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A Very German Idea of Freedom: Nude Ping-Pong, Nude Sledding, Nude Just About Anything

The first time Michael Adamski saw his mother-in-law naked it was awkward.

But it wasn’t as awkward as seeing his boss naked.

Mr. Adamski, a police officer in Berlin who investigates organized crime, first started going to a nudist camp at a lake outside Berlin after he met his wife, whose family owned a cabin there.

One weekend, when he had just about gotten used to stripping in front of his in-laws, he bumped into the highest-ranking colonel in his precinct — who promptly challenged him to a game of table tennis.

They have been on first-name terms ever since.

“Once you’ve played Ping-Pong with someone naked, you can’t call them ‘colonel’ anymore,” Mr. Adamski said as he prepared to join a triathlon where the swimming and running portions of the race were naked. “Nudity is a great leveler.”

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2019 in European Union

 

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The myth of Eurabia: how a far-right conspiracy theory went mainstream

In July 2011, a quiet European capital was shaken by a terrorist car bomb, followed by confused reports suggesting many deaths. When the first news of the murders came through, one small group of online commentators reacted immediately, even though the media had cautiously declined to identify the attackers. They knew at once what had happened – and who was to blame.

“This was inevitable,” explained one of the anonymous commenters. And it was just the beginning: “Only a matter of time before other European nations get a taste of their multicultural tolerance that they’ve been cooking for decades.”

“Europe has been infested with venomous parasitic vermin,” explained another. “Anything and everything is fine as long as they rape the natives and destroy the country, which they do,” said a third.

As the news grew worse, the group became more joyful and confident. The car bomb had been followed by reports of a mass shooting at a nearby camp for teenagers. One commenter was “almost crying of happiness” to be proved right about the dangers of Islam. “The massacre at the children’s camp,” another noted, “is a sickening reminder of just how evil and satanic the cult of Islam is.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/16/the-myth-of-eurabia-how-a-far-right-conspiracy-theory-went-mainstream

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2019 in European Union

 

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Can You Really Be Addicted to Video Games?

Charlie Bracke can’t remember a time when he wasn’t into video games. When he was 5, he loved playing Wolfenstein 3D, a crude, cartoonish computer game in which a player tries to escape a Nazi prison by navigating virtual labyrinths while mowing down enemies. In his teenage years, he became obsessed with more sophisticated shooters and a new generation of online games that allowed thousands of players to inhabit sprawling fantasy worlds. Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls — he would spend as much as 12 hours a day in these imaginary realms, building cities and fortifications, fighting in epic battles and hunting for treasure.

During his childhood, Bracke’s passion for video games, like that of most young Americans, didn’t cause him any serious problems. At school, he got along with just about everyone and maintained straight A’s. His homework was easy enough that he could complete it on the bus or in class, which allowed him to maximize the time he spent gaming. After school, he would often play video games for hours with his cousin and a small group of close friends before going home for dinner. Then he would head to the den and play on the family computer for a few more hours before bed. When his parents complained, he told them it was no different from their habit of watching TV every night. Besides, he was doing his homework and getting good grades — what more did they want? They relented.

When Bracke went to Indiana University Bloomington, everything changed. If he skipped class or played games until 3 in the morning, no one seemed to care. And only he had access to his grades. After a difficult breakup with a longtime high school girlfriend and the death of his grandmother, Bracke sank into a period of severe depression. He started seeing a therapist and taking antidepressants, but by his junior year, he was playing video games all day and seldom leaving his room. He strategically ignored knocks at the door and text messages from friends to make it seem as though he were at class. Eventually, he was failing most of his courses, so he dropped out and moved back in with his parents in Ossian, Ind., a town of about 3,000 people, where he got a job at Pizza Hut.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Tainted by association

When I first heard the allegations of serial sexual misconduct against the American folk-rock singer Ryan Adams earlier this year – that he had emotionally and psychologically abused several women and underage girls, using his status in the music industry as leverage – I didn’t want to believe it. Yet this desire to not-believe strongly preceded any acquaintance I had with the actual facts. Indeed – and as I am now ashamed to admit – I initially read the facts with great skepticism, hoping that they were wrong. Only with effort have I forced myself to put aside my initial disbelief, and consider things impartially, making a more balanced assessment. Why?

One answer comes from feminist theory. As a man who has been raised in a male-dominated society, one that tends to privilege the status and testimony of men, and to cast aspersions on those of women – most especially when it comes to issues of sex – I am ideologically conditioned to react this way. Sadly, I suspect there is much truth in this. But it is not the only explanation in play. Another consideration is that I didn’t want Adams to be guilty because I like his music. And the worry that I had – initially, without even realising it – was that, if Adams is indeed guilty, then I won’t be able to enjoy his music any more. And I don’t want that to be the case. Hence, I initially read the accusations against Adams with skepticism, precisely because I (subconsciously) wanted to protect my future enjoyment of his records.

https://aeon.co/essays/why-do-we-allow-objects-to-become-tainted-by-chance-links

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Would you stand up to an oppressive regime or would you conform? Here’s the science

Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, described the horror of the authoritarian regime of Gilead. In this theocracy, self-preservation was the best people could hope for, being powerless to kick against the system. But her sequel, The Testaments, raises the possibility that individuals, with suitable luck, bravery and cleverness, can fight back.

But can they? There are countless examples of past and present monstrous regimes in the real world. And they all raise the question of why people didn’t just rise up against their rulers. Some of us are quick to judge those who conform to such regimes as evil psychopaths – or at least morally inferior to ourselves.

But what are the chances that you would be a heroic rebel in such a scenario, refusing to be complicit in maintaining or even enforcing the system?

https://theconversation.com/would-you-stand-up-to-an-oppressive-regime-or-would-you-conform-heres-the-science-124469

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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The cult of Columbine: how an obsession with school shooters led to a murder plot

It was an extremely online romance, as many were in 2014: they followed each other on Tumblr, then they became Facebook friends, then they started chatting. James Gamble was 19, aimless and unemployed. Lindsay Souvannarath was 22, with a newly minted degree from a small liberal arts school in Iowa and vague plans to join the Peace Corps.

Over the next seven weeks, Lindsay and James would come to feel that their meeting was part of some great cosmic plan. They were in similar places in their lives: young adults still living with their parents, socially awkward, virgins. They did not spend much time talking about the mundane building blocks of adulthood – school, family, work – in part because those parts of life had felt hostile to both of them for a long time. Instead, they discussed the other things they had in common – how they both walked stiffly and too fast; how as soon as they entered a room, other people could sense that something about them did not quite fit. How they could tell that strangers were afraid of them. How they had grown to like it, in a way, the perverse kind of power that came from being the kind of person everyone else wanted to stay away from.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/20/cult-of-columbine-how-the-high-school-shooting-motivated-a-murder-plot

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Why can’t we agree on what’s true any more?

We live in a time of political fury and hardening cultural divides. But if there is one thing on which virtually everyone is agreed, it is that the news and information we receive is biased. Every second of every day, someone is complaining about bias, in everything from the latest movie reviews to sports commentary to the BBC’s coverage of Brexit. These complaints and controversies take up a growing share of public discussion.

Much of the outrage that floods social media, occasionally leaking into opinion columns and broadcast interviews, is not simply a reaction to events themselves, but to the way in which they are reported and framed. The “mainstream media” is the principal focal point for this anger. Journalists and broadcasters who purport to be neutral are a constant object of scrutiny and derision, whenever they appear to let their personal views slip. The work of journalists involves an increasing amount of unscripted, real-time discussion, which provides an occasionally troubling window into their thinking.

But this is not simply an anti-journalist sentiment. A similar fury can just as easily descend on a civil servant or independent expert whenever their veneer of neutrality seems to crack, apparently revealing prejudices underneath. Sometimes a report or claim is dismissed as biased or inaccurate for the simple reason that it is unwelcome: to a Brexiter, every bad economic forecast is just another case of the so-called project fear. A sense that the game is rigged now fuels public debate.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/19/why-cant-we-agree-on-whats-true-anymore

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Spot the psychopath

Psychopath. The word conjures up the image of a cold-blooded killer, or perhaps a fiendishly clever but heartless egoist. There’s Ted Bundy, who in the 1970s abducted women, killed them, and had sex with their decomposing bodies. Or Hannibal Lecter from the film The Silence of the Lambs (1991), who cunningly escaped his various confinements and ended up eating the people he despised. In the popular imagination, psychopaths are the incarnation of evil. However, for an increasing number of researchers, such people are ill, not evil – victims of their own deranged minds. So just what are psychopaths, and what is wrong with them?

According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – first devised in the 1970s by the Canadian criminal psychologist Robert Hare and since revised and widely used for diagnosis – psychopaths are selfish, glib and irresponsible. They have poor impulse control, are antisocial from a young age, and lack the ability to feel empathy, guilt and remorse. Psychopaths steal, lie and cheat, and have no respect for other people, social norms or the law. In some cases, they torture defenceless animals, assault other children or attempt to kill their siblings or parents. If caught, they fail to take responsibility for their actions, but tend to blame others, their upbringing or ‘the system’. According to some recent calculations, more than 90 per cent of male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, on parole or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system. Considering that psychopaths are thought to make up only around 1 per cent of the general population, that number is staggering. Because of this close link to criminality, psychopathy used to be known as ‘moral insanity’.

https://aeon.co/essays/you-have-more-in-common-with-a-psychopath-than-you-realise

 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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For the sake of life on Earth, we must put a limit on wealth

It is not quite true that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Musicians and novelists, for example, can become extremely rich by giving other people pleasure. But it does appear to be universally true that in front of every great fortune lies a great crime. Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a worker at a British private airport. “I see things that really shouldn’t be happening in 2019,” he wrote. Every day he sees Global 7000 jets, Gulfstream G650s and even Boeing 737s take off from the airport carrying a single passenger, mostly flying to Russia and the US. The private Boeing 737s, built to take 174 passengers, are filled at the airport with around 25,000 litres of fuel. That’s as much fossil energy as a small African town might use in a year.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/19/life-earth-wealth-megarich-spending-power-environmental-damage

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Margaret Atwood’s work illustrates our need to enjoy other people’s pain

A well-crafted worldwide publicity campaign is raising expectations for The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her Handmaid’s Tale. This, perhaps, is the right moment to take a deeper look into the reasons of our fascination with the dark world of the Republic of Gilead.

Since Gilead is run by Christian fundamentalists, the best way to begin is with theology.

In his Summa Theologica, philosopher Thomas Aquinas concludes that the blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned in order that their bliss be more delightful for them. Aquinas, of course, takes care to avoid the obscene implication that good souls in heaven can find pleasure in observing the terrible suffering of other souls, because good Christians should feel pity when they see suffering. So, will the blessed in heaven also feel pity for the torments of the damned? Aquinas’s answer is no: not because they directly enjoy seeing suffering, but because they enjoy the exercise of divine justice.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-testaments-human-rights-slavoj-zizek-a9105151.html

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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