"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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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Links - 3rd May 2018 (2)

Marxists' Apartment A Microcosm Of Why Marxism Doesn't Work - ""A spirit of free-market competition in the house would likely result in better incomes or better grades," Browning said. "Then, instead of being hated and ostracized by the world at large as socialist countries usually are, they could maintain effective diplomacy with their landlord, their parents, and Kirk's boss who cut back his hours at Shaman Drum Books." The lack of funds and the resulting scarcity breeds not only discontent but also corruption. Although collectivism only works when all parties contribute to the fullest extent, Foyle hid the existence of a $245 paycheck from roommates so he would not have to pay his back rent, in essence refusing to participate in the forced voluntary taxation that is key to socialism"

RAF opens combat roles to women amid concern from senior officers - "Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said he “vehemently” disagreed with allowing women to serve in the infantry, as is planned next year. Speaking to BBC News, Kemp said he was concerned that women were more likely to suffer long-term injuries than men. This in turn could lead the military budget being hit by expensive compensation payments... Kemp also claimed military training would become less arduous. “My other concern is that standards of training and selection will be dropped. The army deny they will do that, but I’m confident they will”... In an interview with BBC Essex, he pointed out that there were no mixed-gender national sports teams, adding: “The simple fact is we take sport more seriously today. We take the defence of our country and the lives of our servicemen and women less seriously.”... The former head of the British army, Gen Lord Dannatt has also expressed doubts about the plan. Maj Judith Webb said she shared concerns about the physical consequences for women serving on the frontline. But she added: “Women are capable of anything and everything. My concern has been about the longevity of women in these roles.”"

Alexandria Shooting Motive: Did Anti-Trump Rhetoric Inspire James Hodgkinson? - "Three months before James Hodgkinson picked up a gun and targeted Republican members of a congressional baseball team as they practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, he signed a petition calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump"

How networks shape history | Podcast | History Extra - "Another good example of why the world is not going to necessarily get better the more networked it is, is the phenomenon of homophily, the fact that people are gravitate towards people like them, like themselves. Birds of a feather flock together... network science shows that if you have a population which is say ethnically heterogenous in a large school - there's lots of evidence of this from the United States - they will self segregate according to race or ethnicity and so this phenomenon is another reason why the more networked society gets the more divided it can paradoxically become...
French Revolution has a very different outcome from the American Revolution in that the networks that brought the Ancien Regime down in some ways failed to create any new order, you end up with a kind of anarchy. And the only way that you can deal with the problem of anarchy created by the late seventy nineties is to create a very hierarchical new order which is what Napoleon does. And there's a turning point there with Napoleon's advent as First Consul and then Emperor"

The Last Kamikazes | Podcast | History Extra - "You have a country where I think only eleven percent of the nationals are willing to fight for the country, which is the lowest in the world and I think that's what a lot of people of that generation, of the war generation wanted to achieve, to make sure that Japan would never be in a situation where it would be involved in a war and that's why we have the pacifist constitution and so on but even then the fact that today you ask any young Japanese people and most of them say that they wouldn't even consider joining the army and fight for the country. I think that rapid change is quite incredible"

Britain’s Chinese army | Podcast | History Extra - "[On coolies] We always think of soldiers at the front line as fighting, as being in the trenches, as being involved in combat. In actual fact a lot of the time that soldiers spent at the front line they weren't fighting or even in the trenches. They were carrying out what were called fatigue duties behind the lines and that could be anything. It could be repairing roads, laying rail, digging new trenches, constructing wells, assembling supply domes - almost anything you can think of could be a duty that the soldiers would be required to do and they were called fatigues partially as a mocking term because they would fatigue the soldier. Now the problem with doing a fatigue aside from wearing the soldier out when he could be resting or recuperating is it greatly diminished the time that was available for training and one of the big problems the British army had at the Battle of the Somme was there was very little time to train the army and so it went into battle almost without any significant battle training and of course it suffered very heavy losses... the survivors have to do even more work behind the lines"

You Say “eye-RACK,” I Say “ear-ROCK” | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Democrats are more likely to say Ih Rahk which is the pronunciation closer to what we would call the source form or how this is pronounced in Arabic while Republicans are more likely to use the pronunciation Ih Rack or Eye Rack... I actually found the same political effect to hold for variables like Chili vs Chih Leh or Keh Beck vs Kweh Beck...
This isn't necessarily about do I identify as a Democrat or Republican but it's more about do I identify as globalist versus nationalist...
The music we listen to first, we like let's say simple music. That means in a year the markets will go"

Farming Without Sun or Soil and Eating Manna From Heaven | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Pope Francis said something really cool. He said that giving something to someone in need is always right and if a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that's okay"

Edward VI and the Vagrancy Act 1547 - "in 1547 he introduced the Vagrancy Act. This stated that any able-bodied person who was out of work for more than three days should be branded with a V and sold into slavery for two years. Other offences by the same individual would lead to a life of slavery. Many local authorities refused to enact this harsh legislation."

An Astronaut, a Catalan, and Two Linguists Walk Into a Bar… | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "You can't split the inventive... somebody just made that up and that person said you can't split the infinitive because you can't split an infinitive in Latin because in Latin the infinitive is one f-ing word so you can't split it. Because you can't split a word, it's like trying to cut a cat in half. And so this person decided, well you can't split an infinitive in English because English is supposed to be like Latin. He's dead and here we are. Just let it go. Split your infinitives and enjoy it please"

Womb to Tomb | Tell Me Something I Don't Know - "Many people don't realize that monogamy was initially adopted as a military tactic because it was Greco-Roman strategists and not philosophers or religious adherents who embedded this into our society and they did it because it was an effective tool for building an empire. So they started laws built around putting one person with one other person and they wanted to keep that in line because it had all these social level effects... like in crime rates... polygynous societies have much higher crime rates because if you have a lot of single men around that's not good news... there have been some scholars who have speculated that these single men, if they are very sexually frustrated will have a greater probability of overthrowing the empire...
[On digital vs flushable pregnancy tests] About a quarter of the [pregnancy] tests that are sold today are digital and they have more computing power in them than the Apple 2c. They also have batteries in them and despite the fact that the instructions for the tests say that you should remove the batteries before throwing the test out, zero percent of the women that we surveyed actually remove the battery from their test so with this innovation has also not done is provide for the privacy problem of pregnancy tests. When we talk to women and survey women we find that nine out of ten women say that they want to control who knows whether they're pregnant or not pregnant...
Parents who rated themselves higher on authoritarian parenting which is a harsh my way or the highway approach to parenting also had blunted empathic responses to watching their kids receive a reward"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Constantine the Great - "[On 'With This Sign You Will Conquer] This story we actually first know about after his death. And the person who writes about this, Eusebius, who's his biographer has already written an account twenty five years before he doesn't mention this. And there is another account where Christ comes and gives us a slightly different message in a dream before the battle and so on. It looks very suspicious that Constantine's Christianity rolls like a snowball through history - the later the source the more Christian he is...
Most people don't care enough about them to persecute them... in some parts of the Empire there's no evidence they really did much persecuting at all. Christians later when they wanted martyrs had to invent lots of martyrs to make the persecution look grander than it was"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Feathered Dinosaurs - "Feathers first evolved for something else - probably for insulation, it makes sense. We don't know for sure but you know these dinosaurs were active and energetic, they needed to retain their body heat so probably the first feathers evolved for insulation but then that one group of small meat eating dinosaurs change their feathers, turn their feathers into things that could form wings. But now we see, amazingly this has emerged over the last few years that the first dinosaurs with wings couldn't fly either. They were too big. Their wings were too small. So it looks like even wings did not evolve for flight. Maybe they evolved as some kind of display billboard on the arms, you know to attract mates or intimidate rivals. Animals including birds today are always using their feathers for display purposes"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Picasso's Guernica - "There is this fantastic photograph of the Basque government in exile standing in front of the painting in the pavilion in Paris where Picasso, as it's being taken down, says to the Basque government: this is yours. If you want the painting it's yours and the Basque government in exile says no thank you. And that has been one of the thorns in the side of the Basques wanting to claim Guernica for the Basque country, but little by little within the Basque country Guernica becomes adopted, becomes a symbol of the suffering of the Basque country during the Franco period where owning a reproduction like the postcard that you have in front of you of Guernica is illegal... Colin Powell announces the Invasion of Iraq in front of the Security Council where they have covered up the tapestry and the people of Guernica and in particular the survivors of the bombing write a letter of protest to the United Nations"

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Thebes - "The Athenians did not like to portray really bad problems in their own city state or theatre. They liked to export that. That's a bit like a lot of Shakespeare's plays about really bad politics are deliberately set in Italian Republics or elsewhere. It's using the elsewhere so you can be safe and you've got to get it past the Archon. That's the magistrate who chooses the plays to go on. He chooses plays that are suitable ideologically for the Athenian audience... the Athenians really hated the Thebans so it was a very safe place to commit murder and incest... Thebes was quite a secretive society... it was run by a few aristocratic families. I actually think the incest theme reflects something... we've actually got six plays set there and they are some of the most violent and some of the most famous in the repertoire"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Raqqa In Ruins - "IS don't just use civilians as shields - they use them as bait. The day before a hundred people had been spotted trying to leave IS territory. They were mainly women and children. When Abul Abdul and his men approached them kids ran to the side of the street and the women revealed themselves to be IS fighters armed to the teeth...
I live in London and I know how identity is often shaped in opposition - there is nothing more Scottish than a Scot in England"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, A New Recipe - "If you say I'm Spanish, I love my country, I want a united Spain - it's as if you're in favor of Franco"

TV dinners: The hidden cost of the processed food revolution - "American families spend increasingly more outside the home - on fast food, restaurant meals, sandwiches and snacks. Only a quarter of food spending was outside the home in the 1960s. That has steadily risen over time and in 2015 a landmark was reached: for the first time, Americans spent more on food and drink outside the home than at grocery stores. The British passed that particular milestone more than a decade earlier... the washing machine did not save a lot of time, because before washing machines, we did not wash clothes very often. When it took all day to wash and dry a few shirts, people used replaceable collars and cuffs or dark outer layers to hide the grime.

How the lift transformed the shape of our cities - "When the furthest reaches of a six- or seven-storey building were accessed only after an arduous climb, they tended to be the servants' quarters or the artist's garret. After the lift, the attic became the loft apartment, the penthouse... the Empire State Building was always energy efficient by the simple virtue of being a densely packed vertical structure next to an underground station. One of the organisations that designed the building's retrofit is visionary environmental organisation the Rocky Mountain Institute, whose super-efficient, environmentally sustainable headquarters, doubling as a showcase home for founder Amory Lovins, was built high in the Rockies, 180 miles (290km) from the nearest public transit system."

How formula milk shaped the modern workplace - "In Utah, there's a company called Ambrosia Labs. Its business model? Pay mothers around the world to express breast milk, screen it for quality, and sell it on to American mothers. Milk is pricey - over $100 (£77) a litre (1.75 pints). But that could come down with scale - and maybe formula could be taxed, to fund a breast-milk market subsidy. Not everyone likes this idea. Indeed, the government in Cambodia, where Ambrosia used to operate, has banned the export of breast milk."

How Chinese mulberry bark paved the way for paper money - "The abysmal world record for hyperinflation is held by Hungary in 1946, where prices trebled during the course of every day. Walk into a Budapest cafe back then, and it was better to pay for your coffee when you arrived, not when you left."

How plastic became a victim of its own success - "plastic has benefits that aren't just economic, but environmental too. Vehicles made with plastic parts are lighter, and so use less fuel. Plastic packaging keeps food fresh for longer, and so reduces waste. If bottles weren't made of plastic, they'd be made of glass. Which would you rather gets dropped in your children's playground?"

How market research revolutionised advertising and shopping - "In 1929, he helped the American Tobacco Company to persuade women that smoking in public was an act of female liberation. Cigarettes, he said, were "torches of freedom"."

Does Management Matter? Evidence from India - "A long-standing question is whether differences in management practices across firms can explain differences in productivity, especially in developing countries where these spreads appear particularly large. To investigate this, we ran a management field experiment on large Indian textile firms. We provided free consulting on management practices to randomly chosen treatment plants and compared their performance to a set of control plants. We find that adopting these management practices raised productivity by 17% in the first year through improved quality and efficiency and reduced inventory, and within three years led to the opening of more production plants. Why had the firms not adopted these profitable practices previously? Our results suggest that informational barriers were the primary factor explaining this lack of adoption. Also, because reallocation across firms appeared to be constrained by limits on managerial time, competition had not forced badly managed firms to exit"

How a creative legal leap helped create vast wealth - "The East India Company quickly learned the value of maintaining cosy relationships with British politicians, who duly bailed it out whenever it got into trouble. In 1770, for example, a famine in Bengal clobbered the company's revenue. British legislators saved it from bankruptcy, by exempting it from tariffs on tea exports to the American colonies, which was, perhaps, short-sighted on their part: it eventually led to the Boston Tea Party, and the American Declaration of Independence. You could say the United States owes its existence to excessive corporate influence on politicians."

The great intellectual property trade-off - "in Dickens's day, American literature and innovation were in their infancy. The US economy was in full-blown copying mode: they wanted the cheapest possible access to the best ideas that Europe could offer. US newspapers filled their pages with brazen copying - alongside attacks on the interfering Mr Dickens. A few decades later, when American authors and inventors spoke with a more powerful voice, America's lawmakers began to take an increasingly fond view of the idea of intellectual property. Newspapers, once opposed to copyright, now rely upon it. And we can expect to see a similar transition in developing countries today: the less they copy other ideas and the more they create their own, the more they protect ideas. There's been a lot of recent movement: China didn't have a copyright system at all until 1991... those who defend intellectual property protections still tend to argue that - right now - those protections offer more than enough incentive to create new ideas. Dickens himself eventually discovered a financial upside to weak copyright protection. Twenty five years after his initial visit to the US, Dickens returned, keen to make some money. He reckoned that so many people had read cheap knock-offs of his stories that he could cash in on his fame with a lecture tour. He was absolutely right: off the back of pirated copies of his work, Charles Dickens made a fortune as a public speaker, many millions of dollars in today's terms."

Why one American Muslim loves Donald Trump - U.S. Election 2016 - "The Egyptian-born businessman who came to the United States in 1979 and became a citizen two decades later said in an interview on Friday that he was alarmed by changes in Egypt, where, in his view, high unemployment and poverty have driven many young Egyptians to religious extremism."
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