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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Links - 26th April 2017 (2)

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Awkward Questions - "[On Calais] I watched a German reporter at the edge of the camp become hysterical, suddenly screaming: he's got my phone, give me my phone. She raced into the shadows between the tents. The Russian ex-special forces security guard protecting her shouted at her to come back, that it wasn't safe, but she kept running after her iPhone 6 already well in the swift hands of a hooded thief.
That was the 5th time I'd seen something snatched from a journalist or volunteer. I know journalists who bought their own phones back later at the camp's informal night market after haggling with the thief who stole it. It's difficult to ignore the raw and unpalatable facts of Jungle life...
There was affable Asif. A 37 year old Afghan who unlike thousands of others with their dreams of England, had made it to Britain, hated it and stowed away back to Calais...
[On Montenegro] I walk into cafes that make me cough with their rough carcinogens, yet for the ashen faced old men going slowly up in smoke, it's the draft coming in through the door with me that raises them to a flutter of panic about their fragile health. Although Montenegrans' world record levels of smoking makes the context for their Promaja conviction particularly poignant, they are not alone in these beliefs. The Promaja blows across Macedonia and Kosovo where the same word for it is used by both the Albanians and the Serbs. In Croatia it is the Yugo wind to blame for a similarly diverse range of physical and psychological ailments"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Memento Mori - "[In Poland] Like other eminent directors in the former Soviet Bloc, [Andrzej] Wajda found it difficult to adjust to a free market economy where the public clamored for the latest Stallone or Van Damme film... Wajda said he thought that when freedom came, he would be able to make the films which it had previously previously been impossible to get past the censors. I thought that the public was waiting for them, he said. I didn't realise that my audience had long since left the cinema"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, This Mortal Coil - "[On Hong Kong] Surveys show 80% of young people are unhappy with politics while nearly 60% want to emigrate"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Middle class terrorists - "[On Nigeria] An insurance company is telling me to bribe the police in order to get the paperwork to file a claim.. corruption has seeped into every facet of Nigerian life... I have never lived in a country with there is such a shocking lack of trust between people. Where else for example are you expected to pay your rent 2 years upfront regardless of whether you're renting a mansion or a hovel?... Many Nigerians don't criticise official corruption, they actually celebrate it... Nigeria is a patchwork of various ethnicities and different faiths and each group demands that its leaders or politicians should get their fair share of the spoils by any means...
Many civil servants are poorly paid and haven't received their salaries in months because of the current economic downturn"

Does Korea have a problem with hidden cameras? - "The other day I just typed into the search box the word for a very obscure term in music. I'm learning the guitar and I wanted to know what acciaccatura meant. What it doesn't mean is what popped up, namely a very hard-core Korean pornography site - which is odd in a country where pornography is illegal. It illustrates, to my mind, some hypocrisy about sex. Pornography, like prostitution, is illegal, but available. The authorities constantly close down websites only for similar ones to pop up, often with obscure names for those in the know... there's an industry in pornography provided for the web by hidden cameras in ladies' toilets, incredible though that may seem and as unattractive as that may sound.The authorities do try to combat it. There's an official squad in Seoul which searches toilets for hidden cameras... Manufacturers co-operate by installing an audible shutter-click on phone cameras to deter the taking of pictures surreptitiously up skirts. So serious is this problem that the government printed posters of a woman on an escalator with a man behind her taking a low photo. The caption said: "Please cover your skirt"... Korean marketers do think sex sells. Some members of Korean girl bands, for example, are only in their early teens but they exude sexuality in their clothes and the gestures on stage. It's called the "Lolita concept" in the South Korean media. People who complain are accused of prudery. Men are told that they must be perverted to have noticed... Families share small flats, all sleeping in the same room with children, so sexual frustration is not unknown - it's partly why there are so-called Love Hotels where even married couples rent rooms. When I first flew on Korean Air, I was amazed to hear a pre-flight announcement warning that sexual harassment of cabin attendants was contrary to aviation law. It was an attempt to protect the glamorous female staff from the octopus hands of businessmen."
Maybe upskirts/toilet peeping appeal to the East Asian psyche due to sexual repression

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Neither Love Nor Money - "She boasts that she is one of the most trusted and prolific cutters or soways as they are called in Sierra Leone, in all of Freetown.
It's a great and ancient tradition, she insists. We don't hurt girls, I would never hurt them. And it's not just about circumcising them she says. We teach them how to be wives. How to cook and clean. We have big parties for the initiations she explains where we dance and sing and feel good."

BBC World Service - The Documentary, 'Stealing Innocence' in Malawi - "It's an honorific title given to a man at the centre of an ancient ritual. In legend, the hyena is a thief. A scavenger who steals under cover of darkness. In human form, he's a man who's provided with prey by the village itself. In this region he performs so-called cleansing. Widows, it seems, are required to have sex with him before they can bury their husbands. And most startling of all, so must teenage girls before any of them can pass into adolescence. It's the final chapter of a girl's initiation...
I think he knows what he does is shocking to people like me, but there's still a clear note of pride when he describes his work.
'When the girl is coming, she's escorted by the parents who bring in food. When I finish eating, she lies there. I take my time of course, and when I know my time has come to have sex, I walk in and have sex... These girls never get scared. Actually they find pleasure in having me as their hyena. They actually are proud and tell other people that know this man is a real man, he knows how to please a woman...
'And yet, having unprotected sex with a strange man - isn't there a risk of disease by doing that?'
'There's no risk for any disease because we choose a man who we know for sure that is HIV-free'
'How do you know?'
'These are the men that we raise in our village. We see what they're doing, if they're indulging in immoral behaviors of not. So we choose a quiet man that seems to be nice and doesn't seem to know a lot of women'...
'Do the girls ever get pregnant as a result of seeing the hyena?'
'No, they cannot get pregnant. You mean sleeping with a man once, a person can get pregnant?'
'Yeah. I do mean that'
'They've never heard anything quite so funny. I later discover that according to local lore, it is totally impossible for one sexual encounter to cause pregnancy...
'We are very devoted Christians'
'And what does the priest say about these traditions?'
'The priest has no right to condemn the practice because he knows this is our culture and just recently we had to bring a hyena for the daughter of the pastor'...
'I never sent my children to see the hyena but he, my parents are the ones who insisting while I was out from the place'...
'Since I was diagnosed and tested HIV positive, I'm now promoting the HIV and AIDS campaign to stop hyenas from sleeping with women, but you know I'm also poor man, I need money, so I still do the rituals here and there'

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, Dordogneshire - "The AR-15 is a semi-automatic machine gun firing high velocity rounds. It's a battlefield weapon used by the US army and causes far more traumatic injuries to its victims than a conventional rifle...
His phone keeps ringing, but he looks at it intently and then often doesn't answer. Why not, I ask him. Extortionists, he says. Hondurans only answer the phone when the call's from a number they recognise. One night as we drive through the city, I gaze out of the window ata long strip of glitzy buildings all lit up with flashy neon. They look like nightclubs. They're not... they're 24 hour funeral parlors...
[On geisha outside Kyoto] We have to keep confidential the conversations we have with clients. So we just say we work in the hospitality industry... Geisha can't marry or their career is over... She says it's true she cannot marry, but she can make boyfriend. And they can go on being geisha as long as they are able. There's no retirement age. The owner of this bar has been an active geisha for over half a century...
Westerners sometimes confuse geisha with high class prostitutes, which they are not. So I ask if clients ever misbehave.
'Some Japanese men do not remove their shoes, which is very rude' says Ichna. And their rare Western visitors?
'They want to touch our wigs' says disapprovingly. The geishas' wigs are made, she explains, of human hair from China or Tibet, because Japanese hair is too soft"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, The Brexit Wind Tunnel - "People in Britain often tell me that Europeans don't like us... wherever I travel in Eastern Europe, people tell me how much they love the British for our idiosyncrasies, our awkwardness, our stubborn pints and unconvertible inches. We're respected for keeping our own currency and resisting the faceless Euro. Our diplomats are admired for helping other nations end their wars and our soldiers for doing the job they were given, then going home...
Indians in general rarely follow international news with more than a cursory glance at the headlines... as the UK referendum results started coming in, it became clear that many here were riveted...
[On Russia] The doping ban is 100% politics, he tells me, claiming Russia has been unfairly singled out for punishment. It's the World Anti-Doping Agency which should be disqualified, he says. Put all their functionaries in jail...
They target sport because they know our President is such a sports fan. I hear similar views in a Moscow bar when I chat to football fans about Russian hooligans...
President Putin even blamed the West for World War II, claiming some Western leaders had been too busy trying to restrain and isolate the Soviet Union to take the Nazi threat seriously. Searching for scapegoats may help deflect criticism at home but the one thing it doesn't do is help you make friends abroad"

Why Russians watch TV news they don't trust - "88% of Russians said that TV news was one of their main sources of information. But here's a funny thing - at the same time 31% of respondents said they thought they were being completely misled by the information provided. That means that about one in five Russians choose to watch the news on TV, while at the same time believing that news to be a lie. How to account for that?... "We in Russia could use postmodernity in order to explain to the West that if any truth is relative, then we have our special Russian truth that you need to accept." Mr Dugin's contorted Orwellian logic is influential in Kremlin circles, though not necessarily among the masses. Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist, gave me a different interpretation. "People are not looking for news as such," she said. "They are looking to decipher a system of signals - who is on air today and who was yesterday, what is the intonation, the choice of words. It is important to understand all this, because it helps you survive if you are dependent on the state." And so, Russians are hyper-attuned to what the state is thinking. Even children."

Secret Hitler | Board Game | BoardGameGeek - "The objective of the liberal team is to pass five liberal policies or assassinate Secret Hitler. The objective of the fascist team is to pass six fascist policies or elect Secret Hitler chancellor after three fascist policies have passed."
Apparently assassination is a justified way for "liberals" to stop "fascists" who are following the constitutional process

Why do Chinese websites look so busy?

Overcooling and overheating buildings emits as much carbon as four million cars - "42 percent of workers report being dissatisfied with the temperature in their offices, with 14 percent being very dissatisfied"

If Britain were a U.S. state, it would be the second-poorest, behind Alabama and before Mississippi - The Washington Post - "Nelson argues that income inequality and racial tension in the United States are more visible because of factors such as “white flight,” which Britain doesn’t have space for, and Americans’ tendency to publicly discuss these issues. “No one beats up America better than Americans,” he wrote. “They openly debate their inequality, conduct rigorous studies about it, argue about economics vs. culture as causes…. And the debate is so fierce that the rest of the world looks on, and joins in lamenting America’s problems. A shame: we’d do better to get a little angrier at our own.”"

What is the economic cost of terrorism? - "In Israel, a nation that is constantly threatened by the fear of violence, experts say that the country’s per-capita GDP would have been 8.6% higher between 1994 and 2003 had there been no violence"

Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time - "One OECD study shows that five years after receiving their degrees, more than 60% of PhDs in Slovakia and more than 45% in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Spain were still on temporary contracts. Many were postdocs. About one-third of Austria’s PhD graduates take jobs unrelated to their degrees. In Germany 13% of all PhD graduates end up in lowly occupations. In the Netherlands the proportion is 21%... The [wage] premium for a PhD is actually smaller than for a master’s degree in engineering and technology, architecture and education. Only in medicine, other sciences, and business and financial studies is it high enough to be worthwhile. Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master’s degree... In one study of British PhD graduates, about a third admitted that they were doing their doctorate partly to go on being a student, or put off job hunting. Nearly half of engineering students admitted to this. Scientists can easily get stipends, and therefore drift into doing a PhD. But there are penalties, as well as benefits, to staying at university. Workers with “surplus schooling” — more education than a job requires — are likely to be less satisfied, less productive and more likely to say they are going to leave their jobs."

The Curious Case Of The Singapore Worker - "SINGAPORE workers are caught between their cubicle and a hard place. They work among the longest hours in the world, and in return, they are described as ''not hungry'' and lacking ''fire in the belly''... Mr Shen suspects that Singapore workers have low productivity rates because of the multiple layers of checks in certain organisations."

Staff physically present but mentally absent in over half of Singapore firms: survey

Economics is making us greedier - "At the very beginning of their freshman year, Israeli college students who planned to study economics rated helpfulness, honesty, loyalty, and responsibility (pdf) as just as important as students who were studying communications, political science, and sociology. But third-year economics students rated these values as significantly less important than first-year economics students... Business economics may be more devastating than other brands. When comparing students in political economics and business economics, economists found that “the willingness to contribute decreases dramatically for business students.” This may be why the late Stanford professor Hal Leavitt lamented that business education distorts students into “critters with lopsided brains, icy hearts, and shrunken souls.”

Ragnar Shaggy-Trousers and Eystein Foul-Fart: the truth behind Viking names

Why the Gold Standard Is the World's Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts - "This policy inflexibility was the major cause of the Great Depression, as governments were forced to tighten policy at the worst possible moment. It's no coincidence that the sooner a country abandoned the gold standard, the sooner it began recovering... There's been 23 times less variance in prices since the Fed started quantitative easing than there was under the gold standard"

The Economics of Discrimination - "In the case of a segregated restaurant in the free market, the penalty now is not on the employer but on the discriminating customers. By hypothesis, the only way the owner evades financial loss from discriminatory practices is if his customers, in turn, are willing to pay higher prices. This means that the bigoted whites in our hypothetical community are paying more for eating out (in whites-only restaurants) than their colorblind neighbors, who are happy to patronize restaurants with black employees and customers. Again, the free market doesn't prohibit people—whether as employers or consumers—from acting on their prejudices, but it does make them pay for it"
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