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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Links - 20th June 2017 (2)

'Rachel Maddow Show' Blames Venezuela Unrest on 'Trump Donations' - "MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Thursday night played images of rioting and protests in Venezuela with the chyron "Unrest in Venezuela Over Trump Donations," while Maddow claimed Venezuelans were "enraged anew" over a Trump Inaugural Committee FEC filing showing a major donation from Citgo Petroleum, an American subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela... All the while, the show played images of the massive street demonstrations against Maduro."

Wikipedia Is Shockingly Biased: 5 Lessons From An Admin - "Like your own workplace, the biggest problem with Wikipedia is that some people are happy dedicating all of their time to arguments about pointless bullshit. "Sega Genesis or Sega Mega Drive? Star Trek Into Darkness or Star Trek into Darkness (before the film was released, obviously)? Some of the worst have historically been the debates between American and British spelling. Is it 'color' or 'colour?'"... while it's doing well financially, it's bleeding away users. "The number of 'very active' editors (defined as more than 100 edits in a month) dropped from nearly 5,000 to about 3,200 between 2006 and 2014. The number of 'active' users (at least five edits per month) dropped from 50,000 to 30,000. One of my friends dropped out of editing several times because things were too contentious. Admin statistics are worse. We only have 551 active admins. We're not replacing admins at a fast enough rate"

Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong - NYTimes.com - "most people who got an industrial job soon changed their minds. A majority quit within the first months. They ended up doing what those who had not gotten the job offers did — going back to the family farm, taking a construction job or selling goods at the market. Contrary to the expert predictions (and ours), quitting was a wise decision for most. The alternatives were not so bad after all: People who worked in agriculture or market selling earned about as much money as they could have at the factory, often with fewer hours and better conditions. We were amazed: By the end of a year only a third of the people who had landed an industrial job were still employed in the industrial sector at all."

“Long live the patriarchy”: One more barrier faced by women in science - "On the third morning I woke up feeling victorious as I walked outside. But before long, defeat literally dampened that feeling as my socks absorbed the warm pee running down my legs. Long live the patriarchy."
Uhh... Is the patriarchy to blame for women suffering from menstrual cramps too?

The Unusual Origins of Pink Lemonade - "Conklin ran out of water and thinking on the fly, grabbed a tub of dirty water in which a performer had just finished wringing out her pink-colored tights. In true circus form, Conklin didn't miss a beat. He marketed the drink as his new 'strawberry lemonade,' and a star was born"

France’s Latest American Import: Mermaid Schools - The New York Times

The Strange Fate of the Giant Lobster NASCAR Trophy - "For the past few years, winners of the elegantly-named Lenox Industrial Tools 301 ("The Extra Mile on the Magic Mile") have been presented with a monster lobster (18-22 pounds!) at the podium. This bizarre tradition began whena Speedway official was inspired by a dinner at Makris Lobster & Steak Houseseven years ago... Makris' crack team of lobster guys takes the beast, pressure cooks it, and carefully takes out the roughly six pounds of meat... A taxidermist reassembles the shell, repaints it to look like an uncooked lobster, and mounts it as a trophy, which then gets sent to the winning driver"

Turkey blocks Wikipedia under law designed to protect national security - "Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government. “In radio and television broadcasting services, such programmes in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted,” said the text of the decree. Deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs. “There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” Kurtulmus said at the time."
Maybe extreme censorship and gender segregation are part of a "mildly Islamist" government's policies

A land of 246 kinds of cheese - Telegraph - "In parts of the Pyrenees, shepherds had developed a language of whistles that could be understood at up to two miles' distance, while, as the sun passed over the eastern region of the Franche-Comté, "it changed its name to souleil, soulet, soulot, s'lot, soulu, sélu, slu, séleu, soureil, soureiul, sereil, s'reil and seroille". Until the development of mass transport in the 19th century, and in many cases until much later, la France profonde was the "land of a thousand pays" - tiny areas of human settlement delimited neither by state boundaries nor by zones of taxation, but by the distance to which the village bells carried or by how far a patois remained comprehensible"

North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history - "A decade ago US diplomats and journalists, then full of enthusiasm about Libyan nuclear disarmament deal, used to say that North Korean leaders "should learn the lessons of Libya." And there's no doubt that they have, even if they've drawn very different conclusions... Kim is also no doubt aware that coups in non-democratic regimes are fairly common, and fairly successful; according to a recent study, 227 of the 457 coups worldwide between 1950-2010 succeeded. Two of those successful coups took place in the country Pyongyang watches most: South Korea... The per capita income gap between North and South Korea is larger than between any two other countries which share a land border; the ratio is somewhere between 1:14 and 1:40. The gap between East and West Germany, in contrast, was between 1:2 and 1:3... In North Korea, the attempt at emulating China's "reforms and openness" policy is likely to make the populace, currently isolated at least somewhat from the outside world, acutely aware of South Korea's unbelievable affluence, and less fearful of the authorities"

Murders in US very concentrated: 54% of US counties in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties have 51% of the murders - "Murders actually used to be even more concentrated. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73 percent of counties in any give year had zero murders"

Two members of alt-right accused of making white supremacist hand signs in White House after receiving press passes - "Ms Fairbanks’ supporters point out that the hand symbol is also used to mean “OK.” Photos show people of all races using the symbol to signify that everything is “alright.”"
How far have we fallen?

How to Turn Your Windows PC Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot - "If you’re running Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update installed, then you’re in luck. With that update, Windows now has a single switch for turning any PC with Wi-Fi into a hotspot, and it doesn’t matter whether the Internet connection you want to share is wired or wireless."

Yale Grad Students Go On 'Symbolic' Hunger Strike Where They're Allowed to Eat

Showing your butt in beautiful landscapes is the new trend

Organizers cancel 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade, after protesters threaten to shut it down - "Organizers of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade announced Tuesday that the event will be canceled, for fear that the east Portland parade could be disrupted by "the type of riots which happen in downtown Portland."... This year's parade was once again set to feature the Multnomah County Republican Party as one of the many groups slated to march, but that inclusion drew ire from some of the city's left-leaning protest groups. At least two protests were planned for the day of the parade, one by Oregon Students Empowered and another by Direct Action Alliance. Both events were mentioned in an email sent to parade organizers on Saturday, threatening to shut down the event with hundreds of protesters in the street. "You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely," the anonymous email said, telling organizers they could cancel the Republican group's registration or else face action from protesters. "This is non-negotiable.""
Maybe mainstream Republicans are "Nazis" too

AWESOME New Mod Tool – swgohindepth - "Redditor solosier’s new mod tool allows you to select a character and the stat you wish to maximize on that character. The tool then analyzes all your mods as shown on swgoh.gg (which is all those mods ever assigned to a character) and shows you your best possible mod allocation to maximize that stat."

Two words describe Labour's humiliating loss in Copeland: Jeremy and Corbyn
This from a consistently Labour-supporting tabloid

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Monday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "US infrastructure is crumbling... going through Africa is easier than going through a US airport, to be frank"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Cash for new grammar schools in £320m Budget plan - "One of the effects that a good new free school opening in a neighbourhood has is to raise standards in neighbouring schools. It's a myth to think that if a school opens on the doorstep of a coasting school, and it's a really good school, that the coasting school will just start spiralling the drain. Often what happens is that the coasting school will raise its game to compete with the new school"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Lord Baker looks back to Britain joining the EEC - "When you're creating a supernational state which is a sort of empire, which is what it has become, In the long flow of history, it's empires that decline but the nation states survive"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Christianity and politics - a match made in heaven? - "Theresa May is the daughter of a Church of England vicar. Gordon Brown was famously the son of a Manse. Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a Methodist preacher...
Disraeli in his novel Endymion has an exchange:
'Sensible men', says one of the two interlocutors, 'are all of the same religion'
'And pray what is that?' enquired the prince.
'Sensible men never tell'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Government: Grammar schools are for 'ordinary, working families' - "There's a phrase... they use it all over the country: one rule for them, another rule for anybody else. If your Shadow Home, Foreign Secretaries, Attorney-General and Director of Communication, not to mention the Labour party leader whose children ended up being sent to selective school, admittedly against his will because his wife sent him there, does it not suggest that you are arguing for policies that your own people don't believe in and practise as parents?

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Election 2017: Boris Johnson on his party's plan - "We should be very proud of our universities... of all the Kings, Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers in the world, 1 in 7 was educated in this country

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, David Moyes' remark: sexist or just a 'clumsy joke'? - "I'm uncomfortable about the entire debate because everybody who knows David Moyes knows that he's a decent, honourable man who's done great things for women's football, doesn't have a sexist bone in his body, who makes a clumsy joke... This is one small statement in a lifetime of good work for football. And the level of vilification and mob justice that he has been the victim of is, I think, is massively overblown but symptomatic of our age. Martha mentioned that managers sometimes react quite negatively towards questioning. They're questioned directly after a match, where reporters are: the job of a reporter is to get that one phrase out of an hour of questioning that can be put on the backpage and can make the manager look potentially less good than he'd like to be and after coming off camera he made this one joke - it was clumsy, it was poor, but let's be honest: journalists can be quite aggressive. And if a manager reacts slightly over the top I think we need to sometimes take that as part of the job... [On calling the female journalist 'the girl] if he had been asked that question by a male journalist he may have said 'the boy'. It's quite a common phraseology in football to say 'the lad' or 'the boy'... if we had to police every time we strayed into territory that was quite funny, quite sharp because we're worried that that one phrase could lead to the loss of our jobs, if that level, that dead hand of political correctness was to overtake our lives, natural and normal human discourse would die'...
'You feel like people are making a point particularly towards you because you're a woman. Or they say things like: Oh, watch your language, there's a woman in the room. And it's those offhand comments'
Words speak louder than actions
Ironically if Moyes had watched his language (alleged evidence of sexism) because there was a woman in the room, he wouldn't have gotten into trouble


BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Can robots learn to feel? - "The whole thing is you have something more intelligent than you deciding for you what to study, where to work and whom to marry... just as today we ask Google when we find our way around space... in 20 years or 40 years you will ask Google what to study and whom to marry'
'So therefore it's Google that's the evil master... become the evil master'
'It's not evil. It's in a way much worse than that. We are used to the scenario that there is an evil conspiracy... but this just implies that we are the best in the world. Any attempt to surpass human beings will fail. Will be evil. It's much worse for us to think that maybe it will succeed and then you have kind of a banal apocalypse in which we lose the power to decide because yes the Google algorithm makes better decisions from (sic) us about whom to marry'
'So it's the algorithm that's the master'
'Yes, and then authority shifts from the humans to the algorithms and again just try to think about your favourite Shakespeare play when all the decisions are taken by Google... instead of agonising for hours and hours, Hamlet can just ask Google: hey Google, what should I do?'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Why some Hispanic people voted for Donald Trump - "Ronald Reagan said: if you are with me 80% of the time, you're my friend. I was not with Donald Trump a 100%, but I was with him at least 80%... the alternative was worse"

Do TV actors mumble too much? - "It does make you pay attention. Because one of the reasons that I particularly enjoy Scandinavian crime is that you read the subtitles. So you can't can't look away, you can't play with your phone, you can't go on your computer, so I think the mumbling actor is the antidote to the double screener...
'Despite our, the screens on flat TV... being so good, the image is incredible, the sound isn't as good as it used to be, is it?'
'When you consider a conventional TV was a big box with depth to it so you could put a big decent pair of speakers that could handle a wide variety of frequencies, now those speakers often have to have less than 1 inch of depth because that's how thick the TV is... that's one of the reasons why people have started to invest in things like sound bars... to try and give yourself at least halfway decent sound'"

Reza Aslan on the Historical Jesus

Britain in 1914 and Jesus in history | Podcast | History Extra

"The problem with the study of the historical Jesus is that when you remove the New Testament from the picture we know almost nothing about the man.

I would say that scholars would probably agree about three things when it comes to the historical Jesus. Number one that he was a Jew, which seems obvious but I think it's an important thing to bring up and indeed it is the key to separating the Christ of faith from the Jesus of history is the recognition of his Jewishness. Number two that sometime in the first half of the first century he started a Jewish movement for Jews and that number three as a result of that movement he was executed by the state for the crime of sedition. That's pretty much it. That's not a lot and I think it's partly why so many scholars have abandoned the quest for the historical Jesus...

We know so much about the world in which he lived - first century Palestine thanks in no small part to the Romans who were quite adept at documentation, that if we take what little we know about Jesus and place it firmly in his world, in his time and place then the biography sort of rises on its own. And then we can use the Gospels to take the claims of the Gospels and analyze them according to what we know about the history of the time to sort of fill in the picture if you will.

The issue however is that when you do it this way the Jesus that arises from this kind of historical experiment that I just described is not very much like the sort of mainstream depiction of Jesus as a pacifistic preacher of good works with no interest in the cares of this world. The Jesus that arises from this historical experiment ends up being far more radical, more revolutionary than I think a lot of people expect...

Crucifixion under Roman law was a penalty that was reserved almost exclusively for crimes against the state: sedition, insurrection, rebellion, treason. These were the only crimes for which you could be crucified under Roman law. Now people always bring up the thieves that were crucified alongside Jesus. Of course they were not thieves. The Greek word lestai that the Gospels use doesn't mean thieves, it means bandits. And bandit was the most common term in Jesus's time for an insurrectionist, for a rebel...

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem in which he declares himself to be the King of the Jews. The cleansing of the Temple which would have been seen by everyone as a treasonable offense - after all the temple was not just the chief religious institution, it was also a political institution. It was also the seat of the Roman occupation of the Holy Land so any attack on the temple would have been seen as an attack a direct attack on the Roman Occupation...

Just the very statement I am the Messiah is a treasonable offense in first century Palestine. The Messiah means the Anointed One. The principal task of the Messiah as the descendant of King David is to re-establish the Kingdom of David on Earth to usher in the rule of God. Well if you areG claiming to be ushering in the Rule of God you are claiming to be ushering out the Rule of Caesar. And in fact every single individual in Jesus's time who claimed to be the Messiah and I write about a dozen or so of them - every single one of them was killed for it...

Probably the thing that comes as most as a surprise to the general reader is just how many other people in Jesus's time were walking around claiming to be the Messiah, curing the sick, casting out demons, gathering ,followers challenging the priestly authorities and the Roman occupation and then ultimately being killed for it very much like Jesus did...

Two thousand years later we have forgotten about all those other Messiahs, many of whom were far more successful, far more popular, had many more followers than Jesus did in their lifetimes and only one of them is still called Messiah. And I think that there's a couple of reasons for it one of which of course is that Jesus was extraordinary in that his social teachings were unprecedented. This message of Jesus is about the reversal of the social order that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the poor made rich and the rich made poor...

The reason that Jesus is today still called the Messiah and the rest are not had far more to do with what happened after Jesus's death and the claims made about him by his disciples than it did with anything Jesus himself said or did. You must understand that according to the Jewish definition of Messiah a dead Messiah is no longer the Messiah...

Jesus was a Jew preaching Judaism to other Jews... Jesus's preaching even in his own lifetime were understood in a multiplicity of ways. In the first three hundred years of Christianity there were dozens and dozens of different kinds of Christianities but it's a fact that the Christianity that one can say was most obviously championed by Paul, the sort of self described apostle, the man who didn't, never knew Jesus, never met Jesus, never quotes anything Jesus says or did and yet creates this deeply theological understanding of Jesus's words and actions, that that version of Christianity does ultimately become paramount. And that version of Christianity I think can probably be more easily traced to the letters of Paul than it can be to the words and teachings of the historical Jesus...

If Jesus were alive today he would be utterly confused by Christianity because Jesus was not a Christian, Jesus was a Jew... The concept of a divine man is anathema to everything Judaism has ever said, thought, written or believed about either god or man and I think it would probably confuse Jesus as well...

Jesus's politics was not about equality. Jesus was about the reversal of the social order... Jesus says woe to the rich for they shall receive their consolation. Woe to those who are fed for they shall go hungry. Woe to those who rejoice for they shall mourn. The first shall be last, the last shall be first. This isn't some utopian fantasy. This is quite a frightening reality that Jesus is describing. One in which those on the top and those on the bottom are going to switch places"

Links - 20th June 2017 (1)

What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel - "the construction of 100 apartments in a Jewish settlement is always news; the smuggling of 100 rockets into Gaza by Hamas is, with rare exceptions, not news at all... a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry. I don’t mean a critical approach to Israeli policies or to the ham-fisted government currently in charge in this country, but a belief that to some extent the Jews of Israel are a symbol of the world’s ills, particularly those connected to nationalism, militarism, colonialism, and racism—an idea quickly becoming one of the central elements of the “progressive” Western zeitgeist, spreading from the European left to American college campuses and intellectuals, including journalists... You can claim to be speaking truth to power, having selected the only “power” in the area that poses no threat to your safety... [AP's] editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel’s fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless... For the international press, the uglier characteristics of Palestinian politics and society are mostly untouchable because they would disrupt the Israel story, which is a story of Jewish moral failure... The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)"
On media bias against Israel

The Grand Budapest Hotel's Humane Comedy About Tragedy - "Talking about the most serious subjects with the help of comedy is a long European tradition running from Aristophanes to Voltaire to Jonathan Swift to Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, whose works were a principal influence of the film. That tradition was particularly strong in the real-life Zubrowka, Czechoslovakia, where Jaroslav Hasek’s The Good Soldier Schweik sent up militarism, Franz Kafka’s novels and stories mocked bureaucracy, and Havel’s comic plays helped bring down Communism. These artists recognized that profound issues deserve to be looked at through every single human lens, and no issue is perhaps more profound than the Holocaust, its causes and consequences"

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas - NYTimes.com - "the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer... a safe-space mentality has begun infiltrating classrooms, he said, making both professors and students loath to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. “I don’t see how you can have a therapeutic space that’s also an intellectual space,” he said... the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for causing students and faculty to be “hurt” when she failed to object to a racial epithet uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York. The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.” “It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,” Ms. Kaminer said in an email... Now students’ needs are anticipated by a small army of service professionals — mental health counselors, student-life deans and the like. This new bureaucracy may be exacerbating students’ “self-infantilization"... why are students so eager to self-infantilize? Their parents should probably share the blame"

Red Meat Is Not the Enemy - NYTimes.com - "A meta-analysis examining eight trials found that beef versus poultry and fish consumption didn’t change cholesterol or triglyceride levels significantly."

For Poor Countries, China Is No Model - WSJ - "the Chinese model isn't as viable as its admirers in the emerging world often think. First, unlike many emerging markets, China's growth has been driven largely by exports. Its success has been dependent on the free markets of the West. Most other emerging-market economies are based on agricultural commodities—just the sort of produce that the U.S. and Europe undercut with their own domestic subsidies. Second, an economic system with the state at its heart is inefficient because it dislocates markets. When the government is the ultimate economic arbiter, assets are inevitably mispriced, which hinders sustained, longer-term growth. It also creates imbalances between supply and demand, which can spark inflation and distort interest rates. Finally, policies that mimic China may yield a short-term burst in employment, but they also produce serious negative externalities and economic dead weight. China itself is now grappling with massive debt woes in its financial sector, a property bubble that could burst at any time and pollution that slows growth"

When I Questioned the History of Muhammad - WSJ - "Might the Arab conquerors not actually have been Muslim at all? Did the Quran, the supposed corpus of Muhammad’s revelations, in fact derive from a whole multiplicity of pre-existing sources? Was it possible that Muhammad himself, rather than coming from Mecca, had lived far to the north, in the deserts beyond Roman Palestine? The answer to all these questions, I gradually came to conclude, was yes... Two weeks later, I was still fielding death threats from Muslims convinced that the only plausible explanation for my having made the film was that I was in the pay of Mossad or the CIA or both. The most chilling moment of all came when Press TV, a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, aired a documentary leveling pretty much that accusation. It was the one time that I seriously imagined I might end up as the new Salman Rushdie"

The Parmesan Cheese You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood - "According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Terror in Turkey - but the president is riding high - "Turkish officials accused America of abetting the failed coup last summer. When the Russian ambassador was assassinated last month, the predominantly pro-government press said the US was behind that attack as well and after the Reina nightclub attack again the fingers were pointed at the United States. For instance one headline read: America chief suspect and more and more fingers are pointing to an involvement of the CIA for instance and there are millions of people across Turkey who sincerely believe that this could actually be happening"

Is the American Dream Really Dead? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "“What fraction of the kids born to low-income families actually make it to the top of the income distribution? How much intergenerational mobility is there in America?”... you’re twice as likely to realize the American dream of moving up if you’re growing up in Canada rather than the U.S... Within America, there are actually a number of places that truly are lands of opportunity, places where kids achieve the American Dream at high rates. In some places, like in Salt Lake City, Utah, or in the Bay Area, something like 13 percent of kids are making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth. Turns out in the center of the country, like in Iowa, for example, in many areas of Iowa you see more than 15 or 16 percent of kids making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth. So higher than the numbers we see in the data for Canada and for Scandinavian countries. But at the other end of the spectrum, you take places like Atlanta, Georgia; or Charlotte, North Carolina; or much of the southeast of the U.S., and you have rates of upward mobility below four-and-a-half percent. Lower than any country for which we currently have data...
CHETTY: Social capital is notoriously difficult to measure. And Bob had the creative idea of using the number of bowling alleys in an area, and in particular whether people are bowling alone, as a proxy for social capital... So I was amazed to find, I remember actually discussing this with Bob in his office at Harvard, that the number of bowling alleys is actually very highly correlated with the rates of upward mobility in our own data."

Did China Eat America’s Jobs? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "we estimate that as much as 40 percent of the drop in U.S. manufacturing between 2000 and 2007 is attributable to the trade shock that occurred in that period, which is really following China’s ascension to the WTO in 2001... Many economists had suspected that greater competition with China would create incentives for American companies to invest more in research and development and become more innovative. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, Autor and his colleagues found, Chinese competition has lowered profit margins for American manufacturers, leaving less money for R&D and resulting in less innovation... I think the other thing that we have to recognize, and that economists have tended not to emphasize is that jobs aren’t purely income. They are part of identity. They structure people’s lives. They give them a purpose and a social community and a sense of relevance in the world. And I think that is a lot of the frustration that we see in manufacturing-intensive areas...
One thing is I would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a federal wage subsidy for people with low incomes. It’s a really generous and effective program but it is targeted at adults with dependent children, primarily women. So if you’re a mother with two dependent children you can get up to $6,000 a year in EITC support, up to a household income of about $40,000. So it raises incomes and it also causes people to participate more in the labor market. It makes low-paid work better paying, effectively. But if you’re a man without dependent children you can get about $400 a year total from the EITC, not $6,000 – $400 a year. And many of the men that are you know struggling for employment, in fact many of them do have children. They just can’t claim them as dependents. They’re frequently not married to the mothers. So this is a group that is experiencing falling wages
Maybe the sexist structure of the EITC is one reason why men are in trouble

Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "there’s a good possibility, as one environmental economist puts it, “that the Endangered Species Act is actually endangering, rather than protecting, species.” Why? Because a species is often declared endangered months or even years before its “critical habitats” are officially designated. This allows time for public hearings – and it also allows time for developers and foresters to rush in and pave over those critical habitats before it’s illegal to do so. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that a law meant to clean up the air from coal pollution … has led to a different kind of coal pollution... One tool that industry groups use to challenge academic work they find unflattering is a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request. In the academic community, Hendryx came to be cited as a prime example of how FOIA can facilitate harrassment"

The Taboo Trifecta - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "DUBNER: It just strikes me that some of the pieces that I’ve read about you by capital F feminists, they seem to feel that you’re not in the camp, in the feminism camp the way they want you to be. I don’t understand what they think you’re doing wrong. Is there something incompatible with commercial success and feminism for instance, or is that entrepreneurial-ism? Is it a weird form of misogyny that they’re exercising? I’m just curious to know what that is.
AGRAWAL: Yeah, it’s a fake feminism. It’s like people who wear the feminist sweater loud and proud and they’re actually not real feminists. They just pretend to be or they want to be part of a club, like you want to wear the cross around your neck and be part of church. You know what I mean? And the minute that someone doesn’t espouse the same God that you espouse in exact same way that you pray to that God then they will be judging you. I have zero tolerance for that."
No true feminist puts sugar in her porridge

Chuck E. Cheese’s: Where a Kid Can Learn Price Theory - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "LEVITT: The danger of setting a price too low of course is that too many people want to consume the good. If it’s a kind of good where someone takes it and walks out of the store, then you’ll find that the shelves are empty. In the case where it’s not something we actually take out of the store but instead something you experience then what you end up having are long lines of people, all of whom want access to that same good but only a few of whom can actually consume the good."

Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 - Album on Imgur

Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite) Cosplay vs. Game : gaming

Macaco Tião - Wikipedia - "Tião became a celebrity in Brazil, when in 1988, a magazine, Casseta Popular, jokingly created his extra official candidature for mayor as a protest in defence of null voting. At the time, voting was written on papers instead of registered using voting machines. It is estimated that more than 400,000 ballots were cast for him, and he reached third place in an election with 12 candidates. Because of that, he is now on the Guinness World Records as the most voted chimpanzee in the world"

How Comfortable Would You Be Having a Roommate With Opposing Political Views to Your Own?
This result from the Dartmouth Politics Survey is interesting, as it shows that Republicans there are the most comfortable with political diversity (69%) - way above Democrats (39%) and even Independents (61%). And this on a campus where they are in the minority (and thus according to liberal logic would presumably need a "safe space"

The Davy Crockett Tac-Nuke: King of the Wild Cold War Frontier - "There was a time when the U.S. Army foresaw the need to launch more than 400 nuclear weapons in a single day should Soviet Russia attempt to invade Western Europe at the height of the Cold War. It was with this doomsday scenario in mind that army researchers developed a recoilless, truck-mounted rifle capable of lobbing nuclear-tipped munitions at the incoming Red Wave... The 120mm "light" iteration had a maximum range of 1.25 miles, the 155mm heavy version flew 2.5 miles. Both versions offered a minimum downfield range of just 1,000 yards—not nearly far enough to offer even modest protection from the ensuing nuclear holocaust"

Early Retirement, Early Death? - "A study of Shell Oil employees shows that people who retire at age 55 and live to be at least 65 die sooner than people who retire at 65. After age 65, the early retirees have a 37% higher risk of death than counterparts that retired at 65. That's not all. People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retire at 65."

How Kingdom of Heaven Whitewashed the Crusades

The long history of the Crusades | Podcast | History Extra

"Even when you're trying to reinterpret the Crusades in a positive light then there is serious danger. Even if you are trying to present what you think is a more balanced positivistic approach to this period, then you have to be extremely cautious.

And an exemplar of this comes in the two thousand and five film Kingdom of Heaven directed by Ridley Scott...

I spent six months working as a historical consultant on this film. It was not pleasant. Not a nice experience.

What's so fascinating about this - obviously it comes in the wake of 9/11. What is at the heart of this film is an attempt to present the world of the Crusades in the 12th century. Surrounds basically the battle of Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem that I described at the start of the lecture.

The attempt really is to present anyone who's of significance, anyone that you were supposed to view as a positive character - all of those figures really don't believe in religion. They ask almost proto-atheists. And what we're supposed to glean in many ways from the characters that we see who are positive characters is that they show us that Christians and Muslims can live side by side. That there is real potential for friendship, for equanimity and that especially in the presentation of Saladin... What we see is a man who's wise, who's gifted. Whose sort of evocation almost of the nineteenth century noble savage image of Saladin that we saw in the work of someone like Walter Scott.

And I think undoubtedly what really Scott wanted to do was take the sting out of Crusading history but also use it as a positive mirror to the past. The idea that we think that it's all about war but actually no it's about two peoples that can interact peacefully. It's a very cozy image.

Unfortunately it's not reflective of reality even though it's a more pleasant and more palatable piece of propaganda. It's still propaganda. We can see this in a couple of moments. One is it actually really telling in the film where we see Saladin making a deal to negotiate the surrender of Jerusalem and a man played, called Balian of Ibelin played by Orlando Bloom is trying to cut a deal for the Holy City's surrender.

And in, in the version in the film we see Saladin basically say I will let all the women and children go. All the men will go, I'll let them go free and Balian of Ibelin is absolutely astounded: how can you do this? The Crusaders came here and cut everyone down. It was violent and bloody and Saladin... just says: I am not those men. I'm, I'm a different type of human being.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Of course it's true that Saladin didn't butcher the population of Jerusalem but he did make them pay for their freedom - those who could pay. And we know, and this we know this from Arabic testimony, from Muslim testimony that some seven thousand men and eight thousand women remained unransomed and were taken into slavery. That little bit of uncomfortable detail is just again brushed to the side to give a slightly air brushed vision of Saladin.

Perhaps an even more telling moment comes a little bit later, about five minutes later in the film where we see Saladin walking through Jerusalem. Walking through a slightly disheveled room and there's a cross on the floor. Ghassan Massoud playing Saladin bends down, picks up this cross and just puts it on the table. Now this wasn't in the script. The script was pretty awful I have to tell you and when I read the script I actually thought to myself: they won't film half of this, anyone can see this is pretty awful. But actually they did film all of it pretty much word for word. But that moment with the cross wasn't there.

And after the film came out I had a very surreal experience of having Ridley Scott call me on the phone, an hour and a half trying to persuade me to put my backing behind the film to say yeah this is historically really accurate. And we went back and forth and back and forth and then in the end he said but how can you not like this film? What about that moment when Ghassan bent down to pick up the cross? It's such a powerful message about the integration of these two faiths.

I said so where did that come from? He said oh you know Ghassan just did it off the cuff. He was just walking through the room and he bent down and picked it up. And Ridley Scott said he went up to Ghassan afterwards and said why did you do that. And he looked him in the eye and said: because that's what Saladin would have done. It's a lovely image but unfortunately again it's entirely misrepresentative.

Again Arabic Muslim testimony tells us that the very first thing that Saladin did when he got into Jerusalem was to order the cross that had been on top of the Dome of the Rock to be ripped down and broken into pieces. So this idea that we can alter the past by presenting a rosier more positivistic image of Saladin, even that I think is problematic"

Monday, June 19, 2017

Links - 19th June 2017 (2)

The Legacy of Fear - The New York Times - "leaders in some countries simply made better political decisions. Most of these countries enacted economic reforms, like deregulating prices and privatizing nationalized companies. Some nations like Estonia and Poland enacted reforms radically and quickly, while others tried to do them gradually or barely at all — with expensive security blankets for protected interests. The quick and radical group saw a slightly bigger output drop over the near term but much more prosperity over the long run... these nations lacked the basic building blocks we take for granted. Before you have a stock market, for example, you have to have publicly available data about companies, credit records and accounting systems. Finally, and most important, there is the level of values. A nation’s economy is nestled in its moral ecology. Economic performance is tied to history, culture and psychology. Poland, for example, had been invaded throughout its history, yielding a pragmatic, survivor ethos. The Poles had a keen desire to initiate reforms on their own. Poles also had a clear sense of justice and injustice, since they had seen the Russians do things the wrong way on their own territory. They placed a high value on education and social mobility... Many of the ailing countries are marked by distant power relationships. Those with power — even in an office or neighborhood — are aloof and domineering. Those without power hanker for security at all costs. They’re nostalgic for the imagined stability of communism. When everything seems arbitrary and crooked, people tolerate strongman rule. The lesson of the past 25 years is that democratic prosperity is built on layers of small achievements 10,000 fathoms deep"

The Educational Power of Discomfort - "The problem goes much deeper — it is my students’ fragility. I do not mean the sort of fragility provoked by a class dealing with the representation of human-rights abuses, or the sort of fragility they undoubtedly feel as they read a nonfiction piece about a Chilean mental institution. I mean the fragility I witness when a student misses an assignment because he simply forgot to check the syllabus, or when a student speaking aloud in class for the first time starts shaking, or when a student who is handed back an incomplete paper with a C on it immediately tears up... What we should not do is shelter our students. There is so much talk about "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" in academe today... my classroom is always a safe space. Not because it is devoid of uncomfortable materials, but because I make sure all my students respect one another’s opinions by actively listening and responding to one another during debates and class discussions... Toward the end of every semester, my students are transformed. Their fragility, though still not entirely eradicated, becomes less visible, less relied upon. They become critical readers, not only of literature, but of their own environments. Their fragility shifts as we embark on our journey into discomforting worlds, witnessing, firsthand what it means to exist within the complex world of human emotions, atrocious histories, and, often, our own failures."
Comments: "Wait, Berkeley students don't know that a paper needs a title and a thesis statement?"

Christie Blatchford: B.C. teacher fired for having the wrong opinion - "A teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month after making an innocuous comment about abortion to his Grade 12 law class... “I find abortion to be wrong,” he said, as another illustration of this gap, “but the law is often different from our personal opinions.” That was it, the teacher said. “It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.” A little later, the class had a five-minute break, and when it resumed, several students didn’t return, among them a popular young woman who had gone to an administrator to complain that what the teacher said had “triggered” her such that she felt “unsafe” and that, in any case, he had no right to an opinion on the subject of abortion because he was a man. The school, for the record, is a witheringly progressive one... "I was recognized as an outstanding teacher, but student ‘safety’ was the school’s primary concern.”"

Wisconsin teacher removed for essay defending Ku Klux Klan - "A Wisconsin charter school teacher has been suspended after giving students an essay to defend the Ku Klux Klan... The teacher, who is African-American, emphasised the goal was to teach seventh-graders to write persuasively"
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

This building uses emoji cast in concrete as modern gargoyles

PAP’s association with FAS comes to sad end, thanks to FIFA - "The People’s Action Party’s long association with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) now seems to have come to a sad end. This is in light of news, 25 April, that its last-appointed President of the FAS – former Mayor and former PAP Member of Parliament, Zainuddin Nordin – is under police investigation and is currently out on bail... Since Singapore’s Independence in 1965, the head of the FAS has always been a government appointee, whether a civil servant, a magistrate, a minister or an MP. The government’s power to appoint council members was hardwired into the constitution of the FAS which, incidentally, is the oldest football association in Asia, having been established in 1892... The current saga in the FAS came about when, in 2015, the world governing body for football, FIFA, stepped in and informed the FAS that its practice of having government appointees to head the association was in breach of FIFA’s Statutes... the FAS had spent a mere $70,000 on supporting grassroots football, while it paid its own top executives millions over several terms in charge."

Burger & Lobster - Continental - Dining - Resorts World Genting - "Fancy your Burger & Lobster rare? There’s only one place in Malaysia"
I like how Resorts World Genting acknowledges that Malaysia is such a benighted shithole that there's only one place in the whole country you can get rare lobsters and burgers

British Airways offloads British couple at military base over demand for business class upgrade

Female dragonflies fake sudden death to avoid male advances - "He observed 27 out of 31 females plummeting and playing dead to avoid males, with 21 of these ploys successful. Plunging at high speed is risky though, and according to Adolfo Cordero-Rivera at the University of Vigo in Spain, it may be a strategy that they use only in areas with lots of dragonflies. “Females may only behave in this way if male harassment is intense,” he says."
Toxic masculinity and patriarchy are powerful indeed

A vigilante is putting a huge amount of work into infecting IoT devices - "Hajime uses the same list of user name and password combinations used by Mirai, the IoT botnet that spawned several record-setting denial-of-service attacks last year. Once Hajime infects an Internet-connected camera, DVR, and other Internet-of-things device, the malware blocks access to four ports known to be the most widely used vectors for infecting IoT devices. It also displays a cryptographically signed message on infected device terminals that describes its creator as "just a white hat, securing some systems.""

Police officer 'not racist' for using black monkey toy - "A counter-terrorism officer was not being racist when he put a monkey toy on a black colleague's desk, a disciplinary panel has found. Det Sgt Andrew Mottau was cleared of gross misconduct, but was told he should have realised the animal could be perceived as offensive. He will now receive management advice - the lowest form of disciplinary action. The woman who brought the complaint said he used the toy to signal whose turn it was to make tea and coffee... The panel found him guilty of misconduct, but concluded that the monkey toy was used in an innocent way to share out the tea-making duties among the team at the South East Counter-Terrorism Unit. They also decided the woman at the centre of the case, who has not been named, had an unwillingness to participate in the tea round, and the phrase "black monkey" was not used in the office. The woman, who was the only black person in the team at the time, had known Det Sgt Mottau for more than 20 years. Det Sgt Mottau was described as "a highly skilled investigator" who never displayed bullying or racist behaviour"
Perhaps the moral of the story is that you shouldn't interact with minorities, in case they falsely accuse you of racism/some other form of discrimination and try to get you fired

Study finds links between swearing and honesty

Anne-Marie Slaughter: Women Are Sexist, Too - "Men are certainly aware of a widespread female presumption that we really do know better when it comes to home and kids. In an article in New York magazine, therapist Barbara Kass calls many of us out on this account: “So many women want to control their husbands’ parenting. ‘Oh, do you have the this? Did you do the that? Don’t forget that she needs this. And make sure she naps.’ Sexism is internalized.” On Huffington Post, dad blogger Aaron Gouveia notes it’s mostly the moms “who claim to be over- worked and desperate for dads to do more” who also criticize dads for not doing things right when they do step up. “And by right, I mean their way. I’ve seen dads criticized and made fun of for how they dress the baby [and] for how they feed the baby”... We have been asking for “help.” That means we decide what needs to be done and we ask the men in our lives to help us do it. It’s not going to work that way. Real equality means equality at home just as much as at work. It means a whole new domestic order. It has taken Andy and me a long time to get to this place. For years, I got upset with Andy about why everything domestic seemed to be my responsibility. Although he did lots of stuff, it was almost always when I told him what needed to be done, and he never seemed to feel the urgency or necessity of getting it done himself. But then I came to realize something else: for a long time I wasn’t really willing to let him take responsibility. I did feel, deep down, that I knew what I was doing in terms of running our household better than he did. I didn’t really trust him to be able to do it on his own, or certainly not to do it the way I would. As our sons would be quick to point out, that’s sexism, plain and simple. I was assuming, like almost all the women I know, that he wouldn’t be able to take care of the kids or run a house­hold as well as I could because he’s a man. But of course if a man were to assume that I really can’t practice law or medicine or busi­ness or any other profession or job as well as he can because I’m a woman, I would hit the roof."
Gatekeeping: one reason women do more house and child care work

Freighter Full of Sheep Accidentally Takes Out Russian Spy Ship

Being Single Is Now a Disability, According to the World Health Organization - "The controversial new classifications will make it so that heterosexual single men and women, as well as gay men and women who are seeking in vitro fertilization to have a child, will receive the same priority as couples. This could make access to public funds for IVF available to all."

Why Airplanes Still Have Ashtrays in the Bathrooms - ""Back in 1973, a flight crashed and killed 123 people, and the reason for the crash was attributed to a cigarette that was improperly disposed of. "The FAA has decided that some people (despite the policies against smoking, the warning placards, the smoke detector, and the flight attendants) will smoke anyway, and when they do, there had better be a good place to put that cigarette butt.""

We Finally Know How Dogs Sniff Out Diabetes

Study: People Who Point Out Typos Are Jerks

Chinese man's girlfriend and ex BOTH jump in river demand to be saved - "A Chinese man who was embroiled in a three-way tug of love between his current and ex girlfriends was forced to choose between the two women when they both jumped in a river and demand he save them. Wu Hsia, 21, had broken up with long-term girlfriend Jun Tang, 20, after meeting new love Rong Tsao, 22, in the city of Ningbo in eastern China's Zhejiang province. But Jun had taken the split badly and, over the following three months, engaged in a campaign of harassment in an effort to make her beau leave his new girlfriend"
Let both drown

Left Outside the Social-Justice Movement's Small Tent - "“I never voiced my personal disagreements because having dissenting views is strictly forbidden in the activist circles I was a part of,” he explained. “If you’re white, you will be charged with being a ‘bad ally.’ (There's also certain gatherings you cannot come to because your mere presence might be threatening.) If you’re a person of color, your disagreements will usually be dismissed as some form of ‘internalized racism,’ ‘internalized sexism,’ or ‘respectability politics,’ among many other activist jargon's thrown at individuals who do not conform the groups views.” Eventually, he started to speak up anyway, he said. “On Twitter,” he wrote, “I discussed how trigger warnings have almost been rendered useless now that they’re used to alert individuals when talking about normal everyday things, like food, cars and animals. And that their use could potentially have adverse effects on academic freedom. I was accused of being outrageously insensitive and apparently made three activist cohorts have traumatic breakdowns.”... "I was accused of being a ‘respectable negro,’ ‘uncle tom,’ ‘local coon’... too many left-wing student groups treat no one as badly as students of color or women who consider themselves to be classical liberals, libertarians, or conservatives, or who merely disagree with the actions of progressive protesters on campus. They’re seen as special kinds of traitors."

Okayama's Naked Festival

The Crackdown on Little Free Library Book Exchanges - "We've constructed communities where one must obtain prior permission from agents of the state before freely sharing books with one's neighbors! And their proposed solution is to get scarce public art funds to pay for the needless layer of bureaucracy being imposed on the thing already being done for free. The power to require permits is the power to prevent something from ever existing"

The Sony Hack and the Yellow Press - NYTimes.com - "Finally the media got serious. Not because no one gets more use out of the First Amendment than they do, and here was a group threatening to kill people for exercising it. Not because hackers had released Social Security numbers, home addresses, computer passwords, bank account details, performance reviews, phone numbers, the aliases used when high-profile actors check into hotels (a safety measure to keep stalkers away), and even the medical records of employees and their children. But because a stolen email revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was being undervalued... so much for our national outrage over the National Security Agency reading our stuff. It turns out some of us have no problem with it at all. We just vacated that argument."

Follow a Career Passion? Let It Follow You - NYTimes.com - "Every time our work becomes hard, we are pushed toward an existential crisis, centered on what for many is an obnoxiously unanswerable question: “Is this what I’m really meant to be doing?” This constant doubt generates anxiety and chronic job-hopping. As I considered my options during my senior year of college, I knew all about this Cult of Passion and its demands. But I chose to ignore it. The alternative career philosophy that drove me is based on this simple premise: The traits that lead people to love their work are general and have little to do with a job’s specifics. These traits include a sense of autonomy and the feeling that you’re good at what you do and are having an impact on the world"

The History of Science

Science and St Peter | Podcast | History Extra

"I volunteered to teach it because I thought I wanted to learn more about it. Which is sort of typical for an academic - that's the way you learn things...

Past scientists were not reached, reaching for the same goals that we were reaching, that we are reaching for, only not getting as close as we've come. But that they really had no idea of the kind of thing that can be learned about the world and the way to learn it. And I began to see the history of the science not as the accumulation of facts and theories about this and that but as the learning of a way of interacting with nature that leads to reliable knowledge. It surprised me how far the great natural scientists of the past were from anything like our present conception of science...

Copernicus did not base his theory about the earth going around the sun on his own observations or observations made by his contemporaries in Europe. He based it on the earlier work of the Greeks in particular Claudius Ptolemy who lived about one hundred and fifty AD and he saw that the things that were ugly about Ptolemy's theory could be rectified and made understandable and not artificial by just changing the point of view from a stationary earth to a stationary sun with the earth going around it... Copernicus made no significant observations of his own. He was relying completely on what Ptolemy had already done...

The Golden Age of Islamic Science was really pretty much over by eleven hundred... had Islamic Science simply run out of steam or was it somehow suppressed by changes in Islam? I don't know the answer but it's a similar question to the question about Greek science: did Greek science around the year four hundred or five hundred AD simply run out of steam or was it suppressed by the adoption of Christianity?...

[On Huygens's time] A large body of thought felt that science was a branch of mathematics and that its truths could be determined by purely mathematical reasoning. This goes way back to Plato who thought that it in order to do astronomy it wasn't necessary to look at the sky - pure reason was all you needed...

One of the reasons why the writing of science is legitimately different from say art history or even political history - we can't say with confidence that the Impressionists were right to abandon the photographic realism of the Romantic period or that the Norman conquest was a good thing. That kind of judgement is silly when you talk about the history of art or political history. On the other hand we can certainly say Newton was right and Descartes was wrong about that what keeps the planets going around the sun...

There is a definite sense of discovering right and wrong in science that doesn't exist so much in other areas and I think that's another point that science is not just an expression of a cultural mileu as some historians have argued and some sociologists of science have argued. Science is the discovery of truths that are out there to be discovered... I once was crass enough to say that the study of the history of science is the best antidote to the philosophy of science"

Links - 19th June 2017 (1)

Daughter Starts Fundraising After She's Cut Off for Who She’s Dating— Dad Says ‘It Has Nothing to Do with Race’ - "No one is disputing the fact that Dowdle's parents will no longer be paying for her car, her phone, or continue to give her money for college. However, her father, Bill Dowdle, cites a different reason for telling his daughter — who attends private school — that it's time to start paying for herself... Bill points to his daughter being spoiled as the reason the family is making the move to hold back on the financial support... Allie decided to find someone else to come through with the money she needed to pay for school tuition by sharing her story on GoFundMe. The Tennessee teenager has raised thousands of dollars using her story of the heartbreak her parents have caused her, with strangers donating $13,230 towards the $10,000 goal she initially set."
Why are fundraisers so popular among liberal milennials?

The Plastic-Eating Fungi That Could Solve Our Garbage Problem - "the Yale researchers discussed finding the fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, in the Amazon, one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. The students brought a sample back to the United States, with permission from the Ecuadorean government, and isolated the enzymes in the fungus that enable its plastic-chomping properties... He points to one of the fungus’s properties, as outlined in the Yale paper: its potential ability to adopt other species’ genes and infect other species with its own genes. As the Yale study notes briefly, “Pestalotiopsis microspora...have a propensity for horizontal gene transfer.” Cohen cites the Uruguayan-bred virus myxomatosis, which was introduced to Australia in the 1950s in an attempt to curb the enormous rabbit population and quickly went wild across the continent. “What is the possibility of horizontal gene transfer for the gene that produces this digesting chemical to be transferred to other organisms that weren’t intended to have that gene?” asks Cohen. “Is there a risk that the process of degradation could spread out of control?” In other words, the trash-eating enzyme could possibly mutate with other organisms in the landfill and start breaking down materials besides polyurethane—great for horror-movie writers, less so for people living nearby"

Pepper Spray Eases Symptoms of Nasal Sinus Infection

Even 'Never Trump' Camp Eyes Clinton's 65% Tax Rate - "Most estate planning lawyers will say that the really big estates can find ways around many rules to at least materially reduce their impact. Yet planning to avoid the estate tax is expensive, and requires years of planning. The estate tax succeeds at catching many people unaware. It can be a hardship to family companies and family farms"

Take down 'racist' Theodore Roosevelt statue, activists tell New York museum - "Hundreds of activists gathered at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday to take down the “racist” statue of Theodore Roosevelt and an urgent call to rename Columbus Day... The group started with a 10-stop tour of the museum in which they highlighted a variety of exhibits they felt were racist and misrepresentative, which ranged from how the representation of Africans reinforces negative stereotypes to the exoticizing of Islam in the Hall of Islam exhibit. “Where is the Hall of Christendom?” one of the tour guides asked. “It’s just to echo what this is, it’s really a hall of white supremacy, that’s what this is,” said Nitasha Dhillon, one of the organizers. At the end of the tour in the hall, activists began chanting, “Respect! Remove! Rename!” before swarming around the large dinosaur skeletons in the lobby with signs that read, “DECOLONIZE THIS MUSEUM”, “ABOLISH WHITE SUPREMACY” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER”."

Why Western leftists adore right-wing religious extremists abroad - "When the history of the West is written it will say: they educated themselves to hate themselves and love what they hate about themselves in the other. American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler said in 2006 that “understanding Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of the global left, is extremely important.” That contradictory view is emblematic of a phenomenon spanning everything from Michel Foucault’s embrace of the Islamic Revolution in Iran to those “anti-war” activists in the UK who support Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russia’s bombing of civilians... Why do those who dislike US presidential candidate Donald Trump find bombastic populists like Venezuala’s Hugo Chavez so endearing? Why is Assad’s war on terror so good, but George W. Bush’s so bad?... humans need to fill the void of rage within... the “Left” eschews nationalism at home. Yet the nationalism of the “other” is authentic and palatable. Discarding one’s own flag is de rigueur but filling oneself up with the nationalism of the other is acceptable... They don’t like Jerry Falwell, but if he was Ayatollah Jerry al-Falwell, he’d be beloved and honored

No white people will star in the ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ movie, and that’s a beautiful thing - ""The cast is entirely Japanese, but the setting is Europe. However, their race and nationality isn’t expressed in a specific form." This news is particularly refreshing in the wake of the upcoming Dr. Strange and Ghost in the Shell movies' whitewashing of the Asian characters in their source material, tapping Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson, respectively, to play them."
I read this a few times and still don't understand what the Jedi mind trick is supposed to be - unless it's that white people are evil

Ghost in the Shell Publisher 'Never Imagined' a Japanese Actress in the Lead Role - "“Looking at her career so far, I think Scarlett Johansson is well-cast,” Sam Yoshiba, director of the international business division at Kodansha’s headquarters in Tokyo, told The Hollywood Reporter (via AnimeNewsNetwork and RocketNews). “She has the cyberpunk feel. And we never imagined it would be a Japanese actress in the first place.” “This is a chance for a Japanese property to be seen around the world,” said Yoshiba. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this comes after Yoshiba recently came back from the movie’s New Zealand set and said, as The Hollywood Reporter writes, “he was impressed by the respect being shown for the source material.”... In Japan, however, many people online don’t seem too upset or even surprised about the casting. Some said they didn’t care because they had no plans to see the film anyway."
One claim is that Ghost in the Shell is unique to the context of 1980s Japan, so you need to cast Japanese actors. In that case you can only cast White British actors in Shakespeare (except for Othello)

Chongqing farmer finds ancient sword, unwittingly uses it as kitchen knife for several years - "The sword is suspected to originate from the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) due to the presence of three Chinese characters which read "Qing Long Jian" (Green Dragon Sword)."

U.S. judge blocks Trump order to restrict funding for 'sanctuary cities'
"a judge that is suppose to defend the law punishing the Trump administration for enforcing the law"

Symone Sanders Mocks Trump Supporter Beat Up By Mob: 'Oh My Goodness, Poor White People!'

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket - "Slack's core business benefits from the philosopher's touch. Hard-core engineers have been trying to build knowledge-management software for at least 15 years. Most of their approaches are so cumbersome that corporate users can't wait to quit. Slack makes everything simple. It bridges everything from Dropbox to Twitter, helping users organize documents, photos and data files into streamlined channels for easy browsing. Considering that Butterfield spent his early 20s trying to make sense of Wittgenstein's writings, sorting out corporate knowledge might seem simple... Add up the jobs held by people who majored in psychology, history, gender studies and the like, and they quickly surpass the totals for engineering and computer science. Run the numbers on recent graduates of Boston University, the University of Texas at Austin or any of the University of California campuses, and the hiring pattern in Silicon Valley is seen to be broadly similar."

Banana peel is just as nutritious as the flesh

Growing a penis at 12: the 'Guevedoce' boys of the Dominican Republic - Telegraph - " Johnny is known as a “Guevedoce”, which literally means, “penis at twelve”. And the reason he’s called that is because, like 1 in 90 of the boys in the area, he first started to grow a penis when he was going through puberty. Guevedoces are also sometimes called “machihembras” meaning “first a woman, then a man”. When they’re born they look like girls with no testes and what appears to be a vagina. It is only when they near puberty that the penis grows and testicles descend"

Piece of Cake: Traditional Kueh Lapis - "3 tbsp rum"
So Kueh Lapis shouldn't be Halal!

Heroic Artist Gets 'Make America Great Again' Tattooed Around His Anus (NSFW) - "“I always worked my body as a weapon and a political tool,” Azcona said. “For more than 12 years I have been performing political and social performances and exhibitions that have led me to jail, detention or death threats. I believe in the empowerment of the body and of the pain. The anus is a pleasure zone for many people, and an area of sin for others. I think demystifying what the anus is, and writing a fascist political motto like that in my anus, is a clearly critical and subversive action.”"
We honor him this day. He was an hero

Japanese theme park now offering fake thugs you can “beat up” to impress your girlfriend【Video】

New password guidelines say everything we thought about passwords is wrong - "Here is a quick look at the three main changes the NIST has proposed:
No more periodic password changes
No more imposed password complexity
Mandatory validation of newly created passwords against a list of commonly-used, expected, or compromised passwords."

Toa Payoh couple arrested: Experts caution against lynch-mob mentality - "The couple was initially identified by netizens as staff of UOB’s Toa Payoh branch but the bank later clarified that they were not. Noting how cyber sleuths also identified the wrong driver who ran over a dog at Pasir Ris Farmway 3 last year, Mr Ng said: “Too many times now, online vigilantes took over and identified someone who is really not the perpetrator, and the poor person has to take the brunt of it.”... “Someone respectable and seen as a neutral party, if available, could have stepped in to resolve the conflict, and nudge the offending party to apologise to the one receiving the bad treatment,” he said. However, he noted that the norm in Singapore “seems to be that only the authority of the state could resolve” such incidents. Mr Ng urged bystanders to not just film such incidents, but step in and defuse the situation where appropriate. “I hope we don’t progress to the stage where we all just film and nobody helps the person who needs help,” he said"

Three Isis fighters 'mauled to death by wild boars in Iraq'

ANTIFA Leftist Group Is Selling Concealed Knives On Their Website For Slicing Conservatives - "Following the recent violent mobilization of Antifa in Berkeley, the domestic terror organization has begun to embrace violence as part of its message. There is a visible evil to the entity and sadly it is comprised of young Americans who have adopted a violent, Marxist mentality. They are now selling small, concealed knives and are actively promoting violence in an effort to fight perceived “fascism”... A petition was started in February to declare Antifa a terrorist organization. They were throwing M-80’s, glass bottles and bricks at Trump supporters in Berkeley and now they are selling concealed knives to be used."

Egyptian Writer: “Islam Cannot Be Reformed” - "“If it had been possible to reform Islam, it would have been done centuries ago,” Abdel Samad told the Moroccan French-language magazine. “Islam is an ultra-sacralized entity. Who would dare to reform Allah’s word? Furthermore, there is no central authority in charge of Islam as it is the case with the Catholic and Orthodox churches.” The German-Egyptian author claimed that, as Islam goes beyond religious belief, it cannot be reformed. “Islam is basically incompatible with secularism. It is a tradition that mixes religion with economy, and politics with militarism. It complicates the relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims. I don’t believe in general salvation.” On the other hand, Muslims’ mentality, according to Abdel Samad, can be “reformed”... A death fatwa was issued against him live on a salafist Egyptian TV channel in 2013. In Germany, he has been living under police protection."
Is this racism?

Man Fined $500 for Crime of Writing 'I Am An Engineer' in an Email to the Government - "In September 2014, Mats Järlström, an electronics engineer living in Beaverton, Oregon, sent an email to the state's engineering board. The email claimed that yellow traffic lights don't last long enough, which "puts the public at risk." "I would like to present these facts for your review and comments," he wrote. This email resulted not with a meeting, but with a threat. The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying responded with this dystopian message: "ORS 672.020(1) prohibits the practice of engineering in Oregon without registration … at a minimum, your use of the title 'electronics engineer' and the statement 'I'm an engineer' … create violations.""

Don't call pregnant women 'expectant mothers' as it might offend transgender people, BMA says - "The British Medical Association has said pregnant women should not be called "expectant mothers" as it could offend transgender people. Instead, they should call them "pregnant people" so as not to upset intersex and transgender men, the union has said. The advice comes in an internal document to staff outlining a raft of common phrases that should be avoided for fear of causing offence. "The elderly" should be referred to as "older people", "disabled lifts" called "accessible lifts" and someone who is "biologically male or female" should be called "assigned male or female"... listing prefixes for names such as "Prof", "Dr", "Mr", "Mrs" or "Miss" should not be put in a particular order on forms to avoid a "perceived hierarchy"."

The FBI Says It Can't Find Hackers to Hire Because They All Smoke Pot

The Unintended Consequences of Borrowing Business Tools to Run a University - "When an academic institution adopts business concepts, the tools themselves can influence the very basis of what the college provides. To be sure, on my campus we use focus groups and surveys to great effect. They help us discover ways to improve the experience we offer. Yet I believe we make a serious mistake if we start to think about students as customers."

New views on the Holocaust and 1980s Britain

New views on the Holocaust and 1980s Britain | Podcast | History Extra

"Destroying states creates the potential for killing Jews because it removes state protection. Because it allows the Germans to use local institutions in a way that they were never intended to do because it breaks conventional practices, creates zones of anarchy and precisely zones of experimentation. The Germans experimented beyond Germany in ways they could not experiment inside Germany.

How do states protect Jews? Well, the most obvious way, and it's really simple and we take it for granted, is citizenship. The Holocaust only happened to people who didn't have citizenship from the German point of view. It only happened to Jews whose states were destroyed from the German point of view or to Jews whose states abandoned them. The Germans and I think this is really interesting - the Germans would not actually kill Jews who had a passport of a state that the Germans recognized unless the state was willing to let it happen...

We think that bureaucracy killed Jews. I think it's actually the truth is close to the opposite. Insofar as there was a bureaucracy that meant that people were individuals whose case had to be somehow be processed. The Germans actually struggled with bureaucracy at home the entire time. When they got abroad they could destroy other people's bureaucracies, create bureaucracy free zones - and that's how they found the way actually to kill German Jews...

Roughly half the perpetrators were not Germans. Many of the Germans who killed Jews were not Nazis. And even relatively few of the Nazis I think it's fair to say actually shared the entirety of Hitler's world view. It's pretty clear for example that Himmler who was in practice the architect of the Holocaust, it's pretty clear that Himmler did not in fact accept this entire circular view of the world.

So the tragic thing for us as people is that you can be drawn into this view of the world. You don't have to accept it from the beginning. You can be drawn into it step by political step and the things that you do - joining a party, discriminating against another human being or in the end murdering someone, those acts can bring you into the world view as well. Even if you don't accept it mentally, the fact that you do something makes the world view become the only acceptable excuse for what you've done...

In terms of the people who were not Germans they very often killed Jews for motives which were not directly antisemitic. Or to put in a different way if just anti semitism killed Jews then there wouldn't have been using eastern europe to start out with because anti semitism was so widespread in eastern europe and for a very very long time...

Everybody in Eastern Europe and in fact all Germans who killed Jews, they also killed other people. There aren't cases of collaborators or in fact for that matter of Nazi perpetrators who only killed Jews. They all killed other people. So when we make an explanation we have to make sure that we're capturing the totality of what happened...

In the early 80s a lot of Britons start thinking about themselves in a more business like way. They start thinking about themselves as individual brands. They start, um they start companies in much greater numbers than before. I think people become more kind of competitive, a bit more individualistic. Probably a bit more hard nosed.

And I think you can see in the Britain, particularly the London of today where I live, it's quite marked by those years. You go to a cafe where I live in Hackney and it's full of hipsters. And in the seventies their equivalents would've all been just sitting around you know maybe smoking a bit of dope or having drifting conversations about politics.

And now hipsters in Hackney, they've all got business ideas that they're kind of pitching to each other and I think they are all quite Thatcherised in that way. Even though I'm sure if you asked them they probably all vote Labour or Green. They certainly don't vote Tory but they've been changed almost unwittingly by those years"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Links - 18th June 2017 (2)

Harvard tells students gender can 'change from day to day' - "The office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard University has released a new school-sponsored guide telling students to “fight transphobia” and “get the facts about gender diversity.” The guide, which was distributed to students on campus, declares that “there are more than two sexes” and that “gender is fluid and changing,” adding that someone’s gender identity “can be affirmed and/or expressed in many ways,” and can even “change from day to day.”... “Transphobic misinformation is a form of systemic violence,” the document goes on to state. “Fixed binaries and biological essentialism, manifest in gendered language, misgendering someone, and the policing of trans bodies, threaten the lives of trans people.”"... Several Harvard students expressed outrage about the use of school funds for this campaign, but all declined comment on the record due to concerns about potential repercussions from the school. Harvard evoked national outrage for a similar stunt in December 2015, when it distributed “social justice placemats” intended to help students articulate their progressive views to family members during Christmas break."
Comment: "If "an individual's gender expression and understanding can change from day to day", that is all the more reason NOT to encourage kids to transition (especially with regard to taking hormones/puberty blockers), and NOT to allow the rest of society (restrooms and changing facilities; women's sports, etc.) to be swallowed up by "transgender rights"."
"Male Harvard Students! Swap genders, get yourself some women's scholarships, then just change back!"


Anti-Semitism in Malmö reveals flaws in Swedish immigration system - ""A Jew, I cannot believe that you cannot be a Jew in Sweden!" says Siavosh Derakhti. The 23-year-old Muslim is the child of Iranian parents, refugees of the Iran-Iraq war. He has become a champion in the fight against anti-Semitism in Malmö, a town a little smaller than Halifax perched on the southern tip of Sweden. Muslim immigrants, most with roots in the Middle East, make up nearly a third of Malmö's population... The Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles issued a travel advisory to Jews in 2010 – don't go to Malmö. It reissued the warning last year. Derakhti gets hate mail from the far-right and death threats from fellow Muslims... Residents say public discussion of immigration-related issues is difficult. "There is a political correctness in Sweden," Fribourg says. "You don't discuss your problems, you push them under the carpet." "And if you do talk about them, you are immediately called a racist," adds Lunderquist. "That's a very Swedish response, afraid of tackling problems. It's better to pretend the problem does not exist." Derakhti was invited to meet U.S. President Barack Obama when he visited Sweden two years ago, for example, but he is still waiting for a meeting with the Mayor of Malmö."

Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace In Societies Where Faith Is Law | Kacem El Ghazzali - "I will not be discussing this question from a theological point of view. Such an approach is unproductive. We can find in the Koran and hadiths both peaceful and violence verses. Instead, I will focus on the religion in terms of its actual social practice, to try to analyze the conditions in the countries where Muslims are the majority. Do tolerance and social peace prevail in Muslim-majority countries which enshrine "Islam" in law? Nowadays in most such countries, atheists, apostates and those who convert to another religion are persecuted. According to the NGO International Humanist and Ethical Union, there are 13 countries where expressing atheism is punishable by the death penalty. What these countries have in common, despite their differences: Islam is the state religion... It is not a rare occurrence that angry mobs of Muslims flock through the streets to punish, vigilante-style, or demand punishment against those who are considered apostates or blasphemers. In Mauritania, for example, in 2015 after the Friday prayers, a group of angry protesters demanded the death penalty for blogger Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mkheitir. His offence? He dared to criticize slavery in Mauritania in an article, and argued that the Prophet and the traditional interpretation of Islam legitimize slavery."

Time Change: 9 things you didn’t know about DST around the world - "Egypt had four daylight saving time changes in 2010. It was meant to make the month of Ramadan (which fell during a hot summer that year) easier for Muslims... Egypt cut DST completely a year later... The Queen’s staff spend more than 50 hours adjusting 1,000 clocks across her residences"

Our Generation Needs to Stop Being Offended by Everything and Learn to Take a Joke - "When it comes to the easily offended set, most people tend to be reactive rather than proactive in their response. They may be quick to slam an article or a person, but they stop short of offering any proactive suggestion or trying to start a meaningful dialogue... people are often offended by things that are so minimal compared to the actual problems in the world to which they turn a blind eye. You don’t tend to see many people being ‘offended’ by the fact that there are starving children in third world countries, or making rambling Facebook posts about how access to clean water offends their sensibilities. Yet the second a joke or an ad is slightly offside in their eyes, they lash out like they’ve been a victim of the greatest injustice known to humankind."

The Backlash Against a New TTC Campaign Proves Society Has Become Way Too Sensitive - "The campaign, which officially launched yesterday, features dancers from the National Ballet of Canada in a series of photos and online videos dancing and posing in Toronto’s subway stations, on streetcars, and in buses... Jill Andrew, co-founder of the Body Confidence Canada Awards, says the images send the wrong messages about what healthy, self-secure TTC-riding human beings should look like... The Body Confidence Canada Awards is campaigning to have discrimination based on size and appearance made illegal in Ontario... What if the TTC campaign featured images of scrub-clad doctors instead? Under the reasoning that the images aren’t representative of the TTC-riding public, that wouldn’t accurately reflect the demographic of TTC riders either, not all of whom have the brains, dedication or resources to become doctors themselves if they wanted to."
Oppression is looking at people who are different from you

New Australian $5 bill compared to 'clown puke' - "The yellow oval shapes on the bill are meant to depict the prickly-leaved wattle, a shrub native to the continent, but people thought they looked more like toilet brushes or bacteria"

Tintin in America pulled by Winnipeg Public Library pending review - "Controversy over the depiction of indigenous peoples in Tintin in America, a 1930s comic by the Belgian cartoonist Hergé, has spread to Winnipeg's library system, which has decided to remove the book from circulation for review. On the weekend a Chapters store in the city had removed copies of the title from its shelves following a complaint, but then restored them after determining the work did not violate its policies."
I'm sure the gay penguin defenders would be cheering the book being pulled because it's the right kind of censorship

Edmonton teacher fired for breaking 'no zero policy' won't get job back - "A veteran Edmonton teacher who was fired for giving zeros to students who didn't hand in their homework or take tests will get to keep money he was previously awarded but he won't get his job back... Several months after Dorval was fired, the school board reversed its no-zero policy that barred teachers from giving students a grade of zero."

Job interviews reward narcissists, punish applicants from modest cultures

Photographer gets punched by 30st gorilla in Rwanda - "Dominant males, such as Akarevuro, are known to often consume the bamboo stems in vast quantities with this period, making them rowdy and hostile. When in their stomach, the bamboo undergoes a process called fermentation, thereby transforming the fibres in alcohol, making the gorillas completely drunk if they eat too much."

Campus Chaos Makes Case Against Tenure - "The New York Times has published a remarkable op-ed by NYU humanities professor and vice provost Ulrich Baer making the Orwellian argument that campus administrations and student mobs are justified in forcibly shutting down right-wing speakers because… this allows more viewpoints to be heard!... Why should academia offer tenure if it is not institutionally committed to protecting a diversity of opinion?... if a university is not committed to free speech, tenure is simply a civil service protection rather than a statement about how seriously a university takes the importance of the right of its professors to think, publish and say what they think."

What Baer Gets Wrong About Free Speech - "In his recent piece for The New York Times, “What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right about Free Speech,” Ulrich Baer offers a defense of student groups who disrupt campus speakers. Baer argues that freedom of speech means “balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community.” The obvious problem with Baer’s philosophy is that there is no objective criteria for evaluating the “inherent value” of any given viewpoint, nor for determining when it deprives another of recognized membership in a community. This problem of subjectivity is compounded by the ideological imbalance in higher education, which raises questions about the ability of liberal academics to collectively assess the merits of conservative speech. In recent years, students have attempted to interrupt a large number of speakers whose political views were deemed offensive for a variety of amorphous reasons. We cannot assume that students are capable of making correct judgments about these individuals’ views, based on what the read on the internet. Students’ chants at Middlebury College that labeled Charles Murray “anti-gay,” despite his public support for gay marriage, reveal the flaw in this assumption... Baer demonstrates a lack of understanding of the broad social consequences of political intolerance. One cannot simply pick and choose to whom tolerance and freedom of expression applies. The scientific research shows political intolerance infects the democratic system broadly. For example, intolerance towards racists on the General Social Survey is positively correlated with intolerance towards radical Muslims, communists, and other groups. Those who are intolerant of one group tend to be intolerant of others and of political communication in general. Gibson (1992) demonstrates that people perceive their political freedom to be limited in intolerant societies. Thus, intolerance creates a “culture of conformity” that suppresses political debate: “Without a culture that legitimizes political opposition, those outside the centrist mainstream have few political opportunities. Ultimately, the political system loses its democratic vitality”... A system that promotes intolerance of others will have the most severe consequences on those who lack political power"
That intolerance of one group (even one considered kosher to hate) is correlated with tolerance of others is telling

War on campus: The escalating battle over college free speech - "Assaults on college free speech have been waged for decades, but they used to be top-down, originating with government or school administrators. Today, experts say, students and faculty stifle speech themselves, especially if it involves conservative causes. Harvey Klehr, who helped bring controversial speakers to Emory during his 40 years as a politics and history professor, said the issues college students rally around today come "embarrassingly from the left."... Berkeley political science professor Jack Citrin began attending UCB in 1964 during the advent of the free speech movement, when Berkeley students "viewed ourselves as a beacon of the ability to handle all points of view."... "It's an indicator of the erosion of the commitment to open exchange and a retreat into psychobabble," Citrin said... The anger cuts both ways, said University of New Mexico sophomore Alexus Horttor. She recently saw the Arab owner of a hookah shop kick a student out of his store over a Trump bumper sticker. "People feel their way is the right way, and it's only their way," Horttor said... The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education maintains an incomprehensive database of more than 300 attempts to disinvite campus speakers since 2000. About three-quarters of the attempts involved pressure from liberal.. he did a stint in the US Navy before beginning college, and the experienced changed his views. "After putting five years down for this country, you realize you're defending all the laws that we stand for," Ginn said. "Otherwise, the past five years were a waste of my time.""

Jailed Muslim extremist Nadir Syed wins human rights case - "A jailed jihadi was put in segregation for plotting to behead prison guards – but a judge has ruled that the move breached his human rights. Nadir Syed, 24, was placed in isolation at the top-security Woodhill jail after he led other Muslim inmates in chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is Great’), banging on cell doors and threatening to decapitate warders. Documents seen by The Mail on Sunday reveal that staff were warned not to be left alone with him to ‘prevent the risk of hostage-taking’, while Syed had also claimed he would ‘radicalise the whole unit’ in another prison"

SG-JB Hitch Driver | Grab Singapore - "CROSS THE CAUSEWAY, THE HITCH WAY
Save on your Johor Bahru - Singapore commute and make someone smile."

MUN prof refuses to wear device for hearing disabled student, cites religious reasons - "William Sears, 20, says Ranee Panjabi would not wear an FM transmitter system that he needs to hear lectures at the school in St. John's... Sears was looking forward to the History of Espionage course being taught by Panjabi, but had to switch to a different course after she refused to wear the device. He said Panjabi told him that a similar incident happened about 20 years earlier and it had been resolved that she wasn't required to wear the device. "She said she had some sort of agreement with the Blundon Centre or with the university saying she wouldn't have to wear an FM system because of religious reasons," he said."

There's a Scientific Reason Why Indian Food Is So Delicious - "While many Western cuisines attempt to pair ingredients that share "flavor compounds"—the minute timbres that indicate something like types of sweetness or sourness or spiciness—Indian food's signature is that it combines ingredients that don't share these qualities at all. "We study food pairing in recipes of Indian cuisine to show that, in contrast to positive food pairing reported in some Western cuisines, Indian cuisine has a strong signature of negative food pairing," the researchers wrote. "[The] more the extent of flavor-sharing between any two ingredients, [the] lesser their co-occurrence"... each spice serves a very specific role in the dish it inhabits, from the warm sweetness of ginger to the slight bitterness of tamarind to the zingy freshness of cilantro. And it is the combination of many of these components—a typical Indian dish can incorporate a dozen different herbs and spices—that creates the flavor fingerprint that we've come to associate with a good plate of chana masala."

Income inequality: Rich Democrats don’t care about the problem any more than rich Republicans do. - "Even when they self-identify as progressive Democrats, elite Americans value equality less highly than their middle-class compatriots... When the American government abjures egalitarian policies, it is implementing the bipartisan preferences of the American elite"

German Professor Apologises For 'Rape Problem' Email To Indian Student - "she cited India's "rape problem" as the reason why she was rejecting his candidature... “Many female professors in Germany decided to no longer accept male students for these reasons, and currently other European female association are joining""
She should just have said she doesn't accept male students because of their rape problem

Owning a cat can lead to mental health problems, study warns - "people with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) - characterised by explosive bouts of rage - are twice as likely to have been infected by a parasite found in cat faeces. The findings suggest that toxoplasmosis, an infection from the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, may alter people's brain chemistry to cause long-term behavior problems."
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