"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Links - 12th December 2016

Spotify is writing massive amounts of junk data to storage drives - "For almost five months—possibly longer—the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users' storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren't uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn't storing any songs locally."

Disturbing legal implications - Brave New World - "what is really disturbing is the fact that a fatwa, which is after all merely an opinion, can carry the weight of law even without going through the legislative process of debate and voting. This in effect means that one person’s words suddenly become akin to a law for we cannot challenge it and if we do we can face a fine and jail. This is frightfully undemocratic and can lead to some horrific scenarios. What if a mufti passes a fatwa saying that any sort of dissension against the civil government is wrong? According to the Federal Territories law, any challenge of fatwa can be punished. What kind of democracy are we living in if a person’s statement by itself can have such authority?"
Malaysia Boleh

China Discovers the Price of Global Power: Soldiers Returning in Caskets - WSJ - "His mother, Yang Bin, asked before he deployed if the work would be dangerous. “China is so powerful, who can bully us Chinese people?” her son replied, she recalled as she sat on a threadbare sofa in her rundown concrete home. “So our minds were set at ease.”... And there was a terrible irony: According to several U.N. officials, Cpl. Li may have been killed by a Chinese-made weapon, the likes of which China has sold to developing countries including South Sudan for years under its export-driven economic policy... Adding to the soul-searching in China, the U.N. investigation also found that Chinese troops abandoned defensive positions at least twice and refused to intervene to stop Western aid workers being raped. China’s foreign ministry called that finding “irresponsible criticism” and urged better protection for peacekeepers."

The equation of dual citizenship - "in the US (which began passing laws tolerating dual citizenship in the 1950s), the numbers show that Latin American immigrants who become dual citizens have greater employment gains and lower welfare use than those who become US citizens but let go of their first citizenship, indicating economic assimilation. In addition, these immigrants give birth to fewer children than their counterparts, possibly indicating cultural assimilation. Moreover, some governments have found ways to directly benefit from dual citizenship. Italy used dual nationality as a way to fight its declining population in the 1990s. The current law grants birthright citizenship to anyone with a parent, a grandfather or a great grandfather who held Italian citizenship"

Baldness Can Be a Powerful Business Advantage -- Study - WSJ - "Men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair... Mr. Landau, now CEO of Drybar, a chain of blow-dry salons, says the bald look "makes me more confident and more strong, which probably makes people respect me more." Plus, in the hair business, he says, "people remember the bald guy.""

What makes a classic RPG? Everything! - "There has been a fantastic array of different role-playing games through the years, and the critical questions of how to build them have never answered. It's clear that there's no one best way to build a classic RPG. It's also clear that this is the most diverse genre in video game history."

'Cinema ninjas' to silence naughty film-goers - "staff at London's Prince Charles cinema - perhaps most famous for hosting occasional singalong screenings of films like The Sound of Music - have come up with the idea of employing "ninjas" to stamp out audience members' bad behaviour during regular screenings. Volunteer Catherine Small is one of the team of unpaid ninjas who dress up in anonymous black body suits and monitor screenings at the cinema."

Prostitution: The hidden cost of Greece's economic crisis - "According to the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), the rate of prostitution in the country has soared by 150 per cent during the economic crisis... Over the past four years, Greece has seen a 200 per cent rise in cases of HIV... Women, jostling for a finite quantity of clients, are forced to charge less and less. And, of course, clients have vastly reduced spending power due to the financial crsis. The result is an average fee of about €15 (£11)."

SO WHAT I’VE DONE WITH TWITTER is just to log out for now. - "Basically, there are two problems with Twitter for me. One is that they don’t support their users — they pretty clearly suspend, ban, etc. using a political double standard even though they claim they don’t. But the other problem with Twitter is that it’s the crystal meth of social media: Addictive, but unsatisfying. I’ve been spending a lot of time on it even though it doesn’t make me any money, and even though I kind of doubt it has much of an impact on anything. As I said a while back: “I think Twitter is overrated. It’s a good way to chatter with the chattering classes, but (1) it doesn’t drive traffic; (2) its impact outside the chattering classes is basically nil; and (3) it encourages people to think they’re being ‘activists’ when they’re really just tweeting to a few hundred people... if I, a tenured professor whose university just admitted that his tweets are protected by the First Amendment, have concerns about this, I have to wonder why anyone whose job is less secure would stay on Twitter.”

UPDATED! In Defense of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, Suspended from Twitter for Suggesting Motorists "Run Down" Charlotte Protesters - "Whatever you think of the tastefulness of his suggestion regarding the protesters in Charlotte, the idea that he is seriously inciting any sort of actual or real threat is risible"

Whoohoo censorship! Free-speech advocate and well-known Conservative @Instapundit suspended on Twitter - "Because you know, it makes more sense to sit in your car and wait for the angry “protesters” to beat you to death and steal your car. Sure... There are accounts literally championing the harm of police officers openly on Twitter, and yet they felt it made more sense to ban the guy telling people to defend themselves."

Hate Speech on Campus | American Civil Liberties Union - "Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted...
Q: I have the impression that the ACLU spends more time and money defending the rights of bigots than supporting the victims of bigotry!!??...
A: Defending First Amendment rights for the enemies of civil liberties and civil rights means defending it for you and me.
Q: Aren't speech codes on college campuses an effective way to combat bias against people of color, women and gays?
A: As one African American educator observed: "I have always felt as a minority person that we have to protect the rights of all because if we infringe on the rights of any persons, we'll be next.""
One day soon the ACLU will be labelled bigots and part of the alt-right

Oregon official who bullied Christian bakery owners loses election - "Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian was defeated by Republican Dennis Richardson in his bid to be Secretary of State. It's the first time a Republican has been elected to a statewide office in Oregon since 2002. So consider this – Avakian was too liberal for what is arguably one of the most liberal states in the country."

Tuberculosis and the Vampire Myth - "When people died from consumption and other members of their household soon sickened as well, it was believed that the dead family member was visiting the house at night as a vampire and slowly sucking their lives away. Because tuberculosis patients were slowly being “consumed” by the disease, it was assumed that vampires were feeding off of their blood. If multiple family members began to fall ill after a consumption death and vampirism was expected, communities took a nontraditional approach to treating the disease, beginning with exhuming the body and removing its heart. If the heart contained “fresh” blood (an effect of decomposition, but believed to be blood the vampire had sucked out of the living), the heart would be burned and the ashes fed to sick family members as a cure, or a stake would be driven through the heart, a practice still associated with vampire myths today."

Why Skin Wrinkles in Water - "The full explanation of how and why our fingers wrinkle in wet environments is still the subject of some debate. What we know is that the physiological mechanisms causing this phenomenon are the result of our veins constricting (vasoconstriction) in your hands and feet. One might notice this occurs even in warm water, when we otherwise would assume blood vessels should dilate instead of constrict. This suggests an evolutionary benefit to wrinkling digits. One such advantaged recently demonstrated by two studies showed that wrinkled fingers provide us with better grip in wet environments... The most damning evidence that osmosis is not the cause of finger wrinkling is that if you cut the sympathetic nerve fibers (those that respond to your fight or flight response) to a person’s fingers, they will no longer wrinkle in water."

Spooning Is a Physical and Ideological Travesty. It Must End Now. - "Big spoons are manly and will take care of you (provided you let them use you to take care of themselves); little spoons are fragile, passive creatures that need to be held and kept safe. This, of course, is fundamentally a sexist arrangement, one that casts the big spoon as “the man” and the little spoon as “the woman.” To say that this power imbalance is built into all acts of spooning—whichever the sexes engaged—is not, I think, an overstatement. Indeed, I would argue that spooning is always already a power play, a perverse strategy by which we nightly enact the unjust relations of “big” and “little” privilege that plague our society on every level."
"Thanks to political correctness and social justice types who are offended by just about everything, I cannot tell if the author means this piece to be satirical, or if he really is a hypersensitive wet blanket who takes spooning way too seriously. I suggest some forking to help him mellow out."

2 homeless men from Saskatchewan given one-way bus tickets to B.C. - "two young First Nations men were each given one-way bus tickets from North Battleford to Vancouver and Victoria. They told the newspaper they were denied provincial funding to stay overnight at the North Battleford Lighthouse homeless shelter and that is when the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services paid for the two bus tickets. Charles Neil-Curly, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, arrived at Vancouver’s bus station on Wednesday afternoon. Asked if he was happy to be in B.C., Neil-Curly replied: “Yeah, I guess. I don’t have to sleep in a snowbank.”... Governments have offered people help to leave a province before. Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein cut welfare rates in the 1990s and offered one-way bus tickets to B.C. In 1995, the Ontario government offered up to $1,500 in travel expenses to welfare recipients to move to B.C. if they could prove they had roots in the province."

Blog: People in Blue States seek psychiatric help 50% more often than in Red States.

Affirmative Consent Laws: 'State-Mandated Dirty Talk'? - "Writing in the California Law Review, Harvard Law School professors Jeannie Suk and Jacob Gersen note that “Today we have an elaborate and growing federal bureaucratic structure that in effect regulates sex.” This is largely the result of pressure from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work. OCR also has told colleges like the University of Montana and University of New Mexico to classify all “unwelcome” sexual conduct or speech as “sexual harassment.” It did so even though this violates free speech, and even though courts have never defined sexual harassment that broadly. The Obama administration expects colleges to massively meddle in students’ romantic lives, even off campus. It has told colleges to investigate students for sexual harassment or assault even when their allegedly victimized partner does not want any investigation... By pressuring colleges to vastly increase their regulation of students’ sex lives, and demanding investigations students don’t want, the Obama Education Department has fueled vast expansions of college bureaucracies. There are now thousands of staffers responsible for enforcing Title IX sexual conduct mandates... If you expect colleges to police “remarks about physical appearance” made during a relationship with an ex-partner, and treat it as “violence,” you will end up with vastly more investigations (and need a vastly larger and more costly administrative apparatus)... when the co-sponsor of California’s 2014 “affirmative consent” law was asked how an innocent person could prove “affirmative” consent, she said, “Your guess is as good as mine.” Yet California state legislators expect colleges to enforce such rules for them (a number of colleges are now being sued by expelled students). As Gersen and Suk note, very little actual consent qualifies as “affirmative consent” under the extremely narrow definition of “consent” contained in many campus “affirmative consent” policies... Even if you liked being kissed, a college may deem it sexual assault if there was no explicit discussion beforehand between you and your partner to establish the existence of “affirmative consent”... Professors Suk and Gersen (and others) have argued that requiring students to do this sort of thing raises serious constitutional privacy issues under Supreme Court decisions like Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down Texas’s sodomy law as a violation of privacy rights"

American Law Institute rejects affirmative consent standard in defining sexual assault - "A group of 120 members wrote a public letter denouncing the proposal, arguing affirmative consent improperly shifts the burden of proof onto the accused when charges of sexual assault are levied. By forcing the accused to prove the near-impossible — that a sexual encounter was vocally agreed upon at each stage — affirmative consent standards deny the accused due process rights, the letter said.
The American Law Institute is presumably made up of rapists, since they reject Affirmative Consent

State-mandated dirty talk in California: Governor signs unconstitutional SB 967 - "There are lots of things in this world that I like, and view as consensual, that I never “agree” to, such as when my daughter suddenly hugs me without asking for permission, or my co-workers surprise me by leaving a snack on my desk. “Agreements” are for dry legal contracts, not warm, spontaneous human interactions. But now, you have to reach on “agreement” on everything, which could lead to some very uncomfortable conversations in the bedroom... Such explicit discussion can be more discomfiting even than an unwanted touching. One of my female relatives experienced sexual abuse as a minor, and is especially uncomfortable with graphic sexual talk in the bedroom as a result... Such “state-mandated dirty talk” should also be recognized as violating the First Amendment freedom from compelled speech, recognized in the Supreme Court’s 1977 Wooley v. Maynard decision. SB 967 could also lead to violations of the Fourteenth Amendment ban on sexual harassment by state governments, recognized in federal appeals court rulings like Bator v. State of Hawaii and Hayut v. State University of New York, which forbid the government, and state officials, from creating a sexually hostile environment. It could create a sexually-hostile educational environment for both men and women. It could do so for men, judging from the admissions of its supporters like Ezra Klein, by “creating a haze of fear and confusion” and “cold spike of fear” for men... Such sexual harassment and intimidation violate the civil rights laws — even when the victims are male"

Researchers say many students still struggle with affirmative consent - "Research by two California scholars, however, suggests that students’ understanding of consent is not in line with the new policies and laws. Instead, students often obtain sexual permission through a variety of verbal and nonverbal cues, both nuanced and overt, that do not always meet a strict definition of affirmative consent... many affirmative consent policies treat students as though they have “just hatched out of an egg,” rather than arriving on a campus with 18 years of socialization about sexuality and consent. A policy that assumes students are overtly asking someone to have sex with them is one that may privilege students who are extroverts, for example, while not providing a framework for introverted students who are less likely to talk openly about any issue, consent or otherwise. More broadly, the researchers said, students are taught from a young age that sex is not something meant to be talked about."
Even college students don't do affirmative consent, unsurprisingly enough
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