"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Links - 26th May 2018 (1)

How China’s market economy has fuelled a prostitution boom - "The sex industry has become an increasingly important part of the Chinese economy. In an article published in 2000, Zhong Wei estimated that the sex trade contributes about 6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product with annual consumption at 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.21 trillion). He also estimates that there are 20 million sex workers in China."

Guesthouse in Mao's village now a brothel - "THE state guesthouse in Shaoshan, Chairman Mao Zedong's home village in Hunan province, has been turned into a brothel by locals determined to revive the flagging tourist industry in the heart of Chinese communism. Heavily made-up teenage girls wait at the Shaoshan Hotel's Massage and Beauty Parlour watching guests check into their rooms."

Venezuela: Latin America's inequality success story | From Poverty to Power
Oxfam applauds Venezuela for reducing inequality by making everyone equally miserable
"Socialism will lead to great success and happiness.
Hence any socialist country that fails is obviously not a valid example of socialism."

Oxfam would rather make us all poorer than feed the world - "rather than discussing actual poverty it focuses on how the current wealth of the world is split between the top one per cent and the rest. In order to solve this supposed crisis, their report also lays out solutions that call for the effective abolition of the modern capitalist economy."

Children receive new ears grown from their own cells in world first

The Impact Of Temperature On Productivity And Labor Supply - Evidence From Indian Manufacturing - "Cross-country studies have found that hotter years are associated with lower output in poor countries. Using high-frequency micro-data from manufacturing firms in India, we show that worker heat stress can substantially explain this correlation. Ambient temperatures have non-linear effects on worker productivity, with declines on hot days of 4 to 9 percent per degree rise in temperature. Sustained heat also increases absenteeism. Similar temperature induced productivity declines are replicated in annual plant output from a national panel. Our estimates imply that warming between 1971 and 2009 may have decreased manufacturing output in India by at least 3 percent relative to a no-warming counterfactual."
Without air conditioning, Singapore would be a mistake

Singapore ranks low on excitement: Survey - "Singapore is one of the least exciting among 32 cities from around the world, according to Time Out’s City Life Index 2018... Singapore came in at 31 in the anonymous survey of 15,000 urbanites across the 32 cities which takes into account criteria such as culture, food, drink, friendliness, liveability, affordability and happiness. Time Out pronounced Singapore as “the worst rated city” for culture, and the worst for drinking apart from Dubai. However, Singapore's final score of 98.7 points was bolstered by its good ratings for safety and public transport and its “much buzzier restaurant scene” compared to other cities towards the bottom of the ranking. Singapore came ahead of last-placed city, Istanbul, which chalked up 87.1 points. The index reported that Istanbulites think their city is “a rip-off” and that it is unsafe, adding that that they also do not “feel proud or enjoy living there”. The honour of “greatest city in the world” went to Chicago, with Chicagoans lauding the city’s bar scene, live music and culture. The Windy City, which racked up 138.2 points, was also deemed “one of the happiest and proudest cities” worldwide."

Monopoly will release cheaters edition of board game this fall - "If you've ever tried to sneak some extra cash from the bank at Monopoly or have tried to avoid paying rent when landing on Park Place, then we have good news. There's a version of the game for you... "A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games, so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along - a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating"

The Psychology of Inequality - "access to the database had a “negative effect on workers paid below the median for their unit and occupation” but “no effect on workers paid above median.” The message the economists took from their research was that employers “have a strong incentive” to keep salaries secret. Assuming that California workers are representative of the broader population, the experiment also suggests a larger, more disturbing conclusion. In a society where economic gains are concentrated at the top—a society, in other words, like our own—there are no real winners and a multitude of losers... He has come to believe that what’s really damaging about being poor, at least in a country like the United States—where, as he notes, even most people living below the poverty line possess TVs, microwaves, and cell phones—is the subjective experience of feeling poor. This feeling is not limited to those in the bottom quintile; in a world where people measure themselves against their neighbors, it’s possible to earn good money and still feel deprived. “Unlike the rigid columns of numbers that make up a bank ledger, status is always a moving target, because it is defined by ongoing comparisons to others,” Payne writes... "inequality itself can cause risky behavior"... the privileged prefer not to think of themselves that way. One woman, who has an apartment overlooking the Hudson, a second home in the Hamptons, and a household income of at least two million dollars a year, tells Sherman that she considers herself middle class... If affluence is in the eye of the beholder, then even the super-rich, when they compare their situation with that of the ultra-rich, can feel sorry for themselves... Sherman construes things differently. Her subjects, she believes, are reluctant to categorize themselves as affluent because of what the label implies. “These New Yorkers are trying to see themselves as ‘good people,’ ” she writes. “Good people work hard. They live prudently, within their means. . . . They don’t brag or show off.”... Like humans, capuchin monkeys, the researchers wrote, “seem to measure reward in relative terms.”"

The Conversation #MeToo Needs to Have - "we’re starting to lose the crowd. This gets called “backlash,” which makes it seem a product of sexism, but to a significant extent it’s also a product of the rage itself, and the irrational, score-settling things it can make people do... when messy hook ups and ill-conceived passes receive the same public shaming and career-damaging punishment as serious crimes, you also get the attention of millions of wives, mothers, and sisters who are not willing to see their loved ones unfairly targeted, and some of them are starting to cool on the movement. As for the men—the good ones—they’re eager to fight rape, but unwilling to lose their jobs over unfounded or minor accusations... #MeToo has made cowards of many people who are terrified of having the mob turn on them... There were a few women who were willing to stand up for Franken. The law professor—and feminist—Zephyr Teachout wrote in The New York Times that she was not convinced Franken should quit: “Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality.” These words—a balm of Gilead for anyone hoping to strengthen the movement by adding reason and fairness to its core ideals—seemed not to register within the larger, “burn it down” spirit animating the mob. Bill Maher told his audience about the trouble Matt Damon got into for saying that “There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation.” That prompted Minnie Driver to tweet, “No. You don’t get to be hierarchical about abuse. You don’t get to tell women that because some guy only showed them his penis, their pain isn’t as great as a woman who was raped.” It was like the kind of hyper-gendered conversation that women’s magazines of yesteryear loved to decode for their readers: He was talking about facts; she was talking about feelings... how many women have alienated the very people they need to make this movement successful because they are so blinded by rage that they can only speak in radical and alienating terms? Add the opportunists who see in this movement a potent opportunity for self promotion, and we begin to see the rocky path that #MeToo must travel if it is to grow from a vehicle of outrage to a mechanism for lasting change."

America Is Not a Democracy - "public policy does not reflect the preferences of the majority of Americans. If it did, the country would look radically different: Marijuana would be legal and campaign contributions more tightly regulated; paid parental leave would be the law of the land and public colleges free; the minimum wage would be higher and gun control much stricter; abortions would be more accessible in the early stages of pregnancy and illegal in the third trimester... Four broad theories have long sought to answer a fundamental question about our government: Who rules? One theory, the one we teach our children in civics classes, holds that the views of average people are decisive. Another theory suggests that mass-based interest groups such as the AARP have the power. A third theory predicts that business groups such as the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and the National Beer Wholesalers Association carry the day. A fourth theory holds that policy reflects the views of the economic elite. Gilens and Page tested those theories by tracking how well the preferences of various groups predicted the way that Congress and the executive branch would act on 1,779 policy issues over a span of two decades. The results were shocking. Economic elites and narrow interest groups were very influential: They succeeded in getting their favored policies adopted about half of the time, and in stopping legislation to which they were opposed nearly all of the time. Mass-based interest groups, meanwhile, had little effect on public policy. As for the views of ordinary citizens, they had virtually no independent effect at all... The massive influence that money yields in Washington is hardly a secret. But another, equally important development has largely gone ignored: More and more issues have simply been taken out of democratic contestation. In many policy areas, the job of legislating has been supplanted by so-called independent agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau... They are now responsible for the vast majority of new federal regulations... treaties and agreements offer real benefits or help us confront urgent challenges. Whatever your view of their merit, however, there is no denying that they curtail the power of Congress in ways that also disempower American voters... This same tension between popular sovereignty and good governance is also evident in the debates over the power of the nine unelected justices of the Supreme Court... The American right has long railed against “activist judges” while the American left, which enjoyed a majority on the Court for a long stretch during the postwar era, has claimed that justices were merely doing their job. Now that the Court has started to lean further right, these views are rapidly reversing... a political elite with less and less backing from the people ultimately has to resort to more and more repressive steps to hold on to its power; in the end, any serious attempt to sacrifice democracy in order to safeguard liberty is likely to culminate in an end to the rule of law as well as the rule of the people."
Addendum: Reported by the BBC as Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy
Findings: "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence"

Snip snap - Male circumcision - "SEXUAL, health and aesthetic norms do not vary much across the West. Male circumcision is an exception. Over half of American boys are snipped, compared with 2-3% in Finland and Britain. The procedure is justified in America on grounds given little credence in Europe: that it makes genitals cleaner, nicer-looking and more socially acceptable... Over 80% of American men are circumcised. Parents worry that uncircumcised boys will be teased in the changing rooms; fathers often want their sons to look the same as them “down there”. Many parents think foreskins are hard to clean, says Georganne Chapin of Intact America, a group lobbying against infant circumcision. But if men can become astrophysicists or master carpenters, she says, surely they can learn to wash? American doctors routinely ask new mothers whether they want their sons circumcised before they go home. Insurers often pay, so providers have an incentive to promote it. Parents who want to decide on rational grounds get little help. The American Academy of Paediatrics says the benefits “outweigh the risks” but also that they are too low to justify routine circumcision. Most parents go with the flow. European doctors’ associations take a different line. The Nordic ones insist that there are no health benefits for young boys. The Royal Dutch Medical Association urges a “strong policy of deterrence”; it stops short of recommending a ban only for fear of driving circumcision for religious reasons underground."

Gay Coffee Shop Owner Blasts Anti-Abortion Activists In Viral Video - "The openly gay co-owner of a Seattle coffee shop is feeling the heat after a video of him asking a group of anti-abortion activists to leave his establishment surfaced last week. Ben Borgman, who co-owns Bedlam Coffee in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, got into an argument with members of Abolish Human Abortion when he asked the group to take their business elsewhere. A video of the altercation was posted to Abolish Human Abortion’s Facebook page with the caption, “Angry homosexual kicks Christian customers out of coffee shop.”"
Maybe they should sue him for religious discrimination, since they didn't even ask him to give them coffee with latte art reading "abortion is bad"

As crime dries up, Japan’s police hunt for things to do - Petty officers - "they are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama of Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the cost of renting a car, deeming the arrangement an illegal taxi. Some prefectures have begun prosecuting people who ride their bicycles through red lights."

Defending Silicon Valley’s Professional Men, not “Bros” - "There were a few of us women promoted to the executive suites and venture capital offices in the ’90’s... When passed over for a promotion or funding, in today’s “sis” culture it is all too easy to blame discrimination. However, there are usually multiple male candidates for that same position or investment. What can they point to as the reason they failed to get ahead? Results-orientation, interpersonal skills, ambition—all these are characteristics needed in the intensely competitive and dynamic market of technology. This is a rough-and-tumble world, where boys become men or don’t make it as leaders. Many women are unprepared for, or shy away from, that kind of competition, hard work, and risk-taking. The reality is that any time off, from family leave to vacations, may leave a worker vulnerable to not gaining key experience, or missing a great opportunity to shine and be more promotable. That’s life. Making those kinds of choices is a freedom we all have. I didn’t take a single week of vacation my entire corporate career, only an occasional Friday or Monday holiday. Many thought I was crazy. Yet that allowed me to rise to be the only woman in a roomful of men, and usually the youngest, too. In my experience, Silicon Valley’s professional men are fully aware of women’s strengths and contributions to their business, and readily seek out those who can contribute to bottom-line profits... Too many women are choosing to wield the power of public opinion, government regulations, and attorneys to protect them from these supposed “bro” bullies, threatening retribution based on innuendo, false expectations, vague promises, and unprovable claims. They seek equality of condition, not equality of opportunity. Women do have power and justifiable recourse through management and/or human resources, and ultimately our legal system. But it is as wrong to exploit the law for vengeance, or to compensate for one’s own foolhardy decisions, as it is to exploit gender-specific restroom chats. And men can hardly be blamed today if they fear entrapment and false accusations. Current events prove just how easily a career can be destroyed with careless words or purposeful vindictiveness. Unfortunately, professionalism is such a vague term that it is hard to challenge specific behavior inappropriate to today’s fluid workplace setting. Ideally, experienced men should be mentoring the younger generation of boisterous males in how to behave around co-workers. But experienced women should also be teaching young females how to handle dicey situations that are bound to arise. Naïveté is no excuse once you’re an adult. This is serious work, not play. No more cocooned university campus. No more Mom and Dad running interference. Casual dress code or an off-site meeting does not mean anything goes. There are real consequences for your choices... if you don’t like where you are working in Silicon Valley, quit. Both men and women have done that for years. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs got their start because the working environment was not to their liking. California’s reputation as a mythical land of milk and honey, formed centuries ago, continues to this day. Utopia in any form doesn’t exist. Nor do unicorns. Women who believe that they deserve wealth simply for landing a job in tech will be just as disappointed as the majority of men"

“Hate Speech” Does Not Incite Hatred - "This common understanding of the role of “hate radio” overlooks basic facts of Rwandan history, including the fact that the genocide took place in the midst of a Tutsi-dominated insurgency that had begun in 1990, and which had resulted in hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Rwandans as insurgent forces approached the capital in 1993, just a year before the beginning of the genocide. Thus, the myth that Rwanda was an Arcadia of ethnic harmony before the “hate radio” broadcasts began is just that: a myth. Perhaps more importantly, the popular narrative regarding the role of “hate radio” ignores twenty years of scholarship which finds little evidence that the radio broadcasts caused people to engage in genocide... Contrary to popular belief, there is little evidence that propaganda is able to change minds; rather, it is generally effective only among those who already agree with it, and counter-productive among those who disagree. That was true even of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda, which decreased denunciations of Jews by ordinary people in areas which had not historically been anti-Semitic. Therefore, the scholarly consensus is clear: “Hate speech” does not engender hatred. Rather, to the extent that is has any effect on violence at all, it makes it somewhat easier for those already inclined towards violence to act, largely by placing an imprimatur of official approval on acts of violence, and thereby making people who are already hateful and prone to violence believe that they can get away with acting violently. This implies that censoring “hate speech” by ordinary persons is pointless – it is only “hate speech” by elites that can be dangerous (and even then not by creating hatred)... efforts to censor extremists can backfire by causing them to see themselves as a persecuted minority who are justified in using violent means to be heard"

Whatever you do, don’t quit your job to pursue your passion - "Quitting your job to pursue your passion is bullshit. This messaging is only beneficial for privileged people and very dangerous for working class people. The statement alone reeks of privilege. It confirms you had a full-time job to begin with. It confirms you had time to develop a passion (that you can capitalize off of, enough to meet your cost of living). It confirms you had the option to pursue something different because you feel like it. There are more challenges to being self-employed than just mental perseverance and grit. We are predatorily luring working class people into an entrepreneur lifestyle as the answer to living a meaningful life and making loads of money. It’s the new American Dream."

Why They Hate Us - "deliberating groups tend to move toward a mole extreme point in line with their pre-deliberation tendencies. If like-minded people are talking with one another, they are likely to end up thinking a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk... It should be readily apparent that enclaves of people, inclined to terrorist violence, might move sharply in that direction as a consequence of internal deliberations. Three aggravating factors are of special relevance to the issue of terrorism. First, if members of the group think that they have a shared identity, and a high degree of solidarity, there will be heightened polarization... if members of the deliberating group are connected by affective ties, polarization will increase. If they tend to perceive one another as friendly, likable, and similar to them, the size and likelihood of the shift will increase. These points obviously bear on the cult-like features of terrorist organizations, in which shared identity helps fuel movement toward extremes. Third, extremists are especially prone to polarization... It is tempting to think that conformity plays a large role. Conformity may be at work, but the data make clear that group polarization is not a matter of conformity; people do not simply shift to the mean of their respective initial positions... If you think of yourself as the sort of person who opposes gun control more than most people do (because, hypothetically, you think that you are unusually disposed to reject liberal homilies), you might shift your position once you find yourself in a group that is very strongly opposed to gun control. If you stay where you were, you may seem more favorably disposed toward gun control than most group members, and this may be disconcerting, thus producing a shift... Terrorist leaders act as polarization entrepreneurs. They create enclaves of like-minded people. They stifle dissenting views and do not tolerate internal disagreement. They take steps to ensure a high degree of internal solidarity. They restrict the relevant argument pool and take full advantage of reputational forces, above all by using the incentive of group approval... Training routines specifically reinforce the basic message of solidarity amidst humiliation... if a nation aims to prevent terrorist activities, a good strategy is to prevent the rise of enclaves of like-minded people"
In other words, echo chambers self radicalise and virtue signalling is a thing
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