Archive for the 'Around the World' Category

“The perils of polygamy”

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

The Economist: The link between polygamy and war. “Plural marriage, bred of inequality, begets violence.” (December 19, 2017)

“Wherever it is widely practised, polygamy (specifically polygyny, the taking of multiple wives) destabilises society, largely because it is a form of inequality which creates an urgent distress in the hearts, and loins, of young men. If a rich man has a Lamborghini, that does not mean that a poor man has to walk, for the supply of cars is not fixed. By contrast, every time a rich man takes an extra wife, another poor man must remain single. If the richest and most powerful 10% of men have, say, four wives each, the bottom 30% of men cannot marry. Young men will take desperate measures to avoid this state.

This is one of the reasons why the Arab Spring erupted, why the jihadists of Boko Haram and Islamic State were able to conquer swathes of Nigeria, Iraq and Syria, and why the polygamous parts of Indonesia and Haiti are so turbulent. Polygamous societies are bloodier, more likely to invade their neighbours and more prone to collapse than others are. The taking of multiple wives is a feature of life in all of the 20 most unstable countries on the Fragile States Index compiled by the Fund for Peace, an NGO”.

#YouToo?

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

The Economist: This year has seen an explosion of rage about sexual harassment. “Will it lead to lasting change?” (Print Edition, December 19, 2017)

“The dam broke in October, with accusations of harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein, a film producer. Since then dozens of prominent men in show business, journalism and politics have been accused of sexual harassment, and been sacked or stepped down. The #MeToo hashtag has already been used 4.7m times on Twitter by women (and a few men) whose harassers were not famous enough to make the news.

Both sexes have found the outpouring astonishing. Many men are amazed to learn that so many women have suffered sexual harassment. For women the surprise is that perpetrators are being punished at last.”

“An old tongue’s new tricks”

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

The Economist: The strange reinvention of Icelandic. “A language both ancient and modern.”

“In perhaps their most famous example of purist creativity, when a word for computer was needed in the 1960s, the planners coined tölva, combining tala (“number”) and völva, an old word for prophetess. When doctors started talking about AIDS using the English acronym rather than its long, literal Icelandic translation, heilkenni áunnins ónæmisbrests [spoken], the committee coined two shorter alternatives: alnæmi [spoken], something like “all-susceptibility”, and eyðni, which sounds like the English term, but comes from the Icelandic eyða, meaning “to destroy”. When Icelanders started saying “podcast”, the council quickly responded with hlaðvarp [spoken], from roots meaning “charge” (squint and you can see hlaða as a distant cousin to “load”) and “throw”.”

Twilight of American Sanity

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Inquring Minds: Allen Frances – A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump. “We talk to renowned psychiatrist Allen Frances about his latest book Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump.” The Podcast (42:19min) was first aired October 17, 2017 and is available for download, on iTunes etc., or here:

Yes, I’m a little behind on my podcasts, but I’m catching up during the winter holidays.

Facebook is cutting out the human element of [tagging the photo]

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

NPR the two-way: Facebook Expands Use Of Facial Recognition To ID Users In Photos.

“Facebook is expanding its use of facial recognition software to alert users when photos of them are posted on the platform — whether or not they are tagged in the photo.

By default, Facebook users in the U.S. will be signed up for these face recognition alerts, unless they have previously opted out of a similar, more limited feature. But users can turn off face recognition, Facebook says.

Additionally, the company says it will roll out new tools to alert users if someone else may be impersonating them with a misleading profile photo.”