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Friday, October 24, 2014

Links - 24th October 2014

Why Are Liberals Opponents of Israel? - "Leftists/liberals/progressives believe that the great moral drama of our era is "the rest against the West" or the "people of color" against the "white man." This has replaced poor-against-rich or worker-against-capitalist as the core idea of progressive thought. Seen through that lens, Israel (the "Western," "white" guys) is automatically wrong and the Palestinians (the "anti-colonialist" "people of color") are automatically right. On the other side, conservatives value Israel as a free country, a democracy, and an ally of the United States... In the 1960s and 1970s the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the leadership of some of the individual Mainline Protestant denominations turned sharply to the Left. To an outsider it looked as if they were replacing religious faith with political messianism. They embraced "revolutionary" forces in Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other "third world" places even though those forces were both anti-human and anti-God. And they embraced Palestinian "revolutionaries" in the same spirit."

“Fast-Food Civil Rights”: Would You Like Fries With That, Comrade? | Thought Catalog - "This notion of “justice” being applied to fast-food jobs is the latest way to organize and make demands. Once it’s politicized it becomes an argument that takes on a whole new tone. If you don’t support this call for a “living wage,” suddenly you’re against civil rights, and that makes you a racist bigot who is beneath contempt. But I believe framing this as a civil-rights issue is ludicrous and an insult to the people who endured the civil-rights struggles of the past. Even though Rep. John Lewis has compared the movements, calling the pay “starvation wages,” no one is being forced to work at any fast-food restaurant against their will. Ronald McDonald isn’t siccing the dogs or turning the fire hoses on these poor souls. The restaurant industry has responded that the jobs are meant to be entry-level positions and not lifelong careers. Their concern is that if they had to pay employees $15 an hour, customers would feel the pinch. It doesn’t take a business whiz to realize that if a fast-food worker starts at $15 an hour then the industry will change how it conducts business, either by drastically raising prices or laying off workers—probably both. That would be ironic considering other low-wage earners would then likely be priced out of the one restaurant experience they can usually afford. Some of the fast-food workers at Saturday’s convention were wearing T-shirts that said, “We Are Worth More.” But are they really?... a reporter speaking to the two dozen or so activists at a Krystal hamburger restaurant noted that the majority were not actually workers, but union organizers or members. The Service Employees International Union has been providing financial and organizational support to these protests. So this movement would seem to be more about consolidation of union power and union dues than any real concern over civil rights. It was also noted that one protester held a sign quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stating “Capitalism has outlived its usefulness”... Only anti-capitalists would organize for a union that would seek to suck the profits and wages in union dues from a business instead of banding together to start their own business to compete in the marketplace. But then again, whining for what you want is always easier than working for what you want"

French Muslim women creatively circumvent burqa ban - "in a number of Paris suburbs, Muslim women walk around with long scarves that cover their hair and with surgical masks originally intended for medical usage on their faces. Police say that a number of women they arrested produced documentation supporting their medical claim to wearing the mask."

What it really feels like to wear the 'burqa' - "The first thing I realise, apart from the fact that it is incredibly hot and airless under the thick black material is that I can no longer communicate with the people I pass. On a pedestrian crossing, I turn to smile my thanks at the driver who's stopped to let me cross. But black material hides the gesture... It's a tiny moment of human communication and relationship which I, in the solitude of my black tent, am wholly excluded from. No one even bothers to look in my direction. It makes me feel less than human... Lately, we've made a big fuss about hoodies, and young men wearing motorbike helmets aren't allowed into office buildings unless they remove their helmets so we can see their faces... I see someone I know very well walking towards me. I know where she works and I guess she's on her way there now. I stare at her as she approaches but, of course, I'm just a mobile black shape. I'm nobody. Then I think that if she was also dressed as I am, I wouldn't recognise her either. Two friends could pass each other by a matter of a few feet and be none the wiser... The veil is an explicit statement of separation and distance. It seems to me to be far more than a statement of religious identity. Nuns wear habits, to express their relationship to their God, but you can always see their faces. Their dress is not shouting out "don't deal with me". The burqa is different. It says, or at least to me it seems to say, "I don't want to have anything to do with you" and, at this level, it is hard not to see it as a rejection of our society and of our world, especially of the way in which women live in our world... I end up bumping into three different people because I couldn't see them from out of the corner of my eyes"

Don't be outraged for Muslim women - ""Did you wear a burqa when you lived in Saudi Arabia?" a young woman I met at a party recently asked. I responded in the affirmative, upon which she inquired again: "But weren't you outraged?" "Not particularly," I said. Fixing me with an earnest stare she declared, "Well if you weren't then I am outraged on your behalf!" It's tricky to respond to this with equanimity. The sentiment behind the utterance is undoubtedly a sincere and genuine one, free of any deliberate intent to patronise, but it was patronising nonetheless. This seems to be the initial turn-off when western feminism comes to the rescue, the blanket assumption that the victim has no volition nor can respond to adversity with the commensurate degree of outrage because she is so accustomed and desensitised to her own subjugation. It is a strange mix of protective sororal sympathy and smugness."

The Math Sex Gap Revisited: A Theory of Everyone - "With a male-to-female variance ratio of 1.15 and zero gap in the means, filling tenured faculty slots in rank order of ability imposes the following bounds:
Case I: No more than 26% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.
Case II: No more than 33% of faculty positions will be occupied by women.
Thus, "the discrepancy in variances is not large" means that it only restricts female participation in this segment of the marketplace to between 26% and 33%. And we have not considered the sex gap in the means. Accounting for it, the bounds drop to between 16% and 22%... If we incorporate this proclivity factor of 5 into the rank-order calculation, the ceiling on tenured women faculty in math-intensive fields at research institutions drops to between 4% and 6%. In elite departments, say the top five, the ceiling will be lower still. Prenatal testosterone supplements might improve the numbers... The ACT composite score is a weighted average of English, math, reading and science scores. In Colorado and Illinois, where there are no sampling problems, as well as nationally where there are, girls outscore boys in English and reading, while boys outscore girls in math and science. And, as in SATs, boys outnumber girls 2 to 1 in the highest ACT levels of mathematics achievement... Allowing for statistical fluctuation, it is evident from Table 1 that:

Why Don’t I Criticize Israel? : Sam Harris - "this is an incredibly boring and depressing question for a variety of reasons. The first, is that I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. What seems to have upset many people is that I’ve kept some sense of proportion... Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done... What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted? Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident... What do we know of the Palestinians? What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself... Every day that you could read about an Israeli rocket gone astray or Israeli soldiers beating up an innocent teenager, you could have read about ISIS in Iraq crucifying people on the side of the road, Christians and Muslims. Where is the outrage in the Muslim world and on the Left over these crimes? Where are the demonstrations, 10,000 or 100,000 deep, in the capitals of Europe against ISIS? If Israel kills a dozen Palestinians by accident, the entire Muslim world is inflamed. God forbid you burn a Koran, or write a novel vaguely critical of the faith. And yet Muslims can destroy their own societies—and seek to destroy the West—and you don’t hear a peep... apart from the influence of Jewish extremism (which I condemn), Israel’s continued appropriation of land has more than a little to do with her security concerns"

Big breasts discourage women from exercising (except when they don’t) - "the research specifies that there is no observed link between breast size and physical activity, meaning it’s not just larger-breasted women who are put off exercising. So exactly why so much coverage specifies that it’s big-breasted women who are put off is anyone’s guess. It’s almost like mentioning big breasts in a headline is more likely to get web traffic or something... The fact that breast size isn’t linked to reluctance to exercise suggests the main reasons are more social or cultural. Women can only be too aware that their breasts get a lot of negative attention. It’s also worth considering that, despite the declarations of the headlines, the original study shows that breasts are ranked 4th as a reason for not exercising, behind lack of energy, time constraints and health reasons. All of these reasons are perfectly valid, but clearly aren’t considered as important or interesting as “having boobs”"

Mega Uses Random Data From Your Mouse and Keyboard To Beef Up Its Already Insane Encryption (Updated)

Video Game Racism "The New Norm"? - "this sort of rumination seems to me to be picking a fight where none exists. And it points up the difference between sensitivity and tolerance. Not everything has to provide a teachable moment or avoid an uncomfortable subject altogether. Look at film"

Moderate Muslims in Singapore must speak up. - "the Malay Muslim community in Singapore should unite and speak up to counter the image that ISIS and local extremists have portrayed on the whole Muslim community. Funnily, the local Muslim community were so vocally anti-Israel when the Jewish state launched ground offensive against Hamas with some even called for the boycott of McDonalds but the community were muted when it comes to ISIS and its local supporters."
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