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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Links - 7th March 2018 (1)

"Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly" - Spencer W. Kimball


In Hong Kong, Folk Remedies Are Sickening Patients - The New York Times - "Chinese medicinal remedies are gaining popularity worldwide thanks to a perception that they are “natural and safe,” Dr. Mak said. A study of 2,600 proprietary Chinese medicine products in Taiwan found that a quarter were contaminated with synthetic drugs."

A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness - - "Australians are increasingly concerned about China’s growing influence in the country. Chinese money is being funneled to politicians. Beijing-run media outlets buy ads in Australian newspapers to promote the Communist Party view on local and regional issues. Chinese companies are buying Australian farms and natural resources. The push extends to Australia’s universities. Chinese agents are said to monitor Chinese students and report on those who fail to toe the Communist Party line. And in another troubling trend, many of the 150,000 visiting Chinese students are importing a pro-Beijing approach to the classroom that is stifling debate and openness... They found critical analysis and picking apart expert opinion uncomfortable. This was particularly true for readings and class discussions that could be construed as critical of China. Most students, for example, would reject anything that suggested China had not always been peaceful. The majority of students would react angrily to any reading material implying that Japan was not an inherently aggressive and expansionist country... The minority of students who showed interest in open discussion were shut down by classmates who parroted Beijing’s talking points... When Chinese students self-censor or monitor and report on their peers, it is not necessarily because the Chinese state is bearing down on them. Rather, many Chinese students believe that speaking out against the officially approved view, on any topic, is inappropriate"

How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets - The New York Times - "The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers... “Antivirus is the ultimate back door,” Blake Darché, a former N.S.A. operator and co-founder of Area 1 Security. “It provides consistent, reliable and remote access that can be used for any purpose, from launching a destructive attack to conducting espionage on thousands or even millions of users.”"

The Supreme Court Justices Need Fact-Checkers - The New York Times - "the court cited faulty research or introduced its own errors in nearly a third of the 24 cases that relied on such facts... None of the justices has any serious training in statistics, and the clerks who assist them are almost all recent law school graduates, who rarely have any formal statistical background. Empirical facts are central to what the court does, but its members lack expertise."

Is ‘Classical Liberalism’ Conservative? - WSJ - "For centuries, Anglo-American conservatism has favored individual liberty and economic freedom. But as the Oxford historian of conservatism Anthony Quinton emphasized, this tradition is empiricist and regards successful political arrangements as developing through an unceasing process of trial and error. As such, it is deeply skeptical of claims about universal political truths. The most important conservative figures—including John Fortescue, John Selden, Montesquieu, Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton —believed that different political arrangements would be fitting for different nations, each in keeping with the specific conditions it faces and traditions it inherits. What works in one country can’t easily be transplanted... Attempts to transplant Anglo-American political institutions in places such as Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and Iraq have collapsed time and again, because the political traditions needed to maintain them did not exist... the liberal tradition descends from Hobbes and Locke, who were not empiricists but rationalists: Their aim was to deduce universally valid political principles from self-evident axioms, as in mathematics... By contrast, Anglo-American conservatism historically has had little interest in putatively self-evident political axioms. Conservatives want to learn from experience what actually holds societies together, benefits them and destroys them"

Justice Holmes’s Free-Speech Lesson - WSJ - "Along with absolute certainty comes the understandable impulse to regulate or ban the speech of your opponent. Why allow evil and ignorant people to infect others with falsehoods and dangerous ideas? Why not take away the licenses of broadcasters whose news departments have the wrong slant? Why not make hate speech illegal? Almost a century ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. , wrestled with similar questions in a pair of Espionage Act cases... Originally published in 1952, the DSM listed homosexuality as a mental disorder of one kind or another until 1987. These days, some psychiatrists are pushing to have “homophobia” listed as a mental illness. If that happens, would the APA be announcing that a majority of its members were mentally ill until 1987? Fifty years ago, the majority of psychiatrists, and the majority of people, were absolutely certain that homosexuality was a mental disorder. If we could go back in time and ask them if gay people should be allowed to argue in public that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, many of them would say no. We already “know” it is a mental illness—even medical doctors and the Supreme Court agree. Holmes’s radical idea was that we are too often wrong."

The Truth Is Catching Up With Tesla - WSJ - "At 67 times 2019’s expected earnings, Tesla stock is valued as though the company can execute on its vision flawlessly. The facts suggest the opposite."

Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage - WSJ - "Young Americans have quickly become wary of marriage. Many economists and sociologists argue that this flight from marriage is about men’s low wages. If they were higher, the argument goes, young men would have the confidence to marry. But recent research doesn’t support this view. A May 2017 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, focusing on regions enriched by the fracking boom, found that increased wages in those places did nothing to boost marriage rates... Another hypothesis blames the decline of marriage on men’s fear of commitment. Maybe they just perceive marriage as a bad deal. But most men, including cads such as Kevin, still expect to marry. They eventually want to fall in love and have children, when their independence becomes less valuable to them. They are waiting longer, however, which is why the median age at marriage for American men has risen steadily and is now approaching 30... The most common experience—reported by 32% of men under 40—was having sex with their current partner before the relationship had begun"

For Peaceable Humans, Don’t Look to Prehistory - WSJ - "These were hunter-gatherers, once thought to be free of war. (The 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing of “savages,” cited “the peacefulness of their passions and their ignorance of vice.”) Violence has been detected earlier in the fossil record, but not on this scale. Some archaeologists think that populations reached a critical mass 10,000 years ago, causing violence to spike. Battles began to increase in number and scale. Over the past few decades, archaeologists have begun to question the idea that early humans were peaceable"

SNSD at Hogwarts - Album on Imgur

Is the Singapore LGBT movement discriminating against Tan Eng Hong... again? - "As the years went by and Pink Dot’s numerical turnout grew from strength to strength, beginning last year I started suspecting that something was amiss. How many of those attending really knew what was being fought for? Is it really possible (especially given the huge numbers today) for everyone to feel and be included in what is undoubtedly a much more inclusive environment (at least where sexual orientation is concerned) than day-to-day Singapore society? Was I really part of this “inclusive” community where I was valued and accepted for who I am – or was there a more “acceptable” or “privileged” way to “be yourself”? I had my doubts. And those doubts grew. This year, unfortunately, there wasn’t a shred of doubt left... These are hierarchies within the “LGBT community” and to the extent that they are present, they cast that extent of derision and mockery on the touted claim of promoting inclusivity. Again, these internal hierarchies and accompanying oppression are made abundantly clear precisely because there are two cases which are exactly the same in substance"

I made this to try and raise awareness. - Imgur

Seen outside of a coffee shop near MIT - Imgur

The world's earliest selfies – in pictures

Microsoft bringing sexy back - "Jobs says, “Hey Bill, remember when I died and people started talking about me as if I were some kind of god? And then here’s you, eradicating malaria, providing clean drinking water to people in the Third World, working to improve America’s school systems and pledging to donate 90 percent of your wealth and people are just like, ‘Oh man, Bill Gates, he’s rich’.”... One of Microsoft’s marketing challenges has always been that it doesn’t make gadgets – again, the Xbox is an exception – but software that runs in gadgets. Because of this, it has understandably, if rather naively, left the marketing of those gadgets to the companies that build them. This worked fine until Apple came along and upset the, er apple cart."

Beware the Emerging Field of 'Trump Studies' - "not only are white Republican voters less authoritarian than they have been in previous cycles, it seems as though they’re less racist too. This is truly a newsworthy and provocative finding about Trump voters that would have certainly served as the springboard for rich discussion and further research. Unfortunately, Dr. Wood never even addresses this phenomenon. He ignores Republican voters’ longitudinal trend and instead focuses on the gap between Democrats and Republicans on his chart—in the service of a conclusion his data does not support... Dr. Wood’s data suggest that racist sentiment among Democrats actually increased in 2008, and more-or-less held at that higher level in 2012... social researchers overwhelmingly identify with the Left. They usually think of opposition to the political establishment or status quo as positive traits, and claim to champion those disdained by the rich and powerful. Therefore testing these omitted variables would require openness to the possibility that the very people progressives seem to despise most of all (Trump voters) might actually be motivated by–or outright embody–some trait they deeply admire."

The Fantasy of Trump’s Skills-Based Immigration Proposal - "Immigrants to Canada in their first ten years are more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population, according to government statistics. That applies even when the immigrants are college-educated, compared to those native born with only a high-school diploma. Among those who have jobs, only a quarter of Canada’s immigrants are working in the fields they trained in, compared to more than sixty per cent for native-born citizens... While a shortage of health-care workers continues to plague rural Canadian communities, more than half the foreign-born doctors living in Canada are not practicing medicine"

Harvard study shows women are more likely to divorce men who don't have breadwinner status - "the prospect of the woman being financially stable after a divorce doesn't seem to raise the odds of the marriage ending. This suggests that the psychological strain of a man not working a 40-hour week is more important than any financial pressure that might come with it. Professor Killewald said: 'While contemporary wives need not embrace the traditional homemaker role to stay married, contemporary husbands face a higher risk of divorce when they do not fulfil the stereotypical breadwinner role by being employed fulltime. 'Often when scholars or the media talk about work-family policies or work-family balance, they focus mostly on the experiences of women. 'Although much of the responsibility for negotiating that balance falls to women, my results suggest one way that expectations about gender and family roles and responsibilities affect men's lives, too: men who aren't able to sustain full-time work face heightened risk of divorce."
Paper: "Money, Work, and Marital Stability: Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce"

Why Coming Home Causes the Sudden Urge to Use the Bathroom - "“We are essentially automata responding to environmental cues,” Gilbert says. “I’m pretty sure I can train you as a human being to pee when you smell peppermint. That’s an example of how much of an automaton you are. It would be technically possible to do that.”"

Gad Saad - Posts - "Since 9/11, 31,000+ terror attacks have been committed in the name of one religion in nearly 70 countries. Every conceivable means of killing and maiming has been used in the commission of this relentless carnage... We must enact 30,000,000 other security measures, each of which serve to further erode our freedoms and liberties. One thing that we will absolutely NOT do is examine the religion because that would be bigoted. Furthermore, we will refrain from having an honest discussion about immigration policies because that would be racist. If anything, we should increase the immigration numbers of those who belong to said religion because this will show that we are progressive."

Jeremy Corbyn attended event held by Muslim group accused of hosting preachers with extremist views - "Mr Corbyn reportedly addressed the Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) event on Wednesday evening with a handful of Labour MPs also believed to have attended... Mr Corbyn’s appearance at the event came after it was also reported that he has refused to attend an official dinner on Thursday evening with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 British statement that helped pave the way for the creation of Israel."

Michelle Obama says men feel entitled and rely on women
Looks like she didn't learn from Hillary's experience

Experts warn that there are some downsides to meditation - "some meditators experience anxiety and panic during meditation sessions, as it brings traumatic memories to the forefront of their minds."

Manchester grammar school pupil cleared of raping student - "A trainee accountant accused of raping a college student during a night out has been cleared of wrongdoing after it was revealed his accuser told her friends: 'I was only raped - chill the f*** out.'... 'I could tell she wanted it just as much as me, she was the one who initiated it. I know now that I was a stupid 18 year old and it was one of the worst decisions of my life."

Pedophiles are more likely to have physical deformities and be left-handed - "'Evidence is steadily accumulating to support a neurodevelopmental basis of pedophilia,' said Fiona Dyshniku of the University of Windsor in Canada."

Mike Huemer - What’s killing us? I made the following graph. I... - "The top causes of death almost never appear in political discourse or discussions of social problems. They’re almost all diseases, and there is almost no debate about what should be done about them. This is despite that they are killing vastly more people than even the most destructive of the social problems that we do talk about. (Illegal drugs account for 0.7% of the death rate; murder, about 0.6%.)... *Some* diseases are treated as political issues, such that there are activists campaigning for more attention and more money to cure them. There are AIDS activists, but there aren’t any nephritis activists. There are breast cancer walks, but there aren’t any colon cancer walks.
Hypothesis: We don’t much care about the good of society. Refinement: Love of the social good is not the main motivation for (i) political action, and (ii) political discourse. We don’t talk about what’s good for society because we want to help our fellow humans. We talk about society because we want to align ourselves with a chosen group, to signal that alignment to others, and to tell a story about who we are. There are AIDS activists because there are people who want to express sympathy for gays, to align themselves against conservatives, and thereby to express “who they are”. There are no nephritis activists, because there’s no salient group you align yourself with (kidney disease sufferers?) by advocating for nephritis research, there’s no group you thereby align yourself *against*, and you don’t tell any story about what kind of person you are... by the way, the smaller problems that we actually pay attention to probably won’t be solved either, because all our ‘solutions’ will be designed to flatter us and express our ideologies, rather than to actually solve the problems."
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