"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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Friday, December 15, 2017

Links - 15th December 2017 (2)

Cola Competition: Diet Coke Overtakes Pepsi as America’s #2 Soda - "The sad thing is, this doesn’t exactly seem like a fair loss. It seems that Pepsi’s drop in ranking could be due to the fact that they’ve put some of their advertising budget to more charitable use. According to the WSJ, “PepsiCo made a big bet in 2010, when it didn’t market its flagship cola on the Super Bowl or in other TV spots. Instead, it launched the Refresh Project, an online charitable-giving program that disbursed $20 million in donations ‘for refreshing ideas that change the world.'”"

Geahk Burchill's answer to Why is Star Wars: The Force Awakens aging so badly? - Quora - "TFA is a lot like Star Trek 2009. Everyone will generally agree they enjoyed it at the time but you won't be able to get anyone to talk about specifics. Because no one actually remembers what happened in Star Trek 2009. It was fun and pretty and empty. It was low-calorie and good enough to not leave a bad after-taste but not good enough to add to any "best films list." Fans want Star Wars films to be a GREAT films but Abrams was the SAFE choice and safe is forgettable. [I actually did an experiment with all my friends a while back, who I saw Star Trek 2009 with a few years before. I asked them all to retell everything they remembered from it. Most people said, "People running, something about a red orb, people falling, Eric Bana yelling and lens flares." It was even worse when I tried, Cloverfield and Super 8. No one I have talked to can relate anything about those films except the most superficial story points.]... It's as if Abrams makes films like Chinese food. You forget them in an hour. They are fun and sparkly and bright while you are watching them but they are like the flashy thing from Men in Black, They make you forget."

Sexing up the human pheromone story: How a corporation started a scientific myth - "Slotted into the programme and conference proceedings was the short ‘study-zero’ paper on the ‘Effect of putative pheromones on the electrical activity of the human vomeronasal organ and olfactory epithelium’. To my surprise, the authors gave no details at all of how these molecules had been extracted, identified, and tested in bioassays - all routinely required steps in the exhaustive process before any molecule can be shown to be a species-wide chemical signal, a pheromone. Instead there was just a footnote: ‘These putative pheromones were supplied by EROX Corporation’. The missing, essential details were never published"

Robots Have Started Teaching Other Robots New Skills

Startups worship the young. But research shows people like lithium battery inventor John Goodenough are most innovative when they’re older - "The study found that the overall median age of innovators was 47 years old. Only 5.8% of the sample—which ranged in age from 18 to 80—was 30 years or younger, and innovation peaked between the ages of 46 and 50. The rate of innovation continues to be very high until the age of 55 and declined sharply after 65, the median expected retirement age in the US. Particularly in the life sciences, material sciences, and information-technology fields, individuals who filed patents tended to be in the latter half of their careers."

Star Wars: Apparently Han Solo Isn't The Smuggler's Real Name

A 24-year-old made $345,000 by beating Kickstarters to market

Stop Mowing the Lawn; Start Salting the Earth - "Once truces have been reached and Israel withdraws, Hamas uses the calm to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure and launches further attacks into Israel, forcing Israel to respond with more large-scale incursions. This routine has become so regular, Israeli officials have even come to refer to this practice as “mowing the grass.” Many Israeli’s believe that they will never completely eliminate their enemies; so, the practice of mowing the grass is seen as a necessary act at degrading Hamas’ abilities to launch attacks and keep them off-balance. However, if we are judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than they were previously."

No non-Muslim maids for Muslims - "Maid agencies are stunned by a “new” directive im­posed by the Immigration De­­part­­ment barring them from hiring non-Muslim maids... if Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar could hire non-Muslims, why not Malaysia?"
Malaysia Boleh

Renegotiate Constitution if Kelantan insists on hudud, says Sabah, Sarawak NGO - "The Civil Society Organisations of Sabah and Sarawak said the two states signed up for a secular federation when it formed Malaysia with Malaya and Singapore in 1963."

The Brilliant Star Wars Galaxies Idea That Didn't Happen - "the tradeoff for getting to use Jedi skills is that one bad decision could cost you your entire character. Smart... 'the moment you used Force powers within view of anything or anyone Imperial, or indeed any player, they could report you to the Empire. To Darth Vader’s Death Squadron in fact. And that generated someone to come after you. After first, just lowly Stormtroopers. Eventually, cooler characters, such as some of the bounty hunters like IG-88. Eventually, really cool ones like Boba Fett or fan favorite Mara Jade... 'eventually, after Boba Fett and Mara Jade and everyone else had failed, well, that would be when Darth Vader himself bestirred himself to take care of the little problem. And you would die. It would be rigged.'"

How to Get Started Reading Comics That Have Been Running For Decades - "Comics can be daunting, but you can enjoy reading them if you just go with the flow. Some stories are silly, some might make no sense without some context, and you might be left wondering how characters came to be in such wildly different circumstances (like that time Hulk became king of a planet). But treat it less like Game of Thrones and more like Friends. You don't really need to know every detail of the backstory to follow along. Just download a few comics, load them up in your favorite app, and start reading."

Spyware that can identify what films you are watching - "Videos streamed over the internet are usually transmitted using a standard called MPEG-DASH. This chops a data stream up into segments that are then encrypted and fetched one at a time by the machine playing the video. The result is an on-off, “bursty” pattern of data arrival. But not all segments are equal. One depicting the mating habits of sloths will contain less information than another showing a car chase. Streaming services use something called variable bit-rate (VBR) compression to take advantage of this. Amorous-sloth segments are compressed to a greater degree than those involving car chases, reducing the overall amount of data that must be transmitted. That means segments of the same duration (in seconds) have different sizes (in bytes). The resulting pattern forms a video fingerprint."

The Pecking Disorder: Social Justice Warriors Gone Wild - "The ordeal of Northwestern University film professor Laura Kipnis, hauled before a campus gender equity tribunal for publishing a critique of academia’s current obsession with sexual misconduct, has brought the backlash against “political correctness” to reliably left-of-center venues such as Vox. But this is only the latest incident in the culture wars over “social justice” that have been wreaking havoc in a wide range of communities—including, but not limited to, universities, the literary world, science fiction fandom and the atheist/skeptic movement... in its dictionary meaning, “privilege” refers to rights or benefits possessed by the select, not by the majority.) This language speaks not to black betterment but to white guilt. It also erases the fact that the “privilege” extends to many nonwhite groups, such as Asians. Privilege rhetoric offers an absurdly simplistic view of complex social dynamics... generally, the “social justice” left strenuously avoids the issue of socioeconomic background, which, despite upward mobility, is surely the most tangible and entrenched form of actual privilege in modern American society. Rather, the focus is on racial, sexual and cultural identities. While “social justice” discourse embraces “intersectionality”—the understanding that different forms of social advantage and disadvantage interact with each other—this virtually never works in favor of the “privileged.” Thus, intersectionality may mean recognizing that disabled battered women suffer from both sexism and “ableism.” Recognizing that disabled men may be at greater risk for spousal abuse because disability reverses the usual male advantage in strength? Not so much. To acknowledge advantages enjoyed by the “oppressed”—for instance, gender bias favoring female defendants in criminal cases or mothers in custody suits—is pure heresy. The only moral dilemma is which oppressed identity trumps which: race or gender, sexuality or religion... The men with guns who shot twelve Charlie staffers were presumably punching up... Salon, more or less the Pravda of today’s social justice left, recently ran a piece arguing that the coming reboot of the X-Men franchise should reinvent its character Magneto, a Jewish Auschwitz survivor, as black in order to “get real about race.” The practical effects of such “social justice” ideology can be seen in the communities where it flourishes (mainly on college campuses and online). It is a reverse caste system in which a person’s status and worth depends entirely on their perceived oppression and disadvantage... many sci-fi writers and fans were shaken by the revelation that Benjanun Sriduangkaew, a young Thai female author, not only doubled as a militant “social justice” blogger but had a third identity as a notorious LiveJournal troll known for egregious harassment, including death and rape threats—often toward nonwhite, female or transgender victims. Yet Ms. Sriduangkaew found supporters who saw the scandal as, in the words of a Daily Dot article, “an example of white privilege attempting to silence writers of color.”... Some tried to defend Ms. Sriduangkaew by pointing out that most of her targets were white males. In this climate, it is not surprising that a while male poet would write an agonized letter to a literary blog wondering if he should stop writing: he feels guilty about writing from a white male perspective but also worries that if he writes in the voice of women or minorities, he would be “colonizing” their stories."

Feminist Students Protest Feminist Prof for Writing About Feminism - "As feminist student activists fight to expand their circle of vulnerability in collegiate life, Title IX has gone from a law designed to protect college students from sexual misconduct and discrimination to a means by which professors are put on trial for their tweets. Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis found herself entangled in one such trial after two female graduate students filed Title IX charges against her because of an essay and a tweet she authored. Kipnis was then plunged into a secretive and labyrinthine bureaucratic process that she believes threatens her academic freedom. The trouble for Kipnis started a few months ago when she published an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the growing sexual paranoia on college campuses"
And this was in Jezebel

Feminist prof decries 'militarized patriotism' at sporting events - "she has “cringed” upon seeing the American flag unfurled... Enloe recounted her discomfort when the crowd sung the National Anthem... Enloe’s discontent grew when a veteran was honored at the stadium. While the rest of the crowd erupted in applause for the hero, Enloe writes that she “sat stingily on my hands, still saying nothing.” Later, when the crowd stood to sing “America the Beautiful,” Enloe says she refused to stand and “sat quietly” while her friends “smiled down at [her] sympathetically.”... While patriotism may seem like a positive sentiment, Enloe argues that it is actually problematic because it can be weaponized to perpetuate “patriarchy,” asserting that patriotic displays marginalize women while honoring men"
In light of examples such as this, is it unreasonable to say that some liberals hate their countries (at least if they come from them)?

Swedish Expert Committee: A Low-Carb Diet Most Effective for Weight Loss - "This could be a historic day in Sweden. Today it became official. After over two years of work, a Swedish expert committee published their expert inquiry Dietary Treatment for Obesity... This report from SBU (Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment) is likely to be the basis for future dietary guidelines for obesity treatment within the Swedish health care system... In addition, health markers will improve on a low-carbohydrate diet... Long term, studies show no statistically significant differences among different diets, and the differences decrease with time. The SBU suggests that this is because of decreasing compliance with time. People simply tend to fall back to old habits. The more studies we add, the better we can see the clear advantage of low-carbohydrate diets. Unfortunately SBU has excluded all studies examining both obese and overweight people. If you include studies on weight loss where overweight people are included – to get a greater scientific basis – a clear advantage for the low-carbohydrate diet was seen even after a year"

Queen cuts out the carbs: Secrets of Her Majesty's diet and lifestyle as she celebrates 90th birthday - "Britain's longest-ever reigning monarch eschews carbs and abides by a strict low-fat diet of mainly fruits, vegetables and the occasional treat of dark chocolate and a swig of Gewürztraminer."

Chemistry debunks the biggest aspartame health myths - "the body actually produces and uses 1,000 times more formaldehyde than you could consume through aspartame. After helping to make important proteins, formaldehyde gets turned into formic acid and exits the body through urine. Some studies have shown that aspartame-made phenylalanine isn’t seeping into our brains and causing depression. Milk contains eight times more phenylalanine than aspartame... It is unlikely that a person could come close to reaching the aspartame levels deemed unacceptable by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To do so, you’d have to consume 97 aspartame sugar packets or more than 17 cans of diet soda in less than 24 hours."

Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits - "Extensive scientific research has demonstrated the safety of the six low-calorie sweeteners currently approved for use in foods in the U.S. and Europe (stevia, acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose) each with an acceptable daily intake. A number of studies have been carried out to confirm the safety of artificial sweeteners. A number of studies have also shown the adverse effects of the same. But most of the studies have limitations such as effects shown only in animals not in human, small sample size, high doses, statistically non-significant or borderline significant, etc. The sugar substitutes are thoroughly investigated for safety with hundreds of scientific studies and then approved by different regulatory authorities like the U.S. FDA, JECFA and FSANZ"

The Indian Gotra System: To Prevent Incest or Is There Some Science Behind It? - "As per the Brahminical theory, there are seven gotras, descended from the eight Brahmins, the sons of Lord Brahma. They are Gautama, Bharadwaja, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Vashista, Kashyapa, Angirasa and Atri. The 49 clans are believed to be emerged from these sages. In North India, the Gotra is believed to be passed on in the male lineage of the family (grandfather-father-son), whereas in South India, it is believed to be descended in the female lineage (grandmother-mother-daughter). Thus, intra-gotra marriages have been banned in most parts of North India for centuries, and many parts of South India too."

Brendan O'Neill - People are shocked by images of antifa activists... - "People are shocked by images of antifa activists beating up normal, peaceful right-wing protesters in Berkeley or physically shoving right-wing people off Boston Common. Why? This is what happens when you tell an entire generation that other people's ideas are dangerous, that their speech is toxic, that their words can wound you and traumatise you: you invite that generation to shut people down, to use any means necessary to ensure "dangerous" ideas are not expressed and do not cause injury to people's self-esteem or sense of safety. We are starting to see what happens when speech is talked about as a form of violence: it green-lights actual violence against certain forms of speech. If speech is violence, shouldn't it be met with violence? Antifa looks increasingly like the militant wing of Safe Space fanaticism, the bastard offspring of a culture that elevates mental safety over intellectual liberty, and people's feelings over public freedom."

Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows - "Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found. The Lancet study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats. Researchers said the study was at odds with repeated health advice to cut down on fats. Those doing so tended to eat far too much stodgy food like bread, pasta and rice, the experts said, while missing out on vital nutrients. Participants eating the highest levels of carbohydrates – particularly refined sugars found in fizzy drinks and processed meals – faced a 28 per cent higher risk of early death... those with low intake of saturated fat raised chances of early death by 13 per cent compared to those eating plenty. And consuming high levels of all fats cut mortality by up to 23 per cent."
This measures mortality, so it's a lot more significant than studies showing, say, bacon increases colon cancer risk

Moderate consumption of fats, carbohydrates best for health, international study shows - "The research on dietary fats found that they are not associated with major cardiovascular disease, but higher fat consumption was associated with lower mortality; this was seen for all major types of fats (saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats), with saturated fats being associated with lower stroke risk. Total fat and individual types of fat were not associated with risk of heart attacks or death due to cardiovascular disease. The researchers point out that, while this may appear surprising to some, these new results are consistent with several observational studies and randomized controlled trials conducted in Western countries during the last two decades... "A decrease in fat intake automatically led to an increase in carbohydrate consumption and our findings may explain why certain populations such as South Asians, who do not consume much fat but consume a lot of carbohydrates, have higher mortality rates," she said... "Our study found the lowest risk of death in those who consumed three to four servings or the equivalent to 375 to 500 grams of fruits, vegetables and legumes per day, with little additional benefit for intake beyond that range"
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