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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Links - 12th March 2015

Steve Jobs Still Wins Plenty of Patents - "Jobs’s many patents “don’t make him one of the greatest American inventors in history,” says Florian Mueller, a programmer and patent consultant in Germany who has closely followed litigation around the iPhone. He notes that many of Jobs’s patents are on designs—like the look and feel of the iPhone—not on more substantial technical advances... One criticism is that on his patents, Jobs’s name often appears alongside a score of others, meaning these inventions or designs weren’t entirely of Jobs’s making. Instead, Jobs shared credit for what Apple’s more than 80,000 employees did, something Kane argues “fed into his legend as a one-in-a-lifetime visionary.”

Understanding Groupthink - "The assumption by many is that working as a group is superior to working individually, perhaps because groups have a larger information pool to work with. However, this line of thinking doesn’t square with research data, according to Assistant Professor Grace Park Guihyun from the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences. “Research on group performance and productivity has shown that groups often fail to utilise such potential benefits, and end up performing at a sub-optimal level,” she says... simply listening to different opinions—regardless of the popularity of said opinions—and talking through decisions, can be a great boon to group efficiency. Indeed, previous research has found that even listening to minority opinions which are completely wrong can be beneficial. “In my study, it seemed that whenever the group majority took time to listen to the minority, they made stronger decisions collectively,” she says. “Acknowledging different opinions forces a group to think and talk through its decisions, thus achieving better understanding. By developing a more holistic perspective on the matter, the group is better equipped to make a decision.”
Diversity of opinion - not just shallow measures of diversity - is important. And quashing dissenting voices is bad

A letter to … the girl who accused me of rape when I was 15 - "I moved away from home and keep minimal ties with my old life, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget what you did. I don’t know why you told your friend that I had raped you – maybe because you didn’t want to admit you’d had sex so casually or maybe because you were scared. But I will never be able to forgive you for what you did to me. You damaged my perception of women entirely and the only relationship I have since been able to sustain is with a man I can trust."

The Muppets Turn The Tables With The Corpse-Filled Human Show

How many of your health supplements are actually snake oil?

European 'No-Go' Zones: Fact or Fiction? - "The Socialist mayor of Amiens, Gilles Demailly, has referred to the Fafet-Brossolette district of the city as a "no-go zone" where "you can no longer order a pizza or get a doctor to come to the house." Europe 1, one of the leading broadcasters in France, has referred to Marseille as a "no-go zone" after the government was forced to deploy riot police, known as CRS, to confront warring Muslim gangs in the city. The French Interior Ministry said it was trying to "reconquer" 184 square kilometers (71 square miles) of Marseille that have come under the control of Muslim gangs. The French newspaper Le Figaro has referred to downtown Perpignan as a "veritable no-go zone" where "aggression, antisocial behavior, drug trafficking, Muslim communalism, racial tensions and tribal violence" are forcing non-Muslims to move out. Le Figaro also reported that the Les Izards district of Toulouse was a no-go zone, where Arab drug trafficking gangs rule the streets in a climate of fear."

Kim Kardashian 'offered $1m' to spend night with Saudi prince - Telegraph

Kim Kardashian satirizes herself in T-Mobile's Super Bowl ad

Korean Air cabin crew chief forced to kneel in nut rage incident - "The head of cabin crew who was kicked off a Korean Air Lines flight after a company executive raged over the way she was served macadamia nuts said he was insulted and forced to kneel down to apologize to the executive."

Why Broadway Hates Stephen Sondheim - "His melodies, borrowing more from serious modern music than from the pop idiom, were meant to challenge the ear, not soothe it. Producers begged him to write some "humma-mamumma-mamum-mable melodies" (his derisive phrase from a number in Merrily We Roll Along), but he'd throw in a catchy tune or sentimental ballad only at gunpoint. When they do appear, it's usually toward the end of a show — "Our Time" from Merrily, "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park, "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods — and, if you're in the audience, you can feel the people around you relax in gratitude on hearing simple, lovely tunes in a major key. After the daunting homework of the rest of the score, these songs are the reward: musical sherbet"
Why I dislike Sondheim: The harmonic progressions don't get resolved, the syncopation is weird, the tunes are not melodious (off-melodious rather than dissonant), the counterpoint doesn't blend well, the music is repetitive

Here Comes Baby, There Goes the Marriage - WSJ - "About two-thirds of couples see the quality of their relationship drop within three years of the birth of a child, according to data from the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening families. Conflict increases and, with little time for adult conversation and sex, emotional distance can develop... expectant couples and new parents who participated in 24 weekly group counseling meetings experienced a much smaller decline in marital satisfaction over about five years compared with parents who didn't have the counseling. The rate of divorce, however, was the same for both. The study followed 66 couples with children and 13 childless couples. (Those without kids didn't see a decline in marriage satisfaction.)"

Berkeley students outraged course reading includes Plato, Aristotle but nothing from transgenders - "Two students at the University of California, Berkeley are calling for students to “Occupy the syllabus,” or consider dropping a course if it only includes the works of white men as class material. Students Rodrigo Kazuo and Margaret “Meg” Perret wrote an op-ed in The Daily Californian, the independent student newspaper, titled “Occupy the syllabus” where they called for a student-wide occupation of all social science and humanities classes after they found their upper-division course on classical social theory lacked the works of women, trans people, and people of color... “[T]he classroom environment felt so hostile to women, people of color, queer folks and other marginalized subjects that it was difficult for us to focus on the course material.” wrote the students. “Sometimes, we were so uncomfortable that we had to leave the classroom in the middle of lecture.” The students referenced an incident in the classroom where the professor was discussing how men and women are distinct from one another because women have the ability to give birth while men do not. The discussion is said to have turned highly offensive when the professor made no mention of trans people. When one student asked where trans fit into the lesson, the students claim the professor dismissed them as the “exception” to the lesson, which they deemed “unacceptable”... “[I]f you have taken classes in the social sciences and humanities, we challenge you: Count the readings authored by white males and those authored by the majority of humanity,” wrote the students. “Then ask yourself: Are your identities and the identities of people you love reflected on these syllabi? Whose perspectives and life experiences are excluded? Is it really worth it to accumulate debt for such an epistemically poor education?”... When Campus Reform asked the students if they would drop a course that didn’t comply with the standards they present with their article, Perret responded, “I’ve dropped classes because of their inadequate treatment of feminist and other critical perspectives. In fact, I dropped a class about sexual politics this semester because the syllabus was majority white men.”"
We should put all these people in airplanes designed and manned by transgendered people whose only qualification is being transgendered

What the Swedish Model Gets Wrong About Prostitution - "Today, we’re seeing a global shift in prostitution attitudes that looks startlingly like the one in Victorian England... The Swedish model (also adopted by Iceland and Norway and under consideration in France, Canada and the UK) may seem like a step in the right direction—a progressive step, a feminist step. But it’s not. Conceptually, the system strips women of agency and autonomy. Under the Swedish model, men “are defined as morally superior to the woman,” notes author and former sex worker Maggie McNeill in an essay for the Cato Institute. “He is criminally culpable for his decisions, but she is not.” Adult women are legally unable to give consent, “just as an adolescent girl is in the crime of statutory rape.”"

Another Bad Argument For The Swedish Model For Prostitution - "They’re not actually counting either the amount nor the change in human trafficking into the sex trade. They’re counting the increase in illegal immigration to take part in the sex trade: something very different. We cannot therefore take this paper as being proof that the legality of prostitution increases human trafficking. Simply because that’s not what they’re measuring in this paper."

Practical travel information on Money and costs in Indonesia - Lonely Planet Travel Information - "Moneychangers in Bali offer some of the best rates in Indonesia if you don’t get short-changed or charged commission. Signboard rates are often a fabrication, and after signing your travellers cheque you may find that a 10% (or higher) commission applies. Be sure to double-check the conversion rate and be aware that some dubious operators even rig their calculators. Always count your rupiah before you hand over your travellers cheques or foreign currency. Several readers’ letters have warned of being short-changed through sleight of hand, particularly in Kuta. A way to avoid this is to count the rupiah in front of the moneychanger. When you are satisfied you have received the correct amount, hand over your currency or travellers cheques. If there are any problems during the transaction, leave with your cash and try another moneychanger. While the chances of getting short-changed at a bank are perhaps 50 to one, at a Kuta moneychanger the odds are more like 50-50"
Ahh! Asia!
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