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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Links - 12th September 2018 (2)

What Is Your Opposite Job? - The New York Times - "The Labor Department keeps detailed and at times delightfully odd records on the skills and tasks required for each job. Some of them are physical: trunk strength, speed of limb movement, the ability to stay upright. Others are more knowledge-based: economics and accounting, physics, programming. Together, they capture the essence of what makes a job distinctive. We’ve used these records to determine what each job’s polar opposite would be... Breaking a job into its component parts helps us look beyond the obvious and think clearly about the things that people actually do... The most distinctive jobs in the American work force are model and physicist, at least according to the data; they’re the two opposite jobs that appear most frequently on our list... the good news, as a recent Upshot article showed, is just how much overlap in skills there can be between seemingly dissimilar jobs. A new start may not be as daunting as you might think."

Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain - The New York Times

The great firewall of China: Xi Jinping’s internet shutdown - "One 2016 Harvard study estimated that the Chinese government fabricates and posts approximately 448m comments on social media annually. A considerable amount of censorship is conducted through the manual deletion of posts, and an estimated 100,000 people are employed by both the government and private companies to do just this... An internet that does not work efficiently or limits access to information impedes economic growth. China’s internet is notoriously unreliable, and ranks 91st in the world for speed. As New Yorker writer Evan Osnos asked in discussing the transformation of the Chinese internet during Xi’s tenure: “How many countries in 2015 have an internet connection to the world that is worse than it was a year ago?” Scientific innovation, particularly prized by the Chinese leadership, may also be at risk. After the VPN crackdown, a Chinese biologist published an essay that became popular on social media, entitled Why Do Scientists Need Google? He wrote: “If a country wants to make this many scientists take out time from the short duration of their professional lives to research technology for climbing over the Great Firewall and to install and to continually upgrade every kind of software for routers, computers, tablets and mobile devices, no matter that this behaviour wastes a great amount of time; it is all completely ridiculous.”... Those responsible for seeking to control content have also been widely mocked. When Fang opened an account on Sina Weibo in December 2010, he quickly closed the account after thousands of online users left “expletive-laden messages” accusing him of being a government hack. Censors at Sina Weibo blocked “Fang Binxing” as a search term; one Twitter user wrote: “Kind of poetic, really, the blocker, blocked.” When Fang delivered a speech at Wuhan University in central China in 2011, a few students pelted him with eggs and a pair of shoes."

Montreal Moving Day: what happens when a whole city moves house at once? | Cities | The Guardian - "Moving Day has its roots in the province’s colonial past. In 17th- and 18th-century Quebec, there was a fixed date – 1 May – for many legal agreements. It took until the 1970s for the Quebec government to abolish this law for housing leases, and then it moved all existing leases to 1 July because too many kids were being pulled out of school to help their parents move. Since 1973, then, Moving Day has not been law, but rather tradition – a problematic idea that refuses to peter out... making Quebec’s Moving Day happen on Canada Day is nothing short of the francophone province – which has held referendums on separating from the rest of Canada not once, but twice – “punching [English] Canada in the eye”."

Overwhelmed? 10 ways to feel less busy - "A uniquely tricksy cause of busyness is the opposite of procrastination – not leaving them too late, but doing them too early, just to have them done with, even though waiting might have meant less effort overall. That’s how you end up wasting a whole day on trivialities, in search of that satisfying sensation of having cleared the decks – when all the while, more important stuff is mounting up. The secret truth, especially applicable to email, is that neglecting something for a few days often makes it go away entirely: people find alternative solutions to their problems... Time debt, as the computer programmer Patrick McKenzie describes it, is what accrues whenever you do work that feels productive, but that in reality has the effect of generating more work, later on. This is why clearing your inbox is often a false victory: eliminating all those emails means replying to lots of them, thereby generating replies to your replies, and thus more email in the long run"

Top 10 Paris restaurants for €10 a head - "At one time, says Romain, you’d look to a brasserie for good basic food; now, brasseries just do rubbishy croque-monsieurs and frozen stuff. But as their quality declined, other places, from bistronomie joints to veggie cafes and ethnic restaurants, filled the gap."

Who are the new jihadis? | Olivier Roy - "The first motivation he cited is atrocities committed by western countries against the “Muslim people” (in the transcript he says, “my people all over the world”); the second is the role of avenging hero (“I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters,” “Now you too will taste the reality of this situation”); the third is death (“We love death as much as you love life”), and his reception in heaven (“May Allah ... raise me amongst those whom I love like the prophets, the messengers, the martyrs”). The Muslim community such terrorists are eager to avenge is almost never specified. It is a non-historical and non-spatial reality. When they rail against western policy in the Middle East, jihadis use the term “crusaders”; they do not refer to the French colonisation of Algeria. Radicals never refer explicitly to the colonial period. They reject or disregard all political and religious movements that have come before them. They do not align themselves with the struggles of their fathers; almost none of them go back to their parents’ countries of origin to wage jihad. It is noteworthy that none of the jihadis, whether born Muslim or converted, has to my knowledge campaigned as part of a pro-Palestinian movement or belonged to any sort of association to combat Islamophobia, or even an Islamic NGO"

Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad | Sophie Elmhirst - "If the last decade witnessed water’s great commercial expansion, 2016 could perhaps be defined as the year the market lost its mind. There now seems to be no limit on what a water can be, or what consumers are willing to buy. It is no longer enough for water to simply be water: it must have special powers. This summer alone saw the launch of Flõ Essence Water, Omega Enhanced Health Water, BiPro Protein Water and Svalbarði polar iceberg water. Other recent additions include blk. water (black water), FATwater (water containing “quality fat”) and deep ocean water harvested from off the coast of Hawaii (which allegedly hydrates you twice as fast as “normal” water). In July, the Evening Standard ran an article that only semi-ironically described water as a “superdrink”... Melted iceberg essentially has no taste, having the lowest TDS (9mg/L) of any water on earth. It is like the ur-water, the water that pre-dates all other waters. “This is your starting point,” said Leonard, gravely. “Your baseline.”"

How to make perfect scrambled eggs - "Great scrambled eggs require a generous hand with the fat, and single-minded devotion to stirring and watching – leave them alone for a second, and they'll overcook. Get someone else to make the toast."

The five principles behind the world’s most efficient health systems - "1. Integrated care
2. Hospitals as health systems
3. Standardise and simplify
4. Take social care seriously
5. Payer power
A look at the nations that consistently top “most efficient health systems” rankings shows that many share a common trait. Hong Kong, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Spain and New Zealand all have a single or dominant payer at the centre. This model puts a vital brake on costs that explains much of the slower rates of spending growth in these countries compared with those with disparate payers such as the US, Germany or the Netherlands."

Álvaro Múnera: This photo is not what it seems... - "The above photo has been doing the rounds on the internet with claims it is Álvaro Múnera Builes, a Colombian animal rights activist who worked briefly as a bullfighter in his youth under the name ‘El Pilarico’ in Colombia and then Spain... Sitting on the ‘strip’ around the ring after the sword has been placed in the bull is a known desplante, or act of defiance, within the part-scripted, part-improvised spectacle that is the corrida de toros. Whatever the corrida is, it is certainly not a fight. The English word bull-fight derives from the English pastime of baiting bulls with dogs, hence their national symbol is the bulldog and Spain’s is the bull. The concept of fairness or sport no more enters into the corrida than it does the slaughterhouse. Which is why the man in this photo is still working as a matador across Spain."

Reuters Poll: Black Male Approval For Trump Doubles In One Week - "The results are interesting given the recent transformation of Kanye West, who posted a picture of himself wearing a Make America Great Again hat"

How should white people talk about Kanye West? - "you aren’t black, and West is. What if you say the wrong thing? What if you jump into a black Twitter thread and you think you are dancing on beat but then you open your eyes and stop snapping and realize that everybody is staring at you confused and disappointed? What if you really say the wrong thing and get called a racist? If you find yourself feeling like you should say something about West, but you aren’t sure how to do so responsibly, here are some helpful tips on how to stay in your lane."
In another era, saying that you couldn't say something because of your race would've been considered... racist

Kanye West and the Future of Black Conservatism - "the Left’s strategy of sweeping black conservatism under the rug, and of pretending that blacks unanimously converge on Left-wing opinions, can’t continue forever, not least because it’s out of touch with reality. When black people are asked what they think about myriad race-related issues, their answers often deviate from liberal orthodoxy. For example, if a white person were to say, “I don’t think racism holds poorly-educated blacks back,” it would mark them on the Left as woefully ignorant of systemic injustice, if not downright racist. But a 2016 Pew poll found that 60 percent of blacks without college degrees say their race hasn’t affected their chances of success. If a white person were to say that “Rap music is a bad influence on society,” it might mark them as subconsciously prejudiced in the minds of many on the Left. But according to a 2008 Pew poll, 71 percent of black people agreed with this statement. Moreover, most black people don’t care about microaggressions... 57 percent of blacks agreed that race/ethnicity “should not be a factor at all” in the college admissions process... The Left may be able to ignore public opinion polls, but it cannot easily ignore Kanye West. In the past, the Left has successfully ignored black celebrities when they’ve challenged prevailing orthodoxies. Witness, for example, Lil Wayne’s refusal to support Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest; or watch Denzel Washington blame the high black incarceration rate on fatherless homes rather than on ‘the system’; or listen to Morgan Freeman argue that racism is no longer a problem... fully 45 percent of black Americans identify as conservative, compared to 47 percent who identify as liberal. Additionally, blacks tend to be, on average, more religious than whites... the belief that the Democratic party has a better civil rights record than the party of Abraham Lincoln is dubious at best"

Lonely elderly Singaporean sits at HDB void deck for years so that someone might see him if he suffers another stroke

Saying "This May Hurt" May Make It Worse - "Warning a child that something, like a vaccine shot, will hurt can actually increase their perception of the pain."

Why Are Some Countries Good at Soccer? - "the best predictor of a country's success in the World Cup is the number of games the national team had played... while foreign teams prioritize development by giving star players extra attention and allowing them to play with older and better players, the American focus on winning and the team keeps youth soccer in America from shaping future stars of the national team. (Something parents and young players may appreciate, but that won't make America a soccer powerhouse.)"

Computers Go Head-to-Head with Humans on Face Recognition - "The best facial-recognition algorithms are now as good as the best forensic examiners are. But the best results come by combining human and computer skills"

Olympic champion Joseph Schooling tells Ben Davis to 'follow his dreams' - "Schooli ng, 23, is one of three athletes to have been granted long-term deferment from NS in the last 15 years. In a statement last Saturday announcing its decision to reject Benjamin's application, MINDEF said that deferments are granted only to those who represent Singapore in international competitions like the Olympic Games and are potential medal winners for Singapore. Apart from Schooling, swimmer Quah Zheng Wen and Asian Games gold medallist sailor Maximillian Soh are the other two who have been granted deferments in that period."
Maybe Schooling's deferment is going to be revoked

Facebook Censors Pro-Trump Page as Company Denies Censorship Before Congress - "“God Emperor Trump,” a popular pro-Trump Facebook page, has been removed from Facebook for the sixth time on the same day that the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe denied to Congress that it routinely censoring conservatives... “Freedom of expression is one of our core values, and we believe that the Facebook community is richer and stronger when a broad range of viewpoints is represented,” claimed Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management. “We are committed to encouraging dialogue and the free flow of ideas by designing our products to give people a voice and by implementing standards to ensure fair and transparent processes for removing content that doesn’t belong on Facebook.”... Dozens of popular Facebook pages have been removed in the past, including comedy pages, anti-feminist pages, men’s rights pages, anti-Hillary Clinton pages, and the page of conservative commentator Pamela Geller."
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