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Friday, February 09, 2018

Links - 9th February 2018 (1)

Thesis or your life? South African student resists armed robbers to hold on to master's thesis - "Faced with the prospect of losing the only copy of her master's thesis, South African student Noxolo Ntusi resisted armed robbers despite having a gun pointed to her head... she admitted what she did was dangerous and "not very smart", and urged others not to put up a fight during a robbery. "You can always write again," said Ms Ntusi. She has since backed up her work."
This is why you use the cloud

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life: the new sleep science - "Walker has spent the last four and a half years writing Why We Sleep, a complex but urgent book that examines the effects of this epidemic close up, the idea being that once people know of the powerful links between sleep loss and, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, they will try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night (sleep deprivation, amazing as this may sound to Donald Trump types, constitutes anything less than seven hours)... Sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30bn a year in lost revenue, or 2% of GDP... in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. “We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour"... Companies should think about rewarding sleep. Productivity will rise, and motivation, creativity and even levels of honesty will be improved. Sleep can be measured using tracking devices, and some far-sighted companies in the US already give employees time off if they clock enough of it"

Time Use and Productivity: The Wage Returns to Sleep - "Sunset time one hour later decreases short-run wages by 0.5% and long-run wages by 4.5%. After investigating this relationship and ruling out alternative hypotheses, we implement an instrumental variables specification that provides the first causal estimates of the impact of sleep on wages. A one-hour increase in average weekly sleep increases wages by 1.5% in the short run and by 4.9% in the long run."

No sleep for Singapore’s universities - "there is a troubling flip side to such state vigour and largesse, as THE found out when attempting to discuss local politics with one Nanyang employee. The person made it clear that the topic of conversation was off-limits, adding that it was prohibited by a clause in their contract. It is unclear how widespread this practice is. Andersson is open about the fact that personal criticism of officials is off-limits... Areas of research that are off-limits include anything that might exacerbate racial or religious tensions, according to De Meyer... In 2000, “on Friday evening you would go to the airport and would find all the expats flying off to Bali because there was nothing to do in the city. That’s not the case any more,” he says. Andersson becomes positively agitated by the question of whether Singapore is an interesting place to live. “It’s much more interesting than Sheffield…Birmingham…Stockholm…it’s probably one of the 10 most vibrant cities in the world,” he says. Yet when THE spoke to Western expats, many became apologetic, even defensive, about how long they had lived in Singapore, often explaining that it was “convenient” and an easy place to raise children. According to one academic who until recently worked in two major Singaporean universities for more than a decade (and asks not to be named), the country is a “very good place to be productive…but can be dull”. “There is little variation in professional life…there are few social activities…and participation in outreach activities is not encouraged,” she says. During a tour of the National University campus, it became apparent that there was no student bar: according to the guide, it had closed through lack of use... “The worst thing any country can create for itself is a lot of unemployed graduates protesting – because they make the most noise and create the most trouble,” he says with a smile."

Inside the Madness at Evergreen State - WSJ - "some students and faculty were quick to levy accusations of racism with neither evidence nor consideration of the reputational harm they could cause. The emails also reveal Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Heying were not the only ones concerned about a hostile and dangerous campus... Another student, Steve Coffman, responded by asking for proof of racism within the science faculty. Mr. Coffman cited Christopher Hitchens’s variation of Occam’s razor: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Jacqueline McClenny, an office assistant for the First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services—a campus office that helped organize the Day of Absence—observed that because Hitchens’s razor is an “Englishman’s popularization of a Latin proverb,” it “would seem to itself be the product of at least two traditionally hierarchical, imperialist societies with an interest in disposing of inconvenient questions.” Media professor Naima Lowe urged one of Mr. Weinstein’s defenders to read about how calls for civility are “often used to silence and/or dismiss concerns about racism.” She also said that the “white people making changes in their white supremacist attitudes and behaviors” were those “who do not immediately balk and become defensive,” instead acknowledging that “white supremacy is literally ingrained in everything.” In other words, merely defending oneself against the accusation of “white supremacy” is evidence of guilt... Nancy Koppelman, an American studies and humanities professor, described being “followed by white students who yelled and cursed at me, accused me of not caring about black and brown bodies, and claimed that if I did care I would follow their orders.” Ms. Koppelman, who is 5-foot-1, said the students towered over her, and “the only thing they would accept was my obedience.” She reported that the encounter so unnerved her that she was left physically shaking. Ms. Koppelman wrote that she was worried about “features of the current protest strategy that violate the social contract, and possibly the law.” Tolerating such tactics, she argued, “may create a working environment which is too hostile for some of us to continue our employment at the college.” Her email concluded: “I have not decided whether or how to share these thoughts more widely. If I do, I will very likely be tagged as ‘a racist’ by some of my colleagues and the students they teach.”"

A man who took apricot kernels to beat cancer got cyanide poisoning - "His case, described in the journal BMJ Case Reports, shows how alternative medications, including sham cancer treatments, can put patients at risk... As for the 67-year-old man, he was informed that the kernels were making him sick, but he decided to continue taking them. “He personally believes that the quality of evidence is sufficient for his purposes,” Konstantatos says, “or maybe he cannot wait for the scientific proof to come through as it may take too long to prevent his cancer from recurring.”"

Leave Malaysia while you can, Zaid tells young Malays - "Calling Malaysia a “sick Muslim country”, Zaid Ibrahim today urged Muslims in the country to embrace the Islamic concept of hijrah, or the migration of the Prophet Muhammad to flee from persecution, by moving to the UK where he said their lives would be better... “Corruption and abuse of power are glorified, while beer festivals are held up as an example of evil.”"

Enjoyment of trash films linked to high intelligence, study finds - ""To such viewers, trash films appear as an interesting and welcome deviation from the mainstream fare", says Sarkhosh. "We are dealing here with an audience with above-average education, which one could describe as 'cultural omnivores'. Such viewers are interested in a broad spectrum of art and media across the traditional boundaries of high and popular culture.""

Game Designer Says Developers Would Be More Candid If Gamer Culture Wasn't So Toxic - "Designer and programmer Charles Randall, who has worked for companies like Ubisoft and BioWare, wrote a long thread yesterday that went viral on Twitter and is worth reading. Because Twitter is impossible to read, here it is with a bit of proper formatting"
Comment: "Charles Randall is certainly correct in his assessment that the gaming community is toxic, but he fails to recognize that game companies bring on a lot of anger themselves because they REGULARLY fail to deliver the gaming experience they hype all the way up to release"

Asian Americans: 10 Warning Signs That Show You're Siding With Whiteness - Everyday Feminism
Whiteness = Success
Comment elsewhere: "LOL the Whites and the Gays welcome our Asian brothers and sisters into The Establishment. You're part of the problem now too. Congratulations, you made it!"


Portland Comic Con Bans 'Nazi' Cosplay - Including Red Skull And Hydra Costumes - "That includes anyone dressed as Marvel villian Red Skull or anyone donning the attire of Marvel's dastardly supervillian network, Hydra. In fact, those two costumes were listed by name as banned from Rose City's convention floor - because they're just too triggering for progressives who might be hanging out amidst the tee shirt sellers and autograph booths."

10+ Times People Accidentally Found Their Doppelgängers In Museums And Couldn’t Believe Their Eyes

The Left has a post-truth problem too. It’s called comedy. – LA Times - "The post-truth condition, in which Trumpism has flourished, has its roots in left-wing satire... "The Daily Show," and those who emerged from it, indulged a contempt for real media institutions while effectively competing with them... Satire, like fake news, creates a sense of community through rejection. It delights in tearing down institutions but is useless at constructing them. Jonathan Swift said that satire was a mirror in which viewers discovered everybody's face but their own; its pleasure is the pleasure of othering. The act is inherently tribal as well as political, and social media exacerbates the tribalism... the immediate crisis of American political satire in the Trump era is more basic. It's simple, really: Trump benefits from being satirized."

Italian olive oil scandal: seven top brands 'sold fake extra-virgin' - "Seven of Italy’s best-known olive oil companies are being investigated for allegedly conning consumers by passing off inferior quality virgin olive oil as extra-virgin... Italy has long-standing and seemingly endemic problems with fraud in its lucrative food and drink sector. Air-dried ham produced in Eastern Europe is sometimes passed off as Italian prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella has been found to be made from cow’s milk rather than that of water buffaloes. If the olive harvest is poor, oil is frequently supplemented with supplies from countries such as Greece and Tunisia, but sold as 100 per cent Italian"

A Third of Vegetarians Eat Meat When They’re Drunk - "In a poll of 1789 British vegetarians, the VoucherCodesPro website (that well-known source on vegetarian eating habits) found that 37 percent of veggies eat meat every time they're drunk on a night out... the survey then asked these vegetarians whether they had told anyone about eating meat when drunk. Unsurprisingly, 69 percent said they hadn't, making them both compliant in the mass slaughter of animals and liars. VoucherCodesPro aren't the first to question the commitment of those following a veggie diet. Last year, a study from the Humane Research Council found that five out of six Americans who are currently vegetarian will eventually revert back to omnivorous eating."

Bodek Kosher Produce: First in the Kosher Vegetable Revolution - "Despite their health benefits – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other vegetables are nutrient powerhouses – the kashrut implications were weighty. These vegetables are prone to insect infestation – and insects are strictly forbidden by the Torah. About twenty years ago, Tzvi Gartenhaus, together with Mr.Weinman and Shaul Perlstein, embarked on a mission to provide kosher consumers with insect-free produce... The average head of lettuce contains as many as 30 thrips and aphids, and certain vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are so infested, they are practically impossible to clean by hand. The rabbis were making presentations in schools and yeshivas and waking up people to the problem. It was incredible – eating an insect is six times worse than eating treif, and people just didn’t know”... “Bodek soon became known for its high quality as well. Because insects tend to infest lesser-quality produce, Bodek purchases only the highest grade vegetables. And it is constantly developing new ways to improve its products.”"

How Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens - "Mexican president Felipe Calderón has accused Arizona of opening the door “to intolerance, hate, discrimination, and abuse in law enforcement.” But Arizona has nothing on Mexico when it comes to cracking down on illegal aliens... The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?
If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam, and prove they can provide their own health care."

The Gender Gap in STEM is NOT What You Think - "Put (too) simply the only men who are good enough to get into university are men who are good at STEM. Women are good enough to get into non-STEM and STEM fields. Thus, among university students, women dominate in the non-STEM fields and men survive in the STEM fields. (The former is mathematically certain while the latter is true only given current absolute numbers of male students. If fewer men went to college, women would dominate both fields). I don’t know whether this story will hold up but one attractive feature, as a theory, is that it is consistent with the worrying exit from the labor market of men at the bottom. If we accept these results, the gender gap industry is focused on the wrong thing. The real gender gap is that men are having trouble competing everywhere except in STEM."

'Death to America' doesn't actually mean death to America - "The chant "Death to America" should not be seen as a threat of violence but rather a political protest, Iran's president says."
It seems that there's an opposite to "dog whistling" - when you say something but don't actually mean it

Venezuela's 'Plan Rabbit' encounters 'cultural problem' - "Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has devised a "rabbit plan" to counter the economic war he says is being waged against his government by "imperialist forces". The president urged crisis-hit Venezuelans to breed rabbits and eat them as a source of animal protein... "When he came back, to his surprise he found people had put little bows on their rabbits and were keeping them as pets, it was an early setback to Plan Rabbit."... The Venezuelan government routinely blames the "economic war" on everything from shortages of food to medicines and toiletries. It alleges that "imperialist forces" are trying to cripple the country economically in order to oust its socialist leader but the opposition says government mismanagement is to blame."
Apparently the only reason socialism fails is imperialism

College Students Say Remembering 9/11 Is Offensive to Muslims - "Students at the University of Minnesota killed a proposed moment of silence for 9/11 victims due to concerns—insulting, childish concerns—that Muslim students would be offended."

Study finds poor men like big boobs while the rich like smaller - "the hungry males preferred the bigger breasted women more than the satiated men"

Burger-flipping robot will grill meat in 50 fast food restaurants - "Miso claims this robot is more akin to a self-driving car than an assembly line machine. What they mean is that Flippy uses feedback-loops that reinforce its good behavior so it gets better with each flip of the burger"

A rapist in a women’s prison? Society has lost the plot - "What kind of society puts a male rapist in a women’s prison? In what nation would it be considered acceptable to put a man convicted of raping two girls into an enclosed space with hundreds of women? In Britain. In 2017. Incredibly, Martin Ponting, who was sentenced to life in 1995 for the rape of two girls under the age of 16, was recently moved to the all-women prison of Bronzefield in Surrey because he now identifies as a woman and goes by the name of Jessica Winfield. He has now been segregated from the other prisoners at Bronzefield presumably for some serious misdemeanour. (For making advances to women, say sections of the press, though the prison authorities deny this.) To place a rapist among women because he claims to be a woman might prove to be the moment the cult of genderfludity crossed the line from irritating to psychotic... Some pro-trans observers have slammed the media for ‘deadnaming’ Ponting — that is, mentioning his old name, Martin Ponting, rather than solely using his new name, Jessica Winfield. But Ponting / Winfield committed his crimes under that ‘dead’ name. Martin Ponting is on public record as having committed two rapes. The idea that we should erase that name to avoid offending his trans sensibilities is perverse: it erases matters of legal record; it memory-holes the name of a criminal. It negates history itself: in this case that a man called Martin Ponting raped two girls. To instruct the media never to mention the name ‘Martin Ponting’ is to engage in a victim-disrespecting act of Orwellian erasure. It once again elevates the eccentric sensitivities of one individual over the rights of everyone else: in this case the right of the public to know and speak about all the details of a crime... The rise of the trans ideology speaks to a really problematic 21st-century idea: that society has a duty to respect our chosen identities."
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