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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Links - 4th August 2018 (2)

How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang - "The academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders. Even if the probability that you might get shot in academia is relatively small (unless you mark student papers very harshly), one can observe similar dynamics. Academia is only one example of this trend, but it affects labour markets virtually everywhere"

Incivility Solution: Avoid Provocation - "Understand that you don’t have to comment on every single news story...
Don’t let the constant news cycle steal your joy"

Why Doesn't Anyone Answer the Phone Anymore? - "Perhaps 80 or even 90 percent of the calls coming into my phone are spam of one kind or another"

The RedState Firings and the Decline of Viewpoint Diversity on the Right - "Like politicians, conservative pundits also feel constant pressure to praise Trump, or at least refrain from criticizing him. The pressures of pleasing a Trump-friendly audience are similar in many ways to the challenge of winning votes from a Trumpian electorate"

How They Hijacked Anthropology - "Perhaps the greatest shift in any academic field in the past 30 or 40 years has been in anthropology. Call it an epistemological paradigm shift away from science. Three main influences led to this shift: One was the morphing of symbolic anthropology into interpretive anthropology under the influence of Clifford Geertz, who distanced himself from science and likened anthropology to literary criticism. The second was a Marxist and feminist commitment to political activism and advocacy. The third was the postmodern rejection of objectivity. The three influences merge, in that the removal of scientific knowledge as a goal opens the way for political activism and advocacy."

Self-driving technology is going to change a lot more than cars - "We can expect the owner-operated segment of the market—for both transporting people and stuff—to shrink over time. Of course, some people will still want to drive themselves around and shop in brick-and-mortar stores. But labor costs account for more than half of the cost of a conventional taxi service. So as the cost of self-driving hardware inevitably falls with scale, we can expect self-driving taxis to cost dramatically less than a conventional taxi costs today. That should increase demand for taxi rides—both from former bus riders, who can now afford a more convenient option, and from some former drivers who are happy to give up the hassles of car ownership. And we should see a similar shift in the transportation of stuff. As on-demand delivery options get more affordable, some people who would previously have driven to the store will let stores send stuff to them instead. Others will shift from two-day shipping on Amazon to 30-minute shipping using an on-demand service... Much of the weight of a conventional vehicle comes from the need to protect passengers in a crash. But if a vehicle is only designed for cargo, it can be much lighter and simpler."

Least stressful cities around the world in 2017 - "Of the 150 cities ranked, four out of the top ten most stress-free cities are in Germany... Residents of Singapore and Taipei are most satisfied with their cities' public transport, while Leipzig, Germany and Montpelier, France have the lowest levels of traffic congestion... while sunny weather is an instant mood-lifter all over the world, high levels of annual sunshine didn't count for much in terms of a city's overall ranking. War-torn Damascus came out top in that category, while Bordeaux -- at No. 56 -- was the sunniest city in the top ten... The race equality category -- based on data from a World Bank ethnic inequality report -- is, perhaps surprisingly, topped by cities in the US. San Francisco, Boston and Seattle take the top three slots."

Menu | JAPAN RAIL CAFE - "BEAUTY SALAD: A well-balanced diet especially suited for the ladies, that contains many anti-aging ingredients such as tofu and avocado. Choice of dressing: onion, sesame, caesar"
A feminist slammed this as: "I'll have one serving of healthy misogyny please", which is telling. Misogyny apparently is defined as marketing to women, keeping in mind what many of them look out for and/or acknowledging gender differences. No wonder feminists like to pretend that men and women are identical (except, of course, when women "are superior", or quotas need to be railroaded through and a case needs to be made for "diversity")

Courts find executed Chinese teenager 'not guilty' - "A court in China has cleared a teenager of the rape and murder of a woman in a public toilet, 18 years after he was executed, state media report. The teenager, Huugjilt, was 18 when a court in Inner Mongolia convicted him... Such rulings are rare in China. The murder happened during an anti-crime drive and detectives admitted being under pressure to secure a conviction... Huugjilt had tried to help save the woman after hearing her cry out from a public toilet. He reported the crime to police. However, in April 1996, he was found guilty of raping and murdering the woman and in June of that year he was executed... Courts in China are controlled by the Communist Party and have a very high rate of conviction. Rights groups allege that confessions are often extracted under torture."
China is the future! The decadent West is doomed!

Parents of wrongly-executed Chinese man say they wanted to live long enough just to clear son's name - "For the parents of Nie Shubin, China's most famous case of a miscarriage of justice, the only thing that has kept them alive for the past 20 years is their relentless drive to clear their son's name. That fight began in 1994, when their son was arrested for rape and murder of a woman whose body was discovered by her father in a corn field on the outskirts of Shijiazhuang city, in the northern province of Hebei. Despite the fact that the time, method and motive for the murder could not be confirmed, and key documents related to witnesses and the defendant's testimony were missing, Nie was convicted of murder and executed by a firing squad on April 27, 1995. He was only 21. His parents were not informed of his execution and did not see him for the last time before he died."

CHINA Woman allegedly "murdered" reappears after "killer" executed - "Shi Xiaorong, declared by police a "murder victim" in a April 1987 case in Mayang county in central Hunan Province, said she was actually swindled and sold to east Shandong Province as somebody's wife in March that year, one month before a dismembered body was found in a Mayang river and claimed by local police the body of "disappeared Shi". Butcher Teng Xingshan was convicted of the murder as the police said the dismemberment technique was "very professional" and executed in 1989 despite pleas of innocence... The case comes just two months after a man who served 11 years in prison for murdering his wife was declared innocent, two weeks after the victim reappeared in their hometown in central Hubei Province. Former security guard She Xianglin claimed he was deprived of sleep during 10 days of interrogation until he signed documents pleading guilty to murder"

Why China Executes So Many People - "The death penalty has deeply-entrenched roots in China, and the notion of sha ren chang ming, the Mandarin equivalent to "an eye for an eye", is rife in Chinese literature and tradition. But a judiciary beholden to the interests of the Communist Party arguably has a bigger impact. "If the case is deemed to be detrimental to social stability, the government might order the courts to issue the death penalty... Six decades of Communist rule have inculcated the idea that an individual life can be sacrificed for the greater good, a belief exemplified by the one-child policy... A survey of respondents in Beijing, Hubei and Guangdong conducted in 2008 by the Max Planck Institute revealed that almost 60 percent supported the death penalty. Unsurprisingly, capital punishment provides great legitimacy to the Communist Party, which claims to be satisfying popular sentiment and public indignation when it executes corrupt officials... China currently has 55 offenses that are punishable by death -- the most in the world. Of these, 31 are non-violent offenses"

France bans use of meat-like terms in packaging for vegetarian food - "Food producers in France will be forced to think of new ways to describe some of their vegetarian and vegan foods when they are banned from using terms such as “vegetarian sausages”, "vegetarian mince" and “vegan bacon”. French MPs have voted to outlaw use of such vocabulary, claiming they mislead shoppers"

Most Europeans want immigration ban from Muslim-majority countries, poll reveals - "An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries... Only 20 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent said they did not know... In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban... A Pew survey of 10 European countries in 2016 found majorities in five countries had an unfavourable view of Muslims living in their country."

Exclusive: Ancient Mass Child Sacrifice in Peru May Be World's Largest - "While incidents of human sacrifice among the Aztec, Maya, and Inca have been recorded in colonial-era Spanish chronicles and documented in modern scientific excavations, the discovery of a large-scale child sacrifice event in the little-known pre-Columbian Chimú civilization is unprecedented in the Americas—if not in the entire world... societies along the northern Peruvian coast may have turned to the sacrifice of children when the sacrifice of adults wasn't enough to fend off the repeated disruptions wrought by El Niño. "People sacrifice that which is of most and greatest value to them"

Ancient Shark Fisherman Burials Found in Peru - "Dozens of "very unique" ancient burials have been discovered on the northern Peruvian coast, many of which appear to contain valuable metal objects, whimsical ceramic pots, and—in some cases—additional human limbs."

IAAF female classification rules slammed as 'blatantly racist' - "The rules have been called sexist, racist, unethical, and based on bad science, although the governing body is sticking to its guns. Under the new regulations, from November 1 some female runners with naturally high testosterone levels will be banned from competing over distances from 400 metres to the mile at international meets. The measures are based on a study it commissioned last year which concluded that "female athletes with high free testosterone (fT) levels have a significant competitive advantage over those with low fT in 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, hammer throw, and pole vault"... research shows the number of intersex women in elite athletics is 140 times more than the general female population... "What it's actually saying is that if you're an intersex woman you should take treatment and shut up, or you're excluded. It's creating a situation where you either conform to medical norms about what it is to be a woman or you're out""
If testosterone levels aren't taken into account, maybe male athletes should all just identify as women and grab the top prizes in women's events

Why Orthodox Christian Nations Remain Stuck - "Eastern Orthodox Christianity has done more to shape certain ex-Communist countries than communism. It also, some say, made their people relatively unhappy and anti-capitalist...
'Western Christianity (which gave rise to Catholicism and Protestantism) placed emphasis on rationalism, logical exploration, individualism, and the questioning of established authorities. Eastern Christianity (from which Eastern Orthodoxy originated) was associated with mystical and experiential phenomena, was more affectionate and communitarian, and put less emphasis on law, reason and questioning authorities.'...
This explained the relative success of countries like Poland and the Czech Republic in their post-Communist transitions... Orthodox Christians are less satisfied with their life and have less social capital than Catholics or Protestants — and about as much as non-religious people. They are also less likely to support new ideas, take risks or want to work in large private companies. They are more supportive of government responsibility and government ownership. In short, they are less suited to capitalism."
Luckily this research applies to white Christians, or it would be slammed by everyone

Are you really Facebook’s product? The history of a dangerous idea. - "Network TV in the early 1970s had much in common with Facebook today. It was the everyperson’s refuge, a groundbreaking technology that had morphed into a mindless escape for the masses. It was also a primary source of news, which wedged awkwardly in between the soap operas, comedies, and crime shows. As such, it was widely accused of distorting, oversimplifying, and sensationalizing the vital information of democracy in a crass bid for ratings (read: advertising dollars). Finally, it was a medium that concentrated enormous cultural power in a few corporations—ABC, CBS, and NBC... “If you aren’t paying for it with money, you’re paying for it in other ways.” Whether it’s your time, your privacy, or your intellectual property, you’re giving over to Facebook something of value every time you use it"

Change Your Screen to Grayscale to Combat Phone Addiction

SPLC: From Klan Hunters to Multimillion-Dollar Smear Machine - "the SPLC included a piece about the best-selling author in its daily Hatewatch Headlines, a compilation of media reports on bigots, thugs, and other assorted creeps. Why was the neuroscientist and prominent atheist thrown in together with Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin bomber who had murdered two black men, and Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij? Because Harris defended Charles Murray, a political scientist best-known for arguing that genetic differences may account for varying levels of intelligence between races. The assertion drove many in academia and journalism to label Murray a racist; he was famously shouted out of an appearance at Middlebury College last March, and was labeled a “White Nationalist” and an “extremist” by the SPLC. But when the prominent Harvard geneticist David Reich echoed Murray’s ideas in a New York Times op-ed last month—arguing that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’”—Harris took several of Murray’s critics to task on Twitter, including Vox’s Ezra Klein. Klein responded in his typically obfuscating fashion, doing little to discuss the ideas at hand and a lot to strangle them with potent ideological terms... Examples of this sort of lunacy abound. The SPLC, for example, still maintains a watch list of groups and individuals promoting “male supremacy,” an ideology that “misrepresents all women as genetically inferior, manipulative and stupid.” Among its preachers, according to the SPLC, is Christina Hoff Sommers, an American philosopher and writer who has criticized the radical feminist position that saw all women as perpetual victims and called instead for an “equity feminism,” a classical liberal position that focuses on equal treatment of men and women rather than on identity politics... When a venerated organization whose mission statement still speaks of “seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society” spends so many of its considerable resources besmirching utterly legitimate activists and advocates—many of whom, like Nawaaz, working to reform oppressive and violent structures—we would do well to stop and recognize the pernicious patterns at play here. The SPLC applies the powerful language of civil rights to mark those with whom it disagrees as bigots or racists or white supremacists, inviting likeminded journalists to use the organization’s sterling reputation as an unimpeachably credentialed reason to push political opponents outside the bounds of acceptable debate... The SPLC has half a billion dollars and seemingly endless appetite for such character assassination campaigns, which should trouble anyone committed to unfettered inquiry, intellectual exchange, and the other old-fashioned values for which journalism, academia, and other high-minded pursuits once stood."

Why Dictators Love Development Statistics - "The problem with using statistics to sing the praises of autocracy is that collecting verifiable data inside closed societies is nearly impossible. From Ethiopia to Kazakhstan, the data that “proves” that an authoritarian regime is doing good is often produced by that very same regime... Chavismo heir Nicolás Maduro justified his crackdown on dissent—torturing and kidnapping student protesters—in a New York Times op-ed citing data showing that his regime “consistently reduced inequality,” “reduced poverty enormously,” and “improved citizens’ lives over all.”... In 1987, two Soviet economists published an article called Lukavaya Tsifra (“cunning numbers”) which demonstrated that between 1928 and 1985, the USSR’s GDP had grown over ten times slower than reported by the regime’s Central Statistical Administration. They showed that the regime’s “official” economic data was being falsified to whitewash human suffering. In 2014, researchers at Bucknell compared satellite images of nighttime lights over time (a proxy for economic activity) to reported GDP growth to show that dictatorships, on average, exaggerate economic growth significantly more than democratic governments... Often, the reason data from dictators remains unchallenged is that so many economists, financiers, diplomats, and donors rely on it to do their jobs"

These NASA Scientists Think Pluto IS a Planet, And Here's Why - "it defines a planet as an object orbiting around our sun - thereby disqualifying the planets around other stars, ignoring the exoplanet revolution, and decreeing that essentially all the planets in the universe are not, in fact, planets."

Texas Man Sentenced To 50 Years In Prison For Stealing Over $1 Million Worth Of Fajitas - "A Texas man will spend the next 50 years in prison for stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years... Fifty-three-year-old Gilberto Escamilla... had been intercepting fajitas that he ordered through the Cameron County juvenile center where he worked and delivering them to his own customers. His scam was uncovered when he missed work for a medical appointment and an 800-pound fajita delivery arrived at the center, which doesn’t serve fajitas."
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