"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, December 04, 2018

Links - 4th December 2018 (1)

1 in 4 Statisticians Say They Were Asked to Commit Scientific Fraud - "The absolute worst offense (i.e., being asked to fake statistical significance) occurred to 3% of the survey respondents. Another 7% reported being asked to change data, and a whopping 24% -- nearly 1 in 4 -- said they were asked to remove or alter data. Unequivocally, that is a request to commit scientific fraud. Of the less serious offenses, 55% of biostatisticians said that they received requests to underreport non-significant results... the ongoing reproducibility crisis may have, at least in part, a more sinister explanation."

If left to ‘market forces’, developers will build smaller apartments at ever higher prices - "land cannot be moved around. We have a shortage of land supply but cannot import any. On the other hand, demand for property is always there and will shoot up irrationally — as will the selling price — when people expect property prices to rise continuously in the foreseeable future."

Millennials choosing Instagram-worthy homes over saving for retirement: Manulife survey - "Millennials are also spending more than any other generation on their desired life stage goals. On average, they are splurging or expecting to splurge an average of $177,000 on the renovation of their first house, and over $209,000 on the purchase of their first car – over 45% higher than the other generations."

Feminist Mom Tells 'Entitled' Boy to Leave Public Park So Daughters Can Have 'Girls-Only' Time - "A mom's attempt to promote feminist values by telling a stranger and her son to leave a public space drew the ire of a mommy-blogger... write a takedown last week. "I’ve seen families start to separate along gender lines, and not because of the men," Hill argued. "It’s the moms who separate themselves and their daughters to a point that it becomes exclusive. In doing so, they present a warped view of gender equality to that of the most stereotypical male chauvinist.""
And we're told feminism is for men too

China should thank Trump and stop using trade war as excuse for confused economic signals - "Without his actions, the Chinese government would not have scaled down its over-the-top propaganda drive about how amazing China has become, nor would it have been forced to reflect on its own limits and pitfalls. Nor, more pertinently for Chinese consumers, would China have been so forthright in lowering or even removing tariffs on imports including consumer goods and drugs, which it has done three times in the past year or so."

So far, the big trade war loser is China, not the US - "Beijing has just reported its weakest quarterly official growth figure in a decade, and its currency has recently fallen to its lowest level since 2017. The 6.5% year-on-year growth reported for the third quarter is the official figure, and Chinese officials themselves have long conceded that many of their economic measuring sticks are doctored (which means that the unofficial, but real, number is probably much worse). By contrast, the US economy has remained relatively robust and shows little sign of a slowdown yet... America’s Asian Cold War allies were shocked at the manner in which the US ruthlessly exploited the crisis for the benefit of Wall Street (failing to appreciate that the end of the Cold War had in essence eviscerated the basis of the bargain whereby American trade policy accommodated a huge increase of Southeast Asian exports to the US, to underwrite the latter’s ongoing prosperity and ensure that its bloc remained firmly within the US sphere of interest as it fought to contain the spread of global communism)... a large economy with a trade deficit has greater bargaining power than smaller economies with trade surpluses (in spite of its growth, China is still smaller in market exchange-rate terms). By cutting the overall trade deficit, the big deficit country stimulates domestic growth and employment via import substitution. Meanwhile, the surplus nation loses a big chunk of its foreign market, leaving it with an overbuilt export sector. Moreover, it is politically easier to build new factories in the former deficit country than to have mass layoffs and idle factories in the former surplus country. That is what Trump means when he says that “trade wars are good and easy to win.” The dirty secret of globalization-driven cheap-labor offshoring is that it has boosted profits by much more than it has lowered consumer prices. The claim is that consumers will be hurt, but in the first instance, it is likely that the huge profit margins of the offshoring firms get whittled down first. They’ll still make profits, but not the same kinds of windfalls from cheap labor. That’s also one of the implicit quid pro quos embedded in the US corporate tax reform."

5 Endangered Singaporean Hawker Dishes Millennials Have Never Heard Of & Where To Find Them - "1. Oyster cake (UFO) - Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
2. Chao tah bee hoon - Yong Kee Seafood Restaurant
3. Tau kwa pau - Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau
4. Roti kirai (roti jala) - Hajjah Sadiah Muslim Food
5. Chicken rice balls - Hainan Chicken Rice"

The liberal autocrat - "‘As federal chancellor I bear the responsibility for the successful and the unsuccessful.’ So said Angela Merkel on Monday when she announced that she would give up the leadership of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and step down as German chancellor in 2021. Some foreign newspapers presented this as a ‘shock decision’. But within Germany, Merkel’s announcement was largely greeted with relief. Merkel made her announcement after the CDU had yet again suffered heavy losses in a regional election... the seemingly endless Merkel era has been characterised by a lack of democratic choice and the inability of the mainstream parties to open up debates and consider alternative ways of dealing with political problems"

The death of a Japanese countryside festival - "The heirs, who live up in Tokyo or Osaka, will soon look down upon the pitiful relic as if it were at the bottom of a well: unreachable, unfeasible and easily forgettable. Meanwhile, these historic homes sit patiently, like a forgotten dog in a cage that waits every day for its master to return."

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says
Maybe the promotion of recycling, straw hysteria etc are driven by corporate interests to distract attention from their (much bigger) contributions to environmental degradation so they can carry on business relatively unmolested.

Zero plastic bags or zero waste? In defence of Singapore’s rejection of a plastic bag ban - "1. In Singapore’s context, banning/charging for plastic bags would not have a significant, positive environmental impact..
Given our highly effective waste collection and management system, Singapore’s contribution to marine- and land-based plastic pollution is minimal. Also, plastic bags account for a small percentage (see point three) relative to all waste generated in Singapore...
2. There are more concerning waste streams to regulate in Singapore...
Plastic waste only accounted for 11 per cent of the total waste generated in Singapore in 2017. It is unclear what proportion of this 11 per cent is due to plastic bags and whether the a ban would have a lasting effect in reducing plastic waste...
3. Resources are limited"

Opinion | Recovering the (Lost) Art of Civility - The New York Times - "Since the Republicans won back the House of Representatives in 1994, it’s been a much fiercer competition between the two parties than at most times since the Civil War. When you see yourself as the minority party for the long term, you have incentives to cooperate with the majority party to move some parts of your agenda. But when you think that you might win back control soon, there’s a strong incentive to just hold out and fight. On the other hand, when you gain control, you know it might not last, so you want to maximize your wins and use whatever tactics you can to overcome opposition. We’ve seen both parties doing this since the 1990s. And when you play win-lose politics fiercely for more than 20 years, voters adopt that mind-set too — or they become so frustrated that they tune out."

Birthright Citizenship Is Not Actually in the Constitution - NYTimes.com - "Senator Jacob Howard, who introduced the language of the clause on the floor of the Senate, contended that it should be interpreted in the same way as the requirement of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which afforded citizenship to “all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power.” The Supreme Court has never held otherwise. Some advocates for illegal immigrants point to the 1898 case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, but that case merely held that a child born on U.S. soil to parents who were lawful, permanent (legally, "domiciled") residents was a citizen."

Vegetarians are more miserable and enjoy parties less than meat-eaters, scientists claim - "Those who cut meat from their diet experience more negative feelings, have lower self-esteem and see less meaning in life, a study found. The authors conclude that vegetarians may be less ‘psychologically well-adjusted’, suggesting teasing by omnivores may be to blame."
Or maybe they are sad because they can't eat meat

Vegetarians are 'less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters', scientists say - "Vegetarians are less healthy than meat-eaters, a controversial study has concluded, despite drinking less, smoking less and being more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.A study conducted by the Medical University of Graz in Austria found that the vegetarian diet, as characterised by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products, appeared to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety."

Vegetarians are more miserable and enjoy parties less than meat-eaters, scientists claim - "Those who cut meat from their diet experience more negative feelings, have lower self-esteem and see less meaning in life, a study found. The authors conclude that vegetarians may be less ‘psychologically well-adjusted’, suggesting teasing by omnivores may be to blame."
Or maybe they are sad because they can't eat meat

That's rich! We gave £1billion aid to India as they built £330million statue - "Britain donated more than £1billion to India in the years when it was lavishing a fortune on building the world’s tallest statue... India is the world’s fastest-growing economy, has sent a mission to Mars, boasts more billionaires than the UK and itself hands out millions to needy nations. It currently gives more foreign aid than it receives despite its problems with disease and healthcare.

First It Was All About Diversity, Then Inclusion. Here's Why Neither Of Those Are Enough - Everyday Feminism - "Well, it’s 2018, and frankly, we want money, resources, and power"
From the horse's mouth

George R. R. Martin, Fantasy’s Reigning King - The New York Times - "SOMETIME THIS SUMMER, sales of the first five books in Martin’s eventual heptalogy, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” surpassed 85 million copies sold worldwide. Now available in 47 languages, the series is also the basis for HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” by many measures the most popular television show on earth, airing in 170 countries."

George R. R. Martin Answers Times Staffers’ Burning Questions - The New York Times - "We spend 10 times as much energy and thought and debate in the media discussing whether or not N.F.L. players should stand for the national anthem than this threat that’s going to destroy our world... We are such a deeply divided culture these days, such a deeply divided country. It’s not just S.F. and fantasy. You’re seeing it in gaming with Gamergate. You’re seeing it in comic books with what they’re calling Comicgate. You’re seeing it in young adult fiction with ridiculous internet purge campaigns. It’s coming from the extreme right. And it’s coming from the extreme left as well. And it is very dispiriting. But yes, it has invaded science fiction and fantasy in a big way. Fortunately, the traditional science fiction fans were able to push back against the various Puppy campaigns and win that fight, I think. But it took a toll — the Hugos are wounded. And more, the collegial atmosphere that united science fiction for most of my lifetime is changed. I mean, I remember days when you would have an extremely progressive left-wing author like Norman Spinrad or Harlan Ellison doing a panel with a conservative author like Jerry Pournelle. And they would go hammer and tongs at each other on a panel, arguing the ideas. And then they would adjourn to the bar and drink together and sing old songs for a few hours. That doesn’t seem to exist anymore, the idea of science fiction or fantasy as something that could unite people from all over the political spectrum. It’s a different age. I’m sometimes reminded of Yeats’s “Second Coming”: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / … / The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passion and intensity.”"
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