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Friday, December 21, 2018

Links - 21st December 2018

In Iceland, food is a challenge, not a meal - "Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.... Icelanders aren’t Vikings. They never were. According to a relatively modest note near the beginning of the 871±2 permanent exhibit at the Reykjavik City Museum, Icelanders are mostly descended from Norwegian farmers who wanted to get away from the Vikings and just tend their fields and livestock in peace... Though Icelanders don’t eat beached whale (hvalreki) anymore, this scavenging approach to food is also the origin of hákarl, a milder version of the skate I had in Akureyri. Though the flesh of the huge Greenland shark is usually toxic to humans – the high concentration of urea leads to skin, eye and respiratory distress – once it’s allowed to rot a bit, traditionally in a hole on the beach (nowadays in plastic containers), it becomes a valuable source of protein. Rays and other large sharks are equally toxic, and equally edible when left to ferment or rot. And since it’s all already rotten, it keeps pretty well, too. So for centuries, this foul-tasting food was the difference between life and death... Every Christmas, and every Þorri – the old Icelandic month that corresponds to the end of January and beginning of February – is given over to traditional foods, which, in addition to all the rotten fish, includes rams testicles (súrsaðir hrútspungar), boiled sheep’s heads with the wool singed off (svið), smoked mutton (hangikjöt), seal flippers (seishreifar) and whale blubber cured in sour milk (súr hvalur)."

The truth behind New Orleans’ nebulous sandwich - "When thousands of southern Vietnamese fled their country after the war in 1975, many Vietnamese immigrants were attracted to Louisiana because it was like south Vietnam: the humidity, the delta, the rice-growing culture, and, of course, the leftover aspects of French colonialism that have shaped both cultures. It’s no surprise that residents of New Orleans – Vietnamese descent or not – are highly influenced by this Southeast Asian culture.Which brings us to the very latest incarnation of the po’ boy, the Vietnamese ‘pho boy’"

Redefining Sexual Harassment - "Entitled ‘Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’ (2018), it was produced by a committee of scientists belonging to NASEM (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) and published by the National Academies Press. Its claims are stark, pronouncing that “50 percent of women faculty and staff in academia experience sexual harassment” and “20-50 percent of students experience such harassment from faculty or staff.” These claims are made in the present tense, indicating this is the current state of affairs... The legal definition quite explicitly links the definition of sexual harassment to sex: “touching,” “feeling,” and “groping” and to harassing behaviour directed at an individual: “toward an employee.” It goes further, stating that the behaviour in question will instil fear in the targeted employee if they don’t comply with the harasser’s demands: “with the implied suggestion that the target’s employment status, promotion or favorable treatment depend upon a positive response and/or ‘cooperation.’”... Legal definitions sometimes differ from layperson’s definitions. However, not in this case... Neither the legal nor the layperson’s definition of sexual harassment was used... [They] considered it sexual harassment if an employer treated a female employee differently because of her sex and sexual harassment if an employer failed to treat a female employee differently because of her sex. The former is considered patronising, while the latter is inconsiderate. In light of this, NASEM’s estimate that only 50 percent of women experienced sexual harassment begins to look quite conservative. The SEQ—and sexual harassment literature more broadly—has been criticised in the scientific literature for its broadness and lack of precision... is there any evidence that women are more likely than men to experience hostile behaviour of a non-sexual nature in the workplace?... even when women do not consider “ambient harassment” to be sexual harassment, this view is overridden by the researchers. In the sexual harassment literature, what counts most is the view of the researchers carrying out the surveys, who interpret and label women’s experiences for them... behaviour that is classified as sexual harassment need not be about sex, need not be distressing, need not be interpreted as sexual harassment by the person on the receiving end, and may not be directed at a person at all... “concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.”... if sexual harassment is redefined so it includes an unintentionally sexist joke then a boss pressuring his intern for after-hours massage may come to be viewed in the same light—as a risqué joke. This risks trivialising actual sexual coercion."
The incentives are to exaggerate a problem, because then you get more attention, more political power and more work for yourself
As usual, feminist statistics are rubbish

Paul Murany on Twitter - "Apparently the most common form of sexual harassment is what's known as "gender harassment," defined as conveying insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes about members of one gender. If that's the case, gender studies departments are rife with sexual harassment. See Sokal Sq."
"Honestly, I' m getting to the point that when I see "sexual harassment" in an article I pretty much tune out and move on"
Maybe gender harassment = insulting a gender + power, so men cannot suffer gender harassment

Brexit: UK government to host summit on why other countries should join the EU - "Critics said the UK government must have “a sense of humour” for hosting a conference on EU enlargement and extolling the benefits of accession as Britain itself headed towards the exit door."
Presumably it'd be ironic to recommend that Switzerland not build a port, but that Malta should

Our Fast Food Social Media Diet - "seemingly superficial face-to-face social encounters may have unappreciated social value, and increasingly interacting with machines instead of people may have real social costs; studies find that brief interactions with strangers can benefit wellbeing. What we often think of as trivial interpersonal encounters may also help developing minds learn how people work and help the rest of us keep our social skills sharp. Just like cooking is a skill that takes practice, so does socializing; our modern fast food social diet may reduce people’s ability to navigate the real social world. Perhaps people are less tolerant of those who have different views because they can easily go online and avoid or mock them."

China is making its vegetables grow bigger, faster and stronger ... using electricity - "The high frequency electricity kills bacteria and virus-transmitting diseases in the air or soil. It also suppresses the surface tension of water on leaves, accelerating vaporisation."

These Are The Ages When We Do Our Best Work - "athletes indeed tend to peak young, while thinkers like economists and doctors do their best work later in life. In between, we see entertainers and leaders excel in their middle age... researchers charted the range of cognition—or how well our brains can function—at various ages. What we find is that the potential for high-functioning brain activity peaks in our 50s but remains high until our 90s and functional into the 100s; however, the average person peaks at 30 and declines to a nonfunctioning state by his or her late 80s."

Hong Kong developers rush to sell empty flats ahead of new vacancy tax - "Hong Kong’s property developers are rushing to offload empty new flats before the government unveils details of a vacancy tax this month aimed at preventing hoarding, as it seeks to ease the city’s housing crisis."

Adultery no longer a criminal offence in India - "Indian folklore and epics are full of stories about extra-marital love. Most love poems in Sanskrit, according to scholar J Moussaief Masson, are "about illicit love". But Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu text, says: "If men persist in seeking intimate contact with other men's wives, the king should brand them with punishments that inspire terror and banish them"... Judge Rohinton Nariman said that "ancient notions of man being perpetrator and woman being victim no longer hold good"... Adultery is considered illegal in 21 American states, including New York, although surveys show that while most Americans disapprove of adultery, they don't think of it as a crime... In 1954, the law was first challenged by a petitioner asking why women cannot be punished for the offence, and that such "exemption was discriminatory"... Two different panels on law reforms in 1971 and 2003 recommended that women should also be prosecuted for the offence."
According to Singaporean liberals, in 21 American states adulterous people should live their lives in fear just as 377A supposedly means gays in Singapore cannot sleep peacefully

Venice considers nightly ban on carrying alcohol - "The city is considering fines for anyone found carrying alcohol after 19:00 - even sealed in shopping bags. Police say they do not plan to stop Venetians on their way home from the shops, but rather drunk revellers... local police commander Marco Agostini, said he would not be targeting anyone leaving supermarkets having purchased alcohol. Instead, the proposed rules were for when "someone gets drunk and has a bag with three bottles of beer", he said. The city recently announced controversial plans for a ban on sitting or lying on the ground"
Selective enforcement! Discrimination!

Venice restaurant bill outrages Japanese tourists - "The mayor of Venice has voiced outrage over the €1,100 (£970; $1,347) bill that four Japanese tourists say they had to pay for four steaks, a plate of fried fish, water and service... Italian media did not name the restaurant, but said it was owned by a Chinese woman and run by an Egyptian.According to Mr Gasparinetti, only 1.1% of restaurants in that part of Venice are owned by locals, and the figure is 50% in the historic centre as a whole.He said Gruppo 25 Aprile would post advice for tourists this week on Facebook to help them avoid such a "mockery". There have been many cases of restaurants overcharging tourists in Venice"

Prestatyn man fined for race-hate doll in window - "A man has been fined for displaying a golliwog doll in his window. Jason Wakefield-Jones, 50, Prestatyn, pleaded guilty to displaying it with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and that the offence was racially aggravated. Llandudno Magistrates' Court heard a woman complained on 4 January 2018 after seeing the doll in the window of a flat opposite two Indian restaurants. Wakefield-Jones was fined £250 and has to pay £85 costs... The golliwog is a fictional character created by Florence Kate Upton that appeared in children's books in the late 19th Century, usually depicted as a type of rag doll."
Time to ban Enid Blyton

WikiLeaks Revelations Show the Skills of U.S. Diplomats - "the sum total of the output I have read is actually quite reassuring about the way Washington — or at least the State Department — works. First, there is little deception. These leaks have been compared to the Pentagon papers. Which they are not. The Pentagon papers revealed that the U.S. engaged in a systematic campaign to deceive the world and the American people and that its private actions were often the opposite of its stated public policy. The WikiLeaks documents, by contrast, show Washington pursuing privately pretty much the policies it has articulated publicly. Whether on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or North Korea, the cables confirm what we know to be U.S. foreign policy. And often this foreign policy is concerned with broader regional security, not narrow American interests. Ambassadors are not caught pushing other countries in order to make deals secretly to strengthen the U.S., but rather to solve festering problems... The WikiLeaks data powerfully confirms the central American argument against Iran's programs: that they are a threat to regional stability and order, not merely to Washington's narrow interests. (Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu quickly pointed this out.) In fact, the simplest confirmation of the fallout can be found in Tehran's reaction to WikiLeaks. Alone among world leaders, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that the documents were actually leaked by Washington. After all, they expose as an utter lie Ahmadinejad's constant claim that he has befriended all Arab states and that, if not for Washington, Iran would be beloved by all in the region."

11,000 Wikileaks Twitter DMs Have Just Been Published For Anyone To Read - "At various points in the chat, there are examples of homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism, racism, antisemitism and other objectionable content and language"

California's Unconstitutional Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards - "California recently passed Senate Bill 826, a law requiring all publicly held corporations based in the state to have a minimum number of women on their boards. A corporation with four or fewer directors must have at least one woman on its board. If the board has five members, at least two women must be on it. If it has six or more, there must be at least three women... The Supreme Court has long held that laws that discriminate on the basis of sex are subject to heightened "intermediate scrutiny" under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment... magine a population where ability and interest in serving on boards is equally distributed between men and women and all firms are completely nondiscriminatory (that is, they always hire the best-qualified applicants, regardless of gender). Even so, 18.75% of five-person boards will have one or zero women on them just by random chance, and thereby be in violation of the law."

Is anal sex harmful? Thoughts from a gastroenterologist… - "About 37% of women and 5% of men have had receptive anal intercourse in their adult lives.
Contrary to popular belief, women have the most anal sex in their twenties, and the rate drops off as they get older. In men, there are two peak decades in anal activity; the 30’s and the 50’s.
Whites and “non-Mexican hispanics” had the most anal sex when compared to blacks.
Graduating high school increases the rate of anal sex dramatically. Graduating from college then decreases the rate to a small degree. People who did not graduate high school had anal sex the least.
A history of major depression was strongly associated with having anal sex in both men and women...
The authors found that receiving anal sex results in a 34% increased risk of fecal incontinence in women, and a 119% increased risk of fecal incontinence in men! (For the purposes of the study, fecal incontinence was defined as leakage of liquid or solid stool, or mucus, at least monthly.) Keep in mind these figures are relative risks, meaning that the absolute increases are only 2.5% in women and 6.3% in men...
data was not available on non-penile anal insertions; e.g., objects, sex toys, and the authors specifically cite the practice of “fisting.”"

Links - Guns (December 21st 2018)

Thailand′s fervent gun culture - "Thailand has the highest reported rate of gun-related deaths in Southeast Asia - almost 50 percent more gun homicides than the Philippines... "Thailand has a fervent gun culture on par with the United States and has become a world leader in firearms-related homicides." But that's not all. Just like in the US, the Southeast Asian nation also has a high gun-ownership ratio... business disputes, robberies, fits of passion, personal vendettas and loss of face are often named as the main reasons for gun-related deaths. And then there is the issue of contract killings"
So much for more guns, less crime

Is most gun crime committed by those who illegally possess guns? - "About 48 percent of state prison inmates surveyed said they got the gun they used from a family member, friend, gun store, pawn shop, flea market, or gun show. Most states only require a background check if the purchase happens at a gun store, according to the Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence."
This actually suggests that closing the gun show loophole, having stricter checks etc would reduce gun crime, i.e. claiming gun control doesn't work because criminals don't obey laws is false

Guns and suicide: A fatal link - "A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides... “Studies show that most attempters act on impulse, in moments of panic or despair. Once the acute feelings ease, 90 percent do not go on to die by suicide.”"

Means Reduction Saves Lives - "A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. This has been demonstrated in a number of areas: bridge barriers, detoxification of domestic gas, pesticides, medication packaging, and others.
So much for people who'd commit suicide would find a way to kill themselves anyway, so there's no point regulating guns to reduce suicide rates

Armed Walmart shoppers slowed police in shooting investigation - "When a gunman opened fire inside a Walmart in Thornton Wednesday night, shoppers screamed and ran for cover — and others pulled out their own handguns. But those who drew weapons during the shootings ultimately delayed the investigation as authorities pored over surveillance videotape trying to identify the assailant who killed three people
The "good guy with a gun" just interferes with the police

More guns, less crime? Not according to the data. - "It’s not that Americans are more violent than people in other countries: in 2011, both Brits and Australians were statistically more likely to be injured in a violent crime. But the American is forty times more likely to encounter a gun. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, gun victims are six times more likely die than victims of assault with a knife or blunt object. But America has many, many more guns in circulation than any other country. In 2011, 270 million firearms were circulated in the U.S., almost 90 guns for every 100 people. No other country comes close: Yemen, in the midst of of civil war, only has 55 guns for every 100 people. Even so, the data show that Americans are not more prone to violence than Canadians or Australians. In spite of this, compared to the average American, Canadians are ten times less likely to be victims of gun violence. (Brits are fourteen times and Australians forty times less likely.) The U.S. is also one of the few developed countries in the world without a comprehensive firearms registry. The aggregate data almost certainly understates the global impact of American guns. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the vast majority of guns seized and traced in Mexico are of American origin. About a quarter of these weapons are high-caliber weapons, such as AK and AR-15 type semiautomatic rifles... when Americans loosen their gun laws, the global market is flooded with cheap weapons. Political scientists estimate that the U.S. assault weapons ban expiring in 2004 directly caused an additional 158 gun deaths per year in Mexican border municipos... States with stricter regulations may have higher murder rates, but the laws were instituted in response to crime, not the other way around. Easy domestic firearm transport and trade of firearms further obfuscates their argument. Republicans often talk about Chicago, which has one of the highest murder rates and strictest gun laws in the U.S. What they don’t say is that 60 per cent of all firearms seized in Chicago come from outside state lines. (Neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana both have some of the weakest gun laws in the U.S.)"
So much for people killing each other with knives if guns are banned, or the real problem being a culture of violence
So much for banning guns being useless because they'll just be smuggled from Mexico

Guns and suicide: A fatal link - "A study by the Harvard School of Public Health of all 50 U.S. states reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. Based on a survey of American households conducted in 2002, HSPH Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Matthew Miller, Research Associate Deborah Azrael, and colleagues at the School’s Injury Control Research Center (ICRC), found that in states where guns were prevalent—as in Wyoming, where 63 percent of households reported owning guns—rates of suicide were higher. The inverse was also true: where gun ownership was less common, suicide rates were also lower."
So much for fewer guns just meaning people kill themselves a different way

Means Reduction Saves Lives - "A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. This has been demonstrated in a number of areas: bridge barriers, detoxification of domestic gas, pesticides, medication packaging, and others... Prior to the 1950s, domestic gas in the United Kingdom was derived from coal and contained about 10-20% carbon monoxide (CO). Poisoning by gas inhalation was the leading means of suicide in the UK. In 1958, natural gas, virtually free of carbon monoxide, was introduced into the UK. By 1971, 69% of gas used was natural gas. Over time, as the carbon monoxide in gas decreased, suicides also decreased (Kreitman 1976). Suicides by carbon monoxide decreased dramatically, while suicides by other methods increased a small amount, resulting in a net decrease in overall suicides, particularly among females. Over time, rates of suicide began to increase again although not to the pre-1965 levels. One author has estimated that over a ten-year period, an estimated six to seven thousand lives were saved by the change in domestic gas content (Hawton 2002) Reducing access to lethal means does not always reduce the overall suicide rate. For example, restricting a low-lethality method or a method infrequently used may not make a detectable difference in the suicide rate. Restricting a very low-lethality method-if it results in attempters substituting a higher-lethality method-could in fact increase the overall suicide rate. Means reduction doesn’t change the underlying suicidal impulse or necessarily reduce attempts: rather, it saves lives by reducing the lethality of attempts"
It's hard to think of a more lethal means of suicide than guns
Keywords: gas oven

In Suicide Prevention, It's Method, Not Madness - "The rate of suicide in America is 11 victims per 100,000 people. That's almost exactly the same as it was in 1965. In spite of the rise of anti-depressant drugs, crisis hotline centers, and better treatment of mental illness, we still haven't gotten much closer to understanding or preventing suicide. The reason for that might be that prevention focuses more on the study of illness than it does on the actual ways people attempt to kill themselves... suicide is an overwhelmingly impulsive act. He cites a study of survivors that said only 13 percent reported thinking about committing suicide for eight hours or longer; 70 percent said they thought about it for less than an hour; and a whopping 24 percent said the idea had occurred to them less than five minutes before their attempt... He cited one person who had picked out a place to jump off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, but he never made it. His location meant that he would have had to cross six lanes of traffic, and he was afraid of getting hit by a car."

Strict state gun laws linked to fewer suicides and murders - "Counties in states with strong gun laws had lower rates of firearm homicides than counties in states with weak laws, the study found. In states with weak laws, counties had lower gun murder rates only if neighboring states had strict regulations in place. But states with strong gun laws had lower firearm and overall suicide rates regardless of the strength of laws in bordering states. “This means that strong laws in one state may have a protective effect across state lines”... California had the strongest firearm control laws, with a score of 10, but many counties in California are also adjacent to states with weak regulations. Compared with counties in states with tough laws that bordered states with strict regulations, counties in states with weak laws that were adjacent to states with weak laws had higher overall and firearm murder rates. But these counties didn’t have higher rates of non-firearm homicides.
So much for fewer guns just meaning people kill each other a different way
So much for Mexico being next to the US meaning gun laws will be ineffective throughout the whole country

The reality of the 'good guy with a gun' - "police also noted that armed citizens can complicate volatile situations. The first of 57 uniformed police officers arrived just a minute after the initial 911 calls and found a complex scene with multiple armed people and no clear sense of what had happened or who was responsible."We don't want people to be vigilantes," Bo Mathews, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, said in a recent interview. "That's why we have police officers."Both men did what they believed was right, but that meant they had killed a man they did not know. Whittle wondered whether he was going to jail. Nazario went over ways that the confrontation could have ended differently — perhaps with his own death. They both marveled that amid the chaos, the result was as intended: The attacker was stopped before he could hurt anyone else."

It’s the Guns - "Americans of high-school age are 82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than 15- to 19-year-olds in the rest of the developed world.This stark discrepancy is often treated as a baffling fact, requiring some counterintuitive explanation. After today’s massacre in Texas, the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, suggested that the problem may be that high schools have too many doors... At other moments, we’re told that the problem is that we need to do a better job guessing which troubled teens may prove murderous at some point in the future, or dealing with the excesses of masculinity, or possibly the crisis of meaning and identity in the secularizing modern world. As always, though, there is a simpler and more powerful explanation of why there has been no similar school shooting in Germany since 2009; or in Canada since 2016; none in the United Kingdom since 1996—while conversely, more young Americans have died in school shootings in 2018 than in all the nation’s combat operations all over the world... Back in 2012, Nate Silver observed: “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South, or a number of other demographic characteristics.” More than 70 percent of Trump voters in 2016 described guns as “very important” to their vote, versus only 40 percent who described abortion as “very important” to their vote and only 25 percent who felt that way about gay rights. With the slow fading of battles over same-sex marriage and abortion, and the rapid collapse of other aspects of conservative ideology, guns may now rank as the single most important political dividing line in 21st century America... American gun culture in the 2010s is as blithely irresponsible as American alcohol culture in the 1960s.According to a Pew survey, only about one-quarter of gun owners think it essential to alert visitors with children that guns may be present in the home. (Twice as many non-gun-owners think so.) Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Links - 20th December 2018 (2)

Minimize walking time with "Cold Safe" - Citymapper - "Toronto winters can be harsh and getting to your destination faster is not always a priority. Sometimes, spending less time outdoors is what truly matters. That's why we now display a section with Cold Safe options when you look for directions."

Workday Predicts When Employees Will Quit - "Workday is an HR technology company that wants to tell your employer that you're planning to leave your job — ideally before you've even started looking for your next gig... Workday's new software, which it hopes to release next year, works by looking at your career progression and comparing it with other employees who have followed a similar path"

Midterm Election Results - The President's Party Loses - "Midterm elections are not friendly to the president's political party. Modern midterm elections have resulted in an average loss of 30 seats in the House of Representatives and Senate by the political party whose president occupies the White House. Midterms, held in even years in the second year of a president's four-year term, are typically thought of as a barometer of the majority party's popularity among the electorate... In the 21 midterm elections held since 1934, only twice has the president's party gained seats in both the Senate and the House: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first midterm election and George W. Bush's first midterm election. On three other occasions, the president's party gained House seats and once it was a draw"

Opinion | The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats - The New York Times - "The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later... It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.”is replying to comments. But that’s the system in which everyone’s playing — and one they had no trouble winning in until just a few years ago. To complain about it makes them sound like whiners in a manner reminiscent of Trump in 2016, when he thought he was going to lose. It’s also a reminder that, in politics, intensity is not strategy. You have to be able to convert. The Resistance didn’t convert.It didn’t convert when it nominated left-wing candidates in right-leaning states like Florida and Georgia. It didn’t convert when it poured its money into where its heart was — a lithesome Texas hopeful with scant chance of victory — rather than where the dollars were most needed. It didn’t convert when it grew more concerned with the question of how much Trump did not pay in taxes than with the question of how much you pay in taxes. It didn’t convert when Chuck Schumer chose to make Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court the decisive political test of the year. It didn’t convert when it turned his initial confirmation hearing into a circus. It didn’t convert when media liberals repeatedly violated ordinary journalistic standards by reporting the uncorroborated accusations against Kavanaugh that followed Christine Blasey Ford’s.Above all, it didn’t convert the unconverted. It didn’t convert when Chuck Schumer chose to make Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court the decisive political test of the year. It didn’t convert when it turned his initial confirmation hearing into a circus. It didn’t convert when media liberals repeatedly violated ordinary journalistic standards by reporting the uncorroborated accusations against Kavanaugh that followed Christine Blasey Ford’s.Above all, it didn’t convert the unconverted... Then again, what does the average voter think about the people who pompously style themselves “the Resistance”?... They measure their moral worth not through an effort at understanding but by the intensity of their disdain. They are — so they think — always right, yet often surprised by events. I was a charter member of this camp. Intellectual honesty ought to compel us to admit that we achieved precisely the opposite of what we intended. Trumpism is more entrenched today than ever. The result of the midterms means, if nothing else, that the president survived his first major political test more than adequately. And unless Democrats change, he should be seen as the odds-on favorite to win in 2020."

Democrats won the House, but Trump won the election - The Washington Post - "Democrats have underperformed in comparison with the historical markers and general expectations of a midterm cycle. The president’s party loses 37 seats in the House on average in midterm elections when his approval is below 50 percent... Trump and his allies have an appeal that the elites in New York and Hollywood cannot dismiss or combat. All of the 2018 Democratic heartthrobs lost. That must sap the enthusiasm of the resistance. For the most part, when voters had to decide, the angry left was rejected and Trump was rewarded."

Why the Democrats Won the 2018 Midterms - "Almost every candidate in whom Democrats at the national level invested emotional energy—Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Andrew Gillum in Florida, Stacey Abrams in Georgia—appears to have lost. Almost every detested Republican appears to have survived: Devin Nunes, Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, even Duncan Hunter, a California Republican under indictment... the vote administered enough Democratic disappointment to check the party’s most self-destructive tendencies. If Beto O’Rourke had eked it out in Texas, Democrats might well have nominated him for president in 2020, almost guaranteeing a debacle. There is no progressive majority in America. There is no progressive plurality in America. And there certainly is no progressive Electoral College coalition in America"

In #MeToo era, at least 4 Democrats elected despite misconduct allegations - "At least four Democrats facing sexual misconduct controversies in the #MeToo era were voted into office on Tuesday, a result that would appear to clash with the party’s claims to stand behind women and have zero tolerance toward such allegations.House Reps. Keith Ellison, Tony Cárdenas and Bobby Scott, and Sen. Bob Menendez, all came out victorious on Tuesday, despite being accused of misconduct.Their election raises questions whether the Democratic Party, which went all-out to stop now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the face of assault claims and stressed the importance of believing women’s allegations, is selectively tapping into the #MeToo movement... On the Republican side, meanwhile, there were no congressional candidates that managed to survive allegations raised against them."

The Anti-Semitic 8—Election Results - "The eight politicians singled out, four each from the Democrat and Republican parties, had all, in different ways, openly crossed the red line. The results are in and the good news is that voters rejected four of the public officials from our list. The bad news is that they voted to keep the other four in office"
Interestingly 3/4 of those who were elected were Democrats and "minorities"

The Democrat ‘wave’ was barely a wash. The midterms will embolden Trump | Coffee House - "The US press is pretty united on saying this is mixed news. “The vaunted blue wave that Democrats had hoped for failed to fully materialise” says the New York Times. The intensity of the swing against him in suburban areas is striking, but the failure of Democratic governor candidates in the south was it adds, “a sign that steady demographic change across the region was proceeding too gradually to lift Democrats to victory.” Fox News spots a “Kavanagh effect” saying that the Democrats who opposed Kavanaugh in swing Senate seats were all defeated... Trump’s objective was never, really, to win. It was to deny the Democrats that ‘blue wave’ and as the BBC’s Jon Sopel observed, there was no Democrat tsunami: just some gentle lapping at the shore. And for all of their wins, the Democrats have still failed to find an anti-Trump. Nancy Pelosi embodies the timewarp that the American left finds itself stuck in. Democrats finish the midterms with no gods and precious few heroes. All told, Trump will be emboldened by these results"

BHP suspends WA rail operations after train travels 92km with no driver - "BHP has suspended all rail operations in Western Australia after a runaway train laden with iron ore travelled 92km with no one on board before it was deliberately derailed. The driver of the 2km-long BHP-operated train stepped out of the locomotive early on Monday to inspect an issue with one of its 268 wagons and it took off without him."

What Really Happened At Trials By Congress? - "In pre-modern France, a woman could bring her husband to public trial for an annulment on the grounds that he was impotent. Impotence as a basis for divorce wasn’t unique to France, similar accusations were made in medieval Spain and England as well. The methods by which men had to prove their virility reached increasingly invasive and public levels during the Early Modern period with intricate medical exams, virginity tests, and even Trial by Congress - a public display of one's sexual ability... In Naples, matrone (female sex experts) were used. This woman would accompany a couple, rub ointments on them, encourage them to relax, give them aphrodisiacs, and watch to see what would happen. She'd then report back to the court. In France, in a Trial by Congress, men were expected to get an erection in front of the Court, usually by mounting his wife and copulating on demand... Overall, impotence trials put a man's reputation at risk more than a woman's. Tagereau stated that in the aftermath of a trial some men died of embarrassment, others lost their minds, and all were ruined and miserable. Additionally, men who were deemed impotent had to pay for the trial proceedings as well as return their wives' dowries after the annulment was granted"

Vaginas absolutely need sex or they’ll waste away: study - "Vaginal atrophy is a common but treatable condition that causes the vaginal wall to thin."

I deliberately sent myself to prison in Iceland – they didn't even lock the cell doors there - "When I asked the prison authorities in Iceland if I could spend a week in each of the two open prisons they were surprisingly receptive. I got the impression that they quite liked the idea: a foreign academic who wanted to get under the skin of these places by assuming the role of a prisoner. They promised to keep a room free for me... a prisoner’s room is their own space. And with in-room internet (with obvious restrictions) and a mobile phone, some prisoners, like teenagers, spend a lot of time in there. Prisoners have their own room keys but they leave their doors unlocked, pretty much at all times. This is a potent symbol: life in Kvíabryggja is all about trust. I found that difficult at first, knowing that my passport, rental car keys and research notes were all in my room. In the end I did what prisoners do and even slept with the door unlocked. I slept like a baby. And looking out of my room window every morning I saw sheep, grass and snowy mountain tops. The outside space in Icelandic prisons is important as well. The iconic and much photographed Kirkjufell mountain loomed large to the east and I was next to the sea, with a nice beach and plenty of grassland. This allows for the prisoner to feel “away” in some sense while still being on the premises. Prisoners, I was told, like to walk up to the entrance gate, where the only barrier to the outside world is a cattle grid. It yields that strange feeling of sensing freedom, just one footstep away."

White theatre director scoops a major grant for 'people of colour' because he claims 'everyone is African' - "Anthony Ekundayo Lennon writes about growing up with white parents in West London."

The Morality of Competition

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The Morality of Competition

"Sir Bradley Wiggins, the greatest cyclist of his, maybe any age continues to protest his innocence after a damning report from MPs accused him of taking a normally banned drug to enhance his performance. He was permitted to take it as a treatment for asthma. The MPs acknowledge that what he did was legal, but say he crossed an ethical line to gain an unfair advantage. The same day that controversy broke, Sir Roger Bannister died. The quintessential gentlemen amateur apparently broke the four minute mile on a diet of pilchards. Nobody ever accused him of cheating...

Even at the height of the Corinthian era, the 1908 London Olympics, the marathon runners dosed themselves on brandy, champagne and rat poison. The favorite dropped out dead drunk, the front runner tried to get around the final rat the wrong way. Several nearly died...

Cheating has to be about breaking rules. And if he didn't break the rule, then he didn't cheat... I think you could make a really good argument, really persuasive argument that actually, it's ingenious if you can find the loopholes, if you can find the the gaps within the rules, then that makes you a brilliant sports star, a brilliant coach, a brilliant manager. And actually, we usually applaud anybody that identifies weaknesses as long as they’re within the rules if we can identify gaps in the rules to use them to our advantage. So usually we applaud that...

‘You say that the culture is actually atrophying. I mean, you gave the example of rugby, you're saying that actually the culture is changing. And by that I think you meant it was getting worse in the sense that, you know, cheating, gamesmanship and so on, are on the increase. That's pretty depressing.’

‘You may think that, but also it's more entertaining. I mean, people want to see good spectacles of sport. People love good spectacles of sports. They love good competition in that respect, and there might be incidences where or incidents where there's gamesmanship that occurs and there's a slight moral outcry at that time but actually I think the sport ultimately is an entity spectacle now’...

‘I think there's a certain relativity to this or at least a context specific dimension to it. So I think for instance, in rugby cheating is part of the game’

‘Really? That’s terrible, isn’t that terrible?’

‘Well, let me just contrast that say with chess. So let's say if you turned your back for a moment, I robbed your queen. I would say that I can't really win that game of chess. There's something has happened since the intervention has occurred which corrupts the game as a contest, whereas in rugby it seems like there is a sort of perhaps a value that's placed on on being able to deceive the referee, being able to create a picture that one has abided by the rules, but has in fact not. And so this, one of the great rugby players is Richie McCaw, the legendary All Blacks captain and there was a great debate as to whether he was the best player in the world or the best cheat, or perhaps both’…

‘It may well be that there's a certain kinds of virtue is associated with being able to cheat’

‘Why? How?’

‘That there's an ability to present a picture to the referee or to persuade the referee’

‘Where’s a virtue? I understand the point in that you want to win the point or the game or the match. But where's the virtue?’

‘So I suppose the virtuous is is being able to, there’s certain sorts of skills are required to do this well’

‘Well, there’s skills in robbing a bank’...

The level playing field, it's nonsense For a start, we all have different genes. So there's no way of getting two people to the start line of any race or competition with the same genetic inheritance. Secondly, we all have different environments. Not everyone grows up with a older sister, who beats you at everything like I do when I was a kid. So yeah, professional sport was a relatively benign world, compared to losing at beach cricket and getting the ball into the sea. So in actual fact, no one, there is no level playing field...

Genetics, education, parents, siblings, family, all those things change. And of course, money makes a big difference too and you're right, that there is an edge to be gained from superior facilities and nutrition. There is a difference between all of that and actually a systematic doping program. Now there is also a gray area and in that gray area, that's where ethical decisions do take place. Now I can think of examples in sport and I'll give you one now where there is obviously an ethical decision being made which is against the team’s self interest. Now let's imagine a quick thought experiment. World Cup rugby…

Your scrum’s going backwards, there is a huge incentive for the front row forward there to shout I'm breaking my neck, as has happened in professional rugby and opposition has stopped and saved that person's life. It doesn't happen so in other words, teams act outside their rational self interest on some kind of code of honor."

Links - Guns (20th December 2018)

Gun Laws Stop At State Lines, But Guns Don’t - "60 percent of guns used to commit crimes in Chicago from 2009 to 2013 originated outside of Illinois, and Indiana and Wisconsin were two of the biggest sources of recovered guns. And Illinois is not alone... gun laws in one state seem to affect their neighbors, which makes this an important area of study in efforts to better understand the flow of firearms used in crimes"

Majority of Guns Used in Chicago Crimes Come From Outside Illinois: Report - "Nearly 60 percent of guns recovered in Chicago come from out-of-state dealers, with more than 20 percent traced back to Indiana, according to a newly released report on the city’s violence. The 2017 Gun Trace Report released Sunday also showed that nearly a quarter of the guns recovered in Chicago were sold by just ten federally licensed firearms dealers (seven in Illinois and three in northwest Indiana)... The top two sources of firearms recovered by police – Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale and Midwest Sporting Goods in Lyons – have been the source of a disproportionate number of weapons for the better part of a decade, according to the report, providing a combined 11.2 percent of all crime guns recovered in Chicago... The report cites the Lyons ordinance to show that stronger local regulations of gun dealers can reduce the number of weapons entering the market quickly and illegally.
Gun fans: "Places with strict gun control have a lot of gun crime. This proves that gun control doesn't work"
Places that fireman visit suffer a lot of fire damage. Therefore...

Where the guns used in Chicago actually came from - The Washington Post - "Only 40 percent of the guns recovered in the city were purchased in Illinois, the report read, including hundreds purchased at gun shops outside city boundaries... States with tougher gun laws often discover that places with more lax legislation are the source of many of the firearms used in crimes... Several states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia — are common sources of firearms for most of the states for which we compiled data. Those states are also ones in which gun laws are not among the most stringent... blaming Chicago’s gun violence on its gun laws misunderstands the economics at play nationally."
In other words, gun laws work in that people are forced to get them from more lax states

Interpreting the Empirical Evidence on Illegal Gun Market Dynamics - "We find that criminals rely upon a diverse set of illegal diversion pathways to acquire guns, gun traffickers usually divert small numbers of guns, newer guns are diverted through close-to-retail diversions from legal firearms commerce, and that a diverse set of gun trafficking indicators are needed to identify and shut down gun trafficking pathways."
In other words, criminals get guns which used to be legal - so claiming that gun control only affects law abiding citizens is wrong

Johns Hopkins Study: California’s Background Check Law Had No Impact on Gun Deaths - "The findings, which run counter to experiences in Missouri and Connecticut that did show a link between background checks and gun deaths, appear to have startled the researchers. Garen Wintemute, a UC Davis professor of emergency medicine and senior author of the study, said incomplete data and flawed criminal record reporting might explain the results. Wintemute noted:
In 1990, only 25 percent of criminal records were accessible in the primary federal database used for background checks, and centralized records of mental health prohibitions were almost nonexistent.
As a result, researchers said as many as one in four gun buyers may have purchased a firearm without undergoing a background check. “We know at the individual level that comprehensive background check policies work, that they prevent future firearm violence at this level," said Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, a researcher who led the survey"
In other words, if you don't enforce gun laws, they won't work

Do Right-to-Carry Laws Make States Safer? - "The academic backing for this argument can be traced to a 1997 study by University of Chicago economists John Lott and David Mustard... In the roughly two decades since, additional academic studies have strongly suggested that the opposite is true: that these laws lead to higher rates of violent crime. The latest—and, at least according to one of its authors, most comprehensive—was released earlier this month by the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research... “Ten years after the adoption of RTC laws, violent crime is estimated to be 13 [percent to] 15 percent higher than it would have been without the RTC law,” the authors concluded. Just five years after, it’s about 7 percent higher. “There is not even the slightest hint in the data that [these] laws reduce violent crime”...
A 2004 National Research Council report essentially debunked Lott and Mustard’s claim that these laws reduce violent crime."

Gun Laws vs. Gun Crimes - "In attempt to gauge the impact of such laws, Fortune plotted the number of gun provisions in each state, using research by the State Firearm Laws project, against each state’s gun homicides, using Gun Violence Archive statistics. Correlation does not equal causation, but the revealed trend is striking: States with more gun provisions consistently see fewer gun deaths."

#ThisIsOurLane: Doctors hit back at pro-gun group NRA - "The National Rifle Association's tweet on Wednesday sparked anger.It came just hours before a gunman killed 12 people in a California bar."Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane," the NRA tweeted... Guns send 8,300 children to hospital each year in the US, the majority of whom die, while the number of violent gun deaths in America is greater than the Middle East, once armed conflict-related casualties are factored out."

'They basically saw a black man with a gun': Police kill armed guard while responding to call - "Police shot and killed the good guy. Jemel Roberson, 26, was working for security."

When police confront armed homeowners, it can be hard to tell good guys from bad - "her husband, Richard Black Jr., a decorated Vietnam War veteran and retired accountant, was struggling with the intruder, who was naked and attacking their 11-year-old grandson, according to the family’s lawyer.After trying to pry the attacker away, Black, 73, fetched his 9mm handgun and shot the intruder dead... Just as Black was shooting the intruder, Aurora officers were arriving at his house. Hearing gunfire and encountering an armed man — Black — one of the officers fatally shot him"

Amarillo man accidentally shot by police speaks out about the shooting - "The man who took a gun from a man at Amarillo's Faith City Mission and then was shot by police on Valentine’s Day, talked exclusively to ABC 7 about what happened that day."
Of course when white "good guys" get shot (as above), no one is very upset - even though what evidence we have suggests that police are LESS likely to shoot black people

The Texas shooting shows why “a good guy with a gun” isn’t enough - "Here is a simple fact that should underpin most conversations about guns: Where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths. This has been found repeatedly in empirical research on the matter... Regularly updated reviews of the evidence compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center have consistently found that when controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths.“Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide,” David Hemenway, the Injury Control Research Center’s director, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health.For example, this chart, from a 2007 study by Harvard researchers, shows a correlation between statewide firearm homicide victimization rates and household gun ownership after controlling for robbery rates. A more recent study from 2013, led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, reached similar conclusions: After controlling for multiple variables, the study found that a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a roughly 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.This holds up around the world. As Zack Beauchamp explained for Vox, a breakthrough analysis in the 1990s by UC Berkeley’s Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins found that the US does not, contrary to the old conventional wisdom, have more crime in general than other Western industrial nations. Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence — and that’s driven in large part by the prevalence of guns... Stricter gun laws can help prevent such deaths. Last year, researchers from around the country reviewed more than 130 studies from 10 countries on gun control for Epidemiologic Reviews. This is, for now, the most current, extensive review of the research on the effects of gun control. The findings were clear: “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths.”... Multiple simulations have also demonstrated that most people, if placed in an active shooter situation while armed, will not be able to stop the situation, and may in fact do little more than get themselves killed in the process."
Strange, given that we're told that criminals can get their hands on guns whether they're illegal or not - so there's no point in gun control or making them illegal.

Breaking down the NRA-backed theory that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun - "John Donohue, a law professor at Stanford University, was a co-author of a National Bureau of Economic Research study that examined how gun violence coincides with the ability for individuals to carry concealed weapons, known as Right To Carry (RTC) laws. The NBER study discredited the idea of the “good guy with a gun” as a possible solution to gun violence.Donohue told ABC News that the research “concluded that allowing citizens to carry handguns seems to increase violent crime 13 to 15 percent by the 10th year” of the laws being enacted in the state.Another takeaway from the NBER report is that the presence of the gun could turn a would-be good guy into an intentional or unintentional bad guy.Donohue and his co-authors cited the infamous 2012 case of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who got into a deadly confrontation with teenager Trayvon Martin.“Presumably, George Zimmerman would not have hassled Trayvon Martin if Zimmerman had not had a gun, so the gun encouraged a hostile confrontation, regardless of who ultimately becomes violent,” the report stated.Donohue said the Zimmerman case was one of several that he found where “these guys are likely to be more aggressive.”“The presence of the gun actually stimulates more provocative action and ends up getting people killed,” he said. A 1997 study co-authored by economist John Lott argued that the greater presence of concealed weapons led to a decrease in crime. The study examined data from 1977 to 1992.While Lott continues to defend the findings and writes about similar research in more recent pieces, it was viewed by many in the field as being debunked by a 2004 National Academies National Research Council report. That report, however, did not make a causal relationship between concealed weapons and crime... the FBI examined 160 active shooter incidents that took place between 2000 and 2013.The report found that in five of those incidents, armed individuals who were not members of law enforcement exchanged gunfire with the shooter, leading to either the shooter being killed, wounded or taking his own life. By contrast, 21 of the 160 incidents ended after unarmed citizens “safely and successfully restrained the shooter,” the report stated.“Most of the time, if you’re talking about a civilian stopping a mass shooter, it’s the unarmed guy without the gun because they're right there”... There is a growing number of mass shooting incidents that occurred after the release of the FBI’s 2014 report where a so-called good guy with a gun was on the scene but did not stop the shooting or shooter. .. “It’s not very often that somebody with a gun who’s a private citizen plays a useful role in ending these mass shooting events,” Donohue said. David Chipman, who served as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for 25 years before becoming a senior policy adviser at gun violence prevention advocacy group Giffords, said there is insufficient training for many armed civilians. "

Links - 20th December 2018 (1)

Sorry, New York Times: The state of marriage in America is not good - "family instability continues to worsen in the United States. As David Frum pointed out, a declining divorce rate is perfectly consistent with an ever-falling rate of marriage and a rising rate of out-of-wedlock childbirth... The idea that most marriages were previously loveless, or at least stitched together with much greater indifference to love, is a self-flattering fantasy that recurs constantly. As Ferdinand Mount recounts in his book The Subversive Family, historians since the Victorian era have variously pointed to the medieval period, the Renaissance, or even the Tudor era as a time when romantic love and marriage for love were finally discovered or invented. In fact, testimony to love-marriage has been recorded in every era. Our notions of history are corrupted by the fact that the lives of royalty and other aristocratic classes, where arranged marriage was more common, were better recorded. Speaking of which, our idea that property and prospect matter so much less now is silly. Marriage patterns are becoming more narrowly class-based than before. There were more marriages contracted across socioeconomic chasms in the bad old 1950s and 60s... The data shows that people who already succeed in many aspects of their life are making successes of their marriages. Far from a progressive dream, we may be returning to the two worlds of aristocracy. A married upper class and an unmarried peasantry is exactly what you see when you look at the British Isles in the early 20th century."

Why IQ levels are falling

Good Ideas Vs Bad Ideas: Against The Regressive Left, Islamists & Racists - "A book about pussy hats, one about protesting. And one by Chelsea Clinton.
In the children's books section

Ta-Nehisi Coates -- Black Critics Reject His Overwrought ‘Antiracism’ - "When it comes to essays about Ta-Nehisi Coates, you can almost guess the race of the writer from the tone of the piece. If the words ring with a sort of rapturous adulation, as though the writer feels blessed to be allowed to absorb Coates’s wisdom and especially his chastisement, the author tends to be white. Several prominent black writers, however, have written pieces that are much more equivocal, suggesting Coates’s central claims are off the mark... Coates’s fatalistic writing, particularly the memoir Between the World and Me, denies agency to blacks and risks alienating Coates’s son, to whom the book is addressed and who was famously pushed on an escalator at a movie theater as a little kid. Asking, “By what impertinence would you hold any white person guilty for the crime of simply being born white?” Hill declares, “You are trading on black suffering to create a perpetual caste of racial innocents. And the currency of your economic system is white guilt.”... Coates has “either a cynical or a woefully skewed way of looking at the world,” and he also scores Coates for his denial of black agency, for reducing criminals to “hopeless automatons.” He writes that “despite the undeniable progress that has been made towards equal rights,” Coates insists on presenting racism and racial disparities “as utterly intransigent and impersonal forces, like a natural disaster, for which no one can be usefully held to account.” Coates rejects out of hand the concept of black-on-black crime, which he believes is simply a natural consequence of white supremacy... Coates’s incensed reaction actually did injury to blacks: “As long as black people have to be handled with infantilising care — or fear of dredging up barely submerged ancestral pain — we’ll never be equal or free.”... John McWhorter notes that Coates isn’t really a political analyst to white liberal writers. He’s more of a spiritual leader... Rogers says Coates frames black people as “helpless agents of physical laws,” much like earthquake victims... Rogers feels a “profound sense of disappointment” in Coates’s belief that for black people there can be no escape from the chains forged by whites... Coates, he avers, fails to offer “a vision of what a healthy America or a healthy black community would look like,” preferring instead “an amorphous directive to ‘struggle.’” He adds, “‘Struggling’ without the direction provided by a clear vision, however, is a recipe for disaster. Fish in a boat struggle.”... Those holy words come from a wrathful place, admonishing the sinners to revel in their own rebuke. For white liberals there is a kind of ecstasy to be achieved by flaying themselves with Coates’s hot, stinging words."

Intersectionality: Religion for Deep-Blue America - "Intersectionality privileges experiential authority, with each distinct identity group able to speak conclusively and decisively only about their own experience. So when an issue impacts trans rights, the trans community takes the lead. The responsibility of the rest of the community is to act, then, as their “allies.” If a racial issue comes to the fore — for example, in the context of protests over police shootings — then African Americans take the lead, and LGBT or women’s groups come alongside in support.This is why you’ll often see activist organizations on the left tweet in support of people or causes that have little to do with the mission of the organization. When one part of the movement is threatened, the entire movement is threatened. This is what allyship looks like — a Planned Parenthood affiliate tweeting in support of trans identity. Interestingly, however, the emphasis on experiential authority applies mainly to the experience of leaders and activists. Their experiences give them very real power. Their experiences define the narrative. Contrary experiences, then, represent a threat that must be extinguished. Dissenting women (such as Christina Hoff Sommers) or dissenting people of color often find that they’re vilified, shamed, and “no-platformed.”... much as the Christian church puts a premium on each person’s finding his or her precise role in the body of Christ, intersectionality can provide a person with a specific purpose and role based on individual identity and experience.The faith is fierce. Intolerance in the name of tolerance is the norm. Debate and dialogue are artifacts of scorned “respectability politics.”... In the church of intersectionality, grace is nowhere to be found. Indeed, you can often prove your faith through your ferocity. The right amount of rage, properly directed, can cover a multitude of sins. Do you wonder why the high priestesses of intersectionality — the leaders of the Women’s March — won’t condemn Louis Farrakhan? Because he’s been fighting their version of the good fight for generations. He’s an ally. He’s made all the right enemies."

Christina Hoff Sommers: Lewis & Clark Law Students Shout Down - "Students at Lewis & Clark Law School shouted, sang, and held signs onstage as Christina Hoff Sommers attempted to give a lecture and answer questions. The students held signs saying “No platform for fascists,” “Your rhetoric is not welcome here,” and “Rape culture is not a myth.”"
Recently someone claimed to me that deplatforming was a good thing because only kooks like Alex Jones get deplatformed and they contribute nothing to debate

Teenager quits college course on first day after being given 'final warning' for declaring her support for Tommy Robinson - "The 17-year-old was attending the first day of her art and employability course at Total People, in Prince Albert Street, Crewe, when a political debate erupted among students. Alissa, of Crewe, says her classmates were openly expressing their support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when she told them she identified more with right-wing ideologies... “I said my opinion and the teacher said ‘get out, we don’t want people with your views’. I was given a final warning for being too right wing."

An insurance discount for your fitness data is a bad deal in the long run - "In the brave new world of information capital, sharing data collected from wearables and other technologies could be a slippery slope towards the kind of social hierarchy evident in China’s much-criticised social credit system... Like all forms of capital, information capital has the ability to shape advantage. In this case, those in the top tier receive the economic and social benefits, while those in the bottom tier are punished with higher costs, possible exclusion and maybe even less access to treatments in the future"

Spanish Men Were Completely Wiped Out By The Arrival Of A New Tribe 4,000 Years Ago

Learning Chinese by rote a mistake - "'A language is first listened to, heard and then spoken. It's not read or written - that follows later. (But) we started the wrong way. We insisted on spelling and dictation (in Chinese).' And the way to correct this was to get children interested in the language, regardless of their linguistic ability, he said, because, with interest in the language, they will have it for life.He said that forcing students to just memorise without applying the language and to take examinations on the Chinese language, is wrong.This is because the students would then just aim to pass Chinese in their exams and then forget about the language after that, Mr Lee said.'Successive generations of students paid a heavy price because of my ignorance and my insistence on bilingualism,' he said... Mr Lee said he had a wrong premise about learning languages, equating intelligence to language ability. But later, his daughter, neurologist Lee Wei Ling, told him that they were two different things.So Mr Lee became determined to right his wrongs, which led to changes in how Chinese is taught in schools.In 2005, the Ministry of Education (MOE) increased the weightage in the Primary School Leaving Examination of pupils' oral Mandarin over that of their ability to memorise, say, Chinese characters.This followed the recommendation of a Chinese language review panel in 2004 to put more emphasis on speaking and listening.Since 2007, the ministry also introduced a new Chinese language syllabus where Primary 1 to 5 pupils learn Chinese at their own pace by taking different learning modules based on their ability.These changes aim to make learning Chinese easier, given the increase in the number of children from English-speaking families. An MOE survey found that nearly six in 10 Primary 1 pupils this year come from English-speaking families, up from nearly five in 10 in 2004."

Bilingual Education Was Wrong, Lee Kuan Yew Says - "We started the wrong way," Lee told Channel NewsAsia. "We insisted on ting xie (listening), mo xie (dictation) -- madness!" He confessed that he still cannot speak Mandarin perfectly, even after over 40 years of learning it. "Nobody can master two languages at the same level. If (you think) you can, you're deceiving yourself""

15 Chinese Artifacts That Will Change How You Look at China - "A lesbian [double-ended] bronze dildo... Wait, [Prince] Liu Sheng, you bury yourself with something like this...? No wonder he is known as the licentious Prince Jing of Zhongshan... even the concubines were like this"

Why Chinese Salt-Baked Chicken Is the Juiciest Chicken Ever - "to make yim guk gai, the chicken is first seasoned and wrapped in parchment. Similar to cooking en papillote or al cartoccio, wrapping the chicken in a tight parcel ensures that all the moisture will be contained throughout the cooking process. After it’s wrapped, the chicken is then completely smothered and buried under a ton of scorching hot salt, and left to bake. The hot salt creates an extremely high—and most crucially—even temperature around the chicken, and unlike oven-roasting, has little risk of burning or charring. As a result, the chicken ends up steaming in its own juices, concentrating the flavour and essence of the bird, resulting in an extremely succulent and (for lack of a better word) moist meat."

The Secret to My Mom’s Crackly-Crisp Pork Belly - "For the skin to blister into crispy golden goodness, it needs to be very dry. Patting the pork down with a dry towel helps; so does drying it out in the refrigerator. The kicker, though, is to coat the skin in a salt crust as it roasts. What happens then, is that all of the fat and moisture trapped within the skin itself will be drawn out towards the outer layer of salt as it roasts, allowing the outside to blister up. The salt crust, having done its job, is then cracked and removed, and the pork belly continues to roast over high heat to crisp up thoroughly, resulting in perfect skin every time."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Marie Antoinette

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Marie Antoinette

"‘She was married by, symbolically married when she was 14, and he was 18 or 19. And then a year later, they were properly married’...

‘What happens as is the case for all these marriages between two princes of separate dynasties. You have an initial proxy marriage in the woman's home town or home city. So Marie Antoinette is married by proxy in the Augustinerkirche which is the Habsburgs’ palace church and parish church indeed in Vienna. She then undertakes a very long trip from Vienna to Versailles and the proper marriage takes place in Versailles’...

‘This proxy marriage enabled her to travel through France as the prospective bride of the future king of France so she had dignity and status from the word go’

‘She has dignity and status, she has a very large retinue - lots of characters going with her. She has an Austrian suite which accompanies her as far as the border where she sort of leaves the German speaking world and she's then handed over to France’

‘That's an intriguing ceremony because as I understand it a posse of ladies-in-waiting from France take her into a Roman tent - I don't know what it is - strip her of all her clothes, dress her in French clothes and even take away her Austrian dog and she comes out as a French person... She isn't made to undress completely but has to disrobe and symbolically puts on a French dress… rest assured tender-hearted listeners she gets the dog back afterwards because she is so unhappy at not having him that he is sent to her in Versailles’...

‘France and Austria have been at war with each other - hereditary enemies from the 15th century but Louis the 15th and Maria Theresa had decided that to curb Prussia’s powers they would have an alliance and Marie Antoinette becomes the seal of that alliance. So when she arrives in France she is in part a hostage ambassador for Austrian good behavior...

Her primary function in France is to bear heirs… she didn't for seven years. There's a lot of debate as to whose fault that was. The marriage was not consummated for seven years. Which was a very humiliating situation for her because her only function at court is to provide the male heir that will guarantee the Bourbon line continues...

I think consensus is now that that Louis did not suffer from phimosis but nevertheless found intercourse uncomfortable. Joseph the Second certainly believed that he hadn't equated ejaculation with procreation... he came to try and sort things out because Maria Teresa his mother was tearing her hair out because until the marriage is consummated, the alliance is not sealed. So it's absolutely of crucial importance on both sides - both the French side and the Austrian side that the marriage is consummated and that Marie Antoinette becomes pregnant as quickly as possible...

I think it's very significant that Louis did not have a mistress. From the... beginning of the Borbon dynasty, Henry the Fourth onwards the tradition or the custom had been for the king to take a mistress, several mistresses, official mistresses, unofficial mistresses.

And in part the official mistresses in particular served as a way of deflecting attention from the Queen whose role is to bear children. The official mistress can be blamed if the king makes unpopular decisions. The mistress is also a way to gain the King’s ear. So the mistress fulfills several functions within the court.

Because Louis showed no interest whatsoever in either his wife or in having a mistress, it means that a lot of the gossip falls on Marie Antoinette. She effectively falls into representing both mistress and Queen. The gossip is directed towards her. She's also the only one who has the King’s ear so there's a concentration of power in terms of offering favors and influence. That means that her position becomes perhaps more powerful than people would like it to be.'...

The diamond necklace affair, again from 1785, is one of the biggest con tricks of the 18th century. Is masterminded by a fake countess Jeanne de la Motte who convinced her lover Cardinal Louis de Rohan, that the best way to gain the Queen's favor was ultimately to buy for her a big ugly, expensive necklace... the Queen supposedly was keen to have this but couldn't because it will just enhance her reputation as a ruinous spendthrift in France. So the way that Jeanne de la Motte ultimately convinced her lover to buy it was two impersonations of the queen. One was in writing, forging her signature.

The other was having a prostitute masquerade as the Queen for a midnight tryst in the gardens of Versailles. So, basically Louis de Rohan fell for this and he bought the necklace, gave it to Jeanne. It was spirited away to London, broken up and sold off... She’s sort of accused by association, by implication. It's almost as though the general population is saying: in principles she didn't do it. But if she could have she would have... She was as philanthropic in many ways as she was profligate...

She's trying to carve a private life for herself at a time when, as a public body, she doesn't really have a private life. Her childbirth is a public event, because you have to be sure that the child is coming out of her womb. This is someone who doesn't have much of a private life and in part her spending time with her children, in part her time down at the Petit Trianon is a way of trying to get outside of the constraints she feels at court.

It backfires in part on her when she has a portrait done by Madame Vigée-Le Brun in a very simple white dress with a straw hat. She's criticized for being too informal and not reflecting the grandeur of the French court... She's wearing this very plain muslin dress. And she’s setting the fashion for these very plain muslin dresses with sashes and big straw hats. And one of the most important industries in France at the time is the Lyon silk industry. And if Marie Antoinette goes around wearing white muslin, which is sent over from England, it is said, she is going to be bankrupting France. So she's damned if she doesn’t, damned if she does... if she wears the silk... she’s said to be spending too much...

‘In some ways, if you can, if you ask someone their opinion of Marie Antoinette, you can work out their opinion on politics in general, not just the revolution’

‘Certainly in France. Yes.’"
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