to stop the assaults. They had to go to the cops to clear thugs from the sleeping areas (embarrassing. given that they'd been calling them pigs and fascists all day) -- but without anybody to offer security within the park, the thugs just went right back.

If l rememoer right, there was one incident where a 5'3" militant lesbian tried to push a thug who was accused of molestation. The lesbian was clocked and started crying.

In all, everything went to shit pretty quickly after white dudes started leaving.

(As an aside, I should note that the non-violent positions of many liberal men also led to brash acts by thugs, too. Since OWS, I've re-read a lot of Orwell, and finally understand why he hated liberal pacifists so much -- especially in books like Homage to Catalonia.)"

Links - 21st July 2018 (1)

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Treading on Thin Ice - "His speech oozed with resentment. For years now Zuma has cultivated a sense of himself as a victim - the charming, gregarious freedom fighter of old shrinking into something bitter, thin skinned. Hiding behind a hollow laugh, lashing out at Western governments and white businesses... the parallels with the fall of Robert Mugabe are uncanny - there was the same sense of entitlement and betrayal, the same instinct to blame rather than to apologize... listening to Jacob Zuma's parting speech I could see that his most passionate comments focused on white privilege...
[On Communist Hungary and modern Hungary] You are under investigation for interfering in Hungarian domestic affairs, I was told. Did I misreport the facts I asked? Certainly not they replied, but we see the job of a foreign reporter to report for a foreign public, not for a domestic one. I can hardly be held responsible for the consequences of what I write, I replied, so I have no choice but to continue reporting in exactly the same way afterwards. The British ambassador... took me out to coffee in the most public place in the city, the elegant red velvet interior of Weber's coffee house. He chose a table in the middle of the room, ordered Esterházy cake, a delicacy with layered walnut and cream filling with a fine glaze and announced in a loud voice that if I were to be expelled, the lone Hungarian correspondent in London would have to pack his bags too. The next week, the British foreign secretary... was visiting. My case was raised at the highest levels. I was invited to a fireside chat with Sir Geoffrey at the British Ambassador's resident, and I never experienced any more pressure from the Hungarian Socialist Workers party"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Haiti: Republic Of NGOs - "There are more aid agencies per capita in Haiti than anywhere else on earth...
The noise of thumping house music as you walk in is deafening. Located in Pétion-Ville, an upmarket suburb popular with foreigners, Barak is the sort of bar I've seen 1000 times in Latin America. Its owners clearly want to give the impression of high end exclusivity, which means turning away poorer Haitians. But ultimately, it's still a bit of a dive, a good place for foreign men to meet local women."

The day Putin cried - "Russians rarely see their president cry, though there has been plenty of tragedy during his 18 years in power. It happened once, right at the start of his rule - on 24 February 2000, at the funeral of Anatoly Sobchak. Sobchak was one of the men who, alongside Gorbachev and Yeltsin, helped bring about the end of the Soviet Union. He was also the reformer who plucked a middle-ranking KGB officer by the name of Vladimir Putin from obscurity and gave him his first job in politics... One rival candidate calls it a "fake election". "Just like in a casino," she told me, "where the house always wins, in Russian democracy, the win is always on Putin's side." Her name - wait for it - is Ksenia Sobchak, and she is the daughter of Anatoly, Putin's old friend and mentor... she would not be running without the tacit permission of the authorities. That's how Russian democracy works... suddenly, just as Putin was running for president for the first time, his old friend Anatoly Sobchak died, at the age of 62, in a hotel room in Kaliningrad. The autopsy said it was cardiac arrest but can't find any trace of a heart attack. Sobchak's widow suspected foul play and had her own autopsy done. Her name is Lyudmila Narusova. I met her recently and asked her if she thought her husband had been murdered. She paused long enough to say "Yes" 10 times over, and then replied: "I don't know." Some have suggested Putin may have had a hand in his death. Did Sobchak have something on him? Narusova dismissed that idea out of hand I went back and looked at the footage of the funeral. Putin really is distraught. His eyes are red, he seems to struggle to swallow as he embraces Lyudmila Narusova. Putin is not an actor. Nor is he prone to public displays of emotion. So it's reasonable to assume that he is struggling with some genuine grief. Or is it something else. Guilt?... I asked Narusova about that autopsy she had done. It turns out she never made the results public, but keeps the documents locked in a safe in a secret location outside Russia. When I asked her why, she didn't want to talk about it. I pressed her. I said, "It sounds like you've got yourself some kind of insurance policy." "You could see it that way," she responded. "Are you afraid," I asked, "for your own safety or that of your daughter?" She paused for a moment. "You know," she said, "to live in this country is scary. Especially for those who hold opposition views. So yes, I am afraid. I am""

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, The House Always Wins - "The coffee of choice for many Venezuelans is a kind of double macchiato. Called marron, the word for brown, it provides a sharp intake of caffeine, often early in the morning or after a hefty lunch. As I sat at a restaurant table in Caracas, I almost choked on mine when the bill arrived. The delicious coffee I had just downed cost the same as I had paid for a flat here 15 years ago... Welcome to the Venezuelan world of hyper inflation... I've seen an eight year old who looked no more than three, his growth stunted due to a lack of food. And I've seen people crying. Lots of them. On my last trip four interviewees in a row broke down in tears after they told me how they're struggling to find food...
He told me that because he lives near a big lake, He's now resorted to fishing to get food for his two young daughters. How did it come to this? I kept asking myself this over and over again. How did this country with the biggest oil reserves in the world reach a point where it cannot feed it own people. I asked one of the new faces in the ruling party this exact question... His view and that of the government is that the US and its allies are to blame for imposing sanctions on the country last year accusing Venezuela of collapsing into a dictatorship. However, this is not a crisis that started last year. The government has been peddling another line too - calling the economic collapse the result of an economic war waged by right wing factions inside and outside Venezuela. In this version of events, those factions are seeking to topple President Nicolas Maduro and frustrate the march of the socialist Bolivarian Revolution, which reached power almost 20 years ago"

Pakistan activists targeted in Facebook attacks - "Diep Saeeda, an outspoken human rights activist from the Pakistani city of Lahore, received a short message on Facebook from someone she didn't know but with whom she had a number of friends in common: "Hy dear." She didn't think much of it and never got round to replying. But the messages weren't coming from a fan of Mrs Saeeda's activism - instead they were the start of a sustained campaign of digital attacks attempting to install malware on her computer and mobile phone to spy on her and steal her data"

Air Busan flight attendant ridicules passengers’ hairstyles as broccoli - "The flight attendant, on a Busan-Jeju flight on Saturday, took photos of the passengers from behind and posted them with comments such as “looking all the same” and “broccoli farm.” It was an obvious reference to the hairstyle of the middle-aged married women or “ajumma” in the photo."

Laurier free speech advocate Lindsay Shepherd honoured in Ottawa - "“On the one hand, you had the general public who were completely supportive of my position and its implications, and then there were my fellow grad students … who all of a sudden thought I was a transphobic, white supremacist Nazi and completely flipped,” Shepherd told a gathering in Ottawa on Saturday as she accepted the 2018 Harry Weldon Canadian Values Award from the public policy group POGG Canada... Shepherd has been targeted by leftist activists and Antifa protesters. Downtown Waterloo was plastered with stickers urging the university to “(expletive) expel Lindsay Shepherd already.” The experience has hardened Shepherd, who said she used to lean to the left politically but is now frightened by the left and “political correctness.” “This is the culture and times that we’re living in,” she said. “It’s a culture of victimhood. It’s a culture, really, of losers.”... The talk also featured University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo, whose planned lecture in March at the Ottawa Public Library was met by protesters who blocked access to the library and eventually scuttled the talk by pulling the fire alarm."

Social Justice Warriors - Posts - ""Nev Schulman: "Cowards make me sick. Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT"
"MTV Suspends 'Catfish' Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Host Nev Schulman"
"days since last male feminist accused of sexual misconduct: 0000"

YouTube moderators 'mistakenly' shut down channels - "Conservative outlets on YouTube have found themselves silenced on the video sharing platform, under a crackdown on dangerous content. Overzealous new employees 'mistakenly' removed or flagged some channels and clips In the wake of the Parkland School shooting. Moderators were attempting to block far-right conspiracy videos, which could cause offence to families and friends of those caught up in the tragedy."
Apparently one was the Daily Mail's channel

Adverts that portray gender stereotypes could be banned by watchdog - "Women being seen as responsible for doing housework or men being seen as the family breadwinner are the sorts of scenarios advertisers will be banned from using in rules put forward by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), an advisory body to the regulator of adverts in the UK."
I'm sure the people who insist the media must 'represent reality' will love this

Beirut Pride cancelled after organiser detained - "Last year, Lebanon became the first Arab country to hold a gay pride week. But the organiser of this year's Beirut Pride, Hadi Damien, says he was taken to a police station overnight after security services came to an event"
So much for LGBT against Islamophobia and against Israel

Wizard of Oz Munchkins didn't just grope Judy Garland - they were also drunks and sex-mad hellraisers - "“With hands too small for cuffs and no restraints of a suitable size, the hotel laundry had been called on to help. Niven watched as nine policemen emerged from the foyer, each holding a wriggling, writhing and rather heavy pillowcase.”... Already sleeping three in a bed, the dwarves had orgies every night – not only hiring prostitutes but also acting as pimps for them. Some female Munchkins were said to have tried selling themselves to male crew members during the filming... “My father worked in a hotel and earned about $5 a week. I got paid $50 a week.” Jerry appreciated his wage, but it was still galling to learn they were the lowest paid of the cast. Even Dorothy’s dog, Toto, was paid $125 a week."

Teen stunned as his picture of newborn puppy banned from Facebook - but you can see why - "A newborn hairless puppy has fallen foul of Facebook in a hilarious mix-up - because a picture of him was mistaken for a human penis"

Taxi gangs in Batam become violent when they know you're taking a Grab or an Uber - "In an online forum Singapore Uncensored, some netizens from Singapore said that they were even attacked by Batam drivers who thought that they were riding on an Uber"

Schools pulled into row over helping transgender children - "Davies-Arai says her broader concern is that by affirming students’ gender identity, schools may be nudging them down a route that can lead to cross-sex hormones and life-changing surgery without enough time to reflect. Teachers, she says, “are essentially being forced to collude in an experimental approach towards children with gender dysphoria”. She adds: “You can support children and accept them, without affirming their belief that their body is ‘wrong’.” Adele Robinson (not her real name), a head of year at a secondary school, shares Davies-Arai’s worries. The school has had 12 children, all girls, come out as transgender in the past 18 months. The majority, she says, have autism, and some have experienced sexual abuse. When they come out, she says, they have brought in information sourced from Tumblr blogs and YouTube videos. Although her team does its best to “support every child in a loving, kind and compassionate way”, she feels that staff are too frightened to challenge what she sees as harmful practices: “We have chest binders worn in school, which is horrible. If a child was cutting, they would be straight in with a counsellor. Yet damaging developing breast tissue goes unquestioned. It’s a gross failure in terms of child protection.”"
The lawsuits in the next decade or two are going to be spectacular

Anger in Vietnam after Chinese tourists are spotted in T-shirts with controversial South China Sea territory map - "A photo of Chinese tourists wearing T-shirts depicting Beijing’s claims to the disputed South China Sea has sparked online anger in Vietnam, prompting calls for the visitors to be deported... A Chinese passport featuring a map of Beijing’s sea claims was defaced in 2016 by a border agent in Ho Chi Minh City’s airport with an unfriendly welcome note reading “F*** you”. Border officials in tourist hotspots Da Nang and Phu Quoc island have also reportedly refused to issue visa stamps in Chinese passports with maps of the nine-dash line. "
China's peaceful rise

Here's How We Got the Straits Times Forum to Publish Our Nonsense Letters - "The truth is, getting published in the forum is hard enough, but I notice it takes a specific combination of banality, absurdity, and earnestness in a letter to also make it go viral. All within 400 words... another letter goes viral (Mrs A Staveley-Taylor says that cabbies should not inflict their music on passengers), and I realise the key ingredient I’ve overlooked all along: an astounding sense of self-entitlement usually reserved for Singaporean stereotypes... After the last 14 days, I am now convinced that ST Forum moderators deliberately select clearly dumb and banal letters that reflect quintessential Singaporean aggressive stupidity to liven up their otherwise dull job"

Cornell Guest Speaker: The Food Pyramid Is Racist - "To the average American, the notion that dietary guidelines could be racist is absurd. However, it’s not so absurd to Dr. Morton Mills, who recently spoke at Cornell University about how the food pyramid discriminates against America’s minority groups."

Captivity Makes Orangutans Curious - "apes who had spent more time with humans before arriving at the stations behaved more curiously—that is, they actively sought out new things, and explored them with gusto. And this, she found, influenced their mental abilities. On a battery of challenges designed to test their problem-solving skills, the curious orangutans scored higher than their incurious peers... Wild ones learn almost all of their skills by copying their mothers and selected role models. “They’re not going around like Curious George and turning everything over,” says van Schaik. That makes sense. Curiosity, as they say, kills the orangutan. In a world of strangers and dangers, it’s more efficient and less risky to take your cues from experienced peers... Other researchers have found similar signs of heightened problem-solving skills in captive hyenas, birds, monkeys, and other animals. Together, these discoveries challenge the stereotypical impression of zoos as stultifying places, where animals are shadows of their fully realized wild selves. Instead, captive animals can sometimes gain skills that their free-living counterparts never acquire. Why? In captivity, orangutans experience a safe and stable environment, without the constant distractions of hunger and predators. That gives them the time and opportunity to explore, and such explorations, far from leading to a sticky end, are actively rewarded with food and other treats. They also encounter humans, who become trusted role models in the way that the orangutans’ parents do in the wild. And humans ... we like to touch stuff. “Everything we touch becomes ... we call it ‘blessed,’” says van Schaik. “It’s labeled as explorable.”"

Men should work less to close gender pay gap, says thinktank - "“Women are less likely to negotiate salaries when starting a new job and when in post, so employers could rule out the possibility of negotiation altogether or make sure all employees earn at least as much as any new recruit on the same level,” said Colebrook. She said women were less likely to pursue promotions, and suggested employers could automatically consider employees for promotion after a given length of time in post, interview all internal candidates for vacancies, and encourage more women to apply for internal promotions. Companies could also advertise that salaries were negotiable, offer successful candidates the option of a colleague to negotiate on their behalf, and match salary offers to make sure all employees on the same level earn as much as a new recruit."
At least they're recognising that oppression isn't why men are paid more than women
I wonder how many companies will go bankrupt doing all these things

Vanilla now more expensive than silver - "Most of world’s vanilla supply—more than 75 percent—is grown on the island of Madagascar off of Africa. Last March, the island was hit by a catastrophic cyclone, which damaged a number of plantations. Due to the resulting short supply and high demand, the cost of vanilla is still extremely high, so much so that some ice cream shops in the U.K. have stopped offering vanilla as a flavor"

Friday, July 20, 2018

Links - 20th July 2018 (2)

Glasses make face recognition tech think you're Milla Jovovich

Woman Blames 'Windy Day' For Cocaine Found In Purse - "Kennecia Posey, 26, said she had no idea how the drug was found on her after she was pulled over by Fort Pierce police... two teenage boys in Sydney, Australia, were found with more than 40 bags of cocaine stuffed into their car's doors. They claimed they were just out to go fishing, despite not having any rods"

Chinese public toilets go hi-tech with Wi-fi and facial recognition - "Each person scanning their face received 40cm of toilet paper from a dispenser, the report said. The aim is to stop each user taking too much - and crack down on theft of paper. Sensors in toilet cubicles will also issue an alert an attendant if somebody has been inside for more than 10 minutes, according to the report... The toilets, which have received more than 20,000 people since the facilities opened in January, also provides free Wi-fi and mobile phone chargers. A screen on the wall shows the temperature, humidity and total volumes of water and electricity consumed in the building and how long each cubicle has been occupied... Most of China’s public toilets did not provide paper, in part because of theft"
Universal values!

Elderly Chinese toilet paper thieves face up to their crimes - "At the Temple of Heaven, one of the capital’s busiest tourist sites and a former hotbed of toilet paper kleptomania, a user in need of tissue paper must stand in front of a wall-mounted machine with a high definition camera. The device’s software remembers recent faces, and if the same a person reappears within a certain period, it refuses to activate the automatic roller. The current setting per person is 60cm of paper within nine minutes. For years many residents have been taking reams of paper from public toilets for use at home. Recently, mainland media outlets investigated the phenomenon and found most of the tissue bandits were senior citizens. Such behaviour has placed a considerable financial burden on public toilet management. Sometimes a newly replenished roll can disappear within a minute, leaving other users an empty holder."

Sydney barber in legal battle for refusing to cut girl’s hair - "Sam Rahim, who runs a barber shop in Hunters Hill Village in Sydney, said he was devastated when he was taken to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after refusing the woman’s request on the grounds of being unqualified... when women come into the shop he just points them to the nearest hairdressing salon. “They are literally a 20-second walk away.” The woman took her complaint to the Human Rights Commission, claiming he breached anti-discrimination laws and embarrassed her daughter... “After her rant in the store, she proceeded to go on Facebook and continue the rant ... and discredit everything that he’s built, because her daughter was declined a haircut."... “We’re all for gender equality ... but the skillset is completely different. A barber course is about six months and a hairdressing TAFE course is three years, in which you have to do your apprenticeship as well. It’s completely different. When you walk into a barber shop, you rarely see any women in there because a barber shop is just known for men.”"
If he had accepted, she might've sued him for doing it despite being unlicensed

Sydney barber Sam Rahim reaches settlement with mother who was upset he didn't cut daughter's hair - "there are laws to protect female gyms and female-only services... Australian Hairdressing Council chief executive Sandy Chong said there were clear differences in the skills required to cut men's and women's hair."
Some sexes are more equal than others

Hanover Park High School let everyone join cheerleading team - "nraged parents have attacked a high school’s decision to change its rules to allow anyone who wants to be on the cheerleading team to join, regardless of their talent and ability. Hanover Park High School held its tryouts in East Hanover, New Jersey, last month, but after making cuts, a parent complained about their child not being allowed on the team. This led the athletic director to changed the policy, to allow anyone who wants to be on the cheerleading team to join. A school statement said the change was meant to 'facilitate a more inclusive program'. But this new rule upset some cheerleaders – and their less-than-impressed parents who asked the school ‘why go for excellence when you can just let a little snowflake whine and cry to get the position?’"

'Ethical' James Comey is under investigation for unethical acts - "One day after the disclosure that the Justice Department inspector general has recommended criminal charges against former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, it has been confirmed that fired FBI director James Comey is under investigation by the same office for leaking information to the media. This disclosure followed the release of the Comey memos, which seriously undermined both Comey and his cadre of defenders. Four claims by Comey are now clearly refuted, and the memos reaffirm earlier allegations of serious misconduct."

Married couple in S’pore agree to divorce to buy another HDB flat to rent out - "A husband and wife in Singapore had apparently agreed to divorce — just so that they can each own a HDB flat. This was after they figured marriage is just a status, and by divorcing, they can unlock their Central Provident Fund monies in a different way."

Muslims Recoil at a French Proposal to Change the Quran - "A manifesto published in the French daily Le Parisien on April 21—signed by some 300 prominent intellectuals and politicians, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls—made a shocking demand. Arguing that the Quran incites violence, it insisted that “the verses of the Quran calling for murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and nonbelievers be struck to obsolescence by religious authorities,” so that “no believer can refer to a sacred text to commit a crime.”... although pushing for a theological reform of Islam in France is nothing new—everyone from leading imams to President Emmanuel Macron have made plans to restructure Islam—demanding that scriptural verses be deleted is another thing altogether. In Islam, the Quran is considered divinely revealed; because it’s deemed to be the word of God, altering or deleting any part of the text would be blasphemous. The manifesto came a month after the grisly murder of Mireille Knoll, an octogenarian Holocaust survivor who was stabbed to death in her apartment in an act authorities are calling an anti-Semitic crime. Last year, Sarah Halimi, a 67-year-old, was beaten to death and thrown out of her window, in the same area where Knoll lived. Her attacker yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he committed the act; Knoll’s reportedly did the same. It took judicial authorities nearly a year to label Halimi’s death an anti-Semitic crime... This wave of violence is part of what the manifesto’s signatories call a “new anti-Semitism”—new in that it is perpetrated not by the far right, but by French Muslims. The manifesto denounced what it characterized as the government and media’s refusals to recognize this “Muslim anti-Semitism.” It also labeled as “low-volume ethnic cleansing” the trends that have forced Jewish families to change neighborhoods, leaving suburbs, or banlieues, that are home to significant immigrant populations, and to pull their children from public schools... Days after the manifesto’s release, 30 imams signed a counter-letter in Le Monde. The Observatory for Islamophobia, an organization affiliated with the Egyptian government, described the manifesto as “hateful racism” that proves that “France is not a land that welcomes Islam.”... the notion that anti-Semitism is built into Islam is “theologically false,” he added. As monotheistic “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians enjoy a special status in Islamic law. Historically, they were considered protected dhimmi communities, which meant they were allowed to practice their own religions, although they were subject to a tax and various indignities that symbolized their subordination to Muslims... “The problem is that Islamists refer to the same texts as ordinary Muslims,” said signatory Pierre-André Taguieff, a research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research who has published extensively on anti-Semitism. Samy Ghozlan, a signatory who formerly served as police commissioner in the Paris banlieues and who founded a hotline for anti-Semitism, defended the manifesto’s willingness to “name the problem,” and its call for theological reform. “In Islam,” he said, “believers are instructed to respect the Quran—there’s no room for commentary.”"
Being against violent extremism is hateful racism?

Dozens killed in clashes as tens of thousands protest US embassy in Jerusalem on Gaza border - "Palestinians threw stones, rolled burning tyres towards the border and tried to approach the fence to damage it and potentially break through, with Israeli snipers firing from the other side... Israeli warplanes also struck a Hamas base close to the border, the army said, saying forces had come under fire. The army also said it killed three Palestinians seeking to plant an explosive device. Hamas leaders had backed attempts to break through the border fence during the protest... Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, attacks and damage to the border fence, while accusing Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence In Khan Yunis, groups of masked young men, some carrying wooden bats, walked between shops forcing them to close to respect a general strike."
"Peaceful protests

Israelis kill more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza protests, health officials say - The Washington Post - "Some young men brought knives and fence cutters. At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged protesters over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them... A truck rolled past carrying young men chanting: “To Jerusalem we go with millions of martyrs” and “Death rather than humiliation.” Drones dropped canisters of tear gas, sending crowds fleeing. Other drones dropped leaflets that urged demonstrators to say back from the fence... others talked about their enthusiasm to break into Israel and wreak havoc. “We are excited to storm and get inside,” said 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura. When asked what he would do inside Israel, he said, “Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.” Two other young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence"
Apparently it's racist if you don't allow armed murderers to flood into your country

Smoke & Mirrors: Six Weeks of Violence on the Gaza Border - "Inevitably, Hamas and other Palestinian groups will try the same tactic again in the future. To mitigate this, Israel is reportedly preparing to strengthen the Gaza border fence to make penetration more difficult without having to resort to lethal force. (They are already working on an underground barrier to prevent penetration by tunnelling.) However, this is a long-term project and the extent to which an impenetrable barrier can be produced is not clear. In addition, the IDF is giving increased consideration to non-lethal weapons. To date, despite significant international work in this area, no viable and effective system has been developed that would work effectively in such circumstances."

Questions the Press Hasn’t Asked about Violence in Gaza - "why hasn’t the mainstream press noted the extent to which Hamas officials provided demonstrators along the “Great Return March,” the quickest routes by which they could infiltrate Israeli communities upon breaching the border fence? And why hasn’t more been made of the fact that Hamas actively lobbied Gazan civilians to converge on the border while simultaneously using those civilians as cover to launch attacks on the IDF using grenades and Molotov cocktails? Perhaps because to note these things would be to expose the extent to which the press has played precisely the role Hamas and their benefactors wanted them to play... Precious little coverage in the West has been devoted to the non-response to yesterday’s events from Palestinian sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Indeed, Egypt has been conveying Israeli messages to Gazan officials in an effort to prevent the escalation of hostilities and to facilitate reconciliation between Hamas-led Gaza and its supposed brothers in the West Bank. Why? Because the West Bank’s sponsors in Riyadh are more closely aligned with Cairo’s priorities than Hamas’s benefactors in Tehran... Tehran traditionally responds to domestic pressures by raising the temperature in the region. All of this is complicated and requires some modest familiarity with the Middle East, but it doesn’t take a regional expert to wonder why one Palestinian territory erupted and the other did not. If this was all really about Israeli behavior and the abuses of its government, why has the West Bank remained comparatively calm while Gaza has been on the brink for months? The answer is regional political dynamics, much of which has increasingly little to do with Israel."
When confronted with facts, diehard Palestinian supporters reveal their ideological stances when they say that since Israel is occupied territory, the Israelis had no right to prevent Gazans streaming into Israel to murder Jews

If you call the Gaza death toll 'disproportionate,' how many Israelis have to die for the sake of symmetry? - "Charges of disproportionality are among the most common leveled against Israel in her long struggle against Hamas, and they are among the most infuriating. Are Goldberg and Cassidy suggesting that if there were a lot more Israeli dead, and a hundred Jewish bodies were strewn across the desert in southern Israel, then Israel’s action would be acceptable, or at least more readily forgiven? If not directly stated, that is what is implied... 40,000 to 50,000 determined protestors - the number at the height of the protest - cannot be contained with water hoses or conventional crowd control... In 2007, the Quartet – Russia, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States – set out the conditions for normalizing the political status of Hamas and for moving ahead with a plan to provide international support for Gaza residents. These conditions included a Hamas commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and support of past international treaties and obligations relating to the Middle East. Hamas refused then, and refuses now, to meet these conditions. It is this refusal, and not the actions of Israel, that isolates Hamas and makes it a terrorist group and an international outlaw."
More American civilians should have died during World War II

Tragic baby Leyla symbolises Gaza’s life and death struggle - "The entire family — she said it was 15 members — had gone to the protest sites each Friday, egged on by local imams, and transported by buses paid for by Hamas. “We had to go,” she said. “So we went.”... “We all have to go — there is no excuse,” he said. “I tried to tell them not to go, but the mosques were asking them to go.” At 10am on Monday, the grandmother remembers the entire family sitting in a tent about 500 meters from the fence, when an Israeli drone dropped tear gas near them. Hamas has regularly set up tents for women and children behind the 300m perimeter that Israel has warned people to avoid"
Human rights don't matter when it comes to attacking Israel

Hardline feminist Clementine Ford removed as speaker for suicide charity Lifeline after complaints - "Suicide prevention group Lifeline has cancelled a domestic violence forum featuring hardline feminist Clementine Ford... A change.org petition, set up last month, argued her previous tweets saying 'kill all men' and 'all men must die' made her unsuitable to address the 'Recognise, Respond, Refer' event in Melbourne... A Lifeline spokesman Alan Woodward said the event, which was to be moderated by former Ten newsreader and Australian #MeToo campaigner Tracey Spicer, was cancelled because they regarded it as 'divisive'... Mr Woodward said the 'nature of the views expressed' in the petition had made the forum untenable, but he stressed the cancellation was not related to Ms Ford's previous tweets... 'Lifeline is a service that is crucial to people experiencing high levels of emotional distress, many of them suicidal over bullying experiences'... The author of 'Fight Like A Girl' has also previously tweeted 'I bathe in male tears' and last year wrote 'Have you killed any men today? And if not, why not?' in a book signed for a fan."
Feminism means you can publicly hate men and still be respectable

Tug of love: meet the man pulling his girlfriend across China in a rickshaw in the hope she will marry him - "The couple are from landlocked and mountainous Gansu province, in northwest China, which is home to part of the Gobi desert, but the girlfriend had set her heart on seeing the sea. Over a month ago the couple set off with their rickshaw to walk over two thousand kilometres (1,200 miles) to the sea in Weihai, eastern Shandong province."

This college professor gives her students extra credit for going on dates - The Washington Post - "About 12 years ago, Boston College philosophy professor Kerry Cronin added an unorthodox task to her syllabus: Ask someone out on a date, where there will be no alcohol or physical contact... to many college students, Cronin acknowledges, meeting for a cup of coffee and sober conversation with someone you’re interested in on a Sunday afternoon can feel more intimate than getting naked with them on a Friday night."

Holiday Cheer Leads to Birth-Rate Spike - "if you live in a culturally Christian country, whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, you are more likely to have an increase in sexual appetite around Christmas. But if you live in a Muslim country, you are much more likely to conceive around Eid-al-Fitr, than at a different, at another time of the year.”

In Atheists We Distrust - "people distrust atheists because of the belief that people behave better when they think that God is watching over them. This belief may have some truth to it. Gervais and his colleague Ara Norenzayan have found that reminding people about God’s presence has the same effect as telling people they are being watched by others: it increases their feelings of self-consciousness and leads them to behave in more socially acceptable ways... From a psychological standpoint, God and secular authority figures may be somewhat interchangeable. The existence of either helps us feel more trusting of others. Gervais and Norenzayan’s findings may shed light on an interesting puzzle: why acceptance towards atheism has grown rapidly in some countries but not others. In many Scandinavian countries, including Norway and Sweden, the number of people who report believing in God has reached an all-time low. This may have something to do with the way these countries have established governments that guarantee a high level of social security for all of their citizens. Aaron Kay and his colleagues ran a study in Canada which found that political insecurity may push us towards believing in God"

The Decline and Fall of Literature

The Decline and Fall of Literature | by Andrew Delbanco | The New York Review of Books
(from 1999)

"It has become a holiday ritual for The New York Times to run a derisory article in deadpan Times style about the annual convention of the Modern Language Association, where thousands of English professors assemble just before the new year. Lately it has become impossible to say with confidence whether such topics as “Eat Me; Captain Cook and the Ingestion of the Other” or “The Semiotics of Sinatra” are parodies of what goes on there or serious presentations by credentialed scholars.

At one recent English lecture, the speaker discussed a pornographic “performance artist” who, for a small surcharge to the price of admission to her stage show, distributes flashlights to anyone in the audience wishing to give her a speculum exam. By looking down at the mirror at just the right angle, she is able, she says, to see her own cervix reflected in the pupil of the beholder, and thereby (according to the lecturer) to fulfill the old Romantic dream of eradicating the distinction between perceiver and perceived. The lecturer had a winning phrase—“the invaginated eyeball”—for this accomplishment. During the discussion that followed, a consensus emerged that, in light of the optical trick, standard accounts (Erwin Panofsky’s was mentioned) of perspective as a constitutive element in Western visual consciousness need to be revised.

As English departments have become places where mass culture—movies, television, music videos, along with advertising, cartoons, pornography, and performance art—is studied side by side with literary classics, it has not been easy for the old-style department to adjust. The novelist Richard Russo captures the mood of such a department trying to come to terms with a (rather tame) new appointee named Campbell Wheemer, who “wore what remained of his thinning hair in a ponytail secured by a rubber band,” and who

startled his colleagues by announcing at the first department gathering of the year that he had no interest in literature per se. Feminist critical theory and image-oriented culture were his particular academic interests. He taped television sitcoms and introduced them into the curriculum in place of phallocentric, symbol-oriented texts (books). His students were not permitted to write. Their semester projects were to be done with video cameras and handed in on cassette. In department meetings, whenever a masculine pronoun was used, Campbell Wheemer corrected the speaker, saying, “Or she.”…Lately, everyone in the department had come to refer to him as Orshee.

... Bickering, backbiting, generational rift are not new, but something else is new. Outside the university, one hears a growing outcry of “Enough!” (it takes many forms, including a number of Bad Writing contests, in which English professors are routinely awarded top prizes), while within the field, the current president of the Modern Language Association, Edward Said, has caused a stir by lamenting the “disappearance of literature itself from the…curriculum” and denouncing the “fragmented, jargonized subjects” that have replaced it...

Almost from the start there have been periodic announcements from a distinguished roster of Jeremiahs that liberal education, with literary studies at its core, is decadent or dying. In 1925, John Jay Chapman looked at American higher education and, finding Greek and Latin classics on the wane, proclaimed “the disappearance of the educated man.”...

The decline in humanities students relative to other fields reflects the fact that the postwar expansion took place especially in the previously underemphasized fields of science and technology. With increased access to college for many students whose social and economic circumstances would once have excluded them, vocational fields such as business, economics, engineering, and, most recently, computer programming have also burgeoned. Moreover, as the historian Lynn Hunt points out, the average age of American undergraduates has risen sharply in recent years, and older students tend to pursue subjects that have practical value for finding a job.

But it is also true that many “traditional” students (the new term for those who used to be referred to as “college age”) are turning away from literature in particular and from the humanities in general already in high school...

Literature is a field whose constituency and resources are shrinking while its subject is expanding. Even as English loses what budget-conscious deans like to call “market share,” it has become routine to find notices in the department advertising lectures on such topics as the evolution of Batman from comic-book crusader to camp TV star to macho movie hero alongside posters for a Shakespeare conference.

This turn to “cultural studies,” which has not been much deterred by any fear of trivialization or dilettantism, means that English studies now venture with callow confidence into the interpretation of visual, legal, and even scientific “texts.” As the young critic Michael Bérubé reports, “English has become an intellectual locus where people can study the text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from a Christian perspective, the text of the O.J. trial from a Foucauldian perspective, and the text of the Treaty of Versailles from a Marxist perspective.”...

Literary studies, in fact, have their roots in religion. Trilling understood this when he remarked, in his gloomy essay about the future of the humanities, that “the educated person” had traditionally been conceived as

an initiate who began as a postulant, passed to a higher level of experience, and became worthy of admission into the company of those who are thought to have transcended the mental darkness and inertia in which they were previously immersed.

Such a view of education as illumination and deliverance following what Trilling called “exigent experience” is entirely Emersonian. It has little to do with the positivist idea of education to which the modern research university is chiefly devoted—learning “how to extend, even by minute accretions, the realm of knowledge.” This corporate notion of knowledge as a growing sum of discoveries no longer in need of rediscovery once they are recorded, and transmittable to those whose ambition it is to add to them, is a great achievement of our civilization. But except in a very limited sense, it is not the kind of knowledge that is at stake in a literary education.

... the Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, in a broadside published in 1887 in the London Times:

There are many things fit for a man’s personal study, which are not fit for University examinations. One of these is “literature.”…[We are told] that it “cultivates the taste, educates the sympathies, enlarges the mind.” Excellent results against which no one has a word to say. Only we cannot examine in tastes and sympathies.

English, in other words, amounted to nothing more than “chatter about Shelley.”...

Kernan tells how, as a student at Oxford after the war, he was trying without much success to master the history of the English language until his tutor took pity on him and advised, “When you hit a word in a text that you cannot identify, simply correlate it with some modern word that it sounds like and then invent a bridge between them. Most of the examiners will be suspicious, but may consider, so imprecise is linguistic science, your little word history an interesting possibility.”...

The idea that reading can be a revelatory experience stretches back in its specifically Christian form at least to Saint Augustine, who wrote of being “dissociated from myself” until he heard a child’s voice beckoning him to open the Gospels, “repeating over and over, ‘Pick up and read, pick up and read.”‘...

Something like faith in the transforming power of literature is surely requisite for the teacher who would teach with passion and conviction...

This large assertion links aesthetic response with moral (or what Kernan prefers to call “existential”) knowledge, and even with the imperative to take reformist action in the world...

The sad news is that teachers of literature have lost faith in their subject and in themselves. “We are in trouble,” as Scholes puts it, “precisely because we have allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we cannot make truth claims but must go on ‘professing’ just the same.” But what kind of dubious “truth-claims” does literature make? Literature does not embody, as both outraged conservatives and radical debunkers would have it, putatively eternal values that its professors are sworn to defend. It does not transmit moral certainty so much as record moral conflict. Its only unchanging “truth-claim” is that experience demands self-questioning...

In acknowledging what every true writer knows—that words are never quite governable by the will of the author—the New Critics were planting seeds of future trouble for English studies. Paul de Man, who introduced the deconstructionist theory of Jacques Derrida to American readers after the New Criticism had become a received orthodoxy, detected in the New Critics a “foreknowledge” of what he called, borrowing a phrase from the Swiss critic Georges Poulet, “hermeneutic circularity.”...

Captain Ahab’s second mate on the Pequod, Mr. Stubb, had pretty much summed it up a long time before: “Book!…you’ll do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the thoughts.”

Deconstruction fit the darkening mood of the Seventies, when all claims to timeless or universal truth became suspect as self-serving deceptions perpetrated by wielders of power. It was an effort, as we used to say, to heighten the contradictions and raise them to the level of consciousness. Along with its offshoot, “reader-response” criticism, it was a mischievously extreme skepticism that regarded all meanings and judgments as contingent on the “subject-position” of the reader...

One of the implications was that literature was no more or less worthy of study than any other semiotic system; fashion, gestures, sports could now serve as a “text” for the game of interpretation. But this view soon lost its playfulness, and turned into the dogma that literature, like any constructed system of meaning, must be assessed in relation to this or that “identity” (race, class, gender, etc.) to the exclusion of every other point of view. Here began in earnest the fragmentation of literary studies that is so evident today—and that has left a legacy of acrimony, and of intellectual and professional fatigue.

Deconstruction can also be seen as simply another phase in the continuing effort by literary studies to get respect from “hard” disciplines by deploying a specialized vocabulary of its own. Long before its rise, in an essay entitled “The Meaning of a Literary Idea” (1949), Trilling had remarked that “people will eventually be unable to say, ‘They fell in love and married,’ let alone understand the language of Romeo and Juliet, but will as a matter of course say, ‘Their libidinal impulses being reciprocal, they activated their individual erotic drives and integrated them within the same frame of reference.”‘ Trilling’s parody of the Freud fad of his day was intended to illustrate how “ideas tend to deteriorate into ideology,” and by ideology he meant

the habit or ritual of showing respect for certain formulas to which, for various reasons having to do with emotional safety, we have very strong ties of whose meaning and consequences in actuality we have no clear understanding.

Today’s rendition, to which the requisite dash of Gramsci and sprinkle of Foucault (among the biggest post-deconstruction influences on literary studies) are added, would go something like this: “Privileging each other as objects of heterosexual desire, they signified their withdrawal from the sexual marketplace by valorizing the marital contract as an instrument of bourgeois hegemony.” Who knows what tomorrow will bring?...

Why has this happened? Was there some singular force behind the multiple events that Scholes sums up as the “fall of English”?

In Literature Lost, the shrillest of recent books on the crisis, John Ellis blames the whole mess on the dynamics of professionalization—on, that is, the pressure to publish something, anything, that is novel or startling or upon which a reputation can be built. The publish-or-perish desperation has only increased as the readership for what is published declines. “This is rather like the Irish elk syndrome,” Ellis says, by which “competition for dominance within the species led to the evolution of ever larger antlers, but the larger antlers caused the species as a whole to become dysfunctional and dragged it down.”...

The process of changing the assump-tions of literary studies began in the late 1950s under the name “structuralism”—a technique by which culture was analyzed as a collection of codes and rituals denoting tribal boundaries that protect against transgression by a threatening “other.” Words like “high” and “low” (along with other evaluative terms such as “primitive” and “advanced,” or “savage” and “civilized”) acquired obligatory quotation marks, and literature, in effect, became a branch of anthropology. By the 1970s, leading figures in literary studies were calling into question even the residual aspiration to positive knowledge that structuralism expressed. “A literary text,” de Man wrote in 1970, is so dependent on changing interpretation that it “is not a phenomenal event that can be granted any form of positive existence, whether as a fact of nature or as an act of the mind.” Nor could literature any longer be understood, on the model of religion, as a body of inspired writings with discernible meanings. “It leads,” de Man declared, “to no transcendental perception, intuition, or knowledge….” The very subject—literature—that gave the English department its claim on the university was now revealed to be a mystifying name assigned to texts so designated by those with the power to impose their tastes on impressionable readers.

Under these “postmodern” conditions, what was left for English professors to believe and do? The point of writing and teaching was now less to illuminate literary works than to mount a performance in which the critic, not the instigating work, was the main player. The idea of rightness or wrongness in any reading (“there is no room,” de Man wrote, “for…notions of accuracy and identity in the shifting world of interpretation”) was rendered incoherent...

English has become, as Louis Menand says (following a suggestion from David Bromwich) in What’s Happened to the Humanities?, “‘hard’ and ironic at the same time,” emphasizing “theoretical rigor and simultaneously debunk[ing] all claims to objective knowledge”—an inner conflict that has proven costly to its standing in the modern university. It will never be able to submit its hypotheses to the scientific test of replicable results, and it can never be evaluated according to some ratio between the cost of the service it provides and the market value of its results. It has reached a point of diminishing returns in proportion to the scale of its operation: the texts of the major writers have been established; the facts of their biographies are mostly known. And while old works will always attract new interpretations from new readers, and the canon will continue to expand with the discovery of overlooked writers—a process that has accelerated enormously over the last twenty-five years with the entrance into the profession of women and minorities—the growth of English departments at anything like its former pace cannot be justified on the grounds that literary “research” continues to produce invaluable new knowledge.

Yet even as they lose respect in-side universities, English departments are still refurbishing themselves as factories of theories and subfields. All of these—feminist, gay and lesbian, and postcolonial studies, the New Historicism (which acquired its name when Stephen Greenblatt used a phrase that proved infectious, but that he never intended as a big claim for novelty), and, most recently, “eco-criticism”—are yielding some work that illuminates aspects of literature to which previous critics had been closed and that merits the Arnoldian description, “fresh and free thought.” But much of the new theory is tendentious or obscure, and the imperative to make one’s mark as a theoretical innovator has created what John Guillory calls a “feedback loop”: “The more time devoted…to…graduate teaching or research, the more competition for the rewards of promotion and tenure… [and] the more pressure to withdraw from labor-intensive lower-division teaching.” Despite the job shortage, the prestige of graduate teaching rises at the expense of undergraduate teaching, and English departments thereby cut themselves off from the best reason for their continued existence: eager undergraduate readers...

Disputes that once seemed vitally important have settled into a family quarrel about which no one outside the household any longer cares...

Woodring describes the situation as “a seriocomic scenario in which sodden firefighters spray water on each other while the house burns down.” If the humanities are in danger of becoming a sideshow in the university, it is we the humanists who, more than demographic changes or the general cultural shift toward science, are endangering ourselves.

The field of English has become, to use a term given currency twenty-five years ago by the redoubtable Stanley Fish, a “self-consuming artifact.” On the one hand, it has lost the capacity to put forward persuasive judgments; on the other hand, it is stuffed with dogma and dogmatists. It has paid overdue attention to minority writers, but, as Lynn Hunt notes in her essay in What’s Happened to the Humanities?, it (along with the humanities in general) has failed to attract many minority students. It regards the idea of progress as a pernicious myth, but never have there been so many critics so sure that they represent so much progress over their predecessors. It distrusts science, but it yearns to be scientific—as attested by the notorious recent “Sokal hoax,” in which a physicist submitted a deliberately fraudulent article full of pseudoscientific gibberish to a leading cultural-studies journal, which promptly published it. It denounces the mass media for pandering to the public with pitches and slogans, but it cannot get enough of mass culture. The louder it cries about the high political stakes in its own squabbles, the less connection it maintains to anything resembling real politics. And by failing to promote literature as a means by which students may become aware of their unexamined assumptions and glimpse worlds different from their own, the self-consciously radical English department has become a force for conservatism.

English, in short, has come to reflect some of the worst aspects of our culture: obsessing about sex, posturing about real social inequities while leaving them unredressed, and participating with gusto in the love/hate cult of celebrities. (At the conventions these days, resentment is palpable, as celebrities hold forth before colleagues frightened about their chances of getting a job or keeping the one they have.) English today exhibits the contradictory attributes of a religion in its late phase—a certain desperation to attract converts, combined with an evident lack of convinced belief in its own scriptures and traditions.

In what is perhaps the largest irony of all, the teaching of English has been penetrated, even saturated, by the market mentality it decries. The theory factory (yesterday’s theory is deficient, today’s is new and improved) has become expert in planned obsolescence"

Links - 20th July 2018 (1)

Durians so cheap they are given away free

Polygamy and African Sex Kidnappings - "1) Why is it that kidnapping young women is unknown among Islamic terrorist groups within the Islamic world?
2) Why do non-Islamic terrorist groups operating in other parts of the globe almost never kidnap women? Latin American guerrillas, for example, probably have little more respect for women than African Islamists, but you never hear of them kidnapping girls in large numbers.
3) Why is it that rebel armies and other dissident groups in Africa almost routinely kidnap women as sex slaves even though they are not practicing Islam?
The answer goes deeper than Islam and religious conviction. It goes right to the heart of what differentiates Africa from most of the rest of the world and creates a continent-wide culture that precludes both political and social stability. The core of the problem is the widespread practice of polygamy... Nigerian feminist Chikelu Chinelo observed, “Not minding their level of education, the consciousness of the average African man . . . has not changed. . . . The moment they are able to achieve some measure of success materially, there is always the tendency to let go of the inhibition that the white man’s religion or education imposes on them and find them marrying many women.” Only last month, Kenya legalized polygamy, arguing that it represents a “traditional” form of marriage that has been suppressed by the encroachments of Christianity. Nor is this a plot for the suppression of women hatched by a hierarchy of dominant males. “We are happy with the law because finally all marriages are being treated equally” was the comment of Christine Ochieng, executive director of the nation’s Federation of Women Lawyers, to CNN. Women are often comfortable with polygamy because it allows them to marry higher-status men than they could otherwise."
Intersectionality means feminists can say things that would be racist from the mouths of others

Cheap AI is better at removing Henry Cavill’s Superman mustache than Hollywood special effects

Female fans of ‘The X-Files’ more likely to work in STEM careers - "The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a nonprofit research organization and advocacy group, and 21st Century Fox conducted an online survey that asked 2,021 women to rate how the character Dana Scully influenced their career choices and attitudes. The survey respondents were all female, all ages 25 or older (so they would have had a chance to enter the workforce, and have seen the show), and comprised an overrepresentation of women in STEM fields and fans of the show."
Scully presumably knows about sampling bias

Malay-Muslim groups urged to tackle challenges - "The proportion of Malay inmates in prison has jumped from about 40 per cent in 2011 to 55 per cent currently, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday. About 53 per cent of drug abusers arrested last year were Malay, up from 32 per cent in 2006. The proportion of new Malay drug abusers also went up to 54 per cent last year, from 22 per cent in 2006... 10 per cent of Malaysian Malays had a favourable opinion of terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and nearly a quarter were not prepared to denounce it"
Somehow, while the data on drug abusers by race is easily available, until this article I couldn't find any on inmates by race

Singapore committed to keeping Tamil as an official language, says cabinet minister - "By nature, the South Indians, especially Tamils, were obedient in carrying out the orders of their superiors. They had little educational background and were ready to accept low pay and poor living conditions, according the book, which has references to a number of researches.
Even The Hindu needs to qualify that this was "according the book (sic), which has references to a number of researches (sic)"

The Most Efficient Way to Keep Your Resume Up to Date - "When you get a new job save the description and requirements from the application and use it to later add the job to your resume"

History of the MINIT Group - MISTER MINIT - "1957 - MISTER MINIT was founded in Belgium to offer a rapid and efficient heel repair service. Stiletto heels were the fashion in those days and the Brussels cobble stones were damaging them by the thousands. Traditional cobblers couldn't cope with the demand and hence it took an average of ten days to get them repaired."

Channel NewsAsia - Posts - "I was good at mathematics. But we had a Chinese math teacher who was very nasty, who basically degraded the Malay community and every time we went to class, we were told that we are only good at playing guitar or sitting at the void deck. I continued to do my best to prove otherwise"
Comments: "Are you trying to incite distrust by bringing up something that was 40 years back even if it may be true???? Aren’t there other better speeches to motivate ?"
"please be responsible with your words... this may have happened... is HISTORY... let it go... please do not try to incite racial tensions... as a minister, your words are important... please be wise...! just my 2 cents worth..."
"Hey Hey now you're inciting racial hatred by this speech! Why must you name the race?are you trying to start something?any body can be nasty."
People are scolding Yaacob Ibrahim for inciting racial tensions by relating an anecdote. When you indoctrinate people that all non-kumbaya talk of race and religion are dangerous, it can come back to bite you

JML Copper Stone Pan Review - "These frying pans profess to be non-stick and scratch resistant, well don’t all frying pans nowadays but after a few uses they never are! Well I have been using these now most days for about a fortnight and really put them through their paces and so far nothing at all has stuck! I have washed them well each time and there are no marks on them at all!"

Doug Ford's campaign defends 'take care of our own' comment on immigration - "Facing criticism for suggesting Ontario has to "take care of our own" before pushing for immigrants to move to northern Ontario, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford repeatedly refused to explain his comments, instead saying he is supportive of new Canadians and immigration."

‘Sex-pest nurse mimicked colleague’s breasts’ at Nottingham hospital - "A male nurse set off a hospital alarm so he could watch a colleague's breasts bounce around as she ran down the corridor... Aaron Kibaja, manager at Highbury Hospital's dementia ward in Nottingham, behaved inappropriately towards four women between 2012 and 2016, it is claimed... One woman said he told her she 'a fine rump' and that she was going to 'get it wheelbarrow', as well as nicknaming her breasts 'twins' and calling her 'farty arse'... Asked about the alleged ‘fine rump’ comment he explained that he was talking about eating steak on a night out."

Jonathan Trueman's answer to Do British people not feel ashamed for all the loot and destruction done by their ancestors in the Colonial Era, or at least feel sorry about what happened? - Quora - "You’re Indian, Anonymous, aren’t you? OK, here goes... Britain left India. Seventy years ago... And in that time, under its own steam and with no hand at the wheel but its own, India has achieved tremendous economic growth… together with an appalling degree of corruption... grotesquely unequal distribution of wealth... a pitiful record on freedom of the press... and rising unemployment... And yet your politicians and their activists encourage you to focus on the wrongdoing of a power that departed your shores when my adult son’s grandfather was a boy. Are you sure your anger is aimed at the right target?"

Mechael Kanovsky's answer to Can you show me a map from 1947 and earlier that says 'Israel' in modern-day 'Israel'? - Quora - "Here is a map from 1759. The map says Palestina and right under it, it says Juda and Israel, showing that the two are synonymous. The map shows where the twelve tribes were situated. Sorry, no mention of any Arabs or so called Palestinians... And here is one from 1584 with Israel called the holy land. Same story. All the 12 tribes listed."

Men prefer bromances to their romantic relationships suggests new study - "Every man surveyed reported having at least one 'bromantic' friend with whom they engaged in 'no boundaries' behaviours like sharing secrets or sleeping in the same bed. 29 out of 30 men admitted to cuddling their close male friend. The findings are interesting but the authors acknowledge that they may not apply to men outside this very specific population (i.e. young, white, sporty, straight men)... One participant commented: "Tim knows I love listening to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, but I keep that quiet [around my girlfriend] because she would judge me. I feel like I have to be more manly around her." Sounds like fragile masculinity to us. And having an intimate relationship with a male friend may not have positive effects all round. The authors reported that men in the study sometimes referred to their girlfriends using sexist language and demonstrated an "us and them" mentality suggesting allegiance to their "bros" over their romantic partner. Gross"
Looks like "fragile masculinity" is anything that disadvantages women
Comments: "You have to remember that women don't understand the concepts of friendship and camaraderie between men. They literally hate 100% of one another."
"Men forming close, non-sexual bonds with other men? Not on my oversized watch. REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"
" If it isn’t fragile then it’s toxic. That’s the rule."
" - Fucking men are not in touch with their feelings
- Men having feelings? Fragile masculinity!! Ultra gay!"
""Masculinity is toxic"
"Men who have close male friends are fragile"
Sounds like a woman who's not mature enough to let her man have friends"
"And people wonder why bachelors and MGTOW is growing....Tisk tisk, shaming tactics only confirm why those lifestyles are growing in the first place."

Old bra helps cow with calf to avoid mastitis

The tyranny of minorities – Tore Rasmussen - "Nassim Taleb, the author of the bestselling Black Swan, has an intriguing chapter in his book “Skin in the Game” called “The most intolerant wins: Dictatorship of the small minority.” It explains a disturbing phenomenon that we are seeing played out all over the West today. The concept is simple: if you place a tolerant person together with an intolerant and strongly motivated person, then, as a rule, the tolerant will go along with the demands of the intolerant to keep the peace. This behaviour scales up, so even if you have only one intolerant person in the room and ninety-nine tolerant people, as long as the demand of the intolerant is below the others’ intolerance threshold, they will go along with it. Taleb uses halal as an example. Depending on which Western country you live in, most of the meat you consume could be halal... A similar phenomenon has been observed in politics, where there is almost no correlation between what the majority of voters want and what policies will be enacted. The reason is that it is not majorities that win elections, but small minorities that can tip the balance from one to the other. Therefore, politicians will peddle to these minorities and pressure groups on the assumption that the majority will tolerate it and vote for them anyway... According to a recent Chatham House survey, The majority of people in EU countries want to stop all immigration from Muslim countries – an average of 55% across the EU, nearer 65% in Belgium and Austria. Only a small minority support open borders, and yet they determine EU policy, not the majority. Yet they, not the majority, determine EU policy. No wonder democracy is in crisis... In one rare example, we had an opportunity to witness this live during the funeral of Lady Margaret Thatcher. While uniformly denounced by a dismissive press, she was strongly supported by the majority. Hundreds of thousands of people came out to say farewell to their hero, who had saved them from socialism."

The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority - "Close to ten percent of the chain Subway carry halal-only stores (meaning no pork), in spite of the high costs from the loss of business of nonpork stores. The same holds in South Africa where, with the same proportion of Muslims, a disproportionately higher number of chicken is Halal certified. But in the U.K. and other Christian countries, halal is not neutral enough to reach a high level, as people may rebel against forceful abidance to other’s religious norms. For instance, the 7th Century Christian Arab poet Al-Akhtal made a point to never eat halal meat, in his famous defiant poem boasting his Christianity: “I do not eat sacrificial flesh”. (Al-Akhtal was reflecting the standard Christian reaction from three or four centuries earlier — Christians were tortured in pagan times by being forced to eat sacrificial meat, which they found sacrilegious. Many Christian martyrs starved to death.)... My heuristic is that the more pagan, the more brilliant one’s mind, and the higher one’s ability to handle nuances and ambiguity. Purely monotheistic religious such as Protestant Christianity, Salafi Islam, or fundamentalist atheism accommodate literalist and mediocre minds that cannot handle ambiguity... Islam itself is ending up being taken over (in the Sunni branch) by the purists simply because these were more intolerant than the rest... For Jews and Muslim minorities such as Shiites, Sufis, and associated religions such as Druze and Alawis, the aim is for people to leave them alone so they can satisfy their own dietary preferences –largely, with historical exceptions here and there. But had my neighbor been a Sunni Salafi, he would have required the entire room to be eating Halal. Perhaps the entire building. Perhaps the entire town. Hopefully the entire country. Hopefully the entire planet. Indeed, given the total lack of separation between church and state, and between the holy and the profane (Chapter x), to him Haram (the opposite of Halal) means literally illegal. The entire room was committing a legal violation... we need to be more than intolerant with some intolerant minorities. It is not permissible to use “American values” or “Western principles” in treating intolerant Salafism (which denies other peoples’ right to have their own religion). The West is currently in the process of committing suicide."
Can Taleb write a piece without insulting anyone?
"Westerners culturally consider generosity and tolerance to be virtues. [REDACTED] culturally see generosity and tolerance as weakness."

Being a 'nice guy' becomes a threat to men's earning power as soon as they turn 30 - "Genswoski analyzed the results of the Terman study, which followed a group of about 1,500 high-IQ individuals from childhood to old age (1920s to 1990s). She looked specifically at the links between childhood personality, lifetime earnings, and education to figure out which traits affect men and women’s professional success, and when. Results showed that more agreeable – i.e. nicer and friendlier – men earned significantly less than other men. This isn’t typically true for young workers – the effect is only visible once men turn 30, and it’s strongest between ages 40 and 60. As Gensowski writes in HBR, a man who is in the top 20% of agreeableness will earn about $270,000 less over their lifetime than the average working man. Two other traits that stood out in Gensowski’s research are extroversion and conscientiousness, or being organized and hardworking. Men who score high on both traits tend to reap higher salaries... the effects of personality are strongest in highly educated men... Gensowski’s findings are supported by earlier research. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology also found that agreeable men tend to earn less than their peers, and that this effect is virtually nonexistent for women. (From that study: “For men, it literally pays to be a contrarian.”) Other data suggests that agreeable people – especially agreeable men – are less likely to hold leadership positions. Meanwhile, those who display both conscientiousness and extroversion are more likely to become leaders. In his 2013 book “Habits of Leadership,” psychologist Art Markman suggests that employees appreciate a boss who can give frank feedback – and agreeable people may have a hard time providing criticism."
Nice guys finish last

The Clintons Had Slaves - "The prison labor system in the United States has long been an unacknowledged scandal. It’s quite plainly a form of slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment even admits as much: it doesn’t say that when you’re forced to work for being convicted of a crime, that isn’t slavery. It says that slavery is legal if it is imposed as part of a conviction for a crime. All manner of people benefit from the system; as Mother Jones has reported, Congress actually incentivized private companies to use inmate labor, and the incarcerated now produce everything from bedding to eyeglasses. They even staff call centers, with a company called UNICOR encouraging companies to “smart-source” their call-center work to prisoners rather than sending it overseas... Predictably, when people started to mention how disturbing it was that the Clintons had kept slaves, a few especially committed online Hillary fans began to issue impossibly contorted defenses, including blaming “DudeBros” for bringing the matter up and explaining that Hillary had tried to empathize with the convicts... Of course, one could draw a distinction between “slavery” (in which a person asserts all rights over a human being, including the right to sell them and their children and to take their life) and “involuntary servitude” (in which a person is simply forced to work), a distinction such as the Thirteenth Amendment contemplates. But “involuntary servitude” immediately begins to sound like little more than a euphemism for slavery, and many of the situations that modern anti-slavery advocates would consider to be slavery—such as that perpetrated by Alex Tizon‘s family—do not necessarily include people being murdered and having their children sold"
Those who say "modern slavery" is a problem need to go and argue with those who claim people talking about "Irish slavery" are just racists
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