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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Links - 17th May 2018 (2)

How Brexit shattered progressives' dearest illusions - "Liberals believe in the rule of law; in individual rights to speech, worship, assembly, and private property; in an independent judiciary and civilian control of the military; in representative institutions founded on the consent of the governed; in democratic elections, not as ends in themselves but as checks on the power of government and as a means of gauging and forging popular support for policies pursued by public officials in the name of the common good. Progressives believe in all of that, too, but they add something else: a quasi-eschatological faith in historical progress that gives the movement its name... It would be one thing if progressives understood their universalistic moral and political convictions to constitute one legitimate partisan position among many. But they don't understand them in this way. They believe not only that their views deserve to prevail in the fullness of time, but also that they are bound to prevail. It is this faith in the inevitability of progressive triumph that has led so many commentators to respond so intensely to the rise of Donald Trump. I don't mean reactions that focus on Trump's personal, temperamental shortcomings. Those are real and worthy of serious concern. I mean reactions that take the form of moral indignation and outrage — as if the very fact that millions of voters have cast ballots for a candidate who strongly opposes immigration and free trade is some kind of moral and theological betrayal, or an offense against capital-H History itself."

The Real War on Science - "I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties? Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced?... there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left... Even biologists and geneticists are afraid of the R-word. More than 100 of them sent a letter to the New York Times denouncing Wade’s book as inaccurate, yet they refused to provide any examples of his mistakes. They apparently hadn’t bothered to read the book because they accused Wade of linking racial variations to IQ scores—a link that his book specifically rejected. Some genetic differences are politically acceptable on the left, such as the biological basis for homosexuality, which was deemed plausible by 70 percent of sociologists in a recent survey. But that same survey found that only 43 percent accepted a biological explanation for male-female differences in spatial skills and communication... It was no coincidence that these doubters espoused the most extreme left-wing political views and the strongest commitment to a feminist perspective... he laments that Americans don’t take his warnings on climate change seriously. He doesn’t seem to realize that public skepticism has a lot to do with the dismal track record of himself and his fellow environmentalists. There’s always an apocalypse requiring the expansion of state power. The visions of global famine were followed by more failed predictions, such as an “age of scarcity” due to vanishing supplies of energy and natural resources and epidemics of cancer and infertility caused by synthetic chemicals. In a 1976 book, The Genesis Strategy, the climatologist Stephen Schneider advocated a new fourth branch of the federal government (with experts like himself serving 20-year terms) to deal with the imminent crisis of global cooling. He later switched to become a leader in the global-warming debate... The most vocal critics of climate dogma are a half-dozen think tanks that together spend less than $15 million annually on environmental issues. The half-dozen major green groups spend more than $500 million, and the federal government spends $10 billion on climate research and technology to reduce emissions. Add it up, and it’s clear that scientists face tremendous pressure to support the “consensus” on reducing carbon emissions"

Sweet Potatoes vs Yams vs Taro vs Yuca

What Do Palestinians Want? - "In matters that necessarily involved both Israel and the Palestinians, massive majorities blamed Israel and denied any responsibility on their side. Cases in point include the suspension of negotiations between Israel and the PLO (1997), the failure of talks at Camp David (2000), the breakdown of a ceasefire during the second intifada (2003), the collapse of the peace process (2004), the outbreak of the first Gaza war (2008), the non-implementation of the Oslo accords (2012), the outbreak of the second Gaza war (2012), and the breakdown of negotiations between the sides and the third Gaza war (2014)... most ordinary Palestinians do not believe Jews have a right to a state there... Israeli decisions to pull out of previously held territory have been seen by Palestinians as a consequence of their “armed resistance” and not as a function of Israeli strategic interests, international pressure, or other factors. This was pointedly true regarding the decision by the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to leave the Gaza Strip... when Palestinians look back at sustained campaigns of violence, whether in the second intifada or in the three wars with Hamas, they see them as victories, and they tend to believe that armed campaigns are also likely to be effective in the future... On 17 occasions between April 2001 and March 2013, JMCC asked, “How do you feel toward suicide-bombing operations against Israeli civilians?” Supporters outnumbered opponents all but four times, and on average the level of support exceeded opposition by a full twenty points... Palestinian perpetrators of violence reflect and are acting on the basis of views widely held in their society"
Of course, people will just continue to claim that ordinary people (or Palestinians, anyway) are peace loving

Controversial Drexel professor resigns - "The last 12 months have seen one controversy after another over the tweets of George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University... The controversy over the professor started last Christmas Eve, when Ciccariello-Maher tweeted: "All I want for Christmas is white genocide"... Ciccariello-Maher was again in the news when he tweeted about his reaction when he saw a passenger in first class give up his seat on a flight. "Some guy in first class gave up his seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I'm trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul"... the university placed Ciccariello-Maher on leave after his tweets about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Ciccariello-Maher posted a series of tweets after the shooting in which he noted that the shooter was a wealthy white man and said that he didn't think gun control, as advocated by liberals, would prevent such shootings. "To believe that someone who would shoot down 50 people wouldn't circumvent any gun law you pass is the height of delusion," he wrote. But the attacks on the professor have focused on what he said was the cause of the tragedy in Las Vegas. Ciccariello-Maher blamed "Trumpism" and the entitlement of white men. "White people and men are told that they are entitled to everything. This is what happens when they don't get what they want," he wrote. And "the narrative of white victimization has been gradually built over the past 40 years.""
The messages of support he's getting on his Facebook are telling: they salute him as a comrade, talk about him praising Venezuela etc. Apparently he "viewed his position as an educator to be synonymous with being an "organizer.""

NYU Law Students Need To Get Off Their High Horse - "a bunch of NYU Law students signed onto a “Statement of No Confidence in Harold H. Koh,” which is reproduced on the next page. Calling out Professor Koh for his stance on targeted killing and citing a number of scholarly critics, the students demand the school kick Koh to the curb... Professor Koh didn’t call in drone strikes, he was asked whether he thinks a particular drone strike policy is legal under prevailing international norms. Regardless of how one feels about war generally, whether drones fit within the bounds of a body of law specifically designed to govern killing other people is a scholarly dispute... Calling for the heads of Professor Koh or Professor Yoo over their legal counsel is like declaring Johnny Cochran a murderer because he helped get O.J. off."

Dating Friends Brings Benefits - "When a relationship starts between two strangers (like in our example) they tend to be relatively closely matched in attractiveness. But when relationships have their roots in friendship things start to look a little different... the longer you have to get to know someone, the more you can learn their quirks and see how good a romantic partner they might be"

Benefit or burden? Attraction in cross-sex friendship - "emerging adult males reported more attraction to their friend than emerging adult females did, regardless of their own or their friend’s current relationship status. In our second study, both emerging and middle-aged adult males and females nominated attraction to their cross-sex friend as a cost more often than as a benefit. Younger females and middle-aged participants who reported more attraction to a current cross-sex friend reported less satisfaction in their current romantic relationship"

Why we’re better off with fewer friends - "The growth in the number of our friends has actually been accompanied with an increase in social isolation, as Sherry Turkle describes. We are more connected, yet more alone. It turns out that there is a correlation between Facebook use and loneliness. The very highest users of Facebook tend to feel less satisfied with life and are less happy... He found two distinct relationship-related values: popularity (the drive to have more friends and be liked by a wider circle of people) and affinity (the drive to deepen and build close relationships). Those for whom popularity was more important, were less happy, less healthy, more depressed, and used more drugs. Those who strived for affinity were the complete opposite. We wrongly assume more is better for most things in life. It just isn’t the case with relationships... I like to link Kasser’s work with the brilliant research into primates by Robin Dunbar where he estimated the maximum size of social groupings in apes as well as humans, based on the size of their brain. It turns out the maximum number of relationships humans can manage is 150. This has become known as Dunbar’s number. What is less widely known is that his research showed other numbers too. For example, he found people tend to have five people closest to them, then the next level of closeness involves 15 people, then 50, then 150. Nearly all the well-being benefits from relationships don’t come from the 500 Facebook friends, or even the 150 or the 50. They come from the 15. Quality time spent with your 15 closest friends and family will have a direct impact on your happiness, health and longevity (and theirs too)."

Spain Did Not Commit Any Genocide in America: What It Did Was To End One - "In a letter dated 1524, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, the first Bishop of Mexico, pointed out that in Tenochtitlán more than 20,000 people each year were sacrificed to the idols and more than 72,000 throughout the Aztec Empire, including 20,000 children. The Mexican historian Mariano Cuevas (1879-1949) estimated these sacrifices at 20,000 annually in Tenochtitlan, and noted that “we are short” if we number 100,000 annual sacrifices perpetrated throughout the Anáhuac, name given by the Aztecs to the territory that occupied their empire. In the first volume of his “History of the Church in Mexico,” Cuevas pointed out: “In the beams and stands of Mixcoatl, the largest temple in Mexico, Andres de Tapia and Gonzalo de Umbria counted 136,000 sacrificed Indian skulls.“ In the same book he points out that “the Mexicas and allied neighbors lived in continuous wars with other warlike peoples, wars that had as their exclusive object the captivation of as many of their opposites as possible and then sacrificed.“... In 1521 the Spaniards put an end to these genocidal practices, associated with pre-Columbian pagan religions"

European Maps Showing Origins Of Common Words - ""Bear" appears to be influenced by Russia, where largest brown bear population in Europe can be found. Notice the dominant word literally means "honey-eater.""

A funny inspirational picture quote of a frog and a crane with the words Never Give Up - "A cranes tries to swallow a frog but soon discovers that the frog won’t give up easily, reaching out and choking the crane."

The Problem with Privilege Theory - "When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined “intersectionality” to give Critical Race Theorists and middle class feminists an umbrella to work together, the result was the simplistic worldview of Privilege Theory: There are no rights. Everyone’s either privileged or oppressed, so those who are not oppressed are privileged."

Chinese Skeletons In Roman Britain? Not So Fast - "Several British news outlets today ran a story with headlines about Chinese people in Roman Britain. While there is no doubt that the Roman Empire was cosmopolitan, and it is entirely likely that people of East Asian ancestry will be found in all parts of the Empire, we need to take a step back from the hype and look at the data. The new study in question is by Rebecca Redfern and colleagues, out in the October issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. The researchers looked at 22 skeletons from the Lant Street cemetery in the London borough of Southwark, dating to the 2nd-4th century AD. In order to figure out where people might be from, they examined oxygen isotopes from the teeth, carbon and nitrogen isotopes from the bones, and the shape of the skull, correlating those data where possible with burial evidence."

The Wealth of Colonizers (or Lack Thereof) - "Liberia became formally independent in 1847, though was arguably functionally independent as far back as 1822. Despite it’s independence, Liberia’s per capita GDP (PPP) is $886, $878 and $900 according to the IMF, World Bank and CIA respectively, which is well below the Sub-Saharan African average. Within Africa, by far the most “colonized” country was South Africa, in terms of proportion of the population that was European, length of formal and effective European rule, and economic impact of European intervention. If colonization impoverishes the colonized people, we should expect the blacks in South Africa to be especially poor, but we don’t see that at all... White colonizing countries were no wealthier than non-colonizing white countries—that weren’t Communist. None of the colonizing white countries were Communist. The “colonial exploiter” narrative should predict that these countries should be wealthier than non-colonial white countries that weren’t Communist."

Colonial European Settlement Had Positive Effect on Income Today, Study Shows - "Having European settlers who came to a given country during colonial times had a remarkably strong positive effect on average per capita income we observe today"
What did the Romans ever do for us?

Colonialism and Modern Income -- Islands as Natural Experiments - "The number of years spent as a European colony is strongly positively related to the island's GDP per capita and negatively related to infant mortality. This basic relationship is also found to hold for a standard dataset of developing countries... Time spent as a colony after 1700 is more beneficial to modern income than years before 1700, consistent with a change in the nature of colonial relationships over time"

The Gall-Peters map is just as distorted as the Mercator - "City authorities decided it would be best to introduce the Gall-Peters style map of Earth to schools, because it shows the size of countries more accurately. It replaces the traditional Mercator map style that many of us are familiar with... The Boston authorities thought in an era of "alternative facts," a shift in the map style was called for, to "decolonize the curriculum" in public schools, and more accurately depict the sizes of countries. Greenland, for example, is actually a lot smaller than the Mercator shows, and South America is really twice the size of Europe. However, while some see the change as a victory against "fake news," not everyone is thrilled with the decision. The Gall-Peters map shows the correct sizes of countries, but it also distorts them. Countries are stretched horizontally near the poles and vertically near the Equator, so although the size may be right, the shape definitely isn't. The problem is, it's impossible to stretch the 3D sphere shape of the Earth onto a 2D sheet of paper. No matter which way it's done, there will always be a compromise somewhere on shape, size, direction, distance or scale"

Sanctuary city policies are ruining California — here’s why I left - "Progressives in California over the last ten years have increasingly placed the so-called “rights” of illegal immigrants over the public safety of its residents. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee once called illegal immigration “part of the DNA of the city.” Even California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra — the man responsible for upholding the law — is ironically for actually breaking federal immigration law... approximately one-fourth of the prison inmate population are illegal immigrants being housed on the taxpayers’ dime. While liberals often suggest that the illegal immigrant population is relatively low and therefore no threat to public safety, federal crime statistics show that a heavy percentage of inmates, criminal offenders and murderers are illegal immigrants. According to an article earlier this year at TheHill, “a population of just over 3.5 percent residing in the U.S. unlawfully committed 22 percent to 37 percent of all murders in the nation.”"
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