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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Links - 11th May 2016

NYC Will Fine You $250,000 For 'Misgendering' A Transsexual - "Did you call a transsexual person “he” or “she” when they preferred to be called “zhe?” According to a newly updated anti-discrimination law in New York City, you could be fined an eye-watering $250,000... if a bar owner prevents male bartenders from wearing lipstick and heels, they’ll be breaking the law. They’ve now got a choice between potentially scaring off customers, and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Regardless of the establishment’s clientèle or aesthetic, every property owner will be forced to conform to the same standard."
Keywords: The New York City Commission on Human Rights

The Sanders campaign is living in an economic fantasy world. - "Liberal policy wonks have generally been, shall we say, a bit cold on Bernie Sanders, especially when it comes to his plan for creating a single-payer health care system, which they've criticized as undercooked and unrealistic. But hostilities escalated this week when four former chief White House economic advisers issued a harsh open letter accusing the Vermont senator of embracing “extreme claims” about how his policy ideas would boost American growth and of sullying Democrats’ entire reputation for caring about “responsible arithmetic.” The spreadsheet-wielding wing of the party has basically declared that the Sanders campaign is deluded about economics... You know how conservatives often argue that tax cuts will mostly pay for themselves? This is the liberal equivalent... If Sanders is surrounding himself on the campaign trail with aides who are willing to indulge in magical thinking, you can't help but wonder who will be advising him in the White House."
Funny, I thought only conservatives lived in lala land

Plutarch • On the Fortune of Alexander — Second Oration - "Cleitus, when he had scuttled three or four Greek triremes at Amorgos, caused himself to be proclaimed Poseidon and carried a trident. Demetrius, to whom Fortune added the little that she was able to subtract from Alexander's power, allowed himself to be called "The Heaven-descended," and the subject states did not send ambassadors to him, but "Sacred Deputies," and his replies they spoke of as "Oracles." Lysimachus, who obtained possession of the regions adjoining Thrace, the mere outskirts of the kingdom of Alexander, as it were, reached such a pitch of arrogance and boldness as to say, "The Byzantines now come to me when I am touching Heaven with my spear." But Pasiades of Byzantium, who was present, said, "Let us be off, lest he make a hole in the sky with his spear-point!" And yet why should anyone mention these men who might have some legitimate ground for pride because of Alexander, when even Clearchus, after he became despot of Heracleia, used to carry a thunderbolt, and named one of his sons Thunderer? And Dionysius the younger styled himself the son of Apollo in the inscription: Sprung from a Dorian mother by union with Phoebus Apollo."

WATCH: Migrants Dislike Food, Demand TVs, Threaten To Go Back To Syria - "It may seem at times that migrants are almost as opposed to mass migration to Europe as natives. interviewed yesterday as Sweden prepared to close their borders to alleviate the migrant crisis brewing within their nation, a group of newly arrived asylum seekers celebrated the policy u-turn. One young man said: “Close the border. We are far too many who have come. They can not take care of all of us”. Seeing no irony in his statement, a Syrian migrant said: “I’m surprised how it is here in Sweden. If they can’t take care of us properly, they should not take so many”."

The runaway children Malaysia failed to save - "four girls were slapped by a teacher because they refused to recite a Muslim prayer. "Those girls aren't Muslim so why should they be forced to say a prayer before they eat?" she says. "There are plenty of police reports and letters of complaint but nothing happens." The government says it aims to bring the disadvantaged Orang Asli into the mainstream of society. But Colin Nichols argues that the government has little interest in protecting their identity and says indigenous people are being increasingly sucked into a Malay-centric nation state. "You pluck young children - seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds - from the village," he says. "Then put them in a school hostel for three months at a time without seeing their parents, give them a new education, give them a new culture, give them a new language and sometimes a new religion, and in one generation you have people who are no longer Orang Asli." "

Germany court orders measles sceptic to pay 100,000 euros - "A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that measles is a virus has been ordered by a court to pay up. Stefan Lanka, who believes the illness is psychosomatic, made the pledge four years ago on his website. The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings. But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient."

The Left and the Attack on Paris - Dennis Prager - "This was not an "attack on all humanity." It was an attack on Western liberal values. And it wasn't an attack on "the universal values we share," since there are in fact few universal values that humanity shares. If humanity shared universal values, there wouldn't be wars, or hundreds of millions of subjugated women, or theocratic and secular tyrannies... She asked that the spoiled immature brats who complain about not having "safe spaces" in their universities, understand what real evil is and come to appreciate how incredibly lucky and safe they are."
Isn't it ethnocentric to talk of universal values?

The creepiest sight in China? Tiananmen anti-self-immolator firefighters - "Why, you ask, are there firefighters hanging out in Tiananmen Square? It's a natural question, since they're standing in the middle of a giant open square, with nothing flammable anywhere nearby. Except, that is, for the other people in the square"

When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful - "So there’s a debate going on, on Twitter right now between disabled people and people who either claim to care about the environment and or just want to complain about “lazy people”... Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them” The original tweet has been shared over 70,000 times. Whole Foods has apparently agreed to remove the prepeeled oranges from their stores. Environmentalists and those who hate laziness rejoice! The problem is that this discourse completely ignores how preprepared food impacts people with disabilities... disability inherently comes with a greater need for product consumption. Disabled people need mobility aids and other tools that inevitably have an impact on the environment. Many of the people she encountered appeared to suggest that in the fight for the environment, disabled people are too inconvenient and should not be accommodated.
Lurking behind the spirit of environmentalism is misanthropy: when you prioritise the environment over humans

Britain and Europe: living together, apart - "Clement Attlee had described the referendum as “a device for despots and dictators.” This was long the consensus view of a British political class which both took for granted the superiority of the Westminster model of “parliamentary democracy” and assumed that referendums could find no place within it. But this system’s genius (or if you wish, its hypocrisy, though perhaps they amount to the same thing) is to embrace incremental change while affirming that everything – most of all, the diamond-hard sovereignty of the “crown in parliament” – remains as it was"
Attlee's words: "I could not consent to the introduction into our national life of a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum, which has only too often been the instrument of Nazism and Fascism. Hitler’s practices in the field of referenda and plebiscites can hardly have endeared these expedients to the British heart"

The No-Tipping Point - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Meyer’s anti-tipping stance goes back a long time, at least to 1994, when he floated the idea in the Union Square Café’s newsletter. “The American system of tipping,” he wrote, “is awkward for all parties involved.”
MEYER: I believe that hospitality is a team sport. And the same way as if you went to a soccer game — the ticket you bought would include the seat, but it wouldn’t only include the strikers and not the goalie and expect you to pay the goalie separate based on what you, as a fan, thought of the goalie’s performance or the defenders’ performance that game. And so, in the restaurant business, we’ve had this economic policy that apparently dates back to the Civil War, where people got paid zero dollars by the restaurant, which basically means that the waiters are working not for me, but you, as freelancers...
MAGNUS TORFASON: The more tipping you see in a given country, the more corruption you generally see in that country as well...
KING: Quite alarming statistics, that in the period of time since Danny’s had Union Square Café , in that 30 years, the front-of-house salary has increased by over 300 percent. But in that same period of time, the culinary team is in the mid-20s, or the early 20 percent. I mean, that is a colossal difference...
“I feel better coming to work.” And the two reasons that they have most told us is that they love the fact that there’s just no longer this bubble hanging over their head during the course of your meal where they’re wondering and you’re wondering, “Is the only reason I’m being nice to this guy so I can pick his pocket at the end of the meal?” They love getting rid of that. They love the dynamic that suggests that they’re doing it because they are a hospitality professional. And that feels really, really good to them. The other thing that our servers love is that they don’t have to feel guilty at the end of an incredibly busy Friday or Saturday night, when they’re all high-fiving, but only behind closed doors because they don’t want the kitchen staff, who only worked harder for the exact same amount of money, to feel bad about it.

Are Payday Loans Really as Evil as People Say? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DEYOUNG: Studies that have looked at this have found that once you control for the demographics and income levels in these areas and these communities, the racial characteristics no longer drive the location decisions. As you might expect, business people don’t care what color their customers are, as long as their money’s green...
I find evidence that payday borrowers in Oregon actually seemed to be harmed. They seemed to be worse off by having that access to payday loans taken away."

How to Be More Productive - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUHIGG: But I think you hit on something really, really powerful, which is that, that list of things that you just read, they are not efficient. So, one of the things that’s really important about creating the right group norms that make a team productive is that everyone has a chance to kind of socialize with each other a little bit, right? Because you want to create this “high-average social sensitivity,” and the only way you do that is to get people to talk about their lives a little bit. Now, we’ve all had the experience where you go into a meeting and, like, for the first five minutes people just, like, talk about their weekend and their kids and who’s sick, and they gossip and you think to yourself, “God, can we please just start this meeting? We’ve got business to get done.” And I have that same instinct, which is to say, I want to prioritize efficiency. But study after study shows that if we spend a couple of meetings with that five minutes of getting to know each other, over time, our group will actually be much, much more productive. So sometimes it’s about sacrificing the short-term efficiency for the long-term productivity."

The Holy Roman Empire and Capability Brown | Podcast | History Extra - "People don't like complexity so they like to try to find a sort of linear narratives that you can then fit all the events in. And the problem with the Empire is that if you construct that kind of narrative, it's based around Emperors who are always end up in the same sort of failures. If we expect them to behave like monarchs did elsewhere"

The Easter Rising and a Victorian heyday | Podcast | History Extra - "The First World War ironically prevented war in Ireland in 1914 because all sides rallied around what they see as a common United Kingdom cause. And there's a very strong wave of support for the cause of Britain in the world, for Catholic little Belgium that's been invaded by Germany as it's seen in Irish public opinion so in a way this calms the Irish public situation down going into 1915...
[On the 1850s] the British sort of pat themselves in the back and say we're trying to get rid of the slave trade. We're trying to bring freedom to people. We're not doing it by revolution or by democracy, we're doing it in a very mannish way. By free trade and communication. So those two things... networked world will bring freedom to people, will automatically free them"

The hard-hitting soap for a country at war - BBC News - "Radio Alwan works on a distinctly low budget. Many members of the cast are played by the station's newsreaders and presenters and yet their drama is surprisingly polished. The studio engineers take particular pride in their sound effects. "Bombings can be taken from the internet," they explain. "But did you know that rhythmically clicking your fingers can sound like the first drops of a heavy rain shower?"... If the soap was about anywhere other than Syria, you might call the storylines melodramatic, but as the scriptwriter Mahmoud points out, all his plots resonate with Syrians because they're just hearing their own story."

Gush Etzion Junction: The deadly roundabout - "The Rami Levi supermarket next to the roundabout bustles with Israeli shoppers pushing trolleys. Most live in the Gush Etzion bloc of more than 20 settlements. Many now carry guns - either M16 rifles like Daniel - or small handguns like the one he tells me his wife keeps in her handbag to protect herself. Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and the expansion of settlements are often cited as reasons for Palestinian anger. But Daniel believes incitement is driving the upsurge in attacks. "On Palestinian television we see videos and cartoons calling to go out and become a shaheed, a martyr, 'Go out, stab a Jew, stab an Israeli'," he says. "They want to glorify their name, glorify Islam.""

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Animals on Antibiotics: Could Pigs on Pills Make us Ill? - "It's easier and more effective in many cases to prevent rather than to treat. We also know that animals that have become sick, been treated, allowed t recover and eventually go to market often have a higher level of foodborne pathogens on their carcass than those that have never been allowed to get sick in the first place"

ISIS Destruction of Ancient Sites Hits Mostly Muslim Targets - "While the jihadis' ultimate motivation behind planting explosives in Palmyra remains unclear, the destruction of the shrines is part of the greatest systematic eradication of Islamic sites in modern history. In addition, the destruction of monuments from all periods and cultures in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq is “the worst cultural heritage crisis since World War II,” says Danti. While international attention has been primarily focused on attacks on ancient sites such as Nineveh and Hatra, the vast majority of the sites that are being destroyed in Syria and Iraq are from the Islamic era, according to Danti, who estimates there have been more than 100 “major heritage incidents” this year in Syria alone... One alleged ISIS member has even threatened to destroy the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca, complaining that “[p]eople go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.” Aspirations of a pure, pious caliphate aside, there are several different theories around why ISIS is targeting Islamic sites. Dramatic images of spectacular explosions inspire recruits. By destroying buildings that have been at the center of a community’s religious life and venerated for centuries, the action can be considered a form of psychological as well as cultural warfare to keep local populations under heel."

Archaeologists Train "Monuments Men" to Save Syria's Past - "In the midst of a war that has killed more than 190,000 people so far, millennia-old ruins and dusty museums may not seem like a priority. But archaeologists say that preserving Syria's past is important if the country is to recover someday from the ravages of civil war. Cultural tourism was a mainstay of the Syrian economy before 2011, says John Russell, a State Department consultant who helps countries protect their archaeological treasures. "It's important that we preserve as much as possible of this economic asset for Syrians in the future."
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