"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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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Links - 24th July 2018 (2)

S’pore envoy confuses racial dominance with supremacism - "I refer to the lengthy 3,000-word opinion piece by Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan entitled “Malaysia is undergoing a systemic change that has profound consequences for Singapore”... Perhaps Bilahari can understand the distinction better in the context of Singapore, where the Chinese indisputably dominates the political, economic and social space. However, that does not translate into a Chinese-supremacist city state... Instead of seeing the uproar against 1MDB as a courageous fight against corruption, Bilahari chose to frame the 1MDB scandal as a political fight by juxtaposing Najib Razak and (former PM) Dr Mahathir Mohamed... Bilahari wanted to persuade Singaporeans that despite the disgraceful multi-billion ringgit corruption scandal Najib is entangled with and his less than legitimate election to office with funds sourced from dubious unknown sources, it is better the devil you can cut deals with... Bilahari’s views demonstrate how Singapore as a country, despite its enormous wealth and developed nation status, completely lacks a moral compass. It is less important for him to support “what is right and just”, as opposed to “what is in it for me” in Singapore’s relations with its neighbours, regardless of how evil or corrupt a regime is... Bilahari’s unapologetically selfish and arrogant views only cement the perception of Singapore as the contemptible Shylock of Southeast Asia"

Opinion | The Fall of the German Empire - The New York Times - "it is a grave mistake for liberalism’s champions to portray the tensions between the center and the periphery in Europe as just a choice for liberal values or against them. Because framing the choice that way, to people who recognize all too well that it can also be a choice for or against their own sovereignty, is a good way to hasten the fall not only of Germany’s third empire but of liberalism itself."

Opinion | College May Not Be Worth It Anymore - The New York Times - "We appear to be approaching a time when, even for middle-class students, the economic benefit of a college degree will begin to dim. Since 2000, the growth in the wage gap between high school and college graduates has slowed to a halt; 25 percent of college graduates now earn no more than does the average high school graduate. Part of the reason is oversupply. Technology increased the demand for educated workers, but that demand has been consistently outpaced by the number of people — urged on by everyone from teachers to presidents — prepared to meet it. No other nation punishes the “uneducated” as harshly as the United States. Nearly 30 percent of Americans without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to 5 percent with a college degree, and we infer that this comes from a lack of education. But in 28 other wealthy developed countries, a lack of a high school diploma increases the probability of poverty by less than 5 percent... According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 20 percent of American jobs actually require a bachelor’s degree. By 2026, the bureau estimates that this proportion will rise, but only to 25 percent. Why do employers demand a degree for jobs that don’t require them? Because they can... What all this suggests is that the college-degree premium may really be a no-college-degree penalty."

People who live in small towns and rural areas are happier than everyone else, researchers say - The Washington Post - "average population density in the 20 percent most miserable communities was more than eight times greater than in the happiest 20 percent of communities... the happiest communities had shorter commute times and less expensive housing, and that a smaller share of the population was foreign-born. They also found that people in the happiest communities are less transient than in the least happy communities, that they are more likely to attend church and that they are significantly more likely to feel a “sense of belonging” in their communities... Perhaps even more surprising are the factors that don't appear to play a major role in community-level differences in happiness: average income levels and rates of unemployment and education. People may move to cities for good-paying jobs, but the Canadian study strongly suggests it's not making them any happier."

Whole Foods Market controversy: Yellow Fever restaurant owner says name isn't racist - The Washington Post - "Kelly Kim and her husband wanted the name of their new pan-Asian restaurant to stand out, eschewing bland or stereotypical phrases, like bamboo, dragon and lotus... “Once, I had a friend who was grabbing our food for lunch and her white friend wasn’t sure if he was allowed to eat here”... Negative comments and messages she has received this week have been from non-Asian Americans, she said. Asian American and white customers alike have come to support her, she said, and business has been good at her new location, with no protests or backlash so far. Long Beach is a food desert, she said, and the store has been a welcome addition. That makes a controversy all the more frustrating, she said. “We’re just a small business. Now all of a sudden people are bashing on us,” she said."
When identity politics hurts the people it's supposed to protect

Here’s how much the average single American spends on their dating life - The Washington Post - "The average unmarried American spent $1,596 on their dating life in 2016, according to a Match survey of 5,500 singles around the country. Of course, in some cities the average is higher. For example, in Washington, it was $1,788; in New York, $2,069. This average includes bar tabs and dating site memberships, but also includes haircuts, manicures and new date outfits; entrance fees to dating events and money spent on matchmakers. When that $1,600 average is divided by gender, men spent more ($1,855 on average) than women ($1,423)... Seventy-eight percent of women said they split the check on a date because they didn’t want to feel obligated to go out again or to get physical. But 47 percent of women said they offer to pay to be polite or to assert their independence"

Monkey loses selfie copyright case. Maybe monkey should sue PETA, appeals court suggests. - The Washington Post - "That outcome was no surprise. What was unusual was that the appeals court chose to rule on the case at all and the criticism it leveled at PETA in the course of doing so, questioning just what sort of “friend” the organization was to Naruto... What really bothered the appeals court judges, they said in a lengthy footnote, was how PETA sought to abandon the case after reaching a settlement that did not directly benefit Naruto and instead served PETA’s “institutional interests,” as Judge Carlos T. Bea said, writing for court. PETA “failed” as a friend to Naruto, the court said. At one point the court even pondered whether Naruto might have sued PETA for its representation if he were a human."

‘How dare you work on whites’: Professors under fire for research on white mortality - The Washington Post - "Case and Deaton pointed out that mortality rates among middle-aged white Americans have been rising, while mortality rates for other Americans and citizens of Western Europe have continued to plummet... Opioid abuse and alcoholism and a spike in suicides have been the most visible causes, but Case and Deaton say these “deaths of despair” are symptoms of a much larger problem — one that's rooted in the economy, and how forces like technological change have battered less-educated whites in recent decades. But the economy has been brutal lately for all Americans without a college degree, and this new report kicked off another round of controversy over how the American mainstream often ignores black experiences. Critics have complained that Case and Deaton’s focus on white mortality risks drawing attention away from equally pressing problems, like the persistently higher rates of black mortality...
Deaton: Anne presented the first paper once and was told, in no uncertain terms: How dare you work on whites.
Case: I was really beaten up.
Deaton: And these were really senior people.
Case: Very senior people...
We might be able to isolate why this is happening, and that’s probably going to be relevant for all of us. The other part is that if some groups are more resilient in some ways, what can we learn from that? The press often gets it wrong and will say “blacks and Hispanics have higher mortality than whites” — which is not true. Hispanics have lower mortality. What makes Hispanics resilient and can we use what we learn from that group to help all groups?...
There’s this narrative, that is entrenched in some of the professions, that there’s this mysterious thing called “socioeconomic status” that is immutably correlated with health. And it isn’t...
When you talk to CEOs, to the business community, they say, “We have lots of vacancies, but the educational system is not training people up to do those jobs.” To which the counter answer is: “Okay but you just told me five minutes ago that the speed of technological change in your industry is so rapid it’s terrifying even you.” So do you want to train up people for something that’s not going to be there two years from now?...
Rising health care costs are responsible, at least in part, for the stagnant wages for people without a college degrees. If they’ve got an employer and they’ve got health care, their wages are getting pushed down by the employer paying for that health care. People don’t even realize this. They think it’s for free."
Whataboutism is a good thing when directed at "privileged" people. And now it goes beyond even talking about something, to finding it out in the first place - inconvenient facts need to be suppressed
So much for anti-racism being good for white people

Mahathir speaks out against arrest of man who allegedly insulted him - "I do not agree with the actions taken on those who have criticised me. I have informed the police about this. This law will be reviewed when parliament convenes later... Days after being sworn in as Malaysia's seventh prime minister, Dr Mahathir had pledged to review some laws enacted by the Najib Razak administration, including the "fake news law" which was hurriedly passed before the elections"

Old HDB flats: Assets losing their value? - ""I don’t know what the government is thinking about for the lease management of HDB estates, since there is no open discussion about the issue. In theory, the estates revert to HDB when their lease expires. But will there be any lease renewal policy or re-housing policy? The uncertainty needs to be resolved to protect the interest of HDB homebuyers"... Experts say there is no point in speculating. Instead, they suggest that the authorities be more transparent, in engaging people more in discussions on the fates of their ageing homes."

Fatal car crashes increase 12% on annual marijuana celebration '420 Day' - "Fatal car crashes increase by as much as 12 per cent on the afternoon of 20 April, more commonly known as “420”, researchers have found... Despite this, other studies assessing the risks of marijuana relative to other legal and illegal substances have shown it is around 114 times safer than alcohol."

Weed is 114 times less deadly than alcohol, study finds - "marijuana is far and away the safest drug. It's at the bottom of the list by some distance, and is also the only drug that poses a low mortality risk to users... The research is backed up by police in Colorado, the first US state to legalise the drug, who said recently that a year on everything is fine and police work has gone on mostly unchanged. "

Germaine Greer says women enjoy watching sexual violence on TV - "Germaine Greer has claimed female abuse victims of the #MeToo movement are "cashing in" and defended depictions of sexualised violence on TV. The feminist author, 79, wrote in Radio Times that crime dramas currently receiving a backlash for gratuitous portrayals of violence against women are only trying to meet the desires of their audience. "Female victimisation sells," she wrote. "What should disturb us is that it sells to women." She continued: "Who is watching and reading the proliferating imagery of female victimhood? Women, that's who... Greer went so far as to suggest that large numbers of female viewers fantasised about sexual assault"
You either die a feminist...

Feminist author Germaine Greer on Meghan Markle: 'I think she'll bolt - she's bolted before' - "Markle was married to Hollywood producer Trevor Engelson for two years, before splitting in 2013. Greer said she has given up too much of her identity, including her citizenship, her career and moving 3,000 miles away from her home, for the couple's marriage to last forever. "I think she’ll bolt. She bolted before"... "I hope in a way that she’ll bolt, but maybe she’ll take Harry with her."... When asked why she thinks Markle would give up her entire life as she knows it, she wryly responded: "Why would a girl born in poverty marry a man worth 53 million quid? I can't think of a single reason.""

Luxury homes gifted by Chinese tycoon sit empty as greedy villagers row over ownership - "A Chinese tycoon who paid for hundreds of luxury homes to be built for the residents of his hometown has been left dumbfounded by their greed and ingratitude... although the homes have been ready to move into since the end of last year, they remain unoccupied because of squabbling between villagers over who should get one, or even two... "As soon as I went back to the village, everyone started making all kinds of demands," he said. "So I don't go back any more.""

Study: Women Now Leaving STEM Fields to Pursue ‘Social Justice’ Degrees - "the study tracked 34 freshmen engineering majors over the course of four years to explore what makes students, especially women, abandon engineering in lieu of other fields. Of the 21 female students interviewed, fully one-third left engineering by their junior year. Rulifson and his co-author Angela Bielefeldt identified one factor common to all female students who left: the desire to “help society/other people,” or “social responsibility.”... Rulifson and Bielefeldt stated that they weren’t exactly surprised by the results. They pointed to a 2014 Purdue University study, which discovered that the vast majority of young girls want to grow up to be “successful and caring,” but they don’t see that as an option for engineering professionals."

Misguided Study Shows Why Push for Women in STEM Could Be Backfiring - "scare stories -- false narratives about how women are currently treated in STEM -- can really drive them away. In short, the chosen PR push backfires... She's actually shown that the preconceived atmosphere of bias behind the push for women in STEM can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other researchers in the field have made similar arguments. Most recently, Georgetown University professor Adriana Kugler published research finding that traditional strategies to recruit women into STEM may actually drive women away from STEM. “Society keeps telling us that STEM fields are masculine fields, that we need to increase the participation of women in STEM fields, but that kind of sends a signal that it’s not a field for women, and it kind of works against keeping women in these fields,” Kugler says... Bobby Mixon, the senior public affairs officer at the NSF, confirmed last year that efforts to diversify STEM cost American taxpayers at least $8 million. In a separate funding round, the NSF also granted college professors more than $3 million to research how to fight “microaggressions” and “bias” in STEM."
Self-fulfilling prophecies being perpetuated by those who seek to end perceived injustice so badly that they propagate a false narrative is deliciously ironic

When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Young Men - "We exploit the gender-specific components of large-scale labor demand shocks stemming from rising international manufacturing competition to test how shifts in the relative economic stature of young men versus young women affected marriage, fertility and children’s living circumstances during 1990-2014. On average, trade shocks differentially reduce employment and earnings, raise the prevalence of idleness, and elevate premature mortality among young males. Consistent with Becker’s model of household specialization, shocks to male relative stature reduce marriage and fertility. Consistent with sociological accounts, these shocks raise the share of mothers who are unwed and share of children living in below-poverty, single-headed households"
Feminists, eager to deny the role of economic factors in marriage, will claim that this is because men without jobs/who earn less become more assholic

Why French chefs want us to eat this bird – head, bones, beak and all - "Hunters catch the birds using traps set in fields during their migratory season (when they fly to Africa). They are then kept in covered cages, encouraging them to gorge on grain in order to double their size. It is said that Roman Emperors stabbed out ortolans’ eyes in order to make the birds think it was night, making them eat even more. They are then thrown alive into a vat of Armagnac, a trick that manages to both drown and marinade the animal at the same time. Killing two birds with one glug, as it were... Those who have tasted ortolan rave about the hazelnut and gamey flavours. Jeremy Clarkson ate one during his Meet the Neighbours series in 2002, in which he travelled around Europe. “It’s really good. It is fantastic, fantastic”"
Sounds more humane than factory chickens
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