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Friday, December 21, 2018

Links - 21st December 2018

In Iceland, food is a challenge, not a meal - "Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.... Icelanders aren’t Vikings. They never were. According to a relatively modest note near the beginning of the 871±2 permanent exhibit at the Reykjavik City Museum, Icelanders are mostly descended from Norwegian farmers who wanted to get away from the Vikings and just tend their fields and livestock in peace... Though Icelanders don’t eat beached whale (hvalreki) anymore, this scavenging approach to food is also the origin of hákarl, a milder version of the skate I had in Akureyri. Though the flesh of the huge Greenland shark is usually toxic to humans – the high concentration of urea leads to skin, eye and respiratory distress – once it’s allowed to rot a bit, traditionally in a hole on the beach (nowadays in plastic containers), it becomes a valuable source of protein. Rays and other large sharks are equally toxic, and equally edible when left to ferment or rot. And since it’s all already rotten, it keeps pretty well, too. So for centuries, this foul-tasting food was the difference between life and death... Every Christmas, and every Þorri – the old Icelandic month that corresponds to the end of January and beginning of February – is given over to traditional foods, which, in addition to all the rotten fish, includes rams testicles (súrsaðir hrútspungar), boiled sheep’s heads with the wool singed off (svið), smoked mutton (hangikjöt), seal flippers (seishreifar) and whale blubber cured in sour milk (súr hvalur)."

The truth behind New Orleans’ nebulous sandwich - "When thousands of southern Vietnamese fled their country after the war in 1975, many Vietnamese immigrants were attracted to Louisiana because it was like south Vietnam: the humidity, the delta, the rice-growing culture, and, of course, the leftover aspects of French colonialism that have shaped both cultures. It’s no surprise that residents of New Orleans – Vietnamese descent or not – are highly influenced by this Southeast Asian culture.Which brings us to the very latest incarnation of the po’ boy, the Vietnamese ‘pho boy’"

Redefining Sexual Harassment - "Entitled ‘Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’ (2018), it was produced by a committee of scientists belonging to NASEM (National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) and published by the National Academies Press. Its claims are stark, pronouncing that “50 percent of women faculty and staff in academia experience sexual harassment” and “20-50 percent of students experience such harassment from faculty or staff.” These claims are made in the present tense, indicating this is the current state of affairs... The legal definition quite explicitly links the definition of sexual harassment to sex: “touching,” “feeling,” and “groping” and to harassing behaviour directed at an individual: “toward an employee.” It goes further, stating that the behaviour in question will instil fear in the targeted employee if they don’t comply with the harasser’s demands: “with the implied suggestion that the target’s employment status, promotion or favorable treatment depend upon a positive response and/or ‘cooperation.’”... Legal definitions sometimes differ from layperson’s definitions. However, not in this case... Neither the legal nor the layperson’s definition of sexual harassment was used... [They] considered it sexual harassment if an employer treated a female employee differently because of her sex and sexual harassment if an employer failed to treat a female employee differently because of her sex. The former is considered patronising, while the latter is inconsiderate. In light of this, NASEM’s estimate that only 50 percent of women experienced sexual harassment begins to look quite conservative. The SEQ—and sexual harassment literature more broadly—has been criticised in the scientific literature for its broadness and lack of precision... is there any evidence that women are more likely than men to experience hostile behaviour of a non-sexual nature in the workplace?... even when women do not consider “ambient harassment” to be sexual harassment, this view is overridden by the researchers. In the sexual harassment literature, what counts most is the view of the researchers carrying out the surveys, who interpret and label women’s experiences for them... behaviour that is classified as sexual harassment need not be about sex, need not be distressing, need not be interpreted as sexual harassment by the person on the receiving end, and may not be directed at a person at all... “concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.”... if sexual harassment is redefined so it includes an unintentionally sexist joke then a boss pressuring his intern for after-hours massage may come to be viewed in the same light—as a risqué joke. This risks trivialising actual sexual coercion."
The incentives are to exaggerate a problem, because then you get more attention, more political power and more work for yourself
As usual, feminist statistics are rubbish

Paul Murany on Twitter - "Apparently the most common form of sexual harassment is what's known as "gender harassment," defined as conveying insulting, hostile, and degrading attitudes about members of one gender. If that's the case, gender studies departments are rife with sexual harassment. See Sokal Sq."
"Honestly, I' m getting to the point that when I see "sexual harassment" in an article I pretty much tune out and move on"
Maybe gender harassment = insulting a gender + power, so men cannot suffer gender harassment

Brexit: UK government to host summit on why other countries should join the EU - "Critics said the UK government must have “a sense of humour” for hosting a conference on EU enlargement and extolling the benefits of accession as Britain itself headed towards the exit door."
Presumably it'd be ironic to recommend that Switzerland not build a port, but that Malta should

Our Fast Food Social Media Diet - "seemingly superficial face-to-face social encounters may have unappreciated social value, and increasingly interacting with machines instead of people may have real social costs; studies find that brief interactions with strangers can benefit wellbeing. What we often think of as trivial interpersonal encounters may also help developing minds learn how people work and help the rest of us keep our social skills sharp. Just like cooking is a skill that takes practice, so does socializing; our modern fast food social diet may reduce people’s ability to navigate the real social world. Perhaps people are less tolerant of those who have different views because they can easily go online and avoid or mock them."

China is making its vegetables grow bigger, faster and stronger ... using electricity - "The high frequency electricity kills bacteria and virus-transmitting diseases in the air or soil. It also suppresses the surface tension of water on leaves, accelerating vaporisation."

These Are The Ages When We Do Our Best Work - "athletes indeed tend to peak young, while thinkers like economists and doctors do their best work later in life. In between, we see entertainers and leaders excel in their middle age... researchers charted the range of cognition—or how well our brains can function—at various ages. What we find is that the potential for high-functioning brain activity peaks in our 50s but remains high until our 90s and functional into the 100s; however, the average person peaks at 30 and declines to a nonfunctioning state by his or her late 80s."

Hong Kong developers rush to sell empty flats ahead of new vacancy tax - "Hong Kong’s property developers are rushing to offload empty new flats before the government unveils details of a vacancy tax this month aimed at preventing hoarding, as it seeks to ease the city’s housing crisis."

Adultery no longer a criminal offence in India - "Indian folklore and epics are full of stories about extra-marital love. Most love poems in Sanskrit, according to scholar J Moussaief Masson, are "about illicit love". But Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu text, says: "If men persist in seeking intimate contact with other men's wives, the king should brand them with punishments that inspire terror and banish them"... Judge Rohinton Nariman said that "ancient notions of man being perpetrator and woman being victim no longer hold good"... Adultery is considered illegal in 21 American states, including New York, although surveys show that while most Americans disapprove of adultery, they don't think of it as a crime... In 1954, the law was first challenged by a petitioner asking why women cannot be punished for the offence, and that such "exemption was discriminatory"... Two different panels on law reforms in 1971 and 2003 recommended that women should also be prosecuted for the offence."
According to Singaporean liberals, in 21 American states adulterous people should live their lives in fear just as 377A supposedly means gays in Singapore cannot sleep peacefully

Venice considers nightly ban on carrying alcohol - "The city is considering fines for anyone found carrying alcohol after 19:00 - even sealed in shopping bags. Police say they do not plan to stop Venetians on their way home from the shops, but rather drunk revellers... local police commander Marco Agostini, said he would not be targeting anyone leaving supermarkets having purchased alcohol. Instead, the proposed rules were for when "someone gets drunk and has a bag with three bottles of beer", he said. The city recently announced controversial plans for a ban on sitting or lying on the ground"
Selective enforcement! Discrimination!

Venice restaurant bill outrages Japanese tourists - "The mayor of Venice has voiced outrage over the €1,100 (£970; $1,347) bill that four Japanese tourists say they had to pay for four steaks, a plate of fried fish, water and service... Italian media did not name the restaurant, but said it was owned by a Chinese woman and run by an Egyptian.According to Mr Gasparinetti, only 1.1% of restaurants in that part of Venice are owned by locals, and the figure is 50% in the historic centre as a whole.He said Gruppo 25 Aprile would post advice for tourists this week on Facebook to help them avoid such a "mockery". There have been many cases of restaurants overcharging tourists in Venice"

Prestatyn man fined for race-hate doll in window - "A man has been fined for displaying a golliwog doll in his window. Jason Wakefield-Jones, 50, Prestatyn, pleaded guilty to displaying it with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and that the offence was racially aggravated. Llandudno Magistrates' Court heard a woman complained on 4 January 2018 after seeing the doll in the window of a flat opposite two Indian restaurants. Wakefield-Jones was fined £250 and has to pay £85 costs... The golliwog is a fictional character created by Florence Kate Upton that appeared in children's books in the late 19th Century, usually depicted as a type of rag doll."
Time to ban Enid Blyton

WikiLeaks Revelations Show the Skills of U.S. Diplomats - "the sum total of the output I have read is actually quite reassuring about the way Washington — or at least the State Department — works. First, there is little deception. These leaks have been compared to the Pentagon papers. Which they are not. The Pentagon papers revealed that the U.S. engaged in a systematic campaign to deceive the world and the American people and that its private actions were often the opposite of its stated public policy. The WikiLeaks documents, by contrast, show Washington pursuing privately pretty much the policies it has articulated publicly. Whether on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or North Korea, the cables confirm what we know to be U.S. foreign policy. And often this foreign policy is concerned with broader regional security, not narrow American interests. Ambassadors are not caught pushing other countries in order to make deals secretly to strengthen the U.S., but rather to solve festering problems... The WikiLeaks data powerfully confirms the central American argument against Iran's programs: that they are a threat to regional stability and order, not merely to Washington's narrow interests. (Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu quickly pointed this out.) In fact, the simplest confirmation of the fallout can be found in Tehran's reaction to WikiLeaks. Alone among world leaders, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that the documents were actually leaked by Washington. After all, they expose as an utter lie Ahmadinejad's constant claim that he has befriended all Arab states and that, if not for Washington, Iran would be beloved by all in the region."

11,000 Wikileaks Twitter DMs Have Just Been Published For Anyone To Read - "At various points in the chat, there are examples of homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism, racism, antisemitism and other objectionable content and language"

California's Unconstitutional Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards - "California recently passed Senate Bill 826, a law requiring all publicly held corporations based in the state to have a minimum number of women on their boards. A corporation with four or fewer directors must have at least one woman on its board. If the board has five members, at least two women must be on it. If it has six or more, there must be at least three women... The Supreme Court has long held that laws that discriminate on the basis of sex are subject to heightened "intermediate scrutiny" under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment... magine a population where ability and interest in serving on boards is equally distributed between men and women and all firms are completely nondiscriminatory (that is, they always hire the best-qualified applicants, regardless of gender). Even so, 18.75% of five-person boards will have one or zero women on them just by random chance, and thereby be in violation of the law."

Is anal sex harmful? Thoughts from a gastroenterologist… - "About 37% of women and 5% of men have had receptive anal intercourse in their adult lives.
Contrary to popular belief, women have the most anal sex in their twenties, and the rate drops off as they get older. In men, there are two peak decades in anal activity; the 30’s and the 50’s.
Whites and “non-Mexican hispanics” had the most anal sex when compared to blacks.
Graduating high school increases the rate of anal sex dramatically. Graduating from college then decreases the rate to a small degree. People who did not graduate high school had anal sex the least.
A history of major depression was strongly associated with having anal sex in both men and women...
The authors found that receiving anal sex results in a 34% increased risk of fecal incontinence in women, and a 119% increased risk of fecal incontinence in men! (For the purposes of the study, fecal incontinence was defined as leakage of liquid or solid stool, or mucus, at least monthly.) Keep in mind these figures are relative risks, meaning that the absolute increases are only 2.5% in women and 6.3% in men...
data was not available on non-penile anal insertions; e.g., objects, sex toys, and the authors specifically cite the practice of “fisting.”"
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