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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Links - 12th March 2016

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Donald Trump Changes the Nature and Language of US Politics - "But you don't get to be one of the most successful business executives of your generation by being stupid, and it's clear... this was no off the cuff remark or slip of the tongue. Instead it was part of a clear strategy. And the view which so many found abhorent was also being widely echoed among the people who count: American electors... does Mr Trump says sober what other people say drunk?"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Iraqi troops move into Ramadi centre - "Both have been partly been driven by a desire on behalf of their universities not to offend their students, which has left more than academic to ponder publicly what the point of a expensive and time-consuming period at university is if not to challenge, to probe, to stimulate and maybe, to once or twice along the way, to offend the sensibilities of students. More worrying for some is the thought thathis process of re-evaluation might never end. Dotted around the grand squares of London are statues of the men who, amongst other achievements. created and defended the British Empire. It wasn't always pretty. In Parliament Square, looking out over the Palace of Westminster, the statue of a militarist imperialist survives, for now. Supporters of Winston Churchill and the fight for democracy can, for the moment, breathe easy. It's not the job of the present, said one academic of the Rhodes row, to tick off the past. But our tussle with history is part of our wrestle with the present. And it might be difficult to conduct that argument with much vigor if you're constantly afraid of giving or taking offence"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Turkey Shoots Down a Russian Bomber - "When the Syrians shot down a Turkish jet a few years ago which had entered Syrian airspace, President Erdogan's furious response was that a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack. Ah. Ironic then that the image that stayed with me this week was the sight of a Russian bomber falling almost gracefully from the sky trailing a plume of smoke and flame. A Turkish plane had shot it down above the border with Syria...
Anastasia Lin said when she became Miss Canada earlier this year, that Chinese security services visited her father, who still lives in China. She said they threatened there would be consequences if she continued to speak out. 'Dad's really scared', she told the BBC. She said Miss World officials had also been bullied. Inside China the authorities have stamped out virtually all criticism of those who govern. The case of Anastasia Lin shows they're also trying to put pressure on critics beyond their borders. And the row over a simple sash in Austria makes it clear that no issue is too small for China when it comes to defending its position. A few years ago, Beijing expressed its approval when Britain changed its official position on Tibet. London previously recognised Chinese suzerainty over the Himalayan region. But that was amended to sovereignty. Just a few changed letters, but a world of difference to a Chinese diplomat. In the eyes of Britain, Tibet changed from being a tributary state of China to a part of China. The founder of Communist China Mao Zedong, quoted this week in the British Parliament, is the author of this attention to detail. Mao saw enemies everywhere and believed everything was political. He once said there was no such thing as art for art's sake: it had to serve the Revolution
current leaders don't see a beauty pageant as a simple parade of beauties"

'We'll break your phones and your bones': Journalists and JNU students attacked in court - "Mobs of lawyers thrashed journalists, with some even being attacked inside courtrooms, as they sought to send a message to anyone who was, in their eyes, a "traitor"... the scenes of violence in the court, with journalists being attacked in broad daylight, took place despite massive presence of police personnel throughout the court complex."

Why is British politics in an ‘Eton mess’? - "when Douglas Hurd ran against Major for the Tory leadership in 1990, he constantly had his Eton education used against him as a Bad Thing. So much so that in one interview he flipped, and said: ‘I thought I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, not some demented Marxist sect.’"

Snow Penis Causes 'Bias Incident' At Michigan U - "Michigan’s student life website defines bias incidents as “incidents that make people feel targeted because of their social identity group membership.” It’s unclear what group the reporting individual believes was targeted by the snow penis. “Based on this definition, it is unclear if the bias incident report was generated because of the perceived white male privilege displayed by the pearly member rising out up from the ground or because of inadequate sex representation as no efforts had been made to create a snow vagina.” A member of Michigan’s residential staff complained to the Review that it was “a little ridiculous” that a “phallic snow object” was taking up the time of campus officials. It’s unclear if Michigan has ever received a bias incident complaint for the throwing of “snowballs.”"

Germany: Traditional sausages banned in public canteens out of respect to Muslims claims Merkel ally - ""Vegetarians, vegans and Muslims are in a Holy Trinity: taking over power in Schleswig-Holstein canteens," deputy leader Ralf Stegner of the centre Social Democrat party mocked."

Emily Bright's answer to Without feminism, how do you make sure your autonomy isn't weaseled away? - Quora - "I frequently find myself disagreeing with the feminist voice. Not always, but more often than not. I think that in a lot of ways, feminism attempts to silence the voice of women who dissent from their opinion by grouping all women into a single entity like this... I don't find myself being silenced within antifeminist circles. I don't even find myself being silenced when I talk to MRAs. However, I do often find myself silenced by feminists by being outright blocked, told that I don't know what I'm talking about, or lumped into their sweeping generalizations"
Ahh... feminism and tolerance

Singing show tunes helps fight off dementia: study - "Researchers working with elderly residents at an East Coast care home found in a four-month long study found that people who sang their favorite songs showed a marked improvement compared to those who just listened. Among the songs sung during 50-minute sessions were hits from "The Wizard of Oz," "Oklahoma!" and "The Sound of Music.""

Jobs wanted in Australia: But not if they clash with golf - "A 58-year-old man was not prepared to work for three hours on Sundays because that was when he played golf.
A 19-year-old man turned down a job “to follow his dream of becoming an actor”.
A 26-year-old man refused a job because “he doesn’t work with chickens”.
A 50-year-old woman declined a receptionist position because of a “bad smell” in the office.
A 33-year-old man rejected car washing as “too difficult”.
A 23-year-old man refused to become a driver’s assistant because he wanted to drive."

Tired drivers as bad as drunk drivers - "driving for only three hours at night has a similar effect to driving under the influence of alcohol, and even two hours can be equivalent to a couple of drinks... up to 20 percent of traffic accidents in industrialized countries can be attributed to sleepiness while driving because of long periods behind the wheel, or because of the use of medicinal drugs."
If drunk drivers are jailed, why not sleepy ones?

Sikh group calls for politicians and media to stop using term 'Asian' to describe Rotherham grooming gang - "A Sikh group is urging the media and politicians not to describe the Rotherham grooming gang as “Asian” as the term is too vague and “besmirches” communities... “One of the demands in the Sikh Manifesto that we published a year ago before the General Election was that the government should encourage public bodies and the media to abandon the use of the term ‘Asian’ when describing perpetrators for reasons of political correctness. “If the four men that have been found guilty and carried out the abuse were Pakistani Muslims, this is how they should be described and not called Asian.”"

Muslim woman fined after lying about being attacked for wearing hijab - "The woman was given a £90 fine for wasting police time after officers even accompanied her to the scene to retrace her steps. Miss Choudhury said she was too scared to walk alone after the made-up attack and claimed Muslims were being targeted after the atrocities in the French capital"

Christian student kicked off Sheffield University course for anti-gay Facebook post - "Mr Ngole is appealing against the decision, but if it is not overturned it may prevent him from becoming a social worker. He believes the decision is an effective "bar to office for Christians" and that he may suffered discrimination. He said: "I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Sharia law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don't think so.""

Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous - "the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, Americahas lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation. Consider the same pattern in two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel. Israel ranks first in the world in venture-capital investments as a percentage of GDP; the United States ranks second, and Sweden is sixth, ahead of Great Britain and Germany. These nations do well by most measures of innovation, such as research and development spending and the number of high-tech companies as a share of all public companies. Yet all three countries fare surprisingly poorly in the OECD test rankings... other than bad test-takers, their economies have a few important traits in common: They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured. Despite ranking 27th and 30th in math, respectively, American and Israeli students came out at the top in their belief in their math abilities... Companies often prefer strong basics to narrow expertise. Andrew Benett, a management consultant, surveyed 100 business leaders and found that 84 of them said they would rather hire smart, passionate people, even if they didn’t have the exact skills their companies needed... Twenty years ago, tech companies might have survived simply as product manufacturers. Now they have to be on the cutting edge of design, marketing and social networking. You can make a sneaker equally well in many parts of the world, but you can’t sell it for $300 unless you’ve built a story around it... In 2013, two Oxford scholars conducted a comprehensive study on employment and found that, for workers to avoid the computerization of their jobs, “they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu on race at the Oscars: 'It's not just black and white' - "he urged society to “liberate ourselves from all prejudice” – and to make sure the “colour of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair”"
Why would he want people to discriminate by race as much as by hair length? Maybe Hollywood doesn't discriminate by hair length

New study: Electric cars may be worse for the environment than gas-powered - "In monetary terms, electric cars are about half-a-cent worse per mile for the environment than gas-powered cars, on average. This means that if a government wants to tax a car based on how much it pollutes, electric cars should be taxed half of one cent more per mile driven than gasoline cars. Much depends on where the car is driven. Gas-powered cars do worse in congested urban areas. For example, in Los Angeles, electric cars are 3.3 cents per mile better for the environment than gas-powered cars. Outside of metropolitan areas, electric cars are 1.5 cents per mile worse than gas-powered. In Grand Forks, N.D., for example, electric cars are 3 cents per mile worse."

Electric cars 'pose environmental threat' - ""The production phase of electric vehicles proved substantially more environmentally intensive," the report said, comparing it to how petrol and diesel cars are made. "The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles." In addition, producing batteries and electric motors requires a lot of toxic minerals such as nickel, copper and aluminium. Hence, the acidification impact is much greater than that of conventional car production. "Across the other impacts considered in the analysis including potential for effects related to acid rain, airborne particulate matter, smog, human toxicity, ecosystem toxicity and depletion of fossil fuel and mineral resources, electric vehicles consistently perform worse or on par with modern internal combustion engine vehicles, despite virtually zero direct emissions during operation," according to Prof Stromman."

‘Use me’: outcry after scantily-clad women brave cold on streets of Beijing to promote phone app - "A publicity stunt has been strongly criticised on the internet in China after a group of women in their underwear braved the cold on the streets of Beijing to advertise a smartphone social media app. About 20 women wearing black underwear and high heels walked around the city’s business district promoting the product until they were stopped by security guards, the Beijing Times reported. The women all had the Chinese characters “use me” stamped on their back and computer scanning product codes on their buttocks... Police in Beijing briefly detained at least two foreigners dressed as Spartan warriors in July who took part in a publicity stunt on the streets of the capital to promote a salad company. Dozens of young foreign men dressed in tight leather shorts and flowing capes took part in the promotion."
PETA needs to go to China
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