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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Links - 14th September 2019

Google And Facebook Can Track Your Porn History, Even When You're In Incognito

twenty-four examples of filial piety (10): lady tang tirelessly feeds her mother-in-law with breast milk - "In the time of the Tang Dynasty, an official named Cui Nanshan, had an elderly great-grandmother. She had lost all her teeth, thus she could not chew even soft rice. Eating was a big problem. Mr. Cui's grandmother, the Lady Tang, realized the difficulty her mother-in-law had in chewing food, and thus came upon a solution to keep her alive and in good health. The Lady Tang would wake up each morning, perform her daily toilet of washing her face and combing her hair, then she would enter her mother-in-law's chambers and proceed to feed her mother-in-law breast milk from her own body. The elderly matron had no trouble digesting this nutriment, and thus thanks to her daughter-in-law, even though she could not eat normal food, her body stayed strong and healthy."

The Thai Queen who Couldn't be Saved Because an Ancient Law Forbade Touching a Royal - "At the time of her death, Sunandha Kumariratana already had one daughter and was expecting another child. In May 1880, when Sunandha was just 19 years old, she was on a trip to the royal family’s bountiful Bang Pa-In summer residence, outside of Bangkok. She was accompanied by Princess Karnabhorn Bejraratana, not even two years old, and a group of guards and servants... the royal vessel capsized in strong currents and both were plunged into the water. None of the royal entourage proceeded to help them. Supposedly everyone followed the lead of the main guard, who did not assist them or urge anyone else to help the drowning royals–all three lives were lost while their attendants just stood and watched. The guards, and everyone else on the scene, were adhering to an old and rigid Siamese law that did not allow any ordinary person to touch a member of the royal family. Breaking this law was punishable with death. According to Misfit History, besides the law, any desire to help save the life of the queen could have been diminished by a superstitious belief as well. Allegedly, saving a person who was drowning in the river was associated with misfortune. If someone offered help to the person that meant meddling with the spirits who lived in the water."

The Evidence for Caloric Restriction - Intensive Dietary Management (IDM) - "we believe in evidence based medicine. So, where is the evidence that reducing calorie intake as the primary strategy results in long term meaningful weight loss?... We’ve recommended the ‘Eat Less, Move More’ strategy for almost half a century. Where are all these studies? Oh, right. They all conclusively show that CRaP does NOT produce long term weight loss"

Effects of dieting and exercise on resting metabolic rate and implications for weight management - "the majority of the studies point to a reduction in short-term resting metabolic rates that is greater than can be explained by the loss of body mass or fat-free mass over the same time period...  this disproportionate reduction reflects metabolic processes associated with the hypocaloric dieting itself. When calorie balance is resumed, the resting metabolic rate is dependent on the new body mass, especially fat-free mass. This is relevant for motivated patients who adhere to severe hypocaloric diets to achieve rather large weight losses. When they get to goal weight their metabolic rate is severely depressed, and they can experience almost immediate weight gain if they resume their prior higher calorie intakes... Family practice physicians can facilitate healthy and successful weight management among their patient populations by heeding the following tips: (i) determine long-term weight goals based on obtaining a body mass index under 27, if possible 25; (ii) determine short-term weight goals based on a reduction of 1 to 2 body mass index units (approximately 4.5–7.3 kilograms or 10–16 pounds); (iii) encourage patients to maintain this interim goal for 6 months to allow for readjustment of resting metabolic rate for new body mass (as well as for psychosocial adjustments and commitment to necessary behaviour changes); and (iv) determine the next short-term weight goal. Continue to support patient through this cyclical process until body mass index is at least under 27, if not at 25"
In other words, weight loss reduces one's metabolism. Calories out - calories in isn't a complete picture since the variables keep changing and interacting

A Molecular Hurdle Might Make Weight Loss Even More Difficult - "The American conventional wisdom about weight loss is simple: A calorie deficit is all that’s required to drop excess pounds, and moderating future calorie consumption is all that’s required to maintain it. To the idea’s adherents, the infinite complexity of human biology acts as one big nutritional piggy bank. Anyone who gains too much weight or loses weight and gains it back has simply failed to balance the caloric checkbook, which can be corrected by forswearing fatty food or carbs.Endocrinologists have known for decades that the science of weight is far more complicated than calorie deficits and energy expenditures... Schmidt and her team have unlocked a molecular mechanism controlling weight gain and loss in mice: a protein that shuts down the animals’ ability to burn fat in times of bodily stress, including when dieting or overeating. This discovery might hold the key to understanding why it’s so hard for humans to lose weight, and even harder to keep it off... Schmidt’s latest study found an enormous difference in weight gain between two test groups: conventional mice and mice whose RAGE pathway had been deleted. The latter group gained 70 percent less weight than conventional mice, had lower glucose levels, and expended more energy while eating the same high-fat diet and doing the same amount of physical activity. The conventional mice’s bodies hit the metabolism brakes, making it impossible for them to burn as much energy as their RAGE-deleted counterparts."

Janice Fiamengo on Twitter - "In too many cases today, divorce law is a system whereby a man is forced, on penalty of incarceration, to pay his ex-wife to steal his children from him."

Meme - "Majority of Mexicans say immigrants are a burden on their country, favor deporting migrants who travel through Mexico to reach U.S., poll finds"
"Are MSNBC, CNN, AOC & The Dems going to go to Mexico & call Mexicans anti-Hispanic racists?"

More than 60% of Racist Mexicans Want Migrants to 'Go Home' - "American observers of Mexico were confident that President Manuel Lopez Obrador would lose support from his far-left base for stepping up enforcement of immigrant laws. Hoo, boy were they wrong!"

Sargon of Akkad - Posts - "The whole point of having a free press is so that it can mobilize the public against anti-democratic despots. A functioning free press shouldn’t just be calling Trump “racist” — it should be actively working to defeat the modern Republican Party that enables him."
"Carlos Maza believes that the role of journalists is to command the public."
Ironically, Carlos Maza calls himself a "Marxist pig", so he should have no objections to journalists being called "enemy of the people"
Twitter comments: "That's not journalism that's called activism"
""mobilize the public" . I thought journalists were supposed to inform the public, not manipulate them."
"Wow, savior complex is over 9000!!!"
"the point of the press should be to inform the public of the truth so that they can choose to mobilise in whichever fashion seems appropriate, surely"
"The whole point of having a free press is so that it can mobilize the public against anti-republic despots. A functioning free press shouldn’t just be calling Democrats “maxist” — it should be actively working to defeat the modern Democrat Party that enables them."

John Lam - "Whenever you read about Temasek losing money on an investment, one of the retorts you commonly hear is how the CPF minimum sum is going to increase again or that the CPF Board is going bankrupt. Or when GIC invests in a big real estate venture, there would be some comments on how Ho Ching is gambling our money away. As someone from the fund management industry who deals with institutional clients, I get annoyed at the above comments because they are factually wrong. Temasek doesn’t manage CPF money and GIC has nothing to do with Ho Ching. But for the layman, it can be rather confusing since Singapore has not one, not two but three entities who manage Singapore’s assets... contrary to naysayers, GIC isn’t losing money on its investments. Not at a portfolio level anyway. For Financial Year 2018, GIC’s 20 year return is 3.4% above global inflation. It’s not super fantastic but it’s definitely not loss making either. Similarly for Temasek, it has helped generate returns of 15% to shareholders over the past 40 years. (This is on an annualised basis and excludes capital injections). In summary, Temasek started off as a holdings company for Singapore Inc but today, behaves somewhat similar to a fund manager while GIC is the fund manager for the Government of Singapore. Both sovereign wealth funds have had loss making investments that have made the news in the past but the gains they made from more profitable investments far outweighs the less profitable ones."

Escape The Echo Chamber - Posts - "We now find out that the Southern District of New York will not bring any charges over hush money payments. They apparently decided the payments weren’t illegal.Which brings us to Michael Cohen pleading guilty to a campaign finance violation for hush money payments, along with other charges. Much was made about this by Trump’s opponents but nothing in the public record suggested a crime was committed by Cohen — either way, Trump making the payment wasn’t criminal. My guess is the guilty plea was a dirty trick by Cohen and his lawyer Lanny Davis to create problems for Trump. They agreed to accept a package deal of charges, fines, and jail time and made sure that charge was included as one of the ‘guilty’ pleas while others were dismissed. We will probably never know for sure.With this, another legal ‘scandal’ against Trump ends in a whimper. There may be some embarrassing information released from this investigation but no criminal charges."

Swordsfall | Drift of Dreams Kickstarter Open Now! on Twitter - "I don't understand how every Black American doesn't walk around with a crowbar hitting every white person they see until they get tired."
"Cause we're outnumbered"
"I mean, I can see that. I just, it's gotta be so exhausting and infuriating constantly to deal with these hateful idiots. I do, and they wear me out."
"By the time you're ten you just get use to the danger of white people."
"Yet black people commit over 50% of vilent crime while only being around 15% of the population. So statisticaly whites should be far mode afraid of blacks than Visa versa. And OP's crowbar tweet only reinforces this, as well as the blacks being violent stereotype."
It's amazing how racist and hateful these people are. Though perhaps not as amazing as how many racist white people support this mentality

Emily Atkin on Twitter - "I'm the hurricane expert in this conversation"
"Live action shot of what it's like to be a female climate reporter arguing with male meteorologists online
Like, fuck my journalism degree and 5 1/2 years on the climate beat, right?"
If you're a female and wrong, just accuse a man of mansplaining

Abortion and Crime, Revisited (Ep. 384) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "LEVITT: Everybody hated it [the argument that abortion reduced crime]. People who are in favor of right-to-life were upset because our argument seemed to be endorsing the idea that legalized abortion had positive effects. But many people who believed in the right to choose, they were also upset because we were kind of saying, “Well you’re killing these fetuses, so they never get a chance to grow up to be criminals.” The number of death threats that I got from the left was actually greater than the number of death threats I got from the right. Because the other thing that emerged out of the media coverage is that it very quickly became a question of race, even though really our paper wasn’t about race at all."
The tolerant left strikes again - even on a topic that you would imagine would upset the right more

Why NZ cleared a Chinese man for touching a boy's penis - "A 79-year-old Chinese man appeared in court in New Zealand last week after he pinched a toddler's penis in a swimming pool changing room.But despite admitting assault, he was let off a charge as the judge accepted his argument that the behaviour was a traditional sign of affection in China... Chinese man Ren Changfu saw a boy he didn't know getting changed with his father. Ren went over to talk to them, flicked the toddler's penis, laughed and touched it again"

Psychiatrists Reminded To Refrain From Armchair Analysis Of Public Figures - "APA President Maria A. Oquendo wrote: "The unique atmosphere of this year's election cycle may lead some to want to psychoanalyze the candidates, but to do so would not only be unethical, it would be irresponsible."Oquendo was referring to the "Goldwater Rule," a guideline adopted by the APA after a 1964 survey of psychiatrists found that nearly half of those polled felt that GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be president.The rule states that despite the shiny diagnostic T-ball Trump has propped in front of them — his volatility, his grandiosity, his entitlement — professional code holds that if they haven't performed an in-person evaluation, psychiatrists should keep quiet on the mental character of public figures (unless of course they have that person's permission to speak out)... Ghaemi, McAdams and the other mental health experts I interviewed in reporting this piece all staunchly advise against diagnosing public figures from afar — armchair psychiatry, they feel, is a great irresponsibility.But many also feel that even in the absence of a diagnosis, the more general psychological interpretations common to cable news and other media outlets — not under the rubric of the Goldwater Rule, psychologists show up with exceptional frequency as talking heads — can be ethically dubious. "I think offering semi-psychological interpretations is a poor idea for psychologists and psychiatrists," said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "How can anyone give an in-depth character analysis on psychological or mental health grounds without knowing or examining the person at all?"Caplan feels doing so not only stirs up gossip — gossip that demeans those suffering from diagnosed mental illness — but risks pathologizing what could be normal, if off-putting, personality traits... plenty of people with mental illness attain great success: CEOs, performers and even psychiatrists."Whether we like it or not, many have the notion that an individual with a psychiatric condition is less capable than others," she laments. "The fact is that's simply not true."Ghaemi has written extensively on how mental illness can positively contribute to character and success in many ways, whether it's the empathy and realism sometimes imparted by depression (Lincoln, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind) or the ambition and creativity brought on by mania. A 2006 study out of Duke University reviewed the historical records of 37 presidents and concluded that 18 of them met criteria of psychiatric diagnoses... upwards of 20 percent of the population experiences mental illness in a given year"

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Links - 12th September 2019 (2)

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 186 - Tania Lombrozo on “Why we evolved the urge to explain” - "'I used to teach these classes on reasoning and decision making and judgment. The concepts and the techniques that we were teaching were relatively complicated. And often talking to people after the classes, we would realize, "Oh, gee, they really didn't understand what we were saying." They seemed like they understood. They were nodding their heads. They felt like they understood. But in talking to them, we realized they really didn't.
So then we started adding in this paired tutoring session, where we had people explain the classes to each other. And this -- even though there was no real content in this class, it was just people explaining things to each other that we'd already taught them -- it became by far the most popular class that we taught. And in the feedback forms, people kept saying things like, "Wow, I didn't actually understand the classes until I tried to explain it to other people and I realized what was missing," and so on and so forth.'...
'in the research literature, there was an influential paper in the late 80's where the researchers were trying to figure out what it was that made some students much more effective learners than others. In some of the early studies, what they looked at was the patterns in study behavior of students going through physics problems and physics textbooks. And they found that some of them were doing this thing which looked a whole lot like explaining to themselves. They were just doing it spontaneously, as they worked through the problems and thinking, "Okay, why does that step follow? Why is this the case?" And so on. The students who were doing more of that self-explanation were also doing better on post-tests, showing that they had learned more from this training.'...
'This coder started explaining the problems to his rubber duck sitting on his desk instead -- and found that that worked basically just as well. So, he would start talking aloud to his duck about the problems with his code and then he'd solve his problems'"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 176 - Jason Brennan on "Against democracy" - "Politics tends to I think make us dumb and mean... Because our votes don't matter very much, we are in a sense able to use political ideology not as a way of forming true beliefs about the world that we might get punished or rewarded for, but rather as a banner or flag around which we can rally. We end up using political beliefs in order to form in-groups and out-groups. There's a lot of experiments showing that we just automatically do this about really mundane things, and politics, because it's cost-free, when you're wrong in politics it won't make a difference, we're able to use these political beliefs that way.What ends up happening is people who care about politics tend to have it be part of their tribal identity, and they just end up being angry and nasty towards people on the other side, overly forgiving and hypocritical towards their own side...
'When I think about epistocracy being implemented, I see first of all, as you say in the book, the current demographics who have the highest information and the highest education, they're white, they're predominantly male, they're well off, and they already have this power advantage over other groups in society. If we then give them even more power, it just seems like they're going to have a strong incentive to define what makes a competent someone who deserves a vote, to be people like them.Even more so, they're going to have an incentive to block other groups from getting the kind of education and information that they would need in order to qualify as competent voters. Those incentives arguably exist to some extent already, in that entrenched power structures want to preserve their power, but it seems like an epistocracy would just worsen that problem, by an order of magnitude at least.'...
'One idea I entertain in the book is ... There's actually a reason to think that we could use a hybrid system in which democracy with universal suffrage gets to choose the voter competence exam, and then you get to vote on the other stuff only if you pass that exam'...
'Diana Mutz's Hearing The Other Side. It's one of my favorite books on politics. I think you'll learn a tremendous amount about political behavior and how people think about politics. One other interesting fact about it, she asked the question, "Who actually hears the other point of view? Who actually hears points of view with whom they disagree?" It turns out that if you're white, rich, and educated, that predicts you almost never hear points of view with which you disagree, and if you are poor, not white, and uneducated, that predicts you frequently hear points of view with which you disagree.'
Of course, white, rich, and educated describes... liberals

Blaire White on Twitter - "If Ariel can be played by a black woman, Scarlett Johansson can play a trans woman. Y'all are RIDICULOUS."

Unofficial Artist formally known as Diversity and Comics Yaboiposting - Posts - "Harry Styles (@Harry_Styles) in talks to play Prince Eric in #Disney's live-action #TheLittleMermaid"
"So, the little mermaid is black and the prince is white. Meaning that the only way she'll be happy is with a white man, Disney is not that subtle."
"Oh hey look, the exact people the racebent Ariel was done for are already turning on the movie. Who’d have guessed that?!"

Intellectual Dark Web Memes for Contrarian Teens - Posts - "when your sociology department meets the quota: white socialist, female socialist, black socialist, gay socialist, trans socialist, socialist in a wheelchair - diversity"
""One think to rule them all,
One think to mind them,
One think to group them all
And in the safe space bind them."
Benjamin Boyce"

Cracking India’s mystifying ‘nod code’ - "One thing all travellers to India talk about – apart from the dreaded Delhi Belly, of course – is the great Indian head nod. It’s not exactly a nod (up and down from the neck, meant to indicate ‘yes’) – or a shake (straight side to side to convey ‘no’). It’s a smooth movement that involves tilting the head from side to side vertically, either gently or fiercely... Does it mean a clear yes? Is that a kind no? A maybe? A sign of uncertainty? Annoyance perhaps? It is difficult to say without knowledge of the context. Pathiyan thinks that it is almost always a ‘yes’, or at least indicates agreement. “There is also an element of being friendly or being respectful, and it is difficult to say exactly which unless you know the situation,” she added.Margot Bigg, a British-American travel writer who lived in India for more than five years and has written guidebooks on the country, is of the opinion that different types of head nods mean different things. “Like a one-stroke side nod could mean ‘yes’ or ‘let’s go’, while a more consistent back-and-forth bobble is an acknowledgment of understanding.”In my own experience, the faster the shake, the more enthusiastic the agreement – especially when used with raised eyebrows for added emphasis. But, on the other hand, it could also be used to convey “Ok… whatever you say…”; an indifferent shoulder shrug without actually shrugging the shoulders... Indians are brought up to be pliant and polite, especially to guests and to elders, and do not like to say ‘no’ directly. We mumble incoherently, we smile sheepishly, we nod vaguely, all to put off making a firm commitment. Indeed, the head nod is a gesture meant to convey ambiguity, and does so effectively... “I know I can’t do it, but I can’t say no either. So rather than outright refusal, I buy time by being deliberately vague.”In theory, this seems like a recipe for all-round happiness, but it often leads to great confusion and exasperation. While this is true mainly for cross-cultural interactions, such as when foreign bosses deal with their Indian employees or when a tourist tries to bargain with a street vendor, it sometimes has the same effect on Indians, even those who use the action themselves in other situations."

Neighbors Claim Los Angeles ‘Emoji House’ Is ‘Bullying,’ Demand New Rules Against Murals - "A brightly painted Los Angeles house featuring two large emoji symbols is a form of "bullying," according to someone who wants the city to take action against the building's owners.What began as a dispute between neighbors in the city's El Porto neighborhood is threatening to become a First Amendment showdown. The Los Angeles Times reports that the pink "emoji house" was the subject of complaints during a Tuesday city council meeting, where some locals called for legal action against the mural. According to the Times, the bright pink paint job and emojis—one of them with its tongue sticking out and another with a zipper over its mouth—were added to the house in May, after neighbors complained about illegal short-term rentals at the property and the city fined the homeowner $4,000."

Melissa Chen - A flurry of op-eds touting the USSR's wokeness... - "A flurry of op-eds touting the USSR's wokeness while tarring the US space program's misogynistic culture irks me to no end. The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is an event that should be lauded as one of those unifying moments in our species’ history, one which saw the culmination of a dream older than civilization itself. Instead, these think pieces indict this milestone in order to paint our space program and by extension, America, as an enterprise shrouded in bigotry.  Let's start with the first The New York Times piece that highlights the USSR's showy "first feats" - first woman, first Asian man, first Afro-Cuban in orbit. If you know anything about Soviet propaganda, and certainly Gary Kasparov does, you'll recognize it as some sort of Pravda on the Hudson - using forced equality of a Communist prison state to project a good, virtuous image.The point is though that not only is this just a veneer, it's also actually not accurate to say that the Soviets/Russians did more for actual cosmonaut diversity than NASA did. The truth is that the Russians always had a much narrower range of crew sizes...  For the Russian Space Program, astronauts had to be 5’5”-6' tall, with seated height no more than 37 inches; weigh no more than 187 pounds; and, for Soyuz spacesuits, have chests no smaller than 38 inches and no larger than 44 inches.Meanwhile, NASA seats (and suits) fit bodies between the 1st percentile female to 99th percentile male, a range of 4’9” to 6’6”... in terms of diversity, which space program actually did more to accommodate a wider range of possibilities?...  When Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon, he represented humanity, not identitarian categories such as "white" or "male." It baffles me that some see his words "that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as gendered language instead of a universalist stance.If pushing the frontier of space can no longer be considered a grand, awe-inspiring achievement in which all humans can delight in its shared aspirations, what else is left to unite us? What else can inspire us?Nothing, really. Don't let them take away our common humanity."

Lucas Lynch - Rule number one of our leftist/critical... - "Rule number one of our leftist/critical theory/postmodern ideology - use literally every achievement by western democracies and scientific positivism, including our very greatest, as an opportunity to drum up identity-based or class-based grievances, even when totally not relevant.That major journalistic outlets have been publishing things like this alongside apologia for the Soviet Union show just how captured our journalistic institutions have become, thanks to decades of this theology being preached in the universities."

The Times’ obscene attacks on the Apollo program - "As the USSR retreats into the rearview mirror of history, there is a growing tendency to romanticize its disastrous reign through the lens of contemporary wokeness.Sure, Communists tortured and executed dissidents, starved their own people by the millions and operated gulags — but have you heard about their amazing space feminism and space intersectionality?“Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe,” the writer, Sophie Pinkham, wrote. Her piece reads like something from an old issue of the Soviet newspaper Pravda boasting of the achievements of the Soviet space program.Pravda, meaning “truth,” rarely offered what its name advertised. It functioned as a propaganda organ for the broken, failing state. But even Pravda might have demurred at publishing Pinkham’s hilarious follow-up line: “Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up.”... Education was free, that’s true. And when your education was completed, the state would send you to where you were needed. You had no “rights and privileges” as it extended to your free will. My mother, raised in central Russia, became a teacher and was shipped to Turkmenistan, 30 hours away from her home.It’s a tedious habit of modern-day liberals to examine and judge and lament all American history by today’s woke standards. Trashing the American space program, which succeeded in putting men on the moon, because it doesn’t appeal to present-day virtuousness is bad enough. Comparing it unfavorably to the Soviet Union’s is morally inexcusable."

Germany: Reluctant Giant

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Germany: Reluctant Giant

"The object of NATO as its first Secretary General, Lord Ismay famously put it, was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down, and huge efforts were made to steer postwar Germans away from any kind of militarism. It was a message West Germans seemed keen to absorb. While foreigners fed a culture of war films and comics might still assume Germans were militaristic robots, the reality was becoming very different. Historian James Sheehan.

‘Germany is a classic example of a civilian state, a state which recognizes with some reluctance that it needs a military, but thinks of its military very much the way most states think of their police force, right. It's a job that has to be done. But it is by no means central to the real business of the state. And I think in Germany, these civilian values and this persistent distrust of military institutions continues to be strong and in some ways has gotten stronger.’
Rather than traditional parades, you were more likely to come across Bundeswehr big bands at charity events, turning swords into swing, perhaps. Their modest uniforms were compared by some to bus drivers - a long way from traditional military show. And this conscript army taught its recruits like future newspaper editor Bertold Kohler [sp?], that they were not primarily fighters shaped by parade ground drill and blind obedience, but champions of ethical values and human rights.

‘The idea was not so much you don't want a fighter. But a citizen in uniform’

‘Uniforms themselves were meant to show that weren’t they? Very low key

‘Very low key and completely different from the Wehrmart uniforms of Hitler's army. In Western Germany, we wanted to show the others it was a completely different army, an army which doesn't praise the traditions and the forms of the former Army’

‘And that might be prepared to disobey orders if it's thought those orders were unjust.’

‘Well, actually according to the soldiers’ law, which is still valid, you're obliged to disobey orders if they are not in line with the law. This was one of the first things we were taught, you know, when we were young soldiers, you have to disobey orders. You know, like if you're convinced that they are against the law’…

‘In Germany for a long time, if you were a soldier, you could not really ride a train in your uniform, for example. You'd be approached by passengers calling you murderous… this instinctive German pacifism, which really isn't pacifism, the way that we know it from other countries, but is this knee jerk rejection of anything that has anything to do with the military'...

There is broader agreement among NATO's biggest spenders that a country as rich as Germany should spend at least 2% of GDP, a kind of NATO benchmark which Britain is reaching. Germany's been spending around 1.2%. There's no doubt that relatively low spending has sometimes had embarrassing consequences for the Bundeswehr.

‘There was an exercise. I think it was a NATO exercise, where, because there were no machine guns on the tanks, the German military had to use broomsticks that they painted black’...

Those opposed to increasing German military commitment hope international pressure can be resisted by using those old historical arguments. Are you sure you want Germans to have larger and better equipped Armed Forces again?…

‘You say that other countries wouldn't like Germany to be too strong. But I remember a Polish Foreign Minister coming here to Berlin a few years ago, saying, for the first time perhaps in Polish history, we don't fear a Germany that's too strong, we fear a Germany that's too weak.'...

Can the German model of a citizens’ army survive in an era of rapid reaction forces and smaller professional units?...

‘The kind of military that one needs in this age. That is that you don't need big conscript armies, what you need are relatively small, extremely cohesive units of special forces that can act quickly, can be deployed quickly. And this notion of the citizen in arms, which the Germans worked very hard to create, is, I think, not something that's appropriate for the kind of military that you need now.’

Looks like German experts need more National Education so they know that now you still need a robust, credible armed forces made up of overwhelming numbers of conscript soldiers to respond to terrorism and similar modern threats

Links - 12th September 2019 (1) (The Last Jedi)

Is Rey From The Last Jedi A Mary Sue & Is It Sexist To Think She Is? [Storycraft]

"Mary Sues are typically purposefully lacking in character development in order to remain as undefined and generalized as possible. The reason for this is so that large numbers of a story’s audience are able to “fill in” the characterization gaps by inserting their own personal character traits into the Mary Sue, thus fulfilling the “self-insertion” purpose of the character. And it is for this reason why Mary Sues can be so incredibly popular among audiences — because audiences feel as though they themselves are the flawless star of the story they are experiencing. (This can also be why some people are so vehement in their defense of a Mary Sue character, because they essentially feel as though they are defending themselves from criticism that is actually aimed just at the character and not them as an individual.)

The negative connotation that stems from this “wish-fulfillment” implication is that a Mary Sue becomes so perfect that the character becomes too lacking in realism or development to actually be interesting. Due to a Mary Sue’s extreme competence and masterful talents, she not only has no room to improve, but any obstacle that she encounters offers no challenge for her to overcome. Her lack of struggle, lack of transformation, lack of self-doubt, and lack of conflict robs the audience of any feeling of tension or drama because they inherently know that the Mary Sue will always prevail whether she deserves to or not.

But the real issue when it comes to Mary Sue characters — particularly in post-feminist cinema — is that they are often conflated with the concept of “Strong Female Characters.” In this instance, writers who wish to espouse a message of female empowerment conflate writing realistic and sympathetic characters with idealized characters in an attempt extol the virtues of being a woman, thus playing against the traditional female stereotypes found in older narratives. However, in making a female character a “Mary Sue,” they sacrifice creating a “strong female character” in exchange for an unrealistic “perfect female character.”

And no matter how noble the intention of a storyteller may be in making that character a Mary Sue, it ultimately creates a division within audiences that can alienate those who are unwilling to sacrifice realistic character development for idealized wish fulfillment. Proper storycraft dictates that while all audiences can accept realistic character development, not all audiences can accept the concept of a “perfect character.”...

Which is more sexist? Hating a character because of that character’s gender — or loving that character based entirely on that character’s gender?...

Male characters can also fall into this trap, having their own term for it: Gary Stu.

Because the label of an idealized self-insert character can be applied to both male and female characters, the term Mary Sue itself cannot be sexist in nature, no more than any gender pronoun can be considered sexist. Instead, it’s a descriptive term associated with a type of gender orientation. To call “Mary Sue” a sexist term is tantamount to calling other female-descriptive terms, such as “heroine,” “mother,” “girlfriend,” “wife,” “Queen,” “Princess,” or “matron” sexist simply because they depict different female-centric representations. And because the term is not inherently sexist, its use is therefore not inherently sexist...

Role models that embody “perfection” are inherently unhealthy due to the fact that they represent a standard that is impossible to achieve by those who look up to them. Instead, it is far healthier to have a realistic and sympathetic character who is indeed flawed yet able to overcome those flaws to achieve greatness. Defending “Mary Sue” characters simply because one sees them as potential role models actually does a disservice to those seeking a strong female role model to embody.

The real issue defenders of the Mary Sue label have is conflating the criticism of a character’s flawless nature with that of a character’s gender. Any criticism of a female character can be seen as “sexist” if one only looks at the character’s sex as opposed to the character’s actual traits...

One of the biggest mistakes a storyteller can make is confusing the concept of a “strong character” with that of a “perfect character.” Strong characters must struggle to overcome challenges and be transformed for the better by doing so. Perfect characters easily overcome any challenges and never have to transform any more than they already have.

A strong character is dynamic. A perfect character is static...

Strong Character = Well Written
Weak Character = Poorly Written

Just because a character is deemed to be “weak” does not make that character “bad” necessarily. A character can be weak and poorly written, and still be likable. An example of a weak but likable character everyone can relate to is that of Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The character of Boba Fett is never properly developed or given any real distinctive character arcs in the films. But despite that, there is something about the character that resonated with audiences and made him a beloved member of the Star Wars universe.

Similarly, the character of Rey can also be defined as “weak,” but that does not make her unlikable. In order to understand why a portion of the Star Wars audience likes Rey, despite her being a poorly written character, and why a certain portion dislikes Rey for the same reasons, we need to look at storycraft elements that determine both “strength” and “likability.”

When it comes to developing a character, there are five aspects that can help define how strong that character will resonate with audiences. These aspects are:

Character Arc
Activity Level

When it comes to the character of Rey, we must ask: What transformation did she go through? How was she different at the end of The Last Jedi than she was at the beginning of The Force Awakens?

One could argue that the big transformation is that by the end of The Last Jedi, Rey had actually become a Jedi. However, the counter-argument to that is Rey was always that Jedi she developed into by the end of that film. She was always self-assured, competent, and independent. She was always a good fighter. She was always an expert pilot. She was always an amazing engineer. She was always attractive and feminine. She always had a heart of gold. The only real change that could be argued is that Rey had a greater mastery over The Force, but this change was something she did not have to work to attain. Her abilities simply were given to her as the plot demanded and she never actually had to learn how to use them...

Luke’s character motivation in Episodes 4–6 was fairly straight-forward. He wanted to become a Jedi like his father. Luke had an idealized version of who his father Anakin Skywalker was, and Luke wanted to embody that ideal his father had set for him. Every action Luke took and every decision Luke made was based on this motivation to become a great hero like his father, eventually culminating in Luke’s final confrontation with Emperor Palpatine where he states: “I’m a Jedi, like my father before me.”

Now ask the question: What is Rey’s motivation? Essentially, Rey has no real core motivation driving her decisions. Most of The Force Awakens is spent with Rey simply wanting to return to her life on Jakku but getting swept up in a greater adventure against her wishes. Her driving force in The Last Jedi is to get Luke Skywalker to help the Resistance, until about halfway through the film where that motivation is abandoned and it changes to saving Kylo Ren, and then changes once more to saving the Resistance.

The only real consistent source of motivation for the character of Rey was her desire to find her parents. However, this motivation was essentially destroyed in The Last Jedi by the revelation that Rey’s parents were “nobodies” and were not important. In fact, I would argue that Star Wars fans were so desperate to have anything they could latch onto in terms of Rey having an obstacle to struggle with, or a motivation for her character, that this revelation that her parentage was of no consequence erased the last lingering hope that Rey would have SOME type of conflict to deal with that could potentially break her out of the “Mary Sue” mold...

When we compare the activity level of these two main characters, it’s plain to see that Rey is far more “reactive” than Luke is, in the respect that things in the plot happen to her and she’s forced to react, as opposed to her decisions and actions being the thing that drive the plot forward. Though it is possible to make an entertaining movie with a reactive main character, it is proper storycraft to always ensure that the main thrust of a narrative’s plot stems from the actions of a main character as opposed to their reactions...

A very large aspect of a “strong character” is that character’s ability to overcome adversity. Audiences do not relate to characters for which everything comes easily. In order for characters to endear themselves to audiences, they must fight to earn their victories rather than have those victories simply handed to them...

Characters struggle with both internal and external obstacles. The external obstacles come in the forms of villains, thugs, nature, and a host of other physical threats. Internal obstacles come from negative character traits and philosophical/mental/emotional/moral conflicts. So let us ask ourselves: what conflicts must Rey actually struggle to overcome in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi?

External obstacles: It can be argued that the only real external obstacles Rey faces in both movies come in the form of Kylo Ren and First Order ships. No other antagonists really threaten her in either film. In both cases, each obstacle is easily overcome. Not only can Rey out-fly and shoot down any First Order TIE fighter that engages with her, but Kylo Ren seems unable to defeat her, as is evidenced by her rejecting his Force interrogation and besting him at lightsaber duels. And though Supreme Leader Snoak offers a formidable external obstacle, notice that Rey never actually overcomes him herself. Snoak is defeated by a different character without Rey’s assistance. Rey also faces an external obstacle when it comes to her fight with the Praetorian Guards, but again, she’s able to defeat multiple combatants with ease (and even save Kylo’s life while doing so).

Internal obstacles: The only real internal obstacle Rey seems to struggle with in the films is this notion of who her parents are. Rey desires to have a family to which she can belong. However, she never actually tries to resolve or overcome this internal obstacle. Instead, she’s content to “wait” on Jakku for her parents to return. Surrogate parents seem thrust upon her without her seeking them out and The Resistance becomes a type of surrogate family to her even though she’s spent almost zero time with them. And ultimately, she accepts that her parents don’t matter, as is made clear in The Last Jedi, thus having her only internal obstacle rendered moot and taken away from her by Kylo Ren rather than resolved via her own actions...

In his book “Writing Screenplays That Sell”, Hauge lays out four character elements that make audiences instantly like a character. These elements are:

Make a character good at what he/she does.
Make the character funny.
Make the character the recipient of an undeserved misfortune.
Give the character a strong moral code...

So out of all five categories that determine a “strong character,” Rey only succeeds in fulfilling one. However, the one category she does pass with flying colors also happens to be the most important one, and that is of likability. Even Star Wars fans who may be critical of Rey’s “perfect” image are willing to admit they actually find her somewhat likable.

But being likable doesn’t make her “strong.” By failing 4 out of the 5 criteria, it is in fact safe to say that Rey is actually quite a weak character by storycraft standards...

A common criticism of Mary Sues is that the characters never have any real “flaws” that their character has to overcome and are thus lacking in character development... [Rey's] are not considered defining character traits...

Simply possessing negative character traits (or flaws) is not enough to claim that a character actually HAS flaws. From a storycraft perspective, character development is about transformation. It’s about characters overcoming obstacles to their goals and growing as a person because of it. If a character possesses a flaw — or “negative character trait” — then that flaw is only a “defining trait” in so much as it becomes an obstacle to the character’s transformation or achievement of a goal. In essence, a trait that helps to solidly define a character in the audience’s eyes is a “defining character trait.”...

Did any of these flaws present an obstacle in any way to her achieving any of her goals throughout The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi?

The answer here is a resounding NO. At no point did any of these “flaws” require Rey to overcome them to further develop her character. The Rey we see at the beginning of The Force Awakens is the exact same Rey we see at the end of The Last Jedi. None of these “flaws” impacted any of her decisions or were overcome in any type of transformation. The closest we got, it could be argued, is that her overconfidence in her abilities led her to the confrontation with Supreme Leader Snoak, but even in that scenario, it was Kylo Ren who saved her from Snoak. Rey’s overconfidence was not overcome in that scene, and it continues to persist after it...

Going back to The Princess Bride example, let’s make another comparison between the characters of Rey and Westley. Why is Rey considered to be a Mary Sue, but Westly is not considered to be a Gary Stu? After all, throughout his entire appearance in The Princess Bride, Westley embodies the concept of an idealized perfection. He can outfight any swordsman. He can overcome giants. He can outwit criminal masterminds. He can brave any obstacle, and he can also attract the most beautiful woman in all the land! So why is his character so overwhelmingly accepted by audiences, and Rey’s character is not?

Setting aside the gender of the characters, let’s simply look at their development. Though Westly is extremely capable and able to perform “inconceivable” feats of strength, skill, and intelligence, he actually takes the time to explain that these skills were acquired over years of relentless training and hard work, where he molded himself into the man he felt he had to become to deserve Princess Buttercup’s hand in marriage...

Rey’s ability to fight, fix machinery, or pilot a spaceship were never set-up or explained. She just already knew how to do all that stuff without any explanation to the audience as to how she knew to do it (Heck, she even knows how to swim in The Last Jedi despite having spent her entire life on a desert planet with no water). And when it comes to using The Force, the audience never sees her receive any training at all before she’s able to use it like an expertly trained Jedi Knight would. This is made even more blatant by the audience having seen Luke Skywalker’s, Anakin Skywalker’s, and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s training in the Jedi ways in previous films, and how much they had to work to master these skills.

This is the difference between “competence” and “perfection.”... Competence in abilities must be seen to be earned by a character in order for audiences to accept them — particularly when a character’s competence is in more than one field. If a character is an expert in one area, but a mess in another, the flaw of being bad in one thing counter-balances the expertise in another, thus saving them from the “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” label. Having an action hero who is incredibly skilled at fighting but is hopeless when it comes to his love life is a primary example of this. When it comes to Rey, there is nothing she is bad at or lacking in to counterbalance her extreme competence in all other disciplines...

The final litmus test of a Mary Sue is her ability to upstage any and all other characters in the narrative... there are numerous instances of Rey upstaging other characters in the narratives of both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. In some instances, proving she is more powerful/attractive/interesting by defeating or humiliating iconic characters who have been established and developed over the course of 30 years."


Admiral Ackbar Actor Tim Rose Details Humiliation on the Set of Disney's Star Wars: The Last Jedi - "One Twitter user described how they viewed Rose’s reaction.
    He thought he would be treated with dignity and respect but his expectations were subverted..
Following Rose’s interview, he would be summarily mocked by a number of people who indicated that Ackbar’s character was just a “meme.”
Sequel Trilogy fans are now mocking Admiral Ackbar & Tim Rose saying he’s a cry baby & “Ackbar is just a meme”
Lucasfilm’s new fanbase does nothing but disrespect the original actors & characters now"

Benjamin Johnson's answer to I keep hearing that the new Star Wars movies are filled with SJW things. I honestly don't see it. What am I missing? - Quora - "it's not that the protagonist is a woman; Star Wars has had many women in leading roles, starting with Leia herself. The problem is that Rey is not anything like Leia; nor is she anything like Luke, or any of the other characters we could name. But here's the thing: we knew, from very early on, what Luke and Leia wanted: Leia wanted to deliver the Death Star plans, Luke wanted to leave Tattooine and join the Academy; we saw Luke get his wish at the cost of his whole family, and we saw Leia get tortured and then lose her whole planet but still have enough in her to take charge of her own rescue. Luke and Leia both have an obvious connection with Vader even if we don't immediately know the whole story. Luke had to go through trials and training, and failure, and losing his hand to become a powerful Jedi.But what does Rey want? Can anyone tell me? What does she lose? Nothing at all. What connection does Rey have with Kylo Ren? Absolutely none at all. What trials does Rey face? None at all, because she doesn't even need training. If I described a male character with those same characteristics, could you really give me any label other than “Gary Stu”? If not, then why do you object to Rey being labeled as a “Mary Sue”?
Second, there's Holdo, aka Admiral Evening Gown. And before you mention Mon Mothma or Leia, do remember that neither of them are military officers; they are politicians. And when Leia did go to a combat zone (as seen in both ESB and RotJ), she was wearing more appropriate clothes for the occasion; so did Padme in the PT. Not only that, but Holdo is a lousy leader on top of it all; yes, she wasn't obligated to tell anyone the plan, but she could have avoided the entire mutiny just by saying: “I have a plan, the details of which will be revealed when I deem appropriate.” Instead she ignored the question in favor of a condescending lecture about something that, as Poe pointed out, really wasn't that important anymore. Any half-competent officer should know that if you act like you don't have a plan, the lower decks are going to assume that you don't have a plan, with inevitable consequences for morale. Holdo's plan was also, I might add, an incredibly stupid one: if the enemy can track you through hyperspace, then the thing to do is to have your ships scatter in random directions and make several random hyperspace jumps to random sets of coordinates, and then regroup at a prearranged rendezvous point; you do not lead the enemy on a sublight chase towards another base of yours and you most definitely don't assume that the enemy is dumber than you are. Holdo made those mistakes and more, with the predictable result that the Resistance is now small enough to all fit in the Falcon. And yet we are expected to side with Holdo because….can you explain it to me without using SJW terminology or arguments?...
Third, there's Rose's absolutely asinine line about “saving what you love, not destroying what you hate,” which anyone who has ever been in a real war knows is total BS. To paraphrase General Patton: “No one ever won a war by dying for their country; he won by making the other guy die for his country.”"

Garrett Stock's answer to I keep hearing that the new Star Wars movies are filled with SJW things. I honestly don't see it. What am I missing? - Quora - "The movie is forcing the idea already from this point that masculinity and bold attacks are the antithesis to “how it really works.” Meanwhile Leia has this obnoxious “I told you so” moment, she assaults Poe with no backlash, and their ensuing argument is literally “lol men think with their dicks stop thinking with your dick.”... the movie pulls us out of the interesting plot, to give us a propaganda advertisement about the evils of horse racing, capitalism, and parking tickets. Good fucking god. Canto Bight. Canto Bight in general. Canto Bight in specific. I wonder what the writers of Finn and Rey for this movie were told to do, but generally turning the two minority characters into comedic relief mixed with an absolutely forced love-interest mixed with a bizarre moralizing adventure is a recipe for *terrible characters*.Finn faced a lot of the “tsk, tsk! You need to listen to wahmen more” moments that plague the rest of the movie. Rose tends to be what I think the writers intended to be the “neutralizer” of Finn’s blunders... the two characters get arrested for parking in a clearly illegal spot, they have time to talk about animal cruelty but not clear up with the parking official why they should park somewhere else, and Finn gets a clear lesson on why capitalism is bad and how the galaxy needs a glorious revolution, led by the CGI camels that were designed to sell Disney figurines... Then we have the Admiral. She goes by many names. Admiral Evening Gown, Admiral Gender Studies, Admiral Where the Hell Did She Hide that Blaster…But yes. She is a slightly better leader than Leia insofar as we haven’t seen her physically assault her subordinates. She does take time to, rather than telling her subordinates that *THEY DO ACTUALLY HAVE A PLAN, WE AREN’T GOING TO DIE*, instead calmly go on a random speech about hope.Now I don’t know who Hope is, but she shows up a lot in this movie. Never does jack all, but apparently she’s going to be important one day. Meanwhile, rather than telling a Captain that there is a plan, maybe even trusting him because he is one of the most highly respected officers on the ship (and people have actually met him before), she does the logical thing:She tells him to fuck off, it doesn’t matter whether they have a plan, the only plan he needs to worry about is watching the ship drift, run out of fuel, and getting annihilated.
But let’s talk about this plan real quick. This glorious plan that only Holdo and Leia knew about. This foolproof plan.So once the Rebels run out of fuel, the plan is to evacuate the ship, and let it drift into the First Order’s effective firing range. Seeing the ship, the First Order will blow it up without hesitation, call it a day, and leave.They won’t board the ship and take political prisoners, in order to publicly execute or interrogate them about other possible resistance cells (Of which Leia built NONE for some reason), and then quickly realize the ship is empty save for an utterly impractically dressed military officer.Kylo Ren won’t sense his mother is still alive, conveniently on the icey-salt planet this ship had just passed... The First Order won’t notice that the ship should still have fuel for another hour or two and for some reason has ran out already. The First Order won’t be suspicious that the Resistance is deceiving them, that this victory was too easy.And then the Resistance, with no weapons, bomber fleets, or fighters, or fuel, will be stuck on an ice planet, with a base that can be fairly easily detected from orbit, and will be sitting ducks for about a week while the First Order goes about their daily routine of conquering their remaining allies.This is the best case scenario...
Now we are at the climax. Rose’s quotes. Every single memorable quote from Rose is asinine leftist bullshit."

Thomas Cannon's answer to I keep hearing that the new Star Wars movies are filled with SJW things. I honestly don't see it. What am I missing? - Quora - "can I just point out how ironic it is that Star Wars - a franchise where the heroes are rebels against corrupt tyranny - is pushing the message that you should shut up and blindly follow authority?
Rose? She’s presented as the heroic knight of justice who saves the day… by almost getting all of our heroes killed to save her crush. I mean, if Luke hadn’t showed up everyone would be dead… because Rose can’t keep it in her pants. The girl almost gets everyone killed and hands the villains victory on a silver platter because she’s in luurve… wow, Rian. Wow. Rey? She not only cheats her way to power (she literally steals the training from Kylo Ren’s mind - she doesn’t work for any of her power) but is presented as the epitome of the Strong Female Character… by spending the past two films running around and begging every man she comes across, from Han to Luke to Kylo himself, to save the day for her. She has no agency and no skin in the game, doesn’t work for anything she has (her ship, her droid, her lightsaber, her Force powers - they were all handed to her or stolen from those who actually worked for it) and is overreliant on everyone around her. How did I get to the point where I want the man who murdered Han Solo to win?"

John Miles's answer to I keep hearing that the new Star Wars movies are filled with SJW things. I honestly don't see it. What am I missing? - Quora - "Let's compare Rogue One to The Last Jedi.Strong female lead? Check and checkDiverse cast? Check and check.If you look at rogue one you have all the things that people supposedly complained about in TLJ. But there is one huge difference between the two.Rogue one was a very good movie, it was well written and had great dialog, the story made sense and was not about some weird chase and casino adventure."

Star Wars SHOCK: Mark Hamill SLAMS Last Jedi for cut Han scene - ""it shows Luke was putting on a facade in front of Rey and even Chewie, that he was embittered and sort of a broken man". Hamill continued: “And I think the fact that he could let his emotions out when he was by himself would have made an impact on the audience because it allowed them to grieve the loss of Han Solo just the way Luke felt it... “They had time for me to milk that big alien but to show any human emotion? Nah, we don’t have time for that. But again it’s not my call.” Last December a YouTube video called Mark Hamill Hates Star Wars The Last Jedi went viral.The video compilation showed the actor’s press interviews for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi claiming the footage proves he hates the new movies.One of the most interesting clips to allude to this shows the star in a leather chair, saying: “Remember kids. It’s not important if it’s of high quality, only if it makes money.“So because The Force Awakens made a lot of money, it’s not ‘ergo it’s good’. And oh my god I’ve just realised this is all on film.”"

Chekhov's Gun: 13 Setups That Didn't Have A Payoff in The Last Jedi : StarWars - "TFA Setups
1. TFA sets up there's significance to Luke's light saber - it's literally thrown away showing that it meant nothing the whole time
2. TFA sets up Rey having a significant and cryptic vision - it's not decrypted
3. TFA sets up Kylo Ren having a gang called "Knights of Ren" - possibly referenced, but we still don't know much about them
4. TFA sets up Finn getting injured and going into a coma-like state - it's not used for anything except for a gag in TLJ. Contrast this with Han at the end of ESB and beginning of ROTJ.
5. TFA sets up Kylo going to "complete his training" with Snoke - it's never referred to or shown, making it meaningless
6. TFA sets up victory for the good guys when they blow up the bad guy's base - it doesn't seem to have an affect on the bad guys or good guys which made the victory feel meaningless. Nothing has really changed.
7. TFA sets up the importance of Rey's parentage - they're not important making that question in TFA meaningless
8. TFA sets up two new bad guys, Kylo Ren and Snoke - The former is given an explanation and meaning. Subsequently he is generally accepted as the best part of TLJ because they built off the setup. The latter is given no explanation. Which is really the shared fault of both TFA and TLJ.
TLJ Setups
9. TLJ sets up Luke to teach Rey three lessons - they finish two and the third must be unimportant because it's forgotten about for the rest of the movie.
10. TLJ sets up that there is more to the force or hints that it's going to be redefined in some way when Luke says "the force isn't just about lifting rocks" - Rey literally lifts rocks and our/her understanding of the force doesn't change. --I guess one could say Luke's astro projection shows us how it's changed but that's not really portrayed on screen very clearly as a payoff to that setup.
11. TLJ sets up DJ selling weapons to the good guys and bad guys - which ends up being meaningless information.
12. TLJ sets up Rey not being strong enough to resist the dark side because when she went into the pit w/ mirrors she doesn't resist it. Luke tells her this. - When Kylo tempts her with the dark side she easily resists. Making the supposed struggle undermined. Contrast this from Yoda telling Luke he needs to finish his training before confronting Vader. Luke looses and subsequently returns for training.
13. TLJ sets up Snoke being the only one powerful enough to connect Rey and Kylo via visions - after Snoke dies Rey and Kylo have another vision which makes that setup inconsistent."

How The Last Jedi Alienated Its Audience [Storycraft] - "something happened that changed the way I experienced the story, and then served to amplify every last flaw the movie had to the point where I walked out of the theater actually upset over what I’d seen.That change occurred approximately 31 minutes into the film. And I’m sure everyone knows the scene that I’m talking about.Yes, that’s right. The “Space Leia” scene. I can remember sitting in the theater watching this moment and hearing people around me either express confusion over what happened or laugh at the scene claiming how “stupid” or “ridiculous” it was. My own personal reaction was actually a combination of the two. I found it humorous that such a scene happened the way it happened, but I was also incredibly confused as to why writer/director Rian Johnson presented that scene in the way he did — a way which pulled the audience out of the movie.And from that point on, it felt as though half the audience in the theater stopped enjoying the film. I saw people make more jokes at the screen. More people pull out their phones to play on them instead of paying attention to the film. More people whispering to one another. Speaking for myself, I was so taken out of the experience of the film, that every single last flaw of the movie became so much more pronounced that I couldn’t ignore them and thus, my enjoyment of the movie was completely ruined. Now, this is not to say that everyone felt the way I did about this scene. However, from a storytelling point of view, doing something that effectively alienates half your audience 1/5th of the way through your tale is NOT proper storycraft. And many people who like The Last Jedi and defend it against its detractors will tell you they did not like this scene, even though they’re willing to forgive its existence... The term “Suspension of Disbelief” has been defined as a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe something surreal.In other words: Audiences are willing to sacrifice realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment... once an audience begins to refuse to suspend their disbelief, they actually start to actively reject the story they are being told. When this happens, audiences begin to scrutinize and criticize the narrative far more than they would if they were suspending their disbelief. They begin to obsess over every flaw and inaccuracy. They begin to nitpick the movie to death. They effectively “check out” from the story and stop enjoying themselves... This can best be described in the context of what is called “The Salesman’s Creed.” This is a concept in business which states the following:
“People love to buy, but they hate being sold to.”...
if you set up story elements that have no pay off, you essentially bog down the narrative with excess baggage, to the point where audiences begin to wonder why they should care about any of the elements within the story they are experiencing. A good example of this is any movie or TV show that JJ Abrams makes that utilizes his “mystery box” concept, the biggest offender of which is the TV show LOST. In that show, the writers set-up numerous mysteries concerning the mystical island the plane crash survivors of the series find themselves on. The only problem is that a great number of the island’s biggest mysteries are never given proper solutions, which served to make audiences turn on the show in its final season. LOST is a great example of a narrative with lots of set-up and no pay off.On the reverse side of that are the narratives that pay off story elements that were never properly set up. This is what is called a “Deus Ex Machina”... It creates logic flaws that audiences can’t ignore and negatively effects the story...
Headcanon Is No Substitute For Proper Storytelling... Violate these principles, and audiences will never forgive you for it, as Rian Johnson is unfortunately discovering."

No, half of The Last Jedi haters were not Russian trolls - "when you break down the numbers and look deeper, the reality is stunningly different: Star Wars does not have a Russian troll problem and the fan backlash is far more complex than the reports might have you believe... Bay's paper stated that "50.9% of those tweeting negatively" about The Last Jedi were likely to be politically motivated or not even human. This was the major takeaway for a panoply of media outlets that then stated most of the negative sentiment directed at The Last Jedi came from Russian trolls. But that is not the truth -- or at least, it distorts the truth... Of the 967 tweets analyzed, 206 expressed "a negative sentiment" toward the film and its director.Of the 206 negative comments, 61 were real people reported to have a political agenda, 11 were bots and only 33 appeared to be trolls. Of those 33, just 16 appeared to possess characteristics consistent with Russian troll accounts. In reality, less than one in 10 tweets were from Russian trolls -- nowhere near the 50 percent being widely reported. There are a few issues here. The first is that Bay's collection method relies only on tweets directed at Rian Johnson. Other accounts related to the film, such as that of Luke Skywalker -- @HamillHimself -- who has almost triple the amount of followers and assumedly a far greater reach than Johnson, were not analyzed. This significantly limits the power of the analysis.Notably, the research did in fact catch the eye of The Last Jedi director himself, causing him to remark "what the top-line describes is consistent with my experience online." Of course, it would be consistent with his experience online, because the research paper directly used Johnson's tweets as the source of their data. It quite literally analyzed his experience online... "The suspected Russian trolls are so few that it is basically the normal amount of Russian trolls you would expect to be present in a high-profile online debate."... The truth is simple: The majority of people who read about Bay's research will never go and read the study from top-to-bottom.The information will be presented to them and ingested through second-hand osmosis. Via a tweet, via outlets trying to capture a snapshot of the research that most appeals to their audience. There's no hard analysis of the methods, no interrogation of the dataset. And that approach only serves to inflame the discourse even more.Ultimately, it is ironic that in an era when fake news and misinformation are so rife, Bay's study found widespread appeal via a media-driven narrative that was far, far away from the truth."

[Rebuttal] Is Luke Skywalker A Christ Figure? Debunking The Cult Of The Last Jedi - "[Young] made the argument defending the changes writer/director Rian Johnson made to the character of Luke Skywalker by comparing The Last Jedi to the film The Last Temptation of Christ... my problems with The Last Jedi stem from my background as a writer who has studied narrative theory for years and who writes professionally. This isn’t to say I am a better writer than Mr. Johnson, just that I have enough training to spot bad writing when I see it. In my experience, “Bad Writing” encompasses many facets of a story’s narrative. It can range from flaws in the plot all the way down to poor dialogue. But in that spectrum is the concept of character development, or the process by which an audience experiences a character’s growth... To compare Johnson to Scorsese is like comparing Scott Adams to Leonardo Da Vinci. They are both artists, but nowhere near the same caliber in terms of skill and ability... To equate Rian Johnson as a writer AND philosopher on the level of Kazantzakis is yet another terrible categorization of Johnson’s talents. Firstly, Mr. Johnson is not a skilled writer — at least not on the level of winning a Nobel Prize for his efforts (or even an Oscar for that matter). Secondly, his philosophy is surface-level progressivism at best, nowhere near the deep and studied philosophies that Kazantzakis explored... The Last Jedi took Star Wars and got rid of everything fans loved about Star Wars to make something new which resembled Star Wars but lacked the core elements which made fans fall in love with it in the first place.You could also say that this is exactly what Kazantzakis did with the Christian faith, oddly enough. But the difference here is that Kazantzakis’s goal was to deepen the human understanding of God by looking at Christ as a man, whereas Johnson’s goal was to dismiss all the stories which came before The Last Jedi and move Star Wars in an entirely different direction. Rian Johnson’s message was “kill the past,” whereas Kazantzakis’s message was “embrace humanity and all its flaws in order to do good.”... Rian Johnson, for whatever reason, never allows Luke to “pass the torch” to Rey, so the audience is left without sufficient closure on Luke and without sufficient investment in Rey as the new main hero. Rian Johnson’s failure to “pass the hero torch” means that there will always be a disconnect between Rey as the saga’s main hero and a large portion of the fans who are still connected to Luke. And this is why so many fans are so focused on his lack of a satisfying character arc in The Last Jedi — because to them, Luke is still the main character, all due to this failure in writing on Johnson’s part... when it comes to Kylo Ren, Luke is merely a distraction rather than a path to redemption and love. The Luke of The Last Jedi essentially abandons his nephew to evil. He makes no attempt to redeem him, to forgive him, or to show him a better way. Luke makes no attempt to heal Kylo Ren’s pain and show him the love and mercy he gave to Darth Vader. Instead, he tells Kylo flat-out that he is beyond saving and leaves with a flippant “See you around, kid.” No advice to help him. No words of regret or apology. No indication of hope.That is a fundamental assassination of Luke Skywalker’s character. It goes against everything Luke was meant to represent in the original films. It goes against the hero mythos.And it certainly goes against the “Christ Figure” trope."

How The Last Jedi Destroyed The Continuity Of Star Wars [Storycraft] - "the “Holdo Maneuver” of accelerating a starship to lightspeed to be used as a weapon violates the internal consistency of all the Star Wars movies, creating such a massive self-contradiction that it retroactively creates errors in plot-logic in every previously made film in the franchise... Once the Resistance escaped to the salt planet of Crait, why didn’t Kylo Ren order one of the damaged Star Destroyers to be accelerated to lightspeed directly at the Resistance base, creating a massive crater that would have destroyed the base and everyone in it?... Headcanon tells us that it’s possible this tactic of weaponized light speed might not have been known throughout all the previous Star Wars movies, but there is a canonical mention of how hyperspace operates in A New Hope... The whole notion of a “retcon” is a technique designed to fix a mistake in the narrative that came before it. The very need for such a thing illustrates that very little forethought or planning went into the crafting of The Last Jedi’s story. And should this story element NOT be addressed, all future and past Star Wars films, TV shows, books, and comic books will suffer as a result."
I've seen people justifying the Holdo maneuver with headcanon, or reference to the novelisation. But if it's not explained within the movies, that clearly is a flaw

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Links - 10th September 2019 (3)

Palestinian who saved Jewish kids after terror attack gets Israeli residency - "Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Tuesday awarded Israeli residency to a Palestinian man who saved the children of a West Bank rabbi in the aftermath of the deadly terror attack in which the father was killed... The Palestinian man, who has not been named, received a temporary visa to live and work in Israel after receiving death threats in his hometown near the West Bank city of Hebron... “I took the boy and I hugged him. I gave him some water and applied iodine, and just kept telling him that everything was going to be fine,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me if it was an accident or a terror attack, it’s irrelevant. These are people, children, who need help, and if I can help, I will help them.“The girl told me, ‘God sent an Arab to help us,’” he added."
Doubtless liberals will still bash Israel since if you oppose Palestinian anti-Israeli terrorism you're against punching up, and you're a fascist.

PragerU - Posts - "The mainstream media:
Hamas attacks Israel: 🦗🦗
Hamas attacks Israel: 🦗🦗
Hamas attacks Israel: 🦗🦗
Hamas attacks Israel: 🦗🦗
Israel defends itself: "ISRAEL ATTACKS GAZA!"🤦"

Consent Chaos: Man Won't Sleep With Wife Unless She Gets Permission - "Slate’s “Dear Prudence” advice columnist, Daniel Mallory Ortberg, revealed in a podcast released Wednesday how a woman’s attempt at awakening her husband to the joys of affirmative consent led to a nightmarish scenario wherein he now refuses to sleep in the same room as his wife, lest she accidentally touch him while they’re in bed together... “This reads to me like an attempt to control, manipulate, and cow another person.”"
At least this is a frank admission that the obsession about affirmative consent is just a way to control, manipulate and cow men

Singapore's Journalists Fear Proposed 'Fake News' Law - "In Singapore, ministers presented their approach as being of a kind with moves in Europe, where countries, including the U.K. and Germany, are publicly seeking regulatory solutions to an epidemic of malicious falsehoods that had skewed public debate. But European lawmakers fretted over the balance between dealing with the problem rapidly and comprehensively and not impinging on individual freedoms. In Singapore, the legislation is worded so broadly as to give ministers enormous power with little direct oversight... Mainstream outlets—most of which are at least part owned by the state investment company Temasek—uncritically present the government’s perspective, while the few independent organizations and journalists are put under constant pressure through regulatory demands, defamation suits, and occasionally criminal charges. On certain subjects, in particular the merest suggestion of financial impropriety by government officials, the state responds with charges of slander and defamation... a Reuters Institute survey found that 63 percent of Singaporeans worry that expressing political views online could get them into trouble with the authorities. “You have to have the mental preparation that you’ll go to jail,” Xu said. “The government controls people by fear. If you don’t have that expectation, then you’ll self-censor.”... The new law also contains a provision allowing ministers to grant exemptions, meaning that they could, if they so desired, liberally interpret the meaning of “misleading” to target criticism, while allowing falsehoods that support the government to pass unhindered... “Some people said that we should be detained without trial, some people said we should be executed. Some people suggested that I should be dragged out into the street and have my hair cut like a French collaborator with the Nazis”

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Freedom of speech in Algeria - "I'm told some places here still don't sell espresso on account of Chinese stomachs being unable to handle that much caffeine. Only the super fans, rather like the extreme spice fans in British curry houses, will go off menu and ask for something extra strong. Flasks of green tea are now accessories only for older gentlemen sat in parks or security guards on duty"

George Washington University students support ban of traffic symbol - "University students have signed a ‘petition’ to ban the white stick figure indicating when pedestrians can walk at crossings at traffic lights.Campus Reform, a news website about higher education, went undercover at George Washington University to see how many students found the stick figure “oppressive” and would support the ban.The fake petition came after students at the university in Washington D.C. voted to change its “offensive” official mascot... The fake petition reads: “As we students cross the street, we are told by the symbol of a white man when it is OK to cross."

ZUBY: on Twitter - "Let me get this straight.
You don't trust the government, think your leader is a Fascist, police are racist and the system is corrupt & white supremacist.
So you want to expand the control & power of govt, give them your guns and fund the system further with your tax money? "

BBC World Service - The World This Week, MH17 prosecution ties Russia down - "He's studying in Munich, but he and his friends had taken a bus for 30 hours back to Istanbul to vote. I left my country because I couldn't see a future with this government, he told me, so I had to make the trip back to vote for İmamoğlu. Things will change here, he added, beaming, and maybe I'll be able to come back to Turkey. Some canceled holidays and flew back from beach weekends to vote. At one polling station, I met a 101 year old lady wheeled in by her 82 year old son in law to cast their ballots. This nation is fervently political and cares deeply about elections. Turnout is 85%, one of the highest in the democratic world. That applies on both sides of an acutely polarized country. For 16 years. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has towered over Turkey and a hopelessly divided opposition, a voice for the pious and the poor. The President has built an army of enthralled loyalists with his Islamic values and nationalist tone. Turkey’s serial election winner didn't accept narrowly losing Istanbul three months ago, the most important city where he was born and which propelled him to power as mayor in the 1990s. So he gambled on a rerun. It backfired disastrously. Ekrem İmamoğlu, a previously little known district Mayor roared onto the scene with energy and relentless optimism. His slogan *something*, everything will be great was what a 13 year old boy said to him on the campaign trail, a simple phrase capturing the overwhelming desire for hope… After years of combative rhetoric from Mr. Erdogan, Turkey's opposition wanted joy, inclusivity, gentleness. That is what Ekrem İmamoğlu displayed, and it was the key to his success… [Even if he becomes] President, undoing 16 years of Erdoganism would be far harder. A nexus of Mr. Erdogan’s loyalists controls every sector here from construction where his friends build his giant infrastructure projects to the media, 90% of it under his thumb, blaring out his message while opposition outlets are shackled. Turkey, the world's leading jailer of journalists. This network of influence often involves his family. Ekrem İmamoğlu says much of the Istanbul municipality's three and a half billion pound budget goes to foundations run by the President's relatives. The Istanbul archery club alone with Mr. Erdogan’s son Bilal on the board gets over 2 million pounds per year. The challenge for the new mayor is to stamp out waste and nepotism while also winning over the Erdoganists. As the election results were declared. I stood beside a camera man from TRT, the state broadcaster, heavily under the President's influence. An İmamoğlu supporter approached him. Now are you going to film us, she cried. Now will you show we exist? That is what the mayoral election has encapsulated here, the longing by half of this country that has been suppressed and stifled to breathe and feel once again, part of Turkey. Represented, served, empowered"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Istanbul's mayoral election upset - "He's studying in Munich, but he and his friends had taken a bus for 30 hours back to Istanbul to vote. I left my country because I couldn't see a future with this government, he told me, so I had to make the trip back to vote for İmamoğlu. Things will change here, he added, beaming, and maybe I'll be able to come back to Turkey. Some canceled holidays and flew back from beach weekends to vote. At one polling station, I met a 101 year old lady wheeled in by her 82 year old son in law to cast their ballots. This nation is fervently political and cares deeply about elections. Turnout is 85%, one of the highest in the democratic world. That applies on both sides of an acutely polarized country. For 16 years. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has towered over Turkey and a hopelessly divided opposition, a voice for the pious and the poor. The President has built an army of enthralled loyalists with his Islamic values and nationalist tone. Turkey’s serial election winner didn't accept narrowly losing Istanbul three months ago, the most important city where he was born and which propelled him to power as mayor in the 1990s. So he gambled on a rerun. It backfired disastrously. Ekrem İmamoğlu, a previously little known district Mayor roared onto the scene with energy and relentless optimism. His slogan *something*, everything will be great was what a 13 year old boy said to him on the campaign trail, a simple phrase capturing the overwhelming desire for hope… After years of combative rhetoric from Mr. Erdogan, Turkey's opposition wanted joy, inclusivity, gentleness. That is what Ekrem İmamoğlu displayed, and it was the key to his success… [Even if he becomes] President, undoing 16 years of Erdoganism would be far harder. A nexus of Mr. Erdogan’s loyalists controls every sector here from construction where his friends build his giant infrastructure projects to the media, 90% of it under his thumb, blaring out his message while opposition outlets are shackled. Turkey, the world's leading jailer of journalists. This network of influence often involves his family. Ekrem İmamoğlu says much of the Istanbul municipality's three and a half billion pound budget goes to foundations run by the President's relatives. The Istanbul archery club alone with Mr. Erdogan’s son Bilal on the board gets over 2 million pounds per year. The challenge for the new mayor is to stamp out waste and nepotism while also winning over the Erdoganists. As the election results were declared. I stood beside a camera man from TRT, the state broadcaster, heavily under the President's influence. An İmamoğlu supporter approached him. Now are you going to film us, she cried. Now will you show we exist? That is what the mayoral election has encapsulated here, the longing by half of this country that has been suppressed and stifled to breathe and feel once again, part of Turkey. Represented, served, empowered...
The scandal of extra time granted during the all important standardized tests, which are used as a benchmark for admission to college. They’re as important as A levels. Extra time is granted to students who have undergone a neuro psychological evaluation, which shows they have a learning difficulty of some sort. Of course, for students who need extra time because of dyslexia, for example, this confers no unfair advantage. But if the impairment is something more generalized, getting extra time can mean a child does better on the test than they would do otherwise. So parents anxious to make sure their child does as well as possible will go to great lengths to get their offspring evaluated. Analysis shows that a disproportionate number of children in affluent school districts have extra time on the standardized test when compared to the general population. Parents who don't have the time or the money to spend hours getting their children evaluated by doctors are disadvantaged. Surprising number of kids I've known since they were toddlers turned out to need extra time on the test as teenagers. As a topic of conversation with other moms, this one was off limits. Though I desperately wanted to, I just couldn't ask, what learning difficulty does your child have exactly?"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, The Women and Children of Islamic State - "What’s striking are the things they won't tell you. Their names, the cities they came from, most importantly, what drove them to join a murderous Caliphate, and what role they played within. These women see themselves as victims. But each one made the decision despite the horrifying images the group broadcast around the world to join it. Who knows how many regret that choice now?"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 182 - Spencer Greenberg on "How online research can be faster, better, and more useful" - "So the sunk cost fallacy, at clearerthinking.org, which we have a program that trains people to help avoid the sunk cost fallacy, and so we did some research on it, and one thing we were doing is we were trying to develop a question that would elicit the sunk cost fallacy.Where we would ask you, Okay, suppose you're at dinner and you order some food and you realize though that you're actually not at all hungry. You're totally full and you cannot reasonably bring the food with you. Would you just finish eating it anyway?… We've learned that you need to always study your own questions, to try to understand. Not just look at someones answers, but understand why they're answering that way. So we love asking people why they gave an answer they did, to better understand… the most common reason people said, is because they assumed they'd be eating with someone else. And they thought it would be awkward if they didn't eat their food. It had never even occurred to us they would assume that… We stipulated that they were not eating with someone, that they were alone. And then, a handful of people said… the chef [would feel bad]… someone had developed a scale, saying that way more people than you'd expect had these kind of delusional beliefs, of sorts.And we were really excited about this, because we thought hey, maybe this would present an opportunity to help people, if people really do have these delusions. Or it's also just an interesting and important thing to know about.So we ran a study and it turned out that we were able to replicate a bunch of their findings, in the sense that people did report these delusional beliefs. For example, people reported that they feel like bugs are crawling all over their skin, and other kind of strange things like this.But we also asked them why they answered that way. And well, it turns out a bunch of people have lice...
To a shocking degree, people often make errors when doing statistical analysis, even people that you'd think wouldn't make errors. And this is because statistics is really complicated and is not really well suited for the human brain -- and also because a lot of people work with statistics, they weren't originally trained as statisticians, right? Ironically, a lot of times statisticians don't deal with data at all, they just kind of theorize, and the people dealing with data are not statisticians."

Trophy Hunting

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Hunting for trophies

"‘We have to base our decisions on science and the evidence here, it is clear that trophy hunting is not a major threat to lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, all the species that we hear about, but they are threatened primarily by by habitat loss, conflict with people and poaching. And those are actually the threats that are reduced by well regulated trophy hunting...

Poorly regulated treaty hunting can be a minor threat to certain populations. We've seen that for lions. But that's why it's very important that we don't have blanket restrictions, we have targeted restrictions and conditions on imports. Because if you have blanket bans or restrictions, you penalize the good operators, as well as the bad and you are likely to lead to more killing and negative impacts on conservation and welfare rather than improve the situation’...

‘I do think at the end of the day, it boils down to a moral issue. We cannot tell countries to practice trophy hunting, Tanzania, Botswana, etc. what to do with their wildlife. But here in the UK, we can take action. And I think it would be action supported by the great majority of British people to prevent the import of trophies, thus helping choke off the demand.’

‘But what people might say to that is, what matters is what works and if by allowing trophy hunting, albeit putting pressure on them to do it in a civilized way as possible, clearly, assuming it can be civilized, but by allowing it at least to the extent that Amy Dickman was just talking about, if that saves certain animals, it has to be with gritted teeth approved, doesn't it?’

‘Well, Amy says that one of the the pressures on wild species is land, land issues. I would refer and she knows this very well to the work of the Northern Rangerlands trust in Kenya, which has brought in over 40,000 square kilometers of land into conservation status at not the National Park level, but at the community level, and Kenya has no trophy hunting, I think we can come up with innovative important strategies and in fact I would, I would ask Amy and all the people who've signed her letter to let's get together, let's look for those innovative solutions to this but not on the basis that animals, wild animals whom we admire worldwide are killed for the purpose’...

‘I'd love there to be a halfway house but there isn't one when it comes to the killing of animals for fun. I don't think it can be argued just on those, those issues that I raised earlier’

‘Even if it helps in the end save some animals. I mean, it may be repugnant, obviously this is repugnant to you and to many other people of course, but if it helps save animals?’

‘If some animals have to die in order to save some other animals I don't see how that can be an acceptable solution and particularly when they're shot for for fun. This isn't people who rely on those animals, the meat from those animals to survive’

‘Well, they die the same way don't they?’

‘The trophy hunter comes from America or the UK and the UK is not completely innocent in all of this. Lion trophies, leopard trophies, elephant trophies - all imported into the United Kingdom. We're not innocent in this and I think therefore we must take responsibility and if that means we have to find alternative ways of financing the opportunities that local communities living alongside wildlife deserve then we have to come up with those solutions if we're going to turn off the tap of trophy hunting’

Basically 'screw what will help save more animals, killing some to help the population feels icky so we can't do it'
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