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Thursday, December 03, 2015

Links - 3rd December 2015

To make elite schools ‘fair,’ city will punish poor Asians - "It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers. And, ironically, the more “holistic” and subjective admissions criteria that de Blasio and the NAACP favor would be much more likely to benefit children of the city’s professional elite than African-American and Latino applicants — while penalizing lower-middle-class Asian-American kids like Ting. The result would not be a specialized high school student body that “looks like New York,” but rather one that looks more like Bill de Blasio’s upscale Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn... Two public high schools that, along with half their students, are officially classified as poor by the federal government rival the most exclusive prep schools in the world... All this once would have been the stuff of liberal dreams: A racial minority group historically victimized by discrimination begins coming to America in greater numbers because of an immigration reform sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Though many in the group remain in poverty, they take advantage of free public schools established by progressive New York City governments. By dint of their own hard work, they earn admission in increasing numbers to merit-based schools that offer smart working-class kids the kind of education once available only at Andover or Choate. To modern “progressive” elites, though, the story is intolerable, starting with the hard work. These liberal elites seem particularly troubled by the Asian-American work ethic and the difficult questions that it raises about the role of culture in group success... The complaint does not allege that the exam intentionally discriminates against black and Hispanic students. Instead, citing statistics regarding declining black and Latino enrollment and SHSAT pass rates, the LDF bases its argument entirely on the theory of “disparate impact” — that is, that discrimination should be inferred merely from racial differences in test scores... Ironically, eliminating the SHSAT would magnify the role of what progressives call “unconscious bias” — the idea that we have a preference for those who look like us and share our backgrounds. Subjective evaluation measures like interviews and portfolio reviews are much more susceptible to such bias than is an objective examination... Subjective selection criteria also inevitably favor the affluent and connected — as a comptroller’s audit of the screened-school admissions process revealed. The study found that most of the schools examined did not follow their stated selection criteria and could not explain the criteria that they actually did use."
If courts disproportionately find minorities guilty of crimes, doesn't that mean that there is disparate impact and the standard of proof for criminal guilt should be revised?

The disappearing dishes of Hong Kong - "Speak to anyone who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 30 years and they will tell you about glorious banquets that started with platters of golden strips of deep-fried intestines and nuggets of silky liver or pig's brain wrapped in caul fat - nature's own puff pastry. They may speak of tunnel-boned duck stuffed with lotus seeds and bulbs, glutinous rice, shiitake mushrooms, gingko nuts and salted egg yolk, then deep-fried and braised. Or perhaps they will reminisce about pillowy steamed buns filled with pork belly fat, char siu and chicken liver... Fewer and fewer restaurants are serving them because, for restaurateurs, they can be time-consuming and expensive to prepare, while diners in the modern age are increasingly concerned about health (cue the aforementioned deep-fried intestines)... "Great ingredients and proper technique are givens," says this fishmonger's son, "but people nowadays don't care enough about their food, and that's the main problem.""

Why Do Americans Want Children? - "Children create social capital for parents, an important and previously underappreciated reason for why Americans want children."

Crazy Things That Only Happen In India - "Santosh Kumar Singh fought for nine years to prove that he was alive. His brothers declared him dead and stole his land after he married a woman of a lower caste. False death certificates are frequently issued in land grabs.... A woman named Shaheen Dhada posted a status on Facebook questioning a Mumbai "bandh," or shutdown, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, known for using various forms of intimidation to achieve political ends. Her friend Renu Srinivasan liked the post. Both were arrested... People put up photos of deities on building walls to prevent public urination... Indian business man Datta Phuge spent $230,888 on a gold shirt. He told the Pune Mirror "I know "I am not the best looking man in the world but surely no woman could fail to be dazzled by this shirt"."

The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover - "the covers of most contemporary books all look disturbingly the same, as if inbred. It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like “2 HARD & 2 FAST.” There’s clearly some brutally efficient Darwinian process at work here, because certain images—half-faces, napes, piers stretching into the water—spread like successful evolutionary adaptations and quickly become ubiquitous... The single-object-on-white-background cover has become such a recognizable formula that there is now a Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator... For some reason children’s books, Y.A. literature, and genre fiction still have license to beguile their readers with gorgeous cover illustrations, but mature readers aren’t supposed to require such enticements"

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: How the Press Prosecuted Zimmerman While Stoking Racial Tensions - "After the arrest, and as the trial date neared the following year, NBC would allow Al Sharpton to turn his primetime MSNBC show into a platform dedicated to convicting Zimmerman. CNN would continue to refer to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” and broadcast all of Zimmerman’s personal information, including his social security number, address, and telephone number."

Analysis: The race factor in George Zimmerman's trial - "And since people on both sides seemed to have decided the case before the testimony was heard, the verdict was bound to be disturbing no matter how it tilted. Simply put, preconceived notions effectively had people watching two different trials, with every bit of testimony and evidence producing different, and often opposing, reactions in those dueling audiences... "I never could quite understand people, even people with law degrees, who had not read all of the police reports, who had not read all of the witness statements, yet who came up with opinions one way or the other," she said. But that is what happened"

Sir Karl Popper "Science as Falsification," 1963 - "It was the summer of 1919 that I began to feel more and more dissatisfied with these three theories—the Marxist theory of history, psycho-analysis, and individual psychology; and I began to feel dubious about their claims to scientific status. My problem perhaps first took the simple form, "What is wrong with Marxism, psycho-analysis, and individual psychology? Why are they so different from physical theories, from Newton's theory, and especially from the theory of relativity?""

Clergy and trade unions: All out, brothers | The Economist - "WHEN people believe they are ultimately working for God, do they have a right (like any other sort of worker) to organise themselves and demand fairer treatment from their earthly bosses? That is the one of the hardest questions at the interface of law and religion, because it involves a contest between two sorts of entitlement: the right of employees to band together and assert their interests, and the right of religious bodies to enforce their own rules. An important ruling on this subject was handed down today. Not by the 28-member European Union (whose stance on religion I discussed in another recent posting) but by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which holds sway among 47 member nations of the Council of Europe and is supposed to be a guardian of civil liberties of all kinds. The verdict concerns a dispute between Romania's Orthodox Church, to which the great majority of people in that country adhere, and a 35-strong group of priests and other religious employees who tried, in 2008, to form a trade union"

Plucking hair in a specific pattern could encourage five times more growth

Vegetarian hot dogs found to contain traces of meat and human DNA - "Human DNA was found in 2 percent of the samples, which doesn't mean that there were traces of human meat in the sausages, but simply that there was some kind of contamination, so that could be through a stray hair or skin cells, or potentially even saliva. Vegetarian hot dog products surprisingly fared the worst in this regard, with four out of the 21 products tested containing human DNA. And, yep, 10 percent of them contained meat... the scientists found no correlation between price and quality"

Wanting to Preserve Your Way of Life Does Not Make You Racist or Fascist - "People can't develop unless they belong to a culture. Even if they rebel against it and transform it entirely, they still belong to a stream of tradition. New streams can be created -- in the West, by Christianity, or Luther, or the Renaissance, or the Romantic movement -- but in the end they derive from a single river, an underlying central tradition, which, sometimes, in radically altered forms, survives. But if the streams dry up, as for instance, where men and women are not products of a culture, where they don't have kith and kin and feel closer to some people than to others, where there is no native language -- that would lead to a tremendous desiccation of everything that is human."

German nurse shocked after being forced out of flat to make way for refugees

Teenage girl Lisa Borch jailed for murdering her mother after watching Isis beheading videos online - "The fingerprints of Borch’s 29-year-old boyfriend, Bakhtiar Mohammed Abdulla, were also found in Holtegaard’s bedroom, although he was not at the scene when police arrived."

AVA's recycled food product, Okara floss, tasty: Khaw - "CIt is made from the byproduct of soy milk production, and is the vegetarian version of meat floss. Mr Khaw wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that the mock meat floss product is "tasty", and invited interested companies to sell this innovation."

Naked Woman Distracts Man While He Is Robbed - "Stephen Amaral agreed to their request, but the woman in her thirties then enquired if it would be okay if she swam naked. He said that was not a problem."

The Lone Ranger Seals It: America's New Favorite Villain Is a Rich Guy - "It is quite a contrast to Die Hard, the 1988 action classic to which White House Down is most often compared. That film employed German thieves as the source of its terrorism, which fit nicely amid the Reagan era's popular support for increased defense spending to fend off a Communist threat. Similar films like Air Force One ("Die Hard in the president's plane") or Toy Soldiers ("Die Hard in a prep school") also address the fight against terrorism, but in their pre-9/11 mindset, the villains are foreigners with clear-cut political goals"

Plane Passenger Ejected for Non-Stop Singing of Whitney Houston Songs
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