"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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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Links - 22nd November 2018 (2)

Association of Cannabis With Cognitive Functioning in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. - "Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use. Although other outcomes (eg, psychosis) were not examined in the included studies, results indicate that previous studies of cannabis in youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with use. Reported deficits may reflect residual effects from acute use or withdrawal."
In other words, the harms of pot have been exaggerated

4 in 5 Singaporeans confident in spotting fake news but 90 per cent wrong when put to the test: Survey - "Four in five Singaporeans say that they can confidently spot fake news, but when put to the test, about 90 per cent mistakenly identified at least one out of five fake headlines as being real."
Interestingly, a gang of rabid, brainless anti-PAP folks didn't like this article and dismissed Ipsos as non-credible (maybe because OP was skeptical about it so they followed his lead, or maybe because it was the Straits Times and so had to be wrong). I was expecting them to agree and slam "sinkies" since they were dumb enough to vote PAP (or 70% of them, at least)

Why American transit is not improving - "The most common myth on why Americans doesn’t have great mass transit is that the country is too spread out, but a look at Canada quickly unravels this theory. Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver all have buses, rapid transit, and commuter rails. Though sprawling, Canada still manages to have adequate transport in all its major cities. According to the aforementioned study, Canada ridership grew significantly between 2012 and 2017"

Why Does The U.S. Hate Public Transportation? - "Republicans have aligned themselves with the perceived personal freedom of the automobile, says Scott, whereas public transport is seen as a socialist concern. Thus, right-leaning politicians vote against it, even though public transport is good for the economy... The fourth and final factor is a malaise that affects more than just U.S. public transport. We have “lost faith in the public realm,” and we no longer trust government to run public services. Individualism is the driving force behind everything, with, says Scott, the private car as its embodiment. “This thinking has made our cities less about shared experiences, and more a place of different lives and separated spaces.”"

The real reason American public transportation is such a disaster - "we pay more for transit and get far less — basically the worst of all worlds... "Compare, say, Portland to Vancouver, or Salt Lake to Edmonton, or Des Moines to Winnipeg. Culturally and economically, they're very similar cities, but in each case the Canadian city has two to five times as much transit service per capita, so there's correspondingly more ridership per capita."... Most American policymakers — and voters — see transit as a social welfare program... even some of the country's existing big cities — which had been laid out well before the car — willfully destroyed their existing transit systems, ripping out streetcar lines and building highways to speed commutes from the suburbs... there's a huge downside to viewing public transportation as welfare — it prevents local agencies from charging high enough fares to provide efficient service, effectively limiting transit to those who are too poor to drive... "In attracting riders to transit, frequency is the biggest thing, followed very closely by reliability," says King. "If you don't have those, people won't trust the system."... bus stops in the US are spaced very closely together, compared to elsewhere. Spreading them out would increase bus speed and frequency, but can be politically difficult because it's seen as harming seniors and disabled riders"

The Many Ways Europe's City-Dwellers Get to Work

Even desert city Dubai imports its sand. This is why - "While researching beach erosion in Negril, Jamaica about six years ago, scientist Pascal Peduzzi’s conversation with residents in a fishing village left him astounded. Despite the high-tech geospatial modelling and remote sensing tools he was using to survey the damage, he’d never have surmised one reason for erosion on the country’s western coastline. Locals told him about the local mafias — armed men who came to the beach in the middle of night, hauled away bags of sand and sold them for the construction of beachfront developments... Even the United Arab Emirates imported $456m worth of sand, stone and gravel in 2014, according to the UN. Despite being in the heart of the desert, imported sand built Dubai, according to Pascal. Wind-formed desert sand is too smooth for construction."

'Mate, what just happened?' Seal slaps kayaker in face with octopus

Outrage clickbait: Its Internet dominance is about to fade. - "We’ll say goodbye to this model because it will no longer be good business. The culprit? The declining effectiveness of traditional Internet advertising, for starters, and the increasingly cozy relationship, spatial and otherwise, between digital advertising and digital journalism, which will slowly but inevitably leave less room for viral outrage."
From 2015. 3 years later...

A cashless supermarket, a bunch of grapes and the growing digital divide in China’s economy - "Checkout workers rejected the money and insisted that he use his phone to pay via either WeChat Pay or Alipay, prompting the argument... Concerns about the gap in access to service in an economy of expanding e-payments prompted the central bank to issue a directive in July stating that the yuan was the country’s legal currency and no units or individuals should refuse payment by cash."

Gender differences in individual variation in academic grades fail to fit expected patterns for STEM | Nature Communications - "Fewer women than men pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), despite girls outperforming boys at school in the relevant subjects. According to the ‘variability hypothesis’, this over-representation of males is driven by gender differences in variance; greater male variability leads to greater numbers of men who exceed the performance threshold. Here, we use recent meta-analytic advances to compare gender differences in academic grades from over 1.6 million students. In line with previous studies we find strong evidence for lower variation among girls than boys, and of higher average grades for girls. However, the gender differences in both mean and variance of grades are smaller in STEM than non-STEM subjects, suggesting that greater variability is insufficient to explain male over-representation in STEM. Simulations of these differences suggest the top 10% of a class contains equal numbers of girls and boys in STEM, but more girls in non-STEM subjects."
Of course, this assumes that differences in aptitude are the only reason explaining female under-representation

Math performance in the US: boys and girls have same mean, different variance - "The present study also indicated that the variance ratio for boys and girls is inverted for Asian American students — the girls have higher variance. Thus, higher variance in boys is not always a robust finding."
I looked up the cited paper for this apparently puzzling finding - in the paper supposedly showing Asian American girls have higher variance than Asian American boys, you find that the sample size is 219 and that more males scored above the 95th percentile than females (6.27% vs 5.71%) - it is the 99th percentile where 1.37% of girls fell and 1.25% of boys did. To call this robust...

Malaysia enters race to become first in Asia to legalise medical marijuana

How Singapore’s Formula One fling with sugar daddies turned sour - "Singapore hosted an array of concerts, after-parties and events for race aficionados and revellers alike during the Formula One weekend last week. But one controversial gathering almost stole the show from the annual sporting event. A sugar daddy convention, dubbed “The Fast Lane” and supported by Malaysian “sugar dating” app Sugarbook, was held during the five-day F1-themed Sky Grande Prix promotional event at the Grand Hyatt hotel. The party brought together sugar baby and sugar daddy wannabes from the city state and from as far afield as the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and even New York."

The Conservative Myth of a Social Safety Net Built on Charity - "Over the past 30 years the public role in social insurance has taken a backseat to the idea that private institutions will expand to cover these risks. Yet our current system of workplace private insurance is rapidly falling apart... As President Hoover said in 1931, much like conservatives do today, any response to the economic crisis must “maintain the spirit of charity and mutual self-help through voluntary giving” in order for him to support it.Noble as that goal may be, it failed. The more Hoover leaned on private agencies, the more resistance he found... the Great Recession offers the perfect case study in why the voluntary sector can’t solve these problems. If people like Mike Lee are correct, then the start of the Great Recession would have been precisely the moment when private charity would have stepped up. But in fact, private giving fell as the Great Recession started. Overall giving fell 7 percent in 2008, with another 6.2 percent drop in 2009. There was only a small uptick in 2010 and 2011, even though unemployment remained very high. Giving also fell as a percentage of GDP (even as GDP shrank), from 2.1 percent in 2008 to 2.0 percent in 2009 through 2011. (The high point was 2.3 percent in 2005.)As research by Robert Reich and Christopher Wimer showed, the decline occurred with all sources and hit almost all types of nonprofits... Why didn’t this sting as badly as it could have? Because of the role the federal government played. “Automatic stabilizers,” a key policy innovation of the welfare state, were there to pick up the slack... During 2009, while private charity collapsed, automatic stabilizers expanded rapidly, from 0.1 percent of GDP to 2.2 percent of GDP—or a number roughly akin to all charitable giving in the United States... Private charity has a tendency to focus only on specific groups, particularly groups that are considered either “deserving” or similar in-groups. Indeed, in one telling, this is the entire point of private charity... Using very generous assumptions, Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy finds that only one-third of charitable giving actually goes to the poor. Almost by definition, there will be people who need access to social insurance who will be left out of such targeted giving... a charitable foundation “is a completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody” that closely resembles a hereditary monarchy. Why would we put our entire society’s ability to manage the deadly risks we face in the hands of such a creature?... The public’s role in combating the Four Horsemen by providing for social insurance doesn’t kill private charity. It allows it to fully thrive"
Addendum: Someone proclaimed that he didn't trust "left leaning" sources, so here is a chart from Giving USA 2018's highlights report that shows charitable giving from 1977 to 2017, with a clear dip in total giving due to the 2001 and 2008-9 recessions - which substantiates the Atlantic's claim about recession leading to a fall in charitable giving (the opposite of what conservative/libertarian logic claims):


Estonia Backs Pro-Wall Orbán as Pope Demands Baltics Open the Borders - "Anvelt pointed to the situation regarding this summer’s World Cup tournament in Russia, which shares a border with Estonia, noting thousands of ticket holders for the event who travelled from third world nations have reportedly since made their way to Europe. “Russia itself officially said for the first time that they have lost at least 10,000 people,” Estonian Public Broadcasting reported the minister saying. “These were the exact same economic migrants from Bangladesh, [from] somewhere in Senegal and so on that were moving toward Europe.”

California becomes first state to require women on corporate boards - "The new policy will be difficult for companies to implement and violates constitutional prohibitions against discrimination"
Great way to hurt the standing of women on boards

BBC says 1 in 6 stars 'must be gay or lesbian or disabled' by 2020 - "One in six of all on-screen BBC roles must go to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender or disabled people by 2020, the corporation's new diversity targets state... Fifty per cent of all on-screen and broadcasting roles will go to women, who already make up 48.5 per cent of the BBC's total workforce"

The first “social network” of brains lets three people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads

Sunderland stepdad explains Islam homework complaint - "A stepfather who slammed his 12-year-old's school for making her write a letter about 'converting to Islam' has been called a 'racist bigot' and is terrified of violent repercussions. Mark McLachlan, 43, complained to Kepier School in Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland when he found the homework task in his stepdaughter's planner. He refused to let her finish the 'letter to my family about converting to Islam', claiming it was 'brainwashing' her about the religion and did not see what it would achieve... 'My stepdaughter is coming home talking about the Prophet Muhammad and halal meat saying Islam is the religion of peace."
Of course, if the homework had been to write a letter about converting to Christianity, it would've been the teacher who would be the 'racist bigot'
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