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Saturday, March 04, 2023

Links - 4th March 2023 (2 - Climate Change)

Facebook - "Today, three-quarters of Germany's electricity comes from fossil fuels (and biomass delivers most of its renewables) That's because there is almost no wind And remember, electricity (where Germany has most of its renewables) is only 19% of all energy"

50 years of predictions that the climate apocalypse is nigh
The world is ending. The world has always been ending. The world will always be ending. Trust the science!

Facebook - "The reason films like "Don't Look Up" do such a terrible job of identifying why we have such a big issue with addressing climate change is the problem isn't there are a lot of climate change deniers out there, the problem is environmentalists don't actually want a solution... The are environmentalists who want to reduce carbon emissions but only if you ban nuclear energy while doing so (the energy source with the smallest carbon emissions). There are environmentalists out there who want to reduce carbon emissions, but only if carbon pricing schemes aren't used (even tho all the evidence shows they're the most effective way to reduce emissions). There are environmentalists out there who would rather the world end than use carbon capture technology and geoengineering solutions. There are environmentalists who want a solution but only a solution that ends capitalism"
Environmentalists are not primarily concerned about effects on the environment

Meme - "We can't fight homelessness, hunger, or poverty. But we are going to fight 'climate change'. Just let that sink in for a minute"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, M25 protests put lives of police officers and public 'at risk' - "‘If someone does come to harm because of these protests, either an ambulance held up or someone just injured in the roads, when you initially go on to the roads. Will it still be worth it?’
‘Well, we profoundly apologize for all disruption caused by these actions. And it's so important to hold us up against the fact that governments including the UK government have been endangering billions of people's lives by ignoring the science for decades.’...
‘Can I just ask you, one more time? Let me give you the opportunity to say again, one more time it would it be, would it still be worth it? And you've set out very clearly your view of how important this is? Would it still be worth it if someone comes to serious harm?’
‘Of course, that's not what we're, what we're aiming to shoot at. Anyway, that's the last thing that we want’
‘Would it still be worth it?’
‘It's not what we're trying to achieve. Safety has been foremost in our minds trying to do this action. But the government's primary duty is to protect its citizens. And it is failing in that duty, both of the 1000s of people that will die this winter, preventable deaths from fuel poverty, and the millions, if not billions, of people who will come to harm from the failure of all governments including ours to sufficiently reduce emissions.’...
'These causes are undoubtedly laudable... police officers should not be having to patrol the M25 waiting for protesters to turn off. They should be in local areas dealing with crime and antisocial behavior.'"
Classic terrorist logic. "Look what you made us do!"
Of course, the damage caused by climate change hysteria, like fuel poverty, is good, because the Cause is Noble. Meanwhile, the police, instead of being politically neutral, are calling the cause laudable

Tony Abbott says climate change action is like trying to 'appease the volcano gods' - "Policy to deal with climate change is like primitive people killing goats to appease volcano gods, former prime minister Tony Abbott has told an audience in Britain overnight.  Mr Abbott has argued that "at least so far it is climate change policy that is doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good — or at least more good than harm".  "In most countries far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it is accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change might even be beneficial"... Mr Abbott said environmentalism combined a "post-socialist instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause".  "Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods, we are more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect"... He again outlined his opposition to renewable power by arguing it was possible to have "too much of a good thing".  "The only rational choice is to put Australian jobs and Australia's standard of living first; to get emissions down but only as far as we can without putting prices up," the former prime minister said, arguing anything else would be a "dereliction of duty as well as a political death wish".  He described the reality of climate change as very modest but the consequences of the policy to deal with it as "increasingly dire"."
I heard people slamming him, but without engaging his points, naturally. The Gods can't be angered after all


Trees planted by councils die after 'rush job to show off green credentials' - "Millions in taxpayer money has been spent to plant trees that may not have survived, according to analysis of council data by the Telegraph.  At least 80 local authorities are failing to record whether trees planted to help climate change are surviving, despite them spending more than £11 million in council and central Government funds...   Experts say a survival rate of 90-95 per cent should be expected if tree-planting schemes are well planned and have adequate aftercare...   The deaths of trees planted for carbon offsetting purposes also raises concerns that councils and businesses may be able to greenwash their pollution, by claiming to have offset their emissions with trees that do not survive.  The Government has pledged more than £9 million to plant hundreds of thousands of trees in communities across England, to help hit its targets of 30,000 hectares of new woodland annually across the UK by 2025.   But Andy Egan, the head of conservation policy for the Woodland Trust, which provides grant funding for council tree planting schemes, said local authorities often lacked the resources to look after newly planted trees. “Too many local authorities lack the additional resources and capacity needed to look after newly planted trees and to help them survive conditions like the drought we had this summer,” he said. “Equally poor planning practice is putting many much-loved mature trees at risk.”"
The power of virtue signalling

Extinction Rebellion activist weeps as she faces jail for causing £100k of damage to Barclays HQ - "An Extinction Rebellion activist wept as she was warned she could face jail along with six other women for causing almost £100,000 in damage to Barclay's London headquarters.  Carol Wood cried as she was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court today of causing criminal damage over the incident on April 7 last year, when the seven XR activists smashed the windows of the bank's Canary Wharf office.  Wood, 53, Nicola Stickells, 52, Sophie Cowen, 31, Lucy Porter, 48, Gabriella Ditton, 28, Rosemary Webster, 64, and Zoe Cohen, 52, were found guilty by a jury on a majority of 11 to one after more than nine hours of deliberations. Besides Cowen, the six other women all have previous convictions for either criminal damage, wilful obstruction of a highway, breaching directions imposed on public assemblies or a combination of the three offences... During the trial, they argued that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage if they were fully informed about the climate crisis... Porter, a former teacher, told jurors the bank's windows were replaced but 'ecosystems' are irreplaceable and that disrupting bankers over the course of a morning is incomparable with watching a child die of starvation... Cohen became a Barclays shareholder in early 2021 to put forward a resolution asking the bank to phase out funding for fossil fuels which was later voted against.  Cohen said she 'honestly' believed that by April 2021 she had run out of other options to try to achieve change, and the repair costs - £97,022 - were insignificant to Barclays, which had spent £100million on refurbishments last year.  Both Stickells and Wood told the court they were 'shocked' at how much the repairs cost."
Ironic. Climate change hysteria means more children will die of starvation

Meme - Ben Masta: "Funny how there are people who say both that freedom truckers were evil for blocking traffic even though there was an open lane, and that this protest is 100% okay for blocking roads because they let emergency vehicles through. These are the types of people who are afraid of "the new twitter" lol."
Basically, protests that liberals support are good, and those they don't are bad

Climate activists find a way to get Germany’s attention – stop traffic - "The radical climate activists tried hunger strikes. They glued themselves to famous paintings. They tried to disrupt a classical concert. They confronted lawmakers trying to enter parliament. They even desecrated an official Christmas tree of the city of Berlin.  It took them donning neon vests, walking into traffic at rush hour and gluing themselves to the streets in Berlin and Munich, causing kilometres-long backups and bringing drivers to murderous rage, to make their protest impossible to ignore.  With their actions, carried out with increasing frequency as 2022 drew to a close, they have attracted enormous attention in a country where cars reign supreme, home to BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen and the autobahn. But they have also united almost everyone in politics in Berlin, and much of the public, against them.  They have become a target for conservatives and embarrassment for the governing Green Party, which has long been working within the political system toward the same goals.  And their tactics have stirred debate even within the broader environmentalist movement over how much is too much in pursuit of climate goals. The answer from the protesters, who are the German chapter of an environmental group called Last Generation, is that the climate crisis warrants drastic action... to Last Generation’s members, extreme action is the answer to government inaction...   The activists gained a new level of infamy in November when a cyclist in Berlin died after being pinned by a cement mixer during one of the group’s traffic jams.  Polls taken just after the accident found that 80 per cent of Germans were critical of the group’s action and 86 per cent thought the actions ended up hurting the cause of fighting climate change."
Looks like the German energy crisis is going to continue

As climate protests get bolder, British police strike back with new powers - "Protests against Britain’s HS2 high-speed railway line, for example, have cost it an added £122 million (S$199 million), a figure that is expected to rise to £200 million, according to the project’s management... “The more that we witness this oppressive behaviour from the state, the only thing it is going to do is galvanize civil society,” she said, placing climate action in a long British tradition of protesting, including the suffrage movement."
Environmentalists want to promote train travel - but only on their terms. This is why things can't get done
Pissing off people is going to galvanize society against them

FIRST READING: The Liberals' weird obsession with censoring the internet - "It wasn’t too long ago that when Canadians were asked to name their leading priorities for the federal government, they often put “climate change” in the top spot. Not this year; on the eve of the next federal budget a new Ipsos Public Affairs poll found that a majority of Canadians are chiefly hoping it will “help with the soaring cost of every day needs due to inflation.” Also leading the pack were “lowering taxes” and “greater investments in healthcare.”"
From Apr 2022. When times are tough, First World Problems are unimportant. Of course, this doesn't stop the Liberals from pushing their agenda

Drax: UK power station owner cuts down primary forests in Canada - "A company that has received billions of pounds in green energy subsidies from UK taxpayers is cutting down environmentally-important forests... Drax runs Britain's biggest power station, which burns millions of tonnes of imported wood pellets - which is classed as renewable energy.  The BBC has discovered some of the wood comes from primary forests in Canada.  The company says it only uses sawdust and waste wood... Ecologist Michelle Connolly told Panorama the company was destroying forests that had taken thousands of years to develop.  "It's really a shame that British taxpayers are funding this destruction with their money. Logging natural forests and converting them into pellets to be burned for electricity, that is absolutely insane"... The Drax power station in Yorkshire is a converted coal plant, which now produces 12% of the UK's renewable electricity.  It has already received £6bn in green energy subsidies. Burning wood is considered green, but it is controversial among environmentalists."
Time to cut down more forests to generate "renewable" energy to fight climate change
Of course people were outraged, but almost certainly they're the same ones pushing "renewable" energy and who don't understand base load and intermittency

Cutting Down Trees Can Help Save Climate in Forest Industry Math - Bloomberg - "In densely forested Sweden, the industry is keen to show trees are, overall, sequestering more carbon dioxide than is released. The companies, who make their profit from pulp, packaging and timber, commissioned a study that shows a bigger climate benefit from cutting trees than reducing or halting harvests. The math in the report published on Tuesday centers on displacement effects: fossils can be left underground if wood is used to replace such materials, resulting in smaller carbon dioxide emissions than keeping forests intact but using materials such as plastic instead.
I'm sure wood is lighter than plastic, which is why emissions are less

Nuclear cheaper than wind, solar as Canada greens its grid: report - "Solar and wind are set to make up 60 per cent of the increase in new capacity added between 2019 and 2050, according to C.D. Howe's researchers. But that means added costs for energy storage.  “The Achilles heel of wind and solar is provision of adequate storage, at reasonable cost, of power not needed in the middle of the day, but needed when the sun is not shining and/or the wind is not blowing,” authors John Richards and Christopher Mabry wrote in the report. C.D. Howe’s findings follow a report from Royal Bank of Canada in September calling for energy consumption in Canada to surge 50 per cent in the next decade. The bank warned of power shortages as early as 2026."

Nuclear Energy Is the Fastest and Lowest-Cost Clean Energy Solution - "Despite lack of subsidies, and excessive regulatory hurdles, or even purely miserable planning leading to unnecessary delays and growing costs in the construction phase, even when nuclear power plant becomes as ‘scandalously expensive’ as the reactor currently in construction in Finland – even then, the cost divided on the total energy output remains low in comparison to other clean energy forms. As soon as Olkiluoto 3 (which the ‘Nuclear Finland’ column in the table refers to) will come online – in about a year and a half – it will provide 10% of Finland’s electricity, and is expected to decrease the price of electricity in all the Nordic countries, as long as other nuclear plants are not shut down. South Korea on the other hand is an example of a country where the construction costs of nuclear have stayed consistently low. They produce 30% of their electricity with nuclear power, and are in the process of building two more plants."
Weird how nuclear costs are so different in different countries. It's almost as if nuclear is only expensive because anti-nuclear activists want it to be, so they lobby for pointless regulations

Nuclear Energy Is the Fastest and Lowest-Cost Clean Energy Solution - "Despite lack of subsidies, and excessive regulatory hurdles, or even purely miserable planning leading to unnecessary delays and growing costs in the construction phase, even when nuclear power plant becomes as ‘scandalously expensive’ as the reactor currently in construction in Finland – even then, the cost divided on the total energy output remains low in comparison to other clean energy forms. As soon as Olkiluoto 3 (which the ‘Nuclear Finland’ column in the table refers to) will come online – in about a year and a half – it will provide 10% of Finland’s electricity, and is expected to decrease the price of electricity in all the Nordic countries, as long as other nuclear plants are not shut down...  Jani-Petri spends quite some time delving into the use of what is called a discount rate: a tool for appraising construction project investments vs their returns in the future. He notes some strange tendencies in the way the authors of chapter seven of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III -report try to hide proper comparison of the costs of energy forms in their supplementary materials, perceivably for no other reason than because of the discomfort of letting their readers know that nuclear power is almost always the lowest cost energy solution, and always the lowest cost zero carbon energy solution...  Take the fresh news about the world’s largest battery, installed in Australia to help buffer wind farms: the quick back of the envelope calculations by Robert Hargraves (Ass. Prof. in Math and founder of a thorium molten salt-nuclear energy company) puts the battery’s estimated added costs for electricity at almost 40 cents/kWh. I am happy to update the piece with a better estimate, if I find one – but for context, even a tenth of that price would still double the price for energy per capital investment (which, as seen in the table before, for European wind is around 4 cents/kWh, vs 1 cent/kWh or less for nuclear).  Even this largest battery in the world only adds about 20 seconds worth of buffering capacity for the total electricity consumption of Australia (calculated from the 2014 total) – or about a few hours worth for 30,000 households. It enables a supply during the short transition time it takes to power up the back-up fossil fuel sources – it’s not a solution for reliable long term electricity supply.  There are also costs for handling waste. Renewable companies are largely not obliged to take care of their hazardous waste, but costs of waste collection and handling are included in the responsibilities of the nuclear industry...  The WNA present OECD estimates on the levelised costs of energy (LCOE) as well as their system costs for four different countries (see below). Nuclear is the cheapest option in all but one: the US – where its ‘only’ the third cheapest, and still cheaper than offshore wind and Solar PV. This trend isn’t surprising, considering that nuclear costs in the US have risen to a class of their own through a few decades of increasing regulatory burdens. Despite all that, it’s still almost as cheap as the cheapest low-carbon energy form (onshore wind)...  Hydro power has its own drawbacks, like a few spectacular accidents (largest being the 1975 Banqiao dam failure that cost 170,000 lives), and flooding large areas, nevertheless, it is a great clean source of energy – but we don’t have enough waterways left to harness in order to replace fossil fuels. Wind is intermittent, but it can be a great help up to a point – IPCC does not see a realistic scenario for more than 30% of the world’s energy share for all renewables taken together, by 2050."

End Energy Subsidies — Australian Taxpayers' Alliance - "Subsidies per unit of electricity from 2015-16 showed that coal received 40c per MWh compared to solar which received $214, wind which received $74 and other renewables which received $33 per MWh. We strongly oppose the subsidising of renewables as it is creating gross distortions in the electricity market. If renewable energy was indeed the ‘cheapest’ form of energy, then they wouldn’t need subsidies to stay afloat.   The short-term increase in electricity costs from abolishing subsidies would be offset by legalising nuclear energy and deregulating the energy market.   Australia’s base load power is under serious threat. If something doesn’t change now, Australia could be facing a dangerous chokepoint; those times where supply from renewables cannot meet the high demand for electricity. Blackouts could become more frequent, hurting individuals, families and businesses."

The opportunity cost of not using nuclear energy for climate mitigation - "A recent U.N. report found that nuclear energy has the lowest lifecycle carbon emissions of any energy technology, underscoring its role as the largest source of carbon-free power in the U.S. and the second largest source globally. Yet some opponents of nuclear power are trying to argue that the “opportunity cost” of investing in nuclear power is too high, and that we should focus entirely on investment in renewable energy. This is a recipe for climate disaster. Focusing on renewable energy while ignoring all other low or zero carbon technologies is based on an incorrect understanding of decarbonization imperatives, system-level energy costs, and investment portfolio principles. Based on the best available facts and analysis, like MIT, Sepulveda et. al., and Vibrant Clean Energy, a broad technology portfolio that includes both nuclear and renewable energy can create the most cost-effective carbon-free energy systems...   There are three major flaws in this “renewables alone” argument. First, the argument misses the clear bigger picture: the world is still dependent on carbon-emitting energy sources...   Renewable energy should be a means to reducing emissions, not an end in itself. And in the power sector, such emissions must be calculated on a system-wide basis... in some cases, variable renewable energy can actually increase emissions due to system-wide operational inefficiencies at balancing fossil units. In the United States, closures of nuclear power plants in Vermont, New York and elsewhere have led to increased natural gas use and greenhouse gas emissions... Second, the “renewables alone” argument relies upon the wrong cost metric, using costs of power produced by individual plants instead of power system-level costs... Power costs for individual renewable energy plants do not account for transmission costs, a rising and largely unaddressed financial barrier, nor for the system balancing costs to deliver electricity supply as needed... The “renewables alone” arguments use the wrong metric for comparing different climate solutions; even though we want as much clean power as possible, the primary metric is not dollars per clean megawatt-hour for a particular power plant... if renewable energy were to be built in Germany while closing nuclear power plants, it would miss out on emissions reductions from replacing coal in Germany, or emissions reductions from redirecting renewable supply chains elsewhere"
Too bad he must still pretend renewables have a place. Of course he doesn't substantiate that claim

Facebook - "Your frequent reminder that the world could have defeated climate change in the 1980s if all industrialized nations had followed France's lead.  This would have been vastly cheaper than what nations are now pledging to spend in order to combat climate change. Most importantly, it would have been a solution compatible with further growth. But environmentalists sabotaged this technological solution.  And the same people who now claim that we face an extinction event and that we need to dismantle capitalism are still against nuclear. They claim it is too expensive (more expensive than dismantling capitalism?). They claim it is too dangerous (more dangerous than global extinction?). And they claim that it takes too long (France showed that it can be done quickly.)."

Wind Power Giant Vestas Regrets Message That Renewables Would Always Get Cheaper - Bloomberg - "Renewable-energy producers have long touted the promise of cheap electricity, an assurance that’s helped them eat into the dominance of fossil fuels. But the pledge has gone too far, according to the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker. Manufacturers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S are seeing losses pile up as orders collapse at a time when they should be capitalizing on the turmoil in natural-gas markets. To blame -- at least in part -- is the industry’s insistence that clean electricity can only get cheaper, according to Henrik Andersen, chief executive officer of the Danish wind giant. “It made some people make the wrong assumption that energy and electricity should become free,” Andersen said in an interview in London. “We created the perception to some extent. So we are to blame for it. That was a mistake.”"

Capacity utilization and variable renewables 2/2 - "I recently read a very interesting book “Fossil Capital” by Andreas Malm on the history of industrial revolution in the United Kingdom. (Note: book is only worth reading until chapter 12. There the author got tired of thinking.)  Malm focused on the question of why coal and steam engine won over water power in the early decades of the 19th century. Remarkably coal did not win because water resource would have been insufficient. There was still plenty of untapped potential in the UK. Also coal did not win because it was cheaper. In fact, mechanical power from steam engines was more costly and many were of the opinion that it was also of worse quality. So what happened?  There were many overlapping reasons. For example, factories followed labour to the cities. In the early 19th century it was already clear from the demographics that labour was to be found in the cities. Water power was dispersed and getting meek labour to run the machines in the middle of nowhere was harder. In fact, owners of water powered factories were relatively more dependent on the apprenticeship system providing them with, what can apparently with some justification be called,  slave (child) labour. Water power was also more variable than steam, which made it even more important to have well behaved labour that would be willing to work long and irregular hours... If excessive reliance on variable renewables end up limiting capacity utilization, is there not a similar risk that water power faced in the 19th century? Who bears the cost of lower utilization? Labour? Lower salaries and/or more irregular working hours anyone? Vacations in the winter since solar power produces mainly in the summer?  If push comes to shove and such questions have to be asked, I am quite sure any techno-fetishes we might have, will evaporate. To me conclusion seems clear. It is unlikely humanity will ever be primarily powered by variable renewables.  If fuel etc. costs for dispatchable generators are high compared to the cost of electricity from variable renewables, wind and solar might be economically justified as a part of a more diverse fleet of generators. However, it is also possible that on economic grounds they will remain niche producers whose existence is dependent on subsidies and political good will. Future will tell."

Even With Climate Change, the World Isn’t Doomed - WSJ - "In 1900, if humanity had gotten rid of air pollution—mostly indoor pollution caused by smoky fuels like wood and dung—the benefit would have been equivalent to global gross domestic product rising 23%. To a young audience, that might look like an insufficient measure of well-being, but higher GDP means better health, lower mortality, greater access to education and in general a better standard of living. By 2050 the problem of air pollution will be mostly solved. And that’s only one of the many issues humanity has shorn down over the last 100 years, according to data 21 top economists and I gathered... The challenge climate change poses, both to the environment and society, looks rather small compared to those humanity has already met. Nobel Prize-winning climate economist William Nordhaus has shown that a 6.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in world temperatures by 2100—which is probable if policy makers do little to stop climate change—would cost only 2.8% of global GDP a year. The United Nations’ latest estimate puts it even lower at 2.6% of GDP for a 6.6-degree Fahrenheit increase. Moreover, the U.N. expects the average person to be 450% as rich in 2100 as today, absent the cost of climate change. Following current temperature projections, global warming would knock that down to only 434% as rich. That’s a problem, but it isn’t the end of the world."
A climate change hystericist got very upset when I posted this as evidence that climate change wasn't a major problem and that air pollution, illiteracy, sex discrimination, disease, malnutrition, lack of free trade and conflicts would individually all be greater problems than climate change up till 2050, let alone combined.
Another climate change hystericist said this was reading "right wing conspiracy theories and oil company climate change deniers". Cambridge University needs to be torn down, since it is in on the conspiracies. Cultists don't like having their meaning in life taken away

How Is Climate Change Affecting Floods? - The New York Times - "It can be tempting to attribute all floods and other extreme events to the forces of warming planet. But weather is not climate, even though weather can be affected by climate. For example, scientists are confident that climate change makes unusually hot days more common. They’re not as sure that climate change is making tornadoes more severe."

A global-scale investigation of trends in annual maximum streamflow - "One possible cause of the observed changes to flood impacts is the potential role of anthropogenic climate change... the implications of changes to extreme precipitation on discharge should be assessed with care due to the additional influence of a catchment’s antecedent moisture content (i.e. the moisture stored in the catchment’s soils, groundwater, lakes and reservoirs prior to the flood-producing rainfall event), which is affected by a catchment’s long-term water balance (Johnson et al., 2016) rather than the intensity of individual heavy rainfall events. For example, only a third of discharge above the 99th percentile corresponded to precipitation above the 99th percentile (Ivancic and Shaw, 2015), indicating that the relationship between changes in extreme rainfall intensity and changes in flood hazard are complex and unlikely to be direct. This suggests that trends in extreme precipitation are not likely to be the only climatic factor influencing flood hazard, so that it is not possible to infer the direction and/or magnitude of change in flood hazard from information about changes in extreme precipitation alone."
The Journal of Hydrology must be sponsored by the oil industry

Climate-driven variability in the occurrence of major floods across North America and Europe - "There was no compelling evidence for consistent changes over time in major-flood occurrence during the 80 years through 2010, using a very large dataset (>1200 gauges) of diverse but minimally altered catchments in North America and Europe."

Boys as Girls / A 10 in Inches / Pretending people want to see him

More blocked by ifunny:

"Boys make the best girls. Because boys know what boys like"

"She's a 10, but its in inches"

"Lilith Perlman: I wonder how much my haters would secretly love to see the rest of this picture. It's yours for the simple price of accepting that there's no shame in being attracted 😘
Renounce your hateful ways. Don't do it for me. Do it for your own health and wellbeing. Or, you know, don't
Y'all do you. Love to the real OGs ❤️"

Chocolate to Buy

"International Women's Day is upon us again, and I love an international woman. But our friends over at Hershey's, they don't even know what a woman is. They've hired a biological male to be the spokesperson for their Women's Day campaign, and they're calling that campaign, and I swear I'm not making this up: Her She. Her She.

It's humiliating. And it's the reason that I'm launching: Jeremy's chocolate. We have two kinds: SheHer, and HeHim. One of them's got nuts. If you need me to tell you which one it is, keep giving your money to Hershey's.

But if you're tired of giving your money to woke corporations that hate you and you're looking for a delicious chocolate bar from a company that actually wants your business, head over to ihatehersheys.com and Order Jeremy's Chocolate today"

Links - 4th March 2023 (1 - Rewriting Roald Dahl & James Bond)

Roald Dahl rewritten: the hundreds of changes made to suit a new ‘sensitive’ generation - "Language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten. Remember the Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach? They are now the Cloud-People. The Small Foxes in Fantastic Mr Fox are now female. In Matilda, a mention of Rudyard Kipling has been cut and Jane Austen added. It’s Roald Dahl, but different... This is not the first time that his work has been controversial. The Oompa-Loompas, the diminutive employees of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, have been extensively reimagined over the years. In recent years Dahl has been criticised for anti-Semitism, misogyny and racism. The modern editor of Dahl faces a dilemma: how to retain Dahl’s compelling spikiness, which has enthralled generations of readers, while bringing it in line with the hair-trigger sensitivities of children’s publishing... These edits mute the original sense. Elsewhere, changes give a new meaning... In the earlier version, the narrator exclaims: “‘But what about the rest of the world?’ I cried. ‘What about ‘America and France and Holland and Germany? And what about Norway?’”. Now the sentence about America and France and Holland and Germany has been cut. The ‘rest of the world’ is evidently bigger now than it was... In Fantastic Mr Fox a description of tractors, saying that “the machines were both black”, has been cut. In the new Dahl world, it seems, neither machines nor animals can be described with a colour. Nor can anything be fat. “Bunce, the little pot-bellied dwarf”, is now plain old Bunce. The Small Foxes, previously sons, are now daughters, while Badger’s son has become a “little one”. Even the harmless Esio Trot has not escaped. Tortoises no longer come “mostly from North Africa” but from “many different countries”. Perhaps more egregiously, given the story’s punning title: “Tortoises are very backward creatures. Therefore they can only understand words that are written backwards” has become simply: “They can only understand words that are written backwards”. And so on. Hundreds of changes to some of the best-loved children’s books ever written. Even Quentin Blake’s illustrations do not make it through the sensitivity reading unscathed. Earlier editions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory include three sketches of Mike Teavee with 18 toy pistols “hanging from belts around his body”, but the guns have been scrubbed out by 2022, as well as a related sentence... Anthony Horowitz, the bestselling author, recently talked about falling foul of the censor over a Native American character attacking someone with a scalpel. “I made the changes, but I will confess they hurt,” Horowitz wrote in The Spectator. “It just feels wrong to be told what to write by an outside party, no matter how well-meaning.” Addressing the Hay Festival last year, Horowitz commented “children’s book publishers are more scared [of cancel culture] than anybody”... Matthew Dennison, who wrote a biography of the author, Teller of the Unexpected, published last year, says Dahl was particular about the language he used. “Dahl typically worked seven days a week for a year on one of his full-length novels and was drained by the experience, which involved extensive rewriting as he worked, followed by a lively back-and-forth with his editor,” he says. “The process of editing often focused on individual words or particular expressions, as Dahl kept faith with some of the interwar slang of his childhood, and aspects of his vocabulary up to his death continued to recall the enthusiasms of English prep schoolboys. This was both natural to him and deliberate, and he resisted interference... When it came to children’s books, Dennison says Dahl didn’t care what adults thought as long as his target readers were happy. “‘I don’t give a b----r what grown-ups think,’ was a characteristic statement,” Dennison says. “And I’m almost certain that he would have recognised that alterations to his novels prompted by the political climate were driven by adults rather than children, and this always inspired derision, if not contempt, in Dahl... Dahl is only a prominent example of a growing trend in children’s publishing for content that nobody can find offensive"

Salman Rushdie attacks Roald Dahl rewrites as ‘absurd censorship’ - "Sir Salman Rushdie has attacked the rewriting of Roald Dahl books as "absurd censorship" at the hands of “bowdlerising sensitivity police”. In new editions of Roald Dahl’s beloved stories, Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, Mrs Twit is no longer fearfully ugly, and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral. The publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s classic, timeless and colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque. Sensitivity readers were brought in to review Dahl’s language so the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, Puffin said. Sir Salman, who as author of The Satanic Verses has been a pioneer of free enquiry and lived under constant threats to his life, became the most high-profile person in the literary world to condemn the decision... Sir Salman later tweeted in response to a critic: "He was a self confessed antisemite, with pronounced racist leanings, and he joined in the attack on me back in 1989… but thanks for telling me off for defending his work from the bowdlerizing Sensitivity Police."... Comedian David Baddiel posted a screenshot of one of the changes to a passage in The Twits that removes the words "double chin", adding: "The problem with the Dahl bowdlerisation is it has no logical consistency. "Here, double chin has been cut, presumably to avoid fat shaming. But what about wonky nose or crooked teeth shaming? Once you start on this path you can end up with blank pages." Meanwhile, Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of literature and human rights organisation PEN America, said she was "alarmed" at the changes, which "could represent a dangerous new weapon". “The problem with taking license to re-edit classic works is that there is no limiting principle," she tweeted. “You start out wanting to replace a word here and a word there, and end up inserting entirely new ideas (as has been done to Dahl’s work). "Literature is meant to be surprising and provocative. That's part of its potency. By setting out to remove any reference that might cause offense you dilute the power of storytelling." Katharine Birbalsingh, a headteacher and Britain's former social mobility commissioner, added of the changes: "How is this even legal?"... The words “black” and “white” have been removed: characters no longer turn “white with fear” and the Big Friendly Giant in The BFG cannot wear a black cloak... Prof Frank Furedi, an expert in the sociology of fear at the University of Kent, told The Telegraph: "What we have here is a knee-jerk cleansing of the literature of the past and they are turning works of literature into recipe books for their own wokeish values. "This is only the beginning because the role of sensitivity readers is expanding all the time. "Whereas they were initially hired to read new books submitted to them, now they're going back through the literature of the past almost as grievance archaeologists, trying to unearth words that might offend them.""
Clearly Rushdie doesn't know how hurtful words can be and should check his privilege since he has (internalised) white supremacy and doesn't know what it's like to be a minority. He also doesn't know that books need to change to stay relevant
I remember when the left mocked bowdlerisation. Of course a lot of them are going on about Florida's "book bans". One pretended that not having some books in school libraries was bad because not everyone could afford books. But of course this is good

Rewriting Roald Dahl - "Contemporary authors know all too well the power wielded by “sensitivity readers”. The concerns of younger, activist employees at publishing houses too often end up moulding the final edit. But rewriting the works of long-dead authors is surely worse, even if those writers did hold some highly objectionable views. How much of The Witches can be changed before it is no longer truly by Roald Dahl?"

Meme - "It all started with some horrible words in Roald Dahl's books... *empty bookshelf*"
Someone claimed that this was the slippery slope fallacy, without realising how far we have already slid down it

Charlie and the Quinoa factory : awfuleverything

The race is on to buy Roald Dahl’s original books - "This might be bad news for young readers – subsisting on a diet of watered-down versions of The Twits and Esio Trot – but is proving a boon for secondhand book sellers. One reports that sales are up sixfold, while another has received orders for rare editions worth hundreds of pounds. On eBay, a six volume Folio society set of Roald Dahl books is listed for £250. Several bookshops say shoppers are hunting for secondhand copies of Roald Dahl, before the Oompa-Loompas went gender neutral and any references to “fat” or “mad” characters were purged. The versions that avoided being fed through the sensitivity mangle have, appropriately, become golden ticket items... “It’s no surprise that there has been a significant uptick in Roald Dahl sales over the last week but even we didn’t anticipate the six-fold increase that we’ve seen. It would seem that classic Dahl books may even become a bit of a collectors item.”"
Some people claimed that this showed it was a business decision to boost sales. But it's secondhand copies being snatched up. And even though classic editions are being re-released, they won't look like children's books

Roald Dahl's rewritten books will be released alongside classic versions - The Washington Post - "We have sailed far, far beyond changing the n-word in “Huckleberry Finn.”... “Rewriting novels — like efforts to rewrite history — has origins in authoritarian playbooks,” PEN America chief executive Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. “We need to learn from the perspective of the past, not eliminate viewpoints we no longer accept.”"
If you're concerned about your children reading offensive things, just get them to read other things

Let Kids Read Roald Dahl’s Books the Way He Wrote Them - "You may have read that Roald Dahl’s classic tales have been altered to be, well, nicer. Because as we all know, niceness is what Roald Dahl is all about. Forget the misanthropy, physical disgust, and delight in transgression and violence and extravagance that give his stories bite and edge. Forget, too, the dependence of wit and vividness on specific, concrete words, on their sounds and evocative associations. What matters is that no one in the whole world be offended and that no opportunity be missed for moral improvement. The Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin, Dahl’s authorized publisher, have teamed up with a group called Inclusive Minds, “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature.” The organization turned the task of sanitizing Dahl over to their sensitivity readers, the oddly named Inclusivity Ambassadors, who have “lived experience” and can provide “valuable input.” If they sound like smooth-talking authoritarians, that’s not far off. In the world of children’s lit these days, sensitivity is king. But are actual readers—parents and children—calling out for the removal of the word “black” describing tractors or for replacing “North Africa” with “lots of different countries”? Do they object to describing a voice as “screechy” instead of “annoying”? I don’t know why Dahl is being censored—hopes of higher profits by Netflix, which owns the rights to his books and the movies made from them? Fear of social-justice Twitter? Did it start out as a few modest tweaks but got out of hand? In any case, there’s a loss in these changes—in vivacity, vigor, concreteness. As any good writer can tell you, we all know what a screechy voice sounds like, but an annoying one could be anything... The trouble is, once you start fiddling, where do you stop? Why not leave the books alone, and if people are so offended, they can stop reading them (which I doubt will happen any time soon)? The alternative is the falsification of history and the dumbing-down of great literature. Be that as it may, most of the changes have no such therapeutic rationale. They seem more like the work of an over-caffeinated undergraduate relying on those lists activists write up of Words to Avoid... The Witches wear wigs because they are bald, and they wear gloves to hide their claws. Touching their wigs would be a dangerous thing to do. Besides, the story takes place at a witches’ convention, where it is unlikely the child narrator is going to meet an ultra-orthodox woman in a sheitel or a chemo patient or a woman who simply enjoys playing with her appearance. But never mind the context: The important thing is to remember that wigs are okay! Be nice! Even if it means adding a preachy smiley face to a book written by an angry genius. And what about this change in Matilda? Dahl is describing the joy of reading... Take away those olden-day sailing ships and all the adventure is gone. I love Jane Austen, but the constrained world of Regency country gentry simply doesn’t convey the excitement and danger and unfamiliarity Dahl was going for. As for John Steinbeck’s California, it was a grim and prosaic place. What child has ever said, Oh, to be on the road with the Joads! And why is that old imperialist Kipling gone but not Hemingway, whose African stories heavily feature white men hunting now-endangered species and drinking too much? Isn’t Hemingway kind of a colonizer too? Perhaps the next edition will replace him with Mary Oliver. I’ve loved Dahl’s books since Mrs. Jesup read us James and the Giant Peach in the seventh grade. Back in those barbarous times, even delightful, wise teachers in an all-girls school thought nothing of references to the Cloud-Men, who are now Cloud-People (singular, Cloud-Person), or of calling the earthworm “pink” (now deleted, along with many color words which to a demented—I mean, silly—person might sound “racist,” even though earthworms actually are pink). The Ladybug no longer blushes—I suppose blushing is too stereotypically feminine. Gone too is the passage describing the Cloud-Men’s wives frying snowballs for their supper. Well, gender-neutral Cloud-People wouldn’t have wives, would they? Certainly not ones who cooked for their men. It’s as if the Ambassadors think children have no sense that the past was different, as if it cannot be explained to them... Each of these changes might seem small enough, but if you add them up, what you have is a weaker, duller, blander text. Dahl’s delicious dialogue loses its edge of rage. In places, the rhythm is destroyed. (The revised comic poems are a mess.) What gives these politically correct plodders the right to meddle with historical texts approved by their author and known and beloved by millions? Dah died only in 1990; he had plenty of time to rethink his literary choices, and in fact sometimes did so: The Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory started life in 1964 as African pygmies content to work for cocoa beans. Dahl revised that in a 1973 reprint—but it was his decision as the author, not that of some anonymous committee. In the late 17th century, Nahum Tate rewrote King Lear with a happy ending. In the early 19th century, Henrietta and Thomas Bowdler made Shakespeare safe for women and children by taking out all the sexy bits. History has not been kind to either project. It is my dearest hope that the Inclusivity Ambassadors will meet a similar fate"
When even The Nation is upset

UK fury as Roald Dahl books rewritten, but French publishers say ‘non’ to edits - "“Change a text today without (the author’s) consent? No,” Hedwige Pasquet, director of Gallimard Jeunesse, said in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper... Contextualising and updating some published works could necessitate the revision of all texts, and in that case, then “why not change fairytales?” Pasquet asked. She said that Dahl, who died in 1990, would not have accepted such changes as “it causes us to lose the flavour of his writing” and that his style was ironic and witty. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke out against the changes, saying “it’s important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed.”... Laura Hackett, a childhood Dahl fan who is now deputy literary editor of London’s Sunday Times newspaper, had a more personal reaction to the news. “The editors at Puffin should be ashamed of the botched surgery they’ve carried out on some of the finest children’s literature in Britain,” she wrote. “As for me, I’ll be carefully stowing away my old, original copies of Dahl’s stories, so that one day my children can enjoy them in their full, nasty, colorful glory.”"

The case against rewriting Roald Dahl | Financial Times - "What are the consequences of a more censorial culture? Is it even necessary? In India, I have seen how the current government’s active role in censoring the media, including documentaries and academic papers, has had a chilling effect. Offence laws have forced many writers to self-censor for fear of legal or other trouble if they “hurt sentiments”, particularly around religious content. Other countries should be wary of censorship creep, even if propelled by corporations rather than the state. If the revision of texts becomes the norm — and if authors’ preferences, the historicity of books and readers’ own choices are ignored — the door is opened to more frequent and sweeping acts of erasure. Far better to leave the decision of whether to engage, or not, with individual readers. One of my first jobs was as an apprentice nursery school teacher. The kids in my care loved all of Dahl’s ingenious but often gruesome tales — giants eat “human beans”, children are bullied by vicious adults, and the wicked meet gory ends. I skipped some of the most outrageous bits — but the choice remained with the kids and me. Rewrites may be well-intentioned, but they can also date rapidly. One of the most famous revisionists, Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), set about expurgating the works of Shakespeare, citing “delicacies of decorum in one age unknown to another age”, and arguing that there were passages that “a father could not read aloud to his children, a brother to his sister, or a gentleman to a lady”. Today, his concerns seem fussy and old-fashioned; so may our good intentions to future readers."

Camilla tells authors to ‘remain true to calling’ amid Roald Dahl row - "Camilla, the Queen Consort, has urged authors to resist curbs on freedom of expression in an apparent reflection on the backlash against changes to Roald Dahl’s books. Speaking at a Clarence House reception to mark the second anniversary of her online book club, Camilla told authors: “Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.”... Rishi Sunak also portrayed the changes as an attack on free speech. The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.” The spokesperson added that it was “important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed. We have always defended the right to free speech and expression”."

Ian Fleming’s James Bond books rewritten to remove ‘offensive’ references - "Racial references have been removed from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels following a sensitivity review. Terms such as the n-word, which featured in his writing from the 1950s and 1960s, have been edited out of new editions of the 007 books, which are set for reissue in April... It comes after Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, which owns the rights to his work, commissioned a review by sensitivity readers of the James Bond series"
"Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped."

I’m Ian Fleming’s biographer – there’s no way James Bond can be made ‘PC’ - "it’s never a good look to change what an author originally wrote. It smacks of censorship, and there’s seldom much mileage in that... I feel strongly that what an author commits to paper is sacrosanct and shouldn’t be altered. It stands as evidence of that writer’s – and society’s – attitudes at a particular moment in time, whether it’s by Shakespeare, Dickens, or Ian Fleming. The only changes to the text should come from the author. So Fleming himself allowed the title of a chapter heading in Live and Let Die, published in 1954, to be altered in subsequent editions because it used an offensive racial stereotype. But there's no way Bond's character in the Fleming books can be modified to make him politically correct. Fleming created a sexist, often sadistic, killer, with anachronistic attitudes to homosexuals, and to a range of people of different nationalities. These stand as evidence of how Britons (or at least some of them) thought at a particular moment in time... Films have more licence in this regard. Consequently EON, the producers of the James Bond movies, have tried to make the central character more sensitive – and even a family man – in the latest instalment of the franchise No Time to Die, which appeared in 2021. But often in the past, when they have attempted any softening of the character, they have returned to the original hard man of Fleming’s books... [Kipling's] output has found new favour in modern India, not least as a historical source which is studied for its vivid description of the late colonial period. Similarly, Fleming can be read – along with his contemporary Kingsley Amis – for his sophisticated journalist’s take on the mindless materialism of a society emerging blinking into the world after the deprivations of war, eager for new experiences which include foreign travel and sensual pleasure. He stated uncompromisingly that his books were “written for warm-blooded heterosexuals in railways trains, aeroplanes and beds”. In other words, he was writing for adults on the move in a modern society. The Roald Dahl stories which recently publicised this issue are aimed almost exclusively at children. While young minds should not be exposed to unnecessary cruelty, characters such as the tyrannical Miss Trunchbull in Dahl’s Matilda have emerged unscathed. Children enjoy the frisson which comes from a sense of naughtiness. Otherwise, the pantomime Punch and Judy would not exist."

Friday, March 03, 2023

Links - 3rd March 2023 (2 - Working from Home)

What Will Make Hybrid Work Stick? - The New York Times - "Offices reached a crucial benchmark at the start of this year: They’re at half their prepandemic occupancy. Just over half of workers who can do their jobs from home are now combining remote and in-person work... A study in Nature last year found that communicating virtually can inhibit creativity. Another study from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that with the onset of remote work, the formation of what sociologists call “weak ties” — measured in terms of emails between people with mutual contacts — declined 38 percent. But then there’s the immense stress relief that some workers have experienced with remote work. Parents have found that it enables them to better balance professional duties with child care. Employees of color say it reduces microaggressions and cliques. The best hybrid arrangements promise to combine the values that all sides want: the creativity of in-person collaboration, the ease and fluidity of working from home. Some executives remain hopeful they can strike that balance."

The Unintended Consequences of Working from Home - Freakonomics - "BLOOM: The 1,600 employees in the experiment are all grads. A third of them had a post-grad degree. They’re at high-end professional jobs that have a lot of creativity, a lot of mentoring, the types of things people worry about... Employees were dramatically happier being allowed to work from home two days a week. You can see this in surveys. Maybe more convincingly, you see it in quit rates. They fell by a third... The second finding was that it also changed the structure of hours. If you’re working from home, it’s much easier to go to the dentist, maybe go pick up your kids from school, maybe go out for a jog. If you play tennis, the tennis courts are free, or golf. So what we saw is folks that were working from home worked on average a couple of hours less a week on their home days but made up for it on other days, on the weekends... They end up sending many more messages to coworkers... productivity went up a bit. It wasn’t enormous. It was less in some ways than we expected. There were four different measures of performance and productivity — promotions, performance grades, a self-assessed measure, and then, finally, how many lines of code they wrote. Promotions and performance grades were about flat, but self-assessed and lines of code were up and, in particular, lines of code. If you think of that as maybe the hardest measure, that went up by 8 percent, which is a pretty large increase...
BLOOM: One of the reasons in China and Japan, work-from-home levels are lower is it’s not as appealing to be at home if you’re in a very high-density Asian city because your apartment is small. And in developing countries — you go to Africa, South America — it’s a lot lower because the industrial structure isn’t amenable. It’s much more agriculture, manufacturing, but the change is very high. So even in Africa, it’s gone from 1 to 5 percent. It’s still an enormous increase in levels...
The surge in startups is just one of many unintended consequences from shifting to remote and hybrid work. Here’s another: think about employees with disabilities. Their disability may have made it hard for them commute; they might have encountered discrimination in the labor market. But since April of 2020, the labor-force participation rate for American adults with disabilities has risen nearly five percentage points — a huge gain. Remote work has also meant a lot of people can relocate without changing jobs"
Many Americans hate those who work from home - because they think work should be about suffering (which is the same reason why they say anyone who doesn't work 7 days a week and 100 hours a week are useless and lazy)

intellectualtakeout.org/2020/08/when-half-of-nycs-tax-base-leaves-and-never-comes-back/.Xz1_evlFXMQ.twitter - "The traditional view has been the rich need the poor to exploit as cheap labor – textbook economic inequality. But with COVID as the spark, the ticking bomb of economic inequality may soon go off in America’s greatest city...   It’s snapshot simple. The wealthy and the companies they work for pay most of the taxes. The poor consume most of the taxes through social programs. COVID is driving the wealthy and their offices out of the city. No one will be left to pay for the poor, who are stuck here, and the city will collapse in the transition. A classic failed state scenario... The top one percent of NYC taxpayers pay nearly 50 percent of all personal income taxes collected in New York. Personal income tax in the New York area accounts for 59 percent of all revenues. Property taxes add in more than a billion dollars a year in revenue, about half of that generated by office space...   While overall only five percent of residents left as of May, in the city’s very wealthiest blocks residential population decreased by 40 percent or more. The higher-earning a neighborhood is, the more likely it is to have emptied out. Even the amount of trash collected in wealthy neighborhoods has dropped, a tell-tale sign no one is home. A real estate agent told me she estimates about a third of the apartments even in my mid-range 300 unit building are empty. The ones for sale or rent attract few customers. She says it’s worse than post-9/11 because at least then the mood was “How do we get NYC back on its feet?” instead of now, when we just stand over the body and tsk tsk through our masks...   For the super wealthy, New York once topped the global list of desirable places to live based on four factors: wealth, investment, lifestyle and future. The first meant a desire to live among other wealthy people (we know where that’s headed), investment returns on real estate (not looking great, if you can even find a buyer), lifestyle (now destroyed with bars, restaurants, shopping, museums, and theaters closed indefinitely, coupled with rising crime) and…  The future. New York pre-COVID had the highest projected GDP growth of any city. Now we’re left with the question if COVID continues to hollow out the city, who will be left to pay for New York? As one commentator said, NYC risks leading America into becoming “Brazil with Nukes,” a future of constant political and social chaos, with a ruling class content to wall itself off from the greater society’s problems."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Friday's business with Katie Prescott (19 Feb 2021) - "'People do want to go back, but they also want to work flexibly.'...
'So does that mean you're going to be cutting down on the amount of real estate that you own and manage because businesses just won't need as much?'...
'I think you've got a number of competing factors at play, yes, the employee wants to spend two days a week working remotely... But in addition to that, post COVID, you know, office space is probably going to be less densified than the model has been in the past and research that we're doing predicts that the actual amount of space given to an employee in the future will be somewhat 15% more than pre COVID times. So you've got two competing forces... also the purpose of the office we think is going to change into the future. And whereas a traditional office may well have had 60 to 70% desk in space, what we predict into the future that will be 30 to 40% with much more space given to collaboration areas, innovation zones, space to learn and to socialize. So we see the design of offices changing very much as well... what we're sensing at the moment is that there would be a modest reduction to the amount of space that a corporate would need... encouraging the employee to come back to the office, so there needs to be a richer purpose. So we do actually see that a lot more investment will go into real estate into the future. And by definition, there'll be a flight to quality, and companies will tend to gravitate more towards high quality office space into the future.'"

Meta Cuts Back on Some of Facebook’s Perks - The New York Times - "Meta, the parent company of Facebook, told employees on Friday that it was cutting back or eliminating free services like laundry and dry cleaning and was pushing back the dinner bell for a free meal from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to seven company employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  The new dinner time is an inconvenience because the last of the company’s shuttles that take employees to and from their homes typically leaves the office at 6 p.m. It will also make it more difficult for workers to stock up on hefty to-go boxes of food and bring them to their refrigerators at home.  The moves are a reflection of changing workplace culture in Silicon Valley. Tech companies, which often offer lifestyle perks in return for employees spending long hours in the office, are preparing to adjust to a new hybrid work model... Stopping the laundry and dry cleaning service for employees at Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., ends a famous — if unusual — perk. The laundry service, which was operated by a third party, had free pickup and drop-off around campus and was intended “to make people’s lives easier”"

Return to office has me worried as a Black woman and CEO: Parchment - "As we navigate this brave new world, it is becoming clear that there are important differences in how men and women view the return to office, and that race may also affect preference for time spent working in person. Unless we understand and thoughtfully navigate these preferences, we risk taking a big step backward in equity. Diverse representation, cultures of belonging, mentorship and sponsorship will all suffer... We have seen a number of global surveys that indicate that Black workers have a much stronger preference for remote working than white workers do, because remote work comes with fewer microaggressions. New data from Mercer around office work should also be setting off alarm bells at Canadian organizations. Our 2022 Global Talent Trend survey found that most men (77 per cent) agreed with the statement: “I fundamentally believe that work gets done in an office, not remotely.” Only 59 per cent of women said the same. If men feel that way and become more likely to show up — and women do not — it may have lasting consequences. Men in leadership might also wrongfully assume women working remotely are not getting as much done."
Feminists have long wanted equal pay for unequal work. Now it's taking on a racial dimension too

Return-to-office plans unravel as workers revolt in tight job market - "Even the most inflexible bosses are softening their return-to-office expectations. JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief Jamie Dimon has been one of the most vocal critics of remote work, arguing that it’s no substitute for the spontaneous idea generation that results from bumping into colleagues at the coffee machine. But in his annual letter to shareholders last month, the head of America’s biggest bank allowed that working from home “will become more permanent in American business,” and estimated that about 40 per cent of his 270,000-person workforce would work under a hybrid model, which includes days in the office and at home.   Soon after Dimon’s missive, one of the bank’s senior technology executives told some teams that they could cut back from three days in the office per week to two, citing internal feedback. Many white-collar workplaces are making similar retreats as their employees stubbornly stick to working from home while struggling with child care, the grind of commuting and worries about rising COVID-19 cases. Bosses are wary of taking punitive action against those who aren’t following their ambitious so-called RTO plans, fearing it will backfire in today’s tight labour market... organizations that returned to the office in the first few months of the year now have loads of feedback from employees, many of whom are frustrated by commuting in just to spend half their day on Zoom calls... A new survey of real-estate executives by CBRE Group Inc. found that the share of them who expect their workplaces to be “office-based” for most employees going forward declined to 19 per cent from 30 per cent last year... While many companies settled on three or four days in the office when initially establishing hybrid-work arrangements, the ideal setup is actually just one or two days in the office, according to a recent working paper from Harvard Business School. Hybrid work schedules can also reduce employee quit rates by 35 per cent compared with those who work entirely from the office...   When data-storage giant Teradata Corp. asked employees across all its U.S. locations if they wanted to come back to the office at least a few days a week, about half said yes, according to Chief People Officer Kathy Cullen-Cote. But of that group, only half show up. “If I’m sitting in the corner of the office, and only half the people are there, will I have that watercooler conversation? No,” said Cullen, whose company has cut its real-estate footprint in half... London-based law firm Stephenson Harwood, for example, recently told staff that anyone wanting to work from home permanently will have to take a 20 per cent pay cut.  But such ultimatums are rare. Instead, frustrated bosses are increasingly making more emotional appeals. In a recent memo to staff, Rich Handler, chief executive officer of Jefferies Financial Group Inc., said “we are mentally healthier when we are around each other regularly. Our juniors and mid-level partners need our empathic seniors to truly lead them in person.” While acknowledging the efficiency of remote work, Handler and President Brian Friedman said it’s left many mid-level and junior staff “feeling abandoned,” and they “need to be in your physical presence” to see big deals get done or learn how to cultivate clients. “They need this from you,” the bosses said to the firm’s senior staff. “It just requires more effort from all of you.”"

The Impact Of Remote Work On Productivity And Creativity - "Microsoft recently conducted an extensive study that looked at data from more than 60,000 of their employees over a six-month period, starting just before the start of the pandemic. The findings, published in Nature Human Behavior, revealed some interesting and thought-provoking insights surrounding hybrid workplaces and the potentially negative effects of remote work on collaboration, innovation and output. To sum things up: While short-term productivity may go up, long-term productivity will likely go down...   The business model itself should determine what kind of work environment is most beneficial and productive. There are too many variables to make this decision easily.  Ultimately, it will depend on the nature of the business or the role. Take, for example, the auto manufacturing industry. Much of the industry makes remote work detrimental to productivity, but those who work in the finance or IT departments could conceivably work remotely...   Remote work, by its very nature, means fewer connections between team members across the organization. Supported by findings in the Microsoft study, this leads to a breakdown of critical bridging ties. In remote or hybrid workplaces, employees don’t interact as much as they used to nor in the ways they normally would. The proverbial water cooler talks, lunches in the corporate cafeteria or impromptu meetings are no longer possible. In the workplace, these types of interactions would have occurred naturally and instinctively.  Bottom line? There’s a direct link to how collaboration time is spent and, more specifically, what people spend their time working on or the information they pursue. If no one ventures out to investigate new fields of interest or looks deeper into emerging trends, then creativity and innovation will suffer."

Working from home for the long-term isn’t beneficial, CIBC CEO says - The Globe and Mail - "Permanent work-from-home arrangements may not be beneficial for companies over the long haul, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce chief executive Victor Dodig says, and could create division between front-line employees who have to come to work, and others who are given a choice.  During an annual public policy conference on Tuesday, Mr. Dodig said most company work “still needs to be done in collaboration,” and includes some level of interaction among people to deliver services or products, particularly for businesses that make “hard goods,” but also those that make “soft goods.” “Right now, you see a view emerging that you can do everything from home. But you can’t build a company, and a company culture that’s cohesive, just working from home”"

Remote Work Evolves Into Hybrid Work And Productivity Rises, The Data Shows - "In a recent report out of Accenture, 83% of 9,326 workers surveyed say they prefer a hybrid model — in which they can work remotely at least 25% of the time...   Full-time work from anywhere can be a good thing, but is not optimal for those who are in the earlier stages of their career. Younger people need to be out in the world, forging bonds, gaining mentors, and learning how things work — not sitting alone in front of a screen all day. This is validated by the Accenture survey, which finds a hybrid model that works for all generations may be a challenge: three in four Gen Zers (74%) want more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues face-to-face, a higher percentage than Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (68%)."

Wall Street Plans Large Job Cuts As Remote Work And Tech Take Over - "around 25% of financial services firms plan to “cut their workforce” over the next five years.    It's not just the big banks. About 13% of Big Apple employers expect to reduce their workforces in coming years, and around 33% responded that their need for real estate and office space will decline... 54% of Manhattan office workers are fully remote... The study wasn’t too specific about the downsizings. It could be attributed to the expenses associated with their substantially underutilized office spaces, the ability to hire people remotely from anywhere in the world, the usage of artificial intelligence and technology instead of people and the effects of relocating jobs to other locations, in an effort to find cheaper labor compared to well-paid financial professionals who are based in New York. The flight out of Manhattan has been going on for many years. It first started after Sept. 11 when business leaders recognized it wasn’t smart to have all of the banks clustered closely together on Wall Street.   The first move was to Midtown Manhattan and then opening up offices in Jersey City, New Jersey. When clients didn’t balk at the change in address, financial services firms expanded across the country, in an attempt to find lower real estate costs, less taxes and better weather than the brutally hot August summers and freezing-cold winters in New York. They also paid people in these locations less than New Yorkers. Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, UBS, Citigroup, Alliance Bernstein and an array of other financial institutions established and aggressively staffed hubs in Florida, North Carolina, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Nashville and other less expensive locations compared to New York. Investment and financial companies also started relocating jobs around the world.  The pandemic ushered in another exodus of firms leaving New York, which for a long time was the epicenter and hot spot of the outbreak. During the bleak days, Goldman Sachs considered moving its money management division to Florida.    The absence of a state income tax, plus warm weather and a business-friendly mindset,   prompted hedge fund billionaires and native New Yorkers Paul Singer and Carl Icahn to relocate their respective businesses to Florida...   Artificial intelligence, algorithms, electronic trading and automation has taken jobs away from thousands of traders. Investment banks seek people who have the math, technology, software, coding, data analytics and related skills, which can all be done remotely anywhere in the world... When you see footage on cable news about the stock market, they’ll usually show a busy, open-outcry market on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It's really a Potemkin village. The cameras shoot where there are some live traders and support staff herded into one small area. In reality, the New York Stock Exchange floor is devoid of humans and runs primarily on technology conducting the electronic trading activities...   If people remain steadfast and require remote work, New York City could be in trouble.  Unless city and state-elected politicians enact changes, the flight out of high-taxed, expensive cities will continue. As corporations and well-paid, white-collar workers leave, the cities will bear the brunt of plummeting tax revenue. The decline will force mayors to drastically cut costs. This will include massive layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors and other municipal workers.   With less services, the cities become dirtier, crime increases and living conditions worsen. This will prompt even more people to move. A cascading downward spiral could occur, making places, like New York, dangerous and inhospitable. It could become just like in the dark days of New York in the ‘70s. It took over a decade to turn things back around."
People should be careful what they wish for

Winners and Losers of the Work-From-Home Revolution - The Atlantic - "Remote work might crush productivity, but it will also lead to a productivity boom? It obliterates focus and extends working hours, but people want more of it? It hampers the sort of teamwork that is essential at knowledge-economy companies, but those same companies say they’re going to make it a permanent feature?  This complexity makes more sense if we think of WFH as an invention that helps some people more than others. The remote-work revolution might be, as I’ve argued before, a good thing overall. But it will produce winners and losers. Let’s consider a few.
Winners: High-income workers at highly profitable companies
In the past year, no group has been more pleased with working from home than high-income men in their 30s and 40s, according to the survey of 30,000 U.S. workers. And highly profitable companies are more likely to say they are planning to make WFH a central part of their business. The most likely immediate winners of the remote-work revolution, then, are those who, in an economic sense, are already winning. “Ground zero for who stands to benefit from WFH in the near future is something like a 45-year-old software engineer who used to work in central Manhattan but now they can do the same work, for the same salary, from their living room in the suburbs,” says Nicholas Bloom...
Winners: Work introverts and people who enjoy (or are good at) using online communication tools...
The distributed office is not a placeless space. A Zoom call is a place; a Slack channel is a place; your manager’s inbox is a place. These are all “rooms” in which bosses can evaluate worker performance. It’s a fact of human diversity that different people thrive in different spaces, so we should expect that the virtual spaces of remote work will reward certain skills that went underappreciated in office settings.
Losers: Entry-level workers in less established positions...
the post-pandemic office may be more like a neighborhood café. People will come and go, you’ll recognize some of them but feel estranged from others, and the office might convey a sense of both vague belonging and day-to-day transience. That’s not an ideal environment for new workers to feel welcomed into a community of peers. “Deprived of desk neighbors, impromptu coffees, and any real way to, for a lack of a better term, read everyone’s vibe,” my colleague Amanda Mull wrote last year, “new hires and young people who work remotely risk remaining unknown quantities.”
Losers: Downtown landlords and businesses...
Downtown office vacancies have surged across the country, and even in the optimistic scenario that 90 percent of white-collar workers return to the office three days a week, that’s still a nearly 50 percent decline in commuting and office use.
Winners: Suburban-town-center developers
The money that’s not going to downtown commutes, offices, and barbershops won’t disappear into the ether. A lot of it will just move to the suburbs... For years, urban developers have been talking about “15-minute cities”—accessible downtown neighborhoods where residents can satisfy just about every food, drink, beauty, entertainment, and fitness need with a short walk or bike ride. Logically, as more 30-somethings relocate to the suburbs, real-estate developers will chase their needs by pouring money into a constellation of 15-minute suburban town centers. The downtown office building’s loss will be the suburban developer’s gain.
Winner: the how-to-WFH economy...
the average worker invested “15 hours of time and $561 in home equipment to facilitate WFH” last year. That’s an astonishing number—amounting to close to 1 percent of annual GDP spent on WFH amenities. And that figure doesn’t even account for all the money companies spent on telecommunications, back-end systems, and other tech to support WFH...
Loser: Political comity
College is already the most important dividing line in politics. It’s also the most important dividing line in remote work. More than half of graduate-degree earners can work from home, compared with less than 25 percent of people with just a high-school degree, according to Bloom. The remote-work revolution, therefore, is principally a revolution for the colleged class, which is disproportionately a Democratic cohort. If the college-graduate workforce evolves toward a certain kind of work that is off-limits to most noncollege grads, the cultural divide between graduates and nongraduates may widen even further, pulling apart a country that is already split by a diploma gap."

Commuting Has Surprising Mental-Health Benefits - The Atlantic - "Many people liberated from the commute have experienced a void they can’t quite name. In it, all theaters of life collapse into one. There are no beginnings or endings. The hero’s journey never happens. The threshold goes uncrossed... In 1994, an Italian physicist named Cesare Marchetti noted that throughout history, humans have shown a willingness to spend roughly 60 minutes a day in transit. This explains why ancient cities such as Rome never exceeded about three miles in diameter. The steam train, streetcar, subway, and automobile expanded that distance. But transit times stayed the same. The one-way average for an American commute stands at about 27 minutes. Marchetti’s Constant, as those 60 minutes are known, is usually understood to describe what people will endure, not what they might actually desire. But if you take the richest people of any era—who can afford to design their lives however they like—and calculate the transit time between their home and workplace, what do you find? J. P. Morgan: a roughly 25-minute ride by horse-drawn cab. John D. Rockefeller: an elevated-rail ride of about 30 minutes. In a 2001 paper, two researchers at UC Davis attempted to divine the ideal commute time. They settled on 16 minutes. To be sure, this was a substantial shortening of the study participants’ actual commutes (which were half an hour, on average). But it was not zero. In fact, a few wished for a longer commute. Asked why, they ticked off their reasons—the feeling of control in one’s own car; the time to plan, to decompress, to make calls, to listen to audiobooks. Clearly, the researchers wrote, the commute had some “positive utility.”... boundary theory holds that however much Facebook encourages employees to bring their “authentic selves” to work, we have multiple selves, all of them authentic... workers who engaged in “role-clarifying prospection” during their morning commute—deliberately thinking about plans for the workday—reported higher levels of satisfaction with both their work and home lives than those who either zoned out or ruminated on personal problems. Skipping this cognitively difficult task left them in limbo, making each place more stressful. Technology can help. In a 2017 experiment, a team at Microsoft installed a program called SwitchBot on commuters’ phones. Before the start and end of each workday, the bot would pose simple questions. A morning session helped the participants transition into productive work mode, while prompts to detach at day’s end—“How did you feel about work today? Is there anything else you would like to share?”—brought forth something unexpected. “People apparently would just spill out their day,” Shamsi Iqbal, a researcher who helped design the study, told me. In reliving their day, they “relieved themselves” of it (and sent fewer after-hours emails as a result)... the ability to detach from a job, Iqbal explained, is part of what makes a good worker. New research shows that it’s crucial to facilitating mental rejuvenation. Without it, burnout rises, effort increases, and productivity ultimately drops... “Enclothed Cognition”... When people are asked to do a difficult task involving visual concentration, they make about half as many errors if they first put on a white lab coat. (If they’re told it’s a painter’s coat, it helps, but only marginally.) The coat has a symbolic power, the paper says, which “is not realized until one physically wears and thus embodies the clothes.”... “Every single conversation I have with corporate clients is the same,” he told me: “Employees are burnt out and have no separation between home and life.”... “Rituals are friction,” he told me. Like the commute, “they slow us down. They’re so antithetical to most of our life, which is all about efficiency and speed.”"

Can Working Remotely Hurt Your Career? - The Atlantic - "Remote work might feel great, but unless you go to extreme lengths to signal your devotion to your company, it can irritate your boss and hurt your career... Compared with those who work full-time in an office, bosses are less likely to promote or monetarily reward those who work from home... the more people telecommuted, the greater the hit to their salaries. These studies suggest that workers are taxed either way: They pay more to live near their office, which is typically in an expensive city center, or they save money by living in and working from the exurbs, and thus don’t get as many raises... Remote workers might also be penalized because bosses make positive snap judgments about people who work in the office... This remote-work penalty is avoidable, however. In the tech-worker study, the detrimental effects of telecommuting were mitigated for people who had lots of co-workers who also worked remotely, or when the telecommuters did extra work outside business hours, or when they had more face-to-face interactions with their supervisors. Meeting with your manager face-to-face—presumably over Zoom, in this era—might serve as an “impression management strategy”

Microsoft's CEO is tired of working from home and he's not alone/a> - "he believes all those video meetings are merely transactional. The really inspired, creative work happens in casual conversations before and after meetings. Surely, at times, in bars, too. Instead, here we have employees sometimes in extremely uncomfortable working conditions -- a bedroom, perhaps, or a small living room -- having to perform their tasks without the freedom to let their minds (and bodies) roam... Microsoft's managers are making more effort to maintain contact with their employees and ensure they're not going (too) crazy.Nadella's frustrations are, however, being echoed elsewhere. Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom believes working from home is, for many, a "productivity disaster."Writing for CNBC, Bloom said he fears "a slump in innovation. In-person collaboration is necessary for creativity, and my research has shown that face-to-face meetings are essential for developing new ideas and keeping staff motivated and focused."He worries that the true results of working from home in less than ideal circumstances will be reflected in fewer innovative products in the years to come. Starting next year... Loneliness, he says, is a debilitating factor. He explains that when, after nine months of working from home, he asked Ctrip employees whether they wanted to return to the office, half said they did. Even though their average commute was 40 minutes."

Witchcraft: everything you wanted to know

Witchcraft: everything you wanted to know | HistoryExtra

""‘Do we have a rough idea of people actually believed in witches and witchcraft? Or was it more a case of people using witchcraft as a way of, to their own benefit basically, to kind of persecute somebody that perhaps they didn't like or had a had a bit of beef with’

‘Most people who were prosecuted for witchcraft during the witch trials, and after were utterly innocent of the crimes and nearly all of them are really entirely innocent of the crimes or things they were said to have done, but we do have to remember that people did practice harmful counter magic of all myriad forms. And we may think about the Voodoo Doll today. But there was a whole idea of image magic and sticking pins into pictures and cruel little dolls. That happened. People did do it, people did it during the time of the witch trials. So we have to separate two things out here. One is that people yes are performing a harmful magic. And often harmful magic is actually done against suspected witches. In other words, you're using kind of harmful magic to counter the harmful magic that the witch has put on you, the spells put on you. So yes, people are practicing this, at the same time that people who are normally accused of it, which is, you know, vast majority cases, we have no evidence they were actually doing that at all...

On the continent, a lot of the continent operated under Roman law, inquisitorial law, and that doesn't mean it's related to the Inquisition. What it means is that trials take place, following evidence gathered by investigating judges. So whether it's in France, or some of the German states, or whatever, accusations are made in a community, they get reported to the judges, the judges, then go and investigate, they gather evidence, they use torture, and then the trial takes place following the gathering. So that's how it takes place under Roman law and Roman law still very much dictates quite a lot of law in European countries.

Britain very different. And obviously, in colonial America, which was using common law, English common law. A trial can only take place when someone makes a complaint. A person, the state can't go around creating trials, someone has to make a complaint, and because of the process of a magistrate, etc. So you can imagine someone who thinks they're bewitched has to think about whether they want to report this to the authorities, go through a trial. It's expensive, takes time. And we have to remember that in England, for example, it was not kangaroo court here, a lot of people got off, a lot of people were found not guilty. So you can go to all that expense of trying to get rid of the witch in your community. And in the end all you end up out of pocket and still having to have the supposed witch in your community still. 

So it's just one of several options, and people would often go to a cunning person to find out who the witch is. And then you would use counter magic against the witch. So cunning folk provide this alternative in the sense to the legal ways in which you deal with a witch… some cunning folk were accused of witchcraft. There's, there's a big misnomer out there and it's on, full on the internet. That is that the witch trials are all about wise women being, midwives being prosecuted. That, that's nonsense. There is no evidence that that was the predominant reason for why people are accused of witchcraft and who were, who were accused of witchcraft. 

But there are a small percentage of those, more or less, in different countries, different cultures, who were were tried for witchcraft, who were cunning folk or wise women, the usual reason for it was that someone would go to a cunning person, because they think they're bewitched. The cutting person will say oh I know who did this, for a few shillings, I will give you this, this charm, these herbs go away. But if it's connected, particularly with illness, and it doesn't go away, then the person starts thinking, hold on, I've just paid all this money to this cunning  person. I'm still feeling bad. I'm still bewitched. Maybe it's the cunning person that's doing this to me. 

So people, so people kind of do get accused of witchcraft, but it normally it's in relationship to the, to the client-patient relationship with someone who thinks they're already bewitched, and then comes to have the conviction, then, because the spell doesn't seem to be broken that they're being bewitched by the cunning person. So that, that's often one of the reasons...

Torture was illegal in witch trials in England. It's obviously used widely on the continent. And a  degree of torture is also used in Scotland, In England torture was for, for treason. Was was was used for treason but you know, it was not allowed, it was illegal to torture a witch for confessions. On the continent, it was widespread, doesn't matter whether it's Protestant or Catholic, or whatever. And the whole, the whole reason of confession was the idea that your kind of religious underpinnings that torture is considered to be valid in the sense of because you have to make these people confess, because to confess, not only in trial, but to confess before God... torture is one of the key reasons why we have 10s of 1000s of people prosecuted and executed because torture, under torture, people name names, spirals and spirals and spirals... 

There's a notorious case in the town of Elvingen [sp?]. in what's now Germany, where torture ratcheted up to the point at which, you know, nearly half the town was somehow under investigation, and it collapses, the whole thing collapses under its own intrinsic illogicality in a sense because one of the wives of one of the judges gets accused, named under torture, and the whole thing collapsed. So at that time, you know, dozens of people have been executed...

There are examples of similar sorts of trials taking place in China, 18th century'...

‘Were people who practised medicine, kind of more likely to be accused of witchcraft?’

‘The link between female healers on witch trials is fairly tenuous. Yes. If you go through all the witch trials, you will find people who practise it, practised a bit of herbal medicine or whatever. You might find, you'll find a few midwives because there was a, every community had informal, formal  midwives, that there's a whole history of how men dominated the profession later. And yes, you know, some cunning women, wise men were caught up in the trials as well. But that's, that's not the main link. Most most of those accused were were not petty healers, or cunning vocal wives, our midwives. Most women and men would practice some form of domestic medicine, and herbal remedies. But the real deal, you would go to an expert, you would go to a licensed physician or a cunning person or a folk healer, for that sort of, commonly. But those generally aren't the people who are being accused. So it isn't about secret female knowledge of medicine or anything like that. That's not that's not why people are being accused of witchcraft, people are being accused of witchcraft, because of misfortune’" 


Feminist history once again is bullshit

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