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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Links - 5th June 2014

How People Get Tall - "While about 80 percent of height is determined by genes, auxologists (those are height scientists) now believe that nutrition and sanitation determine much of the rest."

How to Give Someone a Hickey: 15 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow
The pictures are especially funny

Statistics Don't Back Up Claims About 'Rape Culture' - "Activists claim that reform is urgent because one in five women will be raped during her time at college. I have yet to see an article lamenting the campus rape culture that does not contain some iteration of this alarming statistic... Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute explains that the study often cited as the origin of the "one in five" factoid is an online survey conducted under a grant from the Justice Department. Surveyors employed such a broad definition that "'forced kissing" and even "attempted forced kissing" qualified as sexual assault. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' "Violent Victimization of College Students" report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture. During the years surveyed, 1995-2002, the DOJ found that there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year. Across the nation's four million female college students, that comes to about one victim in forty students. Other DOJ statistics show that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has decreased by about 60 percent... Bolstered by inflated statistics and alarmist depictions of campus culture, advocates have been successful in initiating policy changes designed to better protect victims of sexual violence. Duke, Swarthmore, Amherst, Emerson and the University of North Carolina are among the many institutions that have recently reviewed and revised their policies. It is not clear that these policies have made campuses safer places for women, but they have certainly made them treacherous places for falsely accused men. In January 2010, University of North Dakota student Caleb Warner was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student. A UND tribunal determined that Warner was guilty of misconduct, and he was swiftly suspended from school and banned from setting foot on campus for three years. Yet the police – presented with the same evidence – were so unconvinced of Warner's guilt that they refused to bring criminal charges against him. Instead, they charged his accuser with filing a false report and issued a warrant for her arrest. Warner's accuser fled town and failed to appear to answer the charges. Despite these developments, the university repeatedly rejected Warner's requests for a rehearing. Finally, a year and a half later, UND reexamined Warner's case and determined that their finding of guilt was "not substantiated" – but only after the civil liberties group FIRE intervened and launched a national campaign on Warner's behalf... At Swarthmore College, volunteers are now being solicited via email to serve on the Sexual Assault and Harassment Hearing Panel. Such a panel is far more likely to yield gender violence activists than impartial fact finders. In a court of law, we rely on procedural safeguards to ensure unbiased jury selection and due process. But on the college campus, these safeguards have vanished. What's more, campus judiciaries operate under a dangerously low standard of proof for sexual assault cases, thanks to federal mandates... advocates for due process, rules of evidence, basic justice and true gender equality need to speak louder than the "f*ckrapeculture" alarmists."

Feminist blogger announces ban on male commenters : MensRights
Comment: "Turnabout is fair play. I think it's perfectly reasonable for them to put men on the receiving end. Think about it! In the entirety of human history, it's only been the past two decades that women have finally been allowed to comment on mens' blogs."

Here's What Happens When You Leave a Guy Alone With Booze and Your Cat

The Original Star Wars Concept Art Is Amazing

So Portland's Not Flushing That Urine-Tainted Reservoir After All - "Remember when Portland was gonna dump 38 million gallons of drinking water because that one dude peed in it? Well, it turns out the city has had a change of heart, and the water won't be flushed—at least not just yet... The crazier thing (could it get crazier?) is that this is actually not the first time this has happened to poor Pee-D-X. In 2011, 21-year-old Josh Seater did the same thing at the same reservoir, causing the city to drain over eight million gallons of drinking water... A dribble of pee is seriously a few drops in the bucket—birds do all sorts of unspeakably grody things to the drinking water in open reservoirs, for example. But this kind of episode—in addition to serious threats like terrorism—is one of the reasons that many cities are being required to take their open-air reservoirs offline."

China Exclusive: China's "first emperor" banned Buddhism, expert says - "Though the book, written between 104 B.C. to 91 B.C., provided no evidence of temples destroyed or monks exiled, Han said he believed the ban had been very effective. "Buddhism never appeared again in historical documents until 2 B.C.," Han said. Emperor Qin Shihuang's ban on Buddhism indicated the religion was already popular in China's interior regions in his reign, said Han, whose thesis on the subject was published Friday in Xi'an. Han recommended that textbooks be changed to reflect his discovery. Historians generally believed Buddhism was introduced into China around 67 A.D. in Han Dynasty that succeeded Qin. But Han held it must have spread to China from today's Xinjiang Ugyur Autonomous Region and central Asian countries, along the ancient Silk Road, more than two centuries earlier. "

Studying the Studies on the Minimum Wage - "Neumark and Wascher are long-time opponents of the minimum wage. I have, for a long-time, been a supporter of regular, moderate increases in the minimum wage. So, who are you going to believe? Well, fortunately, we have statistical techniques designed to use objective criteria to sift through and evaluate situations where there are a large number of separate statistical studies on the same topic. These "meta-study" techniques are widely used in medicine, for example, where they help doctors to draw more reliable results from a large number of clinical studies than is possible from any individual study... What is most striking about the chart is that all of the most precise estimates are at or very close to zero — the point where the minimum wage has no effect on teen employment. Doucouliagos and Stanley's more objective approach leads them to conclude that the minimum wage has "an insignificant employment effect (both practically and statistically)." And these results do not depend on anyone's subjective judgment of the “credibility” of the underlying studies."

Not quite the real thing: Coca-Cola's 'secret formula' is out of the bottle - but can the famous flavour be recreated at home? - "This week, the American historian Mark Pendergrast published a formula for the world’s most prolific soft drink – and this is not just any recipe. This is the original “secret formula”, as used by pharmacist John Pemberton when he first mixed the drink in 1886, in Columbus, Georgia. Now, more than a century later, there are only two places in the world where you cannot buy Coca-Cola: North Korea, and Cuba. Despite this, and with the help of Pemberton’s formula, I am attempting to recreate it from scratch... acquiring the necessary ingredients is far more of a challenge than expected. My local grocery store does not stock neroli oil. Caffeine is not visible in the aisles at Sainsbury’s and, despite a cursory wander through my local market for a Peruvian vegetable stall, coca leaves are nowhere to be seen. The ingredients required for the Coca-Cola flavour itself is a mix of seven essential oils. After hours of hunting, I have only vanilla... Food-grade essential oils, it transpires, are not only very difficult to get hold of at short notice, but also quite poisonous if used incorrectly. Likewise pure caffeine, not to mention the coca leaves, which I can tell you now did not form part of The Independent’s reicpe"

Tests find traces of alcohol in Coke, Pepsi and other sodas - "Scientists who tested 19 different kinds of cola found trace amounts of alcohol in 10 of the samples. However, the amounts were so small that you'd have to consume nearly 13,000 cans to qualify for a DUI."

A taste of adventure | The Economist - "The spice trade, once the stuff of legends, has become a market much like any other. And a taste of luxury beyond the dreams of almost every human in history is available to almost everyone, almost everywhere"

Gilbert Goh burns effigy of himself in Labour Day protest! - "It is plausible that he may be charged for not only burning an effigy, but also for attempted suicide."

Losing our religion: Your guide to a godless future - "Until quite recently, it was widely assumed that people had to reason their way to atheism: they analysed the claims of religion and rejected them on the grounds of implausibility. This explained why atheism was a minority pursuit largely practised by more educated people, and why religion was so prevalent and durable. Overcoming all of those evolved biases, and continuing to do so, requires hard cognitive work. This "analytical atheism" is clearly an important route to irreligion and might explain some of the recent increase in secularity. It certainly flourishes in places where people are exposed to science and other analytical systems of thought. But it is by no means the only flavour of irreligion. In the US, for example, among the 20 per cent of people who say they have no religious affiliation, only about 1 in 10 say they are atheists; the vast majority, 71 per cent, are "nothing in particular". "There are many pathways and motivations for becoming atheist," says Norenzayan. "Disbelief does not always require hard cognitive effort." So if people aren't explicitly rejecting religious claims, what is causing them to abandon god? To Norenzayan, the answer lies in some of the other psychological biases that make religious ideas so easy to digest. One of the main motivations for abandoning god is that people increasingly don't need the comfort that belief in god brings. Religion thrives on existential angst: where people feel insecure and uncertain, religion provides succour. But as societies become more prosperous and stable, this security blanket becomes less important. By this reckoning it is no coincidence that the world's least religious countries also tend to be the most secure. Denmark, Sweden and Norway, for example, are consistently rated as among the most irreligious. They are also among the most prosperous, stable and safe, with universal healthcare and generous social security. Conversely, the world's most religious countries are among its poorest. And within countries, poorer segments of society tend to be more religious... after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand – normally a stable and safe country with corresponding low levels of religiosity – religious commitment in the area increased... In comparison to other rich nations, the US has high levels of existential angst. A lack of universal healthcare, widespread job insecurity and a feeble social safety net create fertile conditions for religion to flourish... even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul... the link between religion and health is nowhere near as well established as is often claimed. A meta-analysis of 226 such studies, for example, found a litany of methodological problems and erroneous conclusions... if you think an atheist world would be a paradise of rationality and reason, think again. "When people no longer believe in god, it doesn't mean they don't have intuitions that are powerfully connected to the supernatural," says Norenzayan. "Even in societies that are majority atheist, you find a lot of paranormal belief – astrology, karma, extraterrestrial life, things that don't have any scientific evidence but are intuitively obvious to people." That, however, isn't necessarily a bad thing. "It is important to appreciate that there are powerful psychological reasons why we have religion," says Norenzayan. "We can't just say 'it is a superstition, we need to get rid of it'. We need to find alternative solutions to the deep and perennial problems of life that religion tries to solve. If societies can do that I think atheism is a viable alternative.""
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