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Friday, July 14, 2017

Links - 14th July 2017 (1)

Emmanuel Macron's Africa 'civilizational' statement was racist - "At a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, on July 8 he was asked about a “Marshall Plan for Africa.” The president gave a disquisition on Africa’s “real” problems – among them, in his view, demographics. The continent’s true challenge was “civilizational,” including failed states, shaky democracies, trafficking, extremism, and population growth. Later in his reply—the effect was compounded in a spliced video that circulated widely—he pointed again to demographics. Where there are “7 or 8 children per woman,” he said, spending billions is pointless."
The only people who are kept poor with high fertility rates are, apparently, white rednecks

Demographics and Poverty | Center For Global Development - "we see across all developing countries over time a strong inverse relationship between fertility and per capita income, and fertility and life expectancy - two very common indicators of well-being. There is also a clear connection between high fertility and poverty and the formation of a trap in which low incomes may exacerbate high fertility rates and vice versa."

Otto Fong - Yesterday, the true impact of the rule against... - "some gay people cannot even be with their foreign partners to peacefully protest."
"[He] admits that pinkdot is NOT a campaign or a celebration but a protest!"

Yes to Coffee and Wine: Rewriting the Rules of Pregnancy - WSJ - "medical care during pregnancy seemed to be one long list of rules. Being pregnant was a good deal like being a child again. There was always someone telling me what to do, but the recommendations from books and medical associations were vague and sometimes contradictory. It started right away. "You can only have two cups of coffee a day." I wondered why. What did the numbers say about how risky one, two or three cups were? This wasn't discussed anywhere. The key to good decision making is evaluating the available information—the data—and combining it with your own estimates of pluses and minuses. As an economist, I do this every day. It turns out, however, that this kind of training isn't really done much in medical schools... The key problem lies in separating correlation from causation... avoiding sliced ham would lower my risk of listeria from 1 in 8,333 to 1 in 8,255. I just didn't think it was worth it. It would have made more sense to avoid cantaloupe"

What ‘La La Land’ and ‘Fifty Shades’ Get Wrong About Love - WSJ - "Despite their self-consciously naughty accouterments, the “Fifty Shades” movies are actually a steamy variant of a very old fantasy: the idea that the love of a good woman—and in this case, her submission to degrading sexual practices to save her beloved from his tortured past—can transform a cold man into a warm one... I have been troubled to discover how many young women, including patients of mine and their contemporaries, accept the premises of movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey” and consider behavior that is perverse and degrading as liberated, and not just in fantasy"

So You’re Not Desirable ... - - "even if Neil is a 6 on average, certain women may vary in their impressions of him. Amanda fails to be charmed by his obscure literary references and thinks he is a 3. Yet Eileen thinks he is a 9; she finds his allusions captivating"

No Kids for Me, Thanks - The New York Times - "The news media periodically trot out articles about how parents are unhappier than their childless counterparts... other research followed that has, if not debunked claims of the misery of parenting, then at least made them more nuanced. A study last year from the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business found that “parents’ happiness increases over time relative to non-parents.” Another 2014 paper, from the London School of Economics and the University of Western Ontario, determined that the first two children boost short-term happiness (which later returns to pre-birth levels), but not a third."

Eat Up. You’ll Be Happier. - - "[On dog penis] “It tasted exactly like tripe — intestine,” my father-in-law recalls. “You’re always supposed to say, ‘like chicken,’ but it didn’t taste at all like chicken.” Anthropologists are at the extreme end of what used to be a universal rule of hospitality: When a host offers you food, you eat it. It’s a show of trust, and a sign of belonging. Refuse his meal and you’re effectively rejecting him. But as anyone who has recently tried to host a birthday party or a dinner in the English-speaking world knows, this rule no longer matters. Forget about dog penis; try offering visitors lasagna (it’s not vegan, not gluten-free, and it couldn’t have been cooked by a caveman)... even anthropologists aren’t exempt: An Australian colleague said she had asked her Aboriginal subjects to accommodate her gluten-free diet, followed by choice, not by medical necessity... 68 percent of French adults said they force themselves to eat some of everything when they’re invited to someone’s house. A Parisian academic told me she became incensed when an American dinner guest requested a vegetarian meal. “Although she was extremely friendly and pleasant — never again!"... The overarching conventional wisdom — what everyone from government experts to my French girlfriends take as articles of faith — is that restrictive diets generally don’t make you healthier or slimmer. Instead, it’s best to eat a variety of high-quality foods in moderation and pay attention to whether you’re hungry. In “Selective Eating,” Jean-Denis Vigne, of France’s National Museum of Natural History, concludes that the Paleolithic diet is “more inspired by the myth of the noble savage than by the realities revealed by science,” and that humans are adaptable omnivores. Choosy eating interferes with another key aspect of French mealtimes: the shared experience of food... Americans often described eating as part of an individual journey of self-discovery, in which each person tries to “find out over time and experience what my true nutritional self is, and satisfy it."

A Formula for Happiness - - "After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values... we inherit a surprising proportion of our happiness at any given moment — around 48 percent... while one-off events do govern a fair amount of our happiness, each event’s impact proves remarkably short-lived. People assume that major changes like moving to California or getting a big raise will make them permanently better off. They won’t... choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way... relieving poverty brings big happiness, but income, per se, does not. Even after accounting for government transfers that support personal finances, unemployment proves catastrophic for happiness. Abstracted from money, joblessness seems to increase the rates of divorce and suicide, and the severity of disease. And according to the General Social Survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans wouldn’t quit their jobs even if a financial windfall enabled them to live in luxury for the rest of their lives. Those with the least education, the lowest incomes and the least prestigious jobs were actually most likely to say they would keep working, while elites were more likely to say they would take the money and run. We would do well to remember this before scoffing at “dead-end jobs”... Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others... In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success"

Good Lovers Lie - - "When it comes to love, both honesty and deception should be practiced in moderation. Only then can we celebrate the intoxicating illusions of love. Odysseus, Cleopatra, Scheherazade, Don Quixote, Don Juan, Molly Bloom — all of our greatest lovers have been fabulists, equivocators, promoters ... liars"

Belgium Commemorates Waterloo With a Coin, and France Is Not Pleased - - "After it objected to a decision in March by Belgium to introduce a new 2 euro coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the Belgians retreated, scrapping 180,000 coins they had already minted. But victory for France is proving elusive. This week, Belgium decided to circumvent French resistance by invoking a little-known European Union rule that allows countries to issue euro coins of their choice, provided they are in an irregular denomination. That led to the unveiling of a €2.50 coin — a first in Belgium — and 70,000 of them have now been minted. The coins, which can only be spent inside Belgium, display a monument of a lion atop a cone-shaped hill on the site of France’s humiliation, as well as lines indicating where troops were positioned when forces led by Britain and Prussia defeated Napoleon in the countryside near Brussels."

Giving Doctors Grades - The New York Times - "the report cards backfired. They often penalized surgeons, like the senior surgeon at my hospital, who were aggressive about treating very sick patients and thus incurred higher mortality rates. When the statistics were publicized, some talented surgeons with higher-than-expected mortality statistics lost their operating privileges, while others, whose risk aversion had earned them lower-than-predicted rates, used the report cards to promote their services in advertisements... The best surgeons tend to operate at teaching hospitals, where the patients are the most challenging, but you wouldn’t know it from mortality statistics. It’s like high school students’ being penalized for taking Advanced Placement courses... Ironically, there is little evidence that the public — as opposed to state agencies and hospitals — pays much attention to surgical report cards anyway. A recent survey found that only 6 percent of patients used such information about hospitals or physicians in making medical decisions."

No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day - - "Many people believe that the source of this myth was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. But they ignored the sentence that followed closely behind. It read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”"

Gay Rights and the Race Analogy - - "Suppose I’m a photographer who can’t stand children. You want me to take pictures at your child’s birthday party — there will be games and clowns and other things I find annoying — and I decline... When civil rights laws were passed, discrimination against blacks was pervasive, state-sponsored and socially intractable. Pervasive, meaning that there weren’t scores of other photographers clamoring for their business. State-sponsored, meaning that segregation was not merely permitted but in fact legally enforced, even in basic public accommodations and services. Socially intractable, meaning that without higher-level legal intervention, the situation was unlikely to improve. To treat the lesbian couple’s situation as identical — and thus as obviously deserving of the same legal remedy — is to minimize our racist past and exaggerate L.G.B.T.-rights opponents’ current strength... There’s a big difference between private business owners and public employees, such as city clerks’ issuing marriage licenses (including the Kentucky clerk whose case has been in the news this past week). There are differences between various kinds of providers: an independent artistic photographer, for example, versus a mall portrait-studio employee whose job is to line people up and press a button (“Say cheese!”). And there’s a difference between being denied a portrait or a cake and being denied, say, an apartment or a job... How pervasive or intractable does discrimination need to be before we should invoke the long arm of the law to solve it? I don’t have a simple formula for answering that question. I’m wary of those who do."
A call for subtlety in claims that all forms of discrimination are wrong

All This Impeachment Talk Is Pure Trump Derangement Syndrome - "The impeachment of Bill Clinton was one of the major mileposts in the long, ongoing shift of America from a high-trust to a low-trust country, one in which faith, trust, and confidence in most of our major public, private, and civic institutions have taken a massive beating for decades now... Low-trust countries don't actually shrink the size, scope, and spending of government. Perversely, citizens call for "government regulation, fully recognizing that such regulation leads to corruption."

‘Lie of the Year’ Winner Barack Obama Admonishes Congress to ‘Speak the Truth’ About Obamacare - "Obama's rhetoric has always been ready to champion the notion of "going high," while making sure to land some low blows along the way... Obama's purported high road is even less convincing when he complains that Obamacare "was easily subject to misinformation and fearmongering." More on that, from the winner of Politifact's 2013 "Lie of the Year": [that 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it']... I would find Barack Obama more believable about speaking truth to power if he volunteered more than just a stammering semi-acknowledgment of the whole "you can keep your doctor" whopper, and then went on to cover the sundry other Obamacare dishonesties, from gaming the Congressional Budget Office within an inch of its life, to claiming that increased preventative care would save money, to serially misportraying the Affordable Care Act as a victory over "special interests." And we will probably wait in vain for specific declamations of fearmongering from his own side. But I suppose hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, etc."

Crazy Rich Asians filming in Malaysia - "the family home of the lead character, Nick Young, is palatial and we couldn't find such a place in Singapore"

The story behind the famous Adam Road nasi lemak - "It was Mr Hassan Abdul Kadir's wish to involve his brood in the business, and he was banking on his eldest son to rally everybody together. As he could not bring himself to let his father down, Mr Abdul Malik agreed - but he wanted carte blanche to run the business... The engineering graduate introduced processes including proper book-keeping, paid his staff CPF and put in place a roster to make more effective use of manpower. Then came little tweaks to the recipes; such as substituting Thai rice with basmati rice for a better texture and improving the batter and marinade for the fried chicken."
Isn't it illegal to not pay CPF?

From pizza by the slice to Adam Road nasi lemak - "Besides Pezzo, the group also has a restaurant chain, Miam Miam, which serves food inspired by French and Japanese cuisine. "We have been quite popular actually, in fact we are opening our fourth store by the end of this year," Mr Chiang said. However, the challenges of running a restaurant reaffirmed his decision to focus on growing new concepts in the kiosk space instead. The group rolled out its second concept for kiosks last December, with a new brand, Stuff'd. The stores specialise in Turkish and Mexican food, with items including kebabs and burritos. The company also entered an equal partnership with Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak from Adam Road, to start its latest brand, Crave."
Everything is a chain

20 cents for a massage, 60 cents for instant noodles: Peacehaven nursing home residents 'earn' and 'spend' on activities - "they came up with an incentivising model of care where the 120 nursing home residents and 40 daycare residents there have to "earn" money before they can "spend" it on activities they enjoy... "After people are admitted into an institution, they lose their usual way of living. "When they lose their autonomy, they can become disinterested in beneficial activities and their health and social life deteriorate." He added: "That is why we want to replicate what is available outside - whether massage or minimart - so that they can continue to enjoy these normal activities which they were once familiar with, but within a nursing home." True enough, the "hair salon" that Madam Ng chose to go to looked like it came from the pages of a 1980s magazine. Posters of the perfectly coiffed hair of actresses Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor hung on the walls, next to huge mirrors... "Residents no longer need to be chased from their rooms to do the group exercise, now they just all turn up at 8.30am sharp""

Man jailed for sex with 15-year-old girl - "In January last year, she missed her period. She told Nur Shafiq she suspected she was pregnant, but he said she was just "late", and they continued to have unprotected sex. Feeling unsettled, she took a pregnancy test in early February, which confirmed her pregnancy. Nur Shafiq did not believe her even then and even after another test confirmed the result. He continued to have sex with her."

Legal eagles who left law for other careers - "In 2014, in his speech to mark the opening of the legal year as thenpresident of the Law Society of Singapore, Mr Lok Vi Ming says that by the first decade of practice, three out of four lawyers here would have opted to leave."

From The Straits Times archives: My wedding dress cost just $399 - "After encountering a series of pushy and overly affectionate saleswomen who demanded that we sign up with them on the spot for ridiculous deposits and no assurances and for items I didn’t need, we staggered out of the bridal fair, gasping for air. Note: Touching my arm repeatedly and calling me “dear” do not make me your friend. D. shook her head: “They’re banking on your insecurity and panic. Everyone down there is a first-time bride, and they’re feeding them ideas about what a perfect wedding should be like.” I called my partner and told him: “I am never going to another bridal fair. It’s a meat market that preys on your anxiety.” In planning our wedding, my partner and I have been shocked to find out how much of a “typical” wedding here is wedded to stereotypes, rather than sincere symbolism... I went for one bridal fair – just one – and the terrifying hyper-commercialism of what the wedding industry had become was enough to make me not want to have a wedding at all... While a wedding can be a wonderful, heartfelt occasion brimming with memorable moments, it lasts for a day, and a marriage goes on for a lifetime."
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