Sunday Link Encyclopedia

John McCain has a crush on Hillary and hates Fox News. I guess he’d do my brain exercise, no sweat.

Russians are destroying enormous quantities of food. . . to spite the West.

Mike Huckabee wants to deploy troops against. . . women who seek abortions.

Yet another disturbing story of an academic being hounded for posting something on Facebook.

Rape has become so. . . (I hate to say it but the only word that can describe it is) prestigious in some circles that people are now coming up with completely insane stories of how they too were victimized by rape in spite of never being raped. I’m shocked and horrified that people can get so pampered and spoiled that they’d feel the need to attract pity to themselves in such a way.

38 thoughts on “Sunday Link Encyclopedia”

  1. The story of Hitchbot (July 27, 2014 – August 1, 2015 RIP)

    Hitchbot was the joint project of Ebrahim Bagheri, an Assistant Professor and the Director for the Laboratory for Systems, Software and Semantics (LS3) at Ryerson University, and Frank Rudzick, a scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. It was designed to study human/robot social interaction by building a communicative robot which would hitchhike autonomously by obtaining rides from random drivers using the kindness of strangers.

    The first test was a 10,000 km. trip across Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, B.C. and was successfully completed in 26 days without incident. This followed by trips across Germany and the Netherlands without any problems.

    The next trip was to be across America.

    “On July 17, 2015, I am shining my wellies to start my hitchhiking adventure across the USA. My journey starts at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts.

    From there, I hope to complete items from my hitchhiking bucket list with the help of friendly strangers. This includes visiting a number of historic sites like Time Square in New York City; Millennium Park in Illinois; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

    My final destination is the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. Only time will tell how long my journey will take me. I cannot wait to make new friends.”

    Sadly this was not to be. On Saturday morning, a mere two weeks after the beginning of the journey, the body of Hitchbot was found dismembered and decapitated in a back alley of downtown Philadelphia.

    Last message:

    “My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thanks friends: http://goo.gl/rRTSW2

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  2. // Yet another disturbing story of an academic being hounded for posting something on Facebook.

    I read it. Your link was to An American Interest site, where one can read only 3 free articles per month. The longer version of the same article is on this free site:

    http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2015/07/29/salem-on-the-thames-what-connecticut-colleges-andrew-pessin-affair-teaches-us/

    Because of such ‘marriage’ between progressives and Islamists, most Israeli Jews seem to support American right. The Left is viewed as more antisemitic, which I disagree with. However, it does seem to me that the American Left is quicker to go against Israel and join mobs as in this article.

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    1. Salaita was fired for the exact opposite, if you remember. Israel is accidental in this situation. The story is about increasingly frequent attempts to censor and control public intellectuals. All kinds of excuses have been used for that: saying “fuck” in the classroom, writing an article about prissiness, sending a Tweet. These are pretexts that hardly matter. They obscure the real goal which is to force academics to shut up.

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      1. // The story is about increasingly frequent attempts to censor and control public intellectuals.

        Well, intellectuals seem to be the ones leading those attempts to me.

        Seems to me, the moment universities stop being about attempting to neutrally observe the world academically (*) and begin to bring “support Palestinians / Israel” to campus, that’s what happens. And bringing politics is done both by students and profs. Trigger warnings are also politics in disguise, btw.

        (*) That’s how I see their mission.

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        1. No, it’s never other intellectuals. The stampede is always organized by Twitterers and Facebookers who believe that this is some kind of political activism.

          Activities in support of Palestine abound on campuses, just like frat parties, football games, trivia nights, cooking contests, etc. And it’s all fine. What’s really REALLY wrong, though, is that all of these activities somehow seep into the classroom. They don’t. No matter how strong my political opinions are, they don’t make it into the classroom. People should just relax already and go police some other professions.

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          1. \ What’s really REALLY wrong, though, is that all of these activities somehow seep into the classroom. They don’t.

            I haven’t understood. Have you meant “They shouldn’t” instead of “They don’t”? Or am I wrong to think those activities seep? I believe in your professional conduct, but this story shows they seep on a different level, not via profs’ lectures.

            \ No, it’s never other intellectuals. The stampede is always organized by Twitterers and Facebookers who believe that this is some kind of political activism.

            The writer mentions the administration and also says “faculty in the Program in GIS served played a major role in this cogwar campaign. ” Do those people feel regret now for driving Pessin away? What have they wanted, if not drive the prof from campus, in your eyes? Haven’t they also signed the Online Petition?

            QUOTE
            “Women played a very prominent role in Pessin’s relentless persecution. All the top administrators at ConnColl were women, including, most importantly both the new President and Dean of Faculty. Among those in the faculty, the majority of the “anti-racist” activists were women, with a high incidence of women from Global Islamic Studies and CCSRE. “

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            1. “I haven’t understood. Have you meant “They shouldn’t” instead of “They don’t”?”

              • They don’t. Students often obsess about being persecuted for their “political opinions” but nobody cares.

              ““Women played a very prominent role in Pessin’s relentless persecution. All the top administrators at ConnColl were women, including, most importantly both the new President and Dean of Faculty. Among those in the faculty, the majority of the “anti-racist” activists were women, with a high incidence of women from Global Islamic Studies and CCSRE. “”

              • This part I don’t get at all. Sounds like the person emerged from the Middle Ages, saw women in public spaces and had a conniption. What do these people’s genitals have to do with anything?

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  3. From the longer article I linked to:

    \ The rapidity and unanimity with which the faculty stepped into line against Pessin last Spring, indicates alarming administrative and faculty weakness when confronting emotional blackmail, a collective and individual failure of nerve when confronted with a force that threatens everything they hold dear as ethical professionals, but makes a demopathic appeal to everything they hold dear as idealists.

    The word “idealists” made me begin thinking about the issue of marriage between academia and politics. “Idealists” makes one think of Russian revolutionaries, always sure in their rightness and uncapable of tolerating anybody else. Why should academics and students function as political idealists while at their jobs / studies? Why not try to keep politics away from campus? I do not talk here about private emails, posts or tweets, but about what people do as professionals. For instance, BDS orgs OR “support Israel” orgs on campus, academics pushing others to boycott country X AS ACADEMICS, not as private people.

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  4. I read more and turns out being craven hurts you more than anything else:

    Pessin, acting under some bad advice from university administrators, in turn wrote a rather craven letter to the editor further apologizing for the Facebook post. The apology, rather than ending the matter, was interpreted by campus activists as an admission of guilt.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/08/the-hypocrisy-and-dishonesty-of-attacks-on-connecticut-college-professor-andrew-pessin/

    Also, a rather interesting post about Students for Justice in Palestine:
    http://www.thetower.org/article/on-many-campuses-hate-is-spelled-sjp/

    The post is from pro-Israel perspective, of course, but I don’t think he made the facts up. Quite extreme orgs engaged in incitement and creating unsafe atmosphere for other students is why I wondered whether political orgs should be on campus at all.

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    1. The best thing to do if one finds oneself in the midst of such an obnoxious social media / a crowd of obnoxious busybodies storm is to remember that it will end soon and the idiots will move to some fresh outrage that they mistake for politics. I understand the poor professor’s desire to explain himself, but it’s useless. It’s best to ignore the freaks altogether.

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      1. And while I’m asking for reading recommendations – can the first volume in Goytisolo’s Alvaro Mendiola trilogy be read without reading the other two books? Not sure when I’ll be able to find the next two.

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      1. \ No, it seems like I’m the one losing my mind. Apparently I asked this question in two different places.

        Where? I would also like to read the answer.

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        1. Let’s not hype up the answer too much because it was that identity studies is such an intellectually empty field that there is nothing but platitudes in today’s theory on the subject.

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  5. A funny Israeli way to fight against cuts to high education:

    University leaders warn of Iran’s educational overtake
    Haifa University President Amos Shapira presented Netanyahu with data that shows the Iranians were investing more in higher education than Israel; now, following the decision to cut NIS 263 million from higher education, university leaders decided to fight back; ‘After all, Iran’s bomb is not built by the farmers working in the field,’ Shapira warns.
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4686146,00.html

    I do not think it would work in America. 🙂

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  6. Deduction agreement with the Palestinian property?
    In February 2010, the Knesset approved a law safeguarding Jewish refugees’ right for compensation. The law states that “as part of negotiations for peace in the Middle East, the government will include the issue of compensating Jewish refugees from Arab states and Iran for the property they lost, including property which was owned by a Jewish community in those countries.”

    According to one estimate, the lost property of Palestinians who became refugees following the War of Independence amounts to about 60 percent of the property lost by Jews expelled from Arab states. In the past decades, ideas have been raised about different deduction agreements.
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4686648,00.html

    I have an idea: Jews in Israel get nothing, but relevant Arab states compensate the Palestinians.

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  7. I haven’t read “The Catcher in the Rye,” but found this article curious since it talked about (supposed) changes in teen culture leading to different response to the novel’s hero:

    Get a Life, Holden Caulfield

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    1. What many people forget is that Holden was never a paradigmatic teenager. He was a paradigmatic male teenager from a well-off family. When the book came out, it never occurred to anybody to ask female readers how they felt about the book. 🙂 And now that female readers do have a voice, there’s a perceived (but not real) shift in reader response to the book.

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      1. You, as usual, interpret it as a gender thing, but it may be a class thing even more. The article hasn’t mentioned gender, but has talked at length about class and general cultural shift from the rebellious 60-ies.

        I read other articles about responses to the novel (long ago) and none mentioned gender either. However, all discussed the mindset of being “more focused on distinguishing themselves in society as it is presently constituted than in trying to change it.” This approach doesn’t seem to be connected to gender.

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        1. “The article hasn’t mentioned gender, but has talked at length about class and general cultural shift from the rebellious 60-ies.”

          • The rebellious 60ies were only rebellious in some places and for a tiny minority of population. This novel, however, inspired every male Bildungsroman in every country whose literature I have read for decades and decades. For instance, my father – the least rebellious and the most conservative person on the planet – loves this novel and adored it as a young man.

          The novel is not rebellious at all. It’s actually the opposite. Holden is tortured by the idea of sexual liberation, loose morals, and women not knowing their place any longer.

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          1. \ This novel, however, inspired every male Bildungsroman in every country whose literature I have read for decades and decades.

            I guess now I will have to read it, even if I don’t like the book.

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  8. Prudie advises woman to babysit the kid who was the result of an affair between her ex husband and his current wife
    The letter writer is cordial to her ex-husband for the sake of their son, which is right because he’s still her son’s father. Yeah, I’m not forgiving. If my hypothetical husband stepped out on me and our then three year old to go knock up and marry some other woman, and then have another kid, they’d be on their own for the care of their affair child. They don’t get to break up my family unit and then come running to me for childcare like we’re family when it’s convenient. They would never impose on the ex husband like that if the situation were reversed. Why would they leave their child in the company of a woman who hates the fact the kid exists? Especially at such a stressful time? Leave the kid to be watched by someone who is neutral or adores her. If I let the other woman watch my kid while the kid visited his dad that would be one thing because reciprocal childcare, but otherwise, no way in hell.

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    1. I agree that it’s a bizarre request from a bizarre person. I believe it’s insulting to make this kind of requests and even more insulting not to take no for an answer and keep pestering.

      The woman is a bit strange, as well. Why is she bringing the book club into it? Why is she so conflicted about it that she needs to poll everyone she knows about it?

      Nobody will respect us if we don’t respect ourselves.

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      1. Why is she so conflicted about it that she needs to poll everyone she knows about it?
        Most of the time when people ask for advice they want outside permission or reassurance to do what they want to do. It’s very common in people who learned to peace make and bury their feelings for the sake of others to poll everyone about their boundaries. They are very invested in having others see them as nice and accommodating and willing to please. If a quorum polled of other people’s feelings matches their feelings they feel ok. If not, it’s very uncomfortable.

        My mother considers it an act of love to hide her feelings or the fact something is making her upset if she knows my father is having a stressful time at work.

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        1. I know what you mean. My father was brought up to believe that concealing his emotions equaled caring for others. As a result, he had a stroke at the age of 55. 😦

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  9. Read Jeanette Winterson’s memoir “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” and wondered whether you would be interested in it or if it would be too hard. She was adopted in early childhood by a religious family. (With adopting mother having mental problems imo. She was definitely unhappy to be only a housewife). Coming out as a lesbian made the adopting mother reject her. Later in the book Jeanette meets her biological mother too.

    She also wrote “Oranges are not the only fruit,” but I haven’t read that.

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  10. Good day! I am back with many impressions. Will write soon.

    Today entered Israeli news site and saw a link to the blog (in English) of 29-year-old black Jewish women, who immigrated to Israel a year ago from Poland (!)

    In her blog she describes her impressions of Israeli society. For instance,

    Israel – the hybrid of contradictions: On the history of Mizrachi and Ethiopian assimilation struggle
    https://nedida.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/israel-the-hybrid-of-contradictions-on-the-history-of-mizrachi-and-ethiopian-assimilation-struggle/

    Accepting things for what they are: On Israeli chutzpah, omniscience, empathy and the sense of joint responsibility
    https://nedida.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/accepting-things-for-what-they-are-on-israeli-chutzpah-omniscience-empathy-and-the-sense-of-joint-responsibility/

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      1. \ I heard from every single person I know who traveled to Israel that people do tend to be very rude, especially in service.

        My mother says some Russian sellers in Israel are rude, bringing the old Soviet mentality, unlike born-in-Israel Jewish sellers with capitalist mentality. Don’t know which service people the travellers meant. Could they be as bad as Soviets?

        We saw somebody quite rude in Paris, when entered to eat in a small cafe near gardens.

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  11. Regarding trip, we loved London more than Paris. Paris is smaller and London seemed much more interesting. My mother thought London was also more intellectual somehow.

    In London, two of my vividest impressions were of the Underground 🙂 and of the Tower of London. We walked on all the walls surrounding the central building of the Tower itself.

    I am not usually interested in such museums, but loved the huge room presenting what subjects people were interested in during Renaissance in the British Museum. There were many old books along the walls, some simply huge, as high as my knees, if not more. A few books were under glass and open, and one could see paintings of plants. A few sculptures and other objects also contributed to the beauty. Very impressive.

    Among other things, we also visited the London zoo and surprisingly I was most excited by Penguin Beach exhibit since

    “The new exhibit features a large pool with stunning underwater viewing areas so you can see how our flippered friends fly under water. The exhibit’s 1200 sq metre pool holds 450,000 litres of water!”

    Never cared about penguins, but sitting near a glass wall and watching the birds both under and above water (water was as high as my stomach) was amazing. The birds swam to the visitors and one of penguins was making great circles in the pool, swimming very fast while jumping in and out of water.

    What are your most favorite places in England?

    In France, I was most impressed not by Paris but by the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire valley. In the green room one gets the impression one is on the ship, swimming along the river. Around the castle parts of gardens looked like “real forest” to me. Never seen a real forest before, but it looked similar to me.

    Also, London has beautiful big parks, unlike Paris. The latter’s parks (the ones inside the city) are much smaller and more like toys: sculptures, flowers, etc. In London more plants grow because of the climate, I guess, and city parks look more natural, wilder.

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    1. I never even went into the London underground because the cost seemed so prohibitive. One would think that the whole purpose of public transportation was to provide cheaper options.

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