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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Links - 13th August 2017 (2)

2111 Financing War | The History Network - "The Austrian government also wanted to tap into the financial resources of its nation's children so they released a child bond which was openly promoted through campaigns in schools. The initiative was immensely successful, enlisting funds and encouraging loyalty to the state in its future Austro-Hungarian youth."

2202 Clausewitz and Friction | The History Network - "'He sort of states the obvious'
'It's always something that bothered me with ancient military theory books. That there's a whole series of them in the Greek and Roman tradition that most people have never heard of or read. And if they've heard of them or read them they're not on the most popular reading book. But when you compare them to the Chinese tradition of Sun Tzu, and everyone reads those but again they are common sense. You know when the enemy retreats, advance. When the enemy advances, retreat. When the enemy stops, attack. Like okay in the Eastern tradition there's that weird sense that there's something deeper in that and you nod your head and sagely go wow yeah. Whereas if a westerner in the ancient world says that it's like well duh'...
'You got that guy famously this, I think the civil servant during the Falklands War who purposefully delivered everything in a flat boring monotone way for the simple fact that then it was not soundbyetable, it was very difficult to interpret. It is not meant to be remembered. As opposed to you know: 'war is not an independent phenomenon but a continuation of politics by different means' which is hugely memorable'...
'When the Roman legion fought the Greek phalanx, the Roman legionaries didn't understand that when, when a pikeman put his pike directly vertically into the air, he was surrendering. But they hadn't fought pikemen before so therefore they stabbed them all'

Why should we learn about Medieval Warfare? - Episode 1 of the Medieval Warfare Podcast - Karwansaray Publishers Blog - "It is so appealing. It, visually appealing. It's exciting. We all grew up as Dan said earlier you know playing with the castle legos you know all that stuff hell yeah. Watching game thrones which is totally awesome and the Battle of Bastards was cool. That stuff appeals to us popularly, appeals to us individually and so it becomes such a useful medium to kind of turn, you know they're already interested in this, they're engaged in it. Very easy to turn them from that into okay now let's grapple with this stuff in a more historical way. That would be much harder for instance than saying you know what let's talk about what a medieval table actually really looked like. Let's talk about that, what did a medieval fork look like. You know and let's use that as a way of kind of looking at our assumptions. Nobody's going to care, I'm already bored talking about it. But if instead we talk about a battle in war and yeah there's knights and stuff and arrows and all my gosh and this and a storm of arrows and that actually didn't really ever happen but whatever. You know. We can, it is just so much more appealing that way. And they pay us to do it
I never understood the fashion about looking at how ordinary people lived

2209 The bayonet | The History Network - "If an infantry soldier fires the rifle at an enemy combatant what are the odds he will kill the opponent? The objective answer is: very nearly zero. As records show nearly one hundred thousand rounds are expended in modern times for every enemy to accomplish the kill. At least that is for US forces. Then we might ask what are the odds of a kill if the soldier stabs his opponent with a bayonet? Very nearly the answer would be certainly as the typically stuck soldier has bled out in two minutes max

2210 Burma 1944-45 | The History Network - "The Japanese were not natural born jungle fighters. There are no jungles in Japan. The Japanese had training and experience on their side and nothing more. Events would prove that East African troops were more at home in the jungle and were believed to have greater resistance to certain tropical diseases than their opponents or their European officers

Man convicted of rape after woman's dream acquitted in re-trial - "More than 28 years after his original conviction, Clarence Moses-El is a free man after a Denver court acquitted him on charges of rape... The re-trial sparked after L.C. Jackson, who is serving time for two other rapes, confessed to Moses-El in prison... Initially, when speaking to police, the victim named Jackson as her assailant, but reportedly changed her story after seeing Moses-El's face in a dream"

Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies - "We find strong support for models in which human sacrifice stabilizes social stratification once stratification has arisen, and promotes a shift to strictly inherited class systems. Whilst evolutionary theories of religion have focused on the functionality of prosocial and moral beliefs, our results reveal a darker link between religion and the evolution of modern hierarchical societies"

Davao City village bans gossiping - "the purpose of the ordinance is to help maintain peace and order among families and neighbors "as proven to be spreading lies are fined and required to render community service.""

Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment - "Educational attainment is strongly influenced by social and other environmental factors, but genetic factors are estimated to account for at least 20% of the variation across individuals"
Those who criticise the genetic basis for IQ claim we don't know the genes for IQ. But we don't know those for height either. And yet we have found those linked to educational level

Genetics affects choice of academic subjects as well as achievement - "choosing to do A-levels and the choice of subjects show substantial genetic influence, as does performance after two years studying the chosen subjects"

Deceptive curcumin offers cautionary tale for chemists - "Commonly used drug screens detect whether a chemical latches on to a binding site of a protein implicated in disease — a hint that it may be the starting point for a drug. But some molecules, such as curcumin, seem to show such specific activity when there is none."

Scientists can publish their best work at any age - "the most highly-cited were equally likely to be found at the beginning, middle or end of the sequence... This might seem to conflict with the well-documented finding that big discoveries and high-impact work tend to happen early in a scientist’s career. But there’s no contradiction, because the new work also shows that productivity — the number of papers produced per year — tends to slowly decline over a typical career. A scientist’s chance of securing a ‘greatest hit’ accordingly decreases over time, simply because they have fewer shots at it... the probability that any particular paper will be a hit. This depends on only two factors, they argue: an element of luck, and a certain quality, or Q factor, that measures an individual scientist’s ability to boost the impact of any project... The researchers anticipated that Q would increase over the course of a scientific career, as an individual becomes more experienced. To their surprise, they found that it remains mostly constant. That’s shocking because it seems to imply that Q — the multiplier that makes someone capable of capitalizing on luck to produce a big hit — is a quality that a scientist brings to their work at the outset, and which they cannot easily change thereafter."

Police dog gets new job after being fired for being too friendly - "Gavel, a German shepherd, was not cut out for a life of fighting crime because he “did not display the necessary aptitude for a life on the front line.”... Gavel apparently was too sociable and loved greeting strangers. However, what he lacked in crime-fighting ability also happened to make him a perfect companion for the governor of Queensland, Paul de Jersey AC."

Lord Buckethead, Elmo and Mr Fishfinger: a very British election - "Among those to have raised the most eyebrows is Lord Buckethead, who appeared alongside Theresa May on the podium as results were read out for the Maidenhead constituency. Buckethead, a self-described “intergalactic space lord” whose real name is unknown, won 249 votes in the Berkshire contest. It is not the first time Buckethead has stood against a prime minister – a candidate with the same name took on Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and lost with just 131 votes. He also stood against John Major in 1992... While most British people are used to a varied range of candidates, mostly due to the advent of the oddball Monster Raving Loony party, election watchers from further afield were fascinated... Underlining the British penchant for unorthodox candidates, Buckethead was joined in the Maidenhead vote by Elmo, who got three votes, and Howling “Laud” Hope of the Monster Raving Loony Party (119 votes)... the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, had to contend with a slippery rival in Cumbria’s Westmorland and Lonsdale. Farron held on to his seat with a reduced majority of 777. Adding insult to injury, he was upstaged during his victory speech by Mr Fishfinger, a man dressed as a piece of frozen food. Fishfinger, who changed his name by deed poll to take part in the election, decided to run after an informal Twitter poll found users would rather be led by a fish finger than Farron. He got 309 votes"

The Greek word that can’t be translated - "‘Love of honour’, its official translation, is a utilitarian yet insufficient attempt to convey the constellation of virtues squeezed into the word’s four syllables."

Why Disney princesses and ‘princess culture’ are bad for girls - The Washington Post - "1. The more the girls in the study engaged with princess culture, the more they behaved in stereotypically feminine ways.
2. Girls with a lower body image when the study began tended to be more interested in princess culture a year later.
3. There was no evidence that the girls’ engagement with princess culture influenced girls’ behavior for the better. Princesses’ potential as positive, prosocial role models is limited...
engaging with princess culture seemed to have positive effects on boys, counterbalancing some of the stereotypically aggressive messages found in media targeting male children. And it found that viewing princess films did not seem to harm girls’ body image during the one-year time frame researchers tracked. They found that most girls had “very positive” body images at the study’s beginning and conclusion alike. This may come as a relief to parents worried about the idealized, homogeneous and largely unattainable body type of Disney’s princesses... Another confusing finding: The authors found that girls were more stereotypically feminine in their behavior (considered a negative outcome of princess culture) if their parents reported talking about media with them"
This seems to suffer form the classic omitted variable bias problem. Indeed the omitted variables could explain the positive and "confusing" findings

The unexpected way Disney princesses affect little boys - The Washington Post - "Heavy exposure to Disney princess culture correlated with more female-stereotypical behavior in both sexes a year later. Although that created potentially problematic behavior in girls — relegating them to playing with toys in the "girl aisle" — it had a moderating effect on boys, such as making them more helpful with classmates. The study of nearly 200 kids found nearly all of them knew about Disney princesses: 96 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys had consumed some form of princess-centric media. Gender differences opened wide, though, when it came to who actually played with the toys. Sixty-one percent of the girls interacted with the merchandise once per week, compared with 4 percent of the boys... Neither gender showed signs of lower self-esteem or negative body image."
Apparently it's good for boys to be like girls, but not for girls to be like girls. Anyway maybe many of the boys will grow up to be gay, so there's no causal effect of the princesses

Princeton Freshman: They’re Training Us To Hate Each Other - "Princeton has become "disturbingly homogenous" in its political leanings from faculty and students, citing political correctness and walk-outs from non-progressive speakers on campus. In addition, she mentions how professors and students openly referred to Donald Trump supporters as "uneducated bigots" and said anyone who opposed Hillary Clinton is sexist"

The principled, left-wing case against multiculturalism - "he was commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to determine the best methods for increasing political participation among immigrant groups in Europe. Having studied the empirical data, he discovered that the separate-but-equal model of a pluralist, multicultural society was less effective at encouraging political participation among immigrant groups than a more classically liberal approach, whereby immigrants are invited to participate in public life on equal terms, as citizens... the multicultural view of immigrants doesn’t treat them as individuals who have a basic human need for self-determination; rather, ‘the immigrant’ is an abstract type, a species, a race. Thus the racist implications of multiculturalism loom large despite its ostensible anti-racism. The ‘other’ is presented as either inherently fascinating or as a fragile victim. They are not like us. And in this separation of us from them, racism festers, explains Adamson. After all, the idea of diversity rests on the belief that immigrants are different to us, that their difference should be the object of celebration and adulation. Accordingly, the universalism and inclusivity of the civil-rights movement appears to the ardent multiculturalist as an embarrassing form of ‘cultural imperialism’... annihilation of the other is acceptable, so long as the majority responsible for doing so is ethnic. We have to protect ‘their’ difference from us, it seems, but never the ethnic dissident’s individuality or ‘difference’ from their own cultural traditions. Adamson cites the example of Tasleem Begum from Bradford, who, after leaving her husband (from a forced marriage), was shot in the head by her brother-in-law. The brother-in-law’s sentence was commuted from murder to manslaughter on the grounds of ‘provocation’, stemming from the shame Begum had brought on her husband’s family’s honour."

Princeton Essay on "Check Your Privilege" Raises Legitimate Gripes - "All this has prompted something of an anti-anti-privilege backlash. You'll find no better example of that than Princeton freshman Tal Fortgang's diatribe in The Princeton Tory last month, "Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege."... In liberal spheres of debate—spheres that, as a student at an elite college, Fortgang must be familiar with—privilege can be a sort of scarlet letter. Gawker's tournament may have been intended as comedy, but it was not without insight. “Privilege: so sweet to have,” Hamilton Nolan wrote in the introduction. “But even sweeter to not have. Privilege has its benefits, but the lack of privilege confers that sweet, sweet moral superiority.” The bracket makes explicit the competitive nature of the today's debate about privilege. Everyone is checking everyone else's privilege, competing to be the least privileged person present—and, thus, the most authoritative on the subject of privilege. Privilege is stigmatized; hardship—or assumed hardship—becomes a badge of honor. Take, for example, the biographies of the students who run the popular tumblr “Check Your Privilege at the Door.” If the blog weren't so self-serious, I'd assume this was parody: “I am mixed race (white and Korean) and a lesbian. I also identify as fat and as an atheist. My privileges include white-passing privilege, cisgender privilege, class privilege and able-bodied privilege. I am an extrovert with low social skills.” Nothing about her personality, interests, or achievements—only where she stood in the Internet equivalent of my high school's sorting exercise. Mixed race: one step back. Fat: one step back. Cisgender: two steps forward. The real problem with the phrase "check your privilege"—aside from the fact that it reduces people to the sum of their characteristics—is that it has become a handicapping device. White male? Then what could you possibly know about racism or sexism? Calling out privilege often isn't intended to make someone consider his advantages in life so much as to dismiss his perspective. But I want to be able to discuss sexism or feminism with men, and I think their opinions are no less worthy or relevant for the fact that they are male. Similarly, anyone should be able to participate in a conversation about racism without being discounted or silenced on account of race."
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