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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Links - 30th April 2018 (2)

Dalhousie University makes ‘Emergency Hijab Kits’ available on campus - "Dalhousie University has made ‘Emergency Hijab Kits’ available to female Muslim students at multiple locations across the Halifax campus. The fear is that female Dalhousie Muslim students are being targeted by individuals on and off campus and are having their hijabs forcibly removed. However, no such incidents have been reported to authorities... Organizers have offered to make them available to departments and offices throughout Dalhousie in addition to the DSU Info Desk, the NSPIRG office and Dal Security for 24/7 access... Masuma Khan, a Dalhousie Student executive member who was recently embroiled in a controversy of her own, disagrees and believes such incidents are common. Comments made by Khan were placed under investigation by the university after she posted with the hashtag “#whitefragilitycankissmya–” in response to backlash over a motion to abstain from Canada 150 celebrations for “over 400 years of genocide.”"
Why is it no surprise that a racist is delusional?

How Lemonade Helped Paris Fend Off Plague And Other Surprising 'Food Fights' - "Where these limonadiers went, piles of spent lemon peels followed. Rats, being omnivorous eaters, likely were just as happy as the Parisians to sample the newly popular lemon. As they nibbled, he argues, they killed off plague-infected fleas."

Elena Ferrante and the Power of Appropriation - The New York Times - "Claudio Gatti wrote that Elena Ferrante — the pen name for an Italian novelist whose true identity was a closely guarded secret — is actually a Rome-based translator named Anita Raja... In a larger sense, too, the exposure of Ms. Ferrante feels like an attack on the idea of literature. On Twitter and Facebook, a number of writers immediately denounced the idea that to know a novelist means knowing the biographical truth about her. Surely what matters, they argue, is not Ms. Ferrante’s background but her imagination. A novel is supposed to be a self-sufficient world, something the writer creates and then sets free; it is not meant to be tethered to its creator, but to transcend her... the literary world has been at war over the idea of cultural appropriation — whether a writer has the right to tell stories about people unlike herself. Lionel Shriver’s speech at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival said yes; many critics of that speech said no. But now it appears that one of the world’s best-loved writers is actually a sterling example of the power of appropriation... This is the paradox of literature, which is also the glory of humanism: the idea that nothing human is alien to any of us, that we all have the power to imagine our way into one another’s lives. If the exposure of Elena Ferrante reminds us of that truth, which today we are too inclined to forget, perhaps it will turn out to be justified."

No One Wants to Admit They're Ugly, Which Makes It Hard to Fight Beauty Bias - "beauty is a lot more objective than perhaps we would like it to be. Studies have shown that what people consider “beautiful” is pretty consistent, even across cultures. So if it’s possible to establish who is and who isn’t benefitting from so-called “lookism,” what’s keeping us from creating legislation to protect people who are discrimated against? One issue is that laws don’t necessarily solve the problem. Some states have laws that address discrimination against people based on weight and height. But nobody really uses them. But the biggest problem, Graham argues, is that ugly people aren’t united like other lobbies. “There are no ‘unattractive’ lobbies,” Connor Principe, a research at Pacific University, told Graham. “For that to really work, you have to have people who are willing to be recognized as unattractive.” And nobody wants to join the ugly club"
So much for beauty being culturally constructed

Pit bulls, immigrants, & the alleged Islamic jihad against dogs - "It is true that as more and more North African Muslims take up cab driving (an issue tied up with deregulation), it is increasingly difficult to find a cab that will take a dog. If you arrive at a big city train station with a dog, the row of self-employed North African Muslim drivers will often refuse to carry you. These are mostly first generation immigrants using their privately owned automobiles to earn a living. Their problem with carrying dogs may be as much cultural as religious, since these drivers come from places where goats and chickens commonly travel in public busses, but where it is not common to keep dogs as pets people have close contact with. European law regarding guide dogs for the blind and other certified service dogs varies. In some countries, no one can refuse to allow a service dog on the premises or in the taxi. In other countries, this is up to the owner of the premises or the cab. A 2004 survey among Dutch users of blind guide dogs showed that 70% have been turned away with their dogs at least once. At the time, Chinese restaurants were the most common places that refused access to blind guide dogs. Taxi drivers stated various reasons for refusing a guide dog, including fear or allergy, dog hairs in the cab and sometimes indeed religious belief"

Lizards Slow Lyme Disease in West / Ticks bite them -- and leave with purified blood - "It may sound like witchcraft, but Berkeley scientists have found that ticks who feast on the blood of the common western fence lizard are purged of any Lyme disease bacteria hiding in their gut."

Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin's Fallacy - Wikipedia - "the majority of the total genetic variation between humans (i.e., of the 0.1% of DNA that varies between individuals), 85.4%, is found within populations, 8.3% of the variation is found between populations within a "race", and only 6.3% was found to account for the racial classification. Numerous later studies have confirmed his findings. Based on this analysis, Lewontin concluded, "Since such racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance either, no justification can be offered for its continuance." This argument has been cited as evidence that racial categories are biologically meaningless, and that behavioral differences between groups cannot have any genetic underpinnings... Edwards argued that while Lewontin's statements on variability are correct when examining the frequency of different alleles (variants of a particular gene) at an individual locus (the location of a particular gene) between individuals, it is nonetheless possible to classify individuals into different racial groups with an accuracy that approaches 100 percent when one takes into account the frequency of the alleles at several loci at the same time. This happens because differences in the frequency of alleles at different loci are correlated across populations—the alleles that are more frequent in a population at two or more loci are correlated when we consider the two populations simultaneously. Or in other words, the frequency of the alleles tends to cluster differently for different populations"
In other words, since humans and chimpanzees share 96% of their DNA, species don't exist

Diet and stomach cancer in Korea. - "An increased risk of stomach cancer was noted among people who frequently consume broiled meats and fishes, salted side dishes (salted/fermented fish products) and salty stewed foods, such as soybean paste thick stew. Frequent consumption of mung bean pancake, tofu, cabbage, spinach and sesame oil decreased the risk. Analysis by cooking method showed that risk of stomach cancer from the same foods varied with preparation. For meat and fish, pan frying was associated with decreased risk, whereas stewing or broiling was associated with increased risk. Pickled vegetables increased the risk, whereas fresh vegetables did not. In a recent cohort study in Seoul, green vegetables and soybean foods were associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer. Case-control and cohort studies have reported that ginseng intake decreased the risk of gastric cancer"

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: Study - "Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia"
And yet many people still instinctively trust Traditional Chinese Medicine over Western Medicine

How Much Are We Over-Diagnosing Cancer? - "an overdiagnosis is the detection of a cancer that, if it had remained undetected, would not have affected a person’s life"

How did usury stop being a sin and become respectable finance? - "In Biblical times, the typical loan was more like the second case – it wasn’t an arms-length transaction, but a charitable loan from a wealthy man to a neighbour who’d experienced misfortune or had nowhere else to turn. Throughout early Medieval Europe, the local church or a wealthy family was often the only source of capital, especially outside the major commercial centres. Many peasants bought their land by getting mortgages from a monastery. In a world without credit markets and insurance, then, charging interest felt like extorting a friend or family member."

Why is the language of transhumanists and religion so similar? - "The odd thing about the anti-clericalism in the AI community is that religious language runs wild in its ranks, and in how the media reports on it. There are AI ‘oracles’ and technology ‘evangelists’ of a future that’s yet to come, plus plenty of loose talk about angels, gods and the apocalypse... The transhuman disdain for the flesh is similar to the way certain forms of religious gnosticism reject all things embodied and material. This is a strand of Judeo-Christian thought that perceives an unbridgeable dualism between God on the one hand, and the partial and corrupted manifestations of what is ‘in’ the world on the other"

The Realistic Response to China’s Prostitution Problem - "Between 2000 and 2015, and in particular since 2006, the number of Chinese men aged 18 to 61 who have solicited the services of a prostitute generally rose. Current estimates suggest that by the year 2020, approximately 17 percent of all Chinese men in this age group will have solicited a prostitute at some point in their lives."

New Law Could Let French Workers Ignore After-Hours Email - "A new law, which took effect January 1, requires businesses with 50 or more employees to negotiate after-hours email rules with their employees, potentially giving them the right to ignore that late-night missive... According to European Union statistics, a high proportion of French companies report employing only 49 people, because French workplace laws kick in at 50 or more employees. In 2015, exempt businesses (49 or fewer workers) employed 48.6 percent of the French workforce"

Cycle helmets are useless, says brain surgeon - "Henry Marsh, who works at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, said that many of his patients who have been involved in bike accidents have been wearing helmets that were ‘too flimsy’ to be beneficial... He cited evidence from the University of Bath that suggests that wearing a helmet may even put cyclists at greater risk. The research showed that drivers get around 3 inches closer to cyclists who wear helmets because they perceive them as safer."
The solution to flimsy helmets is not better helmets - but no helmets. Brilliant.

Bicycle helmets reduce risk of serious head injury by nearly 70%, study finds - "A major study of bike helmet use around the world from more than 64,000 cyclists has found helmets reduce the risks of a serious head injury by nearly 70%... The compulsory wearing of bike helmets in Australia has long been a source of frustration for some cyclists, who argue it reduces participation rates. Previous studies have indicated helmet use encourages risk-taking behaviour or does not reduce serious injury to the brain."

Sex, Consent, and the Dangers of “Misplaced Scale” - "we are living with the possibility of unthinkable destruction, but we seem to be spending significantly more time discussing the sexual misbehavior of a growing number of prominent men than talking about North Korea or climate change. Rubin did not expect good things to come from the renegotiation of the sexual sphere. The problem, she wrote, was “the fallacy of misplaced scale”: sex loomed so large that any sexual transgression, or imagined transgression, might bring extreme punishment... The conversation we are having about sex began with incidents that involved clear coercion, intimidation, and violence. Paradoxically, it seems to have produced the sense that meaningful consent is elusive or perhaps even impossible... women, at least when faced with a famous man, cannot make adult choices... In the past, sexual laws and regulations have most often been strengthened in the name of protecting children... In the current American conversation, women are increasingly treated as children: defenseless, incapable of consent, always on the verge of being victimized. This should give us pause. Being infantilized has never worked out well for women."

The Postmodern Misuse of Tolerance - "people increasingly rely upon tolerance because other Enlightenment values such as reason, equality, and liberty have lost the power to inspire... The celebration of tolerance as an end in itself is a symptom of the shift from self-confident modern liberal democracies to the self-doubting postmodern ones... Postmodern tolerance is used as an instrument of confusion, in order to impose the recognition of difference on social agents using state power. The assumption behind this move is that society isn’t a realm of individual freedom, but a pyramid of domination which benefits an elite. In such a situation, equality of rights is threatening. To protect the oppressed it is not sufficient to grant them the right to express difference – the State needs to silence those deemed to be oppressors... Catholics and Protestants didn’t need to be told by academics that they were oppressed by one another. And the subsequent creation of the modern State didn’t require them to stop thinking of one another as heretics. Rather, it compelled them to put an end to sectarian violence as a means of punishing heresy. What Butler is asking of the alleged oppressor isn’t simply to refrain from violence, but to see in his opinions the cause of the another’s suffering. In this way, speech and opinion are redescribed as a kind of violence... by promoting a ‘performative’ conception of individual identity, ‘critical theorists’ and postmodern academics intend to blur that important distinction. If who I am cannot be distinguished from who I say I am (e.g. the gender or the religion with which I identify) then people who disagree with me are a threat to my very existence. Worse, this asks – or, ideally, compels – the State to either accept all such claims, or to assess their sincerity or insincerity (for example regarding access to public bathrooms). Not only is this an impossible task, it is precisely the kind of task the modern State was designed to avoid."

Small restaurants could win from Deliveroo Editions central kitchen - "Deliveroo builds its own kitchen facilities, and then it invites local restaurants to operate a station on those premises, food can then be delivered quickly from that location."

12 things you might not know you could be punished for in Singapore - "1. Annoying someone by behaving badly in public while drunk
2. Annoying someone in a public place through an act, or by reciting or uttering a song with lyrics that are obscene
3. Sale, distribution, rental of all things "obscene", including paintings, books, figures
4. Purposely obstructing a person, so as to prevent him from proceeding in any direction that he is allowed to walk in
7. Bathing or washing yourself in on a public road, in a public tank, reservoir, or any water body
8. Flying a kite that obstructs traffic on a public road
9. Annoying someone by making noise in any way, including by an instrument
10. Taking alcohol into a public hospital
11. Making business deals at MRT stations"
Clearly 377A is problematic
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