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Saturday, May 23, 2020

From Homophobia to Anti-Bigotry: How Did Christians Become the New Pariahs?

From Homophobia to Anti-Bigotry: How Did Christians Become the New Pariahs?

"Davidson has admitted that he used to be gay himself—or at least had “homosexual experiences.” But at some point he decided that it was not for him. He has been married to his wife for 35 years and has two children. He believes that where he has gone other people can follow, and so through his group he offers counselling on a voluntary basis to other people who would like to move from being gay to becoming a heterosexual like himself who admits that he still gets—though doesn’t act on – certain “urges.”...

“Do you know what we call these people, Dr Michael?” Piers Morgan asked. “We call them horrible little bigots, in the modern world. Just bigoted people who actually talk complete claptrap and are in my view a malevolent and dangerous part of our society. What’s the matter with you? How can you think that nobody’s born gay and they all get corrupted and they can all be cured? Who are you to say such garbage?”

A relatively unflustered Davidson asked Morgan for evidence that people are born gay, pointing out that neither the American Psychological Association nor the Royal College of Psychiatrists believe that homosexuality is innate and unchangeable. At which point his interviewer ordered him to “stop talking for a moment” and “stop banging on about whacky-backy scientists in America.” Morgan then continued to shout at his guest, “Shut up you old bigot,” before he brought the whole interview to a close with the words “I’ve had enough of him. Dr Michael, shut up.” And so it finished. ITV had sent a car to a guest’s home in the early morning to bring him to a national television studio only for him to be told during his interview to shut up...

I may be the only out person at this gay-cure film-screening. But I suspect that I am not the only gay in the room...

[There are] several interviewees who were gay once but now appear here with their faces blacked out. Perhaps it is too charitable to reflect that it wasn’t so long ago that this need for blackened-out faces and back-of-head shots would have applied the other way around.

Towards the film’s end an Irish pastor sums up a part of the film’s point. He explains that he doesn’t mind people holding out the view that homosexuality is inherent and unchangeable. He just wants to be allowed to be able to hold his view. As Dr Baskerville reiterates, only one position on this matter appears to be able to be held in academia and the media, and that is “promotion” of homosexuality. “Sexuality is being politicized,” we are told in the final moments. And then, after another inexplicable reference to the Ancient Jews, the film ends with the dramatic yet careful line: “It is time to accept difference.”...

The manner in which people and movements behave at the point of victory can be the most revealing thing about them. Do you allow arguments that worked for you to work for others? Are reciprocity and tolerance principles or fig-leaves? Do those who have been censored go on to censor others when the ability is in their own hands? Today the Vue cinema is on one side. A few decades ago they might have been on the other. And Pink News and others who celebrate their victory in chasing Voices of the Silenced a mile down the road one February night seem very ready to wield such power over a private event. In doing so they contradict the claims made by gay rights activists from the start of the battle for gay equality, which is that it should be no business of anyone else what consenting adults get up to in private. If that goes for the rights of gay groups then surely it ought to apply to the rights of Christian fundamentalists and other groups too...

None of the press which had sought to silence Voices of the Silenced had shown that Davidson or his colleagues were forcing unwilling participants to submit to a regime of heterosexual conversion...

In May 2013 Morgan had voted against the law introducing gay marriage into the UK. One year later, in 2014, she said that she now supported gay marriage and would vote for it if it had not already become law. Another year later, in 2015, she was declaring views such as those she herself had held two years earlier as not merely evidence of “extremism” but fundamentally un-British.

In the 1990s Hillary Clinton supported her husband’s “defence of marriage act” which sought to prevent gay marriage from becoming possible in the United States. She watched as he backed the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for gays in the US military, meaning that any gay soldier who told even one other person about their sexuality could immediately be dismissed from the armed forces. As Robert Samuels wrote in the Washington Post, “Hillary Clinton had the chance to make gay rights history. She refused.” Yet in 2016 when she was campaigning for the Presidency for the second time and the views of wider society had shifted markedly, the LGBT community (as gays had now become) were one of the specific sections of the country whom Clinton claimed to be campaigning especially hard for. It is not unusual for politicians to shift positions. But the speed with which the times changed made for some remarkably sharp changes of position in the political class.

Other people and countries have instituted even swifter and noisier U-turns. Almost immediately after gay marriage became legal in Germany, acceptance of it was made a condition of citizenship in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Yesterday there was one dogma. Now there is another...

In 2018 the MSNBC host Joy Reid was publicly shamed and made to apologize after historic comments from a decade earlier were found in which she had been critical of gay marriage—at a time when almost everybody else was unsupportive of gay marriage as well. When change happens so swiftly, there is much making up for lost time to be done, and little pity for those found dragging behind.

And so some individuals, governments and corporations appear to believe that their job is to make up for lost time. They are forcing discussion of gay issues in a manner slightly beyond acceptance and more in the realms of “This will be good for you.”

By 2018 the BBC seemed to have decided that items of specifically gay news needed to be not just reported but headlined as major news. One of its top stories of the day on the corporation’s website in September that year was that the Olympic diver Tom Daley had felt “inferior” about his sexuality but that this had given him the motivation to become a success. This story was published five years after Daley had come out. He had not been silent about his private life in the interim period. And yet this human interest story was a lead item on the BBC’s website just beneath news of an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia which had killed more than 800 people. One day later and the BBC website had as one of its lead stories the news that a minor reality television star called Ollie Locke had announced that he and his fiancé (Gareth Locke) were going to join their surnames to make themselves the Locke-Lockes after their forthcoming marriage. In other headline news, the death toll from the Indonesian earthquake had risen significantly overnight.

Perhaps it requires someone who is gay to say this, but there are times when such ‘news’ reporting doesn’t feel like news reporting at all. Rather it seems that some type of message is being sent out either to the public or to people whom the media believe to be in positions of power. This goes beyond “This will be good for you” and nearer to the realm of “See how you like this, bigot.” There are days when you wonder how heterosexuals feel about the growing insistence with which gay stories are crow-barred into any and all areas of news."

LGBT activists: "If you don't let biological men in women's toilets, you're claiming transwomen don't exist"
Also LGBT activists: "Ex-gay people don't exist"

It seems the "gay agenda" really does exist, and so does the slippery slope (despite the usual protestations about the "myth" of the slippery slope). And despite claims to the contrary, promoting homosexuality really is a thing

Links - 23rd May 2020 (2) (Canadian Indigenous Issues/Pipeline Protests)

70 per cent of murdered aboriginal women killed by indigenous men: RCMP - "RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has confirmed assertions by Canada's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs that 70 per cent of the aboriginal women who are murdered in Canada meet their fate at the hands of someone of their own race.Mr. Paulson's decision to back up statements by Bernard Valcourt comes after several chiefs said the minister should be fired for blaming aboriginal men for the tragedy, a position they dismissed as unsubstantiated and demeaning. Mr. Paulson wrote on Tuesday to Bernice Martial, the Grand Chief of Treaty Six in central Saskatchewan and Alberta, who was among the native leaders to express concern, saying the RCMP has not previously released information on the ethnicity of the offenders in the spirit of "bias-free policing."... Despite Mr. Paulson's statistics, Ms. Martial is unconvinced that responsibility for the tragedy can be pinned on native men... Mr. Valcourt said the deaths and disappearances came down to a lack of respect among aboriginal men on reserves for aboriginal women, and urged chiefs and councils to take action... Chief Bernard Ominayak of the Lubicon Lake Nation said in an e-mail on Thursday that the opinion of the RCMP commissioner is irrelevant to demands for a national inquiry, and the statistics he presents "are useless without the documentation that backs up his claims.""
Of course, it's "racist" to engage in "victim blaming"

The Ultimate ‘Concept Creep’: How a Canadian Inquiry Strips the Word ‘Genocide’ of Meaning - "In ancient Rome, genocide was seen as an acceptable military tactic if it was directed at indigenous peoples... But even into modern times, genocide often was justified as the cost of “progress.”... the killers believed that these genocides presented a net benefit to the civilized world. Hitler, who slaughtered six million Jews, thought that the entire planet one day would lionize him for ridding the world of what his diseased and evil mind conceived as a uniquely destructive pestilence upon humanity... The idea of “genocide” even has been stretched to include the idea of “cultural genocide”... This Canadian desire to confront our past is laudable and well-intentioned. Unfortunately, as I wrote in Quillette, the resultant tendency to apocalypticize every policy discussion surrounding indigeneity now has created a sort of social panic that afflicts much of the intellectual class... For those of us who prefer to reserve the word “genocide” for such acts as throwing human beings into ovens and mass graves, as opposed to the borrowing of artistic styles among painters, this cheapening of language feels very wrong... The government of Canada recognizes five genocides—corresponding to Armenia, Rwanda, Ukraine, Bosnia and the Nazi Holocaust. The average fatality count for these genocides was about three million. The total number of Canadian MMIWG killed over the last half century is about one thousandth that number... MMIWG are dying in 2019—which is not by pogrom or rampaging militia, but by the same ordinarily horrible way that most homicide victims meet their end: domestic violence and street crime. Nor is there statistical evidence to suggest that Canadian constabularies as a whole don’t take these crimes seriously... “In 2014, a higher proportion of homicides of Aboriginal victims were solved by police compared with non-Aboriginal victims (85 percent versus 71 percent)”... The homicide rate for Aboriginal females in Canada, measured in 2014, was 4.82 per 100,000 population. This is about 30 percent less than the homicide rate for the entire U.S. population (6.2). So the statistical implication of this week’s report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (to cite the body’s full name) is that the entire United States exists in a daily state of permanent genocide... Since about 70 percent of MMIWG are killed by Indigenous men, the effect of this week’s declaration is to present Canada’s Indigenous peoples as genocidaires of themselves. Despite this, many Canadians seem anxious to embrace the report, as it affirms the simple narrative that the challenges faced by Canada’s Indigenous peoples are largely the result of white racism, and so can be solved if Canadians simply awaken to their own collective bigotry... In the long run, the effect of this will be not only to erode the moral force of the term genocide, but also to hurt indigenous people by encouraging the terrifying and condescending conceit that their status in Canada is akin to that of Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda or Jews in 1939 Germany."
More on the "myth" of the slippery slope

Trudeau, majority of Liberal MPs vote against ISIS ‘genocide’ motion - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the majority of Liberal MPs have voted against a Conservative motion declaring that the violence perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) constitutes genocide... Ambrose responded to Trudeau by accusing the Liberals of tarnishing the Canadian reputation as a protector of human rights."

Canada's Epic Rail Crisis Offers the World a Cautionary Tale on Indigenous Mantras - "the functionality of modern societies (Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike) depends on some predictable and unified understanding of property rights... land-acknowledgment rituals that have become fashionable in Canada... convey the idea that Indigenous peoples retain a real—if vaguely defined—moral ownership over the entire country, not just the areas that they control through treaties or other legal instruments. Sometimes, the soaring language used in acknowledgment ceremonies can blur into a sort of religious ritual, through which audience members are invited to cleanse “Turtle Island” (i.e., Canada) of settler contamination. During the prelude to one conference I attended, an Indigenous elder instructed participants to rise from their seats, turn to face the four cardinal directions in sequence, and then bend down to touch the ground as an homage to natural spirits.These are cast as purely symbolic acts. But as this week’s chaos in Canada indicates, the associated ideas have real consequences. Having spent years solemnly acceding to Indigenous moral authority over every field and tree, and repeating a liturgy of white predation within “unceded” lands, politicians now find themselves paralyzed by groups of Indigenous-led or -inspired protestors who are invading rail lines, bridges, legislatures and highways in opposition to pipeline development. This includes Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal government is urging a resolution to the growing crisis, but seems to have already ruled out any use of force. We are now witnessing the largest service disruption in the modern history of the Canadian National Railway, with the tally of blocked cargo already well into the billions. Yet Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, tells us we’re not even supposed to use the term “protestor” to refer to the activists blocking the rails, despite court injunctions to the contrary. According to “experts,” the Star informs us, “land defenders” is the preferred team. How can government enforce the rule of law once we have conceded the idea that formal property rights are a fiction, and that protestors of a certain bloodline are always to be regarded as the land’s true “defenders”? The victims here include not just millions of affected Canadian commuters and businesses, but also Indigenous groups themselves. The current round of protests was initiated in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, one of more than a dozen First Nations whose traditional lands will be traversed by a new gas pipeline in British Columbia. But the construction process was preceded by lengthy consultations, through which the elected Wet’suwet’en leadership formally approved the project (and its associated economic benefits). By contrast, the pipeline opponents are hereditary Wet’suwet’en dissidents who, having had their views rejected within their own community, are playing to an audience of white environmentalists and like-minded Indigenous protestors in other parts of Canada. Since the easiest way for the federal and provincial governments to appease these protestors will be through negotiated dividends and payouts of some kind, the likely effect will be to weaken band governance: The spectacle proves that any Indigenous dissident now can bypass elected local leaders, and even become celebrities in the leftist Toronto press, simply by mobilizing a mob."
"Minorities" only count when they support a left wing agenda
So much for the "myth" of the slippery slope

We have become our own worst enemy. - "As a former First Nation elected councillor for the community of Lax Kw Alaams, I don’t know what to make of how irrational protests have become over the last few years around the development of BC’s resources.I am beginning to think it doesn’t matter what type of project is proposed or approved.People will protest anything, and I worry that they are making these decisions based on what they see and read on social media alone, instead of taking the time to become informed and educate themselves on the issues around development and who and why people are protesting.The personal attacks and misinformation on social media toward those who are pro-development is horrific, outright degrading and defamatory in nature... I hear from some of our people that we need to go back to our old ways – do we even know what that means?Life for the most part in the majority of our communities was extremely difficult. There is no going back. There is only one way and that’s forward by learning from the past... People want to blame our Governing Councils, or the White Man, or the Corporations that are trying to work with us for the benefit of our Communities.I ask: when all the protestors have gone back to their jobs and their lives, and have taken our opportunity with them, who is going back into your household and taking care of you?... The general public needs to understand that this isn’t about the environment, nor is it just about Indigenous rights.It is about money and control, and who wants to be considered the decision makers in our respective communities and territories.If we do not come together as a Community and as a People, we will always find ways to blame others, take no responsibility for our actions and continue to hurt those closest to us. We will continue to rely on a system that continues to fail us."

Aaron Gunn on Twitter - "With police cracking down on distracted driving this month, now's your chance to ask an officer what you can and can't do behind the wheel. Reply below to have them answered on CHEK News at 6."
"Can I blockade key highways and bridges whenever a democratically-elected government does something I disagree with? Also, are they sure they are allowed to hand out tickets without a court injunction? I think those are required now to enforce the law."

STOP THE BLOCKADES! - "The protesters who set up the illegal blockade face no punishment, while Canadians who are just trying to get to work get arrested for taking it down. Canada is becoming a laughingstock"

Laurissa Sill - "I grew up in poverty as a Wet'suwet'en member. All I knew growing up was that we were only used as a capacity number by the hereditary chiefs and left to provide for ourselves by any way possible. We were not taught our language or culture and traditions by any hereditary leader, we had to learn that on our own wherever we could... Our band does not follow the hereditary system as a political governing system. The only time family members practice the hereditary system is when we lose a loved one to support the family through the potlatch system.Our band is governed by a custom election code which allows us to elect selected individuals to represent the Skin Tyee community, and speak for the entire band membership.When I was on the band Council for the Skin Tyee Nation, we had the opportunity to consult with our band membership in regards to the CGL pipeline and act upon the decision the membership made in supporting the signing agreement to give the 98% approval for beginning work within our traditional territory. Our band council is charged with acting upon consensus with the majority of our bands memberships opinions, as a whole.Our band was one of the first to sign the agreement, not because of greed but because of the opportunity that was never offered to our community in the past. I respect the land, the people and most of all our Creator. The decision I supported was for the ability to provide a better future for generations still to come and their children's children. Where there is a will there will always be a way. We have band members trained and qualified to work on the pipeline to bring further accountability and insurance that the job is done right, with care and respect for the environment and the land... (Joseph Skin, a proud Skin Tyee member, @SkinTyeeJr via twitter)"

Quebec premier tells Trudeau to set deadline to end rail blockades - "Legault went on to describe the nationwide protests as an illegal action that is threatening people’s livelihood. He has also claimed that the province is on the verge of facing a shortage of goods, including propane... The House of Commons held an emergency debate over the rail blockades on Tuesday night, with members criticizing Trudeau during the debate and calling for action."

Protesters try to derail and set fire to train rolling through Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory - "NDP leader Jagmeet Singh anticipated the guerilla arson, warning Canadians that taking police action against protestors would only escalate the situation... With counter-protests now gaining momentum across Canada, tension over the railway blockades is escalating at a concerning speed."
Apparently the way to deal with terrorists is to give in to their demands

Indigenous chief says some anti-pipeline protestors are getting paid - "The President of the National Coalition of Chiefs, Dale Swampy has claimed that some anti-pipeline protestors are being paid by environmental activists groups... Swampy also intimated that not only do the majority of pipeline protesters have no connection to any First Nations people, they may also be getting paid to protest by environmental groups... Swampy claimed people were promised $300 per day and up to $500 if they wore a headdress. “They choose people who are disenfranchised, who have no job, no education, are in poverty, collecting welfare,” he said. “It’s a real concern for us that these corrupt environmentalists are taking advantage of our poor people, putting them in front of RCMP.”... The vast majority of anti-pipeline protestors don’t speak on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en people despite themselves, and many media outlets claiming otherwise. There are 634 First Nations in Canada. Swampy said, “We believe there are as many as 400 chiefs across the country that want to work with the natural resource industry–including alongside the CGL pipeline right-of-way”"

First Nations chief blasts ‘condescending’ UN anti-racism directive that called for pipeline to be shut down - "A Canadian First Nations chief is slamming a recent directive from a United Nations anti-racism committee after the organization called for the shutdown of an Indigenous-backed pipeline only to later admit that it did not seek Aboriginal views toward the project... The project has signed benefit agreements with 20 Indigenous communities along its 670-kilometre route.But in an interview with Reuters published Thursday, CERD chair Noureddine Amir admitted that the committee did not study First Nations views toward the project, saying he “did not know” that most communities supported it... Haisla Nation Chief Crystal Smith, whose community has signed a community benefit agreement with Coastal, told the National Post, “I frankly find it condescending to the work the 20 nations have done in the past six or seven years to get the project to where it is today.”... The Coastal gas pipeline is opposed by some Indigenous people, most notably the hereditary and non-elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en, whose five clans reside near the end of project route."
Essentialism by assuming natives are pre-modern is good when it "protects minorities" - even when it's not what minorities want

U.S. foundations funding Canadian anti-pipeline protests: fair or foul? - "The debate about the impact of American money on the Canadian anti-pipeline movement continues fiercely with a pair of energy industry influencers taking calls from across Alberta on the subject... various U.S. funders have contributed in the neighbourhood of $40-million in recent years to hundreds of Canadian environmental and Indigenous groups. The goal is to help them spread a message about the need to land-lock Alberta crude through protests against the construction of new pipelines. Krause believes those American dollars are financing a message that has turned the conversation around, adding topics like pipeline development have become toxic."
Funding is only a problem when it funds anti-liberal causes

Wet’suwet’en supporters should stop distorting law to promote protest agenda - "The UN Charter, for example, begins with the value to encourage “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all” — not just for Indigenous groups that oppose the proclamations of, to borrow from the opinion piece, “Canadian settler governments.”Our founding Constitutional Act establishes the relationship of our branches of government — including of our judicial branch to interpret the law and for the Crown to enforce the law. Our Charter “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it” for all Canadians, while the rights of Indigenous peoples are similarly “recognized and affirmed.”"

Second Wet’suwet’en hereditary subchief speaks out against protest leaders - "“These five so-called hereditary chiefs, who say they are making decisions on behalf of all Wet’suwet’en, do not speak for the Wet’suwet’en,” Gary Naziel said. “They are neither following nor abiding by our traditional laws. They are changing them to suit their own purposes, to benefit themselves”... In doing so, Mr. Naziel adds, many hereditary chiefs and matriarchs are being disrespected, bullied and targeted. This echoes what Rita George, a hereditary subchief and expert in Wet’suwet’en law, said on Thursday. Mr. Naziel, from the Laksilyu (Small Frog) Clan who was groomed for leadership from birth, says the Wet’suwet’en name “is being dragged through the mud and used by other First Nations across Canada to wage their own battles.”... A growing movement of hereditary chiefs is considering taking action against the five men, possibly by blockading the Office of the Wet’suwet’en... All 20 elected band councils along the route, including five elected Wet’suwet’en councils, reached benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink. Those councils were created under the Indian Act and have authority over federal reserves, the small land parcels set aside under the act... “Our governance system is in the feast hall. These five chiefs are making decisions at the OW office. They do so without consulting their hereditary [subchiefs]. This makes them dictators.”Customary law stipulates that they “must take direction from their subchiefs and their matriarchs,” Mr. Naziel said. “They do not. That is not our system of governance.”“I have taken direction from my matriarchs and my clan in coming forward. I only speak for my clan. I cannot speak for other clans.”Others share Mr. Naziel’s concerns... “We are losing our cultural traditions over this pipeline battle. They are not following our traditions. They are not practising our real ways," she says of the five hereditary chiefs. "They are blending their own, modern perspectives, trying to fast-track the naming process. You have to earn your name.”Mr. Naziel further says that lineage bars three of the five men from assuming the leadership roles they hold on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en... Mr. Naziel also disputes the way that two of the men – Warner Naziel, who is his cousin, and Mr. Alec –assumed their leadership roles.In 2015, Gloria George (Smogelgem), Darlene Glaim (Woos) and Theresa Tait-Day (Wi’hali’yte) helped form the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition. They said they wanted to bridge the gap between hereditary governance and elected band councils. All three were subsequently “feathered” and stripped of their titles.Last year, Mr. Alec replaced Ms. Glaim as Woos, head chief of Grizzly. In 2016, Warner Naziel replaced Ms. George as Smogelgem.“They did not get their names the proper way. They took them”"
Democracy is only for white people

Blockades and indigenous rights protesters spark a legitimacy crisis for Trudeau - The Washington Post - "Since much of the moral indignation fueling the Canadian indigenous rights movement is rooted in opposition to an enormous historical fact — the conquest of North America by non-indigenous peoples — it’s easy for them to reach an equally enormous conclusion: The land should be given back.Taken literally, the idea is obviously impossible. Canada’s 35 million non-indigenous citizens (the “settler” community, in indigenous rights parlance) cannot be patriated back to their historic homelands. But what if the Canadian “settler state” were dismantled instead? What if, over time, the nation state of “Canada” ceased to be, and all of its present power were restored to an indigenous political authority?There’s much to suggest this project of post-colonial dissolution is the path Canada’s currently on... Though the pipeline has been approved by numerous democratically elected Wet’suwet’en councils, critics say such councils are illegitimate, since they’re creations of settler laws regulating indigenous governance. True authority rests with the Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs, who represent pre-colonial authority. It’s not clear if the Wet’suwet’en chiefs care that much about the pipeline per se — they proposed their own route for it at one point. What matters is that their power be recognized. The Wet’suwet’en chiefs contest the authority of Canadian law. Their supporters have behaved in kind, illegally blockading train tracks and bridges across the country, causing widespread economic disruption.In response, those opposing the protests have demanded Canadian authorities “uphold the rule of law.” But whose law? As protester Sarah Rotz, who is also a professor at York University, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., “When we use terms like the rule of law, we’re ignoring Indigenous legal systems and we’re assuming that the colonial legal system is the only legal system.”... Trudeau’s timidness personifies a Canadian political class increasingly unsure whether their own power is legitimate. Indian treaties were formally granted the supremacy of constitutional law in the 1980s, and since the 1990s, the Canadian judiciary has been chipping away at the idea that the Canadian state should always prevail when it collides with indigenous assertions of authority... the British Columbia parliament accelerated things when it unanimously passed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms that indigenous people possess a right to exercise political authority independently from the states they inhabit. Trudeau’s government plans to entrench the declaration in federal law, too... the indigenous rights cause now unifies a broad coalition of Canadian activists, including those involved in climate change, social justice and anti-capitalism.This only makes sense. A movement that believes it is desirable to severely weaken, or even dissolve, the state in order to achieve some larger goal, whether it’s a socialist utopia or green one, will naturally latch onto any movement with shared objectives. This is why it is unpersuasive when conservatives complain, with performative empathy, that “non-indigenous activists” have hijacked the cause of the Wet’suwet’en, or whoever. The more important question is why this cause is so easily hijacked in the first place, and whether it was wise for Canada to have accepted the existence of an independent indigenous political authority without establishing clear parameters around it. The present crisis is another example of how the Canadian state has embarked upon a remarkable social experiment of gradually devolving its responsibility to uphold the broad national interest — particularly the approval of economically critical natural resource projects — to anyone who claims to speak for Canada’s 1.7 million indigenous residents... it should never be forgotten that the Canadian state is only as powerless as it chooses to be.Why has Canada chosen this?"
Also posted as "The movement to end Canada"

Coming out of the shadows: what it means to be French and Chinese

Coming out of the shadows: what it means to be French and Chinese

"On 7 August 2016, Zhang Chaolin, a 49-year-old tailor, was savagely beaten by a group of youths in Aubervilliers, a deprived suburb on the northern outskirts of Paris – the latest in a string of violent aggressions against ethnic Chinese. Like the other victims, he had been targeted because of the widely held belief that members of the Chinese community habitually carry large amounts of cash (and that they are docile and unlikely to fight back; that they are reluctant to report crimes because they are in the country illegally, or cannot express themselves properly in French; and even if they do, the police do not take them seriously; or, simply, that the Chinese “keep themselves to themselves”). As it turned out, Zhang only had a packet of cigarettes and some sweets on him. He died five days later as a result of his injuries...

Huge demonstrations were held by France’s ethnic Chinese, a community traditionally invisible in national discourse and under-represented in public life...

The protesters were overwhelmingly young, incredibly vocal and, in some instances, willing to resort to violent action – the very opposite of how overseas Chinese communities, the centuries-old immigrants known as huaqiao – have traditionally behaved. In short, the demonstrations seemed to be distinctly French.

I had been as surprised as most people to learn that France has the largest ethnic-Chinese population in Europe...

In France, where I have travelled and lived on and off for more than 15 years, I have always taken the French habit of calling anyone of east Asian or south-east Asian appearance “chinois” as a laziness bordering on casual racism, particularly since France is home to large Vietnamese and Cambodian communities who arrived in the country in great numbers following the wars in the former French colonies in the 1970s. But as I got to know members of the various Asian communities in Paris, I discovered that I had been guilty of overlooking a fact that should have been obvious to me, of all people: that the overwhelming majority of Cambodians and Vietnamese in France are of Chinese descent. That is to say, like me, they come from south-east Asian Chinese families – families who had already been immigrants in their home countries before moving to Europe, and for whom being an outsider is integral to their sense of identity. Their languages – Cantonese and Teochew – are those I have lived with my whole life.

I learned, too, of the vast distinctions within the Chinese community, principally between the south-east Asians and the huge numbers of newer immigrants from the mainland, overwhelmingly from the factory port city of Wenzhou...

“Every single time they went out, my parents would take me along with them. ‘In France the police won’t arrest us if we have a child with us,’ they used to say. Even at that age, I knew that I was being used as a human shield. I’d be playing or reading quietly at home and suddenly my parents would say: ‘We need to go out.’ I never had any time for myself. Sometimes I feel as though I had my childhood taken away from me, confiscated against my will...

“One of the things my parents often used to say in reprimanding me was ‘tu es devenue trop Française’ – you’ve become too French. Whenever they were angry they also used the term ‘ang mo kia’, which was not intended as a compliment. [It means “white kid” in many of the dialects of southern China, shorthand for rude, rebellious behaviour – western values being of course the antithesis of harmony, both within the family and in society.] I think it came from a frustration that we, their children, had very little idea of what they went through so that we could grow up with an idea of being French, and only French. But then again, they never spoke of their lives before coming to France, or their difficult journeys here, so it’s no surprise that most of us only have a single French identity."...

“Intellectually, I can understand why the gilets jaunes are protesting – I’m French after all, I have the tendency to question the way other French people do. But when you know that your parents have survived one of the greatest genocides the world has ever seen, everything becomes relative. When people talk of life’s great problems being the price of petrol and only being able to go to a restaurant once a week, or only having one holiday a year, we can’t feel fully invested in these arguments, even if we understand them. My parents ran a restaurant when I was a child, and I can’t remember them ever taking a holiday. That’s why they pushed me to have a life where I could make choices and have greater agency than them."...

"We don’t take the attitude that ‘the government has to do everything for me’. Even back in Cambodia and Vietnam, our families were already outsiders.

“We didn’t benefit from any structural help then, we didn’t come from the dominant class in those countries, we didn’t feel we had the right to demand anything. We knew we had to fend for ourselves. Even though the overwhelming majority of Asians of my generation would consider themselves French and only French, I don’t know anyone who relies on state subsidies to live – two generations of French citizenship are not enough to change the embedded mentality of self-sufficiency."...

“You can see the problems in the unacknowledged differences in culture and race when you look at the aggression against Chinese people in certain parts of Paris. Asian and north African communities live in tough conditions and have come to think about each other in negative stereotypes""

Tacitly, this acknowledges that not all minorities in France integrate well

Strange how France, which has a different history and cultural context from the US, also sexualises Asian women and desexualises Asian men. Maybe it's because, coincidentally just like in the US, Asians were banned from traditional workplaces so they were forced to set up restaurants and laundromats too

Links - 23rd May 2020 (1)

Evidence That Conservative Students Really Do Self-Censor - The Atlantic - "While majorities favor more viewpoint diversity and free-speech norms, an intolerant faction of roughly a quarter of students believe it is okay to silence or suppress some widely held views that they deem wrong.
Students across political perspectives engage in classroom self-censorship.
Students harbor divisive stereotypes about classmates with different beliefs, and a substantial minority are not open to engaging socially with classmates who don’t share their views.
Disparaging comments about political conservatives are common...
If confronted with an especially objectionable viewpoint, how appropriate would it be to take a series of actions, such as asking a tough question, publishing a dissent, or more extreme measures? An alarming 25.5 percent of survey respondents said it would be appropriate to “create an obstruction, such that a campus speaker endorsing this idea could not address an audience.” This authoritarian view was held by about 19 percent of self-identifying liberals, 3 percent of moderates, and 3 percent of conservatives... Also troubling were the undergraduates who reported having kept an opinion to themselves in the classroom, even though the opinion was related to the class, because they were worried about the potential consequences of expressing it. Almost 68 percent of conservatives censored themselves in this way, along with roughly 49 percent of moderates and 24 percent of liberals... almost a quarter of conservative students reported being more than slightly concerned that peers would file a complaint against them for speech related to a class they are in together...
Among students who self-identify as liberals, some 10 percent said they hear “disrespectful, inappropriate, or offensive comments” about foreign students at least several times a semester, 14 percent said they hear disparaging comments about Muslims, 20 percent said they hear such comments about African Americans, 20 percent said they hear such comments about Christians, 21 percent said they hear such comments about LGBTQ individuals, and 57 percent said they hear such comments about conservatives. Among moderates, 68 percent said that they hear “disrespectful, inappropriate, or offensive comments” about conservatives at least several times a semester. Out conservatives may face social isolation. Roughly 92 percent of conservatives said they would be friends with a liberal, and just 3 percent said that they would not have a liberal friend. Among liberals, however, almost a quarter said they would not have a conservative friend. Would UNC be a better place without conservatives? About 22 percent of liberals said yes. Would it be a better place without liberals? Almost 15 percent of conservatives thought so.
Amusingly on The Atlantic's Facebook people who either did not read the article or read it but were unwilling and/or unable to understand it were crowing that telling conservatives to think before they speak wasn't censorship, that freedom of speech was limited to the first amendment (evidently they confused self-censorship with government censorship) and that conservatives shouldn't be given free reign to spread hatred/lies. And one even called the author a troll, and another said he was a white privileged man. Predictable.
The fact that many moderates and a significant number of liberals were afraid of expressing their relevant opinions suggests that even non-conservatives are afraid of the left's (circular) firing squad
One person said this only showed conservatives thought they were being oppressed - not that they really were (ignoring the evidence about many liberals being willing to silence others). Presumably he would apply the same logic to minorities who think they're being discriminated against

Many teens are victims of digital dating abuse; boys get the brunt of it - " males were significantly more likely to have experienced digital dating abuse (32.3 percent) compared to females (23.6 percent), and more likely to experience all types of digital dating abuse, and were even more likely to experience physical aggression. No other differences emerged with respect to demographic characteristics such as sexual orientation, race and age."Specific to heterosexual relationships, girls may use more violence on their boyfriends to try to solve their relational problems, while boys may try to constrain their aggressive impulses when trying to negotiate discord with their girlfriends"... Students who reported depressive symptoms were about four times as likely to have experienced digital dating abuse. Those who reported that they had sexual intercourse were 2.5 times as likely to have experienced digital dating abuse. Most notably, those students who had sent a "sext" to another person were nearly five times as likely to be the target of digital dating abuse as compared to those who had not sent a sext. Finally, those who had been the target of cyberbullying also were likely to have been the target of digital dating abuse."

The Best Advice for Saving as Much as You Can - "You want to make as few decisions as possible. You know you need an emergency fund, so automate. Do the same with increasing your 401(k) contributions each year, or paying off your credit card debt. You have an entire life to lead, and you want as little time devoted to the nuts and bolts of your finances as possible. Train yourself not to adapt. There’s this notion that you have before you start your career that if I just make a certain amount of money I’m going to be great. But life doesn’t really work like that. You find yourself constantly adapting your spending and lifestyle to your income. You get a raise, so you buy a bigger house. This can cause a lot of problems if you’re not careful. Among those with credit card debt, the richest owe the most...
The smartest thing I ever did, financially, was decide to save a percentage of each paycheck...
I also use Acorns, an app that invests your spare change into exchange-traded funds (ETFs)"

The Invasion of the German Board Games - " In North America, the complex board games created during the latter half of the 20th century typically took the form of simulated warfare. In Risk, Axis & Allies, Star Fleet Battles, and Victory in the Pacific, players take on the role of generals moving their units around tabletop maps. But for obvious reasons, this wasn’t a model that resonated positively with the generation of Germans who grew up in the shadow of the Third Reich. Which helps explain why all of the most popular Eurogames are based around building things—communities (Catan), civilizations (Terra Mystica), farms (Agricola)—rather than annihilating opponents. The result is a vastly more pacifist style of a game that can appeal to women as much as men, and to older adults as much as high-testosterone adolescents... But the gulf between the traditional American games of yore—“Ameritrash,” as the genre is dismissively referred to by the board-game cognoscenti—goes beyond the divide between militarism and pacifism. In Monopoly, that great bonfire of friendships, the conflict between players is direct, brutal, and zero-sum: You bankrupt me or I bankrupt you. Which is why so many rounds of Monopoly finish on a note of bitterness... In Eurogames, by contrast, such naked metaphors for capitalism and predation are outré. The Spanish-themed El Grande, for instance, does not permit players to attack their opponents directly. Rather, players maneuver their caballeros around a map of medieval Spain in a bid to win the favor of local courtiers. Players don’t beat their opponents so much as thwart them. The same is invariably true in rail-themed Eurogames such as Ticket To Ride, in which players rush to claim choice routes. The action is always passive-aggressive—never just aggressive... To outsiders, this churn of wood, brick, sheep, ore, and wheat always makes Eurogames seem overly complicated. (In Friedemann Friese’s masterpiece Power Grid, there is even a step called the “bureaucracy” phase.)... While people can tolerate losing, they despise the feeling of being eliminated from a game in progress. And so most Eurogames are designed such that scoring comes at the end of the game...  Perhaps no game encompasses this egalitarian ethos more fully than the aforementioned Power Grid (or Funkenschlag, as it’s known in Germany), in which players take on the role of CEOs in a highly regulated, centrally administered energy market. While the first player who builds houses and hotels in Monopoly can easily leverage their initial advantage to build yet more houses and hotels and crush the competition, the exact opposite dynamic takes place in Power Grid: The more players expand their energy network, the lower their priority in acquiring the coal, oil, uranium, and recyclables they need to actually fuel their power plants. The feature acts as a natural damping mechanism on runaway leaders, so that players tend toward parity as the action progresses, and almost every game is fairly close until the last turn.This way of playing caters to what most people actually want out of game nights: to unwind, to avoid boredom and humiliation, and to end the night as friends."

Roads to Liberty Podcast - Posts - "Remember when communism beat fascism, but liberalism took all the credit, told the world communism was evil and got to be in charge for long enough to let fascism regroup, switch tactics and take over? That was a whoopsie"
"As long as they admit it was real communism it is fine by me"
"it's not. Communism is a stateless moneyless classless society. Read a fucking book you degenerate retard"
"good, then communism didn't beat fascism."

Small Business Saturday: Why shopping local isn’t enough to take on Amazon
Also titled: "The death of small businesses in big cities, explained"
 and "Shopping local won't save small businesses from closing. Here's what ..."
Basically the message of this piece is: We should mobilise small interest groups to lobby government to impede business, because greedy landlords are so evil that they set high rents to drive out small businesses at the expense of being able to rent out their spaces (so evidently they are more evil than they are greedy). We need to stop consumers from buying what they want because we fetishise small businesses. And poor consumers who want to save money by buying from Walmart must be forced to buy from more expensive small businesses because helping small businesses is more visible than helping poor people. And ignore the related article at the bottom, also from Vox, titled: "The retail apocalypse: traditional retail chains are dying across America", so we can pretend this is all about the little guy being oppressed by big business

民主歌聲獻中華 成龍 豪情 005/139 - YouTube
Comment (from elsewhere): "This was Jackie Chan singing in 1989."If you are a Chinese, you will not bend the knee to a totalitarian dictatorship." - paraphrased from what he said during his performance.He was singing in support for democracy and against the what would become the Tiananmen crackdown that killed at least several hundreds of students.In 1989, Jackie Chan was not yet a tankie.This was a Jackie Chan that people respected."

Being Classically Liberal - Posts - "Do Classical Liberals support a role for government in aiding the poor and needy? (Long Post) Classical liberalism as an ideology is highly similar to libertarianism. However, unlike pure libertarians, classical liberals historically have acknowledged that government redistribution has some role to play in helping those in need (but not to the confiscatory extent that progressive liberals do.)  In 'the Road to Serfdom,' classical liberal economist F.A Hayek wrote that, "In a society that has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained … some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision." Similarly, in a 1951 article, Nobel Prize winning economist (and classical liberal) Milton Friedman wrote, “Our humanitarian sentiments demand that some provision should be made for those who draw blanks in the lottery of life,” and “there is justification in trying to achieve a minimum income for all.”In Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman proposed a negative income tax (NIT)"
>Lots of triggered libertarians (many of whom seem really to be anarchists) in the comments

Shared e-scooters to be banned in Montreal in 2020 - "Montreal will ban shared, dockless e-scooters in the city for 2020.The announcement was made at Wednesday's executive committee meeting by Coun. Éric Alan Caldwell, citing mass noncompliance with the city's rules for the vehicles."Our rules were not respected and the operators did not ensure they were respected," Caldwell said.Caldwell said that while e-scooters can have a place in cities such as Montreal, they must not come at the expense of impeding other modes of transportation in the city. "And that's what happened last year"... during the pilot, scooters were only parked in their designated zones 20 per cent of the time. "Eight e-scooters on 10 did not respect our rules... which led to problems," Caldwell said. "Security issues. Issues for other modes of transportation, be it pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers. Issues that led to disorder in the city.""

Bringing medical care to Haiti

Stuff - Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz

"My goals for my week in Haiti have shifted from "bring medical care to some of the neediest populations in the world" down to "avoid having tarantulas drop on my head when I am asleep." I think this started either when our driver pointed out the "tarantula field" as a landmark on the way into the compound, or when the program director described the tarantulas living in her bedroom. My bed is covered with mosquito netting, which should mean nothing can work its way in, but the mosquito bites all over me suggest some unseen flaw with that plan, so I'm going to stick with freaking out every time I see any remotely dark patch on the walls.

But at least some things are going well. We got our suitcase back. See, there's this guy named Big, who is the leader of the luggage scammers outside Port-au-Prince Airport. Port-au-Prince Airport is built about a ninety second walk away from its parking lot. Just outside the airport door congregate nice people who offer to carry your luggage to the parking lot for you, of whom Big is the biggest and loudest. If you accept, then once you reach the parking lot they charge you between $20 and $50 for this "service", which in Haiti is like a week's wages for a normal person. Now to be fair, it's hot and crowded and scary in Port-au-Prince and luggage can be heavy. But really, it's not worth $50 and it's not like if you didn't have Big to carry your luggage you'd just absent-mindedly leave it in the middle of the sidewalk or something.

The first time my father and I went to Haiti, we got fooled by Big and ended up paying him lots of money to carry our luggage. The second time my father went to Haiti, this time without me, he...got fooled again by Big, who had come up with the clever tactic of claiming to represent the charity we were working for and holding a sign with its name on it. This third time, he was prepared and he wasn't going to get fooled. Sure enough, we told all the luggage scammers we didn't need their help, transported our suitcases to the parking lot ourselves, and...

...absent-mindedly left our suitcase in the middle of the sidewalk. The suitcase with fifty pounds of vital medical supplies in it.

We figured this out about four in the afternoon, maybe three hours after we had reached the Partners in Development compound where we're staying. We panicked, called the airport, nothing. Then the next morning, my mother, who's back in California, got a call, which she said she assumed was a prank call because it was someone with an outrageous Carribean accent saying something about pink polka-dots. Finally she decoded it to mean that the Haitian airport was calling because they had found our suitcase and our home number was in it, and that we should go claim it if we wanted it back.

...and oh yeah, the pink polka dots. That was the most embarrassing part. My mom for some whimsical reason decided to get us pink polka-dotted suitcase, so we had to suffer the indignity of asking all around Port-au-Prince if anyone had seen a pink suitcase with polka-dots all over it. But at least we found it.

The medical supplies have proven useful, but not as useful as might have hoped. To be honest, Haitians make terrible patients.

It has proven hard for me to appreciate exactly how confused the Haitians are about some things. Gail, our program director, explained that she has a lot of trouble with her Haitian office staff because they don't understand the concept of sorting numerically. Not just "they don't want to do it" or "it never occurred to them", but after months and months of attempted explanation they don't understand that sorting alphabetically or numerically is even a thing. Not only has this messed up her office work, but it makes dealing with the Haitian bureaucracy - harrowing at the best of times - positively unbearable.

Gail told the story of the time she asked a city office for some paperwork regarding Doctors Without Borders. The local official took out a drawer full of paperwork and looked through every single paper individually to see if it was the one she wanted. Then he started looking for the next drawer. After five hours, the official finally said that the paper wasn't in his office.

Part of it is Haitian education. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who can afford to go to school, your first problem is that the schools can't afford paper: one of our hosts told stories of Haitian high schoolers who were at the level of Western 5th graders because they kept forgetting everything: they couldn't afford the paper to take notes on!

The other problem is more systemic: schools teach everything by uninspired lecture even when it's completely inappropriate: a worker at our camp took a "computer skills" course where no one ever touched a computer: it was just a teacher standing in front of the class saying "And then you would click the word FILE on top of the screen, and then you'd scroll down to where it said SAVE, and then you'd type in a name for the file..." and so obviously people come out of the class with no clue how to use an actual computer. There's the money issue - they couldn't afford a computer for every student - and a cultural issue where actually going to school is considered nothing more than an annoying and ritualistic intermediate step between having enough money to go to school and getting a cushy job that requires education.

There are some doctors and nurses, who are just as bad - though none at our compound, which is run by this great charity that seems to be really on top of things. We heard horror stories of people graduating from nursing school without even knowing how to take a blood pressure - a nurse who used to work at the clinic would just make her blood pressure readings up, and give completely nonsensical numbers like "2/19". That's another thing. Haitians have a culture of tending not to admit they're wrong, so when cornered this nurse absolutely insisted that the blood pressure had been 2/19 and made a big fuss out of it. There are supposed to be doctors who are not much better, although as I mentioned our doctors are great.

But I was going to talk about the patients. I don't really blame the patients. I think they're reacting as best they can to the perceived inadequacies around nurses and doctors. But they seem to have this insane mindset, exactly the opposite of that prevailing in parts of the States, where medicine is good. In particular, getting more medicine of any type is always a good thing and will make them healthier, and doctors are these strange heartless people who will prevent them from taking a stomach medication just because maybe they don't have a stomach problem at this exact moment. As a result, they lie like heck. I didn't realize exactly how much they were lying until I heard the story, now a legend at our clinic, of the man who came in complaining of vaginal discharge. He had heard some woman come in complaining of vaginal discharge and get lots of medication for it, so he figured he should try his luck with the same. And this wasn't an isolated incident, either. Complaints will go in "fads", so that if a guy comes in complaining of ear pain and gets lots of medicine, on his way out he'll mention it to the other patients in line and they'll all mention ear pain too - or so the translators and veteran staff have told me.

I haven't gotten any men with vaginal discharges yet, but many (most) of the patients I've seen have just complained of pains in every part of their body and seen if any of them stick. A typical consultation will be a guy who comes in complaining of fever, coughing, sneezing, belly pain, body pain, stomach pain, and headache. The temperature comes back normal (not that our thermometers are any good), abdominal, ear, and throat exams reveal nothing, and we send them away with vitamins and tylenol or maybe ibuprofen.

My cousin Samantha and my friend Charlotte, both of whom have come with us, have studied medical anthropology and think this is fascinating. I am maybe a little fascinated by it, but after the intellectual clarity of medical school, where every case has textbook symptoms that lead inevitably towards some clever but retrospectively obvious diagnosis, I'm mostly just annoyed.

Also, if I ask a question of the form "do you have X", people almost always answer yes. "Are you coughing?" "Yes." "Are you coughing up sputum?" "Yes." "Is the sputum green?" Yes." "Is the sputum coalescing into little sputum people who dance the polka on your handkerchief?" "Yes".

A depressing number of our patients have split into two categories: patients with such minor self-limiting illnesses that there's not much we can do for them, and patients with such massive inevitably fatal illnesses that there's not much we can do with them. There are a few who slip in between: some asthma patients, hypertensives, diabetics, people with UTIs and other bacterial infections, a man with serous fluid in his knee that my father drained for him - but they're depressingly few. And even when we can help them by, say, giving an asthmatic a month's worth of asthma medication, it's worrying to think about what happens when the month is up. Coming back to our clinic requires traveling on awful Haitian roads and waiting in line in the awful Haitian weather with two hundred other people and then hoping there's even a doctor who will see you, so I don't know how many people return for refills or what the effect of having to do so on quality of life must be.

To be honest I think a lot of what we're giving are placebos. And placebos have their uses, but here I think we have lost the comparative advantage to our competitors, the witch doctors, who can placebo the heck out of us. One of our translators' grandfathers is a voodoo priest, and he was describing some of the stuff he did. It sounded pretty impressive, although at least no chickens get harmed during any of our treatments.

But we have certainly helped a few diabetics, people with bacterial infections, and the like; and we're connecting a lot of kids with vitamins (not to mention stickers), so I do think we're doing a bit of good. And it is 9:30 PM of my fourth night here and I have yet to see any tarantulas, so I am pretty hopeful on that front too.

My father loves working in Haiti and has made best friends with all the translators and is always going out into Port-au-Prince to see the sights and taste the social life. I think it's great for my education, great for my resume, and great to be helping people, but I will breath such a sigh of relief when I get back on that plane to the States.

Oh, and I am sick. I think it's a reaction to either the pollution or the insect repellant. Horrible burning sore throat and runny nose. No vaginal discharge yet, thought."

Is this "victim blaming" Haitians?

Friday, May 22, 2020

Links - 22nd May 2020

Does Birth Order Affect Personality? - "first borns are less likely to participate in dangerous sports because of fears of physical injury. And a 1980 study of 170 female and 142 male undergraduates showed lower anxiety and higher ego in firstborns... scientists who analyzed large, transnational data and compared different families with each other have found the effect of sibling succession on personality disappears almost completely... the size of one’s family is another factor that’s intertwined with sibling position... the fact that many astronauts are firstborns does not necessarily speak to the special qualities of those born first. It’s likely that many astronauts come from smaller families... in a 2015 study, which included 377,000 high school students, psychologist Rodica Damian and her colleague Brent W. Roberts, both then at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discovered that firstborns tended to be more conscientious, extraverted and willing to lead. Contrary to expectations, they were also more tolerant and emotionally stable than adolescents with older siblings. Yet the differences were very small, and the researchers concluded that the importance that is generally attached to sibling position in shaping one’s character is exaggerated...on average, firstborns enjoy a small IQ advantage over their younger siblings. Those born first also tend to complete their education with a higher degree and opt for traditionally prestigious careers, such as medicine or engineering... Norwegian researchers Petter Kristensen and Tor Bjerkedal cleverly showed that the difference in intelligence is not linked to biological factors (some had suspected it might be related to physical conditions during pregnancy). They tested children whose older siblings had died early. The researchers’ assumption was that although these children were biologically younger siblings, they assumed the role of the firstborn in the family. Compared with other younger siblings, they achieved better results in intelligence tests."

The Behavior of Individual Investors by Brad M. Barber, Terrance Odean - "We provide an overview of research on the stock trading behavior of individual investors. This research documents that individual investors (1) underperform standard benchmarks (e.g., a low cost index fund), (2) sell winning investments while holding losing investments (the “disposition effect”), (3) are heavily influenced by limited attention and past return performance in their purchase decisions, (4) engage in naïve reinforcement learning by repeating past behaviors that coincided with pleasure while avoiding past behaviors that generated pain, and (5) tend to hold undiversified stock portfolios. These behaviors deleteriously affect the financial well being of individual investors."

The Illogic of Active Trading - The New York Times - "A series of academic studies done by Terrance Odean and Brad Barber found conclusively that investors who trade a lot experience reduced returns. In fact, the more they trade the worse their return is likely to be"

The Courage of Misguided Convictions: The Trading Behavior of Individual Investors by Brad M. Barber, Terrance Odean - " It is difficult to reconcile the volume of trading observed in equity markets with the trading needs of rational investors. Rational investors make periodic contributions and withdrawals from their investment portfolios, rebalance their portfolios, and trade to minimize their taxes. Those possessed of superior information may trade speculatively, though rational speculative traders will generally not choose to trade with each other. It is unlikely that rational trading needs account for a turnover rate of 76 percent on the New York Stock Exchange in 1998. We believe there is a simple and powerful explanation for high levels of trading on financial markets: overconfidence.  Human beings are overconfident about their abilities, their knowledge, and their future prospects. Odean (1998b) shows that overconfident investors trade more than rational investors and that doing so lowers their expected utilities. Greater overconfidence leads to greater trading and to lower expected utility.We present evidence that the average individual investor pays an extremely large performance penalty for trading. Those investors who trade most actively earn, on average, the lowest returns. And the stocks individual investors purchase do not outperform those they sell by enough to even cover the costs of trading. In fact, the stocks individual investors purchase, on average, subsequently underperform those they sell. This is the case even when trading is not apparently motivated by liquidity demands, tax-loss selling, portfolio rebalancing, or a move to lower-risk stocks."

Cancer link to red meat consumption may not exist for Asians: Study - "Researchers in Korea have discovered that the link between meat consumption and colorectal cancer may not apply to Asians... The study also reported that there do not exist any conclusive reports proving a significant correlation between meat consumption and colorectal cancer, whether it involves processed meats, raw meats or the relevant cooking methods."

Reality check: Can cat poop cause mental illness? - "scientists published the first study to address timing in more than 80,000 Danish blood donors. Yet even in this large group, the number of schizophrenia diagnoses was fairly small: 151 people. The study found that people who were exposed to T. gondii had 47% increased odds of being diagnosed with schizophrenia. When the researchers looked at the timing issue—narrowing their analysis to 28 people who were first diagnosed with schizophrenia after testing positive for T. gondii exposure—they found that these individuals were 2.5 times more likely to develop the disease post-exposure.That number lines up with other large, correlational studies, which have also found a roughly 2.5-fold increase in the odds of schizophrenia diagnosis in infected people... Yolken and other researchers suspect that T. gondii may not cause mental illness by itself, but interacts with genetic variants that make some people more susceptible. This adds T. gondii to the list of environmental factors that increase schizophrenia risk by a small but measurable amount, such as prenatal infection and socioeconomic status"

Ask Your Doctor These Four Questions About Any Treatment - "What are the chances this will help me?
What are the chances this will harm me?
What are the alternatives?
What happens if we do nothing?"

Dana Schwartz on Twitter - "Hello Dana, I noticed you didn't reply to my tweets the other day, even though I was defending you against all the Nazi trolls. I hope we can meet for lunch someday and you can figure out how to make it up to me"
"Trolls are bad, but this might be worse?"

Video Games Could Be Serious Tools for Historical Research - "“Most of the students report that learning history through a video game has a critical immersive component,” say the team. That leads to better recollection and analysis of events... good models have huge potential. In the same way that climate models allow scientists to explore different ways we can influence the climate, good models of history could help historians study alternative outcomes."

Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? - "Stories from an oral tradition never have anything like a modern good guy or bad guy in them, despite their reputation for being moralising. In stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Sleeping Beauty, just who is the good guy? Jack is the protagonist we’re meant to root for, yet he has no ethical justification for stealing the giant’s things. Does Sleeping Beauty care about goodness? Does anyone fight crime? Even tales that can be made to seem like they are about good versus evil, such as the story of Cinderella, do not hinge on so simple a moral dichotomy. In traditional oral versions, Cinderella merely needs to be beautiful to make the story work. In the Three Little Pigs, neither pigs nor wolf deploy tactics that the other side wouldn’t stoop to. It’s just a question of who gets dinner first, not good versus evil... The ostensibly moral face-off between good and evil is a recent invention that evolved in concert with modern nationalism – and, ultimately, it gives voice to a political vision not an ethical one... The corollary of uniting the Volk through a storified set of essential characteristics and values is that those outside the culture were seen as lacking the values Germans considered their own... As part of this new nationalist consciousness, other authors started changing the old stories to make a moral distinction between, for example, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Before Joseph Ritson’s 1795 retelling of these legends, earlier written stories about the outlaw mostly showed him carousing in the forest with his merry men. He didn’t rob from the rich to give to the poor until Ritson’s version – written to inspire a British populist uprising after the French Revolution... The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win."

Born to Win, Schooled to Lose - "The American Dream promises that individual talent will be rewarded, regardless of where one comes from or who one’s parents are. But the reality of what transpires along America’s K-12-to-career pipeline reveals a sorting of America’s most talented youth by affluence—not merit. Among the affluent, a kindergartner with test scores in the bottom half has a 7 in 10 chance of reaching high SES among his or her peers as a young adult, while a disadvantaged kindergartner with top-half test scores only has a 3 in 10 chance."
Ironically, the same people who downplay the importance of tests and test scores would like this research.
The headline takeaways are misleading - it's kindergarten performance that isn't that correlated with SES; by 10th grade the correlation is stronger. This is very compatible with increasing heritability of outcomes with age and is hardly an indictment of meritocracy - unless one believes that that talent should only be measured once but rewarded forever (ironically, something the Singapore scholarship system is accused of doing). College aspirations are mentioned at the start - and then ignored, replaced by the usual talk about 'bias' etc. And of course the full report magicks away Asian advantage and doesn't mention twin studies

Want To Know The Language Of The Future? The Data Suggests It Could Be...French - "French may be a beautiful language, but few would argue it's the most useful, and almost nobody would argue it's the language of the future. John McWhorter spoke for many when he wrote an immediately viral piece titled, "Let's Stop Pretending That French Is an Important Language," attacking New York City's bilingual education programs.Here's the thing: the data suggests that French language just might be the language of the future.French isn't mostly spoken by French people, and hasn't been for a long time now. The language is growing fast, and growing in the fastest-growing areas of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. The latest projection is that French will be spoken by 750 million people by 2050.A study by investment bank Natixis even suggests that by that time, French could be the most-spoken language in the world, ahead of English and even Mandarin. The study's methodology is somewhat questionable, since it counts as French-speakers all the inhabitants of countries where French is an official language, which probably won't be the case. And almost certainly, as a second language, English will remain the lingua franca (pun intended). But the point still stands: French is still a fast-growing, global language. The other mooted language of the future, Mandarin, despite being excruciatingly hard to learn for most Westerners, will probably not be that given China's certain demographic slide. Meanwhile, French will be present on all continents, and particularly predominant in a continent that, by 2050, should be a fast-growing economic powerhouse--Africa."

The nine French words you need to be very, very careful when pronouncing - The Local - "1. Cou/cul/queue
These three look very different on paper but when spoken sound virtually identical. All refer to parts of the body, but very different ones. Le cou is the neck, while la queue has a literal meaning of tail, but is also used as a slang term for penis.And cul is a slang term for bottom so arse or ass. So while telling a colleague that J'ai mal au cou (I have a sore neck) is perfectly acceptable office chat, telling them J'ai mal à la queue (I have a sore dick) or j'ai mal au cul is likely to get you at best an odd look and at worst a complaint to HR.Unhelpfully both cou and cul are masculine while penis here is feminine (look we never said French made sense, OK?) so paying careful attention to the pronouns will help a bit.If you want a substitute slang for penis French, like most languages, is tripping over them - try bite or zizi. And a more polite term for bottom would be la fesse...
2. Baisser/baiser/un baiser
The perfectly innocuous verb baisser means to lower and is frequently heard in businesses discussions - Je pense que nous devrions baisser nos prix (I think we should lower our prices) or news reports - Le gouvernement espère que ces mesures fera baisser le prix de l'essence (the government hopes these measures will lower the price of petrol).The verb baiser on the other hand is a crude way of talking about sex - it's usually translated as to fuck or to screw... And frighteningly similar is the noun un baiser - a kiss (or perhaps a snog or making out, it generally means a kiss within a sexual context). So great is the potential for mortification when mixing up these two that more paranoid souls have been heard to suggest that the French are doing it on purpose to laugh at foreigners...  You will also hear bisous which means kisses and is sometimes used as a very informal farewell or sign-off, while the verb to kiss is the distinctly less problematic embrasser.If you'd rather not take the risk, you can often substitute baisser with réduire (to reduce) while if you must brag about your sexual conquests, niquer has roughly the same meaning as baiser. Or you could just use faire l'amour or one of the many examples from the link below.
3. Salut/salaud
Salut is a cheery and informal greeting, while salaud is a term of abuse that has roughly the same meaning as bastard in English. The word salaud is only used for men, for women you use salope, which is much less likely to get mixed up with anything else... If you want a person to be absolutely clear that they are being insulted and not greeted you could call them a connard (or connasse if they are a woman) which is usually translated as dickhead in English
4. Connard/canard
Un canard is a duck, a common sight on French menus, particularly in the south of the country. Un connard, as discussed above, is not something you want to call the waiter, unless you like the thought of someone spitting in your food.
5. Con/quand (and don't forget Caen)
Un con is an idiot or a fool, as seen in the title of the famous French farce Le Dîner de cons, where the plot revolves around people inviting unwitting idiots round for dinner. The word was also memorably used by former French president Nicolas Sakozy, who rather lost it one day on the campaign trail and told a member of the public Casse-toi, pauvre con (get lost, you bloody idiot).Quand, on the other hand, is a perfectly innocuous word meaning when, as in Quand nous reverrons-nous demain? When shall we meet up tomorrow?And Caen is of course a town in Normandy.
6. Gare/guerre
Local reader Claire Koberman said: "When asking a gentleman where the train station was, he politely informed me that the war had ended in 1945. La gare n'est pas la guerre."
8. Boules/Bulles
Les bulles means the bubbles, so if you want a fizzy drink that would be avec bulles.Except that les boules means balls - most famously in the French game also known as pétanque, but also in the sense of a slang term for testicles.
9. Putin/putain
And sometimes, just sometimes, the French will change a word to avoid confusion - but only if you're a tremendously powerful world leader.Russian president Vladimir Putin has been the beneficiary of this, as his name sounds similar to a common French swearword.Putain is a fabulously versatile French swearword that is most commonly translated into English as fuck. As in Putain de connard, tu as failli me frapper! (You fucking asshole, you nearly hit me) which you might find handy to yell at people riding scooters on the pavement.And as Vlad has the kind of reputation that suggests that swearing at him is not wise, the French have opted to change his name and refer to him as Poutine. In Canada a poutine is a popular and delicious snack involving chips, cheese and gravy, but it's probably still better than accidentally swearing at the strongman of the Kremlin."

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Links - 21st May 2020 (2)

Foreign criminals avoiding deportation because of human rights laws have TRIPLED since 2016 - "Cases have nearly tripled since political pressure over abuse of human rights helped force successful claims down to a record low.It comes amid concern about legal challenges to block deportations after dozens of Jamaican criminals had to be removed from a Home Office charter flight earlier this week... Tory MP Tim Loughton, a former member of the Commons’ home affairs select committee, said: ‘Most law-abiding people will be appalled by the arbitrary rush to claim the human rights defence by serious criminals.‘The human rights of victims who have been raped, murdered and violently assaulted are so easily disregarded by many of those offenders and even by the criminal justice system.’He added: ‘We need to have a level playing field. Human rights are sometimes a justified legal mitigation but only in really deserving cases and it needs to be matched against the human rights of victims.‘Human rights have too often become a one-way street for the perpetrator rather than recognising the victim is entitled to exactly the same protections.’"

Michael Pollan On Caffeine Addiction's Upside — And Ugly History - "Caffeine is the enemy of good sleep. ... It's a problem in ways we don't perceive, because caffeine undermines the quality — not necessarily the quantity, but the quality — of our sleep... this is very important to our health to have sufficient amounts of deep sleep. As we get older, we have less of it naturally. And coffee or tea cuts into that, even if you stop drinking it, say, at noon, because caffeine has a very long half-life and quarter-life. So, for example, the caffeine you ingest at noon — a quarter of it is still circulating in your bloodstream at midnight. It's still around. And this is the subtle and, perhaps, insidious effect it's having on you... One of the things you learn when you take a caffeine fast, as I did, is that the experience of caffeine is very different to a caffeine virgin or a restored caffeine virgin, as I was, than it is to someone who's addicted. Those people [who are addicted] are getting a little bit of lift, but mostly what they're getting is the relief from these symptoms that are about to come down on them. And that feels pretty good. You're back to baseline. But when you're off for a few months, man, it's something else. It's a very powerful drug experience. And I was not prepared for it at all."

About the Weird Codes that Appear When You Dictate Something on Facebook from Your iPhone - "In the past few weeks some people who have upgraded to iOS 13.1.2 have noticed that when they post something to Facebook which was dictated on their iPhone, these weird little codes or artifacts show up at the beginning or end, or even in the middle, of their comment or Facebook post...
1. The box with the OBJ in it only shows up on Facebook in posts or comments that have been dictated from an iPhone, and
2. Only when that iPhone is running iOS version 13.1.2, and
3. The box is visible to readers of the post or comment if those readers are using a browser, or are on an Android device, and
4. The box with the OBJ in it is not visible to iPhone users using the Facebook app, so that user may have no idea that others are seeing that weird code in the user’s Facebook posts and comments"

Malaysia’s Looming Food and Water Catastrophe - "Malaysia is heading towards a crisis in food toxicity, with, for instance, occupational poisoning and disease among farmworkers averaging more than 2,500 cases per year, according to research by the Journal of Plant Pathology. What that means is that the food Malaysians eat on a daily basis is under threat from a contaminated water system, poor soils, poor agricultural practices and much more."

Egypt ‘Building 1.2 Mile Wall on Border With Gaza’ - "The construction of the border, which armed forces reportedly did not announce, forms part of a plan to boost border security, prevent extremists and terrorists from entering the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip, and shut down the remaining Palestinian cross-border tunnels... News of the new wall comes after the Egyptian military announced on Feb. 3 that they had found “south of the Rafah security camps’ yard a nearly 3-kilometer-long [underground] tunnel coming from the Gaza Strip to the heart of the [Egyptian border city of] Rafah.” Egyptian security sources reportedly said that the tunnel is an underground conduit for the infiltration of terrorists from the Gaza Strip, planting roadside bombs on the Egyptian side, pushing supporters of the ISIS terrorist group to Sinai, and for transferring weapons and explosives. “Ammunition and explosives were seized in the tunnel”"
It's only bad when Israel does it

S’pore’s first commando batch trained to infiltrate other local army divisions - "Clarence and his men crossed the swamp, and then managed to slip unnoticed past the brigade headquarter’s security.Then came time for the assault on the building itself. Upon storming the office, instead of simply yelling out “we’ve got you”, Clarence and his men threw mud bombs all over the place, using mud they had picked up in the swamp.On the walls, on the desks, on the paperwork, and at the people themselves. Naturally, the brigade commander was not very happy. But the commandos had done their job. And then there was the commanding officer of 3 SIB who was so proud of the below-ground headquarters that he had ordered dug out using excavators at the beginning of another exercise.The temptation to undermine his efforts was too great for Clarence’s chaps. During that exercise, the “enemy” officers and NCOs operating in that subterranean bunker were seen running out onto open ground to escape the smoke from the smoke-grenades thrown inside by the raiding commandos."

Science: The surprising reason why lazy people are smarter than average - "people who are less physically active tend to be brainier than physically active people... Many obsessively critical thinkers (a.k.a. people with a high “need for cognition”) are concerned with reducing wasteful actions, and instead prefer to use efficient processes. So perhaps hiring a lazy person isn’t the worst idea after all. They’re likely to be strategic thinkers who can come up with smart shortcuts, ways to eliminate problems, save time and contribute new, innovative ideas to the company."

This Veteran Was Sent to Prison for Digging Ponds on His Property - "Robertson, whose business supplied water trucks to Montana firefighters, dug a series of small ponds close to his home in 2013 and 2014. The site was a wooded area near a channel, a foot wide and a foot deep, with two to three garden hoses’ worth of flow... The U.S. government prosecuted Robertson for digging in proximity to “navigable waters” without a permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers... The Navy veteran argued that he didn’t violate the Clean Water Act becausedigging the ponds did not discharge any soil to navigable waters, since the trickle in the channel didn’t constitute navigable waters.The largest navigable body of water anywhere near the Robertson home is more than 40 miles away, Francois said.Because Robertson lived in a wooded area that is “increasingly fire prone,” he was “concerned about the safety and vulnerability of his property,” Francois said. He built the ponds “with a view toward being well-prepared should a fire strike.”... Another case Francois cited concerns a proposed road in Marquette County, Michigan. The project, known as CR-595, would shorten the travel time between a nickel mine and a refinery 22 miles away.The only route now available to the mine, called Eagle Mine, is three times as long, Francois said. The nickel mine, currently the only one in the U.S., is expected to bring about $4 billion in economic activity to the county, according to Pacific Legal Foundation.The Marquette County Road Commission’s CR-595 proposal called for  a direct road from the mine to a refinery.“The new route would bypass the city of Marquette altogether, eliminate nearly 30 miles of travel per trip, a million and a half miles annually, as well as save 500,000 gallons of fuel per year,” Francois said.Since the proposed route goes through wetlands, however, the road commission sought a wetlands permit under the Clean Water Act. The state approved the permit, but the EPA rejected it.“The final version [of the commission’s planned route] proposed to protect 63 acres of wetlands for every acre the road project would disturb,” Francois said. “But the EPA continued to object to CR 595 because in their view the commission still had not provided adequate plans to minimize impacts, and that its 63-1 mitigation ratio was not a comprehensive mitigation plan that would sufficiently compensate for unavoidable impacts.”... In 2015, the Obama administration implemented its Clean Water Rule, widely known as the Waters of the United States rule or WOTUS rule, which expanded the regulatory reach of the EPA and the Corps over bodies of water throughout the country.The Trump administration has taken steps to withdraw the Obama administration’s rule and replace it with a new one that limits the regulatory reach of federal agencies."
Of course, to liberals all environmental regulation is good (see: all the wailing and gnashing of teeth whenever Trump talks about reviewing it)

Cows Get Moooody During Puberty, Too - "“[T]here appeared to be a change in personality,” von Keyserlingk says. “This means that dairy cattle show consistent personality as calves and adults, but with a period of inconsistency around puberty.” The forces driving these personality fluctuations are likely the same bodily changes that make human teenagers a handful for their parents. “Major physiological changes occur during sexual maturation, which may explain the inconsistency in individual behaviours and personality traits from the juvenile period to the adult period in our study,” the researchers note. “Steroid hormones around puberty give rise to reproduction-related behaviours typically involving increased risk-taking, exploratory and agonistic behaviours.”"

A man robbed a bank on a first date and forced his date to be his getaway driver - "Christopher Castillo, the unnamed woman's would-be Robin Hood, plead guilty this week to armed robbery and three counts of assault and battery on a police officer — all committed on their first date on December 5, 2016"

You Should Be Eating More Canned Fish - "For nearly two centuries, canned seafood has been viewed as a delicacy in Southern Europe. Rather than processing low-quality fish parts (i.e., some of the canned tuna you’d find in a U.S. grocery store), artisan producers use their highest-quality yields, carefully clean the product, cook them to perfection, and preserve them at peak freshness. In these regions, conservas are often seen as a gourmet preparation that is of even higher quality than fresh seafood. It’s similar to cured meats like jamón ibérico; because of the preservation process, the end product is very different and much more valuable than fresh Iberian pork. Canned seafood is oceanic charcuterie"

Italian towns in Molise will pay you $27,000 to move in - "When Italian villages began selling houses for $1, it seemed too good to be true. But the latest offer from Italy is enough to make even that deal look like a ripoff.The region of Molise, a wild, beautiful but overlooked area that lies east of Rome, has announced it will pay people more than $27,000 to settle in one of 106 underpopulated villages in an effort to prevent their communities from dying.Anyone who takes up the offer will receive 700 euros a month (about $770) for up to three years to help them settle in an area known for its green pastures, olive groves and snowy mountaintops. There's a catch -- they'll also have to commit to starting a small business, in order to contribute to the local economy."

How to Improve a Can of Tuna? Set It on Fire - Heated - "Burning tuna is fairly simple, and quite honestly, life-changing. This quick and easy process takes the preserved fish from a one-note, dry, chalky mouthful to a deep, smoky, juicy party in your mouth."

An Ode to Being Old - "among the fastest growing tech companies, the average founder was 45-years-old at the time of founding. The researchers also found that a 50-year-old is twice as likely to have a massive success—defined as a company that performs in the top 0.1 percent—than a 30-year-old. “These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs”... From a physiological sense, research shows that athletes tend to peak in their early to mid twenties. Yet many recent champions are much older... with age comes wisdom... Maybe the best way to conceptualize age and athletic performance is to imagine two curves: one for physiological fitness, which peaks relatively young and then slowly declines; and another for wisdom, which starts off low and gradually rises over time. When these two curves intersect, you’re primed for your best performance... It’s quite common for runners and triathletes to go up in distance as they age. This makes sense. A marathon requires a lot more wisdom than a 5K and an Ironman requires a lot more wisdom than a sprint triathlon. A 2013 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the median age for a first-time ultra runner is 37 and the median age of all ultramarathon finishers is 43—seven years older than the median age of all marathon finishers in the same year."
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