"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Links - 13th April 2015

Classics Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Maestro Christoph Eschenbach - "Standard: S$400, S$300, S$200, S$100, S$60
Gallery Behind Stage: S$200
Restricted View: S$400"
Cheapest tickets left: $200. It's probably better to fly to Vienna

John Lott: Dangerous distortions on cops shooting black men - "Exaggerations have poisoned discussions about relations between blacks and the police. “Black men between the ages of 15 and 19 are 21 times as likely as whites to be killed by a police officer,” said Chuck Todd on Sunday’s “Meet the Press”... According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 70% of blacks believed that the police treated whites better than blacks. By contrast, only 37% of whites agreed. Last week, President Obama emphasized how blacks’ distrust of police is “rooted in realities” and how the anger to the verdict was “an understandable reaction.” But at least part of this feeling seems to stem from how the media covers the issue. Todd and Ogletree relied on an analysis of FBI data by ProPublica and Slate. Slate’s headline read, “Black Teens Vastly More Likely to Be Killed by Police Than Whites Even After Adjusting for Crime Rates.” If their claim is right — if police do unjustly shoot blacks at vastly higher rates — it is a serious indictment of the police. But, fortunately, these allegations are false... After adjusting for murder rates, black male teenagers are still killed by the police 2.3 times as often as whites. This is a considerable difference — but again, over-representation of urban areas in the data set could be a big part of the explanation. Screaming “racism!” may attract a TV audience. But uncritically spreading bad information is downright dangerous."

Do Circulating Images Show Puppies being 'Guarded' by a King Cobra? - "There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the images themselves. But, the claim that the cobra was somehow motivated to protect the puppies stretches credibility to breaking point. In fact, the entire story depends on the reader being able to anthropomorphize human emotions onto a reptile - something that only works if you suspend biological and scientific fact. Especially since the location and circumstances under which the photos were taken remain unverified. Given this lack of verification, the fate of the puppies - and the snake for that matter - remains unclear. Thus, it is unknown if the animals were really rescued as claimed. And, whatever the outcome, the true motivation of the cobra is - of course - unknowable. Even if the snake did remain beside the pups without harming them as claimed, suggesting that the snake's behaviour was due to feelings of empathy for the pups is nothing but fanciful conjecture. The snake may have simply let the dogs alone because it did not feel threatened by them and was not hungry at the time. Trying to equate human emotions and sensibilities on animals is in fact demeaning to the animals. And it makes those doing the equating look rather foolish"

Nietzsche Club Banned - "A club celebrating the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche has been banned from the University College London for promoting fascist ideology... one has to wonder if this sort of intervention could set a precedent for other groups looking to celebrate thinkers like Nietzsche in a different way... The motion lumped together Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benoist, and Evola and called them philosophers of the “extreme right.” That’s problematic in a world where Nietzsche and Heidegger, for instance, have been an inspiration many leftist thinkers and politics. Heidegger, for instance, is a major influence of Jacques Derrida, a French Jew and outspoken critic of anti-Semitism. Nietzsche is widely utilized by a variety of thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, the latter a vocal critic of prisons and the medicalization of homosexuality."
Disagreeing with multiculturalism is "racist" apparently

University College London’s Nietzsche Club Is Banned - "Mussolini, the Italian dictator, was certainly a fan of Nietzsche’s work, and Adolf Hitler visited his archives in 1934, but many political scientists have since argued that any links to fascism resulted from a fundamental misreading of the German philosopher’s writings. One of the common driving forces behind Nietzsche’s thinking was the desire to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” he wrote in 1888, but the UCL students’ union wasn’t taking any chances... “Julius Evola criticized fascism from the right, was a rabid anti-Semite, and wrote of the superior ‘Nordic race,’” Dautov told The Daily Beast. “Far-right racists, sexists, and homophobes trying to organize on campus is a direct threat to the student body, and if our efforts at their disaffiliation have been at all successful in preventing them from organizing, then, yes, we are pleased”... the “Fight Fascism” motion, which was adopted by a narrow majority, compelled the student union to take part in a wider battle against right-wing politics. “This Union resolves…to commit to a struggle against fascism and the far-right, in a united front of students, workers, trade unions, and the wider labor movement, with the perspective of fighting the root cause of fascism—capitalism,” the document concludes. It should have been clear to the council members at this point that Dautov was not simply a concerned second-year history student; he is also president of the University College London Marxist Society."
Why don't they ban Marxism too, given its links to Communist regimes?

The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence - "Differences among children in educational achievement are highly heritable from the early school years until the end of compulsory education at age 16, when UK students are assessed nationwide with standard achievement tests [General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)]. Genetic research has shown that intelligence makes a major contribution to the heritability of educational achievement. However, we show that other broad domains of behavior such as personality and psychopathology also account for genetic influence on GCSE scores beyond that predicted by intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores. These results underline the importance of genetics in educational achievement and its correlates. The results also support the trend in education toward personalized learning."

Can the Singapore development story be copied elsewhere? - "At the heart of the Singapore model is a set of beliefs and worldviews that are extremely unusual. This makes the Singapore system of governance not amenable to mimicry or replication elsewhere... the conditions that enabled many of these policies to be successful are, on hindsight, quite unusual. These conditions are now changing quite profoundly, and are becoming less relevant for the future – both for Singapore itself and for developing countries... Although Singapore’s public housing policies are highly context-dependent and largely irrelevant for the rest of the world, HDB’s engineers and architects can be extremely useful to city governments that want to develop new residential neighbourhoods for their people. So Singapore can’t teach the world how to run public housing system, but it can teach the world how to build low-cost flats quickly. In short, the policymakers are quite useless, but the engineers, architects and planners may be of some use yet... I’d leave you to reflect on the consequences of our high reliance on foreign investments and foreign labour. But it’s very telling that the architect of our “industrialise through MNCs” strategy – Goh Keng Swee – always thought that the strategy was a self-limiting one. For him, MNCs were a short cut to industrialisation, not a long-term strategy."

Bricks and tomatoes — just a part of the history of Prohibition - " While hard liquor is more complicated to make – you have to distill it after fermenting it – one ounce of hard liquor has as much alcohol as five ounces of wine. So a bootlegger only had to carry a half-cup of hooch to provide as much buzz as a regular 750 ml bottle of wine (around two and a half cups). Much lighter to transport, and it takes less room to store it, too. Drinking hard liquor carried over after Prohibition because people were used to it, which was one of the reasons the the U.S. wine industry barely existed post-Prohibition until the 1960s... Prohibition “destroyed the last vestiges of fine dining in the United States.” Private clubs were allowed to serve wine they already had on hand when Prohibition started, but not restaurants. Wine and alcohol sales accounted for a large part of the revenue at top-notch restaurants, so many of them couldn’t keep afloat. Plus there wasn’t wine to cook with, either. Although some so-called cooking wine could be found, it was heavily salted (you can still find this in grocery stores today) and didn’t taste good in food. But there was one upside to food during Prohibition – better Italian-American cooking. Ms. Lovgren recounts tales of speakeasies run by Italian immigrants who not only made their own wine, but made pasta dishes that weren’t overcooked in what was the typical American style. While today we can easily have or make authentic Italian food, that wasn’t the case in the 1920s. Not only weren’t the “real” ingredients available here, but the native cuisines of Sicily and southern Italy, where most of the immigrants came from, were a little austere for American tastes. Meat and cheese were expensive over there and used sparingly, and pasta dishes were mostly pasta with just a little sauce. In the U.S., meat and cheese were plentiful and cheap, so the tomato-based dishes got modified into the “red sauce” classics we know and love."

Love is Not Enough - "In 1967, John Lennon wrote a song called, “All You Need is Love.” He also beat both of his wives, abandoned one of his children, verbally abused his gay Jewish manager with homophobic and anti-semitic slurs, and once had a camera crew film him lying naked in his bed for an entire day. Thirty-five years later, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails wrote a song called “Love is Not Enough.” Reznor, despite being famous for his shocking stage performances and his grotesque and disturbing videos, got clean from all drugs and alcohol, married one woman, had two children with her, and then cancelled entire albums and tours so that he could stay home and be a good husband and father. One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not. In our culture, many of us idealize love. We see it as some lofty cure-all for all of life’s problems. Our movies and our stories and our history all celebrate it as life’s ultimate goal, the final solution for all of our pain and struggle. And because we idealize love, we overestimate it. As a result, our relationships pay a price... When we believe that “all we need is love,” then like Lennon, we’re more likely to ignore fundamental values such as respect, humility and commitment towards the people we care about. After all, if love solves everything, then why bother with all the other stuff — all of the hard stuff?... A loving relationship is supposed to supplement our individual identity, not damage it or replace it. If we find ourselves in situations where we’re tolerating disrespectful or abusive behavior, then that’s essentially what we’re doing: we’re allowing our love to consume us and negate us, and if we’re not careful, it will leave us as a shell of the person we once were... Why do we tolerate behavior in our romantic relationships that we would never ever, ever tolerate in our friendships?"
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