Thursday, 28 April 2016

authentic listening - fast and slow

I great website full of authentic listening - with the text AND with different speeds:

BITS - Listening and Reading for English Language Learners
English Language Learning : Listen & Read
by Stieg Larsson
Murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. Harriet Vanger disappeared over forty years ago. Her aged uncle hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist to investigate. He is aided by Lisbeth Salander; a loner, a hacker, and a supremely talented researcher.
In Seven Installments
Crime and Punishment

A classic novel for advanced
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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Saturday, 23 April 2016

press freedom around the world

Press freedom is in short supply:

The map that shows the countries with the least press freedom in the world

The UK is described as having a 'satisfactory situation' but has dropped two places in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index

This map shows the countries where journalists are free to report the news – and the places in which the media is most strictly controlled.
The nations with the least press freedom are Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan.
The UK is rated as having a “satisfactory situation” – worse than Germany, Ireland and Costa Rica which are all described as having a “good situation”.
The map, created for the Independent by statistics agency Statista, uses data from the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2016 World Press Freedom Index, which assessed how much freedom the media holds in 180 countries.
Press freedom around the world has fallen by nearly four per cent since last year, according to the report's measurements.
The secretary-general of RSF, Christophe Deloire, wrote in a statement that many world leaders are “developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism”, resulting in clampdowns on debate and independent reporting.
The country with the highest degree of press freedom is Finland, followed by the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand, which are all classed as having a "good situation" when it comes to reporting.
While Europe is still by far the continent with the highest degree of press freedom – followed by Africa, which overtook the Americas for the first time this year – it is far from perfect and the situation is worsening, according to RSF.
“The continent that respects media freedom most seemed to be on a downhill course,” RSF said in its report.
“Counter-espionage and counter-terrorist measures were misused. Laws were passed allowing mass surveillance. Conflicts of interest increased. Authorities tightened their grip on state media and sometimes privately owned media as well,” it said.
Poland has dropped 29 places in the rankings since 2015, despite still being described as “satisfactory”.
Earlier this year, the Polish government attracted criticism when it enacted a new law enabling the state to appoint management positions in public radio and television.
China is among the countries listed as having a "very serious situation" for press freedom.
Censorship and controls on press freedom in China are said to be tightening since president Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
French journalist Ursula Gauthier was expelled from Beijing in December, after publishing an article that the government said “supported terrorism”.
Challenges to press freedom in the UK include a lack of laws guaranteeing press freedom, as well as pressure from the government following the publication of certain stories such as Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing allegations, according to a 2014 report by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
RSF has published the World Press Freedom Index annually since 2002.

The map that shows the countries with the least press freedom in the world | World | News | The Independent

Monday, 4 April 2016


Have you heard of this?

The ethics of speciesism

What is speciesism?

'Speciesism' is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals.
...a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one's own species and against those of members of other species.
Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1975

Speciesism and bigotry

Speciesism is often condemned as the same sort of bigotry as racism or sexism.
People who oppose speciesiesm say that giving human beings greater rights than non-human animals is as arbitrary (and as morally wrong) as giving white people greater rights than non-white people.
NB: Those working for racial or sexual equality often find this comparison insulting - they say that their struggle for equality has a moral and social importance that animal rights can never have.

Speciesism is common

Most people, faced with a difficult choice between a human and an animal, would probably react in a speciesist (or 'homocentric') way.
Consider this example:
A child and a dog are trapped in a fire. You can only save one of them. Which will you save?
  • Most people don't have to think about this for even one second.
  • Most people don't consider the relative moral status of the dog and the child relevant to their choice.
  • Society would condemn anyone who delayed in order to consider the correct moral choice.

Pure speciesism

Pure speciesism carries the idea of human superiority to the extreme of saying that the most trivial human wish is more important that the vital needs of other species... for example a pure speciesist would argue that it's ok for animals to be cruelly treated and killed to provide fur decorations for human beings to wear.
Few people take speciesism to this length. More commonly, they say that all other things being more or less equal, it's morally correct to take the human side when considering an ethical issue.

Species is not a moral factor

People who object to speciesism say that a difference of species is not a morally relevant difference - in the same way that a difference of race is not a morally relevant difference between human beings.
They say that speciesism amounts to treating morally similar individuals in morally different ways for an irrelevant reason.

Justifying speciesism

Supporters of speciesism say that there is a clear difference between humans and other species, and that this difference affects their moral status.
They argue that human beings are more self-aware, and more able to choose their own course of action than other animals. This, they say, enables them to think and act morally, and so entitles them to a higher moral status.
But the argument that there are morally relevant differences between human animals and non-human animals is not a speciesist argument, since the argument is about the particular characteristics that are being put forward to justify the different moral status of human and non-human animals.

Speciesism as 'natural'

One argument in favour of speciesism is that it is biologically natural to treat one's own species favourably. Virtually all non-human animals treat members of their own species better than those of other species.

BBC - Ethics - Animal ethics: The ethics of speciesism

And there's a film out.
Is this a little ''extreme'?
It certainly provokes some discussion:

"Speciesism: The Movie" - Official Trailer - A New Species of Documentary, by Mark Devries, 2013 - YouTube
Speciesism: The Movie - Official Website

Saturday, 2 April 2016

optimism - our enemy

This blog has looked at 'positive thinking' and 'motivation':

An excellent programme on BBC Radio 4 looked at the whole optimism thing:

Optimism - Our Enemy

Journalist Bryan Appleyard presents a polemic that tilts at the current cult of optimism, of positive thinking and the relentlessly upbeat mantras of corporations.
Optimism is trumpeted in books, from the walls of yoga studios, the podiums of leadership conferences and in political life, especially in the United States. The optimistic cast of mind is key, apparently, to marital success, health and progress at work.
Pessimism is stigmatised. But if we could only dump our current and historical imperative to look on the bright side of life, Bryan argues, we'd all be a lot happier.
We weren't always so positive. Bryan points to post-war Britain, when we embraced a pessimism, a philosophy of endurance and amiably black humour. This was reflected in our cinema which, contrary to many Hollywood movies, embarked on a dark celebration of the fragilities exposed by the war, with films such as Brief Encounter.
We hear from the philosophers Roger Scruton and John Gray on the pleasures of pessimism. Writer Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of the American positive thinking industry from Norman Vincent Peale's sermons to multimillion-selling books such as Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. Psychologist Tali Sharot explains how optimism and pessimism drive our economy and Dragons' Den's Deborah Meaden reveals the dangers of blind optimism in business.
Bryan, a committed pessimist, also considers how learning to be more optimistic could enhance his life. He meets sales, marketing and personal growth strategist Bruce King for a class in positive thinking.
With archive including Noel Coward, Tony Blair, Peter Cook and Frank Muir.

A very disturbing movie with a non-Hollywood ending:

There is an alternative ending to Fatal Attractive:

There are books:

The Power of Positive Thinking:

How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret":

And there are alternative books:

Daniel Kahneman talks about a "pervasive optimistic bias",_Fast_and_Slow#Optimism_and_loss_aversion

Tali Sharot at UCL:

Ilona Boniwell is a little more balanced - perhaps:

There are motivational speakers:

Anthony Robins: Unleash the Power weekends:

Bruce King:

George W Bush: cheerleader:

The conclusion: