"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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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Links - 1st August 2018 (2)

Why the left has turned its back on freedom of speech - "When they call for far-right marches or speakers to be banned, leftists repeat the censoriousness of McCarthyism. (Indeed, the House Un-American Activities started as a purge of fascism from America before moving on to communism.) When some on the left fret that lads’ mags or ‘sexist’ songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ or old books that contain the word nigger will unleash readers’ and viewers’ base instincts and potentially destabilise society, they echo the stiff, Christian censorship radicals once opposed. When leftists brand as ‘phobic’ – that is, irrational – anyone who thinks a man cannot become a woman, they repeat the terrible thing that was once done to them: they brand those who hold views they find difficult or offensive as ‘ill’, unstable, a threat to society... the idea that unfettered speech leads to the expression of prejudiced ideas and that this could damage the self-esteem of certain groups. It is such a racially paternalistic argument, setting up white liberals, essentially, as the defenders of black people from psychic harm... Across the board, leftists demonise freedoms they once argued for... The left has helped to make ‘freedom’ into a dirty word. Freedom is dangerous, they claim. It makes minority groups feel bad. It stirs up hateful passions among the mob (ie, the public). It can even cause rape and death: see the idea that lads’ mags facilitate rapaciousness or that criticism of the ideology of transgenderism can cause young trans people to kill themselves. Where earlier radicals saw freedom as the greatest social good, the thing that allowed individuals to become truly autonomous and understanding and knowledgable, today’s so-called radicals see it as the harbinger of hate and spite and violence and death... Anyone who believes they can make the argument that certain words and images are too dangerous for public life and that this argument won’t then be used against their words and images is a fool of the most serious kind. Thomas Paine, intellectual architect of the left, made this point: ‘He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.’... the left embrace of censorship promotes the idea that individuals are either wicked or weak, either dangerous creatures who must be controlled or fragile creatures who must be protected. It promotes suspicion and distrust of humankind... The story of the left’s embrace of censorship is a really a story of its growing estrangement from the people."

10 Bizarre Uses of Animals in War - "Several armies have set animals on fire and directed them at the enemy to panic and scatter war elephants. One of the most spectacular of these unpleasant schemes was undertaken the Turkic general Timur while invading India in 1398. Piling hay and wood onto the backs of camels, he set them on fire and sent them screaming into the enemy elephant formation. Flaming animals have also been used against other enemy troops. In a battle between rebels and the Chinese army during the Southern Song Dynasty, monkeys were clothed in straw, dipped in oil and set on fire. Released in the enemy camp, they spread the flames to tents and caused chaos among the troops...
during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). During the siege of a monastery, Nationalist pilots attached live turkeys to fragile supplies before dropping them into the monastery. The flapping of the turkeys was intended to slow the fall of the supplies, acting as a form of a parachute. The turkeys could then be added to the defenders’ food supplies – a poor reward for their heroic service...
During the First Gulf War (1990-1991), the United States planned to use chickens to detect poisonous gasses... 41 of 43 chickens intended for use in Kuwaiti Field Chicken (KFC) died within a week of arriving in Kuwait, and the plan was abandoned."

Gender, Partisanship, and Issue Gaps - "for a number of issue areas, women are more supportive of an activist government than men of the same party"

The liberal case against identity politics - "I expected there to be some reaction, just from people who are totally committed to identity politics. But I was not expecting the tsunami of response. The piece was the most-read political commentary piece in the New York Times that year, and I got my first Twitter bath, all in acid, and realised just how difficult it is to even raise the questions that I raised... I discovered just how symbolic and self-reinforcing the politics of the identity movements are, and the degree to which they’re getting in the way of building a democratic majority in the country again... identity politics has become focused on the identity of the individual self, rather than a shared characteristic and an idea of how we might pursue a common agenda together. Identity politics in this country became much more about self-expression, self-assertion and self-discovery, and so the political horizon of young people growing up in this atmosphere is limited to issues touching the way they happen to define their identity... it’s led to a kind of narcissistic turn within, accompanied by an indifference and an incomprehension of the realities of achieving anything in the long-term politically. And it’s that turn within and the radicalisation which comes with it, which has led to a very subjectivised politics. If I have a political aim and a political position, I can argue with someone about that, and my commitment is to my argument and my principles. But if my politics comes out of the way in which I define myself in an intimate way, and the way I understand my subjective experience, I’m not going to be very interested in engaging with people who are very critical. I’m going to be highly sensitive and feel that my very self has been challenged, rather than my arguments or my politics... Even in our educational system, from a very early age, kids are taught about their identities... children start keeping a diary about their identity – in kindergarten, from the age of six... You look at American movies, you look at the way in which American corporations deal with diversity issues right now, identity is put forward as this kind of secret self within, this little homunculus that’s your true self and made up of all these attachments that you can gain or drop as you like. And those identities have to be protected and cultivated and not offended. That’s not a psychological model that opens people up to public debate about issues, including those that don’t necessarily have anything to do with them personally. For example, there’s very little interest among young people today about foreign policy, because it doesn’t have anything to do with their identities... Take the rise of white identity. There are all sorts of things that have contributed to white supremacy, which is real. But the recent spike in this sense of a wounded white population, if you look at surveys, really starts to surge in about 2014. What contributed to this was the identity focus on the left, and then how that played out on right-wing media. It became a weapon for Fox News and for Breitbart to portray the Democrats as only being about these groups, and not being about you, the Fox viewer. You just don’t want to be in that position... Right after my article was published in the New York Times, someone who teaches at my university, Columbia, whom I’ve never met, wrote an article in the LA Review of Books comparing me to David Duke, who is the head of the KKK. She said we were both white supremacists

How the left and right switched places - "There will always be left-wing people and right-wing people. Basically, the former think people are essentially good and the latter warn that people are foremost bad... the new conservatives tend to mask themselves as ‘progressives’, ‘liberals’ or ‘left-wing’... it is the modern left that now believes humanity is essentially bad, inherently fallen. Meanwhile, where is the hatred for mankind emanating from conservatives? It seems to have evaporated. Old-fashioned conservatives today speak in terms of solutions, not problems"

Singapore’s workforce ranks the unhappiest amongst her Asian counterparts - "Office location, good colleagues, and company reputation are important drivers of job happiness
Fresh graduates are happiest at work and C-suites the unhappiest
Poor Leadership and lack of training and development opportunities are main cause of unhappiness"

I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet - "I guess those first months felt so good because I felt the absence of the pressures of the internet. My freedom felt tangible. But when I stopped seeing my life in the context of "I don't use the internet," the offline existence became mundane, and the worst sides of myself began to emerge... So much ink has been spilled deriding the false concept of a "Facebook friend," but I can tell you that a "Facebook friend" is better than nothing."

“But Will It Last?”: Marital Instability Among Interracial and Same‐Race Couples - "Comparisons across marriage cohorts reveal that, overall, interracial couples have higher rates of divorce, particularly for those marrying during the late‐1980s. We also find race and gender variation. Compared to White/White couples, White female/Black male, and White female/Asian male marriages were more prone to divorce; meanwhile, those involving non‐White females and White males and Hispanics and non‐Hispanic persons had similar or lower risks of divorce"

RNLI naked mugs sacking: Two lifeboat heroes dismissed over 'safety risk' - "The pair had swapped “banter" tea mugs as a Secret Santa present – one of which had Mr Winspear’s face superimposed on a naked woman. RNLI bosses let them go after a female manager discovered the mugs at their HQ in north Yorkshire... Both men were hauled before disciplinary hearings that looked through their private messages on WhatsApp. Mr Winspear and Mr Laws were dismissed, and four of their colleagues have also walked out over the incident... "The mugs were just banter, a bit of fun. One of the sacked men served 15 years.""

Swedish woman raped and sexually assaulted by Afghan migrant teens - "she had been a member of a Facebook group which campaigns against the deportation of migrants from Sweden... She said Hassani asked her why she had followed them back if she did not want to have sex with them."
Addendum: Also reported as "Woman who campaigns against deportation of migrants raped by Afghans" and "Woman who campaigns against the deportation of migrants from Sweden was raped and sexually assaulted by two Afghan teenagers she met outside a bar"

Michael Gove: A-level ranking plan insults any child who wants to succeed on merit - "I’ve been confronted with more and more evidence from universities that A-levels are no longer doing the job they should. Professors tell me they have to provide catch-up classes for bright students who arrive at university with good grades, but who have not been provided with enough knowledge in the A-level syllabus to match the performance of students from other countries, or students who started the same course a generation ago. The same academics also tell me they are finding it more and more difficult to identify the most able pupils, when so many come with fistfuls of As and A stars. . we have the silly idea from one exam board, tellingly launched at the Labour Party conference, that we should further devalue the gold standard. The education system, it is argued, should inflate the value of lower grades if a candidate comes from what is believed to be a weaker school. All students are to be treated equally, but some will be treated rather more equally than others. The authors of this scheme, I am sure, imagine they are doing their bit to advance social mobility."

How low can we go? An assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and the scope reduction by 2050 - "A switch from beef and milk to highly refined livestock product analogues such as tofu and Quorn could actually increase the quantity of arable land needed to supply the UK"

Scientists Find Half The Advice on Dr Oz Is Wrong or Has No Evidence to Back It Up - "the shows give their viewers around 12 different recommendations per episode. But only half of them are supported by research. The other half are either baseless or actually contradict what the best-available science tells us."

'Rogue One' Has The Perfect Heroine — But Where's Our Female Han Solo? - "It’s no secret that Rogue One went through extensive reshoots. /Film’s Peter Sciretta painstakingly combed through the scenes from the trailers and promotional teasers that were left out of the finished film, noting that early reports suggested that screenwriter Tony Gilroy “reworked the Jyn character to make her less arrogant and abrasive and more empathetic”"
This would seem to explain why female feminists are obnoxious - they see it as a feminist move
It's quite apparent the author didn't saw watch the same movie. Quite apart from the scene that was supposedly "cut entirely from the film" (which is virtually all in it), the author missed Jyn's confronting Cassian about his assassination mission, having "continually unexpected" behavior, lying to K-2SO about knowing it wasn't him and leading a rogue mission (literally) - or maybe even all that isn't enough. Plus it seems Han being cast as unlikeable when he was apparently flying off with his reward but redeeming himself when he saved Luke during the Death Star run (which also shows how Luke couldn't have destroyed it without help) doesn't count - because both of them are men

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Toy Sales Tank - "Star Wars toys sales were down for 2017 despite Star Wars: The Last Jedi having been released in the all-important holiday month of December... Star Wars: The Last Jedi featured no new memorable characters, which is right on the money. A lot of fans weren't happy with the new characters in Star Wars: The Last Jedi with reasons cited including the new characters weren't needed or they took time away from the Force Awakens characters. Admiral Holdo, DJ and Rose just aren't likable characters. It probably didn't also help that a majority of the audience didn't like Star Wars: The Last Jedi as well. And now we see how much of a mistake it was including "cutesy" creatures like the Porgs who obviously were written into the script to sell merchandise, but this, too, backfired on director Rian Johnson and Disney."

The Fans Behind the Force: A Look at the Demographics and Interests of Star Wars Fans - "A typical Star Wars fan is likely male, aged 18-44, watches science, history and horror TV shows and works in IT or legal."
Of the The Force Awakens characters, Kylo Ren was a lot more popular than Finn and Rey - combined. Which is telling

10 Theories Why 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' is Underperforming at the Box Office - "Perhaps the most popular theory as to why Solo isn't hauling in money is because The Last Jedi "ruined" the franchise for fans and now, those who feel this way are refusing to see Solo as a way to "punish" Disney. There have been actual calls for fans to straight-up boycott Solo because of their displeasure with The Last Jedi."

'Solo' Will Post First Loss for Disney's 'Star Wars' Empire

Disney’s Star Wars And The Problem No One Will Talk About - "Push an agenda
Demonize anyone who doesn’t support the agenda
Lose fans and money
Blame the fans for your failure
If Social Justice Warriors actually took Economics in college, this would be their four-step business model...
While some will blame “Star Wars Fatigue”, Disney’s other property known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has shown no such fatigue after 10 years of superhero movies... The blame for this lies in one person’s hands. Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy has turned Star Wars into her own personal playground for her feminist agenda at the expense of the fanbase... For six months, the brass at Lucasfilm and many media outlets mocked and demonized people who hated the direction of the franchise calling them “angry sexist bigots” in defense of the film. This is why The Last Jedi has a 91% with critics, but on 46% with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes denies claims that The Last Jedi scores were rigged by bots

An Amazon Echo sent someone's private conversation to one of their contacts

‘Kindly adjust’ to our English - "Indian English is a living, practical language, used by millions every day. Many phrases we take for granted in ordinary conversation are actually quite unusual abroad—calling elders 'auntie' or 'uncle'... 'mugging' (cramming hard for an exam, with much rote learning involved) means two very different things abroad (a criminal assault by a robber, or an elaborate and often comically exaggerated expression). When an Indian student tells a foreigner he was “mugging for an exam”, bewilderment is guaranteed. Some Indian Englishisms are merely translated from an Indian language: “what is your good name?” is the classic, since all Bengalis have a daak naam that they are called by, and a bhalo naam (or good name) for the record"
Did Indian English influence Singlish?

London cyclists too white, male and middle class, says capital's cycling chief in vow to tackle diversity 'problem' - "Too few women and people from ethnic minority groups cycle in London and more must be done to promote diversity among a largely white, male and middle class biking community, the city’s walking and cycling commissioner has said. Grand schemes, such as the Cycle Superhighway network of partially-segregated routes linking the suburbs with the centre, are too often perceived as simply a way of getting “middle-aged men cycling faster around the city”, Will Norman acknowledged. He said he was considering setting diversity targets for London’s cycling population to ensure progress was achieved. Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups account for about 15 per cent of the city’s cycle trips – around two-thirds less than Transport for London estimates it could be."
Alternatively, they could just discourage white middle class men from cycling, since BAMEs are smart enough to use modern technology to get around
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