Fox hunting is apparently still a thing in the UK

I came across this article about a clash between supporters of fox hunting and protestors.

Police are investigating after a man appeared to use a dead fox to attack a vehicle containing anti-hunting activists.

As dozens of hunts took place across the UK on Boxing Day, a man alleged to be a supporter of a hunt in North Yorkshire was filmed hitting the window of a van with the animal’s body.

Blood and hair were left smeared across the glass and a group from the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), activists who monitor and disrupt purported illegal hunting, claimed the vehicle was damaged.

The apparent attack occurred at midday on Thursday when a group of people approached the activists before a man was seen sprinting towards the van attempting to hide his face and brandishing the dead fox, which he then used as a weapon.

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The internet can undermine one’s faith in humanity

In general, I tend to be optimistic about the human condition but on occasion, I come across stories that shake that sense of positivity. The radio program The World had a segment on December 12th about the trauma suffered by content moderators tasked by Facebook with viewing videos on the site to see if they should be removed. Having to watch video after video of the most appalling things in rapid succession resulted in many of them suffering psychologically and Facebook did not seem to have in place sufficient resources to help them deal with it. Some of the moderators, who are contractors and not Facebook employees, are now suing Facebook. One of them Chris Gray, who worked in its Dublin office, was interviewed on the program.
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Corbynizing Sanders

Recent events in the UK have resulted in a new word being added to the political lexicon and that is ‘Corbynizing’. This is the label given to the concerted effort orchestrated by the right wing Israel lobby in the UK, the Conservative party, much of the establishment media, and Blairite neoliberal members of the Labour party to discredit and undermine Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn by suggesting that he is an anti-Semite and/or a coddler of anti-Semites, in an effort to remove him from the party leadership and also to distract attention from the progressive platform that the party put forward.
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Protest, demonstration, revolt, uprising, rebellion, or riot?

The First Amendment to the US constitution lists five freedoms, two of which are expressed as “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. But what happens when the people cease, for whatever reason, to be ‘peaceable’ in their petitioning? Then what the situation is called becomes a critical element in how it is viewed and responded to. Each of the words protest, demonstration, revolt, uprising, rebellion, and riot can be used characterize a situation in which a large number of people have assembled in public in defiance of the authorities because the normal channels through which those grievances can be redressed are deemed to be ineffective. But which label is used is important in creating general public perceptions.
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How the US is exporting bad food and eating habits around the world

In his last episode of the season of his show Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj looks at how the US, through the World Trade Organization, bullies other countries to force them to open their markets to unhealthy foods exported by the US so that the problems associated with such foods that we are so familiar with in the US, like diabetes, are now increasing globally.

At the end of the show, he spends a few minutes giving advice on how to deal with all the problems that his show raises and he recommends that each person focus on just a few things to act and be activists on, so as to avoid being overwhelmed into a state of inaction on everything.

Bogus productivity cost estimates

My attention was drawn to this article that said a manufacturer was marketing to businesses a toilet that was tilted. The idea was to make sitting on it uncomfortable in order to discourage workers from using their toilet breaks to relax and avoid quickly going back to work.

While this was yet another example of the extremes some companies will go to to squeeze more work out of their employees, what grabbed my attention was this part: “Well, apparently going to the toilet is just not productive. In its advertising, StandardToilet estimates that £4bn is lost yearly answering Mother Nature’s call.”

One often sees these estimates about the losses due to some factor (say due to being stuck in traffic or power outages, and so on) but they rarely specify how they arrived at the cost. One method is to take the time that was lost and multiply by the number of workers and the wages per unit time. But how realistic is that as a true estimate of loss? Surely the employee who lounges for a few extra minutes on the toilet will have to still do their work when they get back? Isn’t what we are seeing just a time-shifting of the costs, rather than an actual loss?

It may be that the main purpose of such estimates is as a scare tactic to get employers to buy some product.

Film review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) (no spoilers)

I am not a big Star Wars fan, so take my review of the final act with a grain of salt. (I mean the final act of the original nine-episode storyline of course. This lucrative franchise will be milked with spinoffs until the next millennium.) I enjoyed the first trilogy (episodes 4, 5, 6), absolutely hated the first film of the second prequel trilogy (episode 1), so much so that I completely skipped episodes 2 and 3. The first film in the final trilogy (episode 7) got good reviews, enough that I went to see it and quite enjoyed it. I then watched episode 8 and was disappointed again and was now ambivalent of seeing the latest release but decided to do so due to a combination of staying with people who were going to see it and curiosity about how the story line would end. We ended up seeing it at 8:45 on Christmas day morning which had the benefit of the theater being largely empty even though we were watching it on an iMax screen.

(Q: Why were the nine films made out of order? A: In charge of scheduling, Yoda was.)
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Investigative journalism that gets results

For the Christmas holiday, I thought I would post a good news story.

I am a financial supporter of the investigative journalism outfit ProPublica and today comes a news item that makes me glad that I am doing so. Some months ago, they had an expose of a nonprofit hospital affiliated with the Methodist church in Memphis, Tennessee that was suing poor people for not paying their bills, even going to the extent of garnishing their wages which is devastating for people who live paycheck to paycheck. The hospital was essentially using the courts as a collection agency by threatening people with severe legal penalties. Thanks to that expose, the hospital and the church was shamed into canceling the debts and in a follow up story today, we hear about the results, starting with the case of Danielle Robinson.
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Midsomer Murders and ethnicity

As I have mentioned before, I am partial to watching British police procedural shows on TV. They tend to eschew graphic violence and chases in favor of more genteel story telling. One of the most venerable of these shows is the series Midsomer Murders that has just released its 21st season. Over time, the series has developed a slightly campy, tongue-in-cheek feel because of the sheer implausibility of so many murders taking place in quaint little villages and rustic settings in one small English county. With each season, the way that the murders occur have become steadily more outlandish so that I now often laugh out loud when people have been killed in bizarre ways and their bodies are found in the most incongruous places. (In one episode a few seasons ago, the victim was a cricketer killed by the mechanical bowling machine used for practice that had been adjusted by the killer to rapidly fire high speed balls at his head.)
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