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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Links - 5th December 2015

Head of Russian Media Group Questioned About Ties to 'Grammar Nazis' - "In the latest case, prosecutors in southern Russia on Wednesday summoned for questioning Alexei Pavlovsky, the head of Bonus Media, which supports the local branch of the popular Total Dictation educational project. The project tests how accurately people can transcribe a text read orally. "They asked me first about the dictation, about my other civil initiatives, and then politely inquired about what I knew about grammar Nazis, and whether they were financing my activities," Pavlovsky wrote on his Facebook page. The language purists dubbed "grammar Nazis" do not appear to be a formal group and have not been known to engage in organizational financing of anybody's activities... Maria Burdukovskaya was charged with "promoting Nazi ideology" this spring, after she posted a "grammar Nazi" picture on her social network page — a post she said was aimed to "support the correct use and purity of the Russian language,""

The home-chefs causing panic in restaurants - "The main Paris restaurateurs' union Synhorcat has appealed to the French government to take steps to curb the phenomenon, arguing that bistros and brasseries risk being put out of business. "In the space of three years Airbnb has tripled its presence in Paris - to the point that there are now 50,000 flats advertised on its website," Synhorcat's president Didier Chenet tells me. He says small and medium-sized hotels have been hit hard and over the summer they had to drop their prices. "If the government doesn't do something to stop the underground restaurants, it will be the same disaster"... All agree too that part of the explanation for Vizeat's success is the disappointment that too often accompanies eating out in Paris. Quality of food, price and service can be out of line with what visitors have been led to expect, and the well-travelled young are increasingly discerning."

The Power of Negative Thinking - WSJ - "peppy affirmations designed to lift the user's mood through repetition and visualizing future success often achieve the opposite of their intended effect. Fortunately, both ancient philosophy and contemporary psychology point to an alternative: a counterintuitive approach that might be termed "the negative path to happiness." This approach helps to explain some puzzles, such as the fact that citizens of more economically insecure countries often report greater happiness than citizens of wealthier ones. Or that many successful businesspeople reject the idea of setting firm goals... Just thinking in sober detail about worst-case scenarios—a technique the Stoics called "the premeditation of evils"—can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power. The psychologist Julie Norem estimates that about one-third of Americans instinctively use this strategy, which she terms "defensive pessimism." Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didn't... Focusing on one goal at the expense of all other factors also can distort a corporate mission or an individual life, says Christopher Kayes, an associate professor of management at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Prof. Kayes, who has studied the "overpursuit" of goals, recalls a conversation with one executive who "told me his goal had been to become a millionaire by the age of 40…and he'd done it. [But] he was also divorced, and had health problems, and his kids didn't talk to him anymore." Behind our fixation on goals, Prof. Kayes's work suggests, is a deep unease with feelings of uncertainty."

Pope Francis Met With a Gay Couple at the Vatican Before He Met Kim Davis During His Trip to the United States
If Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis means he endorsed her, does Obama meeting both the Dalai Lama and Xi Jinping mean he's a hypocrite?

Does Your Parents' Income Affect Your Choice of College Major? - "Kids from lower-income families tend toward “useful” majors, such as computer science, math, and physics. Those whose parents make more money flock to history, English, and performing arts. The explanation is fairly intuitive. “It’s … consistent with the claim that kids from higher-earning families can afford to choose less vocational or instrumental majors, because they have more of a buffer against the risk of un- or under-employment”... Clark’s data, along with Weeden’s, provides a reason to reexamine the expected-earnings-by-major statistics that are so often scrutinized by indecisive college students. One recent finding out of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce is that majoring in the humanities gets you about $50,000 per year in median mid-career earnings, while a computer-science degree is good for about $75,000 per year... doctors and surgeons tended to come from families with lower incomes than musicians and artists. When compared to their parents, doctors on average improved on their parents’ income by 40 percent. Artists, though, trailed their parents’ earnings by 35 percent... Even though income and occupational prestige vary across generations, wealth and education levels remain relatively consistent over time... From this angle, college majors and occupations start to look more and more like easily-interpreted, if slightly crude, badges doled out to people based on the wealth and educational levels of the parents they were born to. There’s a reason that the first question asked at parties is often “So, what do you do?” “If we tend to avoid asking acquaintances about their income,” four prominent sociologistswrote in the 2011 anthology The Inequality Reader, “it’s not just because doing so is viewed as too intrusive and personal but also because we suspect that querying about occupation will yield more in the way of useful information.”"
Addendum: Aka Rich Kids Study English

These 5 Facts Explain Russia’s Economic Decline - "Corruption, cheap oil and unproductive workers all hold Russia back—though Russians don't seem to care... Typically, a stumbling economy brings about change in political leadership. Some countries, like Greece, take this to an extreme—Athens has seen five different governments in five years. But Russians have gone the other way—as their economy has slowed, Putin has grown more popular; he now holds an approval rating of 86 percent. More surprising is that while 73 percent of Russians are unhappy with their economy, 7 in 10 approve of the way Putin is handling it. How is that possible? About 90 percent of all Russians get their news from Russian television channels directly controlled by the Kremlin. By framing sanctions and the invasion of Ukraine as “Russia vs. the West”, Putin has succeeded in stoking the country’s nationalism. Today, 63 percent of Russians have a very favorable view of their country, up from 29 percent in 2013 and 51 percent in 2014. It’s easier under those circumstances to blame bad economic circumstances on outsiders. Credit where credit’s due—Putin knows what his people want to hear. It’s just not clear if he knows how to fix his flailing economy."

Sarah Sands jailed for killing paedophile Michael Pleasted - "Sarah Sands, 32, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Michael Pleasted, 77, by reason of loss of control... He was stabbed eight times and bled to death... Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said it was a "truly exceptional case" as he reduced her sentence from seven years to three-and-a-half, taking into consideration her position as a single mother. Sands, who was cleared of murder, had armed herself with a knife and carried out a "determined and sustained attack"... Sands, who has been in custody for the past 10 months, could be released on parole in 11 months. The judge emphasised the case was "unique" as Sands had lost control rather than taken the law into her own hands and engaged in "vigilante conduct"... During the trial, Sands told the court she had not intended to hurt Pleasted when she went to his flat with a knife, claiming instead she wanted him to admit to his crimes so his young accusers would not have to go to court. "Sands told the jury she was "frightened", adding: "It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me". However she said Pleasted "smirked" when he answered the door and told her the boys were all liars who had ruined his life."
If she had been a man and hadn't stabbed a pedophile...

How the U.S. spends more helping its citizens than other rich countries, but gets way less - "a new study argues that the real waste in the American system comes not from welfare programs like food stamps, but from widespread tax breaks that subsidize spending on things like health care and housing. Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Peterson Institute for International Economics, argues in a new report that once you take these kinds of tax breaks into account, the U.S. actually devotes far more resources than many other countries to “social spending” -- spending on pensions, health care, family support, unemployment, housing assistance, and similar benefits meant to help people out in hard times. And, compared with most advanced countries, the U.S. gets far less bang for its buck in terms of health outcomes and equality... There’s a clear political rationale behind the American system of giving people tax breaks on their health care spending, rather than having the government give them health care: The public pays fewer taxes, and the government doesn’t appear to be spending money. But the Peterson study suggests this system merely hides the true level of government spending. Tax breaks for lunches eaten on business trips are rarely given the same amount of scrutiny as the use of food stamps at the grocery store, but the ultimate cost to the government is the same. The American system also does less to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, since the private sector mostly depends on individuals and households to spend money, and people can’t spend money they don’t have, says Kirkegaard. The result is that the U.S. spends a lot on social services, and still has relatively high levels of inequality"

Are Children Who Are Raised by Gay Parents More Likely to Be Gay Themselves? - "Do the sexual inclinations of parents influence those of their children? Of 77 adult children of homosexual parents who volunteered for three different investigations, at least 23 (30%) were currently homosexual: twelve (55%) of 22 daughters and three (21%) of fourteen sons of lesbians; five (29%) of seventeen daughters and three (17%) of eighteen sons of gays; none of six sons with both a gay and a lesbian parent. At least 25 (32%) were currently heterosexual. Of the ten with transsexual parents, one of nine daughters was currently lesbian, one was currently heterosexual, and one was transsexual. The son's sexual preference was not reported. These findings suggest that parents' sexual inclinations influence their children's"

The women who fooled everyone by pretending to be executives at Ashley Madison’s sister websites

Affirmative action for all in India - "The Patels - a populous and reasonably prosperous caste comprising about one in every eight people in Gujarat - are demanding reservations for members of the community in government educational institutions and government jobs. What is more surprising is the mechanism by which they want the ratification of such a demand: They want the state to recognise them as part of the "other backward classes" (OBCs) of India, a label of relatively recent - and political - origin for groups in India who are socially and economically disadvantageous... This system of affirmative action was supposed to last only a decade - until 1960 - but, of course, nothing of the sort happened. Instead - and in this might be seen both positive and negative as a result of the deliberate and unintended consequences of the policy - over the decades, the beneficiaries of reservation not only claimed what was offered by the state, but also organised themselves politically on caste-based platforms... Affirmative action was going nowhere; rather, it was expanding its reach and now comprised a full 50 percent of all government-managed opportunities."

Africans reject Jamie's Jollof rice recipe - "The reaction from Africans began with dozens of comments posted on the chef's website in the past week. The conversation then moved on to social media where it escalated. The Oliver recipe has attracted 4,500 comments, a large number of them seemingly from Africans - and many outraged at what they say are changes Oliver has made to the traditional recipe. In the past 24 hours Twitter joined the debate using hashtags like #jollofgate and #jollof... By creating this recipe Oliver has increased the exposure of the dish. Vera Kwakofi, from BBC Africa, says that's part of the problem: "The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one." The blogger behind Motley Musing agrees: "We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's 'appreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this."
Moral of the story: don't bother cooking minorites' food

Ireland to 'decriminalise' small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use
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