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Open Thread 6-12 Feb

by Bjinse Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 11:50:15 AM EST

Sweet is the thread that savour of content

by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 11:56:16 AM EST
Had a few minutes to tinker. The Newsroom has now been fitted with its own Trump-section. I do feel somewhat sad about this.
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:44:21 PM EST
Hopefully your making a special effort means that he might go dark for a bit.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 03:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is happening?

by generic on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 01:16:56 PM EST
yes, although when Sinn Fein actually find out what democratic socialist means, they may be disappointed.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 01:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is Mr. Beard and Sunglasses?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:09:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gerry Adams

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:54:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Medium - Julia Serano - Free Speech and the Paradox of Tolerance

Any time activists (regardless of affiliation) protest a public speaking event, or the publication of a particular book or article, there will inevitably be claims that such actions threaten "free speech" or constitute "censorship." Lately, these sorts of claims have been heard following the presidential-inauguration-day silencing (via punching) of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer while he was being interviewed, and after protesters attempted to force the cancellation of Brietbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos's speaking engagements at University of Washington and UC Berkeley. Some people who take such a stance do so for purely political reasons -- they share Spencer's and Yiannopoulos's views, and invoke "free speech" to make their ideologies appear unassailable. Many others who do not share these views may instead adhere to free speech absolutism, and their reasoning might be summarized as follows:

  1. The First Amendment to the Constitution (or analogous statutes in other countries) ensures our right to "freedom of speech."

  2. Therefore, even if we detest Spencer's and Yiannopoulos's extreme racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic beliefs, we must nevertheless defend their right to freely express them.

  3. Any attempt to suppress or silence Spencer or Yiannopoulos (or their views) is essentially an attack on freedom of speech itself. And once we start down that slippery slope, it is only a matter of time before we find that our own freedom of speech is in jeopardy as well.

While the free speech absolutist position may sound compelling on the surface -- indeed, it is what most of us were taught in school, and what most intellectuals espouse -- the reality is not nearly so clear-cut. For instance, the courts have ruled that false statements of fact, defamation, obscenity, fighting words, and incitement (e.g., shouting "fire" in a crowded theater) do not qualify as protected speech. There are also occasions where our right to free speech bumps up against (and therefore, may be restricted by) other rights (e.g., privacy) and laws (e.g., copyright protection).

A good essay, but if it's too long, just page down to the italicized segment from Karl Popper, which is the meat of the argument.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 01:20:26 PM EST
In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise.

The question then becomes, who decides when we can no longer "counter them by rational argument or keep them in check by public opinion"?

The author, Julia Serano, brings up the related and more fundamental question:

Skeptics might ask, "Well, how do we precisely define intolerance, and who gets to make that determination?" This is admittedly a potential point of contention (one that I plan to write about soon)...

I am looking forward to her answer.  And I hope she takes into account the points raised in the comments to her essay, especially the most highly faved ones, e.g. Michael Brand's:

If you want to regulate `hate speech', then you have to work like hell to ensure you're in power to define what is `hate'. The second the political winds shift, you are no longer the regulator but the regulated. History is full of people hoisted on their own petard.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 09:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A physicist should recognize a singularity in this tolerance theory.

What determines intolerance, hate? This is perhaps one of those evolutionary things without a unique, straightforward answer. Whoever has the authority so far - for better and worse.

by das monde on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 10:57:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
shouting "fire" in a crowded theater

Really? When have the courts ever had to rule on such a thing? All I can think of Justice Holmes ruling that opposing the draft during WW1 is like shouting fire in a crowded theater. The irony is that he could have actually quoted this misuse of the "fire" nonsense to bolster his case.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 10:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Telegraph - David Coleridge - Brexit is an opportunity to reverse the tragic decline of marriage in Britain

Heaven preserve us from pundits and experts. The national Brexit debate has spawned more expert forecasts than the Met Office in a hurricane. We have had predictions of the Third World War (David Cameron), a punishment Budget(George Osborne), the end of civilization (Donald Tusk), a house price crash (the Treasury) and, on the other side of the coin, an extra £350 million a week for the NHS (Vote Leave) and a clampdown on immigration (just about everyone in the Brexit camp). And that is to ignore altogether Mark Carney's consistently inaccurate predictions.

So, against that record and with some hesitation, this is my "go" at the Brexit prediction game: Brexit will, over time, prove good for family stability and marriage rates. And for me as chairman of the Marriage Foundation, after forty years in the business of family justice, (fourteen as a family High Court judge) witnessing the endless river of human misery unleashed by the collapse of the nuclear family since the 1970s, that would be good news indeed. Yes, I am cautiously optimistic.

This week is International Marriage Week, an annual event focusing our minds both as individuals and collectively on the vital importance of marriage as one of the most powerful forces for good in society. So, with that in mind, let me explain why our decision to exit the European Union and revert to full self-government of the UK might revive marriage and enhance family stability.

who knew that Brussels was a plot to undermine marriage?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 01:53:49 PM EST
As if, by some miracle, Mr. Market will fix the unemployment problem if Britain just closes its borders! Social programs financed by the state are the ONLY thing that will be able to deal with the increasing redundancy of labor in manufacturing, and, now, even in service industries from automation. What a load.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the only thing, if you exclude such ... alternative solutions such as mass starvation or the summary execution of the unemployed and indebted.
by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 12:58:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or you can freshly reinforce the tragic decline of marriage and depressing economy... while talking about an opportunity to reverse.
by das monde on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 02:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To quote one of the comments:

"The same old shop worn reactionary garbage, glorifying a rotten past.  Rich fellows barking moralising claptrap at the poor."

In other news, I recently read about a study that looked at marriage rates and equality and found that as equality increased, marriage rates first declined and then increased. And another study pointed towards relationships in Sweden and Denmark lasting longer the more equal the partners were.

So if he actually wanted more marriages rather than being reactionary he could be progressive. But I suspect he enjoys being reactionary.

by fjallstrom on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 09:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on your ideals.
If you want an egalitarian society, where marriages can work for everyone (and parents have the collective support they need to raise children), then you can have long lasting marriages and a decent birth rate.

If you want an old-style patriarchal society, then you can also have long lasting marriages and a decent birth rate. By forbidding women to divorce, legalising domestic violence, etc.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 10:56:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another neolib, crap shoveler claiming the disease is the cure.
by rifek on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 09:45:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All aboard the China-to-London freight train - BBC News

On 3 January in Yiwu in eastern China, a bright orange locomotive pulling 44 containers laden with suitcases, clothes and an assortment of household goods set off on a 7,500-mile (12,000km) journey to western Europe.

Ten containers were taken off at the German cargo hub of Duisburg. The rest made up the first cargo train from China to arrive in London at Barking's Eurohub freight terminal.

London is the 15th European city to find its way on to the ever-expanding map of destinations for China's rail cargo. Last year, 1,702 freight trains made the voyage to Europe, more than double the 2015 figure.

I had also missed this relevant thread on cargo by train on ET a few weeks earlier.

by Bjinse on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 04:11:07 PM EST
Baltimore Sun - Chris Edelson - Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump

When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration's executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.
Trump's sanctuary bullying
Trump's sanctuary bullying

The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly "ordinary" people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.

This should not be a surprise. The famous Milgram experiment and subsequent studies suggest that many people will obey instructions from an authority figure, even if it means harming another person. It is also perfectly understandable (which does not mean it is justifiable). How many of us would refuse to follow an instruction from a superior at work? It is natural to want to keep one's job, even if at the price of inflicting cruelty on another human being, even perhaps a child.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: What will we do?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 04:23:27 PM EST
The common person's morality is almost entirely dependent on the situational environment.  Allied to the Obedience to Authority experiment is the Stanford Prison Experiment:

How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress ...

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 11:01:21 AM EST
Do the Tube prices count as "reasonable"?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 11:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That fits well in the crisis in journalism series.
by Bjinse on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 11:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know that das monde has already posted this in The Nemesis but I wanted to take it out here in preparation for an interesting response Drew had to it on FB

The Nation - susan Mc Williams - This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism. His Name Was Hunter S. Thompson.

After following the motorcycle guys around for months, Thompson concluded that the most striking thing about them was not their hedonism but their "ethic of total retaliation" against a technologically advanced and economically changing America in which they felt they'd been counted out and left behind. Thompson saw the appeal of that retaliatory ethic. He claimed that a small part of every human being longs to burn it all down, especially when faced with great and impersonal powers that seem hostile to your very existence. In the United States, a place of ever greater and more impersonal powers, the ethic of total retaliation was likely to catch on.  

What made that outcome almost certain, Thompson thought, was the obliviousness of Berkeley, California, types who, from the safety of their cocktail parties, imagined that they understood and represented the downtrodden. The Berkeley types, Thompson thought, were not going to realize how presumptuous they had been until the downtrodden broke into one of those cocktail parties and embarked on a campaign of rape, pillage, and slaughter. For Thompson, the Angels weren't important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics. As Thompson presciently wrote in the Nation piece he later expanded on in Hell's Angels, that kind of politics is "nearly impossible to deal with" using reason or empathy or awareness-raising or any of the other favorite tools of the left.

[...]  though Thompson's depiction of an alienated, white, masculine working-class culture -- one that is fundamentally misunderstood by intellectuals -- is not the only one out there, it was the first. And in some ways, it is still the best psychological study of those Americans often dismissed as "white trash" or "deplorables."

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 01:02:14 PM EST
New Form Of Atomic Nuclei Just Confirmed, And it Suggests Time Travel is Impossible - Futurism

A new form of atomic nuclei has been confirmed by scientists in a recent study published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The pear-shaped, asymmetrical nuclei, first observed in 2013 by researchers from CERN in the isotope Radium-224, is also present in the isotope Barium-144.

This is a monumental importance because most fundamental theories in physics are based on symmetry. This recent confirmation shows that it is possible to have a nuclei that has more mass on one side than the other. "This violates the theory of mirror symmetry and relates to the violation shown in the distribution of matter and antimatter in our Universe," said Marcus Scheck of University of the West of Scotland, one of the authors of the study.


"We've found these nuclei literally point towards a direction in space. This relates to a direction in time, proving there's a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present," Marcus Scheck from the University of the West of Scotland told Kenneth MacDonald at BBC News.

by Bjinse on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 11:36:51 AM EST
Leichnam bereits eingeäschert - Weitere NSU-Zeugin stirbt kurz vor Anhörung - MiGAZIN -
Eine frühere Rechtsextremistin und Freundin des mutmaßlichen NSU-Mitglieds Beate Zschäpe ist Anfang Februar gestorben. Sie sollte vor dem baden-württembergischen NSU-Untersuchungsausschuss als Zeugin geladen werden. Ausschusschef Wolfgang Drexler (SPD) teilte am Donnerstag in Stuttgart mit, das Gremium habe das Justizministerium um Auskunft über den Tod der Frau gebeten.

Another witness in the long running case against the National Sosialist Underground in Germany suddenly died. I think that's about the sixth? A lot of clear cases of suicides.

by generic on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 12:08:36 PM EST
Suicides don't get investigated. It's the best way to kill someone

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 01:44:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Though suicides by burning in your car are rather unusual. (Not the case here, that was a cause of death unclear but body already cremated case)
by generic on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 02:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And even that is not so unusual compared to the CIA whistleblower who committed suicide by shooting himself.

In the back.

With a different caliber of gun than the one he was found holding.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 06:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Socialism: Converting Hysterical Misery into Ordinary Unhappiness | Jacobin -
There is a deeper, more substantive, case to be made for a left approach to the economy. In the neoliberal utopia, all of us are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping track of each and every facet of our economic lives. That, in fact, is the openly declared goal: once we are made more cognizant of our money, where it comes from and where it goes, neoliberals believe we'll be more responsible in spending and investing it. Of course, rich people have accountants, lawyers, personal assistants, and others to do this for them, so the argument doesn't apply to them, but that's another story for another day.

The dream is that we'd all have our gazillion individual accounts -- one for retirement, one for sickness, one for unemployment, one for the kids, and so on, each connected to our employment, so that we understand that everything good in life depends upon our boss (and not the government) -- and every day we'd check in to see how they're doing, what needs attending to, what can be better invested elsewhere. It's as if, in the neoliberal dream, we're all retirees in Boca, with nothing better to do than to check in with our broker, except of course that we're not. Indeed, if Republicans (and some Democrats) had their way, we'd never retire at all.

In real (or at least our preferred) life, we do have other, better things to do. We have books to read, children to raise, friends to meet, loved ones to care for, amusements to enjoy, drinks to drink, walks to take, webs to surf, couches to lie on, games to play, movies to see, protests to make, movements to build, marches to march, and more. Most days, we don't have time to do any of that. We're working way too many hours for too little pay, and in the remaining few hours (minutes) we have, after the kids are asleep, the dishes are washed, and the laundry is done, we have to haggle with insurance companies about doctor's bills, deal with school officials needing forms signed, and more.

by generic on Sat Feb 11th, 2017 at 03:31:36 PM EST
Fillon vows to fight to the end amid reports that legal action looms - RFI
François Fillon vowed to "fight to the end" at a rally on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion Sunday as a newspaper claimed that judges could order action against him this week. The embattled French presidential candidate faces allegations that members of his family held fake jobs as parliamentary assistants for him.
The candidate, a devout Catholic, attended mass on Sunday morning.

The theme of the sermon was from the gospel of Saint Matthew: "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison ... Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

by Bernard on Sun Feb 12th, 2017 at 06:19:02 PM EST

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