"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, November 06, 2017

Links - 6th November 2017 (2)

The New York Times - Posts - "Breaking News: The Trump administration wants to investigate colleges for discriminating against white applicants, an internal memo suggests."
The Facebook comments are particularly depressing and confirm affirmative action as a liberal shibboleth
I don't know why so many liberals call legacy admissions affirmative action. But then since they've redefined racism no one should have expected them to stop there (then again I found someone who defined anything that gave one an advantage as affirmative action - so having an intact family would count as affirmative action too)

The confusing way Mexicans tell time - "Dr Company explained that if she is giving a talk in Mexico and goes over her allotted time, Mexicans “feel like I am giving them a gift”. In the UK or the US, however, “The audience starts to leave, feeling like I am wasting their time.” My Mexican friends plan parties for 7pm knowing that no one will show up until at least 8:30pm. Foreigners who are new to Mexico organise events for 8:30pm not knowing that means that most people will arrive at 10pm."

‘Husband, wife’ now off limits, says public service guide - "Victorian government workers are being discouraged from using “heteronormative” terms such as “husband” and “wife” in a new guide to communicating with the LGBTI community. Instead, the workers are being schooled in adopting gender-neutral pronouns “zie” and “hir”. The Inclusive Language Guide, which has been designed for use across the public sector, also warns against derogatory terms, such as “dyke” and “fag”, as well as “offensive questions”, including asking a transgender person whether or not they have had surgery. In his introduction to the guide, Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley says the government’s responsibility is to keep people safe, including the LGBTI community... it has been ridiculed for pushing contested ideology about gender as a social construct. Centre for Independent Studies senior research fellow Jeremy Sammut said the language guide appeared to have been dictated by “academics wielding their critical postmodernist theory of the world” who were “determined to force (it) on the rest of us”. “It’s a totalitarian project dressed up as liberation theory,” he said. “I would think it is possible to treat people with respect and respect people’s privacy without resorting to this.” Dr Sammut said the state Labor government, which has been increasingly active in LGBTI causes, risked alienating those voters more concerned about economic management, crime and education standards... The Coalition’s parliamentary secretary spokesman Tim Smith described the guide as “minority fundamentalism gone berserk”... Psychologist Laura McNally, a critic of the contentious Safe Schools program, which is based on similar ideology, said contested gender theory was being fast-tracked into public institutions. Ms McNally said the concept of gender as a continuum or identity, was incoherent. While gender was billed as fluid and evolving, “cisgender” was defined as a static match between identity and sex. “This theory makes fodder for navel gazing sociologists, but in terms of its own internal logic, the theory is redundant.”"

I hacked my body for a future that never came - "Radical body modification makes sense if patients wouldn’t be losing anything in the process — an operation to restore a lost limb, for example, or a brain implant that could help a blind person see. But if you’re replacing a perfectly functional body part, the risks and possible complications outweigh the rewards. During the Deus Ex conference, one futurist gushed over a visually striking prosthetic arm, musing that it might be worth amputating for the “upgrade.” Another panelist shut them down immediately: doctors and scientists aren’t even close to solving the phantom pain and limited mobility that most amputees face, let alone building something uniformly better than a human limb... The better wearable devices get, the less sense it makes to permanently modify your body"

Who Killed the Liberal Arts? - "To get a bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, one of the most prestigious colleges in America, you must take courses in Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability or Sexuality Studies; in Imperial Transnational or Post-Colonial Studies; and in Critical Theory. But you are not required to take a single course in Shakespeare. In other words, the UCLA English faculty is now officially indifferent as to whether an English major has ever read a word of the greatest writer of the English language, but is determined to expose students, according to the course catalogue, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.” Sadly, UCLA is not leading a movement; it is following one. That movement seeks to infuse the humanities curriculum with the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to identity and class politics. In so doing, the modern professoriate has repudiated the great humanist tradition on which much of Western Civilization -- and the Western university -- has been built. That tradition was founded on an all-consuming desire to engage with the genius of the past... Rather than encouraging students to engage with the great minds of the past, today’s humanities professors seek only to confirm their own worldview. The annual gathering of America’s literature faculty put at the top of its 2014 agenda the discussion of “embodiment, poverty, climate, activism, reparation, and the condition of being unequally governed,” all in order to “expose key sites of vulnerability and assess possibilities for change.” Lost in this political posturing is the only true justification for the humanities -- to provide: knowledge…knowledge leading, one hopes, to the most important acquisition of all: wisdom."

Conservatism makes you happy - "conservatives, across countries, tend to be just plain happier people than liberals are. That’s not bad news for the right — it’s seriously bad news for the left. Indeed, the left-right “happiness gap” is no small matter. In a 2006 Pew Survey, for instance, 47 percent of conservative Republicans said they were “very happy,” compared with just 28 percent of liberal Democrats... conservatives tend to be less neurotic — or, more emotionally stable — than liberals. It is part of the inherent definition of neuroticism that one is less happy — more fretful, more depressed. Liberals, then, don’t just worry about the poor, and the rights of those different from themselves — it appears that they worry more, period, than conservatives do. Although it has a smaller effect, conservatives also tend toward more extraversion in some personality studies. That means they probably make more friends and feel more comfortable in groups and communities. They’re more sociable. Once again, this probably helps confer a subjective sense of greater happiness. But perhaps most significant, personality research shows that conservatives tend to be less open, exploratory people than liberals are... the rationalization of inequality was a key part of the explanation. “Meritocratic beliefs account for the association between political orientation and subjective well-being to a significant degree”"

There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble - "Teams that consist entirely of high-IQ people may underperform groups that contain a mix of high-IQ and medium-IQ participants, for example, because the high-IQ people are likely to have redundant strengths and similar blind spots. That leaves independence. In some ways the best hope for a short-term fix might come from an attitudinal adjustment: Journalists should recalibrate themselves to be more skeptical of the consensus of their peers. That’s because a position that seems to have deep backing from the evidence may really just be a reflection from the echo chamber. You should be looking toward how much evidence there is for a particular position as opposed to how many people hold that position"

Liberals are drunk on a political poison called intersectionality - "Instead of seeking to level an unjust hierarchy, mitigate its worst abuses, and foster cross-group solidarity, intersectionality merely flips the hierarchy on its head, placing the least privileged in the most powerful position and requiring everyone else to clamor for relative advantage in the new upside-down ranking. Those who come out on top in the struggle win their own counter-status, earning the special privilege of getting to demand that those lower in the pecking order "check their privilege." This is a sure-fire spur to division, dissension, and resentment. Successful politics, especially in a nation with a winner-take-all electoral system, requires building bridges with as many people as possible to win as many votes as possible. But intersectionality moves in the diametrically opposite direction, breaking the electorate apart into ever-smaller groups and pitting them against each other in a competition to determine which of them suffers most pervasively from systemic discrimination, and so also which has the right to demand deference and expressions of repentance from everyone else."

Dear Liberals: Being Critical of Islam Is Not Racism - "One of the characteristics of the liberal left is a political preoccupation with defending those who are disenfranchised; those that are viewed as victims... Nick Cohen makes the important clarification that “a trap springs when you fail to realize that tolerating is not the same as respecting or endorsing. A tolerant society does not abandon the freedom to argue.” Tolerating the ideas of Sam Harris does not somehow mean that one is a xenophobe... Sam Harris criticizes Islam’s bad ideas by way of example and thought experiment and analogy, trying to debate, and instead of being judged by his analysis, he is labeled with lazy terms like “dangerous” and “bigot” by leftist apologists who work very hard to find racism and bigotry where none exists."

The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies - "In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to... The company advertised itself as a great place to work, but Matsubara, who was a wrestler in college, told me it soon became evident that it was anything but. Though company employees left work at 7 p.m. on paper, Matsubara said he was required to work until late at night almost every day. Employees were required to sign off at 7 p.m., even if they were still working, and were given iPads so that they could do so even if they were out of the office at meetings. If they didn’t sign off, they’d get a call on their cellphones brusquely asking them to sign off immediately but keep working, he said. “The amount of time you're actually working and the amount of time that is recorded you're working have absolutely no relation to each other,” he said. Matsubara got almost no time off, and was required to take classes to receive real-estate certifications on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which were days he was told he’d have free. This lifestyle made dating impossible. The closest he got to women, he said, was when his boss would drag him to cabaret clubs, and then make him pick up the tab."

Girl of your Dreams: a brief presentation. - Album on Imgur

Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command | Foreign Policy - "“Gaps” in the Bundeswehr is an understatement. In 1989, the West German government spent 2.7 percent of GDP on defense, but by 2000 spending had dropped to 1.4 percent, where it remained for years. Indeed, between 2013 and 2016 defense spending was stuck at 1.2 percent — far from NATO’s 2 percent benchmark. In a 2014 report to the Bundestag, the German parliament, the Bundeswehr’s inspectors-general presented a woeful picture: Most of the Navy’s helicopters were not working, and of the Army’s 64 helicopters, only 18 were usable. And while the Cold War Bundeswehr had consisted of 370,000 troops, by last summer it was only 176,015 men and women strong."

Gangnam Style: We need more foreign language pop songs. - "the sort of multilingualism that allowed for both a French-language song (“Domenique”) and a Japanese one (“Sukiyaki”) to become No. 1 on the pop chart the same year (1963) has dwindled significantly. A non-English-language song hasn’t topped Billboard’s Hot 100 since Los Lobos’ version of “La Bamba” in 1987 (not so fast, “Macarena” fans—half the lyrics of that 1996 song were sung in English). This is a shame for a number of reasons. English-only listening habits deprive us of the natural rhythm and melody of other languages—the nasal vowels of French, the alveolar trills of Portuguese, the consonant clusters of Czech. That most of us don’t understand the words only allows us to better appreciate the phonology of a language and concentrate on the human voice as a musical instrument... Language’s effect on music can take unexpected forms. A 2002 study in the cognitive science journal Cognition found that a culture’s dominant language influences the rhythmic structures of its instrumental music. In a 2006 study published in Psychology of Learning and Motivation, McGill University researchers write that Spanish features a “regular beat pattern in which each syllable coincides approximately with a beat, whereas stress-timed languages like English tend to have beats on stressed syllables.” In other words, languages each have their own rhythm, so certain languages tend to pair better with certain rhythmic patterns... Are some languages more musical than others? It’s entirely subjective, of course, but linguistic phonetician Doug Honorof says languages with a lot of vowels have an advantage. “Vowels are easier to sing than consonants”... “Italian has a rather small vocabulary, but because of the beauty of its vowels, it tends to sound better,” he says. And French, with its evenly stressed syllables “has that kind of musical euphoniousness.” English has a more nuanced vocabulary than either, he says, but with its many consonants and variable vowels, “is not so pretty to hear.”"

The age when you’re ‘too old’ to go clubbing has been revealed - "According to a study by Currys PC World (via Mixmag), 37 was the age where most people deemed it unacceptable to still go out to nightclubs, with 31 years of age being the point that people begin to prefer staying in to going out. The research found that the biggest factors in people aged 37+ not wanting to go clubbing anymore were not being able to “face the hangover”, not wanting to get “dressed up”, having to “arrange babysitters” and “book a taxi”."

Many operations are no better than placebo, says top surgeon - "In his new book, Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo, Harris lists a range of operations as “today’s placebo surgeries”, saying their effectiveness is “under question”. They include spinal fusion for back pain, knee arthroscopy, ­coronary stenting, some shoulder surgery and appendix removal, laparoscopy for bowel adhesions and repairs of ruptured tendons and some fractures."

Piers Morgan: JK Rowling's Trump slur proves her hypocrisy - "Rowling was very clear: Trump knew the disabled child was there and snubbed him because he was worried about being infected with whatever disease the boy may have... There’s just one problem: it was all a lie. Trump didn’t snub the boy. In fact he did the complete opposite. The full video of this incident emerged several hours after Rowling tweeted... It has now been three days since JK Rowling posted a pack of lies about Donald Trump to her 11 million followers. She knows it was wrong. We all know it was wrong. Yet, as I write, she still refuses to delete the tweets, correct her lies, or apologise. Even if she does so now, perhaps after reading this column, the damage has been done. By contrast, everyone else I have mentioned did remove their tweets once they realised the truth. Herz deleted, Olbermann deleted and Chelsea Clinton, when I brought it to her attention yesterday, also deleted. Rowling, however, would prefer to continue using a three-year-old disabled boy to falsely smear Donald Trump, such is her blind hatred for the man. By doing so, she is telling her millions of young impressionable Potter fans that it’s absolutely fine to lie and never correct or apologise for a lie – after spending the past two years telling them that Trump is disgusting because he lies and never corrects or apologises for his lies."

Woman Sends Men Unsolicited Pictures Of Her Vagina, This Is The Result - "Unfortunately (and probably not too surprisingly), far from reacting with horror or disgust like their female counterparts, all the guys responded with delight and were quite keen to meet up with her. For the experiment, LA-based writer Kerry Quinn, swiped right on a bunch of guys, flirted with them for three or four messages and then went straight to messaging them photos of her genitals – or rather, a cute photo of somebody else’s she found on the Internet... rather than teaching the guys a lesson and them feeling the incident might constitute sexual harassment, the replies were hilarious and downright descriptive of what they wanted to do to the vagina in the photo... She then tried a different tactic and just started sending them the pics without any verbal interaction whatsoever, hoping that might encourage the men to be a little bit more wary. But, no, their responses were keener than ever and, of course, several replied with shirtless photos and, yes, some genital pics of their own... 'In a strange twist, though, I did feel empowered, although in a much different way than I expected. Men were clamouring to meet me, which is a great feeling even if it’s not for the right reasons. I’ll be honest: even though it wasn’t mine, I stood a little bit taller for a few days all thanks to the fact that, uh, guys love v-pics.'"
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