"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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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Links - 8th December 2018 (1)

China’s Race to Find Aliens First - "Science fiction is sometimes described as a literature of the future, but historical allegory is one of its dominant modes. Isaac Asimov based his Foundation series on classical Rome, and Frank Herbert’s Dune borrows plot points from the past of the Bedouin Arabs... seti does share some traits with religion. It is motivated by deep human desires for connection and transcendence. It concerns itself with questions about human origins, about the raw creative power of nature, and about our future in this universe—and it does all this at a time when traditional religions have become unpersuasive to many... In the first volume of his landmark series, Science and Civilisation in China, published in 1954, the British Sinologist Joseph Needham asked why the scientific revolution hadn’t happened in China, given its sophisticated intellectual meritocracy, based on exams that measured citizens’ mastery of classical texts. This inquiry has since become known as the “Needham Question,” though Voltaire too had wondered why Chinese mathematics stalled out at geometry, and why it was the Jesuits who brought the gospel of Copernicus into China, and not the other way around. He blamed the Confucian emphasis on tradition. Other historians blamed China’s remarkably stable politics. A large landmass ruled by long dynasties may have encouraged less technical dynamism than did Europe, where more than 10 polities were crammed into a small area, triggering constant conflict. As we know from the Manhattan Project, the stakes of war have a way of sharpening the scientific mind. Still others have accused premodern China of insufficient curiosity about life beyond its borders... even at China’s most prestigious academic institutions, a third of scientific papers are faked or plagiarized. Knowing how poorly the country’s journals are regarded, Chinese universities are reportedly offering bonuses of up to six figures to researchers who publish in Western journals. It remains an open question whether Chinese science will ever catch up with that of the West without a bedrock political commitment to the free exchange of ideas. China’s persecution of dissident scientists began under Mao, whose ideologues branded Einstein’s theories “counterrevolutionary.” But it did not end with him. Even in the absence of overt persecution, the country’s “great firewall” handicaps Chinese scientists, who have difficulty accessing data published abroad... The idea that civilizations expand ever outward might be woefully anthropocentric... Secular humanists won’t be spared a sobering intellectual reckoning with first contact... We have flattered ourselves that we are, in the words of Carl Sagan, “the universe’s way of knowing itself.” These are secular ways of saying we are made in the image of God."

NYT Opinion on Twitter - "What are the president's priorities?"
When you hate Trump so much you advocate invading the Middle East

Swedish Chief Prosecutor: No-Go Zone Rinkeby Is Like a 'War Zone' - "Swedish Chief Prosecutor Lise Tamm has claimed that the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby is like “a war zone”. Ms. Tamm, who will become acting head of the anti-organised crime unit in the New Year, said that she would be looking to war-torn countries like Colombia and El Salvador to find new methods of handling the rampant violence in Sweden’s no-go zones, Sveriges Radio reports."

Comparing Prescriptive and Descriptive Gender Stereotypes About Children, Adults, and the Elderly - "Prescriptive stereotypes of elderly men and women were weaker. Overall, boys and men had more restrictive prescriptive stereotypes than girls and women in terms of strength and number."
For all the feminists who keep complaining about how gender stereotypes hurt women - those regarding women aren't actually strong

Kill Infinite Scroll – Get this Extension for 🦊 Firefox (en-US) - "This disables some infinite scroll scripts such as those from http://www.infinite-scroll.com used by Tumblr."

Bitcoin Mining Alone Could Raise Global Temperatures Above Critical Limit By 2033 - "A recent UN climate report said that if global temperatures rose above 1.5 C it could lead to catastrophic climate change. Bitcoin alone could raise global temperatures by 2 C within two decades... Bitcoin’s energy consumption likely roughly equivalent to the energy needs of Austria and may be more resource intensive than mining gold... Most Bitcoin mines are located in China, but a few have cropped up in the United States and Canada as well. In some cases, these mines are so large that they use the same amount of electricity as the town they are located in, much to the ire of local residents"

Don’t Buy This: Bogus Food Expiration Dates Make You Waste Food - "Consumers throw away about half of the $218 billion worth of food wasted each year in the US—or about $375 per person—often because they're confused about the dates stamped on their food... While you should never eat mold, illnesses caused by e.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella are typically a result of improper food handling, improper hand washing or eating undercooked meat. Most food is safe for a lot longer than you think. Shelf-stable and frozen foods can last indefinitely so tossing that frozen pizza from last year is a huge waste. Same for dry foods like pasta, crackers and nuts. When in doubt, use your sense of sight, smell and texture to determine if your food is still good"

Barbra Streisand: Donald Trump Making Her Fat - "Lena Dunham blamed Trump for making her thin"

The ECHR’s ruling on defaming Mohammed is bad news for Muslims | Coffee House - "The ECHR would presumably be surprised to learn that far worse criticism is levelled at Aisha by some Shia Muslims, for whom she remains a polarising figure. This ruling could have wide-ranging – and unforeseen – implications, delivering a victory for those who do wish to criminalise criticism of Islam. Compare this decision (from a supposedly progressive and secular European court) with the ruling this week in Pakistan that Asia Bibi, the Christian woman unfairly accused of blasphemy, should be freed – the contrast is truly sobering. Ultimately, the ECHR’s logic rests on a depressing assumption that Europe’s Muslims are somehow incapable of intellectual debate and too fragile to hear criticisms of their religion. Yet this scrutiny is crucial for exposing Islamism – the totalitarian imposter of Islam – and countering its evils. Thanks to this ruling, the ability of Muslims like me – who oppose Islamism with all our being – to participate in public debate has been weakened. It’s bad news for Europe – and probably beyond."

A Racial Shakedown in Portland - "Portland is not normal. This is a city where antifa mobs are allowed to set up roadblocks and mob elderly drivers, all with the mayor’s apparent acquiescence... Ms. Khan accused the bicyclist of being “another white person calling the police on a black person.” She wasn’t. Portland Police have no record of that phone call taking place. It is hard to know how the pedestrian, derogatorily christened “Crosswalk Cathy” on social media, could have known the race of the car’s owners. Portland doesn’t offer its residents race-tagged parking permits (yet), and the incident occurred on a busy business street. But that didn’t stop Portland Mercury news editor Alex Zielinski from writing a provocative (and wrong) story with the headline, “Woman calls cops on Portland man’s parking job. She’s white. He’s black.”... Last week’s race controversy ignited by Portland Mercury is not the first time the progressive alternative paper has published race-baiting content. Last year, it ran a libelous (and subsequently retracted) column accusing various restaurants of religious and cultural appropriation—and suggesting they were guilty of “culinary white supremacy.” The predictable result of that column was the siccing of a mob on the female owners of Kook’s Burritos, the business featured most prominently in the piece. They deleted their social media accounts, shut down their food cart, and went into hiding. “Tribal hatreds are a dangerous thing to stoke,” said Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Diversity Delusion. She says most Americans are naïve about the tribal violence that defines much of the historical and modern human experience. “In the worst case, [victim ideologues] are fueling the fires of violent civil strife.” The genre of “white people doing something to black people” is, by now, a well-established media genre that generates easy clicks. But there is also an unsettling subplot that few seem willing to discuss. The two people of color who star in last week’s viral video both act abominably toward a young woman they’ve just met. In a city where too many bicyclists and pedestrians have been struck and killed in car accidents (2017 was one of the deadliest years with 45 killed), the woman did her role as a good citizen by calling a non-emergency hotline to report the car blocking the crosswalk. And it was Ms. Khan, not the pedestrian, who instantly racialized the incident, while her male partner called the woman an “idiot” and told her that she doesn’t belong in the neighborhood. Who’s the racist—not to mention segregationist—here?... Sha Ongelungel, who was recently profiled glowingly as a racial justice activist in The Guardian, published the woman’s employer information on Twitter and encouraged others to call or email them. They obliged and demanded that she be fired. Ms. Ongelungel stopped responding after I inquired if she took any steps to verify the couple’s (false) allegation... In a city whose guilty whites seem ready to roll over on any pretext, no complaint is too absurd to become fodder for race hustling."

HK star Nicholas Tse launches McDonald’s menu inspired by childhood comfort foods - "Called “My Taste of Hong Kong”, Tse’s menu features familiar flavours from traditional cha chaan teng (tea restaurants) and Hong Kong street foods...
Bolognese & Fried Egg Angus Beef Burger
Fried Onion Crispy Pork Cutlet Burger
Siew Mei (Hong Kong style roast meat) -flavoured Shake Shake Fries
Typhoon Shelter Crab-flavoured Shake Shake Fries
Cookie & Milk Tea McFlurry ice cream
Tropical Orange Punch"

What is a safe third country? - "The so-called ‘first country of asylum’ principle often justifies the decision to return asylum seekers to another country. It means that a country can reject a person’s asylum application if they have already been granted protection by another country. It is also often referred to as ‘safe third country’ principle. This broader term includes other relationships between an asylum seeker and a third country where they are deemed safe. These two principles are central to the Dublin Regulation, of which Norway is a member. The Dublin Regulation aims to streamline asylum management in Europe by only allowing an asylum application to be processed by one country; normally the country where the person first arrives in Europe. It seeks to avoid ‘asylum shopping’ when a person applies for protection in one country after being rejected by another. Although the Dublin Regulation is only valid for European countries that have signed it, the two previous principles are based on an interpretation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and hence applicable to all countries that have acceded to it. The principles are not directly mentioned in the Convention, but derived from Article 31, which states that a refugee should not be punished for illegally entering a country if they are arriving directly from a country where they were under threat."
If you go from one safe country to another, are you still an asylum seeker or just an economic migrant?

The Simplest Way to Drastically Improve Your Life: More Sleep - The New York Times - "measurably improve your memory, overall cognitive performance, ability to learn new information, receptivity to facial cues, mood, ability to handle problems, metabolism, risk for heart disease and immune system... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called sleep deprivation a public health crisis, saying that one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep. Some 80 percent of people report sleep problems at least once per week, and according to a 2016 study, sleep deprivation “causes more than $400 billion in economic losses annually in the United States and results in 1.23 million lost days of work each year.”"
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