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PostPosted: Fri 28 Jun , 2019 10:58 pm 
A green apple painted red
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At least in some states, including California, voters registered as independent can request a Democratic primary ballot. Republican ballot is for registered Republicans only, in California.

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PostPosted: Sun 30 Jun , 2019 9:22 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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Yeah, it varies a lot. Some states have closed primaries, some have open primaries, and some leave it to each party what they want to do. There's also the choice of registering as one party just to be allowed to vote, or even registering as the other party, then switching back, if you're up for the bother.

One of my siblings used to register Republican in the hope of getting less objectionable candidates. That's how I know how frankly nasty the California Republican party's campaign literature is when they're sending it to registered Republicans. I don't remember the specifics but they were selling fear and hatred.

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jul , 2019 5:38 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1934
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/death-political-cartoon-190702083907178.html
Quote:
The death of the political cartoon

A pillar of journalism is being destroyed by oppressive governments, online mobs and profit-oriented media moguls.
Quote:
While much of the blame for this is laid at the feet of politicians and governments, corporations and the internet are as much to blame. The concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few firms has diminished the space for critical journalism.

In New Brunswick, for example, the Irving family, one of the wealthiest in Canada and owners of Brunswick News Inc, has had a de facto monopoly on the media in the province for decades, operating virtually all of the major print publications. This not only means that now de Adder is unable to get any of his cartoons published in his home province, but that coverage of issues tends to be informed by the Irvings' corporate interests.

...Further, as newspaper revenues from advertising continue to plummet, this has given big advertisers, "huge influence, which often allows them to quietly control what is published and what is not," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. This "back-door soft censorship, generally invisible to the public," is a filter through which not just cartoonists' images, but also news reports, must pass before they are published.

However, it is not just advertisers that the media fears. Social media has also emerged as a critical threat. While platforms such as Twitter can provide valuable avenues for constructive audience feedback, they can also be a means of censorship...
Quote:
The need to avoid provoking the online outrage machine, which can lead to loss of subscriptions and ad revenues, makes media less willing to publish articles, images and cartoons that do not conform to popular opinion.

Today, under the banner of outrage, fortifications are being erected around topics - from religion to race - deemed "sensitive", placing them out of the reach of public comment or satire. That can be fatal to democracy which depends on a free contestation of ideas, even those that offend.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul , 2019 1:23 am 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/07/dog-neutering-health-risks-for-certain-breeds/594355/
Quote:
The Quietly Changing Consensus on Neutering Dogs

A growing body of research has documented the health risks of getting certain breeds fixed early—so why aren’t shelters changing their policies?

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul , 2019 5:12 pm 
The Grey Amaretto as Supermega-awesome Proud Heretic Girl
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I've been hearing about this kind of thing for awhile now. This is the problem when people apply a one-size-fits-all approach to an issue.

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PostPosted: Wed 11 Sep , 2019 2:02 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/sep/11/what-does-living-fully-mean-welcome-to-the-age-of-pseudo-profound-nonsense

Quote:
What does 'living fully' mean? Welcome to the age of pseudo-profound nonsense

Inspirational quotes of dubious provenance are just one of the ways in which social media sells a warped vision of ‘living fully’




https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/09/i-wont-buy-my-teenagers-smartphones/597805/
Quote:
My Unplugged Teens

Denying a teenager a smartphone in 2019 is a tough decision, and one that requires an organized and impenetrable defense.
Quote:
My 14-year-old son just started high school, and he does not have his own smartphone. When I tell people this, I get the same face I imagine I would if I said that I hadn’t fed him for several days. My son is fine, though—really. I don’t think he’s ever been lost, stranded, or even inconvenienced by his lack of that quintessential 21st-century accessory...

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Fri 13 Sep , 2019 7:13 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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Here's a complex article that discusses various experiences and issues a family faced in the New York City schools, over the course of the kids' schooling. It was an eye-opener into how some American school systems function these days.
Warning - it's extremely long, even for The Atlantic. Don't even start it if you don't have an hour or so to spare. And though it starts with how far an upper middle class couple will go to get their kids into a good school, it talks about many other things later - it's not one of those articles where you can read the first few paragraphs and pretty much know what the rest will be.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/10/when-the-culture-war-comes-for-the-kids/596668/
Quote:
When the Culture War Comes for the Kids

Caught between a brutal meritocracy and a radical new progressivism, a parent tries to do right by his children while navigating New York City’s schools.
Quote:
To be a parent is to be compromised. You pledge allegiance to justice for all, you swear that private attachments can rhyme with the public good, but when the choice comes down to your child or an abstraction—even the well-being of children you don’t know—you’ll betray your principles to the fierce unfairness of love. Then life takes revenge on the conceit that your child’s fate lies in your hands at all. The organized pathologies of adults, including yours—sometimes known as politics—find a way to infect the world of children. Only they can save themselves....





It led me to another article I also found interesting.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/large-majorities-dislike-political-correctness/572581/
Quote:
On social media, the country seems to divide into two neat camps: Call them the woke and the resentful. Team Resentment is manned—pun very much intended—by people who are predominantly old and almost exclusively white. Team Woke is young, likely to be female, and predominantly black, brown, or Asian (though white “allies” do their dutiful part). These teams are roughly equal in number, and they disagree most vehemently, as well as most routinely, about the catchall known as political correctness.

Reality is nothing like this. As scholars Stephen Hawkins, Daniel Yudkin, Miriam Juan-Torres, and Tim Dixon argue in a report published Wednesday, “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” most Americans don’t fit into either of these camps. They also share more common ground than the daily fights on social media might suggest—including a general aversion to PC culture...
Quote:
According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”...

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either...
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Progressive activists are the only group that strongly backs political correctness...

So what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. And while 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country...
Quote:
It turns out that while progressive activists tend to think that only hate speech is a problem, and devoted conservatives tend to think that only political correctness is a problem, a clear majority of all Americans holds a more nuanced point of view: They abhor racism. But they don’t think that the way we now practice political correctness represents a promising way to overcome racial injustice...

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep , 2019 10:55 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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There are days when I feel that articles like these need a boost:
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/07/is-the-earth-really-that-doomed/533112/
Quote:
Are We as Doomed as That New York Magazine Article Says?
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No one knows how to talk about climate change right now.

I don’t have an idea about where to begin, and I write about it professionally. On the one hand, the natural consequences of climate change seem increasingly severe and devastating....

It’s into that morass that this week’s New York magazine walks. In a widely shared article, David Wallace-Wells sketches the bleakest possible scenario for global warming. He warns of a planet so awash in greenhouse gas that Brooklyn’s heat waves will rival Bahrain’s. The breadbaskets of China and the United States will enter a debilitating and everlasting drought, he says. And millions of brains will so lack oxygen that they’ll slip into a carbon-induced confusion....

It’s a scary vision—which is okay, because climate change is scary. It is also an unusually specific and severe depiction of what global warming will do to the planet. And though Wallace-Wells makes it clear that he’s not predicting the future, only trying to spin out the consequences of the best available science today, it’s fair to ask: Is it realistic? Will this heat-wracked doomsday come to pass?

Many climate scientists and professional science communicators say no. Wallace-Wells’s article, they say, often flies beyond the realm of what researchers think is likely. I have to agree with them....



https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/no-climate-change-will-not-end-the-world-in-12-years/
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No, Climate Change Will Not End the World in 12 Years
Quote:
There's no question that our climate reality is dire, but having worked at the intersection of science and climate challenges for decades, the new barrage of what I've come to call doomsday porn is perplexing....

Climate change cannot become yet another doomsday narrative. It's far too important and deadly serious. Climate change deserves to be addressed with a level of gravity that spurs informed policies, thoughtful planning and dedicated leadership at the local, national and global scale. Journalists must figure out how to convey the precarious state of our world along with the opportunities still available to adapt and change our behavior to mitigate the worst possible outcomes....



https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2014/04/05/in-the-balance
Quote:
Every six or so years, the IPCC produces a three-part encyclopedia of the climate. This report is the second tranche of its latest effort. The first, on the science of climate change, came out last September. It argued that the process is accelerating even though the world’s surface temperatures are currently flatlining (a phenomenon most climate scientists regard as merely a pause in an upward trend). This, second, volume asks how the climate is affecting ecosystems, the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Profoundly, is the headline answer. It argues that climate change is having an impact on every ecosystem from the equator to the poles. It suggests that although there are some benefits to a warmer climate, most effects are negative and will get worse....

Behind such scares, though, lies a subtler story, in which the effects of global warming vary a lot, climate change is just one risk among many, and the damage it causes—and the possibility of reducing that damage—depend as much on other factors, such as health systems and rural development, as they do on global warming itself...


http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101101/full/news.2010.577.html
Quote:
Stripped of incendiary words, the central issue that concerns Curry also happens to be the key problem in translating climate science into climate policy. The public at large wants to know whether or not climate is warming, by how much and when, and they want to know how bad the effects are going to be. But the answers scientists give in papers and at conferences come couched in a seemingly vague language of confidence intervals and probabilities. The politically charged nature of the issue seems to have made some scientists reluctant to even mention anything to the public about "uncertainty"...


The uncertainty lies in both the data about past climate and the models that project future climate. Curry asserts that scientists haven't adequately dealt with the uncertainty in their calculations.... [but] Many climate scientists find these complaints unfair. They say the IPCC has been upfront about uncertainties all along—that the reports explicitly cite areas where knowledge is lacking. ...

While the IAC panel came out of its investigation with respect for the IPCC overall, it had issues with how the organization deals with uncertainty. "We looked very carefully at the question of how they communicate the level of uncertainty to policy makers," says Harold Shapiro, a former president of Princeton University and head of the IAC panel. "We found it was a mix. Sometimes they do it well, sometimes not so well. There were statements made where they expressed high confidence in a conclusion where there was very little evidence, and sometimes there were statements made that could not be falsified." A statement that cannot be proven false is generally not considered to be scientific....

In at least one respect, however, Curry is in harmony with her colleagues. The public needs to understand that in science uncertainty is not the same thing as ignorance; rather it is a discipline for quantifying what is unknown. Curry has sought to begin a conversation on one of the most important and difficult issues in climate policy: the extent to which science can say something valid despite gaps in knowledge. ... When scientists translate statistical jargon into comprehensible language, they necessarily oversimplify it, giving the impression of glossing over nuance. The public gets cartoon versions of climate theories, which are easily refuted.

A crucial lesson for the public is that uncertainty cuts both ways. When science is uncertain, it means that things could turn out to be much rosier than projections would indicate. It also means things could turn out to be much worse...



I am a bit tired of fanatical children today and their blanket condemnation of the complicated world of adults. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/462599-greta-thunberg-to-world-leaders-at-unga-well-be-watching-you ( "Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Monday railed at world leaders at the United Nations, saying... that world leaders "have stolen my dreams, my childhood, with your empty words and yet I’m one of the lucky ones.... People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of the mass extinction...". Full text of her short speech: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/23/world-leaders-generation-climate-breakdown-greta-thunberg) I am also tired of media that avoid nuance and adore movements whose basic demands are "panic" and "listen to the scientists." Sorry, kids, the role of science is not to dictate to society what it must do. What science can do is to inform people of the current consensus, with the uncertainties, and some possible solutions. Then it's up to society and governments to choose what we want to do, balancing needs and trade-offs, and their costs to the world as a whole. I'm not a climate change denier, by any means, but I abhor simplistic nonsense. And while I have no problem with teenagers having protest marches - it's their nature to be passionate and idealistic and that's a good thing - this business of world leaders listening humbly* to a child who thinks he/she knows it all is becoming ridiculous.

*Or at least pretending to, to avoid media condemnation.




EDIT:

It seems Miss Thunberg's recent speeches could backfire. Though most of the mainstream media has been writing supportive pieces, some critical voices are emerging too:

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-25/greta-thunberg-wants-nothing-less-than-revolution
Quote:
Greta Thunberg Is Done With Making Friends

The political establishment is going to rue elevating the Swedish climate activist.
Quote:
At the United Nations climate summit on Monday, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg made the most strident of her speeches so far. Far from being gratified by all the attention she’s receiving from global leaders, she’s angry that this attention isn’t resulting in radical climate action. This anger may cause problems for the political establishment that has to this point chosen to embrace her....



https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/how-greta-thunbergs-rise-could-backfire-on-environmentalists.html
Quote:
How 16-year-old Greta Thunberg's rise could backfire on environmentalists

I agree with these writers that the shift to anger is definitely going to turn some people off. The activists doing their best to deliberately snarl DC morning commuter traffic, the last few days, are winning no friends to their cause. Not to mention that they're doing a very good job of increasing carbon emissions at the same time.

I'm also seeing plenty of irritated comments on Greta-worshiping articles from ordinary people too. Including some from people who, like me, have spent their lives trying to be environmentally responsible, and think this new movement is overly simplistic. (Incidentally, I find it interesting to see how trendy "carbon neutral" has become among the SUV-driving, fast fashion, new-iPhone-every-couple-of-years, TV-on-all-the-time crowd. ;) )

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


Last edited by aninkling on Fri 27 Sep , 2019 9:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep , 2019 12:05 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/09/woody-allens-rainy-day-new-york-review-paris-premiere/598696/
Quote:
At an art house on the Left Bank, a cinephile’s paradise thick with revival houses, moviegoers spilled out onto the sidewalk after the premiere of Woody Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day in New York. The movie, which stars Timothée Chalamet and Elle Fanning, is a throwback—carriage rides through Central Park, cocktail piano at the Carlyle, older men falling for the naive blond coed. The crowd that warm fall evening seemed enthusiastic, as did many French film critics. But you’ll have to take their word for it. The movie is playing in France and will open across Europe—as well as in South Africa, and some countries in Latin America and Asia. It will not, as of now, be shown in the United States.

“That’s moronic!” A woman outside the theater said. “Why not show it? It’s not that bad.” “No, no,” her interlocutor answered. “C’est la question morale”—the moral issue.

Yes, the moral issue. Amazon Studios, which produced A Rainy Day in New York, dropped the film’s U.S. distribution last year after long-standing allegations, in which Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of molesting her when she was a child, were seen in a new light. But the decision also came after it became clear that the economics of Hollywood were changing. “Amazon is facing the consequences of tying its fortunes to someone who had a tarnished personal history and relatively weak box-office appeal to begin with,” my colleague David Sims wrote in 2018...

...the fact that this movie, at turns charming, banal, and problematic, could become subversive simply by being screened tells you something about the disparate cultural moments in America and in France.So far, everyone’s playing to type...
Quote:
After filming, Chalamet donated his earnings from A Rainy Day to charity....He isn’t alone here: Jessica Chastain, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page have all said they regretted working with Allen. Page went as far as calling her appearance in 2012’s To Rome With Love “the biggest regret” of her career: “I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because ‘of course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film.’” Scarlett Johansson, who’s starred in three Allen films, has defended him, and so has Javier Bardem. Where you stand on Woody Allen has become one of the fault lines in Hollywood.

Still, the director has a huge following in Europe and beyond, and European co-producers have bankrolled his recent adventures...

btw, I must not be a "proper" film buff or Woody Allen film fan. ;) The critics all seem to hate Midnight In Paris, which is one of the few of his films I actually liked. I'm pretty lukewarm toward the rest - mostly just not my taste, though I can appreciate bits of them, here and there. Based on the reviews - it shares Midnight in Paris's flaws, according to critics, such as being banal and cliched - I think I might have liked A Rainy Day in New York. If we care enough to bother, I suppose we'll eventually order it from Canada. (Obviously, I vote with the French - who cares about the personal lives of the actors/actresses and director, as long as the film is good.)

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It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Mon 30 Sep , 2019 2:22 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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https://www.spiegel.de/international/globalsocieties/extinction-rebellion-a-new-kind-of-climate-protest-movement-a-1283325.html
Quote:
A New Kind of Climate Protest Movement

Alongside Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion is establishing itself as the second arm of a new global climate protection movement. Forged from the lessons of past protest cultures and a present-day understanding of mental health and sensitivity, the group seems to be finding its stride.
Quote:
XR doesn't see itself as a bunch of elitist activists, but rather as a collective movement that accepts all people with open arms. Ever since the first XR activists proclaimed a "rebellion against the government" in London's Parliament Square on Oct. 31, 2018, the movement's organizers say it has expanded into dozens of countries, including the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and the United States. Alongside Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion is setting out to establish itself as the second arm of a new global climate protection movement.

XR's supporters want to bring traffic, business and government affairs to a standstill. They hope to achieve this through peaceful civil disobedience, with the ultimate goal of forcing a turnaround in climate policy. In London, they simultaneously occupied and blocked five bridges in November 2018, affixed themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace with superglue, and dumped buckets of artificial blood on Downing Street in March 2019. In Germany, XR activists occupied the Oberbaumbrücke bridge in Berlin in April for hours and the Deutzer Brücke bridge in Cologne in July. Both are important bottlenecks for the flow of traffic.
Quote:
...Awakening, apocalypse, meaning -- that's religious vocabulary. The AfD has already referred to Extinction Rebellion as a "climate cult." But that's inaccurate, not least because the group itself is decentrally organized. But XR does have some similarities with religious communities: Its followers share an apocalyptic vision; they are certain they have discovered the absolute truth; and they have a desire to proselytize others. They've even devised rituals for dealing with the psychological stress that arises from constantly thinking about the planet's impending destruction...

FYI, Fridays for Future is Greta Thunberg's protest movement, where she encourages kids in Europe to skip school on Fridays and attend climate change protests instead. I'm not sure what Der Spiegel means by "alongside" and I'm too lazy and don't care enough to look up the connections between them. I'm guessing that the connection might be that environmental activist who was supposedly responsible for discovering and promoting Miss Thunberg, in conjunction with her mother's book.* (I have no idea how much truth there is to that and don't particularly care about it. Practically all figureheads arise and are maintained with good PR, in my experience - regardless of the Robin Hood stories the media promotes - so that would be nothing new and certainly not shocking or terrible.) Or maybe it's just a loose connection, since they seem to have similar goals and she's spoken at some Extinction Rebellion protests.

In any case, we can see Extinction Rebellion's tactics coming to the US in the attempts to shut down the DC morning commutes last week by doing things like pushing a sailboat into a busy intersection to snarl traffic. I know they tried blocking commuters on at least 2 days and some of them were arrested. As far as I can tell, they're just a small fringe movement in the US at the moment, though they're hoping to grow.




*https://www.dw.com/en/family-memoir-explores-childhood-of-climate-activist-greta-thunberg/a-48592700
Quote:
The Swedish original Scener ur hjärtat was released in August 2018 with Greta Thunberg’s mother on the cover, an opera singer who represented Sweden at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. Back then, Malena Ernman was the family celebrity.... Scenes from the heart is about Malena Ernman’s life with her husband Svante Thunberg and her two daughters, Greta and Beata. It is about the family’s early years when her husband and children toured with her across Europe, about the joy of being parents and the crisis that struck when Greta suddenly stopped eating in the fifth grade...
I've read elsewhere that Ms Ernman somehow makes connections between her two daughters' psychological issues and climate change in the book, but I'm not clear exactly what they are, beyond Greta hearing about climate change in school and becoming "consumed with the issue," as this book review mentions. I'm pretty sure climate change had some connection with her eating disorder, but whether it was what sent her into the depressions and refusal to eat, or became the issue that helped her find a reason to live (or both), I don't know. What little I've heard secondhand about the book sounds rather bizarre. Apparently it's coming out in English, with the entire family credited as authors now (and a change of cover photo from mother to daughter), so you can judge for yourself. It looks like its title has also been changed, to Our House is On Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis.
[Edit: I think I was wrong about that - apparently this is the second book they wrote about their family and climate change, according to a profile of her sister. https://heavy.com/news/2019/09/beata-ernman-thunberg/ I assume Scenes from the Heart will still be the English title of the first book, if they're publishing it in English. ]

Deutsche Welle's review also hints that the book may be unconventional:
Quote:
That led her mother to conclude, in the book, that Asperger and ADHD as such are "not a handicap" as much as a "superpower." Readers may not agree with the choice of words or the conclusions Malena Ernman draws at some points in the book.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 02 Oct , 2019 12:29 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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I'm not sure how much attention this will get and thought it was worth posting here. Unlike Pete Buttigieg, I'm not religious and don't believe in any god. Nevertheless, I admire his openness and attitude. He could have resorted to the usual politician-speak and sound bites, but didn't. :
https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/463845-read-transcript-of-pete-buttigiegs-exclusive-interview
A few quotes:
Quote:
The Hill: The parts of Christianity that are growing in the U.S. are the evangelical denominations, rather than mainline Catholicism and protestantism. What does that tell you about America today?

Buttigieg: I think we're just at a precarious point. On one hand, people have at many times in human history looked to faith as a solution to earthly problems. On the other hand, there's a very powerful thread in the Christian tradition telling us to be suspicious of anyone who reduces religion to the accumulation of worldly gain.

And these are theological questions that aren't really my place to litigate in the public square, because my job is to speak to people of any faith tradition. I just think I need to speak to those who are guided by religious principles about how I see an alignment between what we have to offer and what they believe.

These currents will rise and fall as they always have. I guess that's a mixed metaphor. These patterns will come and go, but the important thing is to be honest and reflective about the relationship between civic power and religious belief.
Quote:
The Hill: You talk a lot about your personal conservatism, your liturgical conservatism, your views on the role of marriage and even sex. Do you have a personal conservatism?

Buttigieg: In some ways, yes, but that has to do with how I believe my life ought to work. It's not a view about how anybody else's life should go.

The Hill: Tell me about that.

Buttigieg: It's such an important principle in this country, that my interpretation of my religion never be imposed on you...
Quote:
The Hill: How much studying have you done of other religions?

Buttigieg: Having studied Arabic, Islam is probably one religion I've -- I've not really studied it in a serious theological sense, but I've been exposed to, and having spent time in Islamic countries.

And through engaging with a very vibrant Jewish community in South Bend, I've gotten to know the different forms of Judaism in America. And then through personal friendships I've been exposed to other faith traditions too.
Quote:
I think a lot about the Beatitudes that were prayed this morning. It relates to the Sermon on the Mount. And there are these amazing nuggets in obscure places. Right now, I've been spending a little bit of time with the Book of Joel. You don't hear a lot about the Book of Joel. But there's so much in scripture that tracks with human experiences that are timeless and universal.


Not that I have any real hope of Buttigieg winning, though I wish he could. I can just imagine how an interview on religion would have gone with someone like Kamala Harris.

btw, there's a very Tolkien-ish comment at the end. :)






Another article:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/23/mark-rylance-is-brave-to-quit-the-royal-shakespeare-company-that-doesnt-mean-he-is-right
Quote:
Mark Rylance is brave to quit the RSC. That doesn’t mean he is right
He has left his role over BP’s sponsorship, but art has never been ideologically pure
Quote:
Gentle Mark Rylance, that mercurial British actor, has done his bit to haul the ecological record of BP back into the limelight. He stepped away from his formal association with the Royal Shakespeare Company this weekend because of its continued receipt of sponsorship from the global oil business.

“I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, tobacco salesman or anyone who wilfully destroys lives of others alive and unborn. Nor, I believe, would Shakespeare,” he said.

Rylance is, like a growing band of outspoken artists, keen to use his fame to call big institutions to account...
Quote:
Cynics have argued that the true, hidden function of “the arts” has always been as a social marker. From the Medici onwards, the rich have adored the gloss of sophistication offered by association with highbrow creative types. And corporate sponsors love having a flashy entertainment venue for those wealthy clients who don’t enjoy tennis or horse racing. But these days “the arts” are also used as a moral laundry for corporations, and this is what Rylance especially dislikes...
Quote:
If “the arts” do have moral value it probably resides in the way they can stretch our understanding and, as argued most recently by the former Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette, exercise our collective empathy muscles. This is why a decision that six writers took last week to step away from the Bradford literature festival because of anti-terrorism funding is worrying. If we keep stepping away from everything, where will we ever meet?...


btw, the young climate activists got their wish. The Royal Shakespeare Company is ending its deal with BP, which means that young people will no longer get cheap tickets to its productions.
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-49906754
Fair enough - they knew they'd be hurting only themselves and others of their age, and got what they wanted. Fine with me, though I'm sorry they will lose their exposure to culture unless they can afford the regularly priced tickets (I know I couldn't at that age - we saw all plays in the furthest balconies of the theater with last-minute cheap tickets.) But will their friends and fellow students see it the same way? And what will happen if their reach broadens and the arts in general lose funding because of the climate activists? I'll be curious to see how this goes.

(And I'm always amused at what idiotic remarks these actors make when they project their own ideals onto their favorite artists. I doubt very much that Shakespeare would have refused to take money because of its source. )

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 09 Oct , 2019 4:02 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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In the latest Twitterverse outrage fest, there is much fuss about Ellen Degeneres and her partner enjoying a football game with the Bushes. Worth mentioning - finding an editorial that did not condemn her was much harder than finding those that did. One from each side:


https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/10/ellen-degeneres-george-w-bush-football-game
Quote:
In her latest stand-up special, Relatable, Ellen DeGeneres spends around an hour telling her audience just how different her life is from theirs. The bathrooms she visits have attendants, she says; while telling a joke about emotional-support animals, she quips, “10B; does the plane go back that far? I‘ve never been back there.” But fame, she admits, comes with drawbacks too: “When you do something stupid, you’re just a person someone saw doing something stupid,” she says. “When I do something stupid, it’s a story.”

That joke has come to mind for me twice this year. ... The second time was on Tuesday when she waved away criticism for her friendly hangout with George W. Bush—the man whose résumé includes the invasion of Iraq and the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina....

DeGeneres is not the first celebrity to aid Bush’s postpresidency rebrand. The list also includes Michelle Obama, whose friendly relationship with the former president has proven to be one of the decade’s biggest surprises, and Jimmy Kimmel, who in 2017 welcomed Bush to his show to gab about his favorite new hobby: painting...

.... But the continued backlash against DeGeneres—even after her address—is also a sign that such a brand is incompatible with reality. ...For many young queer people growing up in the ’90s, DeGeneres was a rare beacon of hope—even as hard-core conservatives branded her “Ellen DeGenerate” and boycotted stores that hired her for Christmas campaigns. That impact will always remain. But it’s now hard to think of any message less compatible with our era than “it doesn’t matter” what someone stands for.




https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/opinion/2019/10/08/ellen-pushes-back-against-toxic-times-just-by-hanging-out-with-george-w-bush.html
Quote:
It’s strange to think Ellen DeGeneres would’ve got less blowback this weekend had she been spotted at a football game sitting next to O.J. Simpson, Harvey Weinstein or a cardboard cutout of Mussolini. But hanging out with George W. Bush? That, apparently, is a crime against humanity...

She went to an NFL game and, incredulously[sic], was criticized because she was sitting near former U.S. president George W. Bush. “Appalling” and “evil” — these were just two of the words used by those aghast that Ellen might be sharing nachos and selfies with Bush. It was as if she went antiquing with Charles Manson.

In response to the backlash, the talk-show host addressed the situation in a way that should be required listening for everyone — especially sanctimonious millennials with little life experience and a surplus of judgment.

“During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together,” DeGeneres told her audience. “And so people were upset. They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’”

“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We are all different. And I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK, that we are all different.

“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean, be kind to everyone.”...


btw, I posted these articles after becoming utterly disgusted by the online progressives on a political messageboard, who almost universally pretended the attacks on Ellen Degeneres (and anyone who supports her) were not happening and/or were being blown out of proportion by conservatives, and that liberals are all paragons of tolerance. Hypocrisy and blind partisan behavior from either side annoys me.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 16 Oct , 2019 2:08 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/16/metoo-older-feminists-problem-with-everything-extract
Quote:
Team older feminist: am I allowed nuanced feelings about #MeToo?

After #MeToo, I wondered if my real problem with young feminists was how little they seemed to need us older ones. As far as I could see, they didn’t even want to know us
Quote:
To be 20 years old in 1990 in New York City was, as far as I was concerned, to own the world. I owned practically nothing of material value back then, but somehow this was all part of a magical transaction in which I knew I’d eventually get ahead even if it seemed, for the moment, like I could barely keep up....

...Every woman knew what it was like to be creepily rubbed against by some dude in a crowded space, and when this happened many of us either jammed our elbows into his abdomen or rolled our eyes and moved away....

What I don’t remember is connecting the incident to anything like what would now be called institutionalized misogyny. This was not systemic oppression of women. This was simply life in the big city.
Quote:
I remember standing on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 49th Street as hail rained down like shellfire one summer night following a long, somewhat drunken dinner with an older man in a powerful position whose meal invitations I dreaded but nonetheless felt obliged to accept.

Those meals had started out as business lunches but then migrated into semi-business dinners. During these dinners, the man would tell me certain details about his personal life, which was in a state of acute crisis. I didn’t particularly want to be there but I accepted the invitations because there was in this transaction the implicit notion that he could help my career, albeit in a rather vague, abstract way. I accepted them so because not doing so felt like a kind of professional self-sabotage, as foolish and irresponsible as missing deadlines....

At least a few times, after I probably had one too many glasses of wine, I became rather suggestive and flirtatious, inquiring into his personal life, seeing how much I could get him to disclose as he got drunker....

Looking back, it would be easy to say I behaved like this out of some instinctive subordination to the man’s power. There’s an element of truth to that, but there’s also an angle at which the situation could be viewed as quite the opposite. From this angle, I behaved the way I did because in some ways the power imbalance between the two of us was tipped in my favor....

I behaved this way because I must have known on some unconscious level that, at 25, I had more of a certain kind of power than I was ever going to have in my life and that I might as well use it, even if the accompanying rush was laced with shame...

I remember grumbling to [my roommate] about my dinner companion, complaining about his lechery while conveniently omitting the parts when I’d dramatically exhaled on my cigarette, looked him straight in the eye, and said something devastatingly witty and possibly a tiny bit dirty...

Instead I said: “God, what a perv.”

“Sounds annoying,” my roommate said. “But hey, you keep showing up. You must be getting something out of it.”
Quote:
But as the list of perpetrators piled up and the public censure piled on, the conversation around #MeToo (lacking a specific category, each new scandal was not a story or an issue but a “conversation”) began to split down generational lines.

The first incident to put this divide in notably sharp relief involved a secret Google spreadsheet called the Shitty Media Men list. ...

And as the “conversation” lurched along and the narrative of the “generational divide” became the default narrative, I found myself reminded of this passage of time on a daily, even hourly, basis. When a scandal broke involving the actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, I felt that my membership on Team Older Feminist was so official that I might as well take out a charge card at Eileen Fisher and call it a day (though has anyone under 40 ever used a “charge card”?)

And so the ground began to shake around the fault line. The older feminists scolded the younger ones for not being tough enough to take care of themselves. If the construction worker whistles at you, give him the finger! If the drunk guy sitting next to you at the wedding reception gets fresh, kick him in the shins!

In turn, the youngsters chastised the oldsters for enabling the oppressive status quo with cool-girl posturing. We shouldn’t have to suppress our humanity by letting insults roll off us! We shouldn’t have to risk our safety with physical violence because patriarchal norms have taught the drunk wedding guest he can act like that!

Neither side was entirely wrong, of course. But both sides were talking past each other in ways that suggested there was no meeting in the middle. In the New York Times, Daphne Merkin identified a gulf between what women said publicly about #MeToo and the eye-rolling that went on in private...
Quote:
And it’s here, from this primitive-creature vantage point, that I find myself pressed up against yet another revelation: the questions we face now when it comes to men and women are questions that arose a split second ago. ... That we have come so far in so little time is a marvel. That we should expect all the kinks to have been worked out by now is insane....

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Thu 17 Oct , 2019 8:16 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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Another in The Guardian's series on viewpoints in feminism. I don't have time to do any excerpts right now, so I'll just quote the beginning.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/17/feminism-working-womens-prison-inmates-sex-work-marriage
Quote:
I thought I knew about feminism – then I started work in a women’s prison

I wanted to teach the inmates about female empowerment. Instead, they overturned my views on everything from sex work to marriage
Quote:
I thought I knew about feminism....I studied feminist theory, went to feminist gatherings and listened to feminist podcasts. I had spent several evenings sitting cross-legged at a “collective” organised by other middle-class, university-educated women talking about intersectionality and Frida Kahlo. By the time I graduated from university, I had firmly absorbed a list of the correct ideas and words that I needed to be a “proper feminist” (but was probably not someone you wanted to invite to a dinner party).

In 2015, two years after graduating, I began a job working in a high-security women’s prison. I had read enough statistics and policy reports before I started to know that women in prisons were in desperate need of a little female empowerment. But what I quickly learned was that my feminist education had a thick wedge of information missing: namely, the part where it connected to actual women being very fundamentally oppressed because of their gender. Confronted by someone whose cervix had been plugged with four egg-sized capsules of crack cocaine on the behest of a controlling boyfriend who would reap the profits, I found it difficult to work out quite how my Frida Kahlo T-shirt and mansplaining radar were going to help things...

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct , 2019 10:13 am 
of Vinyamar
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Haven't got to the second article, but the first would be pretty much how most of my female friends (of my generation) feel. Excellent article.

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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct , 2019 1:53 pm 
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Quote:
Confronted by someone whose cervix had been plugged with four egg-sized capsules of crack cocaine...


I can't visualize this. The cervix isn't big enough to be plugged by one egg sized thing, let alone four. And how would it be plugged? What would keep the plugging thing there there, right in the opening to the womb like a cork in a bottle? Wishful thinking? It would go one way or the other pretty fast, assuming you could even stretch the cervix to accommodate an egg sized thing without appropriate hormonal changes to the body.

I do not think this word means what the author thinks it means. But I'm REALLY not going to google the subject. :Q


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PostPosted: Wed 23 Oct , 2019 3:13 pm 

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Quote:
But I'm REALLY not going to google the subject.
Me neither. I can imagine the sites that might come up. And that's a world that I'm very happy never to have been exposed to in real life. [Edit - never mind what else I said - I see what you mean. Yeah, I suspect cervix is probably the wrong term.]


Alatar wrote:
Haven't got to the second article, but the first would be pretty much how most of my female friends (of my generation) feel. Excellent article.

Al, there might be others in the same series that explore other viewpoints too. I meant to go back the next couple of days, but never got around to it. And now trying to find anything with an internet search for The Guardian and feminism seems a lost cause.

I think the first essay also did a good job of conveying the heady sense of freedom and possibilities, being a young woman in the 1980s. Suddenly, we were being told we could do any profession we liked, unlike our mostly stay-at-home mothers, and were equals to men in all ways. Many of us enjoyed the back and forth banter between the sexes, where it was now OK for women to say something slightly racy too. Some of my friends, who were mostly well-educated women, reveled in pin-up calenders of men. (I looked and laughed with them, but it wasn't really my thing. Though I should add that they mostly just seemed to enjoy the ability to turn the tables on men - "So men objectified women in pin-up calenders? Now it's our turn!") The business of being "protected" from men (or having them fear interacting with us because they might suddenly be accused of inappropriate behavior 20 years from now, when standards change) is not something my friends or I want to go back to.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Fri 25 Oct , 2019 4:07 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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A very long read but it covers a lot of things.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/when-a-child-says-shes-trans/561749/
Quote:
When Children Say They’re Trans

Hormones? Surgery? The choices are fraught—and there are no easy answers.
Quote:
Claire is a 14-year-old girl with short auburn hair and a broad smile. She lives outside Philadelphia with her mother and father, both professional scientists. ... [and] until recently, she wasn’t certain she was a girl.

Sixth grade had been difficult for her.... Claire, who was 12 at the time, also felt uncomfortable in her body in a way she couldn’t quite describe. She acknowledged that part of it had to do with puberty, but she felt it was more than the usual preteen woes... Around this time, Claire started watching YouTube videos made by transgender young people. ...Claire had discovered the videos by accident, or rather by algorithm: They’d showed up in her “recommended” stream. They gave a name to Claire’s discomfort...

This began what Heather recalls as a complicated time in her and her husband’s relationship with their daughter. They told Claire that they loved and supported her; they thanked her for telling them what she was feeling. But they stopped short of encouraging her to transition. “We let her completely explore this on her own,” Heather told me.

To Claire’s parents, her anguish seemed to come out of nowhere. Her childhood had been free of gender dysphoria—the clinical term for experiencing a powerful sense of disconnection from your assigned sex. They were concerned that what their daughter had self-diagnosed as dysphoria was simply the travails of puberty...

The therapist referred the family to some nearby gender-identity clinics that offered transition services for young people.

Claire’s parents were wary of starting that process. Heather, who has a doctorate in pharmacology, had begun researching youth gender dysphoria for herself. She hoped to better understand why Claire was feeling this way and what she and Mike could do to help. ... Heather said most of the resources she found for parents of a gender-dysphoric child told her that if her daughter said she was trans, she was trans. If her daughter said she needed hormones, Heather’s responsibility was to help her get on hormones....

Claire believes that her feeling that she was a boy stemmed from rigid views of gender roles that she had internalized. ... As she got a bit older, she found girls who shared her interests, and started to feel at home in her body...
Quote:
The number of self-identifying trans people in the United States is on the rise. In June 2016, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that 1.4 million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender, a near-doubling of an estimate from about a decade earlier. As of 2017, according to the institute, about 150,000 teenagers ages 13 to 17 identified as trans. The number of young people seeking clinical services appears to be growing as well. ...

The current era of gender-identity awareness has undoubtedly made life easier for many young people who feel constricted by the sometimes-oppressive nature of gender expectations. ...

But when it comes to the question of physical interventions, this era has also brought fraught new challenges to many parents. Where is the line between not “feeling like” a girl because society makes it difficult to be a girl and needing hormones to alleviate dysphoria that otherwise won’t go away? How can parents tell? How can they help their children gain access to the support and medical help they might need, while also keeping in mind that adolescence is, by definition, a time of fevered identity exploration?...
Quote:
...recently, a wave of success stories has appeared. In many of these accounts, kids are lost, confused, and frustrated right up until the moment they are allowed to grow their hair out and adopt a new name, at which point they finally become their true self...

Accounts of successful transitions can help families envision a happy outcome for a suffering child. And some young people clearly experience something like what these caterpillar-to-butterfly narratives depict.... But these stories tend to elide the complexities of being a TGNC young person, or the parent of one...
Quote:
Meanwhile, fundamental questions about gender dysphoria remain unanswered. Researchers still don’t know what causes it—gender identity is generally viewed as a complicated weave of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. In some cases, gender dysphoria may interact with mental-health conditions such as depression and anxiety, but there’s little agreement about how or why. Trauma, particularly sexual trauma, can contribute to or exacerbate dysphoria in some patients, but again, no one yet knows exactly why...
Quote:
For many of the young people in the early studies, transitioning—socially for children, physically for adolescents and young adults—appears to have greatly alleviated their dysphoria. But it’s not the answer for everyone. Some kids are dysphoric from a very young age, but in time become comfortable with their body. Some develop dysphoria around the same time they enter puberty, but their suffering is temporary. Others end up identifying as nonbinary—that is, neither male nor female.

Ignoring the diversity of these experiences and focusing only on those who were effectively “born in the wrong body” could cause harm. That is the argument of a small but vocal group of men and women who have transitioned, only to return to their assigned sex...

The concerns of the detransitioners are echoed by a number of clinicians who work in this field, most of whom are psychologists and psychiatrists. They very much support so-called affirming care, which entails accepting and exploring a child’s statements about their gender identity in a compassionate manner. But they worry that, in an otherwise laudable effort to get TGNC young people the care they need, some members of their field are ignoring the complexity, and fluidity, of gender-identity development in young people....

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Tue 12 Nov , 2019 3:51 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
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An interesting argument from The Atlantic, with some ideas about some of social media's toxic effects might be tamed.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/social-media-democracy/600763/
Quote:
The Dark Psychology of Social Networks

Why it feels like everything is going haywire
Quote:
Suppose that the biblical story of Creation were true... Now imagine that one day, in the early 21st century, God became bored and, just for fun, doubled the gravitational constant. ...

Let’s rerun this thought experiment in the social and political world, rather than the physical one. The U.S. Constitution was an exercise in intelligent design. ... For example, in “Federalist No. 10,” James Madison wrote about his fear of the power of “faction,” by which he meant strong partisanship or group interest that “inflamed [men] with mutual animosity” and made them forget about the common good. ... The Constitution included mechanisms to slow things down, let passions cool, and encourage reflection and deliberation.

...But what would happen to American democracy if, one day in the early 21st century, a technology appeared that—over the course of a decade—changed several fundamental parameters of social and political life? What if this technology greatly increased the amount of “mutual animosity” and the speed at which outrage spread? ....
Quote:
If you constantly express anger in your private conversations, your friends will likely find you tiresome, but when there’s an audience, the payoffs are different—outrage can boost your status. ....

The philosophers Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke have proposed the useful phrase moral grandstanding to describe what happens when people use moral talk to enhance their prestige in a public forum. Like a succession of orators speaking to a skeptical audience, each person strives to outdo previous speakers, leading to some common patterns. .... Grandstanders scrutinize every word spoken by their opponents—and sometimes even their friends—for the potential to evoke public outrage. Context collapses. The speaker’s intent is ignored....
Quote:
Social media pushes people of all ages toward a focus on the scandal, joke, or conflict of the day, but the effect may be particularly profound for younger generations, who have had less opportunity to acquire older ideas and information before plugging themselves into the social-media stream.

Our cultural ancestors were probably no wiser than us, on average, but the ideas we inherit from them have undergone a filtration process. We mostly learn of ideas that a succession of generations thought were worth passing on. That doesn’t mean these ideas are always right, but it does mean that they are more likely to be valuable, in the long run, than most content generated within the past month. ...
Quote:
Many Americans may think that the chaos of our time has been caused by the current occupant of the White House, and that things will return to normal whenever he leaves. But if our analysis is correct, this will not happen. Too many fundamental parameters of social life have changed....





On a somewhat related note, I'm seeing an increasing "outrage machine" in academia, driven by small groups of vocal student activists and enabled by administrators who want to avoid bringing down the wrath of social media on the school. One of the current trends is toward "forbidden" words, which are supposedly so painful that just hearing them is damaging - even in a neutral, academic, or supportive context . And these student groups demand - and often receive - consequences that range from expensive for the university (implementing cultural diversity and cultural humility training for all faculty and staff isn't free, and draws money from other needs) to life-changing (for the offender). One of the recent reports is below, followed by a couple of perspectives.
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/469898-university-of-north-texas-attorney-resigns-after-saying-n-word
Quote:
An attorney with the University of North Texas (UNT) resigned after using a racial slur during a presentation on hate speech titled “When Hate Comes to Campus.”

Caitlin Sewell, the assistant general counsel for the UNT system, was giving a presentation to about 250 audience members on Thursday about protected speech and the First Amendment, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Shortly after beginning, she warned onlookers that she would have to say something offensive in order to talk about offensive speech.

“It’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things, like, you know, ‘You’re just a dumb n-----, and I hate you,’” Sewell said, according to audio recordings circulating on social media. “That’s protected speech. If you walk into the Dean of Students office and start screaming obscenities about, ‘F this place, F all of you, y’all are all f-ing stupid,’ they can escort you out and do that immediately.”...

Neal Smatresk, UNT’s president, released an apology after the event....Sewell resigned less than 24 hours later, and Smatresk wrote in a follow-up joint statement that UNT will reportedly be meeting with student leaders soon to “continue to foster a culture of diversity.”...
Sewell apologized to the students who questioned her, and tried to explain that she didn't mean to offend by using the offensive word in one case and a euphemism in another (I'd guess it was one of those automatic things - "the F-word" was a very common euphemism that most of us grew up with). But the intolerant students weren't buying it. And the university model these days is to favor the "paying customers," i.e., the students and their parents, in a controversy with a member of the faculty or staff.

btw, there have been several other incidents, including a black employee at a high school or junior high who ran afoul of a "zero tolerance" policy in Wisconsin and was fired for telling an out-of-control student not to call him that. This particular event revealed that this was not the first time this has happened but didn't get publicized. In one case, a teacher was apparently reading something to the students when he/she made the mistake of saying the word and not using a euphemism. I wouldn't be surprised if the book was Huckleberry Finn.



The editorials:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/whites-refer-to-the-n-word/596872/
Quote:
Laurie Sheck is a professor of creative writing at the New School in New York, a decades-long veteran of the classroom, a widely published novelist and essayist, and a Pulitzer nominee. She’s also spent the summer in trouble with her bosses for possibly being a racist.

Her offense? You may not have known that despite the resonance of the title of the renowned 2016 documentary on James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, Baldwin’s actual statement, during a 1963 appearance on public television, was “I’m not a nigger.” Early last spring semester, Sheck, who is white, was teaching a graduate seminar on Baldwin, and one of the questions she posed for discussion was why the documentary title had substituted “Negro” for “nigger.”...

A white student in the class objected to Sheck’s having uttered the word. And administrators were apparently dissatisfied with Sheck’s attempt to defend herself, because the school put her under investigation, while directing her to reacquaint herself with the school’s rules about discrimination. ...

It isn’t rocket science to understand that words can have more than one meaning, and a sensible rule is that blacks can use the word but whites can’t.... However, since the 1990s this rule has undergone mission creep.... [and] respect... has morphed into a kind of genuflection that an outsider might find difficult to understand.

Some will object that we moderns are more advanced than those ‘80s troglodytes, or at least that the discussion has progressed, enrichened, that justice is being better served. And I am under no illusion that this is merely a matter of a certain kind of white performative wokeness. Quite a few black people, including authors of whole books on the word, would agree that Sheck should never utter that word at all for any reason.

We might ask, though, what the reason for a diktat like that is. ...



https://quillette.com/2019/11/07/racial-slurs-and-deferential-condescension/
Quote:
Racial Slurs and Deferential Condescension
Quote:
Over the last week, Western University (where I am currently enrolled) has been mired in scandal over an instructor’s decision to utter a racial slur during a discussion of popular culture in his English literature class. More specifically, the instructor (Andrew Wenaus) suggested that Will Smith’s use of the phrase “home butler,” in a 20-something year old episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, may have been a subtle reference (sanitized for consumption on syndicated television) to the phrase “house nigger,” which was, during the pre-emancipation period, used to refer to black slaves who worked in the household.

It is, I suppose, debatable whether Smith’s use of the phrase “home butler” was in fact intended by the show’s writers as a reference to the aforementioned slur. It is not, however, debatable whether or not this slur was used to refer to black slaves who worked in the household. That is a straightforward historical fact.

For daring to articulate this fact in his classroom, Wenaus has been dragged on social media (and by the local press) as racially insensitive at best, and a racist at worst. He has had to issue a public apology, along with promises to undergo additional sensitivity training, and Western’s president has established a specialized task-force aimed at combatting systemic racism on campus (of which Wenaus’ utterance apparently constitutes evidence). Meanwhile, Western’s Ethnocultural Support Service has issued a statement reminding the university community that it is always inappropriate for a white person to utter the offending term, “regardless of intent or how they said it.” ....

Such considerations are—or so we are now told—irrelevant to the question of whether Wenaus is guilty of a racist infraction. They are, in effect, trumped by the emotional reactions of the black students who were present, to which everyone else is being asked to defer. ...

The deferential standard is self-defeating in at least two ways. Firstly, it is unable to account for the fact that there will inevitably be differences of opinion among black people about whether a given incident or statement is racist....

The Quillette is a mixed bag but it sometimes has some interesting things. One of the things I like best about it is that the comments/discussion afterward are usually* fairly thoughtful and civil, unlike the comments section on the average news article. And people will politely call out inaccuracies in articles they think are nonsense.

*Though certain types of articles can attract a contingent of people just looking for confirmation of their biases about "lefties." (Whenever someone uses that particular term, I figure whatever else they have to say probably won't be worth my time. Most of the time, I'm right.)




Incidentally, I think the demand that students be "sheltered" from anything that might bother them has gone way too far lately:
https://thehill.com/homenews/media/470021-northwestern-student-paper-apologizes-for-coverage-of-traumatizing-jeff
Quote:
Editors at the Northwestern University student paper "The Daily Northwestern" on Sunday issued an apology for what it called "mistakes" in its coverage of a campus event last week featuring former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions.... He spoke at Northwestern on Nov. 5 amid heavy protests.

The editors at the paper from well-known journalism school specifically noted the photos taken at the event in their apology, noting that some students had found them to be “retraumatizing and invasive” and adding that those photos had been taken down.

"The Daily sent a reporter to cover that talk and another to cover the students protesting his invitation to campus, along with a photographer. We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night — along with how we plan to move forward," reads part of the apology.
This may be one of the more extreme examples but it's not alone. It's the way campus culture has been trending.

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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PostPosted: Tue 17 Dec , 2019 6:14 pm 

Joined: Fri 10 Aug , 2012 4:42 pm
Posts: 1934
https://news.sky.com/story/a-11861646
Quote:
"Americans are from Mars, Europeans from Venus."

So said Robert Kagan, a former foreign policy official in the Reagan administration, in his book Of Paradise And Power, America And Europe In The New World Order. Published in early 2003, on the eve of the second Gulf War, Mr Kagan explored why, in the fields of foreign policy and defence, Americans and Europeans so frequently disagree.

The business world has long known of this divide. The corporate annals are full of examples of American companies failing to crack Europe, such as Wal-Mart in Germany, and of European businesses failing to crack the US, such as Tesco, Saab and Carrefour. Such divisions are clearly being seen in areas of the so-called 'new economy', for example, in the way European governments have sought to rein in the power of Silicon Valley's tech giants more aggressively than Washington.

And one of the most fascinating divides is now emerging in the field of e-cigarettes....

The first part of the article summarizes the situation in the U.S., but I expect most of us have heard that end of it. In Europe:
Quote:
The European Commission has said that it will review existing regulation governing e-cigarettes by May 2021 but is showing no signs of rushing towards a Trump-style clampdown. Across Europe, in general, public health bodies have tended to view vaping as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco....

Healthcare professionals in this country also dispute the claim, frequently heard by their opposite numbers in the US, that e-cigarettes are a 'gateway' to smoking tobacco.

Of the 3.6 million British adults who have used vaping products during the last decade or so, only 6% are reckoned to have not already been smokers in the traditional sense....

So why the difference? There are a couple of possibilities. One is that e-cigarettes are more tightly regulated in Europe than in the US. Advertising e-cigarettes is banned in Europe ... Furthermore, there are also tight rules governing the manufacture of vaping products thanks to the European Commission's 2014 Tobacco Products Directive...

Crucially, unlike the US, the directive also barred the use of THC and Vitamin E acetate oil in e-cigarettes and also placed a limit on the nicotine content of e-cigarettes. It also specifically set out to ensure that it wished to create "an environment that protects children from starting to use these products"....

_________________
It is this we learn after so many failures,
The building of castles in sand, of queens in snow,
That we cannot make any corner in life or in life's beauty,
That no river is a river which does not flow.

- Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. ― Voltaire


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