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Friday, December 01, 2017

Links - 1st December 2017 (1)

Homophobic Trump Appoints Openly-Gay Man As German Ambassador - "Donald Trump has chosen former diplomat and Fox News commentator Ric Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany. If he’s confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Grenell would be the first openly gay envoy in the Trump administration."

EA’s day of reckoning is here after ‘Star Wars’ game uproar - "The company's profitable business model is now at risk after angry gamers revolted over its aggressive in-game moneymaking strategy in "Star Wars Battlefront II." EA's stock is down 8.5 percent month to date through Tuesday compared with the S&P 500's 2 percent gain, wiping out $3.1 billion of shareholder value. Its competitors Take-Two and Activision Blizzard shares are up 5 percent and 0.7 percent respectively during the same time period... an uproar began after details about the game's character progression were revealed, a system so tedious players are resorting to rubber bands on controllers to acquire credits to level up. The gaming community flooded social media and Reddit with thousands of negative posts, saying EA is unfairly compelling consumers to spend more money through micro-transactions for content that should be part of the initial $60 game price... Politicians vowed to take action to protect underage kids from the game's monetization practices. One Wall Street analyst is even calling for the industry to self-regulate before the government gets involved... Electronic Arts will likely be forced to dial back its extreme monetization strategies across its franchises, hurting future profitability."

Star Wars Battlefront 2 players are ruining the game with rubber bands - "You may be hurting your team’s chances at winning and annoying the rest of the players on the server, but this is the world EA and DICE have created. It feels weird to get angry at players who are trying to stretch what’s acceptable inside an economy that was this ill-conceived"

Apple rushes to fix major password bug - "by entering the username "root", leaving the password field blank, and hitting "enter" a few times, he would be granted unrestricted access to the target machine... Considering the power it gives, the bug is remarkably simple, described by security experts as a "howler" and "embarrassing"."

Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not - "About 70 percent of people who take the race version of the Implicit Association Test show the same tendency — that is, they prefer faces with typically European-American features over those with African-American features. Since it first went online in 1998, millions have visited Harvard’s Project Implicit website, and the results have been cited in thousands of peer-reviewed papers. No other measure has been as influential in the conversation about unconscious bias... Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things: One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, "produce a challenge for this area of research." That’s putting it mildly. "When you actually look at the evidence we collected, there’s not necessarily strong evidence for the conclusions people have drawn," says Patrick Forscher, a co-author of the paper, which is currently under review at Psychological Bulletin. The finding that changes in implicit bias don’t lead to changes in behavior, Forscher says, "should be stunning." Hart Blanton was not stunned. For the last decade, Blanton, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, has been arguing that the Implicit Association Test isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In a 2013 meta-analysis of papers, Blanton and his co-authors declared that, despite its frequent characterization as a window into the unconscious, "the IAT provides little insight into who will discriminate against whom, and provides no more insight than explicit measures of bias." (By "explicit measures" they mean simply asking people if they are biased against a particular group.)... high IQ scores tend to predict achievement, a claim backed up by reams of data. In contrast, the IAT — a sort of IQ test for bias — doesn’t reveal whether a person will tend to act in a biased manner, nor are the scores on the test consistent over time. It’s possible to be labeled "moderately biased" on your first test and "slightly biased" on the next. And even within those categories the numbers fluctuate in a way that, Blanton contends, undermines the test’s value. "The IAT isn’t even predicting the IAT two weeks later," Blanton says. "How can a test predict behavior if it can’t even predict itself?"... Everyone agrees that the statistical effect linking bias to behavior is slight. They only disagree about how slight.. Banaji and Greenwald, in a 2015 paper, argue that "statistically small effects" can have "societally large effects.""
Even the academics pushing the IAT admit it isn't very powerful. But that doesn't stop its fetishisation
If statistically small effects can have societally large effects how come this doesn't happen to women as per the Google "Anti Diversity" Memo?

Are We All Racists Deep Inside? - "First, unconscious states of mind are notoriously difficult to discern and require subtle experimental protocols to elicit. Second, associations between words and categories may simply be measuring familiar cultural or linguistic affiliations—associating “blue” and “sky” faster than “blue” and “doughnuts” does not mean I unconsciously harbor a pastry prejudice. Third, negative words have more emotional salience than positive words, so the IAT may be tapping into the negativity bias instead of prejudice. Fourth, IAT researchers have been unable to produce any interventions that can reduce the alleged prejudicial associations... For centuries the arc of the moral universe has been bending toward justice as a result of changing people's explicit behaviors and beliefs, not on the basis of ferreting out implicit prejudicial witches through the spectral evidence of unconscious associations. Although bias and prejudice still exist, they are not remotely as bad as a mere half a century ago, much less half a millennium ago. We ought to acknowledge such progress and put our energies into figuring out what we have been doing right—and do more of it."

Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism - The New York Times - "A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper... the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships... Most Eastern European women could not travel to the West or read a free press, but scientific socialism did come with some benefits. “As early as 1952, Czechoslovak sexologists started doing research on the female orgasm, and in 1961 they held a conference solely devoted to the topic,” Katerina Liskova, a professor at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, told me. “They focused on the importance of the equality between men and women as a core component of female pleasure. Some even argued that men need to share housework and child rearing, otherwise there would be no good sex.”"... sometimes necessary social change — which soon comes to be seen as the natural order of things — needs an emancipation proclamation from above."
Maybe better sex is worth being unable to travel the world or speak your mind

Cole White fired as Twitter names and shames protesters - "A white nationalist was fired from his job after Twitter users began naming and shaming alt-right supporters involved in yesterday's deadly Charlottesville rally"
I wonder what would happen if a radical feminist were fired. Or even someone from antifa who wasn't violent
I'm sure this will calm the sense of resentment that all the protesters had

Strategy Game Battle UI - "I was doing research on trends in the Strategy Game UI styles. And you can see a clear pattern that starts with simple left or right bar. Transitions into more complex top and bottom bars and then finally into widgets that stick out all around the screen. The switch from left or right bars to bottom bars was probably a purely stylistic choice or some thing to do with screen resolutions getting bigger, but transition to widgets is all to do with UI scaling. You should probably use widgets from now on.

YouTuber Sargon of Akkad alleges he was barraged with abuse after THAT VidCon confrontation with Anita Sarkeesian - "A YOUTUBER known as Sargon of Akkad has claimed that feminist trolls bombarded him with death threats and tried to break up his marriage. The online star, whose real name is Carl Benjamin, was at the centre of a firestorm last month after prominent feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian called him a “garbage human” and a “s***head” during a live panel at VidCon 2017, the world’s largest gathering of YouTube content creators... “The idea that she has the temerity to come along and say ‘other people are doing this to me’ is just hugely ironic"

Twitter Permanently Bans Sargon Of Akkad's Account - "The news about the account being suspended caused a bit of ripples in the water, but as pointed out by writer Ian Miles Cheong, it was just another day on Twitter where the social media service decided to ban or suspend another anti-SJW voice from the platform... So far there is no word on exactly who Sargon allegedly harassed, abused, or targeted, but he’s become an increasingly prominent figure that those on the Regressive Left have deigned problematic... the target on Sargon’s back grew exponentially this year after the very public VidCon incident that took place in June, where he was publicly harassed by feminist pundit Anita Sarkeesian, but organizers and the media turned it around and attempted to blame him for Sarkeesian harassing him. Sargon now joins other anti-SJWs, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, who have also been permanently banned from Twitter. The social media service had been targeting Conservative voices in the past, and have been recently utilizing tools to suppress certain kinds of speech, viewpoints, hashtags, and accounts using measures such as shadowbans and account throttling. Sargon of Akkad continues to post on social media via Facebook and YouTube"
Life as a SJW troll: harass your targets and then their targets get banned

VidCon Video Reveals Anita Sarkeesian Didn't Believe YouTubers Harassed Her - "Prior to the VidCon verdict, Sarkeesian made a post on the Feminist Frequency website [backup], claiming in the blog entry that Sargon and the other YouTubers were harassers, and showed up at VidCon 2017 to intimidate her and others. Well, in a video from VidCon 2016, just a year prior, Sarkeesian actually stated that these YouTubers weren’t actually harassers."

Google’s Silent Majority - WSJ - "Viewers may be surprised to learn that Mr. Damore is not a conservative, but a non-partisan critic of both the right and the left. He believes both sides of the ideological divide have valuable insights to offer. He doesn’t want to be a CEO because he desires more work-life balance. He makes suggestions on how to change Google’s work process and hiring to make the company more appealing and accessible to women—and also more effective. If you didn’t know any better you might think from this interview that he was among the most moderate, sensible people at Google—or any other workplace. And perhaps he is. As he did in his memo, Mr. Damore on video urges people to consider evidence from all sides of a political argument and to empathize with those who hold opposing views. He recommends seeing people as individuals, not as members of some larger group. It seems that the moderate, reasonable person who appears in this interview is also the person many of his colleagues saw before the recent media firestorm—but after reading his memo. Mr. Damore reports that he shared drafts of the memo about a month ago with various colleagues. “Many people looked at it but no one ever had this explosive reaction. All of the responses were just rational discussion,” he says... Mr. Damore’s experience raises a question of how high a price companies like Google should pay in pursuit of a particular vision of social justice. The fired software engineer describes former colleagues who said they were thinking of quitting because they weren’t part of the political “groupthink” and felt “totally isolated and alienated.”"

Google Cancels Meeting on Diversity, Citing Safety Concerns for Employees - WSJ - "Others say it is difficult to openly discuss diversity issues at the company because of a liberal bias among managers and colleagues at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc. And one employee said his managers’ reaction to Mr. Damore’s firing “has made it explicitly clear that any view not left [of] center is not welcome.”... the employee said the diversity program risks breeding dissent among the mostly white and Asian male staff, and he agreed with Mr. Damore that open discussion isn’t possible at Google... Google’s liberalism was clear at an internal town-hall meeting after the presidential election, where top executives commiserated with employees over Donald Trump’s victory, according to a recording of the meeting viewed by the Journal. Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, who publicly supported Hillary Clinton, called the election results “a kick in the gut.” Executives fielded a variety of questions over the hourlong meeting but none of the questions were in support of Mr. Trump’s victory."

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Authors of Our Own Misfortune? - "There are a whole range of ways in which our personal responsibility has been denuded by actually the removal of shame for example. So it is no longer shameful for young people to binge and get drunk. That is costly...
I do that all the time myself, I used to when I was in practice but, but I certainly wouldn't hide from the patient what that patient had contributed to his situation. So that for example, take another example, women who were very badly abused by men. And I would find out that actually they had contributed something to their own situation. And it was useless just to say to them: ah, you're victim, which of course they were. They were victims. But just to tell them that they were victims was useless and you had to try and make them see what they had contributed to the situation so that they didn't repeat it...
'If you are completely undiscriminating [in who you help] you create more lost sheep, that is the problem'
'I am discriminating on the basis of need and not on the basis of their supposed virtue'
'Ah yes. Well the worse you behave the more you need'...
'If a person, a drunk, repeatedly destroys the cooker and the refrigerator in his house how many times are you supposed to replace it? Just because he needs those things'
'And how, and if you withdraw that support then what happens to these people who are really at the bottom of the scrap heap?'
'Well often they pull theselves together, they do pull themselves together. But if they don't that isn't your responsibility. You've told them what, you say. Next time you do it we are not replacing your refrigerator'
Victim blaming!

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Are UK prisons in crisis? - "Near the end of his sentence he set fire to the mattress in his cell. For doing this a judge gave him an IPP or Imprisonment for Public Protection and said he should serve a minimum of ten months. Eleven years later he is still inside. He has no release date"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Today at 60: How our attitudes to sex have changed - "Alison Webster was to become the last principle Page Three photographer. She lost that job when Rupert Murdoch gave way to the rising chorus of protests and said enough. To this day Ms Webster regrets the passing of Page Three.
'Yeah everyone's entitled to criticize things. I think banning things is wrong because I think we should all be allowed to do what makes us happy as long it's not hurting anybody else and I don't think physically it was hurting anybody else'
'Weren't the women exploited?'
'I would say not. They would say that they were exploiting the Sun. They worked very little for a fair amount of money and had a great time doing it so where's the exploitation in that?... In America where they create more porn than any other place in the world, you're not allowed to sunbathe on a beach. I just think it'll go round in a circle and come back to somewhere again'"

China in World War Two | Podcast | History Extra - "The participation of China allowed the Allies to argue that 'we are not fighting a race war'... symbolically hugely important and that was very important especially to the United States... Roosevelt also used Chiang Kai Shek to undermine British control of India...
'There is a whole generation of I have to say crusty colonels living in small seaside towns even today in parts of Britain who are convinced that the Americans are the reason that the British Empire fell in the end. You're basically giving them ammunition with this right'
'I guess so. I think Roosevelt was working towards, working towards the world order which no longer was consisted of these highly militarized empire trading blocks. He believes that that made for a very unstable situation and one that is unsustainable given the kind of nationalisms that were clearly emerging all across the world'...
[Roosevelt] wants the Chinese, Chiang Kai Shek, to actually run the occupation of Japan...
As we now know the founders of Al Qaeda's strategy read their Mao... according to the British State department... in the same way that Mao read Clausewitz"
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