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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Links - 12th July 2018 (1)

Thor's hammer Mjölnir is being used in surgeries. No, really - "Surgeons in Sydney, Australia have been using this custom built surgical hammer, built in the image of Mjölnir, in actual surgeries. It was used for the first time in March this year in Wagga Wagga hospital (yes, Wagga Wagga is a real place) after being constructed by a biomedical engineering firm in Sydney."

Why Won't New York City Build More Subways? - "Three broad lines of history provide an explanation. The first is the postwar lure of the suburbs and the automobile—the embodiment of modernity in its day. The second is the interminable battles of control between the city and the private transit companies, and between the city and the state government. The third is the treadmill created by rising costs and the buildup of deferred maintenance—an ever-expanding maintenance backlog that eventually consumed any funds made available for expansion."

What's needed to take Africa from Third to First World in 25 years - "In recent years, economists have used the terms “developed countries” to denote First World and “emerging markets” to refer to Third World countries. We believe that the use of these terms camouflages the extent of underdevelopment and challenges faced by the poorest. The terms are also viewed as a means of excusing First World responsibility to provide material support and solidarity."
Ironically, we stopped using First/Third World and Developed/Developing Countries as terms in the first place because they were racist and simplistic

The Day Without News - "On Friday, April 18, 1930, at 8:45 p.m., people all over Britain settled in to catch the BBC News evening bulletin. But when they flipped on their radios, they heard a soothing announcement instead: “Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.” For the rest of the 15-minute time slot, the station played only piano music... the BBC decided what was worth reporting on, and according to them, it was better to stay silent than to fail to clear this bar"

Sarah Lisanby Makes the Case for Electroconvulsive Therapy - "why aren’t more doctors prescribing ECT? “Why indeed,” says Thomas Insel, the recently departed director of NIMH who recruited Lisanby. (He is headed to Google Life Sciences, which is looking to expand into mental-health care.) “If we were talking about Alzheimer’s, and I had a treatment that would largely resolve the major symptoms within six weeks 80 percent of the time, and then I told you this treatment is not accessible in many parts of the country and rarely used where it is available, you would say that can’t be.”"

The Military Isn’t Preparing People for Private-Sector Success - "military service is one of the few remaining social experiences one can have where the goal isn’t to maximize shareholder value"

Russia's 12 UN vetoes on Syria - "Russia used its veto power for the 12th time this week at the UN Security Council to block action directed at its Syrian ally. The latest veto prevented the adoption of US-drafted resolution to investigate chemical weapons use in Syria aimed at identifying the perpetrators... In all, Russia used its veto four times to block draft resolutions seeking to establish investigations of chemical weapons use in Syria's seven-year war."
Maybe the US and its allies intimidated Russia into repeatedly using its veto to block investigations into the chemical weapons attacks so as to give them an excuse to bomb Syria

The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack - "France, meanwhile, has said it has “proof” chemical weapons were used, and US media have quoted sources saying urine and blood tests showed this too. The WHO has said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients “exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”. At the same time, inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits."
It's all a false flag operation by the rebels and/or the US, which is why Syria and Russia refuse to let investigators in to find the truth!

A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic - "We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrsand the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people."
This was the funniest thing I'd read all day. Yet some people still take it at face value

Elizabeth Tsurkov on Twitter - "Syrian doctors & nurses were forced to go on regime TV, RT & Sputnik & deny that a CW attack occurred. This was conditioned on their status being cleared by the regime (تسوية الوضع). RT & Sputnik are complicit in eliciting false confessions under threat of torture"
"Sources told me that Syrian doctors & nurses were coerced under the threat of torture to appear on RT & Sputnik & lie about the chemical attack in Douma. I now understand that these Russian outlets are similar to regime channels under dictatorships, used to air forced confessions"

Syrian medics 'subjected to extreme intimidation' after Douma attack - "The head of the largest medical relief agency in Syria claims that medics who responded to the suspected gas attack in Douma have been subjected to “extreme intimidation” by Syrian officials who seized biological samples, forced them to abandon patients and demanded their silence... A number of doctors who spoke to the Guardian this week say the intimidation from the regime has increased in the past five days, a timeframe that coincides with the arrival in Damascus of a team from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which aims to determine whether chemical weapons were used. All the medics insisted on anonymity, citing the fear for their lives and those of their families."
Everyone must be in league with the Americans to push Western Imperialism

Syria war: UN inspectors FINALLY allowed to enter Douma after Russia blocked access - "Experts from the global watchdog the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Syria over the weekend but were ordered to stay away from the site, where more than 40 people were killed, because Russia claimed it wasn’t secure... The delay prompted fears of a suspected cover-up as French officials raised concerns that evidence could be disappearing from the location."
If you think Assad's chemical attacks are suspicious because he has no reason to commit them, you shouldn't believe that Kim Jong Un conspicuously killed his brother who was no threat to him, in full view of CCTVs, using indiscreet agents, in a way that could be traced back to him.
Forcing the west to intervene weakens them not least from internal strife. It strikes fear in his people so they won't dare resist him. And underlines how the world is essentially powerless to stop him given his powerful backing. Also you get to test your toys for others to see. And to get experience in using them. Also deters foreign intervention when they know you're willing and able to use chemical weapons.


Disinformation and Conspiracy Trolling in the Wake of the Syrian Chemical Attack - "Scott Lucas, a journalist and professor of political science and international studies at the University of Birmingham, told us although Moscow became militarily involved in the Syrian conflict in 2015, they had a propaganda office at the presidential palace in Damascus since the beginning. “From the very start you could see how they were putting out muddled story lines just to make you uncertain about what’s happening,” he told us... attacking medical facilities and first responders then accusing them of terrorism is a Russian tactic, because first responders in Syria — where it’s extremely difficult and dangerous for foreign journalists to enter — are often key reporters of atrocities... real foreign journalists only cover the war at great personal risk, citing the case of Marie Colvin, a storied Sunday Times reporter who, according to recent court filings, was targeted and killed by the regime in 2012"

Sam Harris, Ezra Klein, and the Politicization of Science - "as dramatically as Klein and the Vox authors denounce Murray for peddling pseudo-science — and as emphatically as Harris insists that they are in fact the ones with an arguably fringe view — both sides agree that intelligence is at least partially determined by genetics. (The Vox authors concede as much in the original article.) This not only makes it slightly hard to see how the tone of the scientific disagreement could be so extreme on the subject of whether or not genetics might influence IQ, but it makes it harder to see where the politicization may lie given that it is not reflected in any dramatic difference in anyone’s factual understanding of the data itself... in seeking to preempt this sort of an [racist] abuse of science the Vox article and much of Klein’s subsequent arguments seem to justify the abuse of science in a different direction. That is to characterize a particular and relatively well subscribed interpretation of scientific data as being one that by nature, whether actively or passively, must lend itself to the advancement of a racist agenda. The fundamental weakness of the original Vox article, a weakness that seemed to be amplified by the tenor of Klein’s arguments in the Harris podcast, was that it ultimately sought to make a political point out of what was fundamentally a scientific question... people with fairly unimpeachable scientific reputations such as Richard Haier (Professor Emeritus in the Pediatric Neurology Division at UCI and editor-in-chief of the esteemed scientific journal Intelligence), cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, geneticist David Reich, Harris himself and many others have either defended Murray directly or defended essentially comparable points of view... the very same Vox article that condemns Murray as a purveyor of pseudo-science itself concedes towards the very top of the piece that “some well-informed scientists hold views closer to Murray’s than to ours.” Does this fact mean that these other “well-informed” scientists are also peddling junk science? Or does it mean that Murray is in fact closer to the scientific mainstream than the language of the article otherwise implies? This sort of politicization of science — well meaning at least inasmuch as it seeks to head off the spread of racist doctrines built upon the misapplication of scientific data — prevents us from actually being able to have clear conversations about the state of a given science in the first place. More broadly speaking, it obscures the difference between science and politics — a difference that should always be crystal clear."
The moralistic fallacy strikes again

Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition - "ambition is only weakly connected with well-being and negatively associated with longevity... the pursuit of materialistic values like money, possessions, and social status-the fruits of career successes-leads to lower well-being and more distress in individuals. It is also damaging to relationships... "when people believe materialistic values are important, they...have poorer interpersonal relationships [and] contribute less to the community." Such people are also more likely to objectify others, using them as means to achieve their own goals."... social connections -- in the form of marriage, family, ties to friends and neighbors, civic engagement, workplace ties, and social trust -- "all appear independently and robustly related to happiness and life satisfaction, both directly and through their impact on health."... Latin Americans, who live in a part of the world fraught with political and economic problems, but strong on social ties, are the happiest people in the world, according to Gallup... relationships and community impose constraints on freedom, binding people to something larger than themselves. The assumption in our culture is that limiting freedom is detrimental to well-being. That is true to a point. Barry Schwartz, a psychological researcher based at Swarthmore College, has done extensive research suggesting that too much freedom -- or a lack of constraints -- is detrimental to human happiness. "Relationships are meant to constrain," Schwartz told me, "but if you're always on the lookout for better, such constraints are experienced with bitterness and resentment."

The Sandy Hook Hoax - "Lenny Pozner used to believe in conspiracy theories. Until his son’s death became one."

'It isn't ALL about victims': Met Police to abandon practice of believing all sex crimes complaints - "After heavy criticism over a series of failed sex crimes cases, the force will now put their role as investigators first, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said... The remarks came as it emerged director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, Alison Saunders will quit when her five-year contract expires in October. Ms Saunders came under fire after several rape trials collapsed amid allegations that evidence had not been disclosed. Ms Dick said that in the past the police have been criticised for "not being open minded enough and sympathetic enough" to victims of sexual offences... Guidelines for police dealing with rape and sex assault cases were issued nationally after the Jimmy Savile scandal amid accusations that police had not properly investigated. But officers came under fire after funnelling resources into a case about an alleged Westminster sex abuse ring, called Operation Midland, after allegations by a man known as Nick whose claims were deemed by officers to be "credible and true". In 2016, Sir Richard Henriques, a retired judge, remarked on failings in Operation Midland and said that "the presumption of innocence appears to have been set aside"... Ms Dick reportedly added that she would not spend a lot of resources on cases that were "very trivial" or unlikely to result in conviction. She reportedly added: "And what might be a misunderstanding between two people, clumsy behaviour between somebody who fancies somebody else, is not a matter for the police.""
Maybe feminists will respond that the proper response is to continue believing the victim and lowering the burden of proof in sexual assault trials

British cops ‘trained to hide vital evidence from lawyers that might damage their cases’ - "some officers are even trained in special techniques to ensure they know how to avoid making certain material available to defence teams. It is claimed the findings were revealed in a dossier seen by The Times which draws on reports from 14 focus groups with the police."

Christie Blatchford: Unlike Canada, U.K. has learned sex assault ‘victims’ aren’t always victims - "It’s this bill, colloquially known as the new Ghomeshi rules, which expands the definition of sexual activity to include communications made “for a sexual purpose or whose content is of a sexual nature.” As the Canadian Bar Association said in a letter to the justice committee which, last fall, was studying the bill, the amendments mean that “an accused with records that could impeach complainants or witnesses” can’t use those records unless they first get a judge’s OK. It was precisely this sort of communication — emails from the complainants to the accused — that was used so effectively in cross-examination by Ghomeshi’s main lawyer, Marie Henein. What these messages showed in the case of all three complainants was that despite their testimony in court that after their alleged attacks they were so traumatized and wary they never saw Ghomeshi again except in public, they had all either tried to (in one instance) and/or actually done so. In one instance, the complainant forgot to disclose to police or prosecutors that she’d had dinner, post-alleged attack, with Ghomeshi, taken him home in a cab and given him a hand job and, in the other, the complainant had actively courted him for about a year after the purported assault, once telling him she had wanted to “—- your brains out” on the very night of the alleged assault. In other words, the messages revealed that there were great gaps between what the complainants told the judge (and before him, police and prosecutors) and their private messages to Ghomeshi. As Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt wrote for Canadian Lawyer magazine last year, as C-51 was introduced, and this was about 15 months after Ghomeshi was acquitted, “People did not like that. “So now, if the defence has a record that shows the complainant is lying or misrepresenting the evidence, that record must be disclosed in advance. “A lawyer is then appointed for the complainant, who is granted standing to argue for suppression of the defence evidence. “In other words, the legislation will tip off a liar that records exist exposing their lie and then gives them a chance to come up with an explanation.” Worth noting is that at the time Ghomeshi was charged, the Toronto Police sex crimes unit was headed by a woman, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, who deeply believed all complainants from the get-go."

School marked down by Ofsted for being 'too white' - "Ofsted was accused of “political correctness” after downgrading a top rural primary school for effectively being too English."
Would a school where 98% of the pupils are Bangladeshi be downgraded?

Science proves communism makes nations poorer and less healthy - "Most of the issues they looked at appeared to have little or no effect on the disparities between the countries, except for Islamic countries scoring a little worse on education. Instead, the single strongest predictor for a country’s health, and the second-strongest for its wealth, turned out to be whether its rulers had embraced communism... “The proximate causes for this low life expectancy are complex, but high alcohol consumption, smoking and poor workplace safety, as well as low-quality diet and living conditions associated with lower income levels are implicated.”"
It's okay, just blame Imperialism for all of Communism's failures
I saw a leftist claim that capitalism isn't why poverty has been plummeting, but technological progress. Doubtless he'd come up with some voodoo logic for how Communist countries are poorer despite their lack of capitalism
Paper: Deep culture and development
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