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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Links - 18th November 2014

Export Quality | Atanu Dey On India's Development - "While opening a pack of Haldiram’s Bikaneri bhujia last evening, I noticed the packet proclaimed “Export Quality!” I suppose they meant “Best Quality” or “First Quality” because it could not have meant “Basically Inferior Stuff”. The label implied very clearly that this stuff was good enough to be exported. That implication arose from a shared assumption that is very disturbing if one thinks about it. The shared assumption essentially was that the domestic market is not discriminating enough and can be sold sub-standard stuff; that export markets demand and deserve quality better than the domestic market. Was the assumption justified? If so, is the Indian consumer inherently incapable of recognizing quality? Or is the Indian consumer not “deserving” of quality? Or is it that the Indian consumer cannot afford quality? What are the reasons why the market delivers poor quality shoddy goods and services in India? It is undeniable that the Indian market does deliver very poor quality goods and services in general. The explanation for that is really very simple: it is a sellers’ market. The essential characteristics of sellers’ market are that there is insufficient competition on the supply side, and the supply is severely constrained which leads to intense competition for goods on the demand side. The sellers don’t have to compete for customers, while the buyers have to compete for the goods... Export quality for a poor nation means it is better than the stuff that domestic consumers can get or even afford. Export quality for rich nations could mean something entirely different. The US, for instance, sometimes exports stuff that it considers below par (such as food and military equipment to third world countries). In some cases, it exports stuff that they are legally barred from consuming in the domestic market because of health and safety issues"

Former heads of state urge EU to outlaw anti-feminism - "The proposal, titled the Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance calls for “concrete action to combat intolerance, in particular with a view to eliminating racism, colour bias, ethnic discrimination, religious intolerance, totalitarian ideologies, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism and homophobia.” These “special administrative units,” the report says, “should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice.” “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant,” it states, especially “as far as freedom of expression is concerned.” It also calls for actual criminal sanctions to be levied against offenders. European Dignity Watch, a civil rights watchdog group based in Brussels, has warned that this directive “aims to impose governmental control over the social and economic behavior of citizens in the widest possible sense.”"

Should drug addicts be paid to be sterilised? - "In the US, Project Prevention has been compared to the Nazis' eugenics programme, but Harris isn't bothered by her critics. "They are willing to call me Hitler, but what are they doing to help? Are they willing to adopt any of these children that they think should continue to be born? If they're not part of the solution, they're part of the problem. Everybody talks about the right of the woman – what about the rights of the children? They are the victims.""
If it's coercive to offer people monetary incentives, isn't it also coercive to subsidise education and healthcare?

Filipinos’ love for Music | basangsisiw - "If one hears a Pinoy sing his heart out in the middle of the day or for any other time of the day, for any local, is just an ordinary scene but for foreigners, it’s a different thing, especially to first- time visitors. As they say, singing is distinctly Filipino, especially when we talk of videoke singing. A Pinoy is inseparable from the art, for his mind and soul clamors for it. If rice is a staple in every Filipino meal, a videoke set is a principal commodity in every Filipino home. Showcasing the Pinoy’s natural talent, whether he is a true-blue singer or just a frustrated one, is evident more especially during fiestas, festivals and other events in the life of a belting Filipino. And this romance spans even before the time of Magellan. Even during the pre- Hispanic times, Filipinos were known to be intent music lovers. With their own ethnic musical instruments like flutes, nose flutes and guitars, they expressed their penchant for the art in any way they can."

There is no gender gap in tech salaries - "even when men and women choose the same major, graduate from similar types of colleges and receive similar grades, women still earn less than men but female engineering graduates earn 88% of what male engineering graduates earn ($48,493 for women compared to $55,142 for men). So, what we are seeing is that there are some women who get engineering degrees but then don’t become engineers. I studied computer science in high school and math in college but I’m neither a computer scientist nor a mathematician. Instead, I decided to make life choices that were more personally and spiritually rewarding: I was a rainforest conservationist in Brazil and a teacher in India. One reason that explains why there is a pay gap when measured by college major but not when measured by profession is that some female engineers abandon their careers months after starting. This would explain why overall annual incomes measured one year after graduation would be lower for these women. If employers are risk averse, wages offered will be lower where productivity is less easily predicted (and where lower productivity is already revealed). The issue in this case is not gender differences in productivity but, rather, how employers predict what kind of worker they’re hiring based on his or her previous employment history. Also, some women don’t go into the careers their college degree prepares them for because they have less attachment to the labor market... After adjusting for all the known factors, Corbett and Hill’s model showed an “unexplained” 6.6% difference in wages between men and women who are full-time workers. Conflicting data from the BLS shows that some women who work full-time have a wage premium, and earn 11% more than men. The tech industry is unique in its history of being “equal pay for equal work”: A longitudinal study of female engineers in the 1980s showed a wage penalty of “essentially zero” for younger cohorts and today, the two highest paying professions with wage equality are in technology (computer scientist and engineer)."

Pussy Riot Trial: Topless FEMEN Activist Chainsaws Memorial Cross In Ukraine (VIDEO, NSFW) - "Shevchenko's protest in Kiev, dubbed a "trash prayer" in recognition of Pussy Riot's cathedral stunt, has elicited mixed responses. While some have lauded Shevchenko's act of defiance, others say that the activist may have taken things a little too far. The cross, which bore a figure of Jesus Christ, was erected in 2005 on a hilltop overlooking Kiev's city center and served as a memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression and the famine of the 1930s, Reuters writes. The news service reports that Ukrainian religious groups and relatives of Stalin's victims condemned the action. Some critics took to social networking sites such as Twitter to express their outrage... ""FEMEN activists cut down the cross over the Maidan [Nezalezhnosti] (Kiev's central square) in support of #Pussy Riot." [I] don't consider myself a religious person. But this is fu**ed up," tweeted @avealyona on Friday. "

Attempted Murder by Suffragettes | History of Feminism - "It is universally acknowledged by historians that the suffragettes engaged in numerous terrorist acts, including attempted murder. One such case was the attempt on the life of Sir Henry Curtis Bennett, the chief magistrate for Bow Street who had tried Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as other leading feminists, for acts of terrorism such as setting fire to property and assaulting police officers"

Malala – the girl who hates Britain - "So while in the West we wish Malala to be a courageous fighter for western liberalism, maybe it’s Marxism that inspires her courage and determination; Marxists are often the bravest fighters in the struggles against dreadful regimes precisely because Marxism is a sort of quasi-religion. Alas liberalism is not quite so muscular and people are reluctant to go out of their way to die for it; on a state v state basis liberal democracies win because their economies are far more effective and they can adapt better, not being led by paranoid lunatics, but on the ground it’s not something people are often willing to die for. Religious extremism is the number one threat in the 21st century, and we should treat secular movements, however dangerous they may once have been, as potential allies against the Taliban or al-Qaeda. But we should at least give Marxists credit where it’s due, especially in the area of women’s education"

MIT students predict Mars One colonists will suffocate in 68 days - "The Mars One plan calls for the habitats to be within the same space as the crops are grown. This saves weight on the trip and simplifies the design of the habitats. At about 68 days, the first wheat crop will reach maturity and the level of oxygen will spike. To avoid a huge fire hazard, the oxygen will need to be vented, but there is not yet a reliable way to preferentially vent oxygen without also venting the nitrogen used to maintain pressure. Thus, the colony will run out of nitrogen almost immediately. The end result, says the paper, is suffocation due to low air pressure. Well, that or the habitat explodes and the survivors suffocate outside"

Matters of the Brain: Why Men and Women Are So Different - "A prevalent understanding, particularly in the 1980s, was that boys and girls are born cognitively the same. It was the way parents and society treated them that made them different. Since then, a preponderance of research has called this belief into question. The majority of today's psychologists agree that some of the differences exhibited by male and female brains are innate. "We do socialize our boys and girls differently, but the contribution of biology is not zero," said Diane Halpern, a professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College in California, who has been studyingcognitive gender differences for 25 years. Halpern was a keynote speaker at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference here last Thursday (April 19). How much, rather than whether, biology contributes is where the unusually heated debate is now focused, she said... Some of the many gender differences that float in popular consciousness have more support than others. The ones that have been consistently found across cultures, life spans and even across species are the most likely — but by no means guaranteed — to have some biological underpinning. Across age groups, species and nations, males tend to be better at various spatial skills... Females, on the other hand, tend to have more verbal fluency and greater memory for objects... In more gender-equal societies, "the male advantage in math virtually disappears," Halpern said, but other differences grow. When given more equal encouragement and access to education, on average, girls become even better at reading than boys and boys further outstrip girls in visual-spatial tasks."

On the Mechanics of Defamation : Sam Harris - "Both Greenwald and Aslan know that those words do not mean what they appear to mean. Given the amount of correspondence we’ve had on these topics, and given that I have repeatedly bored audiences by clarifying that statement (in response to this kind of treatment), the chance that either writer thinks he is exposing the truth about my views—or that I’m really a “genocidal fascist maniac”—is zero. Aslan and Greenwald—a famous “scholar” and a famous “journalist”—are engaged in a campaign of pure defamation. They are consciously misleading their readers and increasing my security concerns in the process... Aslan and Greenwald know that nowhere in my work do I suggest that we kill harmless people for thought crimes. And yet they (along with several of their colleagues) are doing their best to spread this lie about me. Nearly every other comment they’ve made about my work is similarly misleading. Both Aslan and Greenwald are debasing our public discourse and making honest discussion of important ideas increasingly unpleasant—even personally dangerous. Why are they doing this? Please ask them and those who publish them"
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