Bharat’s Pocket Scraps 03-Nov

French, Canada's reconciliation #FAIL and more

Savitri Devi: The mystical fascist being resurrected by the alt-right

Savitri Devi, a mystical admirer of Hitler and a cat-loving devotee of the Aryan myth, seemed destined to fade into obscurity after her death 25 years ago. But thanks to the rise of the extreme right, her name and her image now crop up online more and more, writes Maria Margaronis.

A reminder that white supremacy in the 30s and 40s borrowed heavily from the Aryan mythography, and appropriated many aspects of Hindu caste based notions of purity and superiority. Also, the theosophical society still sits on some of the most beautiful parts of Chennai, used to go walking in there a lot, as it had access to some unspoiled estuary wetlands and other ecosystems hard to find in a metropolis!

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The illegal turtle trade is another reminder why scientists must keep secrets

I recently attended a scientific conference focused, not surprisingly, on turtles. Even in this situation, surrounded by like-minded scientists and conservation professionals, my students and I keep our study site information under our hats. Good thing. As I listened to other conference presenters reveal too much, I learned that there was, in fact, a previously convicted turtle poacher attending the conference. My MO of secrecy was unfortunately justified

Not something I would have considered. But, if you apply the same principles to wildlife work that you apply to human work, you’d think about informed consent (not possible), minimization of harm (you better) and protection of privacy and personal data among other things. Protecting turtles from harm caused by the disclosure of personal data then makes complete sense!

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Supreme Court set to rule on giant ski resort opposed by Indigenous group

The ruling said the B.C. government had engaged in “deep consultation” throughout the process, and had met its duty to consult and accommodate under Sec. 35 of the Constitution Act. The section does not give Indigenous groups a veto power over development projects; it guarantees a process, but not a particular result, the ruling said.

I find Canada’s reconciliation process with the indigenous we took this continent from a bit disingenuous. Here’s the Supreme Court saying that all you have to do to satisfy Canadian rules around development in lands considered sacred or important to First Nations is to listen deeply. “Deep consultation” is the Canadian equivalent of “extreme vetting”, a phrase that sounds powerful and action oriented, but is devoid of any actionable meaning. So, if you just let the Ktunaxa talk about the sacredness of the land you’re building (yet another) ski resort on, and nod in an affirming fashion, you’ve done your duty to consult. This is just “hey, we’re going to bulldoze your house, but we’ll tell you a year in advance and let you talk about your photos, and memories”, it’s just a process, we don’t actually need you to be on board with this or anything.

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The time when America stopped being great

Flying into Los Angeles, a descent that takes you from the desert, over the mountains, to the outer suburbs dotted with swimming pools shaped like kidneys, always brings on a near narcotic surge of nostalgia.

A bit of a simplistic sweep through the last 35 years of the US, but this is how history gets written, and we’re in need of many more third person neutral descriptions of our neighbour.

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French language watchdogs say ‘non’ to gender neutral style

The Académie Française, France’s ultimate authority on the language, sparks national row after describing inclusive writing as an ‘aberration’ . In a statement full of hyperbole, the academy condemned the increasing use of new spellings aimed at making written French less masculine, arguing that it could not see the “desired objective” of the changes.”

Not learning French any time soon. If you have talked to me at all, you’ll know that rant #32 on my list is my disdain for excessively gendered languages. It’s bad enough that we have to gender job descriptions or personal pronouns, why do we put up with genders for chairs and tables? This got me all the time when I was learning Hindi (Tamil does not have gendered nouns for inanimate objects, like English). I can’t wait for they/them (or whatever works for people) to take over the English language and rid it of even more gendered concepts. In addition to being oppressive and offensive to those less privileged, they’re a cognitive waste of time, providing irrelevant information on someone/thing’s gender. I already don’t use the term actress any more (or executrix, I guess?). It’s easy to change language, you have to pay attention the first 30 times and then it’s habit. Of course, the dudes who’re part of this Académie are fine with their hegemony.

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One Comment

  1. A language is a good example of something that is socially constructed and malleable (even if rule-bound by “biological templates”) and yet has a remarkable inertia and direction beyond any one subset of users. The colonial contest between French and Spanish and English continues.

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