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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Links - 20th May 2018 (1)

Le Beurre: Why Butter is Better in France - "“The main difference between American and European butter is that European butter has a higher percentage of fat than American butter,” she explained over the telephone from her home in Berlin. American butter averages 80 percent fat, while European standards hover around 85 and 87 percent, with the legal French minimum being 82 percent. It’s not a huge difference – we’re talking 5 to 7 percent – but it’s enough to give European butter a deeper, richer flavor than its American counterpart. The slightly more complex reason lies in a stage of butter making that is nonexistent in industrial American butters and increasingly rare even in France. Culturing, when the cream is left to ferment (up to 18 hours in the case of Echiré) before being churned, is reserved for select beurre de baratte, resulting in a tangy, slightly acidic butter popular with pastry chefs."

The Paris Attacks: Understanding Islam – Michael A. Sherlock (Author) - "The Qur’an is the central pillar of the Islamic religion, not Edward Gibbon’s ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. Arguing that the more uncivilized teachings are restricted to specific historical contexts strips the Qur’an of its perceived religious authority and renders it a partially-irrelevant piece of historical literature, which, as I’m sure most Muslims would agree, is a highly blasphemous assertion indeed. To put it in other words, Muslims believe that the Qur’an is a book of laws that has not, and cannot, be overturned, unless specified within the Qur’an itself."

Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? - "The Quran as we know it today is in reality two quite different books. The older Quran was written in Mecca while the later Quran was written in Medina. This lead some scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to refer to the Quran by its two parts, the Mecca Quran and the Medina Quran... Muhammad ruled that if a later Surah contradicted a previous Surah, then the most recent and newer Surah was the true word of Allah. This is why figuring out the chronological order of the Surah is so essential to understanding Islam. It is also why one must read the whole Quran and not listen and decide matters only on quotes of individual Surah. The fact that Surah exist that have opposite intent and meanings should be noted so one can discern the validity of each Surah"

Ahed Tamimi - "Ahed Tamimi is the Palestinian teen who has become an international anti-Israel star because since early childhood she has been used by her parents and Western BDS supporters to attack Israeli police and soldier for the cameras... This is not the first time Ahed has kicked and punched soldiers for the cameras as her mother and others filmed, but it’s the first time she was arrested. Ahed has been thrust into the spotlight by her parents because they understand, as her father Bassem recently stated, that her blond hair and light skin color makes her appealing to Western audiences. As we have covered many times, it is nothing short of child exploitation and abuse to encourage children to engage in such dangerous behavior of deliberately trying to provoke the police and soldiers so that cameras can capture the interaction. If the Israeli policeman or soldier reacts, it’s used as a propaganda tool to claim Israeli cruelty to children; if the Israeli policeman or soldier doesn’t react (which is what almost always happens), it is used as a propaganda tool to claim Israelis are weak and scared."

How the Netherlands Feeds the World - "The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass"

Canada: Schools axe 'he' and 'she' in favour of 'xe' - "Some schools in Vancouver are reported to be doing away with the old-fashioned pronouns "he" and "she" for their transgender pupils in favour of a new gender-neutral word, "xe"... Opponents of the policy shouted "dictator" and "liar" at school trustees when it was passed after only a brief debate at a rowdy public meeting which had to be guarded by police. Parents who question the changes argue that six-year-olds aren't qualified to understand identity issues and that as some of them can't even use the toilet yet, much less decide which washroom to do it in... Suggesting a possible alternative to xe (pronounced "zee"), National Post's Kelly McParland wrote: "The British long ago began using the term 'one' - as in 'one does wish for a glass of water' to get around this problem, but it's viewed as a bit cold and snooty, and therefore undesirable.""

From Cat Food to Sushi Counter: The Strange Rise of the Bluefin Tuna - "The beef-red flesh, many say, is smelly and strong tasting, and, historically, the collective palate of Japan preferred milder species, like the various white-fleshed fishes and shellfish still popular among many sushi chefs... tuna was commonly called neko-matagi, meaning “fish that even a cat would disdain.” But at least one sidewalk sushi chef tried something new, slicing the raw meat thin, dousing it in soy sauce and serving it as “nigiri sushi.”... The dramatic turnaround began in the early 1970s. Beef had become popular in Japan, and with a national palate now more appreciative of strong flavors and dark flesh, bluefin tuna became a desired item. It was also about this time that cargo planes delivering electronics from Japan to the United States and returning home empty began taking advantage of the opportunity to buy cheap tuna carcasses near New England fishing docks and sell them back in Japan for thousands of dollars. “Bluefin tuna is an amazing example of something we have been made to think is an authentic Japanese tradition,” Corson says. “Really, it was a marketing scheme of the Japanese airline industry.”... “It’s not even that good,” he says. “It’s got this distinct, not-so-subtle, tangy iron flavor, and it melts in your mouth. This makes it very easy to like.” Too easy, that is. Corson says that “old-school sushi holdouts who are still loyal to the older version of sushi” share the same opinion. Among these diners and chefs, the melt-in-your-mouth sensation that has proved so marketable and so devastating to the bluefin tuna is considered simplistic and unsophisticated. “They consider toro to be sort of for amateurs,” Corson says. Instead, traditional sushi connoisseurs enjoy the often crunchier, more subtly flavored muscle tissues of animals like squid, clams, various jacks, flounder and, perhaps most of all, sea bream, or Pagrus major."

Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense - "Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that's not entirely what it seems. It's about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it's the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to "go to the skull" before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn't the product of Hollywood hacks—it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that's what we'd call it. The AI named itself Benjamin"

Why Having a Heart of Gold is Not What Christianity is About - "The moment Christians grant that Christianity’s ultimate purpose is to make us ethically better people, they cannot convincingly defend against the insinuation that, if some other system makes human beings just as good or better, Christianity has lost its raison d’etre."

Beyond Potstickers: Around the World in Dumplings - "in a galaxy of won tons and potstickers, knishes and kreplach, empanadas and ravioli, knowing where a dumpling begins and ends can get a little complicated"

Food For Thought: Xiao Long Bao and Authenticity in Food - "when presented in the authenticity paradigm, they limit our perception of what a cuisine can be. To suggest that a dish can only be made in one way, if it is to be true to its culture, ignores historical reality: If most people eat and ate at home, how can everyone possibly be eating the same thing? Do all New Yorkers only eat Brooklyn-style plain slices? It's a radical oversimplification. The concept of authenticity, as contemporarily pushed, ignores the malleable nature of food, framing it as static and unchanging"

The Physiology of Foie: Why Foie Gras is Not Unethical - "video or photographic footage of one badly managed farm or even a thousand badly managed farms does not prove that the production of foie gras, as a practice, is necessarily harmful to the health or mental well-being of a duck. Foie gras production should be judged not by the worst farms, but by the best, because those are the ones that I'm going to choose to buy my foie from if at all... "any mishandling of the ducks—rough treatment, that kind of thing—will cause bruising, reducing its price," he explains. "So we've got a strong incentive to be gentle with the birds." Duck handlers, who are mostly female (apparently ducks take better to women) work on an bonus-based program where their pay is bumped for every "A" grade lobe one of their charge produces. It's the first time I've heard of a farm that offers workers a monetary incentive to be gentler with the animals. Bob insists that it works, and that the most experienced feeders can increase the number of A lobes from the normal 55% up to over 70%... Far from the cramped, cruel conditions shown in the videos and photographs I'd seen, here was an enormous shed, full of birds free to roam as they pleased. They congregated in groups, quietly quacking at each other, roamed freely over the sawdust-strewn floor, even stretched their wings for a flap now and then... these were probably the most well-accommodated farm animals I'd ever seen... the key to understanding this is to make a very conscious effort not to anthropomorphize the animals. As waterfowl, they are distinctly not human, and their physiology differs from ours in a few key ways... There are only three foie farms in the country, and none of them have the money or government clout to defend themselves the way that the chicken or beef industry does. It's a food product that is marketed directly at the affluent, and the rich are always an easy target. As an occasional delicacy, it's also a food that's relatively easy for most people to give up. Personally, I find this kind of protesting abhorrent. If you are going to protest anything, it should be the industrial production of eggs, where chickens are routinely kept in cages so small that they can't even turn around for an entire year. The problem, of course, is that you tell people to stop eating cheap eggs, and nobody will listen. The leaders of the anti-foie movement know this and use it to their advantage, using video and photographs taken from the worst of the farms (none of the ones in this country, for the record), and making it seem like all foie production is as despicable."
First they came for the shark's fin. Then they came for the foie gras

Germany: Migrants 'may have fuelled violent crime rise' - "Migrants may be responsible for most of a recent rise in violent crime in Germany, research commissioned by the government suggests. The study used data from Lower Saxony, a state where more than 90% of the rise was attributed to young male migrants. The researchers say the findings are not surprising because many migrants who arrived in Germany in recent years are single males aged 14-30... The report used statistics from Lower Saxony - regarded as an average state - where police saw an increase of 10.4% in reported violent crimes in 2015 and 2016. Based on figures from the state's interior ministry, which keeps a separate record of alleged crimes by migrants, the report suggested that 92.1% of this increase was attributable to migrants... migrants with little hope of being giving asylum in Germany were much more likely to commit violent crime than those from war zones like Syria whose asylum was guaranteed... In the Lower Saxony figures, 17% of crimes attributed to migrants were suspected of being committed by North Africans. This group, which makes up less than 1% of the state's migrant population, has little chance of achieving legal status in Germany."
Maybe the liberal answer to this is to give everyone asylum

Angela Merkel is about to pay for the ‘Mutti’ of all blunders - "The full implications of this mass influx remain to be seen. According to the Pew Research Centre, the Muslim population of Germany (which was 6% in 2016) could be anything between 8.7% and 19.7% by 2050, depending on the future rate of immigration. The short-run consequences, however, are clear. There has been a marked increase in crime. And there has been a seismic political backlash. The crime issue is controversial, but last month a rigorous, government-commissioned study was published by the Zürich University of Applied Sciences, based on data from the state of Lower Saxony. By the end of 2016, around 750,000 of the state’s 8m residents were not German citizens, and about 170,000 of them had applied for asylum. The Zürich study reveals that asylum seekers were responsible for a surge in violent crime, which had fallen by 22% between 2007 and 2014, but rose by more than 10% from then until the end of 2016. More than 92% of that increase was attributable to the newcomers, with young men from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia overrepresented among the perpetrators. And the victims? In nine out of 10 murders and three-quarters of cases of grievous bodily harm, they were other migrants. But in 70% of robberies and 58.6% of rape and sexual assault cases, the victims were German. Think about that. The political backlash has only just begun, but already it has transformed the German political landscape. In last year’s election, the anti-immigration party known as Alternative for Germany came third with 12.6% of the vote. The latest polls have it on 15% and rising. We are fast approaching the point when it will be the country’s second-largest party after Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). It is already large enough to make coalition-building an intractable challenge. Five months after the election, Germany still lacks a new government... In Germany, as elsewhere in western Europe, the growth of populist parties on both the left and the right has forced the centre-right and centre-left to set aside their 20th-century rivalry and to join forces. Yet both sides are uneasily aware that, with every passing year, their combined vote share is declining"
Comments: "We come to the nub of the issue - the UK had to Brexit for many reasons, one of them being this - once the millions invited into Europe by Angela Merkel and others qualify for EU passports, they will be free to come to the UK under Freedom of Movement"
"And what is wrong with xenophobia when the fears are legitimate, based on the hard evidence of the actual crimes perpetrated, themselves a direct result of an alien culture and religious imperatives that refuse to change and integrate."


‘Sickened by the silence’: Western progressives accused of staying mute about Iran protests - "As Iranians lose their lives in a wave of unprecedented pro-democracy protests, members of the country’s diaspora are criticizing what they call a “deafening silence” from Western governments and progressive groups who normally tout themselves as champions of equality and human rights... “major influential left-wing politicians and thinkers still have been largely silent on this.” On his Twitter account he singled out Canadian social activist Naomi Klein, U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau... So far, the only full-throated government support of the protesters has come from Trump and Israel."
If Trump and Israel support it, it must be wrong!

Galbrush Paradox - GamerGate Wiki - "It hypothesises that the lack of female representation in gaming is due to the over-scrutinisation of female portrayal in the medium, and that in an effort to avoid this scrutiny, many developers would rather choose to omit a female character than include her, for fear of backlash...
'A white male can be a lecherous drunk. A woman can't or it's sexist. Sexualizing women and what all. A white male can be a mentally disturbed soldier who's mind is unraveling as he walks through the hell of the modern battlefield. A woman can't or you're victimizing women and saying they're all crazy... Men can be comically inept halfwits. Women can't. Men can be flawed, tragic human beings. Women can't. And why? Because every single female character reflects all women everywhere. The horrible truth ls you and Sarkeesian want to craft a box into which you can force every female character into'"

Taxpayers Forced To Finance Film Where White Liberals Flee To Africa To Escape Conservative Governments

K-beauty: the ugly face of South Korea’s obsession with women looking forever flawless - "In one step that could help ease the image burden on Korean women, the Seoul government last month announced it would phase out plastic surgery advertisements in subway stations by 2022. Media reports cited a public outcry, with over a thousand complaints and requests asking the stations to take down such advertising... The era of when women could be sent home from work for not wearing enough make-up has passed"

Vice Media Exposed for Rampant Sexual Misconduct in ‘New York Times’ Report - "Despite its youthful staff and progressive image, Vice reportedly failed when it came to creating a safe work environment for women."
Ahh... male feminists

AT&T, two banks offer bonuses, pay hikes in wake of U.S. tax reform

Professor Proposes Counseling and Leadership Programs for Victims of 'Racial Microaggressions' - "Annemarie Vaccaro, who teaches grad classes at URI, managed a study probing 18 students of non-white ethnicity in a focus group on how they cope with daily “racial microaggressions” on the predominantly white women’s college campus."

Racial segregation and the limits of international undergraduate student diversity - "This study challenges the assertion that the influx of Asian international undergraduate students in universities across the United States creates richer educational and social environments. Drawing on qualitative research at a public university with a large number of Asian international students, this article examines how Asian American student leaders and their organization took on the difficult institutional task of actualizing the diversity of these new students in a racially segregated campus. We found that instead of viewing racial segregation practices as possibly tied to racial discrimination and privileges of normative whiteness, students expressed both support and resistance to Asian international students in race-neutral language of comfort and organizational differences that reflects the dominant ideology of colorblindness."
Minorities are only welcome when they have the correct views
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