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More adventurous than the average bear

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Links - 8th May 2018 (3)

They Came, They Saw, and Now It's Time to Act - "Sir Gerald Kaufman, who led the delegation, told the Lebanese media: “When I went to Gaza in 2010, I thought I had seen the worst that could be seen of the appalling predicament of Palestinians living in conditions which no human being should be expected to endure. But what I saw in the camps in Lebanon is far worse and far more hopeless.”"
Palestinian oppression is fine when it's by other Arabs - only Israel is ever at fault

Anti-Israel Activists Urge Violence in Times Square Rally: 'Muhammed's Army Will Return' - "In video footage captured by the advocacy group Reservists on Duty (RoD), protesters clad in keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags can be seen shouting in Arabic, “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammed is returning.” The slogan refers to a 7th century battle fought by the Islamic prophet Muhammad against Jewish tribes, and is often invoked by Islamist terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah... “With spirit and blood we’ll redeem al-Aqsa,” protesters chanted in reference to the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. “We don’t want no two state, we want ’48.”"
Strangely, the same chant about the army of Mohammad was used in London

The Theremin: A strange instrument, with a strange history - "It just might be world's strangest, spookiest musical instrument. You can see it . . . you can hear it . . . but you can't touch a Theremin. "It's like you're fingerpainting in space," says Rob Schwimmer. "Playing Theremin is like having sex with ghosts."... "Leon Theremin was a Russian scientist, [and] he was a spy," said Glinsky. "And inventor of what is probably the most unusual musical instrument ever invented. You're actually moving your two hands through two electromagnetic fields that are around two antennas.""

Kenyan MPs to get 15% pay cut - "Kenyan MPs, who are some of the best paid lawmakers in the world, are to get a pay cut intended to reduce the public wage bill. The MPs' $7,200 (£5,500) monthly pay will be cut by 15% and they will lose some generous allowances... The average income in Kenya is $150 a month."
Strangely the high salaries don't mean Kenyan MPs aren't corrupt

A Man's Right to Choose? - "" If we expect men to be responsible, isn't it right to give them some choices too?"... As states crack down on "deadbeat dads," men have a greater financial incentive to pressure women into ending unwanted pregnancies. Some threaten to break up with their partner if she doesn't get an abortion. There is concern that violence against pregnant women is fueled by men trying to avoid a financial liability. So Dubay could argue that allowing men to shed their financial obligations for unwanted children might protect women from all kinds of pressure when they are deciding how to handle an unplanned pregnancy. The larger philosophical argument is basically this: Do men have as much of a right to control their reproductive lives and financial futures as women do? "Roe v. Wade really changed the world for women," Feit says. "It allowed them to separate intimacy from procreation, freed them from the fear of contraceptive failure. That kind of empowerment and security that women feel in intimate relations — well, men can't, frankly." The only sure protection is total abstinence. Feit contends that men who don't want to have a child and made reasonable efforts to avoid it should at least be able to choose a "financial abortion" that frees them from any responsibility for the baby. In a sense women already have a version of that right: Most states have laws permitting a woman to relinquish all her parental responsibilities if she leaves a baby at a hospital after giving birth. "No shame. No blame. No names" says the poster on the bus shelter. Naturally such laws are designed to offer an alternative to the heartbreaking stories we read of babies dumped in trash cans and abandoned by the side of the road."

Financial abortion: Should men be able to 'opt out' of parenthood? - "One of the more common cases against it is the notion that, by having sex, you are taking a risk and therefore must "pay the price" if you get pregnant. But haven't we moved past the thinking that people should be punished simply for engaging in pleasure? Do we really want our children to be conceived by force? I believe every baby should be wanted, and every parent should be willing... The word "responsible" comes up whenever fatherhood does — the idea that men should "step up" and "do the right thing" and support their own flesh and blood. But surely the best thing for men to do is be honest up front if they don't wholeheartedly want to become a father? Unfortunately, there is still an expectation in society that men should provide for women; indeed, many women and men prefer and expect it... Society needs to stop infantilizing women. Women are responsible for their choices and actions and can choose to have an abortion, adopt out or sole parent on their own"

Hallé Orchestra announces 'pay what you like' concert - "Manchester's Hallé Orchestra is to perform a concert based on a 'pay what you like' model... Audience members will be allowed to come and go during the performance, as well as bring their drinks into the concert hall. Impromptu clapping will also be encouraged"

65 years after WW2 – should Germans still feel guilty? - "the entire war-era generation – even those who were infants on V-E Day – is now in retirement. It means all those running Germany now – in government or management, or running factories or driving busses – had, as documented by their birth certificates, nothing whatsoever to do with World War Two... As a young American exchange student new to West Germany in 1982, I was struck — and disheartened — to see so much lingering hostility towards even young Germans around Europe – 37 years after the war ended. A German train I was riding on early that year was met by Swiss youth giving everyone the Hitler salute as it pulled into Zurich station. It was only the first of countless encounters of guilt I saw being hurled at Germans... the World Cup it hosted in 2006. Before that, national pride was a concept viewed with some suspicion and patriotism was considered a dirty word by many Germans who had been raised in the post-war era so packed with shame — “The Burden of Guilt, A Short German History 1914-45″ was a book many post-war generations read in school."

Just don't mention Hitler: Young Germans learn to fall in love with their country again - "A study, carried out by the Identity Foundation in Duesseldorf, showed twice as many Germans were 'very proud' to be German as eight years ago. Almost 73 percent think they should show more confidence about being German... Only 14 percent of those quizzed said they would be prepared to die for their country, far fewer than in the United States and Britain. And while Germans want their politicians to be more assertive, they are still nervous about flexing military muscle"

The Disproportionate Influence of Negative Encounters with Out-Group Members on Prejudice - "if people have a negative encounter with someone from a different social group, then they are more likely to think about the person's group memberships (e.g., their gender, race, nationality, etc.) than if they had a positive encounter with them... Graf, Paolini, and Rubin (2014) have shown that although negative intergroup contact is more influential than positive intergroup contact, it is also less common than positive contact in real world intergroup encounters. Hence, the prominent influence of negative contact may be offset by the prevalence of positive contact experiences."

The “Daily Show” guide to my enemies - "I spent a lot of time with people whose causes or philosophies I found blecchy -- the sort of folks who would fit nicely in the overlap of a Venn diagram whose circles included Bachmann supporters, fans of Rush Limbaugh, and people who wear tricorn hats and exercise their Second Amendment rights at Tea Party rallies. You know – assholes. Now, I like to loathe people. It just feels so good. I particularly like to loathe the sorts of people described above, and when I see them on TV or read their blogs I sigh contentedly and say, ahhh, it is now morally permissible for me to loathe this person. So imagine how irksome it was to have to deal with persons like that on a constant basis and discover that those persons, in person, generally weren’t loathsome persons after all. In fact, to my great consternation and disappointment, I often liked them... I would often contact extremely right-wing organizations and ask if they might perhaps be interested in participating in a segment. The response was generally no – probably the wisest choice – but on more than one occasion the person on the other end would enthusiastically inform me that they all loved the show and they watch it every day and what is that wonderful Jon Stewart really like? By the way, the converse also held true: I’d occasionally meet people who were on the right side (that is, my side) of the issues, and they’d turn out to be insufferable jerks. You know – assholes"

Movember as microaggression - "Despite Movember claiming to be a global movement, it assumes privilege and a certain relation to class on behalf of the participant, which is only found in certain parts of the world. It is also wrong that Movember aims to link masculinity and being a man to secondary male characteristics, including having a prostate and being able to grow a moustache. To be completely clear, you don’t have to be a man to have a prostate, and you don’t have to have a prostate to be a man. Being a man, according to Movember, implies an archaic view of gender that implies that only a male/female gender binary exists, and that you aren’t really a man if you don’t necessarily identify with that binary. The idea of suggesting that men show solidarity with each other by growing moustaches is completely absurd."
At first I thought this was a parody

Would-Be Tyrants Capture Language to Control Thought - "Klemperer argued that virtually everyone in Hitler’s Germany was a Nazi – whether or not they considered themselves to be National Socialists – including many of the victims of the regime (including German Jews). Why? Because they had adopted in their thoughts and beliefs the ideas and ideology of their Nazi masters. They found it difficult to think about life and morality independently of the terminology and political phrases reflecting Nazi conceptions of man, “race,” and society. In their minds, Klemperer was suggesting, they were no longer self-governing human beings, but slaves of the regime since they thought and acted in terms of the lexicon and logic of Hitler’s National Socialism... Klemperer said that it was not that the Nazis made up very many new words, though they did in some cases with intentional design. But what was far more insidious, he argued, is that through their own particular uses of existing words, over and over again in their propaganda, speeches, and publications, they changed the meanings and contexts of these taken-for-granted words of the German language. The Nazis, through this method, made words have only one meaning, the collective or shared meaning serving the Nazis’ purposes... Being “white” condemns a person as an implicit and explicit beneficiary of a social and economic system (“capitalism”) that has been placed at the service of a limited segment of the human community to gain power, position and wealth for itself at the expense of all those other “people of color” everywhere else around the world.... How familiar it all sounds to those Nazi assertions that everything undesired and undesirable in German life was due to the machinations and intrigue of “international Jewry.”... And how similar to the Soviet method of debate and argument-stopping: He is a lackey and dupe of the capitalist exploiters, and therefore should be ignored or condemned... And on some American campuses now, how close to the techniques of the “Red Guards” during the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao in China during the 1960s and 1970s. Mobs of shouting, bullying and physically attacking young thugs spouting meaningless and ideologically vacuous phrases from the “little red book” of quotations from Chairman Mao, to mentally and physically crush any and all who failed to parrot the Party Line or who were the objects of Chairman Mao’s political purges and personal vendettas against real and imaginary opponents... A distinct difference between the proponents of this new race collectivism compared to the twentieth-century episodes of German Nazism or Soviet socialism is that this linguistic totalitarianism and word indoctrination is being advanced and imposed without any direct coercive and monopoly apparatus of governmental power. Instead, the “headquarters” and “front lines” are in academia, especially in some of those institutions of higher learning that are oases of intellectual autonomy from accountability or challenge due to heavily taxpayer-funded salaries, programs, and curricula. Freed from the world of market-based work and reward and blessed with lifetime tenure, those academics employed on these islands of educational socialism have the “safe spaces” within which there can be cultivated, to use George Orwell’s phrase, “some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual can believe them.”"
Racism = power + prejudice

The Democratic party is facing a demographic crisis - " there is a common misconception that Trump was ushered into power by old, white, economically disenfranchised men. However, according to the exit polls, Trump actually did worse than Romney among whites and seniors, but outperformed him among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and young people. While the Democrats lost a lot of support among low-income Americans, I think it would be a mistake to interpret these as Trump’s base. He won a plurality of every income bracket above $50,000 as well. He also won more non-Christian and nonreligious voters than any Republican since the 2000 election. However the biggest surprise of 2016 probably relates to gender. The first major party female candidate for president, running against a notorious misogynist, captured the Democrats’ lowest share of female voters since 2004. And although Trump also got a lower share of female voters than his last three Republican predecessors, he nonetheless won over a majority of white women. Granted, Trump’s candidacy and campaign were exceptional. However, it would be a mistake to think of these outcomes as aberrations rather than the culmination of a long-running trend. Contrary to the emerging Democratic majority thesis, there does not seem to be any demographic category with which Democrats are progressively improving... The Democrats’ current coalition presents a very narrow path to victory. Minority groups like LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, Asian, black or Hispanic Americans each comprise just a small slice of the electorate. Meanwhile, whites amount to no less than 70 percent. This means Democrats can get 100 percent of the votes from all other groups combined, and still not be anywhere near a majority unless they get at least a third of the remaining white vote. However, Democrats do not have unanimous support from any of these populations. Minority votes also tend to be concentrated in relatively safe states and voting districts... Moreover, ideological affiliations and perceived interests tend to grow more diverse within groups as they expand. Therefore, while Hispanic and Asian voters currently skew heavily toward Democrats, Republicans could actually end up benefiting more in the long run from the projected demographic shifts... Obama’s election was not the first time Democrats prophesied a permanent majority. Similar claims were made prior to the ascendance of Nixon, and then again just before Reagan took the country by storm. This track record alone should inspire deep skepticism about deterministic and epochal political predictions."
Since I got unfriended for pointing out that the fact that Trump won a sizeable minority vote suggests he's not a white supremacist, it's no wonder liberals get surprised

Why are So Many Westerners Converting to Islam? - "Islam offers a conversion experience and the opportunity to get one's life in order, without needing to confess ones sin and need of salvation. In fact, Islam makes quite a point of denying these truths. It tells people they do not need salvation; all they need is to follow the "guidance" of God's law, and they will make it to heaven. That is something the natural man likes to hear"

Obama on political correctness: 'Don't go around just looking for insults' - "The president expressed concern during an interview with NPR that debates become “like walking on eggshells” when people feel social pressure to hold back their point of view. “If somebody says, 'You know what, I'm not sure affirmative action is the right way to solve racial problems in this country,’ and they're immediately accused of being racist, well, then I think you have a point,” Obama said when asked if he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump that political correctness has gone too far. Obama said he's given the same advice to his daughters, Malia and Sasha, as they prepare to go off to college."
Too bad Michelle didn't follow his advice

Indian woman disfigures lover to pass him off as dead husband; plan busted after he refused to have mutton soup - "they allegedly injected anaesthesia into Mr Sudhakar. When he became unconscious, they allegedly bludgeoned him on the head with an iron rod and killed him. His body was burned and dumped in the Nawabpet forest, according to The Indian Express newspaper. In a bizarre move, Swathi then allegedly poured acid on her lover's face and told her family that her husband had been attacked. NDTV reported that the plan was for Rajesh to have plastic surgery and take the place of her husband. However, Mr Sudhakar's family became suspicious when Rajesh refused to eat the mutton soup served to him at the hospital. They found out that he had told the hospital staff that he was vegetarian, when Mr Sudhakar, in fact, ate meat, NDTV said. The family also started to notice differences in Rajesh's behaviour and reportedly tested him by asking him to identify relatives. When Rajesh could not answer the questions, he allegedly stopped speaking and started communicating with signs instead... she used to go to Rajesh's clinic for physiotherapy two years ago. But police said that Rajesh was not a qualified physiotherapist, and he had dropped out of the four-year course after a year."

Science, Pseudoscience, Nutritional Epidemiology, and Meat - "even the better epidemiologists in the world consider this stuff closer to a pseudoscience than a real science... every time in the past that these researchers had claimed that an association observed in their observational trials was a causal relationship, and that causal relationship had then been tested in experiment, the experiment had failed to confirm the causal interpretation — i.e., the folks from Harvard got it wrong. Not most times, but every time. No exception. Their batting average circa 2007, at least, was .000... this meat-eating association with disease is a tiny association. Tiny. It’s not the 20-fold increased risk of lung cancer that pack-a-day smokers have compared to non-smokers. It’s a 0.2-fold increased risk — 1/100th the size... When I first wrote about the pseudoscience of epidemiology in Science back in 1995, “Epidemiology Faces It’s Limits”, I noted that very few epidemiologists would ever take seriously an association smaller than a 3- or 4-fold increase in risk... as we move from the bottom quintile of meat-eaters (those who are effectively vegetarians) to the top quintile of meat-eaters we see an increase in virtually every accepted unhealthy behavior — smoking goes up, drinking goes up, sedentary behavior (or lack of physical activity) goes up — and we also see an increase in markers for unhealthy behaviors — BMI goes up, blood pressure, etc. So what could be happening here?... 'faithfully taking the placebo cuts the death rate by a factor of two'... So we do a randomized-controlled trial. Take as many people as we can afford, randomize them into two groups — one that eats a lot of red meat and bacon, one that eats a lot of vegetables and whole grains and pulses-and very little red meat and bacon — and see what happens... The Stanford A TO Z Study is a good example of these experiments. Over the course of the experiment — two years in this case — the subjects randomized to the Atkins-like meat- and bacon-heavy diet were healthier. That’s what we want to know."
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