"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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Friday, September 21, 2018

Links - 21st September 2018 (1)

Forget About Income Inequality - "if Grusky wants to measure market-generated income inequality, household income is not the proper metric; individual income is. That’s because market rewards—paychecks, capital gains, and dividends—go to individuals, not households. Gini coefficients, which measure inequality, decreased slightly for individuals between 1994 and 2010, while showing a modest uptick for households, meaning that individuals became more equal and households less so... Many progressives paraded the October Congressional Budget Office finding that between 1979 and 2007 after-tax income of the top 1 percent of households grew 275 percent. They failed to mention that the same study also found a 65 percent income gain in households in the top quintile; for those in the 21st through 80th range, 40 percent; and the bottom quintile, 18 percent. In short, no group lost ground... As economist Tyler Cowen has described, the difference between the basic goods available to average Americans and mega-rich folks such as Bill Gates has steadily decreased. Gates might have personal jets and private gardens. But thanks to technology-driven productivity increases and lowered trade barriers, almost every American can afford bypass surgeries, laptops with Internet access, cars, TVs, and occasional air travel. What’s more, America remains a highly income-mobile society where poverty is a stage of life, not a way of life. There is no permanent underclass here. A study by Thomas Garrett of the St. Louis Federal Reserve recently found that between 1996 and 2005—nine short years—roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom income quintile moved up to a higher one."

The places that ‘don’t exist’ - "He frequents conflict zones, lonely ice roads in Siberia and unrecognized breakaway republics, places that he says, “don’t exist”. His passion is bringing together like-minded travellers at his “Extreme Travel Congresses” in places like Chechnya and Somalia. For him, life is “just perfect” when he’s in an obscure place."

How do you survive in the coldest place on Earth? - "In Siberia, the winter temperature can drop to -60C, making it one of the coldest places to live in the world. In the first of our series on extremes, Adam Mynott finds out how the people of Oymyakon district cope with everyday life under such extraordinary conditions."

Blacks in Power Don't Empower Blacks - "Since 1965, the number of black elected officials has exploded. Between 1970 and 2012, it grew from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000.” One would expect that such political gains would lead to economic prosperity for African Americans, but not so says Riley. Actually, as black political influence has grown, African Americans have actually lost ground economically. This is what happens when our leaders assume identity politics provides the pathway to progress... “A strong case can be made that to the extent that a social program, however well-meaning, interferes with a group’s self-development, it does more harm than good. Government policies that discourage marriage and undermine the work ethic—open-ended welfare benefits, for example—help keep poor people poor.”"
This also suggests that some of the key arguments for quotas are wrong

Terry Gilliam on diversity: 'I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian' - "“It made me cry: the idea that ... no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented... this is bullshit. I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian... My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.” He added: “[Allen’s] statement made me so angry, all of us so angry. Comedy is not assembled, it’s not like putting together a boy band where you put together one of this, one of that everyone is represented.” Gilliam follows fellow Python member John Cleese’s angry response to Allen’s comment, who tweeted: “Unfair! We were remarkably diverse FOR OUR TIME ... We had three grammar-school boys, one a poof, and Gilliam, though not actually black, was a Yank. And NO slave-owners.” Gilliam has previously attracted controversy for his comments on the MeToo campaign, likening it to “mob rule” and saying: “ It’s crazy how simplified things are becoming.”"
Many "comedians" nowadays are just SJWs so they would disagree. But it remains to be seen if they'll stand the test of time like Monty Python

Does religion shape people’s sense of humour? A comparative study of humour appreciation among members of different religions and nonbelievers - "Hindus demonstrate overall the highest humour appreciation among all the groups, while Christians were the least amused by the jokes presented on the survey. Muslims had overall robust humour responses, despite reporting the highest incidence of being offended. Atheists were the least likely to be offended, and they generally enjoyed irreverent jokes. All groups agreed that if a joke was seen as offensive, its funniness was reduced."

'Nature' Says We Need More Diverse Scientists To Improve Science. They Present No Scientific Evidence To Back It Up. - "How much of that disparity is due to discrimination, how much of it is due to social background, and how much of it is due to choice? Why, that’s just the sort of question you might expect Nature to ask, given that it is a journal of science! But nope. No such question is asked. Instead, we are to assume that it is merely sociological barriers that create disparities"

Our Idea of Healthy Eating Excludes Other Cultures, and That's a Problem - "There’s more than one (Eurocentric) way to eat a healthy diet."
The traditional Indian diet is one reason for India's diabetes epidemic
Traditional white people food is also unhealthy. They've just made healthy variants
White people food is neutral - just like one of the reasons English is Singapore's working language rather than Mandarin, Malay or Tamil

Brain scans suggest women sustain more damage heading soccer balls than men - "regions of damaged brain tissue were five times bigger in female soccer players than in male players"

Roofer fined £300 for carrying sandwich wrappers and crisp packets in his van - "Waltham Forest Council workers told Mr Gosling he was breaking the law for carrying the rubbish without permission when they carried out spot checks in east London... They searched his vehicle before asking him if he had a waste carriers' licence, which are required by any business that transports commercial refuse... "The waste in this case was being transported in commercial refuse bag in the trader's vehicle. "Regardless of what the items are, if waste is being stored in a commercial refuse bag in a trader's van it is necessary that they have a valid waste carriers' license.""

Canadian sex worker turned to fake marriage to pursue cosplay dreams - "Wong subsequently offered 1 million yen to Sasaki to engage in a fake marriage so that she could obtain residency. An initial payment of 700,000 yen was to be followed by monthly installments of 30,000 yen each. In February, an investigation was launched after the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau received an anonymous tip. The results of the investigation revealed that Wong, who is currently employed in the fuzoku (commercial sex) trade, is not living a life of matrimony with Sasaki."

How men pay more than DOUBLE the price for some toiletries than women
So much for the "pink tax". It's almost as if companies make product and pricing decisions based on market characteristics

How to Make Friends, According to Science - "The average American trusts only 10 to 20 people. Moreover, that number may be shrinking: From 1985 to 2004, the average number of confidants that people reported having decreased from three to two. This is both sad and consequential, because people who have strong social relationships tend to live longer than those who don’t... don’t dismiss the humble acquaintance. Even interacting with people with whom one has weak social ties has a meaningful influence on well-being. Beyond that, building deeper friendships may be largely a matter of putting in time. A recent study out of the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend. If that sounds like too much effort, reviving dormant social ties can be especially rewarding. Reconnected friends can quickly recapture much of the trust they previously built, while offering each other a dash of novelty drawn from whatever they’ve been up to in the meantime. And if all else fails, you could start randomly confiding in people you don’t know that well in hopes of letting the tail wag the relational dog. Self-disclosure makes us more likable, and as a bonus, we are more inclined to like those to whom we have bared our soul"

'Crazy Rich Asians': How the Asian Rom-Com Happened Without Netflix - "Kwan fielded pitches that included turning his heroine into a
white woman; "It's a pity you don't have a white character," he was told by one producer... there was a bit of backlash in some corners of the internet (the Malaysian-English actor is biracial, while Nick is Chinese-Singaporean).“What is the level of Asian-ness you need to be to be profiled as Asian?”
Isn't it more diverse to have one non-Asian main character than none? What about the whole spiel about desexualised Asian men?

Study Finds Adopted Children Do Worse In School, Despite Having Better Parents - "Being adopted can be one of the best things to happen to a kid. People who adopt tend to be wealthier than other parents, both because of self-selection and because of the adoption screening process. Adoptive parents tend to be better-educated and put more effort into raising their kids, as measured by things like eating family meals together, providing the child with books, and getting involved in their schools. And yet, as rated by their teachers and tests, adopted children tend to have worse behavioral and academic outcomes in kindergarten and first grade than birth children do"

Could You Have a Lithium Deficiency? - "Scientists first figured out lithium could help stabilize mood in bipolar disorder in the late 1800s when the mineral salt was also used to treat gout. Lithium was the original "up" ingredient in 7-UP soda... To this day, lithium is one of the few medications proven to decrease the risk of suicide... lithium has been shown to be the only effective drug (at least to slow the progression down) in another inflammatory, progressive, and invariably fatal neurotoxic disease, ALS, which is also known as Lou Gerhig's disease, and lithium is being studied in HIV, dementia and Alzheimer's disease... counties with higher lithium levels in the water had a statistically significant decrease in the incidence of homicide, suicide, arrests for opiates and cocaine, and violent criminal behavior. Now to put things into perspective, a high lithium water content translates to about 2mg of lithium a day. Pharmacologic psychiatric doses typically start at 300mg daily... human longevity increased with the amount of trace lithium in the water"

Medicine doesn’t come from the hardware store: Don’t drink turpentine – Science-Based Medicine - "If you reassure someone that they don’t have an infection that requires antibiotics, they’re generally pretty happy. But when you explain that “detox” is a marketing term, and there is no need to waste money on a “detox” kit, sometimes it only seemed to reinforce the belief that supplements were useful. Several times I was presented with a prescription, and a simultaneous request for a supplement recommendation as a substitute for the drug, based on the belief that supplements are as effective as and safer than prescription drugs. I’d explain that following a heart attack, and considering quality, safety, and efficacy, that red yeast rice was a poor substitute for a statin. Some would feel otherwise. Many had a very negative perception about the risk and benefits of prescription drugs, with the opposite perception about the merits of various “alternative” remedies."

People who don't drink any alcohol are more likely to develop dementia, suggests study - "People who are teetotal in middle age are at greater risk of developing dementia than those who drink moderate amounts, with benefits particularly apparent in wine drinkers, a new study has found... Among abstainers, the study also found increased risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease... Moderate alcohol consumption has previously been shown to help protect against these conditions, by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and it may be this which is responsible for the dementia protecting benefit."

How Cloudflare Uses Lava Lamps to Guard Against Hackers - "Anything that the camera captures gets incorporated into the randomness"

Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not - "Followers of Shinto, unlike Judeo-Christian monotheists and the Greeks before them, do not believe that humans are particularly “special.” Instead, there are spirits in everything, rather like the Force in Star Wars. Nature doesn’t belong to us, we belong to Nature, and spirits live in everything, including rocks, tools, homes, and even empty spaces... Friends express concern when I make a connection between slaves and robots that I may have the effect of dehumanizing slaves or the descendants of slaves, thus exacerbating an already tense and advanced war of words and symbols. While fighting the dehumanization of minorities and underprivileged people is important and something I spend a great deal of effort on, focusing strictly on the rights of humans and not the rights of the environment, the animals, and even of things like robots, is one of the things that has gotten us in this awful mess with the environment in the first place. In the long run, maybe it’s not so much about humanizing or dehumanizing, but rather a problem of creating a privileged class—humans—that we use to arbitrarily justify ignoring, oppressing, and exploiting."
Robots rights activists are already here

The Neurologist Who Hacked His Brain—And Almost Lost His Mind - "It will be a long time before anyone starts sending fully formed thoughts to a computer, he says—and even longer before anyone finds it really useful. Think about speech-recognition software, which has been around for decades, Schalk says. “It was probably 80 percent accurate in 1980 or something, and 80 percent is a pretty remarkable achievement in terms of engineering. But it’s useless in the real world,” he says. “I still don’t use Siri, because it’s not good enough.” In the meantime, there are far simpler and more functional ways to help people who have trouble speaking. If a patient can move a finger, he can type out messages in Morse code. If a patient can move her eyes, she can use eye-tracking software on a smartphone. “These devices are dirt cheap,” Schalk says. “Now you want to replace one of these with a $100,000 brain implant and get something that’s a little better than chance?”"
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