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More adventurous than the average bear

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Links - 1st July 2018 (2)

How To Retire In Your 30s - "For this typical American “consumer unit”, a full 80% of after-tax income is spent on Housing, Transportation, and Food... Since the 1950’s, the average home size has nearly doubled. Besides extra bedrooms, extra bathrooms, extra closets, and extra garage parking, this also brings extra taxes, extra utility bills, extra maintenance costs, and extra time spent cleaning."

A Complete Guide to New York City Hamburger Styles - Eater NY - "At one time, all hamburgers were sliders. This is the most elemental and diminutive form of burger. Sliders are defined not just by the size of the patty, but also by the cooking method. The beef is pressed onto a hot griddle and topped with onions until one side is cooked, and then flipped so that the onions end up on the bottom. At this stage, both halves of a split hamburger bun are placed atop the burger. The juice from the beef and the onions effectively steams the ingredients as it hits the griddle surface and evaporates, cooking the patty through and causing the bread to become soft. The process is called steam-griddling. Cheese, most commonly American, is a staple of most sliders these days, but it was not part of the original White Castle hamburger."

Harvard to Change Controversial 'House Master' Title - "The heads of Harvard’s undergraduate dormitories have agreed to change their controversial “house master” titles after some students criticized the name for being tied to slavery"
Too bad they don't have headmasters

Matchmaking expo in China: I was a 23-year-old guy at a 4,000-person Chinese singles party - "The host kept reminding the men that he needed to hear two things—property and salary. A guy in his 30s, who worked at the headquarters of Bank of China, said, with false modesty, “I don’t earn too much, just 300,000 to 400,000 yuan [$47,000-$63,000] a year.”... I’d already learned a lot about Ms. Chen’s daughter. She was a 22-year-old college graduate in computer design, and now worked for a startup developing a Japanese mobile app game. She was very obedient, Ms Chen said, and wouldn’t easily get into a casual relationship, as other girls might. Her mother also let me glance at her daughter’s selfie—one that had apparently been overly beautified by Meitu Xiuxiu, a popular photo-editing app"

Survey Ranks the U.S. Health Care System Lowest in Performance - "The U.S. health care system has been subject to heated debate over the past decade, but one thing that has remained consistent is the level of performance, which has been ranked as the worst among industrialized nations for the fifth time, according to the 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey 2014. The U.K. ranked best with Switzerland following a close second. The Commonwealth Fund report compares the U.S. with 10 other nations: France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. were all judged to be superior based on various factors... Although the U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, the nation ranks lowest in terms of “efficiency, equity and outcomes”... A lack of universal health care was noted as the key difference between the U.S. and the other industrial nations.
According to some self-described libertarians, the US healthcare system is superior because it doesn't work based on slavery (taxpayer funding) and doctors don't work for free (because free at point of consumption apparently means healthcare workers aren't paid)

School attack in The Netherlands - no one gets hurt because it isn't the US - "a mentally-ill 44-year-old man went to a school wielding two knives. Obviously posing a threat, the students used their backpacks to scare off the attacker. The man, after being barraged by a volley of backpacks filled with heavy science books, promptly walked away from the school."

Why Is the Live-Event Ticket Market So Screwed Up? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "SELLER: Well, a Broadway musical these days can cost anywhere from $10 million to $20 million. And it is certainly common for me to invest up to 5 percent of the budget personally. And just to put it in perspective of what that financial risk is, 80 percent of shows do not pay back their original capitalization.
Of the 20 that return the capital, probably half of them make a very modest profit, like maybe a 4 or 5 percent return on capital. And then you have your blockbusters that come around every now and then that become enormous windfalls in which investors can multiply their original investment sometimes by 10 to 20 times...
LUFTIG: In other industries, people who are working on something get paid while they’re working on it. Not producers. I can work on something for four or five years. I’m not drawing a salary, or I’m not getting any income. The only way that a producer really starts making money is when the show becomes a hit."

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Mosul: Life After ISIS - "China is busy spreading its own influence, spending billions in the past few years to build a global news empire. State media, under the direct control of the Communist Party, have been opening bureaus in dozens of countries and striking deals to have Beijing's propaganda in the form of regular advertorials inserted into mainstream titles like the Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph. All the while, back in China international news organizations complain about long delays to accreditation and visas. Their content here is censored and blocked. The BBC's global news channel regularly goes to black and Facebook and Twitter are banned despite being used aggressively by Chinese state media to spread their message overseas. China's justification for all this is of the classic pot meet kettle kind, accusing the foreign press of being obsessed with stories that portray its Communist political system in a bad light... My answer is a simple one - it's not bias, it's the opposite: equal treatment. Even democratic governments find themselves lamenting the barrage of negativity, sniping skepticism and ridicule that comes their way. But however partisan, sensationalist and imperfect, the Western media can hold power to account in a way that state media never can. Sections of the western press are at least as critical of Donald Trump as they are of Communist China...
[On Albania] The Institute for the Studies of Communist Crimes and Consequences - a state funded body charged with the objective evaluation of the wrongs of Communism - has called for Communist era films to be banned from television because they encourage nostalgia for the old regime"

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent Podcast, Men Of Mystery - "Personal ride hailing services hugely popular and operated via mobile phone app. This is how Lahore's upper and middle classes are now moving around the city. Fares are reasonable and there's no haggling... Who wants a rickshaw ride when they can have the comfort of a car? Gone is the combative attitude of many rickshaw drivers in the past. I hailed one or two on my most recent trip. Neither of the drivers tried to negotiate over the price. Both had one thing to say - just give us what you want"

Man sentenced to reformative training for repeated sex with underage girl - "the girl told the man that she was pregnant. On 2 August 2015, the girl experienced a stomachache. Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana told the court, “While she was in a toilet, she felt extreme pain and when she felt that she had finally passed motion, she heard the sound of a baby crying.”... The man suggested that they place the baby outside the man’s house for his family to find and raise the baby. The man intended to watch his child grow up without informing anyone that he was the father. The girl agreed and both placed the baby in an SG50 bag. The girl wrote a letter asking for help to care for the baby, adding that her “husband” recently passed away due to an accident... after the man was placed on probation for the offence, he visited the girl and both went to the same staircase landing where they had unprotected sex again. The man was then 19 years old while the girl was 15 years old. Two months later, the girl realised that she had missed her periods and took a pregnancy test. The pair decided to keep the news to themselves just as they did during the girl’s first pregnancy."
To have one unwanted pregnancy may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two looks like carelessness

TheForce.net: Is It Time For A Non-Human Lead? - "Star Wars, and more specific, the rebel alliance, is supposed to be an inclusive group comprised of and appealing more to the disenfranchised and down trodden. Whether it’s an act of altruism, a militarily strategic necessity or a combination of both, any and all species are generally welcome. This of course purposely plays opposite to the Empire whose xenophobic nationalist brand of politics infects their protocols and often determines the entire make-up of their rank and file. And yes, to reiterate, we do see plenty of non-humans on screen, but the point is with the abundance of species available and the Rebel Alliance’s open door policy, there must be a heroic leading alien story mixed in there somewhere."
Diversity now includes non-human (i.e. fictional) groups

WATCH: Hillary Says Racist Poor People Voted For Trump, 'Optimistic, Diverse, Dynamic' People Voted For Her
Trump 2020!

Hillary Clinton: White Women ‘Pressured’ by Husbands to Vote Trump - "Democrats “do not do well with white men and we don’t do well with married white women and part of that is an identification with the Republican party and an ongoing pressure to vote the way your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should,” Clinton argued at the conference in Mumbai, India... Clinton has previously attributed her defeat to racism, sexism, Russian interference, Comey’s letter, the Koch brothers, and a host of other factors beyond her control."

Does Islam Stand Against Science? - "A prominent British imam in East London received death threats this year after delivering a lecture at his mosque about evolution. His offense? Saying there's no conflict between Darwinian theory and Islam. In the uproar that followed, Usama Hasan, a senior lecturer in business-information systems at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, retracted his comments but also criticized Islamic extremists; he later resigned from Middlesex... There's no clear separation between church and state in most Muslim countries, so scientists lack the autonomy that they enjoy in the West. Muslim scientists must frequently contend with the scientific pronouncements of religious leaders, and in university classrooms, biology and physics professors often find themselves responding to questions about specific Quranic verses that refer to the natural world... most Pakistani doctors accepted evolution, even human evolution. "But in Malaysia, we were really surprised to find a major rejection of not only human evolution but evolution in general," he says. Hameed expected to find more acceptance of modern science because Malaysia has a sophisticated high-tech industry. He and his colleagues now speculate that Muslims are trying to carve out a cultural niche that's distinct from the more educated Indians and Chinese in Malaysia. "We think the rejection of evolution has become part of their Muslim identity"... the biggest challenge for Arab professors is to get their students to think critically... Some Muslim scientists also devote a significant amount of their scholarly work to questions that concern only the Islamic world... Figuring out the qiblah, the direction of Mecca, was one reason medieval Muslim astronomers did such groundbreaking work, as it forced them to develop spherical trigonometry and complex mathematics... 99 percent of the Muslims you ask would say it's more important to study prayer times than dark matter."

Women drivers involved more than men in certain kinds of crashes - "Because men drive about 60 percent of those annual miles and women drive 40 percent, men are expected to be involved in a higher percentage of crashes for each scenario, road conditions and driving skills being equal. But the researchers found that crashes involving two female drivers were overrepresented in five of the six crash scenarios, including two by at least 50 percent more and two others by more than 25 percent greater than what was expected. On the other hand, crashes involving two male drivers were underrepresented in four of the six scenarios, including two by more than 20 percent and another by just less than 20 percent. In crash scenarios involving both male and female drivers, actual frequencies tended to be close to the expected frequencies."
In other words, women really are worse/less safer drivers - and the reason they are in accident statistics less is that they drive less

Steven Pinker's Counter-Counter-Enlightenment - "It is worth noticing that Pinker’s most trenchant critics are eager to flaunt their aversion to the very values Pinker sets out to defend – reason, science, humanism, and progress – and that their critiques display the traits and tics of exactly the kind of counter-Enlightenment thinking he attacks. These counter-Enlightenment trends include Catholic, Romantic, and Postmodern modes of thought which stand – and have always stood – in opposition to the values that Pinker’s book credits with the vast advances humankind has made since the 18th Century... Peter Harrison, director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland, suggests that the field of history will one day regard “misplaced faith in data, metrics and statistical analysis as a curse of the twenty-first century.” This rather paranoid objection is not especially new either. Back in 1959, Pinker reminds us, the scientist and novelist C. P. Snow gave a series of important lectures, subsequently published as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. Snow postulated that the rise of a culture of science prizing objectivity was causing alarm among a ‘Second Culture’ that prizes subjectivity – literary intellectuals, cultural critics, and essayists. Snow found this alarm unnecessary and counter-productive, and he urged the Second Culture to embrace scientific understanding... progress, especially recent progress, directly undermines a belief on the radical Left and Right that worsening human conditions and societal decline demand institutional overhaul, insurrection, and revolutionary change."

The Psychology of Progressive Hostility - "When I disagree with a conservative friend or colleague on some political issue, I have no fear of speaking my mind. I talk, they listen, they respond, I talk some more, and at the end of it we get along just as we always have. But I’ve discovered that when a progressive friend says something with which I disagree or that I know to be incorrect, I’m hesitant to point it out. This hesitancy is a consequence of the different treatment one tends to receive from those on the Right and Left when expressing a difference of opinion... As Skeptic Magazine’s Michael Shermer tweeted recently: "When I debate Christians, Jews, Creationists, climate deniers etc. they are unfailingly polite, respectful, thoughtful, discerning, & listen to my arguments. Far Left SJWs do not. They simply look for fault & pounce."... This sort of my-way-or-the-highway mentality is now spreading well beyond the urban university and into even remote communities. In the small Outback Australian town of Alice Springs where I once lived, agitators have attacked and attempted to silence the local aboriginal town councillor Jacinta Price for her principled efforts to improve the lives of her people. When Price tried to sound the alarm about skyrocketing sexually transmitted diseases, or the adult rape of children in aboriginal communities, she was shouted down as a ‘traitor’ and a ‘coconut’ (a term of disparagement used to describe a person deemed to be black on the outside and white on the inside). These criticisms do not come from the majority of aboriginal people in Alice Springs, but from a minority of furiously offended activists who, in their own little circles, plot to have Price undemocratically removed from the town council. Censorship is now the instrument of choice, and a reactionary authoritarianism increasingly defines what the liberal Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz has termed the ‘Regressive Left.’... for progressive students entering higher education, where remarkably homogenous viewpoints are taught and heterogeneous ideas are shunned. For example, one of the concepts most ridiculed by philosophers in recent decades has been the notion of ‘social justice,’ which has received such a beating that the Nobel Prize winning economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek once remarked that shame should fall upon people who still defend the idea. But ask any self-described social justice advocate to name a critic of the very idea of social justice, and they will likely draw a blank. Criticisms of social justice are routinely swept under the carpet in an environment where students are asked to embrace the concept hand-on-heart, as if no reasonable or legitimate objections had ever existed... progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. This he calls the ‘conservative advantage,’ and it goes a long way in explaining the different ways each side deals with opinions unlike their own. People get angry at what they don’t understand, and an all-progressive education ensures that they don’t understand... conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.” No doubt, other factors creep into the mix of the triggered progressive mind. Fashionable theories, such as those advanced by Jacques Derrida, teach students that all text and language is structured by power, so any argument from someone in a position of ‘gendered’ or ‘racial’ power can be disregarded, whatever its logical validity... the rest of society slowly becomes aware of what their taxes are paying for. The sharp decline in public support for the university, especially among Republicans and conservatives, suggests they are not impressed."

Americans love higher education, just not their universities - The Washington Post - "Twenty years ago when I first started writing about higher education in the states, I would often find residents who loved talking about the value of their public universities. This was particularly true in states with land-grant universities, such as Iowa and Nebraska, where farmers or mayors of small towns would tell me stories about how a university researcher assisted them on a problem with their crops or helped with economic development... American higher education was never designed to serve as many students of varying academic capabilities and professional interests as it does today. Nor was it intended as the sole training mechanism for a job. Colleges inherited that job when the economy transition away from manufacturing and into a diverse, information-driven economy deeply intertwined with the rest of the world."
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