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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Links - 14th December 2017 (1)

Police storm 73-year-old's Kingston house to seize her dog - "Seven police officers stormed a 73-year-old woman's house and seized her 'dangerous' ten-year-old Yorkshire terrier Alfie after he chased after a delivery man."

Egyptian academic accused of 'glorifying Satan' after teaching Milton's Paradise Lost - "An Egyptian university has accused one of its professors of “glorifying Satan” after she taught John Milton's Paradise Lost to students in her English literature class... the university accused her of "attributing oppression to the person of God, the Just King; for calling for the glorifiying of Satan; for calling for destroying and rejecting that which is sacred in favour of the authority of the human mind in determining its own fate/destiny". They also said she challenged the “Egyptian public order, which is based on Islamic shari’a and on the law, in an anarchic call disguised as a comparative literature textual analysis”... The university said it was giving its findings to local prosecutors in eastern Egypt, who might charge Dr Prince with insulting Islam - a crime that can lead to imprisonment"

Young Chinese are 'too fat and masturbate too much to pass army fitness tests' - "according to a report published in state-run military newspaper the People’s Liberation Army Daily. Authorities also think the constant use of smartphones and drinking water with too high a mineral content are to blame... The report claimed 8 per cent of male candidates suffered from enlarged testicular veins. “This is related to sitting too long on computer games, excessive masturbation and too little physical activity”... The newspaper report added that the number of additives in junk food and fizzy drinks, as well as high mineral content in water, was damaging candidates’ livers and gallbladders"

We Live in Fear of the Online Mobs - "The internet transformed the degree of scrutiny, the extent of its reach, and the shelf life of the scandal, so much as to make it different not just in degree, but in kind. Whenever a new form of power arises, we need to think about how to safeguard individual liberty against it... Back then I saw Twitter as a tool for building social bonds. These days, I see it as a tool for social coercion... Given the way the internet is transforming private coercion, I’m not sure we can maintain the hard, bright line that classical liberalism drew between state coercion and private versions. We may have to start talking about two kinds of problematic coercion:
1. Government coercion, which is still the worst, because it is backed up with guns, but is also the most readily addressed because we have a legal framework to limit government power.
2. Mass private coercion, which even if not quite as bad, still needs to have safeguards put in place to protect individual liberty. But we have no legal or social framework for those.
I find myself in more and more conversations that sound as if we’re living in one of the later-stage Communist regimes. Not the ones that shot people, but the ones that discovered you didn’t need to shoot dissidents, as long as you could make them pariahs -- no job, no apartment, no one willing to be seen talking to them in public. The people I have these conversations with are terrified that something they say will inadvertently offend the self-appointed powers-that-be... unless it is checked, where does it lead? To something depressingly like the old Communist states: a place where your true opinions about anything more important than tea cozies are only ever aired to a tiny circle of highly trusted friends; where all statements made to or by the people outside that circle are assumed by everyone to be lies; where almost every conversation is a guessing game that both sides lose. It is one element of Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale" that does resonate today: Any two acquaintances must remain so mutually suspicious that every day, they can discuss only the pleasant weather and their common fealty to the regime."

'Women Laughing Alone With Tablets' Is the New 'Women Laughing Alone With Salad'

Hungry bear takes a chunk out of tourist's arm as he stops to take a SELFIE - "Visitors at the 6,000-acre wildlife park have been warned not to feed the animals in their enclosures, but the advice had been ignored by Mr Chen and his friends... He said he regretted his actions but was upset the wardens had not shown him "more sympathy"."

Game of Thrones: George R. R. Martin Interview - "A: Your female characters stick out for their strength and complexity, but their treatment at the hands of male characters, often becoming victims of sexual violence, has raised umbrage over the years. Has that reaction surprised you?
A: I’m writing a war story, essentially — the Wars of the Roses. The Hundred Years' War. They have “war” right in the title of each of my inspirations here. And when I read history books, rape is a part of all these wars. There’s never been a war where it wasn’t, and that includes wars that are going on today. It just seems to me that there’s something fundamentally dishonest if you write a war story and you leave that out.
I wonder what a feminist war story would look like. Maybe it wouldn't sell very well

Jim Wayne's answer to While I enjoy my rice, why do my parents ask us to leave some grains in the bowl? Why is that traditionally followed? - Quora - "I was told, when I was invited to a Vietnamese wedding, that the Vietnamese had developed an etiquette about food to prevent anyone from being humiliated. It was based on the reality that during parts of its long history, Vietnam had been a food-insecure place. If you ate everything on your plate, you would automatically be served more. If you ate all of that, they would continue to serve you more until they ran out. You did not have to embarrass yourself by asking for more. If you cleaned your plate, but no more was served, it meant that your hosts had no more to serve. You did not ask for more, since that would have forced your hosts to admit they had no more. When you were full, you simply left a small portion on your plate, signaling that you were full. The food that was left on your plate would not be wasted; most Vietnamese families kept a pig, or, in some communities, neighbors would own a pig jointly, to eat their leftovers. When the pig was butchered, the neighbors shared the meat."

Campaign to change Father's Day to 'Special Persons' Day' so kids without fathers don't get offended - "AN EARLY childhood activist has been labelled “offensive” after suggesting Father’s Day be renamed ‘Special Person’s Day’ so kids without dads wouldn’t feel left out. Dr Red Ruby Scarlet, an activist with a doctorate in early childhood studies, is pushing for the name change to the annual holiday. During an interview on Today Tonight Dr Scarlet denied it was case of excess political correctness. “Why are we calling this political correctness when in fact it’s about our rights?” Dr Scarlet told host Rosanna Mangiarelli... Dr Scarlet, who insisted that was her real name, said that many families without fathers supported the idea."
Why not rename Mother's Day?

Culture etched on our DNA more than previously known, research suggests - "Different racial and ethnic groups tend to follow different diets, live in neighborhoods with varying levels of poverty and pollution, and are more or less likely to smoke. DNA methylation can reflect these subtle cultural and environmental differences... The new research supports the theory that viewing race and ethnicity as social constructs on one hand, and genetic ancestry as a biological construct on the other hand, is way too simple a framework... The research suggests that abandoning considerations of race and ethnicity in medicine — as some academics, who view race and ethnicity as social constructs, suggest — would be a grave mistake, and that these lenses carry valuable insights for more precise and culturally specific medicine... “We study whites a lot, and then we try to generalize that to Sri Lankans, blacks, Asians, and other racial groups. That’s not just socially unjust, it’s bad science and bad medicine”"
Pretending race doesn't exist hurts minorities

Taking B12 Energy Vitamins May Cause Lung Cancer - "around 50 percent of people in the United States take some form of “dietary supplement” product, and among the most common are B vitamins. Worse than just a harmless waste of money, this usage could be actively dangerous. In an issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, published this week, researchers reported that taking vitamin B6 and B12 supplements in high doses (like those sold in many stores) appears to triple or almost quadruple some people’s risk of lung cancer."

Deadly Payback! Man Diagnosed With Cancer Shoots And Kills Friend Who Taught Him To Smoke

Woman who failed FDNY physical test 6 times gets another chance - "A woman who six times failed the physical test to become an FDNY firefighter is being given another chance — and this time, critics say, the fix is in. “She’ll graduate, no question,” said an FDNY member. “The department does­n’t want another black eye”... Tapia’s return comes as the FDNY has quietly eased its standards to ­admit more women. After paying $98 million to settle a federal lawsuit charging bias against ­minority applicants, the city is loath to face a gender-discrimination suit, sources say. Female firefighters number only 49 in the 10,500-member force... The FDNY hunted insiders it suspected of leaking information on Tapia. Lt. Elizabeth Osgood, who objected to Tapia’s special treatment, was barred from promotion for months. Capt. Paul Mannix, the president of Merit Matters, a group opposed to quotas, was forced into silence. Reached by phone last week, Tapia hung up on a reporter."
It's better that people die in fires than women are excluded

FDNY’s new entrance exam will lower physical standards - "Acting on the recommendations of a consultant, PSI Services, the FDNY is reducing the number of exercises that simulate pulling down a ceiling. It is also having supervisors use videos to evaluate trainees not on the time it takes to perform tasks, but on “a minimally acceptable pace of performance.” One FDNY veteran said those changes make little sense. “The reason they developed a time standard was to make sure standards remain high and are trusted,” said the veteran. “A subjective standard would undermine that trust.”... The Law Department commissioned PSI to perform the study to guard against lawsuits from women and African-Americans — groups that have successfully pursued suits in the past, one city official noted."

Woman to become NY firefighter despite failing crucial fitness test - "The FDNY for the first time in its history will allow someone who failed its crucial physical fitness test to join the Bravest... Some FDNY members are angry. “We’re being asked to go into a fire with someone who isn’t 100 percent qualified,” the source said. “Our job is a team effort. If there’s a weak link in the chain, either civilians or our members can die”... Other female firefighters aren’t pleased about Wax’s treatment, either. “A lot of the girls in the field are pissed because they feel like they’re getting lumped into the same category of a female getting special treatment and not meeting the same standards as the males,” the insider added. “It devalues what the women in the field have accomplished.”"
Maybe political correctness won't kill here because she'll be given a light assignment

Female firefighters fired up about new gender quota - "this year's crop of new recruits at Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) entered the service. Fifty per cent of them were women. The gender quota is part of a bold move to change the face of FRNSW, which has historically been described as a ‘boys club’. Applicants are now split into male and female streams and an equal number of the highest scoring men and women are chosen... When Rachel was 20, she was one of just 30 applicants in a pool of 5,000 -- nearly all men -- to be recruited into the Victorian service. Rachel is now 33 and remains firmly opposed to a quota system. Along with her female colleagues, Rachel signed an open letter to the Ministry for Emergency Services decrying the quota. Together, they took the battle to the Victorian court. “It made me feel nervous for the future girls of our organisation because [men] are going to say, ‘did you get in on the one that was a bit easy? Or did you get in with all the guys?’ I just want everyone to be equal.”"

Mark Latham: Gender politics burning down the house - "It wants new recruits to be able to “drag a collapsed firefighter to safety on their own”, yet to accommodate female applicants, the Physical Aptitude Test has been reduced from a 90kg dummy drag over 20 metres to the relatively easy task of carrying a 30kg weight for 10 metres. Official safety standards require “the use of fire rescue ladders which are 10.5 metres long, 49kg and awkward to manoeuvre, requiring a high degree of upper body strength”. Yet the ladder test has been watered down, with one participant describing it as “a hopeless joke that even weak people can pass”. In a further concession to female applicants, the separate test component for Mechanical Reasoning has been removed, as has the Shuttle Run Assessment. The gender warriors making these changes are trying to overcome the way in which past tests have exposed big differences in male and female performance. In the first round of the 2013 Work Safety test, for instance, 47 women scored below 50 per cent but not a single man. As a senior FRNSW officer told me: “The tests have been changed so women are far less likely to fail. “It’s been rigged for the sake of politics”... In an amazing piece of Orwellian doublespeak, he claimed that: “Merit selection will determine the best candidates for the job, regardless of gender, but we will deliver equity in the number of male and female firefighters.”"

Britain's most shameless shoplifter: 'I've made £2million from stealing and I'm proud of my hard work' - "Shameless Kim Farry has made close to £2million from the “business” she started aged nine – even training some of her six children to steal for her. In a 44-year spree she has enjoyed fine dining, exotic holidays and three boob jobs, yet lives rent-free in a council home and pockets £556 a month in benefits. She said: “I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done, I’m proud. "I was untouchable. I made millions and had a life most ­normal ­people can only dream of. “It really annoys me when people say I’ve never had a job because I worked at my business non-stop for over four ­decades. It just happens that my business was shoplifting.”... Astonishingly though, Kim refuses to give up her lavish lifestyle – and is calling for someone to hand her a decent job if she ­cannot rake in bigger benefits. Otherwise the 54-year-old, who says she hasn’t swiped ­anything for eight weeks so far, doesn’t know how long it will be before she ­returns to thieving... Amazingly, Kim takes a swipe at the Government over her situation – ­suggesting it encourages crime by not paying out bigger benefits."

Chemistry explains why old books smell so good - "Older books have paper that contains a lot more cellulose and lignin, which come from the paper's original source: trees. These chemicals degrade and release VOCs, releasing scents that remind us of almonds, vanilla and flowers. The rate of these chemical breakdowns in paper is also used to date old books."

Dr John Humphreys - Posts - "I've spent a stupid amount of time reading, listening to, and engaging with communists, anarcho-syndicalists, techno-socialists, fascists, neo-Nazis, and ethno-nationalists of all types (white, black, khmer, chinese, etc). It would be easy to paint a characacture of all of those groups, burn those strawman, and think myself morally superior... but I just don't find that approach interesting or intellectually satisfying... the alt-right are people who believe that there should be different nation-states for different ethnic groups... The growth of the alt-right has come largely as a response to the growing identity politics from other groups... they evolved out of hard-left academia, intersectional feminism, and populist grievance politics, and have come to be known broadly as "social justice warriors" (SJWs). Within SJW circles, there is an element of explicitly anti-white and anti-male thought, which has made some people uncomfortable. The original (and still the largest) response to the SJWs came from cultural libertarians, skeptics, and previously non-political centrists... The alt-right is a very different response to SJWs. Instead of rejecting identity politics, the alt-right agrees that people should be bundled into collective identity groups, and then those identity groups should look out for each other and try to protect themselves from potential threats from other identity groups. The alt-right is an example of identity politics being done by white people, which is why they are known as "identitarians" in Europe... there is a debate within the alt-right about whether or not to cooperate with white supremacists such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, etc. Obviously the white supremacists want to combine with the alt-right, and then push alt-right people to become more extreme... but many in the alt-right think of the neo-Nazis as dumb brutes who are irrelevant and should be discarded... To some degree, the alt-right is getting squeezed between the mainstream (calling them too racist) and the neo-Nazis (saying they aren't racist enough). This whole situation is further confused by the many young online trolls who are LARPing as neo-Nazis because they like to annoy people. And unfortunately, there are many groups who have a vested interest in mislabelling people. Both the alt-right and the hard-left have tried to argue that cultural libertarians don't exist, and that you must be either an SJW or alt-right. Obviously, that is a very wrong and very dangerous approach to take... somewhat analogous to the communists and fascists 100 years ago arguing that there was no space for centrists or liberals, and that we must all choose sides. I think people should think very carefully before feeding that narrative"
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