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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Links - 17th August 2016

Contempt of court law passed after seven-hour debate - ""I'll tell you when someone sitting in a coffeeshop discussing a case could be in contempt. If you catch hold of a witness, have a beer with him, and try and influence him or threaten him in the coffeeshop, that will be contempt. But if you sit with your friends and talk to them about a case, how do you think it impacts on any case?," asked Mr Shanmugam, urging MPs to "get real"."
If sitting with your friends and talking to them about a case isn't contempt of court, why is discussing it online?

Singapore group conducts social experiment on how privilege affects standing in society - "Not everyone starts on an equal footing in society, as 16 young Singaporeans find out in a social experiment that has been making its rounds on Facebook. Conducted by social enterprise Unsaid, the experiment shows how factors such as gender, race and economic background can affect a person's standing in society - even in Singapore... As the participant who ended up last, Ms Alisa Maya Ravindran hopes the experiment will spur more constructive discussions on the topic. "I hope that people will not take it as a negative thing to discuss privilege," said the 22-year-old undergraduate from the National University of Singapore."
The SJW rot is well and truly taking hold in Singapore
If you're a young Literature undergraduate and you're still the most "underprivileged", that suggests that the concept is warped

Scots have not shifted to Yes over Brexit. It's the UK, come what may. - "The referendum result turned essentially on two issues -- the oil price and the currency. The former has been pretty decisively dealt with by the market. The collapse in prices from nearly $110 a barrel -- the basis for the independence White Paper's optimistic assumptions about Scotland's wealth -- to around $40 has dealt a visible blow to oil revenues which have fallen from nearly £10bn a year to £130m. The latest issue of GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) later this month will reinforce that stark fact. The latter has been dealt an even more devastating blow. For Scotland to join the EU once the UK has left will mean accepting the acquis -- which includes the euro... The most recent GERS showed the difference between public spending in Scotland and taxes raised here as £15bn. Of course, some of that is borrowed, so say that the transfer is currently £10bn. That is a lot of spending to cut -- some 7% of GDP, which is the equivalent of what was lost in the Great Recession"

Italy proposal to jail vegans who impose diet on children - "Such parents, the draft bill claims, are imposing a diet "devoid of essential elements for [children's] healthy and balanced growth". It has been proposed by Elvira Savino of the centre-right Forza Italia party. It follows a number of high-profile Italian cases where malnourished children have been taken into care. In four cases over the last 18 months, malnourished children were hospitalised in Italy after being fed a vegan diet."

Here's the Quote That Sums Up China's Huge Problem of Cheating in Schools - ""We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat." This was the chant of an angry mob of more than 2,000 people that had gathered, oddly enough, to protest a strict crackdown on cheating during China's college entrance examination earlier this month in Zhongxiang, Hubei Province"
Some Americans were slamming an article about the problem of overseas students cheating in American colleges as racist, as ignoring the fact that there are Americans who cheat etc. That's like saying that poverty exists in the US as well as in Somalia, so you can't say Somalia has a serious poverty problem

Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating - "By late afternoon, the invigilators were trapped in a set of school offices, as groups of students pelted the windows with rocks. Outside, an angry mob of more than 2,000 people had gathered to vent its rage, smashing cars and chanting"

The students who feel they have the right to cheat - ""It is our democratic right!" a thin, addled-looking man named Pratap Singh once said to me as he stood, chai in hand, outside his university in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. "Cheating is our birthright"... Then there's another class of student altogether, who are so well known locally - so renowned for their political links - invigilators dare not touch them. I've heard that these local thugs sometimes leave daggers on their desk in the exam hall. It's a sign to invigilators: "Leave me alone... or else"... When pro-cheating rallies were held in Uttar Pradesh in the early 1990s, the state's chief minister gave in to demands and repealed an anti-copying act - he actually allowed students to cheat."

Foreign Students Seen Cheating More Than Domestic Ones - WSJ - "A Wall Street Journal analysis of data from more than a dozen large U.S. public universities found that in the 2014-15 school year, the schools recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating for every 100 international students. They recorded one such report per 100 domestic students. Students from China were singled out by many faculty members interviewed... Faculty and domestic students interviewed said it appears that substantial numbers of international students either don’t comprehend or don’t accept U.S. standards of academic integrity."

Straight Dope Message Board - View Single Post - Where did all the celiacs come from all of a sudden? - "Groups that skew toward membership with higher education levels and, usually, a more "liberal" or "left-leaning" tendency (environmental groups, women's groups, advocacy groups, Democrat Party fundraisers, any group where the women far outnumber the men, etc.) tend to have a much higher percentage of members with "special" dietary needs, including gluten-free, all manner of allergies, vegans/vegetarians, lactose-intolerant, etc., while lesser-educated, more conservative types of groups and groups with more men than women tend to cheerfully eat whatever the hell we put in front of them."

Gluten-Free Water? A Fad Without a Grain of Sense - WSJ - "the fad speaks to a long-held American tendency to value foods based on what they lack, rather than on, say, their taste, seasonality or overall nutritional value. That mind-set took hold during the fat-free frenzy of the 1980s and ’90s. Over time, being bombarded by nutritional claims on labels has taught Americans to reduce foods to tallies, loading up on or avoiding grams of this or that specific nutrient or ingredient. Gluten is only today’s demon... In 2014 the consumer-insights firm Hartman Group asked 1,728 Americangrocery shoppers why they purchased gluten-free foods. The most common answer, given by 35%, was “no reason at all.”... Because gluten is what gives dough its elastic consistency, it’s also important to recognize that once gluten is removed from a product, it usually needs to be replaced with something else. That something else tends to be tapioca starch, potato starch, rice flour and added sugar, which when consumed lead to blood-sugar spikes that don’t do the body any favors. Scan the package of a toaster pastry from Glutino, one of the industry’s leading brands, and you’ll see an excruciatingly long list of ingredients with polysyllabic chemical names. Ironically, the gluten-free movement was originally started about a decade ago by people who wanted to eat fewer processed foods... The gluten hysteria is a reflection of something much deeper and more concerning: a lack of food literacy."

The Death Of Expertise - "I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all... One of the greatest teachers I ever had, James Schall, once wrote many years ago that “students have obligations to teachers,” including “trust, docility, effort, and thinking,” an assertion that would produce howls of outrage from the entitled generations roaming campuses today."

Brown student protesters complain homework is interfering with their activism - "David, who spent many hours helping to organize the demonstrations, claims he reached out to both Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and his academic deans for support, but told theDaily Herald that the therapy and deans’ notes requesting extended deadlines on his assignments were little more than “bandages” for the stress of balancing his activism with existing obligations to school, work, and friends. Other students expressed similar frustration with the university’s expectation that they keep up with their schoolwork during the protests, saying that some professors refused to grant extensions on homework and tests... Liliana Sampedro, one of the students who compiled the diversity ultimatum, argued that refusal to grant such accommodations “has systemic effects on students of color,” who she said may sometimes feel obligated to prioritize their activist work over their studies."

This new app lets you donate to buskers using a cashless online service

It's All Your Fault: The DOT Renders Its Verdict on Toyota's Unintended-Acceleration Scare - "The DOT concluded that, other than a number of incidents caused by accelerators hanging up on incorrectly fitted floor mats, the accidents were caused by drivers depressing their accelerators when they intended to apply their brakes. “Pedal misapplication” was the DOT’s delicate terminology  for this phenomenon... In most cases, the driver reported that the sudden acceleration began immediately after the driver applied the brakes. DOT engineers determined that there was no mechanism by  which applying the brakes could initiate acceleration. Additionally, they conducted tests to determine that, at low speed using normal pedal effort, the brakes could easily hold a car stationary or bring one to a stop even with the engine racing. A field examination of 58 vehicles said to be involved in unintended-acceleration crashes revealed no evidence of  brake failure or throttle malfunction. Moreover, these Toyotas were equipped with simple event data recorders (EDRs, or “black boxes”), as about 85 percent of new cars are. Of the 39 vehicles that fit the unintended-acceleration pattern and had usable EDR data, none showed sustained, pre-crash braking taking place and 35 revealed high or increasing accelerator position. The reported high-speed incidents were far more rare. After examining the various cases, most of them turned out to be related to alcohol use or drivers’ medical problems: The EDRs showed no pre-impact braking or substantial acceleration, suggesting drivers who were unaware of impending crashes... Based on the DOT report, it seems clear that the Toyota sudden-acceleration scare has little more substance than the one that came before it [see below]. Ultimately, driver error was the culprit."

Refugees in Norway - "Europe has seen a large influx of refugees and migrants over a long period of time, and the number is increasing rapidly (OECD 2015). Media coverage has centred around the Syrian refugees, many of whom will be granted asylum following their arrival in the country they want to flee to. Germany and Sweden seem to be prepared to grant asylum to all of the war refugees from Syria who apply. By doing so, they are effectively disregarding the Dublin Regulation, which gives countries the right to return refugees to the first EU or EFTA country they arrived in. The Syrians, however, do not make up the majority of the influx to Europe. OECD (2015) shows that only 14 per cent of asylum seekers who arrived in the EU in the first quarter of 2014 and 2015 were from Syria... Employment levels among immigrants are lower than among non-immigrants, with 63 and 69 per cent respectively (Statistics Norway 2015b). As expected, labour immigrants have the highest employment rate, while refugees have the lowest (see figure 7). Employment among refugees has declined somewhat in recent years, partly due to the increase in the share of new arrivals, and partly because there have been an increasing number from countries with a low employment rate (see figure 8). Employment shows a clear improvement the longer an immigrant has lived in Norway, but as we see in Figure 8, there are few refugee countries (only Bosnia and Herzegovina) that achieve 60 per cent employment for both sexes... even among Somalis who have lived here for more than 10 years, employment is barely 50 per cent"

Norway Digs Deeper Into $860 Billion Fund Amid Refugee Costs - "Just three weeks after announcing it will dip into its massive $860 billion piggy bank for the first time, the Norwegian government is at it again. The government will use 209 billion kroner ($24 billion) of its oil revenue in its budget next year, up from the 207.8 billion it planned to spend in its initial proposal released Oct. 7. It’s also scaling back planned income tax cuts and a reduction to its wealth levy to cover 9.5 billion kroner in extra costs from an expected inflow of about 33,000 refugees next year... Tapping the fund comes at a time when the custodians of the fund, set up to safeguard wealth for future generations, warn that it also faces diminished returns amid record-low interest rates... The government also proposed tightening requirements and benefits for asylum seekers as it sees potential costs of 85 billion kroner over the next six years from the inflow."

Scandinavians Split Over Syrian Influx - The New York Times - "This has put Sweden and Norway on opposite sides of an emerging debate: whether advanced welfare states designed for small and homogeneous societies in the mid-20th century are capable of absorbing large numbers of non-European foreigners. In Sweden, a closely patrolled pro-immigration “consensus” has sustained extraordinarily liberal policies while placing a virtual taboo on questions about the social and economic costs. In Norway, a strong tradition of free speech and efficient administration has produced a hard-nosed approach about which refugees, and how many, to take in. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has calculated that because of all the social, health, housing and welfare benefits mandated by the state, supporting a single refugee in Norway costs $125,000 — enough to support some 26 Syrians in Jordan... This is just the kind of blunt talk that is strictly avoided in Sweden. Take the comments of the incumbent prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, a few weeks before last Sunday’s election. He asked voters to “open their hearts” to Syrian refugees, even though the escalating cost of supporting them would preclude further welfare benefits for Swedes. The comment caused an outcry — not because it seemed to favor refugees over Swedes, but simply for suggesting that refugee policy needed to be considered on economic grounds... “Sweden is very puzzling,” said Grete Brochmann, a leading Norwegian immigration scholar. The Swedes, she said, “are extremely liberal toward immigration, but they have a very authoritarian attitude toward debate about it. In Norway the idea is, open discussion is basically good. If there’s hostility, better to get it out.”"
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