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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Links - 20th June 2017 (1)

What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel - "the construction of 100 apartments in a Jewish settlement is always news; the smuggling of 100 rockets into Gaza by Hamas is, with rare exceptions, not news at all... a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry. I don’t mean a critical approach to Israeli policies or to the ham-fisted government currently in charge in this country, but a belief that to some extent the Jews of Israel are a symbol of the world’s ills, particularly those connected to nationalism, militarism, colonialism, and racism—an idea quickly becoming one of the central elements of the “progressive” Western zeitgeist, spreading from the European left to American college campuses and intellectuals, including journalists... You can claim to be speaking truth to power, having selected the only “power” in the area that poses no threat to your safety... [AP's] editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel’s fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless... For the international press, the uglier characteristics of Palestinian politics and society are mostly untouchable because they would disrupt the Israel story, which is a story of Jewish moral failure... The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)"
On media bias against Israel

The Grand Budapest Hotel's Humane Comedy About Tragedy - "Talking about the most serious subjects with the help of comedy is a long European tradition running from Aristophanes to Voltaire to Jonathan Swift to Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, whose works were a principal influence of the film. That tradition was particularly strong in the real-life Zubrowka, Czechoslovakia, where Jaroslav Hasek’s The Good Soldier Schweik sent up militarism, Franz Kafka’s novels and stories mocked bureaucracy, and Havel’s comic plays helped bring down Communism. These artists recognized that profound issues deserve to be looked at through every single human lens, and no issue is perhaps more profound than the Holocaust, its causes and consequences"

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas - NYTimes.com - "the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer... a safe-space mentality has begun infiltrating classrooms, he said, making both professors and students loath to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. “I don’t see how you can have a therapeutic space that’s also an intellectual space,” he said... the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for causing students and faculty to be “hurt” when she failed to object to a racial epithet uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York. The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.” “It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,” Ms. Kaminer said in an email... Now students’ needs are anticipated by a small army of service professionals — mental health counselors, student-life deans and the like. This new bureaucracy may be exacerbating students’ “self-infantilization"... why are students so eager to self-infantilize? Their parents should probably share the blame"

Red Meat Is Not the Enemy - NYTimes.com - "A meta-analysis examining eight trials found that beef versus poultry and fish consumption didn’t change cholesterol or triglyceride levels significantly."

For Poor Countries, China Is No Model - WSJ - "the Chinese model isn't as viable as its admirers in the emerging world often think. First, unlike many emerging markets, China's growth has been driven largely by exports. Its success has been dependent on the free markets of the West. Most other emerging-market economies are based on agricultural commodities—just the sort of produce that the U.S. and Europe undercut with their own domestic subsidies. Second, an economic system with the state at its heart is inefficient because it dislocates markets. When the government is the ultimate economic arbiter, assets are inevitably mispriced, which hinders sustained, longer-term growth. It also creates imbalances between supply and demand, which can spark inflation and distort interest rates. Finally, policies that mimic China may yield a short-term burst in employment, but they also produce serious negative externalities and economic dead weight. China itself is now grappling with massive debt woes in its financial sector, a property bubble that could burst at any time and pollution that slows growth"

When I Questioned the History of Muhammad - WSJ - "Might the Arab conquerors not actually have been Muslim at all? Did the Quran, the supposed corpus of Muhammad’s revelations, in fact derive from a whole multiplicity of pre-existing sources? Was it possible that Muhammad himself, rather than coming from Mecca, had lived far to the north, in the deserts beyond Roman Palestine? The answer to all these questions, I gradually came to conclude, was yes... Two weeks later, I was still fielding death threats from Muslims convinced that the only plausible explanation for my having made the film was that I was in the pay of Mossad or the CIA or both. The most chilling moment of all came when Press TV, a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, aired a documentary leveling pretty much that accusation. It was the one time that I seriously imagined I might end up as the new Salman Rushdie"

The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood - "According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Terror in Turkey - but the president is riding high - "Turkish officials accused America of abetting the failed coup last summer. When the Russian ambassador was assassinated last month, the predominantly pro-government press said the US was behind that attack as well and after the Reina nightclub attack again the fingers were pointed at the United States. For instance one headline read: America chief suspect and more and more fingers are pointing to an involvement of the CIA for instance and there are millions of people across Turkey who sincerely believe that this could actually be happening"

Is the American Dream Really Dead? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "“What fraction of the kids born to low-income families actually make it to the top of the income distribution? How much intergenerational mobility is there in America?”... you’re twice as likely to realize the American dream of moving up if you’re growing up in Canada rather than the U.S... Within America, there are actually a number of places that truly are lands of opportunity, places where kids achieve the American Dream at high rates. In some places, like in Salt Lake City, Utah, or in the Bay Area, something like 13 percent of kids are making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth. Turns out in the center of the country, like in Iowa, for example, in many areas of Iowa you see more than 15 or 16 percent of kids making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth. So higher than the numbers we see in the data for Canada and for Scandinavian countries. But at the other end of the spectrum, you take places like Atlanta, Georgia; or Charlotte, North Carolina; or much of the southeast of the U.S., and you have rates of upward mobility below four-and-a-half percent. Lower than any country for which we currently have data...
CHETTY: Social capital is notoriously difficult to measure. And Bob had the creative idea of using the number of bowling alleys in an area, and in particular whether people are bowling alone, as a proxy for social capital... So I was amazed to find, I remember actually discussing this with Bob in his office at Harvard, that the number of bowling alleys is actually very highly correlated with the rates of upward mobility in our own data."

Did China Eat America’s Jobs? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "we estimate that as much as 40 percent of the drop in U.S. manufacturing between 2000 and 2007 is attributable to the trade shock that occurred in that period, which is really following China’s ascension to the WTO in 2001... Many economists had suspected that greater competition with China would create incentives for American companies to invest more in research and development and become more innovative. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, Autor and his colleagues found, Chinese competition has lowered profit margins for American manufacturers, leaving less money for R&D and resulting in less innovation... I think the other thing that we have to recognize, and that economists have tended not to emphasize is that jobs aren’t purely income. They are part of identity. They structure people’s lives. They give them a purpose and a social community and a sense of relevance in the world. And I think that is a lot of the frustration that we see in manufacturing-intensive areas...
One thing is I would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a federal wage subsidy for people with low incomes. It’s a really generous and effective program but it is targeted at adults with dependent children, primarily women. So if you’re a mother with two dependent children you can get up to $6,000 a year in EITC support, up to a household income of about $40,000. So it raises incomes and it also causes people to participate more in the labor market. It makes low-paid work better paying, effectively. But if you’re a man without dependent children you can get about $400 a year total from the EITC, not $6,000 – $400 a year. And many of the men that are you know struggling for employment, in fact many of them do have children. They just can’t claim them as dependents. They’re frequently not married to the mothers. So this is a group that is experiencing falling wages
Maybe the sexist structure of the EITC is one reason why men are in trouble

Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "there’s a good possibility, as one environmental economist puts it, “that the Endangered Species Act is actually endangering, rather than protecting, species.” Why? Because a species is often declared endangered months or even years before its “critical habitats” are officially designated. This allows time for public hearings – and it also allows time for developers and foresters to rush in and pave over those critical habitats before it’s illegal to do so. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that a law meant to clean up the air from coal pollution … has led to a different kind of coal pollution... One tool that industry groups use to challenge academic work they find unflattering is a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request. In the academic community, Hendryx came to be cited as a prime example of how FOIA can facilitate harrassment"

The Taboo Trifecta - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUBNER: It just strikes me that some of the pieces that I’ve read about you by capital F feminists, they seem to feel that you’re not in the camp, in the feminism camp the way they want you to be. I don’t understand what they think you’re doing wrong. Is there something incompatible with commercial success and feminism for instance, or is that entrepreneurial-ism? Is it a weird form of misogyny that they’re exercising? I’m just curious to know what that is.
AGRAWAL: Yeah, it’s a fake feminism. It’s like people who wear the feminist sweater loud and proud and they’re actually not real feminists. They just pretend to be or they want to be part of a club, like you want to wear the cross around your neck and be part of church. You know what I mean? And the minute that someone doesn’t espouse the same God that you espouse in exact same way that you pray to that God then they will be judging you. I have zero tolerance for that."
No true feminist puts sugar in her porridge

Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a Kid Can Learn Price Theory - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "LEVITT: The danger of setting a price too low of course is that too many people want to consume the good. If it’s a kind of good where someone takes it and walks out of the store, then you’ll find that the shelves are empty. In the case where it’s not something we actually take out of the store but instead something you experience then what you end up having are long lines of people, all of whom want access to that same good but only a few of whom can actually consume the good."

Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 - Album on Imgur

Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite) Cosplay vs. Game : gaming

Macaco Tião - Wikipedia - "Tião became a celebrity in Brazil, when in 1988, a magazine, Casseta Popular, jokingly created his extra official candidature for mayor as a protest in defence of null voting. At the time, voting was written on papers instead of registered using voting machines. It is estimated that more than 400,000 ballots were cast for him, and he reached third place in an election with 12 candidates. Because of that, he is now on the Guinness World Records as the most voted chimpanzee in the world"

How Comfortable Would You Be Having a Roommate With Opposing Political Views to Your Own?
This result from the Dartmouth Politics Survey is interesting, as it shows that Republicans there are the most comfortable with political diversity (69%) - way above Democrats (39%) and even Independents (61%). And this on a campus where they are in the minority (and thus according to liberal logic would presumably need a "safe space"

The Davy Crockett Tac-Nuke: King of the Wild Cold War Frontier - "There was a time when the U.S. Army foresaw the need to launch more than 400 nuclear weapons in a single day should Soviet Russia attempt to invade Western Europe at the height of the Cold War. It was with this doomsday scenario in mind that army researchers developed a recoilless, truck-mounted rifle capable of lobbing nuclear-tipped munitions at the incoming Red Wave... The 120mm "light" iteration had a maximum range of 1.25 miles, the 155mm heavy version flew 2.5 miles. Both versions offered a minimum downfield range of just 1,000 yards—not nearly far enough to offer even modest protection from the ensuing nuclear holocaust"

Early Retirement, Early Death? - "A study of Shell Oil employees shows that people who retire at age 55 and live to be at least 65 die sooner than people who retire at 65. After age 65, the early retirees have a 37% higher risk of death than counterparts that retired at 65. That's not all. People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retire at 65."
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