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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Links - 23rd August 2015

Gawker's gutter journalism - and worries about freedom of speech - "The man concerned is a senior executive in a large company, but he is not a politician or in any other sense a public figure. He is not a morals campaigner, or an anti-gay campaigner, or a person who could justly be accused of public hypocrisy if the allegations turned out to be true. Even if there could be some circumstances in which such a post might be justified - which I doubt - this is remote from them. The post appears to be pure clickbait, displaying a callous, if not outright malicious, attitude to an individual and his family... I defend a conception rather different from those I often see from political libertarians. I am less fixated on the power of governments; I am less absolutist in opposing restrictions; but at the same time, I worry about a wider range of threats. I worry not only about state power but also threats from private power and popular opinion. Above all, I am concerned to protect the free exchange of opinions and ideas, whether the free exchange is impeded by state power or by power of other kinds. This can lead to a more subtle and difficult analysis than the simple attitude of: “Government censorship bad; everything else okay”... Mill would have opposed censorship of ideas by the government; importantly, he would also have opposed social actions, such as organised boycotts, of people merely for their opinions on general topics. He would not, however, have required that we put up with all attacks on individual citizens' reputations and private lives. For example, Mill’s name cannot be invoked to oppose a law against “revenge porn”... The harm that can be caused by such writing is not remote, indirect, or speculative. This is exactly the sort of publication that can obviously ruin an identifiable person’s life (and the lives of family and loved ones). Free speech advocates need not, and should not, defend gutter journalism."

A naked ape would have fewer parasites. - "We propose the hypothesis that humans evolved hairlessness to reduce parasite loads, especially ectoparasites that may carry disease. We suggest that hairlessness is maintained by these naturally selected benefits and by sexual selection operating on both sexes. Hairlessness is made possible in humans owing to their unique abilities to regulate their environment via fire, shelter and clothing. Clothes and shelters allow a more flexible response to the external environment than a permanent layer of fur and can be changed or cleaned if infested with parasites. Naked molerats, another hairless and non-aquatic mammal species, also inhabit environments in which ectoparasite transmission is expected to be high, but in which temperatures are closely regulated"

Dear Prudence: Parents forcing a boy to be a girl for gender enlightenment. - "You’re right that if this is as described to you—a male child without gender dysphoria is being raised for two years as a girl for the purposes of enlightenment—then that is serious abuse. How pathetic that being female, to these parents, means reducing a child to a cliché of pink tutus. Your wife was right to refuse this offer. I hope there are caring people who know this family who can help. But if they are actually in the midst of carrying out this awful experiment, there may not be. I know all the downsides of calling Child Protective Services, but in this case, I think a call is warranted. Someone needs to look into this situation and if necessary intervene with parents who are horribly using their child for some bizarre social purpose."
When is Progressive Social Engineering child abuse?

Women In Montreal Will Be Allowed To Go Topless In Public This Summer

The Longest Traffic Jam in History – 12 Days, 62-Mile-Long - "It all happened on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway near Beijing and, ironically, the cause of the huge traffic jam was the road work on the highway. Trucks carrying construction supplies to Beijing, most of them supposed to be used on the expressway in order to ease traffic, were blocked at the exit, thus causing a traffic jam that lasted over 12 days... those hoping to become the Chinese version of Donald Trump had a chance to make a name for themselves by selling food and water to drivers. Obviously, prices were shockingly high and some of the drivers even refused to buy the goodies, in which case they were robbed or even stabbed. But let’s take everything one at a time... Lorry drivers were the ones most affected though. Water and food were very expensive, but some of them were robbed during the night. What’s more, local residents syphoned gasoline out of their cars while sleeping and one driver even needed medical assistance as he was stabbed in the arm... Ironically, nobody wanted to leave and although some of the lorries were carrying fruits and vegetables, drivers refused to take a detour because of the high gas prices. “We are advised to take detours, but I would rather stay here since I will travel more distance and increase my costs,” a lorry driver told the Global Times, perfectly emphasizing the reason why the traffic jam reached 62 miles (100 km) in the 12th day... Surprisingly, the Guinness World of Records claims that this isn't the longest traffic jam in history. A previous episode that took place in France, spanning from Lyon to Paris, is regarded as the biggest jam ever. it stretched for 109 miles (175 km) and happened on February 16, 1980. The reason? Poor weather and the huge number of cars on the French Autoroute."

Email is broken, it needs to die, and we'll be sorry when it's gone - "

Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income' - "Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful... "Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare, but, before we get into all kinds of principled debate about whether we should or should not enter, we need to first examine if basic income even really works.""

1200 workers in Japan finished in a few hours the Toyoko Line Shibuya Station - YouTube - "On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours. But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night."
"SMRT says it will take years to solve our issues and build new infrastructure. Japan says one night."

Hunting 'has conservation role' - "Elephant populations had benefited from a permit system that allowed sport hunters to kill a limited number of the beasts, according to Eugene Lapointe... A number of nations in southern Africa had adopted a "sustainable use" philosophy, including Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, he added. "They have issued permits to sport hunters to kill a limited number of elephants that are pre-selected according to factors like age and sex. They cannot shoot breeding animals, for example," Mr Lapointe explained. As a result, these nations had well-stocked and healthy elephant populations and poaching was not a major problem, he observed. The idea of "trophy hunting" being a weapon in the conservationists' armoury to protect vulnerable species was supported by Peter Lindsey from the University of Zimbabwe. "Realistically, for conservation to succeed, wildlife has to pay for itself in Africa," Dr Lindsey told a recent meeting at London Zoo. "If local people do not benefit, it is usually lost"... In South Africa, landowners were given permission to allow shooting of excess male white rhinos once the species began to recover after a sharp decline. This gave landowners an incentive to buy and provide land for the rhinos, and this is thought to have significantly accelerated their recovery"

The benefit that became an incentive to divorce - Telegraph - "The prestigious Journal of Economics has published "The Effect of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence". It is a technical paper, with the usual quota of equations and graphs so beloved of economists, but its collection and analysis of the data is very thorough and its conclusion is very clear: the introduction of the Working Families Tax Credit has increased the divorce or separation rate by a staggering 160 per cent among women married to or living with a partner who either does not work, or who earns very little because he works part-time... The Government's decision to provide more extensive financial benefits for working single mothers gives women with young children the ability to raise their children on their own: they have the capacity, as well as an incentive, to move out. And that is what they do, in increasing numbers.It means a very significant rise in the social problems that children raised in single-parent families tend to cause... It is a notable fact that during the last great economic depression of the 1930s, there was no significant increase in single-parent families. But that was because there were almost no state benefits of any kind available to single mothers"
Humans respond to incentives

Singapore's flawed 'freedom' - "The Heritage/WSJ analysis doesn't mention Singapore's requirement that 35% of wages - generally 20% from workers, 15% from employers - be deposited into the Central Provident Fund for retirement and medical needs. Those deposits go to Singapore government investment funds that buy shares in domestic and overseas businesses; the funds include Temasek Holdings, whose chief executive is Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and daughter-in-law of Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. More bizarrely, the index doesn't explicitly measure state ownership of businesses, except in the financial sector. Government ownership gets mentioned in Singapore's ratings on Investment Freedom, Financial Freedom and Government Spending, where Singapore scores a stellar 91.3. Yet government ownership is a crucial factor in any economy, often with far-reaching effects. "Why does a government control companies unless it wants them to behave differently than private companies?" economist Bamberger said. "I probably would not invest in a company that the Singapore government controlled," said Michel Levin, founder of shareholder rights advocate The Activist Investor. "The government portfolio manager - really some sort of minister somewhere - determines who sits on the company's board of directors and therefore who the key executives are. The key is that they make those decisions based on what's best for the Singapore government, not necessarily what's best for independent investors"... "But Singapore suffers from a sort of caste system, where it's difficult to advance very far up the economic ladder if you don't have the right connections. It's somewhat worse than Western economies, specifically the US - here [in the US] you can become wealthy just through having and working a good business idea, but there you'll need to know someone. Probably a vestige of their colonial past, colored by East Asian business practices that value relationships over ideas"... "Friends ask me what Singapore is like and I call it 'Cuba with money': same politics and climate, with very different economies""

FOCUS : Les 50 plus beaux décolletés des stars... - ""Regardez-moi dans les yeux... J'ai dit les yeux." Voilà comment le top tchèque Eva Herzigova interpellait les passants, au cours des années 1990, dans une campagne publicitaire ventant les mérites du Wonderbra. Ce soutien-gorge ampliforme a contribué à redonner aux poitrines généreuses ses lettres de noblesse. Force est de constater qu'en ce début de XXIe siècle, les courbes, misent en valeur, donnent un sacré cachet à une tenue. Aussi, les célébrités osent dévoiler leur buste et leurs formes... sans jamais en montrer de trop. Eh oui, la séduction est avant tout un art et à ce petit jeu, mieux vaut suggérer que tout déballer !... la réussite d'un beau décolleté ne se mesure pas à l'étendue de la surface de peau dévoilée"

Family supper of deadly pufferfish leaves 11 paralysed and fighting for life - "The Souza family from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil fried and served up a puffer fish they had been given by a friend who had returned from a day’s sea fishing. The pufferfish contains a toxin 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide, a drop of which can kill within 24 hours. Seconds after taking their first bite all began to vomit, before losing the feeling in their face, arms and legs."
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