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Guest Post: Back on the Veldt, bollocks.
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 07.25.16

Nworb Werdna writes:
from a piece in the Sunday Telegraph about a new game show:

Every week, two contestants meet six potential suitors, each standing in a differently coloured opaque glass box. Gradually, the suitors are revealed in stages starting from the feet up to below the waist, then to the neck, and lastly revealing the shoulders and head, all completely bare. Throughout, Richardson quizzes the would-be dater on whether they like what they see, as well as their attitudes to sex, gender, body art, cosmetic surgery, love handles, gym bods, and personal grooming. This is romance stripped back. What you see is what you get. If, and this is the final twist, your choice of naked suitor likes the way you look in the nude, too. "It's dating in reverse," says Richardson. "Normally people meet fully clothed and make a judgement, before they see them naked. ... "Yet evolutionary psychologists tell us that our ancestors would have made their judgements by seeing us naked first, and acting on that raw animal magnetism. What we might think of as 'spark'. We are replicating that."

​Possibly the worst nightmare for everyone here, but I wonder if anyone could get a grant to find the nipple neurone: the master cell that decides if you're down to fuck a stranger -- god, pop science is easy to write -- all you have to do with that pitch is find a PhD to stand it up (IYKWIMAITYD)

Heebie's take: how on earth are you supposed to know if you'd fuck someone without knowing what kind of dresser they are???

Comments (60)

Deluge - Chapter 21
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 07.25.16

Chris Y writes:

A Conference in Washington

As we have become accustomed, Tooze introduces his discussion of the Washington Naval Conference by talking about something else: the Imperial Conference in London in 1922. This meeting served in part to find a way to return to normalcy (or normality, as the British would say) after the Irish settlement, and Tooze suggests that it was the forum in which the idea of the Empire as a Commonwealth emerged "fully fledged". I would challenge this more strongly if it actually affected his argument, because in fact most of the grunt work preparatory to the Statute of Westminster, 1931- essentially the founding document of the Commonwealth- was undertaken at subsequent conferences in 1925 and 1930. But Tooze is mainly interested in the question of naval power in the context of imperial defence.

The Admiralty line, which had been hawked around the Dominions before the conference by Adm. Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet at Jutland, was for supplementing the Royal Navy with an Imperial Navy, which would itself include an Indian Navy. The Dominions and the Indian government were unimpressed: they wanted neither the costs nor the responsibility. Especially they wanted to avoid being dragged into a further imbroglio in Europe, whereas Britain itself had a self-evident interest in European security.

Of especial concern was Imperial influence in the Pacific. Britain had an existing alliance with Japan going back to 1902 which was central to its secure its interests in the Pacific. Canada, understandably, pressed for a reorientation towards the United States, but when British diplomats attempted to explain their dilemma to the incoming Secretary of State, Charles Hughes, Hughes threw a total wobbly, asserting that Britain owed its obligations entirely to the United States, because the United States had joined the war out of the goodness of its heart to rescue the Entente from imminent defeat. This was, of course arrant nonsense- Hughes knew perfectly well that the United States joined the war because German submarines were attacking its commercial shipping, and because British intelligence notified their American opposite numbers that Germany was trying to create a hostile alliance with Mexico. But if the State Department wanted to play it that way, there was little London could do about it, and Britain was left without a practical Pacific strategy.

A few months later, Hughes offered a solution. He summoned the wartime Entente to Washington to discuss disarmament and the Pacific question; also to try to resolve the position of China in the postwar world. The British government was so offended at being invited on the same terms as its allies that it almost refused to attend, until Foreign Office civil servants knocked some sense into Lloyd George, but as it turned out, the American proposal on Naval disarmament was broadly what Britain and Japan wanted anyway: Hughes opened the proceedings by presenting a very detailed plan whereby the naval tonnage of the US, Britain and Japan would be substantially reduced and the remainder would be left in a ratio of 5-5-3 (roughly in 100, 000 tons). Hughes provided a good deal of detail, which was subjected to rigorous discussion, but his outline was accepted informally almost on the spot and formally within 72 hours. (Tooze notes that Japanese acquiescence surprised the western powers which had not yet understood that the Japanese political class, despite not being white, held a variety of quite sophisticated opinions and that the plurality, notwithstanding the recent assassination of the Prime Minister, currently favoured economic competition over military.) Britain, racing to keep some share of the initiative, immediately cancelled four capital ships under construction on the Clyde, thereby saving enough money to pay its war debts to America for a year and also presumably putting thousands of people out of work.

Obviously this was too good to last. The fly in the ointment was that Hughes had ignored French claims to great power status, although France was never a predominantly naval power. In the unlikely event that the government would have agreed to sign away its right to build capital ships, public opinion would have prevented it. The Prime Minister, Briand, insisted that under those conditions he would accept no limitation on smaller ships, especially submarines. Japan and Britain responded by demanding similar exemptions, and the discussion became extremely negative and childish, although it is not clear from Tooze' account what was finalised in this area. What was decisive however, was Britain's admission that it could no longer exercise unilateral naval hegemony worldwide. British negotiator Balfour at the time regarded this as historic, and Tooze appears to agree with him, likening it to Gorbachev's concessions in ending the Cold War. But given the immense budgetary cuts that had already been made, and the failure of the Imperial Navy project, it would seem to have been a foregone conclusion. Tooze also speculates as to whether the outcome of the Washington Conference, by weakening Anglo-American naval power, set up the conditions for the Japanese and Italian aggression of the 1930s. Very possibly, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The other leg of the Pacific security discussion was an attempt to resolve the status of China. Once again, Tooze' decision to begin his analysis in the middle of the war makes this section a bit hard to follow, because the situation in China was extremely complicated for reasons which went back to the "Boxer" rising, if not the Opium Wars. To attempt a summary (somebody who knows Chinese history please correct me), during the extended decline of the Qing empire, Japan, Russia and the western powers helped themselves to various commercial privileges and territorial enclaves without either dismembering or taking over entire the nominal government of the country. When the empire was overthrown and various Chinese and Manchu factions started competing for control, the outside powers saw no reason to surrender these interests, while at the same time being anxious to see a stable government, or at a pinch governments, emerge to protect them. The idea that a legitimate Chinese government might in fact be reasonably hostile to foreign privilege doesn't seem to have occurred to anybody.

So matters stood in 1921. The Chinese delegation at Washington took the initiative by proposing ten articles for discussion which largely addressed these issues, and the Americans broadly supported them, with Britain running to catch up. Elihu Root, former Secretary for War and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was charged with drafting the preliminary resolutions based on his understanding of a consensus that China would be treated as a sovereign state; that foreign governments would encourage the stability of the Chinese government; that all nations should have equal opportunity to participate in Chinese development; and that the current instability of Chinese politics should not be used as a justification for outside countries to assert special rights. Britain meanwhile contrived to persuade Japan to evacuate the Shandong peninsula, which it had seized from Germany during the war, although Japanese concessions over Shandong were insufficient for Chinese public opinion.

Following the Russian revolution, China had negotiated from a position of strength with the new Soviet government and had asserted control over the Russian concessions in their country, notably the Chinese Eastern Railway. Western opinion now concluded that by revoking Russian privileges, the Chinese were influenced by the Russian government and getting too close to the Communists (No, I don't understand this either, can somebody please explain.) The western powers considered that the resolution of the former Russian concessions should be up to them; China insisted on its right to make bilateral treaties, but at this point the government fell again and the political situation in that country became genuinely chaotic once more, although the Japanese seem to have made a genuine effort to rein in their proxies in Manchuria.

In the outcome, the Conference adopted a treaty which reflected a watered down version of Root's principles, but which still imposed significant disabilities on China. All the powers agreed to maintain equality of access to Chinese markets, but China could only borrow through a consortium of the major powers; control over the Eastern Railway was supposed to revert to an international cartel; a bunch of countries demanded continuing repayments of indemnities from the "Boxer" rebellion, France specifying gold. The Chinese were united in rejecting all these out of hand, and the other powers had no way to enforce them. Nor was any progress made on the question of tariffs.

When a number of not-Chinese people were kidnapped in 1923, the powers, especially America and Britain, rattled their sabres as loudly as they could, but they understood that they were not in a position to intervene as they might have in the 19th century, and that China would call their bluff. The status of the Chinese state remained unresolved until the resumption of Japanese aggression in the early 1930s.

Comments (49)

An Elevated Being
Posted by Ogged on 07.24.16

Man, to read about Paul Manafort's career is to look upon some real-ass nihilism. Sometimes you want to know how someone can sleep at night, but you know Paul Manafort sleeps like a baby.

Comments (144)

Psychology
Posted by Ogged on 07.24.16

During bootcamp, I self-bribed by deciding to buy a fully tricked-out MacBook Pro if I became employed as a developer. Then I showed up on the first day of work and they just handed me one. Now when I walk by an Apple Store, my salient feeling is one of missed opportunity. Brains are weird, but in this case, in addition to all the little pleasure hits involved in research and clicking the Buy button, I think I was looking forward to affirming that I could again afford to buy nice things. Now I find myself casting about for cool things to buy, despite not really needing anything in particular. I've even been thinking about buying a very nice kitchen knife for my wife, despite having one that I love. A nice camera lens probably makes the most sense, but that's more than I want to spend at the moment. So let's either shop or talk about shopping. Do you have a strange relationship with shopping, and/or if you were in my place and wanted to spend around $300 on something nice, what would it be?

Comments (217)

I could read 1,000 articles slamming Malcolm Gladwell
Posted by Ben on 07.23.16

Like this one!

Comments (121)