"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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Monday, September 17, 2018

Links - 17th September 2018 (3)

An English seaman became the first Western samurai by impressing a Japanese warlord with his knowledge, centuries later inspiring novel "Shogun" - "William Adams... made it his mission to establish trade between England, the Netherlands, and Japan. He never returned to his home country, and died in Japan in 1620, at the age of 55. In his will, he left half of his holdings to his wife in Japan, the other half to his wife and children in England."

China’s Die-Hard Star Wars Fans Respond to ‘Last Jedi’ Flop - "For China’s small but enthusiastic subculture of Star Wars fans, the latest film was a visual feast hampered by a protracted plot and uninspired characters. On popular review website Douban, the new film is rated a fairly weak 7.3, based on over 43,000 reviews. The most upvoted review complains that “the whole film really insults the IQ of its audience,” and demands to know how the universe could possibly be ruled by such an incompetent Galactic Empire. “In Star Wars, it seems only Darth Vader had a brain — it’s such a shame he’s already dead,” the reviewer concludes... factors, according to Chen, include Chinese audiences’ preference for physically attractive protagonists and stories rooted in reality. He points out that, for example, superhero films from Marvel — a Disney cash cow that has enjoyed great success in China — feature recognizable settings, such as New York and even China, and are filled with larger-than-life leads who meet the public’s aesthetic standards. The Star Wars characters, meanwhile, look ordinary by comparison. “These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films,” said Chen. “We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.”... Like the heroic Rebel Alliance, China’s Star Wars fans are a small but feisty bunch, said Chen — mostly university-educated urbanites with some English ability, in his observation... Echoing the sentiments of many fellow fans, Wang and Chen both described the new film as visually appealing but riddled with issues such as atypical behavior from established characters. Luke Skywalker was particularly disappointing to Wang, who felt that the character’s brooding behavior didn’t jibe with the resilience and fearless optimism of the young Luke he had come to know from the original trilogy."
What's interesting is that the Chinese Star Wars fans are basically shitlords - even though they are the more liberal sort

Chinese poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens minimises role of black actor - "There is no obvious reason for the demotion, especially as the space previously occupied by Finn is now inhabited by additional battling Tie fighters, iconic emblems of the dark side of the force in Star Wars lore but hardly essential inclusions. Also relegated in China are Oscar Isaac’s X-wing pilot Poe Dameron and Peter Mayhew’s Wookiee smuggler Chewbacca, who disappear altogether."
How come no one is complaining that Poe and Chewbacca got totally removed?

How ‘Little Fresh Meats’ Are Winning China Over - "there are in general two types of little fresh meats. One is an alluring, passive sexual object, while the other is an innocent, naive boy. Both are beautiful, and more importantly, both of are markedly different from common male stereotypes in the Chinese popular culture in times past."

"Liberals Have Compromised on Their Own Values": An Interview with Ali A. Rizvi - "Minority communities often have very conservative social values, so by defending and guarding them, you end up, inadvertently, defending and guarding the actual beliefs themselves. Many liberals are unable to make that distinction, between defending someone’s right to believe what they want, and defending the beliefs themselves; between defending the right to wear the hijab, and celebrating or endorsing the hijab itself. Often these things get conflated... The underlying narrative is that the only good Muslim is a conservative Muslim. This is bizarre. If an ex-Catholic has been persecuted by her religion, and she comes out and says that religion is bullshit, she’s hailed as a hero. Leah Remini, who escaped from Scientology, has her own TV show, and a best-selling book. But if there’s a Muslim who comes up and says that she believes in free speech, in gender equality and in secularism, suddenly there’s mass confusion. Look, Europeans challenged their own religion during the Enlightenment, and we’re all benefiting from their efforts today. But when non-Europeans want to do the same, it’s ‘Islamophobia’? That is the real bigotry...
A 2012 Gallup poll showed that, in Saudi Arabia, 19 percent of people don’t have a religious affiliation, and 5 percent are flat-out atheists. That’s pretty stunning...
Whether you like it or not, the fanatics are consistent and have more credibility. I’ve argued with these fundamentalists on our podcast (Secular Jihadists), and they do have scriptural and philosophical back-up for what they’re saying. They really try to explain and justify some of the horrible ideas they have. And even though I disagree with them much more than I disagree with the moderates, I respect their intellectual consistency. At least you can have a dialogue, which is more than you can say about the wishy-washy apologists who keep saying that you take things out of context. And then when you ask, “So, what’s the real context?” their answer is “Well, I’m not a scholar.” That’s not a way to argue...
Many moderates haven’t even read the Quran, and they’re very surprised to find all these disturbing things in there"

Unfabling the East—A Review - "Edward Said’s acolytes have become the new intellectual imperialists... “the Enlightenment’s discovery of Asia entailed a more open-minded, less patronizing approach to foreign cultures than suggested by those who see it as a mere incubation period of Orientalism.” Osterhammel’s book is an oblique criticism of the Orientalism approach to intellectual history"

The New Dean of Students Must Restore Our Trust Deficit - The Octant - "In the past two years alone, we have witnessed growing student anxiety and despair over various issues fundamental to student life and welfare. In Oct. 2016, The Octant ran an exposé over the college’s Counselling Centre (previously known as Wellness Centre). The article highlighted an understaffed counselling team facing high turnover and internal politicking, straining the already-tight mental health resources in an increasingly stressed-out college. Student concerns culminated in a tense town hall during the same month, where former President of Yale-NUS Pericles Lewis faced multiple questions over the topic."
Looks like Yale-NUS is Truly Yale

A Century of Cinemas, Movies and Blockbusters | Remember Singapore

Doing well in school is nothing to be proud of - "while genetics do not definitively determine how someone will fare in school, they create certain predispositions. In total, all the genetic variants account for 11% of variation in educational attainment across the population. This is pretty significant. In comparison, The Atlantic notes, research shows that household income explains 7% of variation in educational achievement... knowledge about how genetics influences years in schooling can help correct inequalities. For example, if we know someone is genetically predisposed to have less success in school, we can change teaching methods or provide extra tutoring to combat that disadvantage... We are so invested in the idea that academic achievement is a de facto good that we fail to consider whether intelligence should be rewarded in the first place... The notion that rewards should go to the most intelligent isn’t a sign of a fair society, but a truly unjust one"
We could deprioritise intelligence and have society collapse. Then everyone would be equal - equally miserable

Behavioral genetics, one of the fastest growing fields in science, still makes a lot of people very uncomfortable - "many who care deeply about the effects of privilege seem to flinch at the research. I’ve spoken to people with no knowledge of the scientific literature but a strong political perspective who insist that such studies about the role of genes simply cannot be true"

After #MeToo, South Koreans are demanding better sex education - "“This society has a lot of injustices when it comes to gender equality,” said Go Young-ju, a 44-year-old English teacher in Iksan, in the southwest of the country. He has been incorporating more feminist material into his classes, such as asking his students to translate Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngochi Adizie’s We Should All Be Feminists from English into Korean. “We all need to find the courage to… take action. My teaching is just the beginning.”"
I'm sure this will reassure their parents that their kids are not being indoctrinated at school

Decline in plastic bags on seabed suggests measures to tackle waste are working - "Despite the reduction in carrier bags, the overall amount of deep-sea litter remained roughly constant due to an increase in the number of other plastic items, including bottles and fishing debris"

Here's How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse - ""Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed," reads the study. "The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.""

Why the British Are Better at Satire - "As the English comedian and actor Stephen Fry has noted, failure is a wellspring of British comedy, but its American counterpart rewards “optimism [and] a refusal to see oneself in a bad light.” Ricky Gervais, a co-creator of the original, British version of The Office—also considerably bleaker than its American progeny—put it more bluntly in a piece for Time. “Brits are more comfortable with life’s losers,” he explained, an attitude that enables a form of all-encompassing mockery. In America, such humor runs up against the national inclination to “applaud ambition and openly reward success.” One might think that in political times as jaundiced and polarized as ours, we would be ready to swap the old fable of embattled do-gooders for a diagnosis of structural dysfunction and the bracing personal ridicule that goes with it. But even in a country proud of its antiauthoritarian heritage, there isn’t much precedent for that kind of skewering. For all the partisan furor on daily display, American politicians still enjoy a degree of deference from their colleagues, the press, and (occasionally) the public that their counterparts across the pond couldn’t dream of. In Britain, jeering at—and among—politicians is a national pastime. Remember when South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” during a 2009 congressional address by President Obama? “It was a national incident,” Libby Watson wrote on The Atlantic’s Web site last year, “but raucous shouting at the prime minister during Prime Minister’s Questions has been a weekly institution since the 19th century.” It’s a combative temperament that our political satirists can’t help but envy. No less an authority in this sphere than Jon Stewart introduced a 2011 segment on David Cameron’s brutal give-and-take during a debate in the House of Commons by declaring, “England is awesome!”"

The Tragedy of the American Military - "more often and more skillfully than the public usually appreciates, today’s military has managed to distance itself from the lengthening string of modern military failures—even when wrong... the main effort of military leaders through the past decade, under the Republican leadership of the Bush administration and the Democratic leadership of Obama, has been to get rid of the A-10 so as to free up money for a more expensive, less reliable, technically failing airplane that has little going for it except insider dealing, and the fact that the general public doesn’t care... the all-in costs of this airplane are now estimated to be as much as $1.5 trillion, or a low-end estimate of the entire Iraq War. The condensed version of this plane’s tragedy is that a project meant to correct some of the Pentagon’s deepest problems in designing and paying for weapons has in fact worsened and come to exemplify them. An aircraft that was intended to be inexpensive, adaptable, and reliable has become the most expensive in history, and among the hardest to keep out of the shop... a plane designed to do many contradictory things—to be strong enough to survive Navy aircraft-carrier landings, yet light and maneuverable enough to excel as an Air Force dogfighter, and meanwhile able to take off and land straight up and down, like a helicopter, to reach marines in tight combat circumstances—has unsurprisingly done none of them as well as promised"

Minimum Wage: How High Is Too High? - "Minimum wage increases that are either too high or too abrupt can have adverse economic consequences. As cities continue to take the lead on the minimum wage, they should use empirical data to determine a locally-appropriate threshold. According to leading labor economists, like Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an ideal minimum wage can be set for particular regions rationally and empirically by pegging the local minimum to roughly 50 percent of the local median wage... a $15 an hour minimum wage may be too high for most metros... most of the country, especially city dwellers, live in places where the minimum wage is too low"

Lalo Dagach - America’s most famous Muslim Olympian only became a... - "America’s most famous Muslim Olympian only became a fencer because her parents thought the suit was “modest” and she could wear hijab.
Why aren’t these details considered disturbing?"
On Ibtihaj Muhammad

“Haka” video taken down after severe criticism of cultural misappropriation - "This cyberstorm has even crossed the seas over to New Zealand. An article by Stuff.co.nz noted that Keppel Corporation has no link with New Zealand at all. This makes their choice to use the Haka seem even baffling."
Good luck getting ruggers to stop using the Haka too

Tom Gara on Twitter: "You can shoot up heroin in public, toss the needle into the street and then take a shit on it, but God help you if you try to drink iced coffee with a straw afterward…
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