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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Links - 24th May 2018 (1)

Intolerance at Cornell: After my Fox News appearance, bullying and threats began. It got so bad I sought counseling. - "“Being a conservative, or even being a moderate, is a very difficult lifestyle here,” I added, explaining that I was stepping down as an RA because my superiors bristled at my right-leaning politics and my insistence that RA meetings present students with both sides of any issue... Some peers called me “hateful” for being critical of the course, even though I never attacked the professor’s character. Others suggested I was bigoted, even though they had never met me. One threat I received was over Facebook messenger, where someone said that they wanted to hurt me. Considering that Cornell University’s College Republicans president had been physically assaulted right after Trump was elected — shoved to the ground and called a “racist bitch” — threats around here are no joke."

Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History - The New York Times - "A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.
Nassim Taleb would say that 2017 is worse than ever because of black swan risks, because potential problems (no matter how unlikely) are as bad as real ones

If Aziz Ansari were a college student, he would likely be expelled - "an affirmative consent rule is offensive to longstanding notions of how we ought to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. Affirmative consent policies shift who has to prove what in ways that we would reject in connection with any other allegation. If affirmative consent is the rule, the accuser does not have to prove that a sexual assault occurred; the accused must demonstrate that consent was obtained. A foundational belief of our legal system is that you don’t have to prove your innocence. The entity accusing you has to prove your guilt... If a man removes a woman’s clothes while they’re talking and kissing as she mumbles and pulls away, and they continue to kiss, and perform oral sex on each other, that’s not a crime that would be prosecuted in any courtroom in America. Yet in universities, it can be considered assault worthy of expulsion... even if we agree that affirmative consent is the ideal, there are massive challenges in enforcing it. Whose perspective matters — a reasonable person in the initiator’s position or the subjective reaction of the specific person being pursued? If a man reasonably believes that a woman wants him to go forward, but she’s only acting that way because she feels pressured, is that consent? At what stage in a long-term, solidly sexual relationship, if ever, can some of these rules be relaxed? (A federal judge had a pretty good point when he rejected Brandeis University’s conclusion that a person in a two-year relationship committed sexual assault by kissing his boyfriend awake instead of using an alarm.)"

Don’t Fuck Anybody Who Wants to Get Your Consent Uploaded to the Blockchain - "LegalFling claims its contracts are “live documents” inside the app that can be appended with more information if consent is later withdrawn, the initial blockchain entry confirming consent will still be there, even if it’s just a hash value... the LegalFling app is “intended to be a tech implementation of” a proposed Swedish law that would reportedly require explicit consent before sex"
If you keep calling for affirmative, ongoing consent to specific sexual acts (e.g. that consent to oral sex doesn't mean consent to penetration), that anything other than that is rape - and then say that an objective way of verifying that is a bad thing, that suggests that what you really want is a Sword of Damocles hanging over men's heads

How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms - "Confucius Institutes teach a very particular, Beijing-approved version of Chinese culture and history: one that ignores concerns over human rights, for example, and teaches that Taiwan and Tibet indisputably belong to Mainland China. Take it from the aforementioned Li, who also said in 2009 that Confucius Institutes are an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Critics also charge that the centers have led to a climate of self-censorship on campuses that play host to them... That so many universities have welcomed the Confucius Institute with open arms points to another disturbing trend in American higher education: an alarming willingness to accept money at the expense of principles that universities are ostensibly devoted to upholding. At a time when universities are as willing as ever to shield their charges from controversial viewpoints, some nonetheless welcome foreign, communist propaganda—if the price is right"

What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right - "Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town. Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health. That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, "a fecalized environment." In plain English: s--- is everywhere... Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country. Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism... Family was a few hundred people, extending out to second and third cousins. All the men in one generation were called "father." Senegalese are Muslim, with up to four wives. Girls had their clitorises cut off at puberty. (I witnessed this, at what I thought was going to be a nice coming-of-age ceremony, like a bat mitzvah or confirmation.) Sex, I was told, did not include kissing. Love and friendship in marriage were Western ideas. Fidelity was not a thing. Married women would have sex for a few cents to have cash for the market... The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown. The value system was the exact opposite. You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives. There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system. They fail. We hear a lot about the kleptocratic elites of Africa. The kleptocracy extends through the whole society. My town had a medical clinic donated by international agencies. The medicine was stolen by the medical workers and sold to the local store. If you were sick and didn't have money, drop dead. That was normal... We think the Protestant work ethic is universal. It's not. My town was full of young men doing nothing. They were waiting for a government job. There was no private enterprise. Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy. It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives. All the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians. If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he'd go to another country. The reason? Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes. End of your business. You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives. The result: Everyone has nothing. The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work. A job is something given to you by a relative. It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family."

'Roe v. Wade for Men' Case Illustrates Family Law System's Inequities - "The contrast between child support enforcement and the enforcement of visitation and parenting time also illustrates this inequity. Over $5 billion a year is spent nationwide on enforcing child support, and large enforcement bureaucracies exist in all states. Each year 100,000 men are jailed for alleged non-payment of child support, and many others lose their driver's licenses, passports and business licenses. This is despite the fact that Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data reveal that nationwide 70% of those behind on payments earn poverty level wages, and less than 5% earn $40,000 a year. Fathers who want to share in parenting their children face many obstacles. In a study conducted by Arizona State University psychology professor Sanford Braver and published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 40% of divorced mothers admitted that they had interfered with their ex-husband's access or visitation, and that their motives were punitive in nature and not due to safety considerations. A study of adult children of divorce conducted by Glynnis Walker, author of Solomon's Children: Exploding the Myths of Divorce, found that 42% of children who lived solely with their mothers reported that their mothers had tried to prevent them from seeing their fathers after the divorce. Despite this, state and federal governments spend almost nothing on enforcing visitation and parenting time... prosecutions of mothers who violate visitation orders are almost nonexistent"

Georgetown Advisor Wishes Sexual Assault upon Conservative Commentator Allie Stuckey - "“Wishing you a #metoo moment,” Georgetown advisor Jeff Bernstein said in a tweet to conservative commentator Allie Stuckey over the weekend. “Maybe then you won’t be so insensitive.”"

The World's Longest-Burning Light Bulb Has Shone for 110 Years - "The Shelby bulb was never the brightest—it started at 60 watts and has since faded to 4 watts. But what it lacks in lumens it makes up for in design. Mastermind electrician Adolphe A. Chaillet designed the bulb, and his Shelby Electric Company manufactured it. The carbon filament was the defining feature, allowing the bulb to burn longer and at a lower temperature than tungsten-based Edison bulbs. Still, Shelby built the bulb for only a year. The conspiracy-minded say it was planned obsolescence that doomed the Shelby bulb. The more rational-minded say it was because the carbon filament within was too expensive."

The Abercrombie & Fitch Effect: The Impact of Physical Dominance on Male Customers’ Status-Signaling Consumption - "male customers spend more money and purchase more expensive products than their female counterparts in the presence (vs. absence) of a physically dominant male employee. This effect has a more powerful impact on male customers who lack bodily markers of dominance (shorter stature or measures linked to lower levels of testosterone). When confronted with other physically dominant (vs. nondominant) men, these male customers are particularly prone to signal status through price or logo size. Their elevated feelings of intrasexual (male-to-male) competitiveness drive them to spend more money on status-signaling, but not functional, products and to prefer and draw larger brand logos"

CES Was Full of Useless Robots and Machines That Don’t Work - "This year’s electronics expo promised a ‘better life’ and ‘better world.’ It instead offered a folding machine that can’t fold sweatshirts."

Police forced to review dog handler fitness test after female PC wins £15,000 damages - "The tribunal, which lasted for four days between October and November last year found that the test had a more demanding physical challenge for women and therefore suggested sexual discrimination. The judge said: ‘Where a standard test had negative impacts on members of a protected group, here women, then it either needs to be changed or objectively justified.’"
Maybe someone can sue if an incompetent dog handler causes harm. But by then there'll be real harm caused

The unkindest cut - Female genital cutting - "The latest row is about a paper published earlier this year in the Journal of Medical Ethics. The authors, gynaecologists Kavita Arora and Allan Jacobs, argue that some types of cutting, such as those common in Indonesia, do not harm physical functioning and should not be described as “mutilation”. Some, they say, are less invasive than male circumcision, which is near-ubiquitous in America (see article); others, though more severe, resemble labiaplasty, a surgical reduction of the vaginal lips that some Western women undergo for cosmetic reasons. Applying the “yuk factor” to all pricks and cuts is unhelpful, says Dr Arora. If even a few parents switched from major to minor forms of cutting, great suffering would be averted."

Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America? - "Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That's according to the Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income. Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it's worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state's per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%). It's not as though California policymakers have neglected to wage war on poverty... The generous spending, then, has not only failed to decrease poverty; it actually seems to have made it worse... It's as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives. Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault... Further contributing to the poverty problem is California's housing crisis... shortage is a direct outgrowth of misguided policies... The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1971, is one example; it can add $1 million to the cost of completing a housing development... Extensive environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions make energy more expensive, also hurting the poor... A Harvard University study found evidence that "higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants" in the Bay Area, where more than a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, have changed their minimum-wage ordinances in the last five years. "Estimates suggest that a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage leads to a 14% increase in the likelihood of exit for a 3.5-star restaurant (which is the median rating)," the report says. These restaurants are a significant source of employment for low-skilled and entry-level workers. Apparently content with futile poverty policies, Sacramento lawmakers can turn their attention to what historian Victor Davis Hanson aptly describes as a fixation on "remaking the world." The political class wants to build a costly and needless high-speed rail system; talks of secession from a United States presided over by Donald Trump; hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to "resist" Trump's agenda; enacted the first state-level cap-and-trade regime; established California as a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants; banned plastic bags, threatening the jobs of thousands of workers involved in their manufacture; and is consumed by its dedication to "California values." All this only reinforces the rest of America's perception of an out-of-touch Left Coast, to the disservice of millions of Californians whose values are more traditional, including many of the state's poor residents."

The fat in a perfect croissant: Physics Today: Vol 71, No 1

Scholars claim that statistics 'serve white racial interests' - "In the postmodern tradition, Gillborn and his team also argue that racism can be reinforced through numbers because they are social constructs."
The numbers showing that minorities are disadvantaged are also social constructs, and can be ignored

Asian students guilty of 'colorblind racism,' prof claims - "despite such efforts at integration, many international Asian students preferred to spend time with classmates of their own nationality, and that most didn’t express concern over the matter. While international students responded that self-segregation was a “preference,” Kwon was troubled by the notion, casting doubt over whether their choices are based on “past historical injustices” and “contemporary racism under normative whiteness.” In other words, Kwon’s theory suggests that “normative whiteness” in America actually causes Asian students to self-segregate... The fact that international Asian students didn’t see self-segregation as a problem was troubling for Kwon, who argued that their passivity can serve to “reinforce colorblind racism.”"

Islamic militant groups' recruits likely to be well educated, study finds - "Recruits to Islamic militant groups are likely to be well educated and relatively wealthy, with those aspiring to be suicide bombers among the best off, a study by the World Bank has found. The research, based on internal records from the Islamic State group, will reinforce the growing conclusion among specialists that there is no obvious link between poverty or educational levels and radicalisation... a report into Boko Haram, the Isis-affiliated Islamist group in Nigeria, found that female members of the brutal organisation were almost as likely as men to be deployed as fighters, challenging a widespread perception that women are mainly used as cooks, sex slaves and suicide bombers... Boko Haram had recruited young entrepreneurs and business owners by providing or promising capital and loans to boost their businesses"

Virgin’s decision to ban the Daily Mail on its trains is a PR disaster - "why stop at the Daily Mail? At present Virgin’s West Coast trains stock alternative titles, but presumably, if they step out of line they too will be struck off. Or next, Virgin’s cabin attendants and ticket inspectors disapprove of what we’re reading on our screens and we’re ordered to switch sites or to turn them off completely."
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