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Comment: Re:Most Secret War (Score 2) 75

by Teun (#48845781) Attached to: Winston Churchill's Scientists
I too remember his funeral, the man was iconic.

And working for a UK based company I see problems in the English culture that have caused the losers of WWII to now be the owner and manager of great British brands like Rolls Royce, Bentley and Mini auto mobiles.
Others like Vauxhal and Ford are just manufacturing plants building largely German engineered cars. Mazda and Toyota took over other factories.

The British (English!) problem is they are so cock-sure of their own products they can't believe you need to continually work on improvement, "hey we have the best engineers in the world, this X-years old design is the best, change can't be an improvement".

Even now the Brits have some brilliant engineers but until they recognise the outside world has moved on they will never be successful outside their own country.

Oh and let's not forget the considerable number of followers of that idiot drunk Nigel Farage that want to close up even more. We're seventy years after the end of WWII and the following disintegration of the Empire and they still don't see the value of openness for future progress. Churchill was a Liberal Conservative, the Liberals is the UK party with the least support and the Conservatives with their shining example Cameron don't understand the modern world...

Comment: A legal system (Score 5, Insightful) 83

by Teun (#48840737) Attached to: What Africa Really Needs To Fight Ebola
Yes Africa is rife with corruption.

Some see it as a natural thing, that's really sad because now they won't oppose it.
Others see it as the result of colonialism but we're 20-50 years on and things only got worse...

Talking about Ebola, two months ago I arrived in Angola and they had temperature screening for those getting off the plane.
Rather sad was this was only done for foreigners, those with an Angolan passport are apparently immune :(.
Africa is rife with corruption and corruption breeds what we'd otherwise see as stupidity but for individuals it's really just a way of survival.

The only effective way to fight corruption is to have a solid legal system and from European experience we learn that needs to be in place for several generations before it becomes effective.
Since the British occupation of South Africa it had a reasonable judiciary but now Zuma's ANC has taken over it is left to die, laws are watered down and officials installed based on their race and political affiliation.

It is a sad conclusion but even in the best scenario Africa will be corrupt for at least the next century.

Comment: Re:They (well some of them) are mental disorders (Score 1) 412

by Chrisje (#48776113) Attached to: Russia Says Drivers Must Not Have "Sex Disorders" To Get License

You manage to misrepresent transgenderism in one fell and foul swoop there.

Gender, in terms of how the brain is wired, is actually wired into the system before the testes drop or not. To cut a very long and technical story short, you are mentally wired to be male or female regardless of how your body turns out. For a small percentage of society, this means that their brains don't match their physical attributes, and the consequence of this is indeed a life long quest to become "right".

Stigmas and taboos are quite counterproductive for these individuals, and what Russia is doing is a gross violation of human rights. Then again, I don't expect much sympathy from US citizens, because the LGBT community is still under siege in the US as well. Laws are discriminatory, and public discourse is not very accepting of these folks. All you need to do is watch some Fox News and you'll get the gist.

Characterising the transgendered plight as "dress up in women's lingerie" only serves to exacerbate this situation, even if the intentions are quite OK.

Comment: Re: islam (Score 1) 1350

by Chrisje (#48773409) Attached to: Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

"Capitalism" is really quite a useless term. It frames the discussion in terms of a dichotomy that does not exist in reality. The Americans have now even started equating Socialism with Communism and by proxy of that full fledged Marxism, and then turn around to oppose this with "Freedom" or a "Free Market".

Now I have said this in another post, but there is no such thing as a free market. A free market has an unlimited amount of sellers, an unlimited amount of buyers and no regulations whatsoever. As soon as there's a discrepancy between the supply and demand side, like monopolies, cartels, monopsonies the market isn't truly "free".

Then as soon as you regulate the market in any way, shape or form it isn't truly free. Now for those libertarians out there, or those "no-government is good government" folks on this forum: "Capitalism" as translated into free market doctrine really sucks at morality. Do you agree that child labour ought to be illegal? Are you against slavery? Do you think some oversight should exist as to the circumstances under which labour is performed? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you yourself do not believe in a "free" market.

This means we can quit demonizing "Socialists" because of their alleged "anti-freedom" stance, and we can get on with having some constructive discussions on how we want to redistribute assets so as to maximize the welfare of the world population as a whole. Preferably based on fact rather than faintly religious notions.

Now the notions of a "free market", the "trickle-down effect" and most importantly the "rational actor model" that have been put forth by the Chicago school of economics and their ilk have been proven to be wrong and ineffective countless times. It should become clear if you look at the state of the US today, actually. For reference I would point towards the collected works of Joseph Stiglitz and Ha-Joon Chang.

Yet the public at large seems to want to keep paying lip service to these faulty theories and continues politicians, bankers and businessmen to act in accordance to that which is known to fuck up.

If you are saying people act according to "mutual benefit" you are a proponent of the "rational actor model" I talked about earlier, and that notion is bunk. This is not only made clear by Kahneman et al, but if you delve into George Lakoff's work you'll see that even our definition of rational thought is somewhat fictionalized. Dan Gardner will allow you to see how there is nothing rational about our calculation of risk and Barry Schwartz and Dan Azriely have written volumes on how we are impacted by choices.

To cut a long story short: Cognitive science has long proven that we wouldn't know what "mutual benefit" really is if it kicked us in the ass, which is illustrated by the ever narrowing of the definition of "rationality" in the rational actor model. So yes, the invisible hand as you define it is fictitious at best and completely religious at its worst.

We need government and we need to make some moral decisions as to the kind of society we wish to live in, and enforce that notion through the rule of law, also where economic policy and redistribution of wealth are concerned.

Comment: Re:islam (Score 1) 1350

by Chrisje (#48773267) Attached to: Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

But then religion has already lost all meaning. It just doesn't realize it yet.

I understand the need for some notion of spirituality because people can be freaked out by the prospect of a finite and largely meaningless life, so in order not to go insane I guess some of us need imaginary friends and a promise of an afterlife.

However, in daily life neither my religious neighbors nor I do not ask god to charge our mobile phones. We use a charger that was built and engineered by mankind. Similarly, I don't need a god for morality either. Simple empathy will enable us to do the right thing. We can recognize suffering and decide to try and end or minimize it all by ourselves.

I'd even go as far as to say that a morality that hinges on an external factor dictating it is weaker than a fully internalized and autonomous morality.

Given that opening statement, there is no practical and discernible difference between a religion, dogma and ideology.

Comment: Re:islam (Score 1) 1350

by Chrisje (#48773243) Attached to: Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ

So much nuance needed here.

It is easy to look at Islam and consider it to be the root of all evil. Quite frankly this strikes me as a clean cut case of confusing correlation with causality.

Let me start by saying I do not condone violence of any kind, whether it's sectarian for any religion we know of or just plain assholery. So I don't condone the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Gaza or the invasion of Charlie Hebdo's premise in any way, shape or form. Too many innocent and civilian lives are squandered tragically by all of these actions. Whether it's Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the IRA, ETA, IDF or Rote Armee Fraktion, US Army or Halliburton that's engaging in violence, I don't care. It's all the same barbarism to me when civilians die.

However, I do find myself at odds with the notion of freedom of speech. I'll illustrate by means of a small segway:

Ha-Joon Chang, the Korean economist has once stated that there is no such thing as a free market. A free market has an unlimited amount of sellers, an unlimited amount of buyers and no regulations whatsoever. As soon as there's a discrepancy between the supply and demand side, like monopolies, cartels, monopsonies the market isn't truly "free".

Then as soon as you regulate the market it isn't truly free. Now for those libertarians out there, or those "no-government is good government" folks on this forum: "Capitalism" as translated into free market doctrine really sucks at morality. Do you agree that child labour ought to be illegal? Are you against slavery? Do you think some oversight should exist as to the circumstances under which labour is performed? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you yourself do not believe in a "free" market.

Similarly, my Constitution's Article 7 is colloquially called the Free Speech article, but really what it states is that Censorship is illegal as long as what you are saying, writing or broadcasting DOES NOT BREAK THE LAW. So the law says that hate-speech, slander and lastly "mis-representation of facts for commercial purposes" are all illegal.

As such, you are totally free to think what you like, but you can't say what you like. By that token: Nobody batted an eye when the Dutch courts forbade an organisation that openly advocated pedophilia. In this case, the consensus is that "free speech" should not be so free, think of the children, etc. But as soon as we are looking at insulting religion, speech should be "free".

Now if we look at the colonialist forces that shaped much of the Muslim world, all the way from Afghanistan to Syria, from Baghdad to Algiers, we should also get a notion of the socio-economic circumstances that arose after our collective (French, English, American and to a degree Belgian) intervention in those areas. And we can then safely conclude that those circumstances are highly conducive for violent crime: There is poverty, no rule of law, borders are haphazardly drawn across cultural and religious boundaries, and 19-35 year old males regularly have no prospect of procreating.

Then quite a few people fled these colonial FUBARs, and settled in Europe. This is about 4.5% of Europe's population, and they have been marginalized, discriminated and even treated with violence. If you look at the amount of violent attacks on mosques in the last 12 years, the list is staggeringly large as compared to attacks on synagogues or papers such as Charlie Hebdo.

So we are dealing with an impoverished population that has residual colonial trauma and is constantly being attacked from all angles, and then we wonder why violent excess enters the picture.

This is a very long winded way of saying that as far as taking the piss at Muslims is concerned, White Privilege becomes part of the equation. We can mock the RC Church more freely, because we are the elite and it is an institute of our own making. However, when we mock Islam we need to be mindful of the socio-economic and power structure we created in which these people survive.

It's akin to the difference between a black US citizen dropping the N-word vis a vis a white middle class male dropping the N-word. We need to be more cautious about viewing the whole picture if we are to solve radicalism in our societies.

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