"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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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Links - 9th May 2018 (1)

Two Essays on Premarital Cohabitation and Divorce - "The dissertation finds that premarital cohabitation has no effect on women’s propensity to divorce and women’s divorce risk. Sorting into marriage according to level of religiosity generates the variations among the same levels of religiosity between cohabiting and non-cohabiting couples. The variations can explain the positive correlation between premarital cohabitation and divorce. In absence of the information on both the wife’s and the husband’s level of religiosity, this dissertation suggests and estimates a selection model. Three different empirical approaches all suggest that living together before marriage does not lead to divorce. Findings of positive correlation between premarital cohabitation and divorce in the previous literature could be attributed to omitted variable bias or sample selection bias"

Taylor Swift songs that make foods taste better but Justin Bieber ruins it - "Taylor Swift's Blank Space is the perfect match for your Chinese takeaway, while you might want to blast some Pavarotti when consuming pasta, but if you are listening to Justin Bieber, it is best to stop eating completely. Professor Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University, has found that some music genres can make specific foods taste better... while loud music numbs the ability of our taste buds to detect salty and sweet, high-pitched, fast-paced or dissonant music can emphasise the sourness of certain foods, such as Chinese sweet-and-sour sauce... Professor Spence described this effect as 'digital seasoning.'"

Justin Bieber makes your food taste like crap and here’s why - "3. Smell is crucial to taste, and someone drinking beer straight from a bottle will miss out on flavor.
4. Wondering why many desserts are circular? It’s because round food is perceived to taste sweeter.
5. A dessert served on a white plate was rated 10 to 15 percent sweeter than one on a black.
7. Cutlery is crucial. The heavier the spoons and forks, the higher the diners rated the food and the more they were willing to pay for it.
10. Crunchy foods are crucial to enjoyment: Chefs often add crispy elements, such as toasted seeds over soggy salads or croutons to soups.
11. Coffee tastes twice as intense when drunk from a white mug.
12. Italian food consumed in a restaurant with red-and-white-checked tablecloths tastes more authentic."

Singapura Stories – Dr Goh Keng Swee and the secret negotiations for Singapore’s secession from Malaysia in 1965 – and his economic plan - "The notion that the announcement of Singapore’s expulsion from the Federation of Malaysia on 9 August 1965 came as a shock is a myth perpetuated by others – except Dr Goh himself, who provides us with the exact opposite story. He shows that it was planned for, and desired for economic reasons."

Trans Activism, Language Policing and Identity Politics - "In a recent Facebook thread, a trans woman was attacked for declaring herself instead to be a “transwoman”. The missing space was deemed to be crucial; and to me this demonstrated, yet again, the intellectual abyss into which much of left-wing politics has fallen... identity politics seems to be best explained by one thing: bullies have found a new language with which to justify bullying. Once upon a time, political activism took effort, required people attend meetings, understand history, and read books. Now, all one has to do is Like a few Facebook pages and learn a few slogans (“neoliberal patriarchal oppression is bad, m’kay?”) and – hey presto – you’re a Marxist, a feminist, or an intersectional person-of-colour LGBTQ+ warrior! This nonsense invariably surfaces during (attempts at) political discussion. Identity politics means that people can completely ignore the subject under discussion and instead focus on – yes – identity. Thus, any discussion can be “won” (at least, in the feeble mind of the identity warrior) by responding to any point with “Ah yes, but you’re cis/white/male/all three”. Under these politics-for-kids rules, one need never lose an argument. One wins simply by being female/brown/queer/whatever. On this basis, the ciswhitemale must simply admit defeat and exit. “I’m a ciswhitemale and I’ll still be one at the end of this discussion, so there’s no point continuing, is there?” The new religion of “intersectionality” takes all this to new heights... This would all be top-class entertainment if these halfwits weren’t slowly infiltrating the machinery of education, media and politics, and establishing their neo-theology as “fact”... identity politics isn’t about courtesy – it’s about control. We’ve entered a back-to-front world in which people claim “oppression” simply in order to control and bully other people. If feminists and race activists are good at this game, trans activists often take it to a surreal new level. A perfectly non-bigoted friend was recently screamed at (by a non-trans woman) for daring to ask genuine questions about trans people but phrasing the question wrongly. You can’t be told the answers, because you don’t know how to phrase the questions. It’s as if playground bullying and grown-up politics have suddenly merged – and perhaps they have. It should be pointed that identity activists rarely represent their supposed constituency. Most women aren’t feminists, most black people choose not to be categorised as perpetual victims, and most trans people are perfectly OK with being asked questions about themselves, even if the language used is clumsy. And it’s been a long time since I met a real-life homosexual who felt represented by the “gay rights movement” (or whichever words it uses to describe itself these days)."

Depressed People See the World More Realistically - ""some psychologists concede that an element of self-deception may be necessary for well-being," Feltham says. Depressed people may just be lacking that crucial optimism that helps us power through a life full of heartache, meaninglessness, and death. So while they can see things more realistically, we all know that reality sometimes straight-up bites. The people most likely to experience depressive realism? Introverts, males, and people with high IQs, Feltham says, adding that it's most likely to occur in mildly depressed people—those suffering from major depression, by contrast, are more likely to suffer from larger distortions in their thinking."

When Marines Hold Umbrellas - "male Marines normally aren’t authorized to handle umbrellas, which inhibit saluting, while in uniform, Wolf said. But the Marines who helped out Obama Thursday need not worry. They were allowed to handle the umbrellas because the President requested it. Female Marines, interestingly, can wield umbrellas"

The Birmingham Qur’an in the context of debate on Islamic origins - "the BBC published an article on its website entitled “‘Oldest’ Koran Fragments found in Birmingham University” that sparked great excitement among academics and Muslim believers alike. At the heart of the article is the news – mentioned in last week’s issue of the TLS – that two leaves of a Qur’an manuscript studied by Alba Fedeli and held at Birmingham’s university library had been carbon dated to somewhere between AD 568–645... the BBC article – like a subsequent New York Times article (also July 22) – misses the most significant point about the dating of this Qur’an manuscript (which contains only a small section of the text: parts of chapters 18, 19, and 20). Islamic tradition reports that Muhammad received revelations from the angel Gabriel between the year 610, when he was forty years old, and his death in 632. But according to Islamic tradition, he did not write down these revelations. Instead, his proclamations were preserved only on various scraps (one tradition speaks of palm leaves, parchment and the shoulder blades of camels), or in versions which some of his companions composed. An official text of the Qur’an was only recorded around 650, during the reign (644–656) of Uthman (the third Caliph, or successor, of the Prophet Muhammad). According to a well-known Islamic tradition Uthman had his “official” text of the Qur’an prepared by a committee, and all variant versions destroyed by fire: “Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt”... the very early dating of the Birmingham manuscript (568–645) – almost certainly before the reign of Uthman – casts doubt on the traditional story. The Birmingham manuscript does not appear to be a scrap, or a variant version kept by some companion, which somehow escaped the Caliph’s burning decree. It appears to be the standard Qur’an which Muslims attribute to Uthman. In other words, the dates of the Birmingham manuscript are not simply early. They’re too early. Instead of rejoicing, the news about this manuscript should lead to head-scratching. Moreover, the extremely early date range of the Birmingham text (most of which is before even the date when Muhammad is said to have begun his preaching) seems to confirm the early dating of other manuscripts... What all of these scholars have discovered is remarkable: the earlier text of the Qur’an contains numerous variants to the standard consonantal text of the Qur’an... the Qur’an may very well date earlier than Uthman, possibly much earlier. It may be time to rethink the story of the Qur’an’s origins, including the traditional dates of Muhammad’s career. In other words, what observers have celebrated as something like evidence of the traditional story of Islam’s origins (the New York Times article argued that the manuscript “offered a moment of unity, and insight, for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims”) may actually be, when considered carefully, evidence that the story of Islam’s origins is quite unlike what we have imagined."

A Low-Carbohydrate, High-Fat Diet for GERD? - "Many patients who have been infected with Helicobacter pylori also struggle with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This condition is often highly unpleasant for a person and often results in the need to adjust or alter his or her diet and eating regimens. A study released today looks at the value of following a low carbohydrate diet to alleviate the symptoms of this uncomfortable illnes"

William Shatner Attacks Snowflakes, Social Justice Warriors, and Misandrists
Facebook comments: "Star Trek isnt about social justice. It's a post scarcity libertarian society. If you're on a Starship crew, it's not to fill some ethnic, racial, gender, or any other check in the box quota. It's because you're the best one for the job. That's actual justice."
"here is a Star Trek episode where they somehow stumble on a recreation of Abe Lincoln. When Lincoln meet Lt. Uhura he calls her a "charming negress" and then apologizes. Uhura says no apology is nessasary because in her time they "learned not to fear words". That is about as anti-SJW as you get because among the many things that SJW's lash out about, it would be the words that people use. Whether those people meant offense or not, they must be torn down if they use certain words. SJW's are all about policing people and foisting transgressions onto the unsuspecting and well meaning, not any real justice. Shatner is onto something."
"I suddenly have even more respect for him, for having the gut to stand up for reason and sanity, like a beacon of logic in Hollywood's sea of blind conformism. Spock must have rubbed off on him."
"If Star Trek had a sjw vibe you wold get a show full of unbearable spoiled assholes who play victim all the time, nothing like Star Trek."

When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct - "We study a less salient mechanism for discrimination, firm discipline following missteps. There are substantial differences in the punishment of misconduct across genders. Although both female and male advisers are disciplined for misconduct, female advisers are punished more severely"

Sperm count drop 'could make humans extinct' - "Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 studies say sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, seem to have halved in less than 40 years... In contrast, no significant decline was seen in South America, Asia and Africa, but the researchers point out that far fewer studies have been conducted on these continents. However, Dr Levine is concerned that eventually sperm counts could fall in these places too."

Court declares 'Fuck White People' is neither racist nor hate speech - "Magistrate Daniel Thulare shocked the Cape Party on Tuesday by ruling that posters bearing the words “Fuck White People” are not hate speech or racist. The Cape Party, which is a registered political party seeking to declare the Western Cape a sovereign republic, had filed a case against the Iziko South African National Gallery for exhibiting the suit. The posters, which were covered with the words Fuck White People in black-and-white all caps letters, has been on display since 2016 alongside a chair and “goldendeanboots” as part of an exhibition called The Art of Disruptions at the gallery. The work was created by Dean Hutton, a Masters student in fine art at the University of Cape Town who wore a suit with the same print publicly before Iziko approached them... Hutton acknowledges that white people may feel anger or hurt by the posters, but they should “Learn to fuck the white in you, too”... Magistrate Thulare said that the reaction of some white people to the exhibition is to be expected, but reiterated that in Hutton’s work the word white is used within the context of protest art and debate to refer to “structures, systems, knowledge, skills and attitudes which keep White people racist which are to be rejected confronted and dismantled”."
Some animals are more equal than others

Why are some African airlines banned from flying into EU countries? - "The same airline made their pilots work 10 days on, one day off. They were not allowed to call in sick and any breach of this would necessitate armed men being sent to the pilots accommodation to physically force them onto the aircraft. I believe I know of two First Officers who got away with it — one because he had been arrested for murder, the other because he had been kidnapped"

Suicide by Bomb - "Start with Pape’s most fundamental claim: that suicide bombers are not the product of Islamic ideology but rather are frustrated nationalists who emerge “from communities resisting foreign military occupation.” If this were the case, it would be hard to figure out why suicide bombing only became a common terrorist tactic in the early 1980s. Why wasn’t it used before by nationalists in Vietnam, Algeria, or other colonial battlefields? What Pape’s narrative glosses over is the fact that suicide bombing in the modern context was first employed by Hezbollah and its immediate precursors in Lebanon... Pape’s database reveals that, since 1981, Muslim groups (not counting the PKK) have accounted for 93.7 percent of all deaths caused by suicide bombers—24,631 out of 26,277. This statistic isn’t cited in Pape and Feldman’s book, presumably because it is so at odds with their main argument. The deadliest campaign of all occurred in Iraq, where suicide bombers murdered 10,655 people in just five years (2003-08). What could have motivated the killers who turned Iraq into a charnel house? If Pape’s logic were to be believed, they must have been Iraqi nationalists outraged by American occupation. But Pape’s own data show that only about a third of all suicide bombers in Iraq were actually Iraqis. The rest were Saudis, Kuwaitis, Syrians, Jordanians, Yemenis, and other foreigners. Surely they could have had no devotion to Iraq as a national entity. In most cases the first time they ever visited Iraq was on their way to self-immolation. The only conceivable reason they could have sacrificed themselves to slay others was because they saw this as a religious obligation. Moreover, the vast majority of their victims were not Americans, Britons, or other “occupiers” but, rather, Iraqis: either members of the security forces or innocent bystanders"

Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane - "S. Frederick Starr tells the fascinating but largely unknown story of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds--remarkable figures who built a bridge to the modern world. Because nearly all of these figures wrote in Arabic, they were long assumed to have been Arabs. In fact, they were from Central Asia--drawn from the Persianate and Turkic peoples of a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China."

Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: Evidence from the groves of academe - "mothers of two or more children suffer a motherhood penalty.
And so do young and unmarried women.
The research output of untenured men increases after their first child is born."

Immigration and crime: What does the research say? - "immigrants commit fewer crimes, on average, than native-born Americans. Also, large cities with substantial immigrant populations have lower crime rates, on average, than those with minimal immigrant populations"

Can an Airline Really Just Yank You Off the Plane? - "The short answer, according to aviation and government sources, is that airlines have a lot of leeway to remove a traveler from a plane, for any reason. "Passengers have far fewer 'rights' than they imagine," says George Hobica, president of AirfareWatchdog.com."

Viral Infections - Why Don't Antibiotics Kill Viruses? - "Antibiotics work by targeting the growth machinery in bacteria (not viruses) to kill or inhibit those particular bacteria. When you think about it structurally, it makes sense that an antibiotic could not work to kill a virus with a completely different set of replicating “machinery”."
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