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Monday, June 27, 2016

Links - 27th June 2016

Brexit vote is about the supremacy of Parliament and nothing else: Why I am voting to leave the EU - "My Europhile Greek friend Yanis Varoufakis and I both agree on one central point, that today's EU is a deformed halfway house that nobody ever wanted. His solution is a great leap forward towards a United States of Europe with a genuine parliament holding an elected president to account. Though even he doubts his dream. "There is a virtue in heroic failure" he said... Six years into the eurozone crisis and there is no a flicker of fiscal union: no eurobonds, no Hamiltonian redemption fund, no pooling of debt, and no budget transfers. The banking union belies its name. Germany and the creditor states have dug in their heels.

Antarctica boss did not freeze during a crisis - ""As workplaces become more and more diverse, it's absolutely critical that respect trumps harmony," she said. This means that instead of expecting everyone to like each other, the team aimed for professional courtesy and respect. "With such a mix of people, it was impractical to think we would all get along with each other all the time. "It would be unreasonable to expect total harmony so I didn't." She has grave concerns for any team that expects team harmony, describing it as a "dangerous" mindset. Ms Robertson said dysfunctional behaviour will still continue - but underground; so the illusion of harmony remains. She also believes it stifles innovation as people are too afraid to put up their hand and offer a different view because they do not want to "rock the harmony boat"."

iTunes is 13 years old—and it’s still awful - "For 13 years—15 if you count the two years the program was just a file-storing service—users have grumbled loudly about iTunes’ unwieldy interface, its bloated features, its inability to simply get better. Companies, however great, sometimes fail to improve their products; and iTunes has been Apple’s great big software mess-up. (Well, that and Maps)... instead of trying to streamline the service over the years, Apple has opted to stuff an overwhelming number of new features—movies, television shows, podcasts, mobile apps, and most recently, Apple Music—into it. The company gave its designers “an impossible task: cramming way too much functionality into a single app,” says Marco Arment, the software developer behind Tumblr and Instapaper. As a result, Arment says, the platform has turned into a “toxic hellstew of unreliability”... Apple, in its post-Jobs era, seems to have also given up on revamping its old products, choosing to follow current trends instead of pressing on its prior innovations. So perhaps the fate of iTunes is to be ignored until it dies, unloved, in the corner, long after people forget just how revolutionary it was."

It’s a Hard Fact. Abbas Turned Down Olmert’s Peace Deal - "What is not speculation is that Israel’s prime minister made a peace offer, and the Palestinian leader–head of the Fatah Party, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority–rejected it. Those who wish to blame Israel for the continuing lack of progress in achieving a comprehensive peace agreement will presumably pay no attention to this interview, but the facts are in."

The Navy just approved the military's best tattoo rules - "The Navy is easing its tattoo policy in a bid to recruit and retain more sailors from the millennial generation, of whom more than 1 in 3 sport body art. Sailors will be allowed to have neck tattoos, sleeves and even markings behind their ears under the new policy, the most lenient of any military service. Only their heads are off limits under the new policy, which the Navy's top sailor has called a reality check on the permanent art favored by sailors... "This isn’t official, but in my research, I saw estimates that the percentage of people with tattoos in the 18 to 25 age group as being between 37 and 40 percent," he said. That's not an insignificant number."... MCPON, who is wrapping up a 33-year career that is longer than most millennials' lives, would “neither confirm nor deny” when asked whether he has any tattoos."

The forger who fooled the world - Telegraph - "He loathed modern art - he thought it childish and decadent, a passing fad for ugliness which would soon fade. For years he had eked out a living painting gloomy portraits of rich patrons in a faux-Rembrandt style and had winced as he heard his work ridiculed by his peers. A prominent critic reviewing van Meegeren's second solo exhibition wrote, "A gifted technician who has made a sort of composite facsimile of the Renaissance school, he has every virtue except originality." The time had come, van Meegeren felt, to revenge himself on his critics. He devised a plan to paint a perfect Vermeer - neither a copy, nor a pastiche, but an original work - and, when it had been authenticated by leading art experts, acquired by a major museum, exhibited and acclaimed, he would announce his hoax to the world... During the exhibition, van Meegeren would loudly proclaim the painting a forgery, a crude pastiche, and listen as the finest minds of his generation persuaded him that his painting was a genuine Vermeer... Often he would forget where he had hidden the money, and 30 years after his death, the Dutch were still turning up cashboxes stuffed with pre-war notes. As van Meegeren's addictions to alcohol and morphine took hold, and the standard of his forgeries plummeted, still experts accepted them as genuine. He discovered that, regardless of how incompetent his painting, how crude his anatomy, how uncertain the provenance, the most erudite Vermeer critics were prepared to sanctify his work... Having been denounced by the press as a traitor, a "Dutch Nazi artist", van Meegeren was now a folk hero - the man who had swindled Göring. The Reichsmarschall was told that his beloved Vermeer was a forgery while awaiting execution in Nuremberg. According to a contemporary account: "[Göring] looked as if for the first time he had discovered there was evil in the world."

How Caravaggio saw in the dark - Telegraph - "Four hundred years later, he is, by many indications, the world’s favourite old master. Canadian researcher Philip Sohm has established that in the past 50 years, Caravaggio has overtaken that other Michelangelo – Buonarroti – as the favourite subject of art historical research. More, it seems, has been written about him in the past half century than any other artist... There is a dark mixture of violence and sexuality that appeals to the sensibility of an age that relishes the art of Francis Bacon and Quentin Tarantino. As the art historian Robert Hughes pointed out, you can see from the way the executioner holds his knife in Beheading of St John the Baptist that Caravaggio knew precisely the most brutally effective way to wield a weapon."

The Big Question: How many of the paintings in our public museums are fakes? - "It is, for example, much easier to replicate a work by Picasso than a major work by a painter of the Renaissance. Picasso is much less fiddly. What is more, he often worked very quickly, painting a single painting – or even several paintings – in a day. His paintings are relatively easy to characterise and to caricature. Technically, many of the 10,000 or so that he produced during his inordinately long life would be relatively easy to replicate. They seldom get bogged down in onerous detail. What is more, the kinds of paints he used – or their equivalents – are still widely available today... The public, having paid its money, expects perfection. So dingy old paintings, little by little, are re-painted, with painstaking lovingness. It happens all the time. By the time in 1994 when the Sistine Chapel was restored to the condition in which it would have been when Michelangelo painted it, was it still by Michelangelo? Or is it by now a modern fake – or as near as damn it? This is a moot point... A reasonable estimate might be that at least 20 per cent of the paintings held by our major museums, some up on the walls, many others in the vaults, will no longer be attributed to the same painter 100 years from now. Another matter worth bearing in mind is this: the less money the institution has to spend on restoring its paintings, the more likely it is that the paintings will be in a condition which resembles how they would once have looked"

ART FORGERY – More Than Half of Art is Fake? - "Experts allegedly claim that 50% of artwork in circulation is not authentic, which is hard to verify. However, FAEI expert said that between 70% and 90% of pieces that go through their laboratory come out as fakes."

Ten Years directors on why the Hong Kong film spoke to people - ""If Hong Kong is still under 'one country, two systems' and I'm making my film legally, then I'm surprised and really confused by the strong reaction."... "We've been cheated time and again and I feel that 'one country, two systems' is a lie." But while his work highlights a radical act, Chow is not proposing a revolution. "I don't want a self- immolator to appear in real life. Ten Years is about a future we don't want to see. "Rather, the movie wants to ask whether we can do something more for our home Hong Kong. Just because you make a movie about Batman doesn't mean you're asking people to be Batman.""

Burger Me! A London Burger Blog: The Bleecker Black from Bleecker St. Burger in Old Spitalfields - "Four different cuts of aged beef are sourced, blended and minced by The Butchery into 4oz patties, which double up to form the core of the Bleecker Black. They're perfectly seasoned and deliver a fantastic depth of aged beef flavour, as well as giving long after taste of tallowy, creamy beef - all this alongside the crumbly, toasty black pudding. Just a side note, it's served on the rare side of medium-rare - as this quality of beef absolutely should be."

Facebook study rebuts the 'echo chamber' effect - "Nearly 30 percent of all the news content that people see in the News Feed cuts across ideological lines"

Sexual and relationship satisfaction among heterosexual men and women: the importance of desired frequency of sex. - "Only 46% of men and 58% of women were satisfied with their current frequency of sex. Dissatisfied men were overwhelmingly likely to desire sex more frequently; among dissatisfied women, only two thirds wanted sex more frequently"
More proof that men are hornier than women

Hundreds protest ‘kidnapping’ in Norway’s Child Welfare System - "According to Natalya and Sergey Shianok, their son Oskar, who was five at the time, had told fellow kids at his school that his mother had accidently yanked out one of his baby teeth. Natalya explained that she was helping him to pull a T-shirt over his head and knocked out a tooth that was already loose."
Keywords: Barnevernet

'Placebo Effect' May Be Common in Headache Treatment - "Placebo treatments or no treatment appeared to work just as well as drugs in a large percentage of headache patients participating in more than 100 studies... Since drugs used to treat migraines and other recurring headaches can have side effects, study co-author Bart W. Koes, PhD, says the findings suggest that many patients might benefit from non-pharmaceutical interventions."

How can the UK be the 'first safe country' in which to claim asylum? - "There is no obligation under the refugee convention or any other instrument of international law that requires refugees to seek asylum in any particular country. There has, however, been a longstanding "first country of asylum" principle in international law by which countries are expected to take refugees fleeing from persecution in a neighbouring state. This principle has developed so that, in practice, an asylum seeker who had the opportunity to claim asylum in another country is liable to be returned there in order for his or her claim to be determined."

INDIAN FTS KANA HAMMERED BY S'PORE CONDO OWNERS - "Indians have bought abt 40% of Mandarin Gardens apts and have become arrogant in the condo. At last year's AGM, all Singaporeans didnt want to stand for Management Council positions, leaving it to foreigners to take control. Eight indians were voted in with one American and one Briton in the MC. The Indians are power crazy, lawless and turned havoc. They thought they own Mandarin Gardens and can do what they want"

University accused of discrimination for requiring dyslexic student to take course in French - "Lewicki's application for the master of political science program wasn't accepted, because he's not able to take one course in French, which is a program requirement. Lewicki has been diagnosed as gifted, but with a type of dyslexia that's so severe he can't learn another language."

Hamas Admits to Using Civilians as Human Shields

Sexual Motivation and the Duration of Partnership - "(1) sexual activity and sexual satisfaction decline in women and men as the duration of partnership increases; (2) sexual desire only declines in women; and (3) desire for tenderness declines in men and rises in women. Because these results are based on cross-sectional data, a longitudinal explanation is precarious"

Fact check: No proof the death penalty prevents crime - Fact Check - "A comprehensive review of the research in this area over 34 years was conducted in 2012 by a committee of the American National Academy of Sciences National Review Council. The committee concluded that "research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates"... "Even when executions are frequent and well-publicised, there are no observable changes in crime. Executions serve only to satisfy the urge for vengeance. Any retributive value is short-lived, lasting only until the next crime." His position is shared by the majority of criminologists in relation to homicide, according to a 2009 survey of members of the American Criminology Society, who were asked to limit their answers to their understanding of the empirical research and to exclude their personal opinions. That study found that over 88 per cent of the criminologists did not believe the death penalty deterred murderers... Professor Zimring, with Professor Fagan and David T. Johnson of The University of Hawaii, conducted a study that compared Singapore - a country that does have the death penalty - with Hong Kong... "the Singapore experience magnifies the impact of American assertions [that the death penalty deters] to a patently silly status". They found that "homicide levels and trends are remarkably similar in these two cities over the 35 years after 1973, with neither the surge in Singapore's executions nor the more recent steep drop producing any differential impact"... Professor Fagan "described extensive studies showing that criminals are deterred more by an increase in their likelihood of apprehension than by an increase in the magnitude of their punishment, meaning that likely capture is a more effective deterrent than potential death""

Elton John, David Furnish hoping to keep sex tale off Web - "Elton John and his Canadian husband David Furnish are evidently hoping to scrub the World Wide Web of reports about their open marriage. Reps for the couple this week are busily filing complaints and threatening legal action against websites that have published articles based on a National Enquirer story headlined: “Elton John Betrayed by Cheating Husband!” Last month, John, 69, and Furnish, 53, obtained an injunction banning media outlets in England and Wales from identifying those involved in the tale of alleged unprotected sex and a threesome involving olive oil."

Bhutan tackles violence against women for "refusing ... - "Two thirds of Bhutanese women say beating justified if wife argues with husband, refuses sex or burns dinner"
No wonder the people there are so happy

It’s Not Just About Bad Choices - - "Too often, I believe, liberals deny that poverty is linked to bad choices. As Phillips and many other poor people acknowledge, of course, it is. Self-destructive behaviors — dropping out of school, joining a gang, taking drugs, bearing children when one isn’t ready — compound poverty. Researchers have often found that very poor families worldwide spend more of their income on alcohol than on educating their children. And, in central Kenya, a government study published a few years ago found that men there, on average, spent more of their salaries on alcohol than on food. Yet scholars are also learning to understand the roots of these behaviors, and they’re far more complicated than the conservative narrative of human weakness"

The Box Office Power of Stars - "HSX prices respond significantly to casting announcements, which suggests that the involvement of stars affects revenues. The list of announcements with the biggest impact contains a number of established, often highly paid stars, including Tom Hanks, Mike Myers, Tom Cruise, and Mel Gibson. It also contains a few actors that are typically not included at the very top of most industry executives' rankings, such as Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott. It seems audiences value those stars more than Hollywood executives do. I show that, as could be expected, an actor's past box-office performance is positively related to the magnitude of his or her impact on revenues. However, the number and, particularly, the average box-office record of other cast members also play a role. In fact, interestingly, the impact of a newly recruited star and the other cast members are linked—the more A-list a cast already is, the greater is the impact of a star with a track record of box office successes. In other words, recruiting Angelina Jolie leads to a bigger boost of expected revenues if a powerful actor such as Brad Pitt has already agreed to star."
This is an important reason for 'whitewashing', since most stars are white

NTU orientation to be more inclusive - "orientation activities would also be made inclusive through rules stipulating that cheers must now be in English only. There were complaints that the use of cheers in Chinese dialects like Hokkien might make students of minority races feel left out. In addition, horror- or fear-inducing games like fright nights will not be allowed, ST understands. Orientation camps at varsities here have drawn complaints over the years for things such as safety lapses and sexually suggestive games... The 23-year-old had applied for a hall camp when she was a new student in 2013, but was rejected without being told why. "I heard they selected us based on how active you are on social media, or superficial things like how pretty or handsome you are on your profile picture," she said."

The Empire Christmas Pudding - "17 very specific ingredients of the Empire Christmas pudding. Supplied by the King’s Chef, Mr Cedard, with Their Majesties’ Gracious Consent, the recipe was published in poster form by the Empire Marketing Board, a body set up in 1926 by the colonial secretary, Leo Amery, to promote the buying of British Empire goods in the home market."

Sperm donation: Inside a deeply emotive world of powerful incentives, polarised views and heated debates

Woman marries anonymous sperm donor after tracking him down and falling in love

Americans think fighting racism is more important than free speech – poll - "Forty-three percent of respondents said that making sure that students have an environment “free from discrimination, even if that means placing some limits on what students can say,” is a priority, while 38 percent of those polled thought that students should have an “absolute right” to free speech. Similar sentiment was expressed participants were asked with whether colleges have “a responsibility to teach students about issues related to racism,” with 45 percent agreeing that they do and 41 percent challenging such a notion... 53 percent percent of respondents believe that students who exercise free speech in an offensive manner should be punished, whereas 28 percent were against such measures... Republicans tended to favor free speech measures, while Democrats favor measures to fight perceived racism."

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone Darkens Controversy - "Criticism of the casting for the unauthorized film is directed less at Saldana than at a Hollywood that has historically cast light-skinned black actresses in leading roles. Simone not only celebrated her Afrocentric features, but she wrote songs about race and racism and was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Blogger Tiffany Jones, who created the blog Coffee Rhetoric, called it a "frustrating system of white-washing""
It's "whitewashing" even when you get someone of the same race; is Obama black enough?

Trudeau's Spending Priorities Send Too Many Tax Dollars Overseas - "It was interesting to read David Akin's numbers on Trudeau's dollar handouts in his first 100 days in office. By his calculations it amounts to $5.3 billion, of which slightly less than a billion dollars was spent inside Canada.

Would you pay $14,000 a month to look good? - "Jamie Chua looks gorgeous for a mother of two teenagers, aged 17 and 20. Well, her beauty regimen, which includes weekly massages, facials, and hair and slimming treatments, does cost $14,000 a month, after all... 'I don’t have the time to go to the salon every day anymore.'"
How much tme does this take?

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