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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Links - 9th May 2015

Pirate hunter Daniel Macek's evidence, integrity under fire in Australian landmark web piracy case - "It was revealed under cross-examination that he didn't prepare his own expert witness affidavit, which was instead prepared by the firm involved in the case that is trying to protect its copyright. And it was also demonstrated that he simply did not know how to interpret the log files generated by his own company's software that will be key to the judge overseeing the case, Justice Nye Perram, determining whether it should proceed."

The Arrest of YouTube Star Amos Yee - "On Friday, March 27th, Yee uploaded a video that criticized Lee Kuan Yew, the recently deceased founding father of postwar Singapore, and also took a swipe at organized Christianity. By the following Monday, after formal complaints from some fellow Singaporeans, Yee had been arrested under Section 298 of the country’s penal code, which forbids the uttering of words that might hurt the religious feelings of any person, and the Protection from Harassment Act, a recent law ostensibly set up to guard against cyberbullying. His blog, where he had posted an illustration of Lee and Margaret Thatcher in flagrante, was censored; it earned Yee an obscenity charge under Penal Code Section 292... If most teen-agers deploy sarcasm and snark, he has a sense of higher-order irony—a pearl-like virtue in a society that tends to disdain intellectual risk... Yee’s arrest doesn’t just underscore his complaints about Singapore’s backwardness on rights and freedom. It shows the country’s dire need for cultural education through intelligent dissent. In the days after Yee’s arrest, a slew of local celebrities, including three Singaporean starlet types, were interviewed about his videos on national TV. In sequences depressing to watch, they all sided with the state. “If you say that, ‘Oh, people can say whatever they want, all the time,’ then what about those people who are listening?” Joshua Tan, a young actor, said. Well, what about them? The suggestion that citizens should withhold political criticism for fear of offense is preposterous—far more embarrassing to Singapore than any videos by Yee could be. The citizens of developed nations in the twenty-first century should not need to be told that free expression is a basic attribute of political health. It’s part of Yee’s precocity to realize that a population molded into sheeplike complaisance is ideologically vulnerable... If people like Amos Yee end up the custodians of our profession, the future of countries like Singapore can be brighter than their past"

Prof, no one is reading you - "In the 1930s and 1940s, 20 per cent of articles in the prestigious The American Political Science Review focused on policy recommendations. At the last count, the share was down to a meagre 0.3 per cent. Even debates among scholars do not seem to function properly. Up to 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually. However, many are ignored even within scientific communities - 82 per cent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once. No one ever refers to 32 per cent of the peer-reviewed articles in the social and 27 per cent in the natural sciences. If a paper is cited, this does not imply it has actually been read. According to one estimate, only 20 per cent of papers cited have actually been read. We estimate that an average paper in a peer-reviewed journal is read completely by no more than 10 people. Hence, impacts of most peer-reviewed publications even within the scientific community are minuscule... We know of no senior policymaker or senior business leader who ever read regularly any peer-reviewed papers in well-recognised journals like Nature, Science or Lancet. No wonder. Most journals are difficult to access and prohibitively expensive for anyone outside of academia. Even if the current open-access movement becomes more successful, the incomprehensible jargon and the sheer volume and lengths of papers (often unnecessary!) would still prevent practitioners (including journalists) from reading and understanding them... If academics want to have an impact on policymakers and practitioners, they must consider popular media"

Selfies At Serious Places

Heart recipient, Anthony Stokes, dies in high-speed police chase crash in Roswell, Georgia - "A teenager who received a life-saving heart transplant two years ago after initially being denied because of his bad behavior has died following a high-speed car chase with police... He had been given just six to nine months to live but the hospital initially refused to put him on the waiting list for a new organ because they thought he would be 'non-compliant' with the treatment. Patients can be disqualified from getting a transplant if a hospital doubts they'll stick to the medication regimen after the operation. At the time, the hospital said that Stokes had failed to take his medication in the past, so his history of non-compliance meant he was not put on the waiting list. But family and friends alleged that his low school grades and brushes with the law were the real reason he had been ruled out. Stokes' mother, Melencia Hamilton, told reporters that her son, who wore a court-ordered monitoring device, had been stereotyped as a troubled teen. Following pressure from national media coverage, the boy's family and civil rights groups, the hospital backpedaled in August 2013, and the teenager received a new heart."

How often do you need to see a dentist? - "In 2000, three-quarters of dentists surveyed in New York were recommending six monthly check-ups, despite the absence of studies examining whether the frequency of visits made a difference to patients at low-risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Today, many organisations such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry still recommend six monthly check-ups. But for several decades some have been arguing that the choice of six months as the ideal space between visits is rather arbitrary. Back in 1977 Aubrey Sheiham, a professor of dental public health at University College London, published a paper in The Lancet bemoaning the lack of evidence for six monthly check-ups. Almost 40 years on, he’s still making the same point... They recommend that children go at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster, while adults without problems can wait as long as two years. They even go as far as to say that longer than two years is OK for people who have shown commitment to caring for their teeth and gums. Similar advice is given elsewhere. An expert group reviewing the evidence in Finland back in 2001 recommended that under-18s who are at low risk could visit between every 18 months and two years."

An analysis of methods of toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies and in dental texts. - "There was a wide diversity between recommendations on toothbrushing techniques, how often people should brush their teeth and for how long. The most common method recommended was the Modified Bass technique, by 19. Eleven recommended the Bass technique, ten recommended the Fones technique and five recommended the Scrub technique. The methods recommended by companies, mainly toothpaste companies, differed from those of dental associations, as did advice in dental textbooks and research-based sources. There was a wide difference in the toothbrushing methods recommended for adults and for children."

Near-Death Experiences Likely Caused by Lack of Oxygen - "A new study in which researchers induced anoxia in rats offers more support for near-death experiences (NDEs) as happening inside the dying brain and being interpreted as an out-of-body or spiritual experience... Researcher Susan Blackmore, author of “Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences” (Prometheus Books, 1993), notes that many NDEs (such as euphoria and the feeling of moving toward a tunnel of white light) are common symptoms of oxygen deprivation in the brain... many classic NDE symptoms are reported by people who were never actually in danger of dying and thus are not necessarily correlated with near-fatal trauma... Additional evidence for an earthly explanation for near-death experiences can be found in the fact that the phenomena can be chemically induced. The drug ketamine, for example, sometimes used in anesthesia, is similar to PCP and can create visual and auditory hallucinations such as those reported in NDEs."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Obama Must Confront the Threat of Radical Islam - "Even as writers and public intellectuals explore the theological factors pertaining to Islamist violence, however, the Obama Administration has conspicuously avoided any discussion of Islamic theology, even avoiding use of the term radical Islam altogether. The White House this week held a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (a rather nebulous concept) while intentionally avoiding mention of radical Islam... President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups like ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause. Yet, if this were true, why do so many young Muslims who live in societies with excellent governance—Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S.—either join ISIS or engage in jihadist violence in their own countries? Why do young Muslims with promising professional futures embark on the path of jihad?... I am glad that in the late 1940s the U.S. had people like George Kennan employed in its service to see the communist threat clearly and to describe it clearly. But where is today’s Kennan in this Administration? Who in the U.S. government is willing to describe the threat of radical Islam without fear of causing offense to several aggressive Islamic lobby groups? U.S. policymakers do not yet understand Islamism or what persuades young Muslims to join jihad: sincere religious devotion based on the core texts of Islam, in particular early Islam’s politicized and aggressive period in Medina (compared with Islam’s spiritual and ascetic period in Mecca). How does one tackle the misguided religious devotion of young Muslims? The answer lies in reforming Islam profoundly—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islam; its willingness to merge mosque and state, religion and politics; and its insistence that its elaborate system of Shari‘a law supersedes civil laws created by human legislators. In such a reform project lies the hope for countering Islamism. No traditional Islamic lobbying group committed to defending the reputation of Islam will recommend such a policy to the U.S. government. Yet until American policymakers grapple with the need for such reform, the real problem within Islam will remain unresolved"

What is it like to be poor at an Ivy League school?

Study finds being exposed to Buddhist concepts reduces prejudice and increases prosociality

Cambridge cyclists warned in Latin and ancient Greek - "Classicist Prof Mary Beard, from Newnham College, said the Latin part of the sign translates as "two wheels [cycles] left/abandoned here will be removed"."

Swedes are now a minority in many local communities

Swedes are a minority in Sweden's third largest city

Sex education has a new role in Europe: Encouraging pregnancy

Boy entering all-girls high school creates real-life harem anime

Muslims can now use toilet paper: Turkey’s top religious authority - "Islamic toilet etiquette, called the Qadaa al-Haajah, contains rules that predate the invention of toilet paper. According to the strict code, Muslims must squat or sit – but not stand – while relieving themselves. They also must remain silent while on the toilet and leave with the right foot while saying a prayer."
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