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Friday, July 06, 2018

Links - 6th July 2018 (3)

Some public servants told me mediocrity is rewarded: Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng - "Ng said in Parliament that public servants are afraid of speaking up in case they anger their superiors, have their appraisals affected and get passed over for promotion, just because they rocked the boat and upset the status quo... Worse, he said he had even received messages forwarded to him to be careful, after he spoke up on this issue in 2017: “My sister was also passing me messages from her friends, telling me to be careful.” This problem stems from a fear of speaking honestly... Ng also said this culture of subordinates doing what they are told and not rocking the boat will be detrimental to the Public Service. It will result in the “loss of good ideas, of better ways of doing things and the loss of good public servants”... “Even if I meet you and share my thoughts, nothing will change so what’s the point”."

PAP MP Louis Ng scolded by Minister for speaking up - "Minister Ong Ye Kung told the PAP MP that he must deny the concerns of the public officers who told him otherwise"

Indonesian Christians whipped over shariah-banned child’s play - "Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province today for playing a children’s entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures... About 98 per cent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law. Non-Muslims who have committed an offence that violates both national and religious laws can choose to be prosecuted under either system. Christians and other non-Muslims sometimes choose a flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term"

What happens during khalwat raids? UK broadcaster joins Malaysia’s religious police in a show-all (VIDEO) - "The journalist expressed surprise in the video that someone can be arrested for “being with a girlfriend”. “You want to be respectful of other people's culture, but on the other hand, you remember being 24 years old, and you think is it possible for me, as an adult, being arrested for being in a hotel room with my girlfriend?” he said. The officers also explained that they can arrest transgenders on the street for not behaving and dressing according to their gender. “A man should behave like a man and a woman should behave like a woman. We must respect the divine laws and sharia laws”... the Federal Court overturned the Court of Appeal landmark decision that had declared as unconstitutional the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment that criminalises cross-dressing"

Buddhist monk leads mob to destroy church - "A group of Buddhists headed by a monk destroyed a Christian church in the North West Province of Sri Lanka earlier this month, leaving worshippers to now conduct their prayers under a tree."

Special Report: Buddhist monks incite Muslim killings in Myanmar - "Relishing his extremist reputation, Wirathu describes himself as the “Burmese bin Laden.”"

Why the naughty stereotype holds boys back at school - "from a young age, children think girls are academically superior. And, what’s more, they believe that adults think so too... Simply boosting boys’ self-belief could help close the academic gap, they said. Research showed that boys performed better in tests when told they were as good as girls."

Does studying Ethics make you more Moral? - "an ethics professors studies the reasoning behind moral decisions; so their work is more focused on reasoning: finding invalid arguments, counterexamples, etc, rather than living out ethics... Should we expect historians to be better at not repeating their own mistakes? Or psychologists to be more mentally healthy than other professionals?... for those skipping out on paying conference dues: why did they do it? What about the others? I doubt it, but perhaps the moral philosophers had a better reason, such as having given the money to Oxfam as utilitarians (or, as utilitarians, deciding that their own benefit through beer and cheeseburgers would be greater than the benefit for themselves and others of paying the dues – sorry a low blow, I know). I’m reminded a bit of a friend of mine who went to Yale Divinity School, and was told (and experienced) that it was a place where the faithful went to lose their beliefs. Paradoxically, the more theologically educated these students became, the skeptical they grew of religious beliefs"

Red Fascism > Paul Austin Murphy - "Habermas reacted against the frequent use of violence on the Left and instead emphasised 'rational discourse', democratic institutions and the reliance on 'conflict theory' to end political violence. Of course allied with that Leftist use of violence is its hatred of democracy and free speech; things which Habermas also noted. In fact, Habermas was an early user of the term 'left-fascism'... the Nazis themselves were National Socialists and even today many Nazis and Leftists hate exactly the same things: Zionists, capitalism, Jews, Das System, parliamentary democracy, democracy, tradition, Israel, 'the New World Order', the bankers, America, the multinationals, the platonic Media and so on. Both Leftist and Nazis also promise full employment, selfless and incorruptible leaders as well as, yes, a New World Order (or, alternatively, Utopia-by-other-names)... The popular French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy has also noted the irrationalism and violent tendencies of the new Left. In fact he calls this 'neo-progressivism' both 'barbaric' and 'red fascist'. (All this is very ironic since 'progressives' are often painted as being the exact antithesis of all these things.) Levy particularly points out the common and fundamental aspects of the new red fascism as being anti-liberal, anti-American, anti-Jew and 'pro-Islamofascism'. In fact other commentators have gone further than this and noted that much of the Left today is anti-everything - not actually for anything. Such Leftists define themselves exclusively by what they are against ('Islamophobia', parliamentary democracy, capitalism, the Media, 'Zionists', 'racists', 'the bankers', 'the New World Order', etc.) and not what they are for. Similarly, ideology and politics themselves are often jettisoned and violence and endless 'street activism', as well as the embracing of endless minority groups and minority causes, have taken their place. It is no surprise, then, that such a political negativism will also embrace violence, irrationalisms and a hatred of both democracy and free speech."

WhatsApp co-founder tells everyone to delete Facebook - "Acton is not the first former Facebook executive to express unease about the company after leaving it. Last year, former head of growth Chamath Palihapitiya caused a firestorm after saying “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” Other former executives to express regrets include Sean Parker, Justin Rosenstein, and investor Roger McNamee."

Crisis manager: Why is Trump use of social data bad and Obama good? - "Dezenhall, who said he is not a Trump supporter, noted on "Squawk Box" that the public adored Obama after he credited his success during the 2008 election in part by how his campaign used social media. Now with Trump there is a "whiff of criminality," he said."

Both Facebook And Cambridge Analytica Threatened To Sue Journalists Over Stories On CA's Use Of Facebook Data - "in that Guardian story in 2015, Cruz told the publication that this data collecting and targeting effort was "very much the Obama model." And political consultant Patrick Ruffini has a well worth reading Twitter thread arguing that people are overreacting to much of this, and that the 2012 Obama campaign did the exact same thing, and was celebrated for its creative use of data and targeting on the internet. Ad tech guy Jay Pinho makes the same point as well. Here's a Time article from 2012 excitedly talking up how the Obama campaign used Facebook in the same way... it still wasn't Facebook per se coughing up the info. It was Facebook's own users. And, you might even argue that if you believe that Facebook doesn't "own" all this data in the first place, that it was actually those Facebook users coughing up a bunch of their own data -- including lots of data about their friends"

Opinion | Facebook’s Surveillance Machine - The New York Times - "This wasn’t a breach in the technical sense. It is something even more troubling: an all-too-natural consequence of Facebook’s business model, which involves having people go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance. The results of that surveillance are used to fuel a sophisticated and opaque system for narrowly targeting advertisements and other wares to Facebook’s users. Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please... Facebook even creates “shadow profiles” of nonusers. That is, even if you are not on Facebook, the company may well have compiled a profile of you, inferred from data provided by your friends or from other data. This is an involuntary dossier from which you cannot opt out in the United States... Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet. Some employers and landlords demand to see Facebook profiles, and there are increasingly vast swaths of public and civic life — from volunteer groups to political campaigns to marches and protests — that are accessible or organized only via Facebook. The problem here goes beyond Cambridge Analytica and what it may have done. What other apps were allowed to siphon data from millions of Facebook users? What if one day Facebook decides to suspend from its site a presidential campaign or a politician whose platform calls for things like increased data privacy for individuals and limits on data retention and use? What if it decides to share data with one political campaign and not another? What if it gives better ad rates to candidates who align with its own interests?"

WikiLeaks on Twitter: "Email between Facebook CTO, Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton campaign head John Podesta, signed with Facebook's key

Facebook Data Unfairly Mined by Democrats Claims Ex Obama Campaign - "Davidsen claimed Facebook saw what they were doing with data and decided to let it happen because of politics. “They came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side”"

Facebook has suspended the account of the whistleblower who exposed Cambridge Analytica
And WhatsApp and Instagram too

Sengkang hospital opening in 2018, 7 years in the making - "SKH will have 1,400 beds and is meant to ease the bed crunch problem at public hospitals, a pre-existing condition in Singapore since the early 2000s... Bed occupancy rates above 80 percent are considered very high. Currently, our bed occupancy rates generally still hover at 80 percent or above. With the addition of SKH, the 1,000 beds are expected to contribute to an added 10 percent capacity for public hospital beds in Singapore."

An emerging scholarly consensus on mismatch and affirmative action (ideologues not welcome) - The Washington Post - "the authors find persuasive evidence that such mismatch effects occur, particularly in law school and in science education... Williams’s paper presents equations testing dozens of different combinations of models and outcomes. With impressive consistency, his analysis shows very powerful evidence for law school mismatch, especially for first-time takers. His results are all the more compelling because, as Arcidiacono and Lovenheim point out, the weaknesses of the BPS data bias all analyses against a finding of mismatch. Williams concludes his piece, too, with a plea for the release of better data. Meanwhile, not a single one of the law school mismatch critics has managed to publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal, though at least some of them have tried."

Malaysians upset coffeeshop drinks cost more than a litre of petrol - "Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Association (Presma), which has 4,000 registered members with 10,000 mamak eateries nationwide, said customers are charged between RM2.50 to RM3.00 per glass of iced Milo... Noorul Hassan also noted that customers usually insist on 'Milo kaw' (thick Milo or double strength) when ordering the beverage. He said the cost of condensed milk and ice cubes had also increased, without the customers realising."
Maybe this just shows petrol is underpriced

Best-selling introductory psychology books give a misleading view of intelligence - "Russell T Warne and his co-authors found that three-quarters of the books contain inaccuracies; that the books give disproportionate coverage to unsupported theories, such as Gardner’s “multiple intelligencies”; and nearly 80 per cent contain logical fallacies in their discussions of the topic... The most common inaccuracy (appearing in nearly half the books) was that intelligence tests are biased against particular groups or individuals. This contradicts the 1997 consensus statement which tackles this issue and concludes that “intelligence tests are not culturally biased”. Other common inaccuracies included promotion of the idea that it is not possible to measure intelligence in a meaningful way (in fact, Warne and his colleagues point out that “it is actually easier to measure intelligence than many other psychological constructs”), and claims that intelligence is only relevant in academic settings (in fact, intelligence correlates with many non-academic life outcomes, from life expectancy to risk of dying in a car accident, and is among the strongest predictors of career success). Among the logical fallacies in the books is what’s known as “Lewontin’s fallacy” – this idea, advanced in six of the books, states that because humans share about 99 per cent of the same genes, that genes cannot therefore have a role in the differences between individuals or groups. In fact, “slight differences in genotypes among organisms can result in major phenotype differences”, according to Warne and his team. Twelve other fallacies appeared in the books – see full list above – such as giving less scrutiny to politically correct ideas or claiming that intelligence doesn’t exist because it is a collection of abilities (suggesting the textbook authors had failed to understand the principle of g or “general intelligence”). In terms of questionable accuracy (i.e. errors not covered by the consensus statements), Warne highlights issues around the discussion of the taboo topic of race and IQ; textbook authors overplaying the role of “stereotype threat“, and authors having a tendency to overestimate environmental influences on intelligence (the books largely neglected the work of scholars who study the genetic influences on intelligence, such as the British researchers Ian Deary and Robert Plomin)... This new analysis helps explain why the public and lay journalists often express a scepticism toward intelligence and intelligence testing that is at odds with expert opinion (perhaps best captured by the hackneyed claim that “intelligence tests only measure your ability to take intelligence tests”)"

This Gay Man Made A Great Point About Why Women Should Dress However They Want - "The main premise of “modesty” culture is that women need to dress in a way that doesn’t provoke sexual response in men. Which is insane"
Somehow the comments aren't slamming him for being Islamophobic

Bielefeld Conspiracy – Bielefeld, Germany - "The Bielefeld Conspiracy originated in 1994 on a German internet forum as a satire of conspiracy theories... According to the Bielefeld Conspiracy, the city of Bielefeld is an illusion and no village is actually there. Believers in the conspiracy ask non-believers three questions: Have you ever been to Bielefeld, do you know anybody from Bielefeld, and do you know anybody who has ever been to Bielefeld? To most people, the answer to these three questions is “no,” supposedly proving the conspiracists’ point"

An employee whose job was to be sacked - "Apparently the employee was paid to sit among the boxes on Harrods top-floor smoking his pipe and reading the Sporting Life. From time to time a bell would ring and he would be summoned to a department where an irate customer was being mollified by the Head of the Department."
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