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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Links - 22nd June 2018 (1)

What students know that experts don't: School is all about signaling, not skill-building - "Students notoriously seek out "easy A's" — professors who give high grades in exchange for little work... Academics and administrators also sense the importance of signaling, even if they won't admit it. Why else would they bother to combat cheating? If school were merely a place for students to invest in their skills, cheaters would literally "only be cheating themselves," spending time and tuition for naught. If, however, school is primarily a place to convince firms you're worthy of employment, cheating has a slew of victims. The cheater who successfully impersonates a good student doesn't just rip off whoever hires him. He also taints the prospects of all his peers who toiled for their degrees. Researchers consistently find that most of education's payoff comes from graduation, from crossing the academic finish line. The last year of high school is worth more than the first three; the last year of college is worth more than double the first three. This is hard to explain if employers are paying for acquired skills; do schools really wait until senior year to impart useful training?... These behaviors make perfect sense if — and only if — employers are eager to detect workers who dutifully conform to social expectations. In a society where parents, teachers and peers glorify graduation, failing classes and dropping out are deviant acts... While the education workers need to do a job is quite stable, the education they need to get a job has skyrocketed since the 1940s... employers can't readily judge your job performance until they actually hire you — and they can only hire a tiny fraction of their applicants. If they ignore less-credentialed prospects, they may lose a few good workers but they save tons of precious time... If, as experts preach, students are building a stockpile of precious skills, taxpayers are getting a solid return on their money. But if students' firsthand experience tells the real story, taxpayers are mostly fueling a futile arms race. Generous government support has caused massive credential inflation. Educational austerity is the simplest path back to an economy in which serious on-the-job learning starts during high school — not after college."

Is There a Backlash Against Online Nationalism? - "Regardless of any public backlash, Little Pinks have attracted praise from official organs including People’s Daily’s Public Sentiment Monitoring Unit, which recognized their “strong and emotional variety of patriotism, refuting Western negative information to discredit the Chinese government.” At East Asia Forum, Macquarie University’s Kevin Carrico recently pointed out the dangers of the government’s embrace and cultivation of nationalist sentiment, often summed up with the proverb “when you ride a tiger, it’s hard to dismount” (骑虎难下).
'This is the catch-22 of seeking socio-political stability through nationalism: it is inherently an unstable ideology'"

The obesity paradox: Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health - "researchers noticed that some patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease fared better than others. This should have been encouraging news, perhaps a clue to future treatments. Instead, researchers were baffled. Because the factor that seemed to be protecting these patients was fat: They were all overweight or mildly obese."

Shades of grey - "The problem with simple messages and black-and-white statements is that they tend to be absolutes and so the easiest to falsify. The line that the science of global warming is ‘settled’ must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and when taken to refer to the narrowest of scientific questions it is correct, but it was (fairly) interpreted as insistence that no queries remained. Even legitimate debates on outstanding issues — climate sensitivity, say — can now be painted as unsettling not just to the scientific position, but also to the policy response it demands."

The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give (Updated With Podcast) - The New York Times - "Epic failure is part of being human, and it’s definitely part of being married. It’s part of what being alive means, occasionally screwing up in expensive ways. And that’s part of what marriage means, sometimes hating this other person but staying together because you promised you would. And then, days or weeks later, waking up and loving him again, loving him still."

The Myth of the Hero Teacher - The New York Times - "“We were developing beautifully crafted lesson plans that no one could use. I was learning esoteric phrases about test design. I spent two semesters doing a research project. I just wish somebody told me how to get a cellphone out of a kid’s hand"... Often, the least experienced teachers get assigned to the most difficult classrooms. Then they quit, leaving vulnerable students with a parade of rookies, falling further behind each year... He wrote the book, he said, to dispel the myth of the hero teacher, and the idea that just caring was enough"

Feminist Accuses English Language Of Being Sexist, Gets Brilliantly Schooled By Linguist - "Feminist Chewbacca came unstuck. Reblogging a post she had found on Visual Poetry, she had probably not counted on being fact-checked by an actual linguist. Her poorly chosen examples were deconstructed one by one, until she began to look rather basic, and a bit silly... by introducing her post with the words: “Men fabricated the idea that they are the default sex to compensate for their biological inferiority and general superfluousness,” Feminist Chewbacca sets a militant tone that isn’t going to endear her to many people, and she needs to have rock-solid arguments to respond to the inevitable attacks on her position."

Seafaring Orang Laut strive to stay afloat - "Chicken is not as tasty as curry snakes or black pepper crocodiles. But the most delicious is grilled scorpions, they are more crispy than fried calamari"

When ‘free speech’ becomes a political weapon - The Washington Post - "First Amendment absolutism was a luxury that only a stable, peaceable society could afford... our constitutional rights are not unchanging abstract principles, but, as Hook and Schlesinger argued, always evaluated in terms of their consequences for society at any given historical moment"
"when you're so desperate to censor the alt-right that you conclude that actually McCarthy was good"
If modern America is not "a stable, peaceable society", how many places would count?
Comments: "When the progressives did not have "cultural hegemony" (i.e. the 40's thru 80's) their mantra was "free speech" is absolute and for anyone and everyone. But now that they have achieved their "cultural hegemony" its "free speech....meh""
"Hey, thanks for the good example of how "Democracy Dies In Darkness!" Good luck reaching your goal of killing democracy through opinion pieces arguing that the First Amendment only applies sometimes -- you are off to a great start!"
"Funny how the Left would never tolerate the idea of limiting the freedoms of Islamist's* who's intention is to overturn our liberal society but are comfortable doing so with the similar Alt-Right."
"The whole purpose of "free speech" is as a "political weapon.""

#ReviewForScience: Scientists leave bizarre online reviews for common objects - The Washington Post - "Tea strainers and colanders are one of the most-reviewed items, having been used to drain mashed testicles, sift bones out of cat feces and for “sieving parasites out of poop.”"

The Entrepreneur Of Time's Cafe Coffemin Serves Everything For Free - "Coffeemin is Singapore and Asia’s first and only time cafe, the name an amalgamation of coffee and minute. Instead of by drinks, customers are charged for time spent – $6 for the first hour, and $1 for every subsequent 10 minutes. Everything else is free and so the place makes for an attractive hideout... To create coziness, the cafe design and furniture are deliberately mismatched, emulating how homes change as furniture is gradually added."

No, honey, you can’t be anything you want to be. And that’s okay. - The Washington Post - "pursuing overly-ambitious goals can be harmful. When researchers study organizations that set stretch goals for employees–goals intended to motivate high performance–they find that these lofty goals often have significant negative side effects. In particular, they find that when people are focused on a goal, and failure to achieve that goal has high costs, unethical behavior increases... Telling kids that they can do anything—whether fueled by imagination or hard work—obscures the critical role of chance in success. Not every child who wants to be a surgeon or sports star can become one, even if they work hard at it... children who don’t recognize the significant role of random chance in determining life’s outcomes may blame themselves or stop trying... I see books like “You Can Be Anything” as a mirror of our own anxieties about our children’s identities and futures"

The problem with following your passion - The Washington Post - "Passion is increasingly labeled as mere post hoc storytelling, an empty cliché that makes for a good narrative... The goal shouldn’t be to find your passion—as if it has been there, undiscovered, from the beginning—but to create one... Psychological research shows that life satisfaction correlates with the ability to assess something from multiple viewpoints. And so by widening the meaning of passion, we also allow ourselves more opportunities to find meaning and satisfaction in the lives we lead... Germans can be passionate about an activity without feeling the need to pursue it as a profession or worry about higher ideals. From this view, work is a means to an end, enabling the pursuit of passion during non-work time... Although it’s important to value work that is intrinsically fulfilling, let’s stop advertising the myopic idea that life without passion—whether it is something to be found or created—is not worth living. Working adults aren’t either passionate and fulfilled or lifeless and miserable. That’s an overly simplified worldview, in which the dreary desk workers of the world are constantly pitted against the Elon Musks."

Screw Finding Your Passion - "If you think you’re supposed to be working 70-hour work weeks and sleeping in your office like Steve Jobs and loving every second of it, you’ve been watching too many shitty movies. If you think you’re supposed to wake up every single day dancing out of your pajamas because you get to go to work, then you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid. Life doesn’t work like that"

The Deathbed Fallacy – Rikard Hjort - "The deathbed is not a representative state of life, and what you want when you are there might not have much correlation with what would have been the happiest, most satisfactory and/or meaningful life you could have led...
Reason 2: You don’t know your past selves, but you think you do
Reason 3: Most people that die today lived in a world very different to yours...
those who “figure out” what life is really about seem to be pretty far up in Maslow’s pyramid of needs, and focus a lot on the higher-order needs... I’ve met quite a few people who are very concerned about living an authentic, carefree life without having a lot of other things figured out first. They don’t have a stable income (or at least the contacts and knowledge required to make some money when they need to), good relationships, and a good grasp of their material priorities. These are struggling artist, miserable drifters or just pretty aimless people with romantic dreams that leave them disappointed with the real world... Don’t bother with the Deathbed Fallacy. Look at happiness research, which tells you a stable income, focus on relationships and experiences rather than stuff, practicing acceptance, and small things like short commute times make you happier"

Christian swingers: \'God uses us to spread his word\' - ""You can't get closer to someone than having sex with them." He believes that he's been given a unique opportunity to share his faith with those who might otherwise never hear about Jesus"

[Review] Marsiling’s Automated Tray Return System - "Cleaners are working double-time to clear the cutlery off tables because there are no trays for them to pile the cutlery on and remove in a single motion. and then they clean the tables... we all hate it so much that no one is coughing up the deposit for the trays, resulting in patrons not even using them any more. People are even revolting against the idea, returning only the trays but leaving the crockery behind... Even worse, there are people who actually want to clear their table themselves and return their trays and crockery, but the System has made it so inconvenient to do so that the considerate ones would rather not come back a second time"

Telegram: Contact @sgmrt - "Get realtime MRT disruption and delay updates, plan alternate routes and minimise inconvenience!"

Study finds masturbation kills 100 Germans every year - "Forensic examiner Harald Voß said the most common reason for autoerotic deaths was the desire for the ultimate orgasm through depriving oneself of oxygen"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, US says Jerusalem is Israel's capital - "As marketing people would say, stick with your brand. And President Trump put, as he sees it, America first. It was obvious when he made his announcement, one of the issues which mattered to him was that presidents before him had either lost courage or changed their mind and always issued a waiver about moving the embassy to Jerusalem. But he Donald J Trump would be different. He was finally taking a decision...
The interesting thing is that after that ban was announced we heard all kinds of Russian politicians and officials and sporting administrators huffing and puffing and saying this was awful and talking about you know, how Russia should boycott, no Russian athletes should go under the neutral flag, under the olympic flag. Then Vladmiri Putin came out... and said no we're not going to boycott. I'm not going to stand in the way of any Russian athlete who wants to take part under the Olympic flag and then all those other calls for a boycott went silent"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trump's first big win - "[On Taiwanese repression] It surprised me that mainland Chinese visitors didn't feel quite comfortable with the treatment of Chiang in Taiwan even though they were taught he was the arch enemy. One visitor I took to the hall blamed the times for what he did, saying 'What else could he have done? He had to maintain control over Taiwan at the time'. But I shouldn't have been surprised. We chinese people have for thousands of years been taught that our leaders regardless of whether they are emperors or presidents are our guiding lights. Challenging and questioning authority is also not encouraged in our culture regardless of whether it's in the home or society. That's why what is happening in Taiwan is so remarkable. The Taiwanese are doing what's probably never been done in ancient or modern Chinese history, at least not by ordinary people - tearing down the former leader status and truly assessing his legacy. The main reason this is possible is because Taiwan is a democracy"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, North and South Korea Meet - "Seventy years ago one of my relatives was paid to walk into hotel rooms to witness two fully dressed people sitting quietly on a bed. It was a strange byproduct of the English divorce laws. Adultery was one of the few ways of getting out of a bad marriage but it had to be proved. The answer was to book a hotel room and then pay a stranger to sit on the bed and then ask for a hotel employee to walk in to witness them together. Nothing would be going on, it was just a way of avoiding too much scandal. Even if it was the woman who had actually strayed it was almost always the man who agreed to go through the charade. It just looked better. The object was to prove that someone had committed adultery. There was in that phrase a heavy dose of moral disapproval. You commit a crime. It was one of the reasons we no longer say on the BBC that someone committed suicide. Words change. So over the years adultery turned into being unfaithful and then having an affair or moving on. Or even more likely we just say the marriage broke down as if it was an unreliable car. No one was to blame, it was just that this thing called a marriage malfunctioned. It's a problem I have to deal with all the time because one of my jobs is to write obituaries... I find myself going back to things i wrote fifteen years ago and wincing... heroin or cocaine is still illegal but we increasingly avoid the moral censure and choose to frame it as a problem and not as a description of a person. There are many things that we used to be much more blunt about... There are also words that have gone in the opposite direction lolita, jailbait and cradle snatcher were all terms from an age rather more relaxed about men with a sexual interest in girls under the age of consent"
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