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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, August 04, 2017

Links - 4th August 2017 (2)

Music | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "'I play an unusual musical instrument... what common household object wound up being an instrument in liturgical music in the nineteenth century... I'm very fortunate and very careful with my saw. But also the saw that I play today has no teeth thanks to the New York city police. They gave me a ticket saying that the teeth are a weapon and therefore I cannot play in a public space... the amount of metal in the teeth is so small that fortunately it makes no difference for the sound... the discovery that a handsaw can make music was made by lumberjacks perhaps as might be expected. But what is less expected is the turn that the musical saw took about one hundred years later from being a folk instrument to being what one might call a liturgical instrument because it was adopted by priests and missionaries to aid in their work... [In the second half of the 18th century and the early 19th century] musical instruments were an uncommon luxury but hand saws were essential because they needed to build the church as their destination... It is angelic, spiritual, mesmerizing. It is the closest sound to that of the human voice"

Polish leader Beata Szydło rages at European leaders over Manchester terror attack - "“If you cannot see that today terrorist danger is a fact that can hurt every country in Europe and you think that Poland should not defend itself, you are going hand in hand with those who point this weapon against Europe, against all of us. “This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, our tradition. Why am I talking about that? That is a good question because all of us in this room have to answer the question… Do we want politicians that claim that we have to get used to attacks and who describe terrorist attacks as ‘incidents’? “Or do we want strong politicians that can see a danger and fight against it effectively?”"

There's A War On Sugar. Is It Justified? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Robert LUSTIG: We started comparing what sugar did versus what alcohol did, and we realized, you know what, sugar and alcohol do the exact same thing... We started comparing what sugar did versus what alcohol did, and we realized, you know what, sugar and alcohol do the exact same thing, and it makes sense that it should, because after all, where do you get alcohol from? Fermentation of sugar. We were now seeing the diseases of alcohol without the alcohol...
KAHN: we’ve seen, clearly, smoking cessation in a large proportion of the population. And when people stop smoking, that’s usually been associated with weight gain. Psychotropic drugs, smoking cessation, potential infections have been attributed to a rise in obesity...
LUSTIG: We don’t want to turn off our reward system entirely. If we do, we get into trouble. We actually did this. We did this experiment with a medicine back in the early 2000s. That medicine was called Rimonabant . What it was was it was the anti-marijuana medicine. It blocked the endo-cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and by doing so reduced reward for alcohol and for food. In fact, people who took Rimonabant lost a fair amount of weight. It looked very promising. Until we started looking at the Phase 3 data and started realizing that a lot of these people became severely depressed, and many of them committed suicide... if you take away a reward, you take away the reason for living."

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Orthorexia Nervosa: When 'Healthy' Food Becomes Harmful - "It felt like my only hope, so every time that I would go into a search engine and type in how do I get well, how do I get this alternative cure, the diet industry, the lifestyle and health industry just bombarded me. It saturated me with information. And as soon as I discovered on the internet that food might be an answer to a health problem I was having I took it to really extreme measures and I went in the space of eighteen months from being totally indifferent to food to cutting out animal products to cutting out eating cooked food to only eating fruit to only eating organic watermelon and drinking water and I believed that anything else would kill me or give me cancer or heart disease. Somebody with orthorexia, they will change their allegiance with food whenever the next new extreme thing comes along... every day I was chasing a new high. How extreme can I go with food, what can I cut down on today?... you don't need friends because food is your friend... I didn't believe that face to face friends were any good for me... when you're orthorexic you don't take responsibility for things. I didn't think well I messed up. I thought oh I must have eaten too much sugar today and the sugar has caused me to lapse in concentration so I am going to solve this emotional problem with a detox. I literally went to a health food shop, I picked up a detox kit, I went home with my detox kit, I was literally throwing stuff out the fridge. I mean what was in there apart from kale that could have killed me, I don't know...
People want to know who they are and if someone could say I am a raw foods vegan they've now established who they are as a person and their value comes from how well they stick to it... I do hear about this from a lot of countries that one wouldn't automatically connect it to. Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Turkey are countries that have a lot of discussion of orthorexia, which aren't obviously the world's wealthiest countries"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Little Kitchen of Horrors - "The Brothers Grimm tried to make it nice for us. Originally the person who wanted to eat the children wasn't a wicked witch. The story goes like this. There was a terrible famine in Germany and a mother and a father and their two children who lived in a small house one day realized that they were down to their last four slices of bread - one slice for each of them and the mother looked at the children and she looked at the father and she said: what if there were more slices for each person? What if we killed one of the children and ate that child and the father cries and he pleads with her and she says: there's nothing we can do. If we don't eat one of the children we'll starve and our other child will die too. So eventually he agrees. He says ok I see your reasoning so let's kill and eat our child and this they do and the three of them share the meal and they share the remaining bread between them. And then another famine comes and again they're down to their last three slices of bread and the mother looks at the three slices of bread and she looks at the child and she says to her husband there are only three slices of bread. What if there were only the two of us to eat those three slices? What if we killed our other child and ate our other child. Again he begs and he pleads but she says if we don't we'll die ourselves so eventually he says alright you go right ahead and do it. So she kills the only remaining child and they roast and eat that remaining child and they share the remaining bread between them. And they go on living happily in the forest and there it ends. No retribution, it just ends like that... these stories are plainly coping mechanisms for crises so it's not very surprising that we find them cropping up in time of war because war hugely disrupt the food supply and also in times of famine"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Liberte, Egalite, Gastronomie? - "Nicolas Sarkozy, he had a problem during political campaign because everybody knew that he didn't drink, and everybody know that he loves pizza... a French politician is expected to have a considered opinion about their food as president... according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, a third of all tourists visiting France come for the wine and the food, but that reputation according to some has been ebbing away. The Michelin Guide awards more stars to restaurants in Tokyo than Paris...
In Medieval Europe the food people ate was determined by class not geography. 'If you go back to the middle ages you can't talk about national cuisines. You have a kind of western cuisine with nuances, depending on where you are in Italy France or in England but mostly you have the same kind of aristocratic cuisine everywhere. For instance you have a huge place for spices or you mix sugar and salt, sweet dish with salt as well so you have the same features for every cuisine everywhere. With some nuances as I said, like for instance English and Italian preferred maybe to have more sweet in the addition more than French people maybe at least until the fifteenth century. At that time you can't talk about a French cuisine... [On the 17th and 18th centuries) neither butter nor cream were used in the middle age so that's something very new and it will be something which will increase until the nineteenth and twentieth century"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Fish Japan Ate - "At the most typical Japanese type of sushi generally in the old days was made up of fish that had interesting textures. That included shellfish, clams - things that were crunchy. All those different crunchy chewy whatever textures were considered an interesting feature of sushi. Over the course of the past hundred years this has been completely reversed so today the emphasis on bluefin tuna is primarily an emphasis on the culinary value of succulence. Totally soft, melt in your mouth fat... when I started looking into the history of tuna in Japan I was very surprised to discover that it had not been considered at all a desirable fish to eat by the Japanese a hundred years ago. It was considered to be very smelly and bloody and it would go bad easily. The fish that Japanese people tended to prize were much different. They were small light fleshed fish with delicate flavors and some texture, you know they liked clams, they liked squid, they liked small white fish... [On post-WWII] more western style diets started to impact Japan a bit. Eating red meat, eating beef, eating fattier cuts of meat. Another thing that we can see happen was the result of Japan's high tech export economy peaking in the nineteen seventies when they were flying these huge plane loads of electronics manufactured in Japan over to the US in particular, and those planes were going back empty. And Japan Airlines, an executive in their cargo division whose job it was to find products to put in those planes going back to Japan so that the cargo division of Japanese make more money. He looked all over the place for all kinds of stuff to put in those planes, couldn't really find much in North America that he thought Japanese would be that interested in but he discovered a bunch of sport fishermen particularly off the east coast of the US and Canada that would catch these huge bluefin tuna for sport, have their photo taken with them and then send them to the town dump"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, I Don't Cook - "Studies suggest that in countries like the US and the UK people are cooking less than we did in the past. Market researchers NPD found that less than sixty percent of evening meals eaten at home last year in the US were cooked compared to seventy five percent thirty years ago"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Foodunnit? - "His research has involved interviewing more than one hundred active residential burglars in St. Louis, Missouri. 'Burglary tends to flow out of intense periods of partying. They're not eating, they're using drink and drugs. If they have any money they're gonna spend it on drink and drugs to kind of keep that party going. So they get inside, they're very elated to be in the house. All of a sudden they're not vulnerable to being seen by passers-by. They feel a good deal safer, and so all of a sudden they: realize everything here, I can have anything in here I want. Now they're hungry, you know they're hungry and they're also partial to partying so if they can find any alcohol, any food in the refrigerator, they are going to be very tempted to use it. Now there's a problem in this because if you get too seduced by all that's available to you, you end up spending too much time in the property and you make yourself vulnerable to arrest. But criminals aren't good at avoiding temptation... I've known burglars who've gotten to houses, they've eaten, then they found alcohol and they've drunk so much that they've actually collapsed there and been caught simply because they were too intoxicated to move"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Real Value of a Cup of Tea - "[On tea plantations] The houses the workers live in and their schools and hospitals are provided by the estates. Decent housing and good sanitation is a legal obligation and in return tea workers' wages are significantly below even India's modest minimum wage... most tea estates don't seem to be keeping their side of the bargain... one estate tried to lock us up... everywhere we found the same story: broken houses and filthy conditions"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Hands Off My Food! - "They are only going to eat at the white hot chicken joints because those are the trendier places and that's what bothers me and that's where I think this becomes a case of cultural appropriation...
Food Historian: I would want to make a case for the necessity of what you might call brokers or interpreters or cross cultural agents. The word appropriation makes it sound as if it's straightforward and quick and easy. It's not. It takes a great deal of work. I have a friend who's just published a book on food of Persia for which she went to Persia for some considerable time to collect the materials. That is not a straightforward or easy thing to do. So I think that we need these brokers unless we're all to live in little boxes. I mean I think we need people from inside the culture who have deep emotional understanding of it and commitment to it. I think we often need people outside the culture who can bring to it an outsider's view that perhaps throws into focus things that insiders can't say...
You're seeing in Mexico a fascinating thing that's been happening for the past twenty years which I'll call a re-Mexicanization of Mexico. On that side of the border within the country itself in cosmopolitan society the sentiment was that everything that's Mexican is bad and that everything that's European is good. So the Mexican attitude in Mexico City was that well I don't want mescal. My great grandfather used to drink that and he's poor. He's like gimme a Pinot Grigio and I'll have some risotto with that. So even on that side you're seeing restaurant tours going: no we're not going to get wagyu beef. Why not? We're going to serve grasshoppers because that's what we've always had... I don't think any one Mexican can claim to know this is the one true iteration of this"
So because black people are bad at marketing and don't bother marketing it in a trendy way, it's white people's fault because 'cultural appropriation'

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "[On a real rather than laboratory experiment comparing the honesty of the rich and the poor] The rich returned way more than the poor — in fact, they returned twice as much. Return rates of the rich were roughly 80 percent and return rates of the poor were roughly 40 percent... the non-cash envelopes were also not returned by the poor families [even though they wouldn't benefit from keeping them]... the envelopes that the rich got were being returned much faster than the envelopes of the poor folks...
STOOP: We, then, need a theoretical model, to map behavior to preferences. We model it as follows: a household returns an envelope if A (its altruism towards Joost, the intended recipient of the card) minus N (the neediness of the contents of the envelope) minus P (the financial pressure, the stress costs) is greater than zero. When altruism outweighs the neediness (N) and the stress (P), then the household returns the envelope. With the data that we have, we can actually estimate the A, the N [and] the P.
ANDREONI: When we account for those, what we find is that the basic tendency to want to do the right thing is the same for the rich and the poor. But it’s the fact that rich and poor affects these other aspects of the decision and affects the outcome.
STOOP: What we find is, not surprisingly, that the N differs between the rich and the poor. Meaning that the poor need the money [more] than the rich. Also, in line with this relatively new literature on financial stresses of the poor, we find that P, the financial pressure, is greater for the poor for the rich. Then we have A, altruism, and we find that these are the same between the rich and the poor. I consider this to be really a hardcore economic insight. As economists, we always say that incentives shape behavior, and this is another example of that. There are many other studies that look only at behavior. So far, it seems as if our study is the only study that has disentangled behavior from preferences."
Do preferences really mean anything if they are not expressed in behavior?

Portland Stabbing Survivor Blames City for 'White Savior Complex', Says Women the Real Victims - "Micah Fletcher, the lone survivor of the Portland train stabbing has denounced people who have donated money to support him and the families of the two other men who were fatally injured in the violent attack. A lone suspect, Jeremy Christian, is alleged to have stabbed the three men when they attempted to calm him down during an anti-Muslim rant at two young women on the train... Fletcher insists that the real victims are the women, who he says must be traumatized from being targets of hate, and from the deaths of the two men who tried to intervene."

California Democrats Just Voted for Single-Payer Healthcare But Have No Idea How to Pay for It| Heat Street - "During the debate over the bill, Democrats nakedly admit that ObamaCare has left millions without insurance due to coverage gaps or spiking premiums... And don’t think the state can simply tax its way to a single-payer utopia. California currently has the highest sales tax and top marginal income tax rate in the country. Don’t bother squeezing the stones for more blood, either. Remember: Around five million people left the state in the last 10 years (600,000 decide red Texas was more hospitable). Free healthcare or not, people want out."

We Happily Invent New Crimes to Punish Men, But Ignore the Real Criminals - "the 52 other “hate incidents” – which were not criminal offences – included name calling, tweets, or even women overhearing offensive jokes. You read that right: “hate crime” data in the United Kingdom includes women not liking jokes that maybe weren’t even directed at them. Which is itself funny, in a “laugh or cry” kind of way... to date there has been not a single prosecution for FGM in all of the UK, even though there were 5,500 cases reported in 2016 alone... I headed to the city centre with one aim – if I saw random packs of men harassing women, I would give them a taste of their own medicine... In four hours, the only arguably inappropriate thing I saw was a group of three refreshed young women squeezing a buff man’s (highly admirable) pecs. He objected so much that he posed for selfies. Nowhere did I see a single man grope or wolf whistle a woman. Not even a single “get your bits out for the lads!” Nothing."

Renowned 'Food Science Expert' Says Feminism Is Making Everybody Fat - "“It’s certainly been fuelled by the fact women work and that we have changed things and we have allowed this huge change to happen,” she said... Boycott also says that she and other feminists shamed some women out of doing things like preparing meals for their family. “I said ‘don’t cook, don’t type. You’ll get ahead.’ We lost it. Schools gave up cooking. Everyone gave up cooking.”"

Belgian city to become first in world to go veggie... but only once a week - "Ghent's officials, in co-operation with Belgium's national vegetarian organisation, EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative), is adopting Thursdays as a vegetarian day for officials and - from September - for the city's schoolchildren too."

Impact of Fathers on Parental Monitoring of Daughters and Their Affiliation With Sexually Promiscuous Peers: A Genetically and Environmentally Controlled Sibling Study. - "Girls who receive higher quality fathering engage in less risky sexual behavior (RSB) than their peers... higher quality fathering may decrease daughters’ engagement in RSB by increasing the amount of parental monitoring that they receive and decreasing their affiliation with peers who promote RSB"

When Doctors Admit Bias, Patients Are More Likely to Trust Them - "specialty bias occurs in all areas of medical expertise. One survey, for example, found that 79 percent of male surgeons would choose surgery if they were diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer while 92 percent of radiation oncologists would choose radiation therapy under the same circumstances. Specialty bias is unavoidable, and while the practice of surgeons spontaneously disclosing their biases is undertaken in earnest, it may not only be ineffective but actually is likely to backfire on the physicians’ intentions"

40 Years of STAR WARS: Why KOTOR Worked and How BioWare Has Changed - "Let’s face it: BioWare has changed. Most of the original developers have either moved on to greener pastures or are busy making their own beer. We could spend all day blaming the EA buyout, but what’s important is the legacy this company left behind. Games like KOTOR need to be studied. They represent important milestones in gaming history, essential innovations that revolutionized the way we play games today. Hopefully, BioWare recaptures the passion and dedication that made their classic games so great. Until then, we’ll always have KOTOR."
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