"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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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Links - 18th September 2018 (1)

The environmental footprint of organic vs. conventional food - The Washington Post - "A report out of Stanford University found no consistent differences in nutritional content between organic and conventionally grown crops... organic methods produce 25 percent less food than conventional farming on the same land area"

Comparative analysis of environmental impacts of agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiency, and food choice - "A meta-analysis of life cycle assessments that includes 742 agricultural systems and over 90 unique foods produced primarily in high-input systems shows that, per unit of food, organic systems require more land, cause more eutrophication, use less energy, but emit similar greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) as conventional systems; that grass-fed beef requires more land and emits similar GHG emissions as grain-feed beef; and that low-input aquaculture and non-trawling fisheries have much lower GHG emissions than trawling fisheries. In addition, our analyses show that increasing agricultural input efficiency (the amount of food produced per input of fertilizer or feed) would have environmental benefits for both crop and livestock systems. Further, for all environmental indicators and nutritional units examined, plant-based foods have the lowest environmental impacts; eggs, dairy, pork, poultry, non-trawling fisheries, and non-recirculating aquaculture have intermediate impacts; and ruminant meat has impacts ~100 times those of plant-based foods"
So ruminants (e.g. cows) have lower environmental impact. Yet they also result in fewer animals being killed. The socially conscious consumer has no optimal choice

Bad news: Eating local, organic won't shrink your carbon footprint - "organic meats tended to have lower carbon footprints, while organic vegetables tended to have higher carbon footprints compared to those that were conventionally produced. Some of Clark's other findings were:
Grass-fed beef generates 19 per cent more emissions per kilogram than grain-fed beef, largely because grass is less nutritionally dense. Cattle need to eat more grass to get the same nutrition as they would from a smaller amount of grain, they grow more slowly, and must be raised for a longer time before slaughter, generating more emissions.
Trawled fish, especially flat fish, such as sole and halibut, generate an average of 2.8 times more emissions than schooling fish caught with mid-water trawling, seine nets and lines such mackerel and cod.
Crops grown in greenhouse have emissions that are, on average, three times higher than crops grown in field. However, those emissions can be reduced by heating and powering greenhouses with renewable energy."

Organic food no healthier than non-organic: study - "Smith-Spangler and her colleagues found there was no difference in the amount of vitamins in plant or animal products produced organically and conventionally - and the only nutrient difference was slightly more phosphorus in the organic products... it was uncommon for either organic or conventional foods to exceed the allowable limits for pesticides, so it’s unclear whether a difference in residues would have an effect on health"
6 Practical Ways Romans Used Human Urine and Feces in Daily Life - "When left out too long, urine decomposes into ammonia, which is a great cleaning product that takes out stains easily. Roman authors like Catullus attest to people using both human and animal urine as a mouth rinse that helped whiten their teeth... The emperor Vespasian levied a tax on urine around 70 CE. Reportedly, when his son Titus expressed disgust at the tax, Vespasian retorted, "pecunia non olet"—"money doesn’t stink." His tax was so famous that his name is still used today as a general term for public urinals (vespasiennes in French and vespasiani in Italian).

This is how Taiwan responded when one of its conscript soldiers died - "The tragic death of NSF Dave Lee has brought attention to the SAF’s training program and sparked a nationwide debate on the safety of our full time national servicemen. An anonymous post made by a soldier from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards has gone viral, alleging misconduct by a handful of NSF commanders and the lack of safety measures in place during an 8km “fast march”... On July 20, 2013, 30,000 protestors gathered outside the defence ministry building, where the Deputy Minister of National Defence accepted a petition letter from protestors. A subsequent protest, held on August 3 by the same group, attracted a record turnout, reaching over 100,000... Taiwan’s Parliament quickly approved major reforms to the military justice system, which included the abolition of court martial during peacetime and transfer of military prisoners to civilian prisons. Military prosecutors said some of Hung’s superiors bypassed standard disciplinary procedure. The military investigation led to the arrest and investigation of several officials, with the case eventually transferred to civilian prosecutors. The court subsequently found 13 military officials guilty of various charges and meted out prison sentences of up to eight months."
I guess the Taiwanese need some National Education

Colonnes Morris. | Paris-1900 - "Les colonnes Morris: éléments typique du mobilier urbain Parisien implantés sur les trottoirs de la ville afin de lutter contre l’affichage sauvage très répandu au début du 19ème siècle. A cette époque, l’affichage publique n’est pas réglementé et l’affichage de toute sorte de publicité à lieu sur des urinoirs dotés d’un panneau d’affichage à l’extérieur mais aussi sur les murs et les arbres. Cela sent mauvais, et il faut donc régler ce problème d’hygiène: les « colonnes urinoirs » sont remplacées en 1868 par les colonnes Morris pour l’affichage et par les vespasiennes pour les lieux d’aisances. Ces colonnes doivent leur nom à l’imprimeur Gabriel Morris qui en a obtenu la concession à des fins publicitaires en 1868. Mais l’invention en revient au Berlinois Ernst Litfass qui les avait introduites à Berlin, dès 1854. A Berlin on les appellent Litfaßsäule, ou « colonne de Litfass ». Ces colonnes de forme cylindrique avaient pour vocation première l’affichage théâtral et cinématographique. Mais les Colonnes Morris servaient aussi d’entrepôt au matériel de nettoyage des rues de la capitale, et dissimulaient parfois même des toilettes publiques."

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires - "the most dramatic negative effect of metric fixation is its propensity to incentivise gaming: that is, encouraging professionals to maximise the metrics in ways that are at odds with the larger purpose of the organisation... Short-termism is another negative. Measured performance encourages what the US sociologist Robert K Merton in 1936 called ‘the imperious immediacy of interests … where the actor’s paramount concern with the foreseen immediate consequences excludes consideration of further or other consequences’. In short, advancing short-term goals at the expense of long-range considerations. This problem is endemic to publicly traded corporations that sacrifice long-term research and development, and the development of their staff, to the perceived imperatives of the quarterly report. To the debit side of the ledger must also be added the transactional costs of metrics: the expenditure of employee time by those tasked with compiling and processing the metrics in the first place – not to mention the time required to actually read them... employees end up working longer and harder at activities that add little to the real productiveness of their organisation, while sapping their enthusiasm"

Michael Rooker Quits Twitter Following Firing of Guardians Director James Gunn - "While James’ brother Sean and Guardians actor Dave Bautista have spoken in support of Gunn, Rooker went further in his stance, and announced he’s leaving Twitter. “This account will be inactive after today,” he wrote on Sunday. “We’re very tired & upset over the ongoing BULLSHIT… neither I nor my rep will use Twitter again. Twitter sucks and I want nothing to do with it.”"

Has anyone used www.easyrentcars.com? - South Korea Forum - TripAdvisor - "I used them for a rental in Orlando. The rental company overbooked and there was no car available. Easyrentcars.com investigated, confirmed the car wasn't supplied, said they would take care of the claim within 20 working days of the end of the rental contract, didn't and replied to my last email asking for proof that there was no car available and said I was a no show and asked for proof that I showed up. How do I prove that? I am asking Visa to retrieve my payment. Don't trust them. They will do anything not to pay you a refund. Book directly with a reputable rental company. I booked with easyrentcars.com originally because they claimed to cover the extra insurance but if they cover it the way they did the non-supply refund, you will be left high and dry. Avoid easyrentcars.com like the plague. In my experience, they are scammers and nothing more."
"The trip was over and the experience with easyrentcars.com was not all satisfactory. The booking confirmation from easyrentcars.com clearly stated that one-way return fee (for returning the car at different location) was included. But when I picked up the car at Avis counter at Incheon Airport, I was told that one-way fee was not included and I was asked to pay additional KRW185000 for it. I emailed earyrentcars.com to request for a refund of that one-way fee and they are still helping me to investigate the matter. I will follow-up on this issue in the next post."
"We booked car hire with Hertz in Canada, via EasyRentCars, as they came up with a very competitive deal that included insurance and taxes... except when we got the to Hertz desk, it didn't. There was a long delay while we phoned EasyRentCars who spoke to Hertz and asked us to pay the higher price, which was over £100 more and said they would refund us when we got home and sent them the receipt from Hertz. It took several phone calls and a total of 15 emails before they did eventually refund us. And a couple of those calls and several of those emails were sent after they claimed they had transferred the money into our account but it was nowhere to be seen, even 10 days after they first said they had done the transfer. Perhaps they should think again about their company name."
"yes... it is cheap, but comes with a hidden price. I booked one for my Taiwan, and it cancelled on me the night before my flight. So book it if you are a gambler."
"Terrible practice of business.
1. Found somewhere cheaper, and actually offered more thing compared to EasyRentCars. Initiate the Lowest Price Guarantee, get rejected because things offered are not the 'same' because of the extra.
2. Cancellations - Got told that due to system update, they lost my payment information, so can't do refund and was requested to give the transaction that took place half year ago. Sent email on same day, no response yet as of 1 week after email sent.
"Easyrentcars is a fraud. I booked a car in Dublin. After 3 weeks they cancelled my booking stating that the Supplier cancelled it. I called the Supplier (Dollar) and they said they simply can't cancel broker's bookings and they didn't or couldn't cancel. Easyrentcars said they will rebook it only if I add more money, but anyway they decided to still charged me the original amount even though they cancelled it! I rent cars constantly and a fraud like that never came across me until this booking."

Venezuela crisis: UN says security forces killed hundreds - "The UN's human rights chief said no-one was being held to account, suggesting the rule of law was "virtually absent". Venezuela has in the past dismissed human rights allegations as "lies"... Venezuela has the world's largest proven oil reserves... These officers may have killed more than 500 people since July 2015 as a way to showcase crime-reduction results, it says. They are alleged to have faked evidence to make it look as though the victims died in exchanges of fire."
Oxfam and Jeremy Corbyn must approve

Female breadwinners: why earning more can poison a marriage - ""My male colleagues don’t ask their stay-at-home wives to work in supermarkets. But, despite my feminist beliefs, I have this prejudice that a man who doesn’t work is somehow a lesser being. I’ve evolved but not enough.” ... When Liza Mundy was researching her book, The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family, she was intrigued to discover that more women than men struggled with role reversal. “I found some men felt threatened by their partners’ high-earning status and retaliated against it, but mainly it was women who were having problems coming to terms with the situation and were surprised that it bothered them so much,” she says. “Women are brought up to expect parity, but they’re dismayed to be out-earning men because of the pressure it entails. They feel they have less flexibility, that they can’t leave that job or go part time and so they are, as one woman put it, ‘getting boxed in’ – which, of course, is what men have encountered throughout history.”"
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