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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Links - 4th July 2020 (2)

The National Museum's Police Bicentennial Exhibition Is A Crime Against History - "Long story short: Singapore was very unsafe then, but very safe now. Along the way, we got radios, Gurkhas, FBI-style shooting and Crimewatch.This would be okay if I was attending a Singapore Police Force Career Fair, but I feel that a bicentennial history exhibition hosted by the National Museum should be held to a higher standard.Ultimately, my disappointment boils down to this: SPF200 does a disservice to Singapore’s history, by painting everything in shades of black and white, order and chaos, violence and safety—by reducing the fairly complicated issue of law and order into the usual story of upward progress. Even its title ‘Frontier Town To Safest City’ recalls the ‘Fishing Village To Thriving Metropolis’ cliche... I get it. It’s the SPF’s exhibit. It’s their birthday. There is limited space and budget. However, birthdays are not just celebratory occasions, but also a time to take stock and reflect, no? As it stands, the show is an exercise in strategic amnesia."

What to expect from the 2020s: the world’s big thinkers make their predictions | The Sunday Times Magazine | The Sunday Times - "The big mistake is to think that the future will simply be an extension of the present. As the author of The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, points out with his idea of “negative forecasting”, it is almost certain that the most recent developments are the most likely to fail. They have not been tested by time. The iPhone in your pocket still seems like modern magic, but so did the lowly iPod not that long ago...
Everyone wonders why year after year nothing changes for minorities, but that is why. We are posturing ourselves as progressive while ignoring the real issues. I think that once the mechanics of Brexit are out of the way, there will be a dialling down of hostile identity arguments and a return to a traditional British muddling along. I’m not particularly optimistic about the US when it comes to racial integration, because I don’t think it cares much itself. It’s a country founded on a frontier myth. My expectations of Britain, however, are high. This is the only country in the world where a sizeable mixed-race population has come about as a consequence of love rather than coercion and slavery...
You want to write a book that survives at least two or three decades? The instinct is to write something that is geared to the future. No. Make sure the contents are relevant both today and at some well-defined point in the past — say 30 years ago. The book is thus likely to be relevant in 30 years. Conversely, if you want the book to die, make sure it would have been of no interest to someone in the past...
The hiatus in manned spaceflight exemplifies that when there’s no economic or political demand, there’s a big lag between what is actually done and what could be achieved... Later this century, thrill-seekers may establish “bases” independent from the Earth. But don’t ever expect mass emigration. It’s a dangerous delusion to think space offers an escape from Earth’s problems. We have to solve these here. Coping with climate change may seem daunting, but it’s a doddle compared with terraforming Mars. No place in our solar system offers an environment as clement as even the Antarctic or the top of Everest. There’s no “Planet B” for ordinary risk-averse people."

Professor’s online students prefer when he teaches classes as anime girl - "In a bid to get students to pay attention in online classes, a college professor in Shanghai has been transforming himself into different digital avatars for live-streamed and recorded lessons"

Gabriele Galimberti photographs children with their toys in his book Toy Stories: Photos of Children From Around the World and Their Favorite Things (PHOTOS).

Grandmothers Posing with their Signature Dish - "Regina Lifumbo, 53 years old – Mchinji, Malawi
Finkubala (Caterpillar in tomato sauce)"

Satoshi Uematsu: Japanese man who killed 19 at disabled facility sentenced to death - ""I am aware that this is an outrageous thing to say," he wrote, adding that he dreamed "of a world where disabled people with severe difficulties socializing as well as severe difficulties at home are allowed to be peacefully euthanized.""

Japanese man who killed 19 at centre for disabled sentenced to death - "Police said Uematsu, described by neighbours as polite and helpful, was motivated by a deep-seated hatred of people with disabilities. He told police after his arrest that society would be better off if disabled people “disappeared”.... After his arrest, Uematsu expressed no remorse, telling the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper that people with mental disabilities “have no heart”, and “there’s no point in living” for them. “I had to do it for the sake of society,” he said of the attack."

‘Don’t call back those numbers’: Toronto woman warns others of call-back phone scam - "Since mid-December, Sharon Leamy has received as many as 15 calls a day from international phone numbers, all part of a call-back scam commonly known as Wangiri fraud.“It started December 16 — I started getting calls from strange numbers that I didn’t identify and they were just constant,” she said.“I would block them and as soon as I blocked them, I would get a new call from a different country.”Leamy said the calls became so frequent, she thought the only way to stop them was to call back and have them remove her number... “There was a woman speaking very softly – almost in an apologetic tone and in a foreign language – she kept talking and talking and talking. I realized at that point that this was a scam.” Leamy called her phone company and they informed her that she had been charged $10 for a 10-second phone call.“There doesn’t seem to be any boundaries. They call and wake me up in the morning and I have had to learn to turn my phone off at night”"

Are Women of Color Above Reproach? - "In the wake of President Trump’s controversial tweets about congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayana Pressley, most of the criticism has been that Trump’s comments were racist, sexist, etc., etc. Because it's far easier to launch canned accusations than to address the substance of what he said... Are we really supposed to accept the notion that AOC, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley have done nothing to deserve criticism? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accuses America of running concentration camps, and lies about conditions at migrant detention centers for political points. Ayanna Pressley, while speaking at the left-wing Netroots Nation conference on Sunday, said that Democrats don't need "any more black faces that don't want to be a black voice." Ilhan Omar has made repeated anti-Semitic remarks, including the accusation that “Jewish money controls Congress,” and on Monday refused to condemn al-Qaeda. Back in May, Rasida Tlaib bizarrely stated: "There’s always kind of a calming feeling [...] when I think of the Holocaust.” These people may have been elected by their districts but they are an embarrassment to the U.S. Congress. These women are not part of the mainstream of America. They believe America is evil, they are racialists and anti-Semites. Let’s stop pretending they are garden-variety freshman members of Congress. Irrespective of their race and sex, they’re dangerous women who have been propped up by the media as de facto leaders of the Democratic Party. The power they have can’t be overstated. Criticism from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forced Joe Biden to flip-flop on a number of issues. Yet any time they are criticized, the knee-jerk response to hurl accusations of racism and sexism at the one criticizing them. Recently, we’ve seen this happen internally in the Democratic Party, when AOC accused Nancy Pelosi of racism, with similar accusations being leveled against Joe Biden from Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. It’s the default attack setting of contemporary Democrats, even against their own. This is what happens after years of the left capitalizing on outrage culture and victim culture in order to increase and maintain their political power.  This is why they want minority and female candidates to run for office. Not because of some noble push for diversity, but to put out candidates they feel are untouchable because to attack them is to invite accusations of racism or sexism. Let’s not forget that the left spent eight years telling us that if you disagreed with Barack Obama you were racist. Then when Hillary ran for president, if you didn’t like her you were sexist. As someone who has written two fact-based exposes on Barack Obama’s presidency I know very well how this works. I’ve been called a racist regularly for a decade. The left learned a while ago it’s easier to just hurl accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/xenophobia/fill-in-the-blank-ophobia than it is to debate issues on merit.  We can’t talk about immigration without accusations of xenophobia. We can’t talk about religious liberty without accusations of homophobia. We can’t talk about biological differences between male and female without accusations of transphobia. This is what fascism in America really looks like in 2019: Silence the opposition with accusations of bigotry. Trump knows this game, and clearly won’t be intimidated by it"

Highway operator blames errant contractor for ‘Muslim toilet’ sign - "A sign purporting to restrict toilets to Muslims at a rest area on the East Coast Expressway (Phase 2) was installed by a contractor without the knowledge of operator LPT2 Sdn Bhd"

Nick Brown Smelled Bull - "A butterfly graph, the calling card of chaos theory mathematics, purporting to show the tipping point upon which individuals and groups “flourish” or “languish.” Not a metaphor, no poetic allusion, but an exact ratio: 2.9013 positive to 1 negative emotions. Cultivate a “positivity ratio” of greater than 2.9-to-1 and sail smoothly through life; fall below it, and sink like a stone.The theory was well credentialed. Now cited in academic journals over 350 times, it was first put forth in a 2005 paper by Barbara Fredrickson, a luminary of the positive psychology movement, and Marcial Losada, a Chilean management consultant, and published in the American Psychologist, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the largest organization of psychologists in the U.S.But Brown smelled bullshit. A universal constant predicting success and fulfillment, failure and discontent? “In what world could this be true?” he wondered...  Friedman worries about “faddish things” in his field. As a disciple of the humanistic psychological tradition, he was chagrined when positive psychology erupted onto the scene in what he calls “a burst of negativity.”In 2000, writing in the American Psychologist, Martin Seligman and fellow positive psychology pioneer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote that humanistic psychology failed to “attract much of a cumulative empirical base,” that it, “spawned myriad therapeutic self-help movements,” and that the legacy of the movement is “prominently displayed in any large bookstore,” with the “‘psychology’ section (containing) at least 10 shelves on crystal healing, aromatherapy, and reaching the inner child for every shelf of books that tries to uphold some scholarly standard.”... By the late winter of 2012, Friedman, Sokal and Brown were all in touch via email and working together towards a draft of what would become “The Complex Dynamics of Wishful Thinking.”The three men brought different skills to the plate. Brown was the outsider, the instigator, who, knowing no better, dared to question the theory in the first place. Friedman provided psychological expertise and played a diplomatic role, helping guide the paper towards publication. Sokal was the finisher, the infamous debunker with the know-how needed to dismantle the theory in hard, mathematic language.The article they wrote not only took to pieces Fredrickson and Losada’s 2005 paper, but also two earlier articles written or co-written by Losada. Taken together, Brown, Sokal and Freidman tallied a litany of abuses, which they related, one by one, in painstaking detail. “We shall demonstrate that each one of the three articles is completely vitiated by fundamental conceptual and mathematical errors”... "Why is it that no one before Nick—and I mean Nick was a first semester part-time Master’s student, at, let’s be honest, a fairly obscure university in London who has no particular training in mathematics—why is it that no one realized this stuff was bullshit? Where were all the supposed experts?”“Is it really true that no one saw through this,” he asks, “in an article that was cited 350 times, in a field which touts itself as being so scientific?”"
So much for those (e.g. many Singaporeans) who would dismiss Nick Brown based on the fact that he didn't know anything and hadn't accomplished anything

The Coronavirus and Right-Wing Postmodernism - Scientific American Blog Network - "Kuhn. He is the philosopher of science who argued, in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that science can never achieve absolute, objective truth. Reality is unknowable, forever hidden behind the veil of our assumptions, preconceptions and definitions, or “paradigms.” At least that’s what I thought Kuhn argued, but his writings were so murky that I couldn’t be sure. When I interviewed him in 1991, I was determined to discover just how skeptical he really was.Really, really skeptical, it turned out... I brought up AIDS. A few skeptics, notably virologist Peter Duesberg, were questioning whether the so-called human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, actually causes AIDS. These skeptics were either right or wrong, I said, not just right or wrong within the context of a particular social-cultural-linguistic context. Kuhn shook his head vigorously... As if to demonstrate his own views on how language obfuscates, he endlessly qualified his own statements. He seemed incapable of saying something in an unambiguous way. But what he was saying was that, even when it came to a question as seemingly straightforward—and vitally important!--as whether HIV causes AIDS, we cannot say what the “truth” is. We can’t escape interpretation, subjectivity, cultural context, and hence we can never say whether a given claim is objectively right or wrong."

Continuity in Dutch Slavery in Indonesia

Slavery and cultural creativity in the Banda Islands

"In his influential edited volume Slavery, bondage and dependency in Southeast Asia, Anthony Reid suggests that long-term slave-based systems of production were absent from agriculture in Southeast Asia, and had an ambiguous presence at best in other areas of economic activity. The argument he presents suggests that indigenous slavery in the region merged into a 'kind of serfdom or household membership', a situation that continued after the arrival of Europeans whose slave-holding practices were profoundly shaped by the local traditions they encountered: 'slavery in the European colonies owed more to the Southeast Asian environment than to European legal ideas'. Reid's analysis is insightful and his conclusions persuasive. But he also notes a single exception to this general picture: 'the Dutch perkenier sys tem for producing nutmeg in Banda with hundreds of slave labourers on large estates'. The nutmeg estates of the Banda Islands, in eastern Indonesia, provide a rare unequivocal example of a slave mode of production in Southeast Asia, and its sole instance in an agricultural context. The islands have a similar status within estab lished accounts of slavery in Asia more generally. While some degree of geographic and historical variation is usually acknowledged, European slavery practices in Asia are regarded as distinct from colonial slavery in the New World, where European sys tems were imported wholesale. Against this conclusion, the perkenier system in the Banda Islands has been described as a form of exploitation 'unheard of in Asia', one that represented a 'Caribbean cuckoo in an Asian nest'. In other words, Dutch nutmeg cultivation in the Bandas constituted a New World style system of slavery operating in an Asian context.

This paper questions these depictions of slavery in the Banda Islands. I contend instead that slavery in the nutmeg estates was consistent with the general picture described by Reid, where 'the Southeast Asian character of slavery always asserted itself. Key traits include the prominence of domestic households in economic and social terms and the existence of spheres of slave autonomy, along with diverse opportunities for manumission. The perkenier system (Dutch perkeniersstelsel) for producing nutmeg and mace was certainly one of very few historical situations where Asian slaves worked on European-owned farms or plantations... One critical shortcoming, of most interest here, was that the Dutch administration failed to isolate slavery in the nutmeg estates from broader practices existing elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago...

Established views suggest the islands were transformed absolutely by the VOC conquest, in which much of the pre-conquest population was killed or driven from the islands to be replaced by imported slaves labouring in nutmeg estates. Bruno Lasker, an important early scholar of slavery in Southeast Asia, refers to the Bandas as the site of an 'iniquitous colonial experiment' whose 'unforeseen legacy' involved the creation of a uniquely out-of-place population, one he characterises as the 'social residue' of colonialism. Yet the bulk of the contemporary population today declares itself to be meaningfully Bandanese, a perspective enacted in part through a range of ceremonial and ritual activities viewed as inherited from the pre-conquest era...

While the Bandas provide a Southeast Asian example of a remnant island population enslaved (in part) within plantation estates, in this case an exotic commodity was not introduced for cultivation; this immediately distinguishes the per ken from both New World plantations and those in late colonial settings in Asia. The Bandanese enslaved in the islands following VOC conquest were cultivating a forest product they had themselves developed for trade many generations before, and doing so in their own lands, now under Dutch authority. The essential method remained much the same, though intensified: an understorey of nutmeg trees protected from strong winds and harsh sun by a semi-closed canopy of larger trees (notably Canarium spp., known locally as kenari). The newly enslaved Bandanese were not simply 'labour' in the perkeniersstelsel - they were the original silviculturalists and traders of the islands whose expertise was recognised and utilised by the VOC. Enslaved Bandanese were deliberately distributed about the islands to make use of their expertise in cultivation and spice production, with several hundred individuals initially exiled to Batavia being returned to the Bandas for this very purpose...

As Roy Ellen notes, 'the political economy of Banda had been transformed, but with the aim of main taining a pattern of production and export that had preceded it'. In short, key elements of the pre-conquest life-world of the Banda Islands remained of vital importance under VOC rule and in fact formed the very focus of the Dutch presence...

Alongside a proportion of the remaining Bandanese, the VOC initially sourced slaves through their established trading presence outside the archipelago (e.g. on the Coromandel and Bengal coasts of India). But it was not long, however, before local markets and suppliers were emphasised, especially in the eastern archipelago, where slaves became available in increasing numbers. The slave trade in the Maluku region - where the Banda Islands are found - was longstanding, consisting mainly of people seized in raids on enemy villages. This trade intensified dramatically after the arrival of Europeans, most notably the Dutch...

In practical terms, the Dutch administration in the Bandas seems to have been unable to isolate slavery within the perkeniersstelsel from wider related socio-cultural practices that were long established in the region. Perken boundaries quickly became porous economically, demographically and culturally, as Company-purchased slaves intended for the estates (the perkenslaven) blurred with the privately owned slaves of perkenier households. I suggest that it ultimately becomes difficult to separate the use of slave labour in support of spice production from that which served household economies. At times, the latter even appears to challenge the dominance of the for mer. In this sense the social practice of slavery in the Banda Islands can be said to have eluded VOC control, and exhibits key features that Reid argues were endemic throughout the archipelago and Southeast Asia. In this respect (as in many others), the 'firm grip' the VOC may have sought in the Bandas proved elusive here, as elsewhere.

As noted, Coen's original social vision for the Banda Islands was for an émigré settler-colony dominated by a class of independent Dutch burgers. But a far more diverse society actually emerged in the islands, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, its 'chief inhabitants or burghers were listed as comprising Europeans, Batavians, Ambonese, Ternatens and Chinese, in addition to regular in-migrants including Tanimbarese, Balinese, Butonese and Buginese, and 'many emancipated slaves'. Freed slaves, or mardijkers as they came to be called by the Dutch, constituted a large section of the population of all major settlements in the archipelago. Originally this term referred to manumitted slaves and their descendants associated with the earlier Portuguese presence. Usually Christian converts of Asian (particularly Indian) origin, the group was enlarged during the seventeenth century 'by mestizos and/or migrants from other parts of Asia', many of whom were freed slaves from within the archipelago. Doubtless the mardtjker population of the Bandas had a similar character...

The predominance of the household economy is a major element in Reid's depiction of European slavery practices in the archipelago as more influenced by existing regional patterns than able to impose European ones. The productive activities of slaves in Southeast Asia before the arrival of Europeans were integrated with the domestic or household realm of their owners, a situation that continued with the European presence. For Reid, this forms a clear contrast to the slave mode of pro duction seen in the New World - again, with the exception of the perkeniersstekel...

It appears that perken slaves exercised a degree of autonomy over their gardening activities, a situation that has been documented in contexts of colonial slavery else where. Indeed, standard conceptions of a 'slave mode of production' in the New World are themselves sometimes problematised by historical evidence of slaves culti vating their own food plots and independently selling surplus food. It is highly likely that perken slaves in the Bandas were involved in similar private market-oriented activities (almost certainly so in regard to kenari). In any case, the economic character of their labour cannot be wholly reduced to the production of nutmeg and mace for the VOC...

As with the cultivation of gardens, participation in inter-island trading offered direct benefits to slaves, including opportunities to escape from servitude: '[trading] afforded slaves the opportunity to become both affluent and mobile and a slave-sailor-trader soon earned his freedom or freed himself. Reid highlights the existence of diverse opportunities for manumission as another persistent feature of pre-colonial slavery. He notes that slaves 'often succeeded in buying themselves out of slavery with the money they accumulated in their own time'. That this applied in the Banda Islands once again points to continuities between the shape of slave holding practices in these islands and those elsewhere in the region, notwithstanding the presence of the perkeniersstelsel.

It seems clear that slavery in the Bandas Islands had a far wider significance than supporting intensive production of nutmeg in the perkeniersstelsel. A dense web of relations came to link perkeniers and slaves across diverse realms of social life, inside and outside the perken. Perkenier households became enmeshed with private and per ken slaves not just economically but socially, culturally and demographically, a situ ation that applied to European slave-holders throughout the archipelago. Indeed, Reid suggests that the most common function of European-owned slaves during the earliest period of the European presence involved various forms of 'domestic ser vice', in particular 'to display (and if necessary defend) the wealth and status of the owner'. This provides further evidence of the European adoption of extant Southeast Asian patterns of slavery. Here again, parallels are evident in the Banda Islands...

The VOC itself encouraged mixed marriages in 1633 after abandoning plans to import Dutch women to Batavia, in addition to turning a blind eye to 'irregular unions'. By the beginning of the eighteenth century Valentijn observed: 'there is hardly a single Hollander of any consideration in Java that does not have a concubine'. Reid notes that by the early nineteenth century, the trade in women through out the region 'came to resemble a large-scale "marriage market'", which provided a large proportion of the female population of the British Straits Settlements.

Importantly, the exercise of some level of agency by the women involved should not be discounted. Campbell and Alpers argue that servile labour in both Asia and Indian Ocean Africa often sought to ameliorate their conditions and status by secur ing a position in the dominant society that could be improved over time. If skills in sailing and trading offered such strategic possibilities for male slaves of the perken, concubinage and marriage would have formed potential routes for social mobility open to women, particularly where their children were to be 'born into important families' - which in the Banda context meant the perfcen-holders. Reid stresses con tinuities with pre-European slavery in this realm, observing that opportunities for upward mobility and an easier life appear to have been far greater for women than men...

Indeed, the rarity of slave revolts in Asia (and Indian Ocean Africa) has been attrib uted to the fact that most slaves were women 'often involved in intimate relationships ith their owners, and frequently offered greater opportunity to assimilate into the dominant society than male slaves, they were reluctant to take risks that might damage their children's interests'...

One suggestion in local terms is that labour contracts of this sort were only entered into by people of little social standing - not just impoverished, but lacking recourse to any kin who could assist them. This view sits alongside highly gendered perspectives of labour mobility valorising the exercise of a spiritually potent masculine agency in actively pursuing knowledge (ilmu) and good fortune (rejeki) through self directed travel. By contrast, tales abound of Dutch labour recruiters and their local assistants using dark powers (ilmu hitam) to coerce or trick the contract people into leaving their communities of origin. These recruiters are said to have targeted women in particular, in the street or marketplace, magically robbing them of their normal level of awareness (often using a secret touch). Full consciousness would be restored upon reaching the Banda Islands, at which time their signed contract would be brandished and their situation inescapable. The marked gender imbal ance among contract labour is often represented as a clever Dutch ploy to attract the arrival of free male labour migrants. A local aphorism invariably cited in this context suggests where there's sugar, there're ants' (adagula, ada mir). While such accounts appear rather dismissive of feminine agency, they are also somewhat recup erative of the status of female ancestors, who some suggest may well have been individuals of some status before becoming ensorcelled"

Links - 4th July 2020 (1)

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, 'The day before I was thinking, what am I going to play?' - "‘Brain surgery. A woman, a violinist is going under the surgeon's knife. But how does the surgeon know that he is not going to do something that could affect the person he's operating on? The woman carries on playing her violin throughout the whole surgery’...
[To the surgeon] ‘You had the kind of minor inconvenience that you were being hit by the bow at various times. And you also had another challenge, that you were worried that she might play something you didn't recognize.’...
‘It was a good opportunity for me to get Dagmar to play all my favorite songs... if we are monitoring Dagmar’s ability to correctly play the notes and the music and the violin, then we need to know that she's doing it correctly, and therefore at least one of the people in the theater, so either myself, my assistant, my anaesthetist, would have had to know the songs that she's playing.’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Wednesday's business with Rob Young - "‘Is the Cayman Islands cleaning up its act?’
‘Relatively speaking. I mean but you need to recognize this is essentially, the Cayman Islands are three islands in the middle of nowhere. They have for 50 years found a way of making a living by selling secrecy to foreigners. That's how they make a living. So essentially, the existence of Cayman as a major financial center is just a function of the fact there are a lot of people who wish to dodge taxes and wish to dodge scrutiny. I mean, there is no other reason to be there. It's a very nice place, but it's also a long way from anywhere and before financial services came along its major industry was turtling.’
‘It's fascinating what is going on in the United State with individual states it seems competing to introduce new tax planning laws as they are called. So is the US becoming a more secretive place for companies and businesses?’
‘This is a really important finding of the index. The US has gone up to number two ahead of Switzerland now. And this is as you say, as a result of places like South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, all of whom are competing very hard to attract the kind of money that used to be in Switzerland. Switzerland has fallen in the index, that money needs somewhere to go. Needs in inverted commas and the Americans are competing hard to attract it and doing very well. And so there is an irony or big irony, which is that the US really led the charge 10 years ago against financial secrecy in places like Switzerland, and were successful. Switzerland has been cracked open in a way it never has before. And but as a response now, Americans are accepting that money and America is a much harder prospect to crack open. There is no big bully geopolitically on the block that can tell the Americans to clean up their act’"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Today guest edits: George the Poet - "‘The wonder the number one thing we know from studying the effect of video games on people's real world thinking and behavior is that gamers are more confident in their ability to pick up new skills and are less likely to give up when they're trying to learn something new.’…
‘The game I co created zombies run is a game that you play by going for a run or for a walk in the real world. And we do stories in the zombie apocalypse in your headphones, to encourage you to go further and faster and make the whole business of getting a run in or some exercise in just a bit less boring’...
‘George the Poet describes as moral panic... And this is a shame associated with [computer] games, which isn't so much as when you mention novels. You know, there isn't so much shame is associated with reading.’
‘Yes, well, there certainly used to be shame associated with reading. If you think of Northanger Abbey, that is a novel about a young woman who perhaps has been over sensationalized by these very exciting novels. I agree. I agree with you, the Gothic novels. Yes. I agree with George the Poet that there is a moral panic and that people are saying, oh, dear, what about this art form, this new thing, but I think the thing to know is that people have always said this about new art forms, so novels in their time, at the time that cinema was invented, people were very panicked about what are people doing, going into this strange dark room all together, there's a sort of a, too much intimacy involved in being in this dark cinema place. And who knows what things might go. I mean, the classic one people quote is even under under Plato, we're worried about the effect of learning to read’"

The Job That Will Let You Do Whatever You Want in a Swedish Train Station, Forever - Atlas Obscura - "Each morning, the chosen employee will punch a clock in Korsvägen train station, currently under construction in Gothenburg, Sweden, which will turn on a bank of bright fluorescent lights. Other than that, “the position holds no duties or responsibilities besides the fact that the work should be carried out at Korsvägen. Whatever the employee chooses to do constitutes the work,” reads the job description. The employee can also choose how publicly visible or anonymous they would like to be while on the clock. Eternal Employment is the brainchild of Swedish artistic duo Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby, who often spin real-world economics into giddy, strange new forms. For this project they are investing a prize from from Public Art Agency Sweden in conjunction with the Swedish Transport Administration—about $650,000. This forms the Eternal Employment foundation, which will grow the initial sum and form a board to select and pay the forever employee. Anyone in the world can apply, and “the foundation will be an equal opportunity employer,” Goldin and Senneby say over email. And when the employee retires or chooses to leave, the board will select another. Korsvägen is one of three new underground stations being constructed to alleviate traffic pressure and create jobs in Gothenburg. Already Sweden’s second-largest city, its population is to projected to grow by at least 150,000 by 2035. Goldin and Senneby hope that the job will make the station more than a stopover between one place and another. Eternal Employment is also a response to the way Gothenburg is changing. The home of Volvo, it was once a major industrial and shipping center. In recent decades, it has developed into an arts and entertainment hub, boasting museums, concert venues, and a super-sized shrimp sandwich supposedly inspired by American portion sizes. As Gothenburg’s working class finds itself marginalized, Goldin and Senneby see a job that gives total control to the worker as an act of economic imagination."

Commentary: It's not okay to say 'OK boomer' - "The phrase “OK boomer” has become a catch-all put-down that Generation Zers and young millennials have been using to dismiss retrograde arguments made by baby boomers, the generation who are currently 55 to 73 years old... Comments that relate to a worker’s age are a problem because older workers often face negative employment decisions, like a layoff or being passed over for promotion... When I was an employment lawyer, I heard tons of hilarious stories of things people said in the workplace. But that’s the point: The story ended with a lawyer on the other end of the phone."
Ageism is good when it serves a liberal agenda

Indonesia's wealth gap spurs Muslims to join 'economic jihad' - Nikkei Asian Review - "Some 212 Marts were reportedly closed after they failed to attract customers. Some consumers spoke openly about boycotting the chain over its connection to the protests against Ahok, which they saw as a worrying sign of rising intolerance... The shift comes as conservative groups carrying Middle Eastern strands of Islam wield greater social and political influence. Their ideas are challenging the norms established by local Muslim groups with less-rigid teachings. Indonesians call the trend hijrah, derived from another Arabic word that describes Muslims who leave behind secular and hedonistic lifestyles to adhere to religious tenets.In a recent survey, 80% of Indonesian Muslim respondents said they consider religion "strongly important" in their daily lives, while 19% think it is "important." This is a stark contrast from just 10 years ago"
Is there a clear distinction between piety and extremism?

Hisashi Ouchi, the Victim of Fatal Radiation Kept Alive for 83 Days - "After being treated for a week, Ouchi managed to say, “I can’t take it anymore… I am not a guinea pig”. However, the doctors kept treating him and taking measures to keep him alive, which only ensured a very slow and very painful death."

Why fellow Canadians are joining the thousands of immigrants moving to the Maritimes | The Star - "last year saw a “record high” number of international newcomers head to the Maritimes but it also solidified a pattern that hasn’t happened in decades: people from other parts of Canada are moving to the East Coast... Fenech’s tenure position and marriage to his wife Jill Stewart, “a potato farmer’s daughter,” has anchored him to P.E.I. and made him see himself “as an Islander.” Still, he said he’s never had to give up the things he loved in a big city: The Island has great theatre, a wonderful local music scene, independent cinema and, yes, even employment opportunities... Maritime cities like Halifax, Charlottetown and Moncton are “booming” as larger centres like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have become too expensive for younger people... Those cities have also hit a “sweet spot,” he said, in that all are small enough that it doesn’t take long to commute or access nature and the ocean but are also big enough to have an international airport as well as entertainment and culture amenities... “I’ve been briefly to Toronto and I found how hectic it was and that everyone is rushing. But here while out walking or just jogging I can stop and talk with someone and everyone is happy to learn about you, to learn about your culture, and I feel like that is absolutely great.”

Why Have You Summoned Me GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY - *Cat shows up when can is opened*

Sparkling Wine Starts Coming Out Of Kitchen Taps In Italian Village - "a winery had cocked up and ended up pumping a load of wine into the local water system. That meant that, for a brief time residents were getting a lovely pink liquid spewing forth from their kitchen taps instead of water."

Lucas Lynch - "LGBT+ filmmakers boycott Israeli film festival in solidarity with queer Palestinians"
"The Palestinian Authority just banned all LGBT activities in the West Bank"
"Fabulous "Anti-Zionism" comes at you fast."

Illusion grid shirt by Japanese designer takes unusual approach to solving flat-chested problems - "While the shirt looks perfectly normal from the front, if you look closely enough, the grid is actually an optical illusion."

Kimberly Klacik on Twitter - "I hate when people say President Trump doesn’t act “presidential”. What does that even mean in a country where a man can be a woman, a woman can be a man, drag queens are entertainment for children, kids can transition, Shaun King can be black & Lizzo’s obesity is sexy? 🤷🏽‍♀️"

WealthX Billionaire Census: Majority of world's billionaires self-made - "There are 2,604 billionaires in the world, and 55.8% of them are self-made... Another 30.9% of billionaires made at least some of their wealth themselves, according to the report, while 13.3% inherited their wealth entirely. he data showed a “continuation of the long-term trend in the gradual increase in the proportion of self-made billionaires”... This was “despite a broad weakening of asset markets and more subdued global growth prospects,” which the report says “highlights the growing importance of entrepreneurship in creating and preserving substantial wealth.”... almost all of the current richest billionaires are self-made, from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with a current net worth of more than $155 billion, according to Forbes, to Google co-founders Larry Page (more than $53 billion) and Sergey Brin (more than $52 billion), the 10th and 11th richest respectively... However, overall, the number of billionaires in the world and their collective wealth declined in 2018 compared to the year prior... Of course, even “self-made” billionaires did not succeed alone... Warren Buffett, who founded Berkshire Hathaway and is the fourth richest person in the world with a more than $85 billion net worth, has also spoken about the role luck has played in his success.“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. [Both] my children and I won what I call ‘the ovarian lottery,’” Buffett told Christiane Amanpour in 2010. “I was born in the right country at the right time.”"
Presumably the people who mock the role of luck in success aren't as successful as Buffett, so since they're also the people who say that success makes your words credible we must ignore them

Not so pure after all: Most holy water 'is contaminated with faecal matter' and could be harmful to health - "Many people believe that holy water has healing properties but new research suggests it may actually do more harm than good.Scientists have discovered that 86 per cent of water samples from holy sources contain faecal matter.Austrian researchers also found that church fonts contain high levels of bacteria and that none of the holy springs they studied could be considered safe for drinking from... in every millilitre of holy water there were up to 62 million bacteria. They also found that the busier the church, the more bacteria it tended to have in its font... He recommends that the responsible authorities and priests put up warning signs by the holy springs.Dr Kirschner said that the springs got their healing reputation in the Middle Ages and that things have changed since then.He explained: ‘In those days, the quality of the water in towns and cities was generally so poor that people were constantly developing diarrhoea or other diseases as a result.‘If they then came across a protected spring in the forest that was not as polluted and drank from it for several days, their symptoms would disappear.‘So although in those days they were drinking healthier water, given the excellent quality of our drinking water today, the situation is now completely reversed.’Based on the study’s findings, Dr Kirschner recommends that salt could be added to holy water in fonts to reduce the chance of bacteria thriving, he also suggests that holy water in churches should be changed regularly."

Woman hit, killed by multiple cars on Pa. highway; none stopped, dragging her remains for miles

Marathon du Médoc - "This French marathon has regular stops for wine, cheese, and oysters"
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