"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Links - 14th March 2018 (3)

How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners - "behavior is an emergent property—it arises from large groups of neurons working together, and isn’t apparent from studying any single one. You can draw parallels with the flocking of birds. Biologists have long wondered how they manage to wheel about the skies in perfect coordination, as if they were a single entity. In the 1980s, computer scientists showed that this can happen if each bird obeys a few simple rules, which dictate their distance and alignment relative to their peers. From these simple individual rules, collective complexity emerges. But you would never have been able to predict the latter from the former. No matter how thoroughly you understood the physics of feathers, you could never have predicted a murmuration of starlings without first seeing it happen... If the kind of neuroscience that has come to dominate the field couldn’t explain the workings of a simple, dated microchip, how could it hope to explain the brain—reputedly the most complex object in the universe?"

The Open-Office Trap - "The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the nineteen-fifties, to facilitate communication and idea flow. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve... The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell... they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. When David Craig surveyed some thirty-eight thousand workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared... as the number of people working in a single room went up, the number of employees who took sick leave increased apace... the better you are at screening out distractions, the more effectively you work in an open office. Unfortunately, it seems that the more frantically you multitask, the worse you become at blocking out distractions"

Why printers add secret tracking dots - "They were barely visible to the naked eye, but formed a coded design. After some quick analysis, they seemed to reveal the exact date and time that the pages in question were printed: 06:20 on 9 May, 2017 – at least, this is likely to be the time on the printer’s internal clock at that moment. The dots also encode a serial number for the printer."

Students Protest Intro Humanities Course at Reed - "During the nationwide upsurge of student activism tracing back to 2015, protesters have occupied administrative buildings, stormed into libraries, shut down visiting speakers in auditoriums, and walked out of classrooms—but they hardly ever disrupt the classroom itself. RAR has done so more than 60 times... One of the first Hum professors to request that RAR not occupy the classroom was Lucía Martínez Valdivia, who said her preexisting PTSD would make it difficult to face protesters. In an open letter, RAR offered sympathy to Martínez Valdivia but then accused her of being anti-black, discriminating against those with disabilities, and engaging in gaslighting—without specifying those charges. When someone asked for specifics, a RAR leader replied, “Asking for people to display their trauma so that you feel sufficiently satisfied is a form of violence.”... “I am intimidated by these students,” Martínez Valdivia later wrote, noting she is “scared to teach courses on race, gender, or sexuality, or even texts that bring these issues up in any way—and I am a gay mixed-race woman.” Such fear, she revealed in an op-ed for The Washington Post, prompted some of her colleagues— “including people of color, immigrants, and those without tenure”—to avoid lecturing altogether... a clear pattern emerged: intimidation, stigma, and silence when it came to discussing Hum 110, or racial politics in general... When the parent of a freshman rebuked RAR for derailing a lecture, a RAR supporter tagged the parent’s employer in a post... the more accommodation that’s been made, the more disruptive the protests have become—and the more heightened the rhetoric. “Black lives matter” was the common chant at last year’s boycott. This year’s? “No cops, no KKK, no racist U.S.A.”"
Is it any surprise that those who idolise thugs are thugs themselves?

Barney Lane's answer to What did the EU do wrong to drive the UK away? Is the EU really a bloated bureaucracy? - Quora - "The UK and the EU see things differently. They have a different view of politics, a different view of economics, law and most fundamentally of all, a different view of the malleability of political institutions in response to change... Fundamental in the UK is the notion of legitimacy and consent. The EU doesn't work like that. The EU’s mindset is, we lead, you follow. Public opinion is a bit dirty. This provokes an extreme and highly emotional reaction in the UK, which is never sustainable in the long term. Call a UK politician “out of touch” and he knows there's a problem. Call an EU politician out of touch and the response is a bemused, “your point is?”."

The Fragile Generation - "The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can't use tools, they can't play on grass, and they certainly can't be expected to work through a spat with a friend. And this, it could be argued, is why we have "safe spaces" on college campuses and millennials missing adult milestones today. We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us... Beginning in the 1980s, American childhood changed. For a variety of reasons—including shifts in parenting norms, new academic expectations, increased regulation, technological advances, and especially a heightened fear of abduction (missing kids on milk cartons made it feel as if this exceedingly rare crime was rampant)—children largely lost the experience of having large swaths of unsupervised time to play, explore, and resolve conflicts on their own. This has left them more fragile, more easily offended, and more reliant on others. They have been taught to seek authority figures to solve their problems and shield them from discomfort, a condition sociologists call "moral dependency."... the Boulder Public Library in Colorado recently forbade anyone under 12 to enter without an adult, because "children may encounter hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture, electrical equipment, or other library patrons." Ah, yes, kids and library furniture. Always a lethal combo... Boston College psychology professor emeritus Peter Gray was invited by the head of counseling services at a major university to a conference on "the decline in resilience among students." The organizer said that emergency counseling calls had doubled in the last five years. What's more, callers were seeking help coping with everyday problems, such as arguments with a roommate. Two students had dialed in because they'd found a mouse in their apartment. They also called the police, who came and set a mousetrap. And that's not to mention the sensitivity around grades. To some students, a B is the end of the world... In organized activities—Little League, for example—adults run the show. It's only when the grown-ups aren't around that the kids get to take over. Play is training for adulthood."

Kevin Spacey is innocent - "We are meant to side with the accused. It is the civilised thing to do: side with the accused. We are meant to insist upon his or her innocence until guilt has been properly and convincingly established. But today the Twitterati, the media, the feminist set and increasingly the political class — see the jumped-up, ‘me too!’ sex-harassment panic now brewing in the House of Commons — line up with accusers... ‘I believe’ has become the ultimate virtue-signal. But it is utterly lacking in virtue to say this. Sixty-two years ago a woman called Carolyn Bryant Donham accused a young man of sexual harassment. He grabbed her by the wrist and said ‘How about it baby?’, she said. He wolf-whistled at her, she claimed. Everyone in her local community believed her, uncritically, and instantly. ‘I believe.’ They went after her harasser, tied him to the back of a truck, and then beat him to death in a barn. His name was Emmet Till. He was a victim of uncritical belief in people who make accusations of sexual harassment. Crying ‘I believe’ in response to every accusation of a sexual crime isn’t progressive; it’s a species of savagery."

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? - "The "Weinstein contagion," as a Guardian columnist refers to it, has seen members of Parliament branded sexual predators for such small fare as a fleeting hand on a female journalist's knee or flirtatious letters written 20 years ago. Earlier this month, a Welsh Labor MP, Carl Sargeant, committed suicide. He stood accused of sexual misconduct. His party refused to tell him what the allegations were, and yet he was suspended from his job as a Welsh minister on the basis of them. Sargeant's lawyers said the mysterious accusations had plunged him into black turmoil. Although people refer to #MeToo as a progressive movement, it is starting to look like an exercise in public shaming, a rash extrajudicial application of stigma to supposedly wicked individuals. We need to recover the benefit of the doubt, just like Piven said."

Brokers of junk science? - "representatives of the EPA, the FDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said their agencies treat science equally, regardless of the funding source. Disclosure is encouraged by all three agencies but isn’t mandatory... Current sentiment “demonizes the industry side,” Caplan added, while ignoring potential biases created by private foundations or government money."

The Most Complicated Border Town in the World - "there are Dutch enclaves within the Belgian enclaves that are within the Netherlands. And, actually, the main part of Baarle-Hertog is about five miles southwest of the portions you see here, and completely in Belgium. Told you it was complicated."

Japan's fertility crisis is creating economic and social woes never seen before - "Adult diapers have outsold baby diapers in Japan for the last six years, and many jails are turning into de facto nursing homes, as Japanese elders account for 20% of all crime in the country. With no one else to care for them, many reoffend just to come back. Stealing a sandwich can mean two years of jail time, but it also means two years of free housing and meals."

Japanese elderly population prefer prison to normal life - "Prison life in Japan is far from easy -- talking is forbidden while at work, inmates must walk single file, and bathing is restricted. Even during rare events put on for their entertainment, they are only allowed to sit ramrod straight with their hands on their laps. Applause is generally forbidden. Life is monotonous, and naturally restricted, yet many prefer this predictable regimen where they have shelter, food, and medical care, to life on the outside... The recidivism rate for the over-65s is high: According to government data, about 70 percent of elderly offenders are back behind bars within five years. "The reason why many older ex-convicts return to prisons is because it's difficult for them to be financially independent""

“It’s okay to be white” posters are covertly racist - "signs were posted on the University of Maryland campus and at Montgomery Blair High School that read, "It's okay to be white." In its language, the phrase is unremarkable. In practice, this is a coded affirmation of white supremacy. The combination of these factors is no accident. The signs were designed to be political instruments that fit into a tradition of American hate speech."
4chan's campaign is brilliant
Comments: " The author complains that “white fragility” empowers racists while ignoring his own racist use of “black fragility” (i.e. fear that these poster statements will encourage white supremists) to stoke his own conspiracy theories. He says he despises speech that promotes anger and divisiveness while espousing the same. Your right Mr. Lewis, you took the bait and fell into the trap. By so doing you exposed your own hate and bigotry. Congratulations."
"Race agitators and the BLM folks will read anything they want in anything, like the person who sees the face of Jesus on a piece of toast."

Oregon Candidate Berated For Being A WHITE CIS-GENDER MALE! - "In Portland (of course), newly announced city council candidate Spencer Raymond has faced a wave of backlash throughout the community for daring to run for a seat that already features three “women of color” candidates... the usual Black Lives Matter and Antifa crowd took to his facebook campaign page and unleashed a barrage of mostly racist comments toward him."

British Council boss sacked for calling Prince George symbol of 'white privilege’ denied payout - "“White privilege. That cheeky grin is the (already locked-in) innate knowledge that he is royal, rich, advantaged and will never know *any* difficulty or hardships in life. “Let’s find photos of 3yo Syrian refugee children and see if they look alike, eh?”"

My mum and brother both ended their lives after he was falsely accused of rape
Feminists need to remember that false rape accusations hurt women in very real ways too

Racist Britain sent me to Isis, says jihadist bride Tania Georgelas
Comments: "There was much more racism in the UK in the 50s and 60s, but those on the receiving end did not become terrorists. So racism is not much of an explanation for this women's behaviour."
"In case you aren't aware, Harrow is one of the most diverse and tolerant areas / societies within the UK... The likelihood is that she's very happy to blame everything else other than herself."
"It had to be 'the far right' surely, why weren't they mentioned? What about Hitler and the Nazis too."
"Seems like you can excuse anything these days by claiming some sort of victimhood."
"Because, of course, Isis is in no way racist but is a shining beacon of liberal tolerance and love for one's fellow man."
"The Holocaust must be the worst racism anyone could suffer, yet the Jews did not become terrorists. That's the difference."

Male Mammoths Died in ‘Silly Ways’ More Often Than Females, Study Finds - The New York Times - "“In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways, and it appears that may have been true for mammoths also,” said Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist from the Swedish Museum of Natural History."
The original Testosterone Rex. Patriarchy is that strong!

Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man - The New York Times
Women thinking that it's better to be a man than a woman is proof that there's sexism against women
Republican men thinking that it's better to be a woman than a man is ALSO proof that there's sexism against women

In Singapore, Chinese Dialects Revive After Decades of Restrictions - NYTimes.com - "This struggle to communicate within families is one of the painful effects of the Singapore government’s large-scale, decades-long effort at linguistic engineering. Starting with a series of measures in the late 1970s, the leaders of this city-state effectively banned Chinese dialects, the mother tongues of about three-quarters of its citizens... “Singapore used to be like a linguistic tropical rain forest — overgrown, and a bit chaotic but very vibrant and thriving,” said Tan Dan Feng, a language historian in Singapore. “Now, after decades of pruning and cutting, it’s a garden focused on cash crops: learn English or Mandarin to get ahead and the rest is useless, so we cut it down.”... Although called “dialects” by the government, some of these Chinese tongues are at least as different as the various Romance languages. The government’s policy was something like ordering Spaniards, French and Italians to abandon the languages they grew up with in favor of Portuguese... In some schools, pupils who spoke dialects were fined and made to write out hundreds of times, “I will not speak dialects.” The population was bombarded with messages that dialect speakers had no future. By 1981, television and radio were banned from broadcasting almost all dialect shows, including popular music. That left many people cut off from society. “Old people suddenly couldn’t understand anything on the radio,” said Lee Hui Min, a writer whose best-known work, “Growing Up in the Era of Lee Kuan Yew,” recounts those decades. “There was a sense of loss.”... “Sometimes people say the Singaporeans aren’t too expressive,” said Kuo Jian Hong, the artistic director of The Theater Practice, an influential theater founded by her father, the pioneering playwright and arts activist Kuo Pao Kun. “I feel this is partly because so many of us lost our mother tongue.”... The head of the [Hokkien Huay Kuan] community center, Perng Peck Seng, said that it, too, had seen the effects of the government policy. When he joined in the 1980s, all meetings were held in Hokkien and Mandarin. Now they are held in English and Mandarin because too few people, even in his organization, speak Hokkien fluently enough to conduct meetings."

When Families Lead Themselves Out of Poverty - The New York Times - "The war on poverty was about movements at the beginning; then it became about programs and institutions. And that has created a listening gap. All these poverty conferences we go to — the families we’re talking about are never there except as examples of a successful social service program. They’re never there to represent themselves, their own successes. They always represent programs. And their stories are told to get more funding for the programs... In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that the paternalism of white moderates may be a greater barrier to fundamental change than outright racism."
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