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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Links - 5th January 2019 (2)

Current model of Internet separation unsustainable in longer run: MOH chief data advisor - "While it has resolved or mitigated some cyber-security risks, Internet separation has come “at the price of increased time and costs, lost productivity and new risks”... Dr Yip’s comments came a week after SingHealth’s group chief executive Ivy Ng expressed similar sentiments... Frontline public healthcare employees now need to use separate devices to check and retrieve patient information such as medical insurance details, financial or grant status, as well as Medisave balances from the Central Provident Fund.Dr Yip told the committee on Monday that this initially led to "lengthened patients’ wait times" because such Internet-enabled devices are shared by users.The time taken to obtain letters of guarantee from private insurers has tripled — from five minutes to between 15 and 20 minutes... In some institutions, staff members have had to work overtime to complete tasks... Two public hospitals had to suspend teleconsultation with the National Neuroscience Institute, but this was later resolved through the provision of a dedicated leased line with sufficient bandwidth to support high-resolution video conferencing.At one hospital, which was not named, Dr Yip said the class size for basic cardiac life support courses was halved because trainers were unable to access e-learning materials... The use of separate Internet-enabled devices leads to other risks and vulnerabilities because “some information will need to be transferred between (these devices) and the corporate machines through… emails and external storage devices”, he said.In the longer term, with a shrinking healthcare employee pool and a rapidly ageing population, the “current model of (Internet separation) would not be sustainable... “In the immediate aftermath of the (cyber attacks), public healthcare staff have accepted the additional burden and challenges… Internet separation may hinder the deployment or trial of newer or more seamless modes of patient care, such as telemedicine or ways to shift patient care towards the community and home... Portugal does not practise Internet separation, believing that it “increases the complexity of work in medical practice, and blocks access to important medical resources that are integral to patient care”
Meanwhile, in the civil service...

Internet separation has lengthened waiting times - "Healthcare staff have had to take additional steps to book screening appointments and upload test results for patients. These steps include the manual porting of information, causing delays in reporting and creating an additional risk of transcription errors... hospital staff have to use their personal mobile phones to work, and some hospitals have suspended their policies that disallowed this. Hospitals and clinics have spent "a significant amount of resources" to get more devices for their staff to use... The use of separate Internetenabled devices also opens up the system to new cyber-security risks, pointed out Prof Yip.As these devices are not on the corporate network, they need to be patched manually, which could lead to a delay in the updates. Tasks associated with servicing and maintaining hospital equipment such as diagnostic testing, remote troubleshooting or uploading of maintenance logs are also affected... patients have accepted poorer service delivery standards, delays and inconveniences"

The problem with “shop local,” explained by Jeremiah Moss
Apparently big companies are so evil they're willing to pay more in rent just to drive mom and pop stores out of business. And in his world big companies aren't suffering from online shopping

Online shopping blasting holes in traditional retailer profits - "A deadly but invisible hitman is targeting traditional retail departments and chain stores across the country.Edcon, SA’s largest nonfood retailer, remains in the intensive care unit as its new owners painstakingly try to stop the bleed of customers to new technology and competition"

Now You Own It, Soon You Don’t? - The New York Times - "A controversial United States Supreme Court decision in June 2005, which upheld the power of local governments to seize private property for the benefit of private businesses, inspired an uprising that led 40 states to pass laws that rein in, to varying degrees, that authority."
So evidently eminent domain can't account for the death of small retail throughout the US
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Reason and Reality in an Era of Conspiracy - "Did Nelson Mandela die in prison or did he die years later? Many people reading this probably lived through such recent history, and know perfectly well that he died decades after his release. Many of our students, however, do not know this because they didn’t live through it, and they haven’t been taught it. That is trivially true, and not particularly worrisome. But in 2010 a quirky blogger named Fiona Broome noticed that many people she met – people who should know better – incorrectly believed that Mandela had died in prison. She dubbed this kind of widespread collective false memory the “Mandela Effect” and began gathering more cases, inspiring others to contribute examples to a growing online database... There’s nothing particularly surprising or even interesting about such failures of memory. Our memories are deeply fallible and highly suggestible. A recent study revealed that psychologists can easily coax subjects to ‘remember’ committing a crime they never actually committed (see Dr. Julia Shaw’s recent book The Memory Illusion). With the right coaching I can start to remember the time I assaulted a stranger, even if I never did... here’s where it gets weird. Students – yes, current undergrads – think the explanation for these strange false memories is that a parallel universe is occasionally spilling into ours... Alternatively, a number of students believe that we humans are moving between these parallel universes unknowingly, and also time-traveling so that our memories are distorted via the shifting time line. When I pressed my students, suggesting they were not really serious, they grew indignant. Like a gnostic elite, they frowned upon my failure to grasp the genius of their metaphysical conspiracy theory... Intense handwringing has attended the rise of fake news. The worries are justified, since the media has never been more unreliable, biased, and embattled. But the proposed solutions tend to focus on fixing the media, and no one dares suggest that we should be fixing the human mind. The human mind, however, is arguably broken... Harvard legal scholars Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule suggest that contemporary Americans are more credulous and committed to conspiracy theories because they have a “crippled epistemology.”... According to a recent survey by the National Science Foundation, for example, over half of young people today (aged between 18 and 24), believe that astrology is a science, providing real knowledge. During the last three years, I have surveyed around 600 students and found some depressing trends. Approximately half of these students believe they have dreams that predict the future. Half believe in ghosts. A third of them believe aliens already visit our planet. A third believe that AIDS is a man-made disease created to destroy specific social groups. A third believe that the 1969 moon landing never happened. And a third believe that Princess Diana was assassinated by the royal family. Importantly, it’s not the same third that believes all these things. There is not a consistently gullible group that believes every wacky thing. Rather, the same student will be utterly dogmatic about one strange theory, but dismissive and disdainful about another. There appears to be a two-step breakdown in critical thinking. Unlimited information, without logical training, leads to a crude form of skepticism in students. Everything is doubtful and everything is possible. Since that state of suspended commitment is not tenable, it is usually followed by an almost arbitrary dogmatism... Another motive seems lurking in the background too, and it is insidious. The millennial generation does not like being wrong. They are unaccustomed to it. Their education – a unique blend of No Child Left Behind, helicopter parenting, and oppression olympics, has made them uncomfortable with Socratic criticism. When my colleague recently corrected the grammar on a student’s essay, the student scolded him for enacting “microaggressions” against her syntax... More than just a curative to lazy conspiracy thinking, logic is a great bulwark against totalitarianism and manipulation. The best cure for fake news is smarter citizens"

On the Fallibility of Memory and the Importance of Evidence - "memories are not concrete, nor do they simply deteriorate with age. They are malleable, changeable, and easily influenced by suggestion. These changes are incorporated into the original memory to a degree that they seem every bit as real as its truest aspects. As Yale researchers Marcia K. Johnson and Carol L. Raye noted, “All experience is constructed in that people use their general knowledge of the world to fill in ‘missing elements.’” For this reason, memories are subject to what is known as the Misinformation Effect... A flashbulb memory is a memory encoded in a time of intense psychological stress that is supposedly extraordinarily vivid and accurate, like a snapshot illuminated by the light of a camera’s flash... flashbulb memories use the same neural mechanisms, decay at the same rate, and are no more nor less accurate than typical memories overall. The only notable difference seems to be the confidence with which people speak about their flashbulb memories... many researchers argue that flashbulb memories are less accurate... New York University neurologists Christina Alberini and Joseph LeDoux examine memory reconsolidation, in which the act of reconstruction at the time of retrieval leaves a memory “susceptible to change” each time it is remembered. Operating under the assumption that different kinds of memories are stored via different mechanisms, Alberini and LeDoux demonstrate that amygdala-dependent memories—those based on threat conditioning and intense fear emotions like in “flashbulb” memories—might be more susceptible to disruption and alteration via reconsolidation... It is not so much like a camera’s snapshot of an event as it is like an impressionist painter’s interpretation of it... each retrieval of a memory leaves it susceptible to alteration. Thus, memories that are called upon quite frequently—as traumatic memories often are—will decrease in accuracy at a more rapid pace than those that are retrieved less often. Over a long enough period of time, this can lead to a memory that’s virtually unrecognizable when compared to the original event. “When memories are retrieved they are susceptible to change, such that future retrievals call upon the changed information.”... In 1992, the Innocence Project was founded... By far, the leading cause of false imprisonment in these cases was eyewitness misidentification, which played a role in 70 percent of the convictions. Nearly half of those misidentifications (46 percent) involved multiple eyewitnesses “identifying” the same, innocent person... eyewitness testimonies of victims are far more likely to play a role in wrongful convictions than those of bystanders... our recognition of casual acquaintances—people we may see quite often but with whom we rarely interact—is often no better than chance... activists routinely point to data that shows the rate of false claims is only about 5.9 percent. However, they invariably neglect to mention that this figure only covers those cases that were unequivocally proven to be false by authorities. It does not include cases dropped due to insufficient evidence or otherwise left unresolved because the victim withdrew from the process, or was unable to identify the perpetrator, or mislabeled an incident that does not fit the legal definition of sexual assault. The number of cases that fall into one or more of these categories is 44.9 percent, not including the 5.9 percent figure, above. It’s therefore impossible to tell what the true percentage of false accusations is, but even a 6 percent (or one in 17) chance that an innocent person may be convicted ought to be too great a risk."
So much for unusually compelling testimony

Consent Isn’t Everything and Sex Is Not Like Tea - "The message that colleges and universities are communicating to students is that consent is a sort of panacea against all the (non-biological) risks of sex, and that, so long as there is consent, everything is okay. Of course, in a limited sense, the stance of higher education is understandable because, from a legal perspective, consent is everything. But, just because consent protects universities from liability, that does not mean that it protects women from harm. Sex, in short, is a lot more complicated than tea... For the hook-up to be a fair transaction, the two parties have to be mutually satisfied with obtaining the potential benefits of a single sexual encounter. This certainly includes the bodily or physical pleasures of arousal, stimulation, and climax. What makes sex tricky is that there is much more that is desirable about sex than these more physical pleasures. Many of the other desirable features are not easily contained within the single sexual encounter. Some of the enjoyments of sex have to do with a reflective enjoyment of the experience. Here we get into trouble because there are reasons to think that men have an advantage over women in obtaining these benefits from a single and self-contained sexual encounter... women take a huge gamble when they engage in casual hookups, and when her sexual partner fails to realize this, or take the necessary precautions, the result will be a feeling of violation, a feeling of being harmed, a feeling of being taken advantage of."

Columnist: It Should Be Illegal To Be A Stay-At-Home-Mom - "An Australian columnist, Sarrah Le Marquand, wrote in The Daily Telegraph that she thinks it should be illegal to be a stay-at-home-mom. The sound of that should surely get feminists happy; who have long viewed stay-at-home mothers with disgust as a group that has betrayed the sisterhood for (gasp!) wanting to raise their children to the best of their ability...
'Only when the tiresome and completely unfounded claim that “feminism is about choice” is dead and buried (it’s not about choice, it’s about equality) will we consign restrictive gender stereotypes to history.'...
at the end of the day, it’s really no one’s business how folks run their households. And there shouldn’t be any laws banning how your neighbors raise their kids because they're not falling in line with a feminist initiative. That’s just...fascist, right?"
Another feminism admitting (indeed proclaiming) that feminism isn't about choice and that it's about coercing women into making the 'right' decisions - just like how they killed the Grid Girls

Save our bacon - "the studies that claim to reveal the carcinogenic nature of meat show that the relative risk of eating meat is low. When dealing with epidemiological studies, it is wise to proceed with extreme caution. There are so many potential confounding factors that only the strongest correlations can be accepted as causal factors with any confidence. For instance, smokers are around 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. It is pretty clear therefore that there is a connection between smoking and cancer. Now compare that with the relative cancer risk of eating processed meat: one authoritative study in 2011 put the risk factor at 17 per cent. That’s more than a hundred times less than the risk of smoking – hardly grounds to assert that it causes cancer... living longer is far more costly. Those who live longer will keep on receiving pensions, health and social care, free bus passes, free TV licences and other entitlements for longer than anyone else. If the usual claims about what is healthy are true, then it is the salad-munching fanatics who will live longer and cost the most money. You could argue this means we should tax lettuce and gym memberships... there are roughly 60million deaths worldwide each year or eight deaths per 1,000 people. If the researchers’ claims are correct, these eye-watering taxes would postpone just 220,000, or 0.4 per cent of those deaths. But even this figure beggars belief. As Christopher Snowdon points out in the Spectator, the new study’s calculations are built on the idea that red and processed meat kill 2.4million per year. In comparison, the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease series recently put the figure at 140,000, suggesting that even postponing 220,000 deaths is a massive overstatement"

Links - 5th January 2019 (1)

Professor attacked for reporting that liberal administrators outnumber conservative ones - "Samuel Abrams, a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College, has come under attack from students — and even his boss — after reporting on his survey which found liberal staff members on campuses outnumber their conservative counterparts by a ratio of 12-to-one. The self-described “conservative-leaning professor” recently published the results of his nationwide survey of roughly 900 administrators in an op-ed in the New York Times on Oct. 16 titled “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators.”... Abrams’ office was vandalized by students furious over his column, some saying they felt “unsafe” by his presence, others demanding he quit... it wasn’t the negativity that has had the greatest impact on Abrams.“What really struck me was just how many emails I got that were actually positive that say someone needed to say this, thank you, here’s my story, here’s how I struggled with it, here’s what’s been frustrating for me. To me that is the greatest finding of the whole thing,” Abrams said... he felt his boss pressured him to quit or find another campus to teach at.“She said I had created a hostile work environment. If [the op-ed] constitutes hate speech, then this is not a world that I want to be a part of,” Abrams said.Reason also reports that Abrams said during his meeting with Judd that she implied he was “on the market for a new job.”“I am not on the job market. I am tenured, I live in New York. Why would I go on the job market?”"
Research is only good if it serves liberal ends
Facts make "minorities" feel "unsafe" - but vandalism to make non-liberals feel unsafe is good


Ohio University considers minorities-only gym: report - "Proposal would transform underused space"
How does letting fewer people use the gym increase utilisation?

Stanford adds male-focused gym hours following complaint about women-only hours - "Miranda has not responded to the devil’s-advocate argument that Stanford would never ban black people from a workout space if they made white people uncomfortable, or that the university would never deny that white-only hours amount to a “ban” on black people."

Porn star gives college students 'Intro to BDSM' training - "Funding for the events comes largely from the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College, which collects mandatory student fees"

Nazis: A Modern Field Guide - "Very few of the real Nazis who survived the end of the Nazi regime are still alive today, and fewer still would express lingering adherence to Nazi ideology. Moreover, the whole architecture of Nazi ideology was based on the formation of a viable mainstream German political movement oriented toward the creation of a world-conquering white supremacist prison state. Thankfully, no such movement exists. Which means that real Nazis are effectively extinct... The unusually rich collection of photos, newsreels, books, ideas, personalities and quotations that emerged from the Nazis period is such that anyone seeking to attack his or her enemies by cherry picking history can usually find some stray image or set of words from the Nazi historical record that aligns, in some way, with the object of attack. George W. Bush was compared to Hitler by some liberals when he invaded Iraq. Barack Obama was compared to Hitler by some conservatives, who claimed that the Affordable Care Act mandated the use of “death panels.” Take enough pictures of a person going about their daily activities, and you will eventually get a shot of them giving something that looks vaguely like a Nazi salute. Indeed, there is a perverse incentive for modern activists to imagine that we inhabit an age in which Nazis are powerful and ascendant—because this conceit gives moral grandeur to their own activism: It allows them to position themselves as moral heirs to the French Resistance, the martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the Allied armies that defeated the Nazi menace."

Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review: What Neither the Republicans Nor the Democrats Understand About Obamacare - "Both sides don't understand that this was not about Obamacare. It was about health insurance security.Obamacare guaranteed people that they would never again be turned down for health insurance because of a preexisting condition. It assured those who couldn't afford to buy health insurance they would be given financial assistance. And, it offered the expansion of Medicaid to the poorest.Obamacare offered health insurance security--at least, it turned out, to those with the lowest incomes.But Obamacare also devastated the individual health insurance market with its prohibitively high prices and out-of-pocket costs for the middle-class... Republicans have seemingly never understood that Obamacare has worked well for low-income people who get the biggest premium and out-of-pocket subsidies. It has worked well for those eligible for Medicaid in the states that have expanded it. And, it has been critically important for those with preexisting conditions. And, that three deep red states--Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho--voted last week to expand Medicaid clearly says that even in the reddest states what people want is health insurance security not only for themselves but for their neighbors.But what Democrats have never been willing to admit is that the program has been devastating for the middle class--those who get no subsidy, or a relatively small subsidy--for the way it has wrecked their individual health insurance market."

Why Did so Many Wanted Nazis Convert to Islam? - "This alliance between the Nazi swastika and the Islamic Koran is well explained in a 1942 article written by Johann von Leers, the best known of Nazi converts to Islam. Published in the newspaper “Die Judenfrage”, the article presented Judaism and Islam in terms of Hegel’s thesis and antithesis: “The hostility of Muhammad towards the Jews had a consequence: the Oriental Jews were totally paralyzed. If the rest of the world had adopted a similar policy, we would not have the ‘Jewish question’. Islam has made an eternal service to the world by preventing the conquest of Arabia by the Jews”... The collaborator of Goebbels, Johann von Leers, was solemnly received in Cairo by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini: “We thank you for having fought against the powers of darkness incarnated by world Jewry”
They were anti-Zionists who were outraged at Israel's treatment of the [Muslim] Palestinians and wanted to show solidarity with "minorities"

Free speech at university: One in five students says it’s acceptable to use violence - "US colleges have long had a liberal bent to them. What is striking, though, is how far students of that majority political view are willing to go nowadays to protect it, especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.A Brookings Institution report this week, pulling data from a survey of 1,500 undergraduates at four-year universities across 49 states, found that 19% of students agree with the following statement:A student group opposed to the speaker uses violence to prevent the speaker from speaking. Do you agree or disagree that the student group’s actions are acceptable?And 44% replied “no” to the following:Does the First Amendment protect “hate speech”?(Those 44% are wrong. ”Hate speech,” with some caveats, is legally protected under the US constitution.)The full set of questions and responses reveals a telling divide on university campuses, and a fairly ironic one, at that: Though college students by and large want their schools to be bastions of free speech and free thought, many of them also do not believe “offensive” or “hurtful” comments or speakers have any place within that ideology. John Villasenor, a public policy professor and the author of the report, remarked in his conclusions that “a majority of students appear to want an environment that shields them from being exposed to views they might find offensive.”"

University alerts students to danger of leftwing essay - "Students at the University of Reading have been told to take care when reading an essay by the late Professor Norman Geras, in order to avoid falling foul of Prevent... Geras was professor emeritus of government at the University of Manchester until his death in 2013. He rejected terrorism but argued that violence could be justified in the case of grave social injustices."

Midwives rail against proposal to call women persons in new code of conduct - "WHEN a person’s waters break and that “person” goes into labour, we’ve gone too far.That sums up the position of Australia’s midwives, who have had to fight to get “woman”, rather than “person”, into their new code of conduct.The Nursing and Midwifery Board took the nation’s 30,000 midwives by surprise when it drafted the new code and replaced references to “woman-centred care” with “person-centred care”. The Board invited submissions on the draft code and they flooded in, from the profession, academics and individuals. UniSA midwifery professor Mary Steen told The Advertiser it was a “wise decision” to retain woman-centred care.“Midwife means with woman,” she said. “The woman is at the centre of a midwife’s scope of practice, which is based on the best available evidence to provide the best care and support to meet individual women’s health and wellbeing needs.”... “Person-centred care also removes the woman from the central role in her child-bearingexperience and renders her invisible,” she says in her written submission.Australian College of Midwives spokeswoman Sarah Stewart said midwifery had to be about women.“Once we start moving down the road of talking about women as persons, we lose women’s identity — that fundamental essence,” she said.“Women are struggling to have their voices heard enough as it is.“It’s another chip at women’s identity. That’s my personal view.”... "the absolute vast majority of people we care for are women"... Other submissions to the Board argued Australia’s code should be consistent with those internationally, which still referred to the care of women."
The trans agenda is stalled for a short period of time in one area

Lesson for Singapore: concentration of power in a few led to Venice’s downfall - "Venice rose to become a great maritime empire (Stato da Mar in the Venetian dialect) because it gave its citizens a say in their governance and a chance to share in its growing prosperity. In 1171, the powers of the Doge, the de facto monarch, were diluted and devolved to a Great Council comprising mostly merchants... Venice sealed its fate when it concentrated all political and economic power in the hands of a minority.Doubtless there are other important factors accounting for its decline, such as the rise of bigger maritime powers like the Netherlands and England, but the corrosive effects of letting a few decide all and take all snuffed out Venice’s elixir of life and vibrancy... If Singaporeans need a further, and Asian, example of how political stratification and concentration of all power in the hands of a few brought down an empire, they might want to look at Han dynasty China. What prevailed then was a lang-li society, as eminent Chinese historian Qian Mu called it, with lang being the body of officials in central government, appointed because they scored well in imperial examinations, and li, the lower-ranked officers who carried out policies decided by the former.As it turned out, the lang class colluded with eunuchs in the imperial court as well as relatives and appointees of the empress in grand larceny.Open rebellion followed not long after... Leslie Fong is a former editor of The Straits Times"
Social studies!

As a Toronto Mob Brays, David Frum and Steve Bannon Joust over Populism’s Split Soul - "Some of the placards betrayed signs of haste—including signs held up by a couple that read, “Fuck You Nazis,” and “Nazis, Get Fucked,” on matching sides of a grease-stained pizza box. But the sentiment came through loud and clear: It’s 1933. Which side are you on? Fortunately, the scene inside the debate hall—where 2,800 audience members had assembled to see Frum and Bannon debate the resolution, “The future of western politics is populist not liberal”—did not quite align with the Nazi Party Congress. The Nazis took a decidedly uncharitable view toward dissidents and hecklers. But when two protestors interrupted the debate by unfurling banners from balconies and (in one case) loudly denouncing us as racists, they received polite applause for their moxie. Indeed, moderator Rudyard Griffiths informed the first that she was welcome to stay, banner and all, if she would simply stop yelling. It was only when she kept on jabbering that two officers escorted her out with all the gentleness of an elderly relative being walked to her pew at a wedding. Clearly, these officers would never have cut it as brownshirts... Bannon parried effectively when Frum took him to task for the dog-whistle anti-semitism that infects low-end conservative media. “They don’t target [George] Soros because he’s Jewish, but because he’s effective,” Bannon countered—adding that he had modeled his own N.G.O.s on Soros’ organization because he admired Soros’ success so much... Forceful interruption of public events is almost always wrong. If I see you reading a book that I dislike, I have no right to grab it from you. In a free society, there can be no equivalent of the Saudi religious police, monitoring public behavior and discourse and interrupting things of which they disapprove."

Portrait of the Artist as a False Accuser - "How should we feel about a false accuser turning her story into a commercially successful art project—even as the target of her claims hovers on the brink of suicide and bankruptcy?... Once a best-selling author and department chair, he became a middle-aged husk whose only income derived from shovelling gravel at minimum wage. On social media, and even among former friends and peers, he was written off as a rapist. Only now is his reputation finally being rehabilitated.The professor in question was, of course, former University of British Columbia creating writing chair Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo... the case against Galloway fell apart. A former B.C. Supreme Court justice, Mary Ellen Boyd, found that MC’s story didn’t hold up under investigation. As noted by Brad Cran in his exhaustive Quillette report, a handful of much more minor accusations hurled at Galloway also dissolved as soon as Boyd started asking hard questions. Following protracted negotiations, UBC paid Galloway C$167,000 in damages for public statements that violated his privacy rights and harmed his reputation—followed by another C$60,000 several months later. (As for, MC, her real name—Caralea Cole—is now common currency in the media following a widely reported defamation suit launched against her, and several dozen others, by Galloway.) Yet MC stood by her accusations. Indeed, she claims a second form of victimization—the loss of her voice as an artist during the years that have passed since her consensual affair with Galloway... Not only will wealthy New Yorkers have unsubstantiated accusations against him hanging on their living-room walls, they will be paying for the privilege, with the proceeds going to the woman who ruined his life"
False accusers are still victims, it seems

Friday, January 04, 2019

Links - 4th January 2019 (2)

Kamala Harris Draws Parallels between ICE & KKK
The liberal bubble is strong

Why Nationalism Is Better Than Cultural Pluralism - "Critics of nationalism often point to the fact that it is a relatively novel doctrine, and they’re not wrong to do so. What they tend to neglect, however, is that the same can be said of nationalism’s chief rival: the ideal of a cultural pluralism that is bereft of hierarchy. In liberal circles, “nationalism” is typically understood as a divisive, exclusionary force, usually in implicit contrast with some form of cultural pluralism, and so to identify as a nationalist is to declare oneself a chauvinist. But as McNeill suggests, nationalism can be understood as a unifying alternative to a society built on polyethnic hierarchy, in which a series of hereditary ethnic castes live together in uneasy peace, usually with some dominating the others. It is polyethnic hierarchy that has been the norm throughout modern history, not national unity or egalitarian pluralism. One could argue that the dream of pluralism without hierarchy is at least as chimerical as that of an egalitarian nationalism built on the melting and fusing together of once-distinct groups, if not far more so. McNeill’s stylized history gives us a sense of what we’re up against as we try to build decent and humane societies amidst entrenched ethnic divisions, and why so many modern thinkers have embraced the politics of national unity... McNeill concluded his argument with a prediction that is darkly relevant to the present day: “Social strains and frictions are almost sure to increase within nations playing host to different ethnic groups; and sporadic resort to riot and even wholesale murder is likely.”He also pointed to the fundamental challenge of polyethnicity throughout world history: “Efforts to sustain equality in face of actual differences in skill and custom have met with very limited success … Other civilized societies have almost always accepted and enforced inequality among the diverse ethnic groups of which they were composed.”"

No, nationalism is not a dirty word or Trump property - "While commemorating World War I’s armistice, France’s Emmanuel Macron just claimed, incorrectly: “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ‘Our interest first. Who cares about the others?’”That’s xenophobia, not nationalism. Europe illustrates the dangers of delegitimizing nationalism as group bigotry: governments fail to protect their own national interests and borders, triggering fanatic overreactions, further giving nationalism a bad name.After Trump used that n-word, The New York Times reported wrongly that “as a general rule, presidents do not refer to themselves as a ‘nationalist,’” as it’s only associated “with racist movements.” No liberal, no proud, patriotic American should allow Trump or anyone else to hijack the term “nationalism” and seize it for one party.Actually, most presidents use adjectives to distinguish constructive liberal nationalism from its evil twin. Since 1715, “nationalist” means “one characterized by national tendencies or sympathies.” Macron should know that “nationalism,” from the French “nationalisme,” emerged in 1844... Countries without nationalism are like people without souls, unable to stretch, soar, mobilize. People say “find a better word”; I say “take back the night.”"

‘We must never take free speech for granted’ - "I grew up in one of the most liberal, tolerant societies in the world: Denmark. No one ever thought about free speech because it was just as natural as breathing the air. And then we had the cartoon crisis, which was the wake-up call for me. It has shaped both my interest in and understanding of free speech, not only because it was such a dramatic event but also because it dawned on me how vulnerable free speech is... Denmark is a secular, liberal democracy, among the most liberal in the world. But it wasn’t always so. If you go back to the Enlightenment, Denmark was the horror story that people like Thomas Paine and earlier Whigs like Robert Molesworth wrote about to warn about the dangers of absolutist rule and what happens when you mix religion and politics. Lutheranism had become the state church and it suppressed everyone in Denmark. From a historical point of view, that’s the recent past, so we should really not take for granted that we are a secular, liberal democracy that has free speech... You can have your ideas – freedom of religion is protected. But freedom of religion does not give you the right to tell others to stop offending your beliefs.
spiked: Throughout Europe there also seems to be an unofficial, cultural pressure that acts as an informal blasphemy law. Is that just as significant?
Mchangama: It is very significant. If you read George Orwell or John Stuart Mill, they make it very clear that the prevailing orthodoxy among the elites about what you can and cannot say acts as at least as big a barrier to free speech as the law. Particularly, in democratic societies that don’t formally prosecute lots of speech. But I would say that when it comes to Islam, fear plays an important role. You cannot blame journalists and people in the arts for being afraid and having to take their security into account. But I think it is absolutely crucial that they are honest about it. Rather than say, ‘we did this out of respect’, they should come out and say, ‘we would have liked to publish a cartoon of Muhammad, but we were afraid of doing it’. That then shows us where the red lines are... The current Danish centre-right government has introduced more restrictions on free speech than any other since the Second World War"

When it comes to life-saving CPR, men are too worried about touching women: Teitel - "According to a new study published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, women suffering cardiac arrest are less likely than men to receive CPR from bystanders in public spaces. The study looked at more than 19,000 cases around the United States in which people suffered cardiac arrest in public, and researchers determined that while 45 per cent of men were given CPR by bystanders, only 39 per cent of women received the procedure. One possible reason for this discrepancy? Researchers believe that some male bystanders may be hesitant to perform CPR on women because they don’t want to touch their chests. After all, CPR requires that a rescuer press down on the chest of the person who needs saving... I spoke to two CPR professionals who told me that though they hope men don’t walk away from CPR instruction afraid to perform the procedure on women, many students begin first-aid class harbouring a host of fears about performing CPR — from getting sued, to contracting a disease, to being accused of sexual misconduct"
Of course she blames sexism

Why are black poor Americans more optimistic than white ones? - "black and Hispanic people are much less likely than white people to report depression or commit suicide.Some of this may be due to resilience built up over generations of hardship - as seen in many poor countries.Informal safety nets may also play a role - such as the community surrounding black churches and extended Hispanic families... they also have a strong sense of black culture and community: factors that are difficult to measure but undoubtedly important.It is a picture similar to the strong sense of community and culture that helps explain why Latin Americans report higher levels of happiness than those in regions with comparable or higher incomes."

Australians love Asian food, so why doesn't it win as many awards as Italian?
Apparently an emphasis on fresh and good quality ingredients, a large wine list, good service, the focus being on big pieces of meat instead of cheap carbs and plating have nothing to do with it with why expensive 'white' food is seen as more elevated than cheap Asian (or why Japanese is the most accepted Asian cuisine in fine dining)
Presumably due to cultural expectations, people think a burger made from chuck and fries is more high class than Chinese aristocrat cuisine


Supporters raise $135,000 for teacher who pummeled 14-year-old student who called him the n-word - "A racial taunt turned a California classroom into the site of a brawl between two unlikely participants last week: a 64-year-old music teacher and a 14-year-old student. Days later, thousands of supporters have flooded a GoFundMe account, raising more than $135,000.The altercation began at Maywood Academy High School in Maywood, California, when Marston Riley asked a male student, who was improperly dressed and in violation of the school uniform rules, to leave the room, the Sacramento Bee reported. A cellphone video shows the teenager refusing, then throwing a basketball at the teacher, who is black, and saying, “Why you wisecracking, my n—–?”... students gathered outside the school holding posters lined with music notes that read: “Riley deserves better” and “Justice for Riley.”"
Words speak louder than actions - why is why a teacher gets so much money for beating up a student

Peter Beinart: Will the Democratic Party Go Too Far? - "The Democrats aren’t just changing their rhetoric and campaign-finance model. They are embracing Big Government policies dismissed as utopian or irresponsible only a year or two ago. During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton criticized Sanders’s plan for making tuition free at public colleges. By January 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—long known as an ally of Wall Street and a critic of excessive government spending—was onstage with Sanders announcing that New York would institute its own free-college plan. In the spring of 2018, Booker—once considered so centrist that in 2013 The Atlantic published an article titled “Why Do Liberals Hate Cory Booker?”—introduced legislation to help localities with high unemployment rates offer guaranteed federal jobs, an expansion of government so dramatic that even Sanders had not proposed it during his campaign.One reason for this shift is the growing influence that activists now enjoy within the party... In ways that would have been hard to imagine in the Clinton and Obama eras, Democratic politicians are themselves crossing back and forth between participation in the political system and agitation outside it... In 2015, Sanders hired as chief economist for the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee an academic who believes that federal deficits generally don’t matter. Progressive commentators now routinely publish articles with headlines like “Stop Trying to Be ‘Responsible’ on the Budget, Democrats” (The Washington Post) and “Yes, Democrats Are the Party of Fiscal Responsibility. But That Will (and Should) Change” (Vox)... That will leave future Democrats with a choice. They can limit their ambitions to whatever Republicans won’t block. They can dramatically expand the use of reconciliation, which might require replacing the Senate parliamentarian. Or they can make it harder—or even impossible—to filibuster legislation. These latter steps would not violate the law. But they would enrage Republicans and fuel the sense that, post-Trump, anything goes.Finally, and most radically, Democrats could follow Roosevelt’s example and try to pack a recalcitrant Supreme Court. The idea, which Democrats barely discussed before Trump’s election, is gaining steam. In recent months, writers for The Washington Post, Vox, The Intercept, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The American Prospect have either endorsed it or declared it worthy of serious debate. Advocates for overturning the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court argue that both institutions flout the popular will. Republican senators disproportionately hail from less populous states. Four of the five conservative justices were appointed by Republican presidents who’d lost the popular vote. As an article in the influential socialist journal Jacobin recently argued, “Sometimes you have to break the rules to create a more democratic system.”In the short term, this strategy could work... [a] lesson of the 1930s and the 1960s is that threatening entrenched norms and disrupting public order—although effective for a while—can eventually provoke a fierce backlash"
Democratic safeguards are bad when they inhibit the Democratic agenda

Prof sues over gender pronoun usage - "A professor at a public university in Ohio is suing the school, claiming he was punished for not calling a student by their preferred pronoun... when Meriwether declined to address the student as a female, the student allegedly told the professor, “then I guess this means I can call you a c**t.”"
So much for compelled speech being a paranoid right wing conservative fantasy

Professor who assaulted pro-life student will speak at U. Oregon black feminist series - "a professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara stole a sign from a pro-life campus demonstration and physically attacked a teenager who tried to retrieve it, drawing her blood.Mireille Miller-Young not only got to keep her job, but she’s being honored by the University of Oregon this week.The taxpayer-funded university’s Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies is featuring Miller-Young as the first presenter in its “black feminist speaker series.” The professor of feminist studies will “discuss her work on black feminism, labor and sex work.”The series will tackle “the radical potential of black feminism in the work that we do on campus and in our everyday lives”... After her altercation with pro-life students in 2014, she told police she had set a good moral example for her students by stealing the property of a group that “triggered” her... Supportive professors from across the country sent letters to the judge, defending Miller-Young as a victim of the “cultural legacy of slavery” and of “violent images … meant to traumatize,” referring to the graphic abortion images the student group was using."
Yet we only hear about "far right" violence

China’s Great Leap Backward / China under Xi

China’s Great Leap Backward – Foreign Policy

"In the last 40 years, China has racked up a long list of remarkable accomplishments... What made these achievements all the more striking is that the Chinese government accomplished them while remaining politically repressive—something that historical precedent and political theory suggest is very, very difficult. No wonder, then, that the China scholar Orville Schell describes this record as “one of the most startling miracles of economic development in world history.”...

The miraculous quality of China’s achievements makes what is happening in the country today especially tragic—and alarming. Under the guise of fighting corruption, President Xi Jinping is methodically dismantling virtually every one of the reforms that made China’s spectacular growth possible over the last four decades. In the place of a flawed but highly successful system, he is erecting a colossal cult of personality focused on him alone, concentrating more power in his hands than has any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

In the short term, Xi’s efforts may make China seem less corrupt and more stable. But by destroying many of the mechanisms that made the Chinese miracle possible, Xi risks reversing those gains and turning China into just another police state (think a gigantic, more open version of North Korea): inefficient, ineffective, brittle, and bellicose. And that should worry not just China’s 1.4 billion citizens but the rest of us as well.

To understand what makes Xi’s personal empire-building campaign so dangerous, it helps to first understand what made China exceptional for so long. Throughout modern history, most tyrannies and one-party states have shared a few basic traits. Power is held by a very small number of individuals. To maintain their power, those individuals repress dissent and rule by intimidation. Because bureaucrats and citizens live in fear, they compete to flatter their bosses. Nobody tells the truth, especially when it could make them or their leaders look bad. As a result, cloistered tyrants—their egos bloated by constant, obsequious praise—find themselves increasingly cut off from reality and the rest of the world (think Kim Jong Un, Bashar al-Assad, or Robert Mugabe) and end up ruling by whim and instinct with little sense of what’s actually happening in their own countries. The impact of this ignorance on domestic and foreign policy is disastrous.

For 35 years or so—from the time Mao died and Deng Xiaoping launched his reforms in the late 1970s until Xi assumed power in 2012—China avoided many of these pitfalls and defied the law of political averages by building what scholars have called an “adaptive authoritarian” regime. While remaining nominally communist, the country embraced many forms of market capitalism and a number of other liberalizing reforms. Of course, the old system remained highly repressive (remember Tiananmen Square) and was far from perfect in many other ways. It did, however, allow the Chinese government to function in an unusually effective fashion and avoid many of the pathologies suffered by other authoritarian regimes. Censorship never disappeared, for example, but party members could disagree and debate ideas, and internal reports could be surprisingly blunt.

No longer. Today, Xi is systematically undermining virtually every feature that made China so distinct and helped it work so well in the past. His efforts may boost his own power and prestige in the short term and reduce some forms of corruption. On balance, however, Xi’s campaign will have disastrous long-term consequences for his country and the world.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the system Deng created was the way it distributed power among various leaders. Rather than let one person exercise supreme authority, as do most dictatorships, Deng divided power among the Communist Party’s general secretary (who also gets the title of president), the premier, and the Politburo.

Deng hoped this system would ensure that no one person could ever again exercise the kind of control Mao had—since his unchecked power had led to vast abuses and mistakes... As Minxin Pei, a China expert at Claremont McKenna College, explains, the collective leadership model Deng designed helped weed out bad ideas and promote good ones by emphasizing careful deliberation and discouraging risk-taking.

Since assuming power in 2012, Xi has worked to dismantle China’s collective leadership system... More members of the Communist Party’s powerful Central Committee have been disciplined since 2012 than in the entire period dating back to the Communist Revolution.

Not content to merely eliminate any competition, Xi has also consolidated his power by abandoning the term limits on his job and by refusing to name a successor, as his predecessors did halfway through their tenures. He’s also had “Xi Jinping Thought” enshrined in China’s constitution (an honor shared by only Mao and Deng); assumed direct control of the armed forces; and made himself “chairman of everything” by creating a large number of working groups on policies ranging from finance to Taiwan to cybersecurity—all of which report directly to him.

A second important feature of the old system was that bureaucrats at every level could expect to be rewarded for good performance. This wasn’t quite a meritocracy, and the system included a fair degree of corruption and patronage. But both of those features actually served the common good in one key way: If an official performed well, he or she could expect a cut of the proceeds and steady promotion. Xi, by contrast, has “replaced this incentive-based system with one based on fear,” as Pei puts it. And there are two big problems with this shift. First, it has warped officials’ priorities, from showing results to showing loyalty. The second problem, according to Alexander Gabuev, a China specialist at the Carnegie Moscow Center, is that “when fear is all you have, bureaucrats become too frightened to do anything without explicit orders from the top. So the whole bureaucracy becomes passive. Nothing gets done.”

Another related asset of the old system was the way it encouraged local governments—at the village, county, and provincial levels—to experiment with new initiatives, from building free markets four decades ago to allowing private land ownership more recently. Such experimentation turned China into a country with hundreds of policy laboratories, enabling it to test different solutions to various problems in safe, quiet, and low-stakes ways before deciding whether to scale them up. This system helped Beijing avoid the kind of absurdities and disastrous mistakes it had made under Mao—such as when, during the Great Leap Forward of 1958-1962, central planners insisted that farmers in Tibet plant wheat, despite the fact that the arid, mountainous region was utterly unsuited to the crop.

Of course, Beijing had to tolerate a certain level of autonomy in order to allow local officials to try new things. Xi, by contrast, seems to view such independent thinking as an intolerable threat. At his behest, the government has begun discouraging small-scale pilot programs...

Just as China’s tech industry is notorious for stealing and applying foreign innovations, Chinese officials long did something similar on the policy level, carefully studying what worked in other countries and then applying the lessons at home. (The best example of this process, of course, was the construction of China’s free markets themselves, which drew on models from Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.) Like Deng’s other innovations, Xi has curtailed this practice as well, by making it much harder for government officials to interact with foreigners. In 2014, authorities began confiscating bureaucrats’ passports. Like so many of the government’s other recent restrictions, this move has been justified in the name of combatting corruption—the idea, ostensibly, is to prevent dirty officials from fleeing the country. But the fact that the policy has recently been extended all the way down to elementary school teachers and reinforced by other, related strictures—officials now must apply for permission to attend foreign meetings and conferences and account for their time abroad on an hour-by-hour basis—reveals that the real priority is limiting contact with outsiders and their ideas...

On the domestic level, Beijing’s policymaking is already becoming less agile and adept. Examples of this more rigid approach, and its downsides, aren’t hard to find. Consider last winter, when the government decided to force an abrupt nationwide switch from the use of coal to gas in heating systems. It sounded like a smart move for a country as polluted as China. But the edict was enforced suddenly across the country, with no exceptions. Thus in China’s frigid north, many coal-burning furnaces were ripped out before new gas ones could be installed—leaving entire towns without heat and forcing villagers to burn corn cobs to survive.

If China continues down its current course, expect many more cases where even well-intentioned policies are implemented in a rash and clumsy way, leading to still more harmful consequences. Since personalized dictatorships are necessarily bad at admitting fault—for nothing can be permitted to damage the myth of the omnipotent leader—China will also likely become less adept at correcting mistakes once it makes them...

With each new budget-busting move, and in the absence of reform, the odds that China will experience a seriously destabilizing economic crisis—which China bears such as Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, have been predicting for years—keep rising... “Because of Xi’s concentration of power, no one will give him advance warning if one of these bombs is about to go off. And because he doesn’t actually understand macroeconomics very well, and everyone is afraid to contradict the emperor, there’s a huge risk that he’ll mismanage it when it does.”... “Xi has really put China at enormous risk. And because his only tool is repression, if things go wrong we’re likely to see even more crackdowns.”...

The history of other autocracies, such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Kim’s North Korea, suggests that Xi’s relentless power play could produce even worse consequences. Since taking power, Xi has charted a far more aggressive foreign policy than his predecessors, alienating virtually every neighbor and the United States by pushing China’s claims in the South China Sea, threatening Taiwan, and using the military to assert Beijing’s claims to disputed islands.

Should China’s economic problems worsen, Xi could try to ratchet up tensions on any of these fronts in order to distract his citizens from the crisis at home...

Things could get scarier still, Pei warns, if China’s economic problems spin out of control completely. In that case, the Chinese state could collapse—a typical occurrence among typical dictatorships when faced with economic shocks, external threats (especially a defeat in war), or popular unrest—but one that, given China’s size, could have cataclysmic consequences if it happened there."


Of course some China cheerleaders just take the anti-corruption drive at face value, or take short term economic development as the only thing that matters (even though it's not like there wasn't development before Xi either).

***

China censorship moves from politics to economics

"Washington’s latest tariffs on $200bn of Chinese exports dominated business news across much of the world. But in China, readers of domestic news websites saw very different headlines — internet companies Tencent and Baidu led with stories of how the Communist party, “with Xi Jinping at its core”, was developing Ningxia, a backwater in China’s north-west.

As China’s economic growth slows and a trade war with the US damages consumer sentiment and the stock market, Beijing is further tightening controls on domestic media. The ruling party has for decades relied on a strong economy as a key source of its legitimacy, and in harder times economic news is increasingly subject to the same kind of censorship as politics.

“Censorship has never been so tight,” said one business journalist with two decades of experience. “There has been a big shift in the second half of this year.”

Chinese propaganda officials over the past few months have handed down instructions not to changshuai — bad mouth — the economy, according to a dozen journalists and editors at influential Chinese publications who spoke anonymously to the FT.

Topics such as consumers cutting back on spending, local governments struggling with debt repayments, lay-offs by bankrupt private companies and inefficiency at state-owned companies are increasingly off-limits, according to media staff.

Media outlets have been ordered to not to use the phrase “trade war,” and to avoid blaming trade tensions for weakness in the Chinese economy, several reporters said...

An editor at one of China’s largest magazines said economic reporting was now subjected to a level of restriction previously seen only for political topics. “The economy is now political,” the editor said.

Instructions from media regulators are conveyed to editors by phone calls to prevent them from being copied and spread via the internet, according to people familiar with the process. “This year there have been far more phone calls,” said one editor, who is contacted several times a day...

Chinese news website Qdaily.com in August was ordered to shut down for a month for publishing “illegal reports”, as China’s top internet regulator put it.

A reporter who left the publication following the ban said regulators had ordered the publication to delete about 40 articles over seven months, on topics from migrant workers to the shuttering of an independent bookshop...

Fang Kecheng, a Chinese media researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “The propaganda department aims to guide public opinion, so when things are doing badly they are definitely more nervous and want to highlight the positive.”

“Ironically, the more the party-state intervenes in the coverage of the economy, the more doubt people could have . . . which would lead to even stricter control. This cycle shows the limitation and possible backfiring effect of censorship,” he added.

The narrowing of economic debate has extended beyond the media to public statements by economists and think-tanks. The head of one Shanghai think-tank, who asked not to be named, said the reform of state-owned enterprises had become a “sensitive” topic since Mr Xi made a brief comment on the issue in 2016.

Unirule, one of China’s few independent economic think-tanks, was forced out of its Beijing headquarters earlier this year. This month, Unirule’s executive director Shen Hong was prevented from leaving China to participate in a forum at Harvard University, with immigration officials citing national security for the ban, he said.

“Originally the economy was a neutral topic, but in the last two years, economic problems can’t be discussed, as well as negative news,” said Mr Shen. “The space is smaller and smaller.”"


China lovers will just say this is not a problem because the government knows what's going on because it's smart and ordinary people's lives are still improving (even if this is because we're not allowed to hear anything to the contrary) so this is not a problem.

***

The party turns sour for Xi - Nikkei Asian Review

"Long Yongtu, the former vice minister of commerce who negotiated China's entry into the World Trade Organization, publicly rebuked Beijing's management of U.S.-China trade disputes.

Speaking at the 9th Caixin Summit in Beijing, he said China should not have mixed politics with trade, in an apparent dig at Xi's desire to maintain his tough image even at the risk of trade war. He also pointed out that China's decision to retaliate against the U.S. with tariffs on soybeans is "unwise" because China needs to import soybeans.

Long is only the latest senior figure to risk Xi's ire by publicly, albeit obliquely, casting doubts on his policies. The most significant individual who recently voiced similar misgivings is Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping's eldest son. Deng Pufang, the honorary chairman of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, delivered a speech at the federation's national conference in mid-September that was immediately censored by the authorities because it was seen as critical of Xi (the speech's content was leaked in late October).

Deng's speech was noteworthy for its veiled but firm rejection of the key pillars of Xi's policies. By calling for "seeking truth from facts ... maintaining a clear head, knowing one's own strengths and weaknesses, and avoiding overestimating oneself and behaving recklessly," Deng implied Xi's policies violated these dictates laid down by Deng Xiaoping.

Deng's critical remarks, however mild and indirect, reflect widespread discontent among elites that Xi's policies are leading China down the wrong path. While it is impossible to know what prompted Deng Pufang to speak out, as a scion of the Deng family he most probably could afford to take the risk. Under Xi's strongman rule, few officials dare to voice dissenting views, for fear this would invite a visit from anti-corruption investigators. As signs of discontent with Xi's policy began to mount this summer, Xi has re-intensified "anti-corruption" efforts to defend his authority...

If the prestige of the Deng family makes Deng Pufang untouchable, others wishing to express dissent have to find more ingenious methods...

While the official festivities marking the 40th anniversary of China's reforms deliberately downplay Deng's contribution and highlight Xi's leadership, comments celebrating Deng are widely available on social media.

Most focus on Deng's warnings against challenging the United States' dominance and seeking leadership in the developing world. Implicit in these comments is the criticism that Xi's assertive foreign policy has worsened China's external environment and overextended its limited resources. In an essay posted on social media, the former chief economist of the China Agriculture Bank praised Deng's wisdom in improving ties with the U.S. The author recalled a well-known anecdote. When Deng paid his historic visit to the U.S. in 1979, an aide asked why he was eager to restore relations with Washington. Deng's response was, "All the countries with good relations with the U.S. have developed well these years." The author was obviously hinting that Xi has endangered Deng's diplomatic legacy with his confrontational approach.

Xi's domestic policy has also come under criticism couched in academic jargons. At a Nov. 1 conference celebrating a book by Wu Jinglian, an esteemed economist, several scholars openly voiced views challenging the party line. Wu, 88, pointed out that China's difficulties today are rooted in the lack of market reforms, rule of law, and democracy. Other participants called for restraining the state's power, decentralizing authority and protecting people's rights -- in clear contradiction with Xi's policy of centralizing power and tightening social control. In an essay published in late October by The National School of Development of Peking University, Zhang Weiying, another leading economist, declared that hyping the so-called "China model" -- the idea that state-capitalist development under autocracy is superior to liberal democratic capitalism -- is not only dangerous, but also responsible for the clash between China and the West."


Maybe China lovers will claim that all the high placed Chinese people (including officials and ex-officials) criticising Xi are really foreign agents and/or brainwashed by the foreign media.

Links - 4th January 2019 (1)

The bigger the worse? A comparative study of the welfare state and employment commitment - "This article investigates how welfare generosity and active labour market policies relate to employment commitment. As social policy is increasingly directed towards stimulating employment in broader sections of society, this article particularly studies employment commitment among groups with traditionally weaker bonds to the labour market. This is also theoretically interesting because the employment commitment in these groups may be more affected by the welfare context than is the employment commitment of the core work force. A welfare scepticism view predicts that disincentive effects and norm erosion will lead to lower employment commitment in more generous and activating welfare states, while a welfare resources perspective holds the opposite view. Using multilevel data for individuals in 18 European countries, the article finds increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous and activating."
i.e. Welfare gets you more enthusiastic workers

5-story building spotted floating down the Yangtze River in Chongqing - "the building is evidently a “floating restaurant” which was forced to relocate for violating the regulations at its previous berth. While it may be able to float, the building doesn’t have motors and so had to be pushed along to its new location."

UK opposition invited extremist speaker for anti-racism event - "Britain’s opposition Labour party has come under fire for inviting an extremist Islamist preacher to speak alongside two of its MPs at an anti-racism event.Shakeel Begg – who a judge ruled in 2016 was an “extremist Islamist speaker who espouses extremist Islamic positions” – was invited for the event to “oppose Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”."

Chinese school principal sacked over secret campus cryptocurrency scam - "He spent more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,440) on a “mining” machine but found that he could not pay for the huge amount of electricity needed to run the around-the-clock operation... Lei moved the machine to a school dormitory, tapping into the school’s free power supply and internet connection, the report said. He then bought seven more machines and moved them into the school’s electronics lab, using 14,714 yuan in electricity in the 12 months till July this year. Inspired by his boss’s success, Wang Zhipeng, Lei’s deputy, bought a machine and with Lei’s approval, moved the machine into a physics lab, generating a 2,444 yuan power bill for the school."

GW Students: Criticizing Campus Ride Service Is a 'Microinvalidation' - "George Washington University students lodged several complaints against the drivers of the campus’ rideshare service. The students said that the drivers were often behind on schedule. One student even said that a driver made her feel unwelcome in the vehicle."

When It Rains in The Driest Desert on Earth, It Literally Brings Death, Not Life - "We tend to think of water as a universally life-giving blessing, but in the hyperarid core of Chile's Atacama Desert, anomalous rains turned out to be the opposite: a death-bringing curse, extinguishing life that wasn't thirsty in the first place."

Facebook bans rainbow hijab photo for 'Islamic Blasphemy,’ gay editor suspended for 30 days, threatened with expulsion for rolling eye emoji - "The social media network was unhappy with a post that showed a Muslim woman in a rainbow hijab holding a sign that said ‘Allah Loves Equality.’"

PayPal Blacklists Free Speech YouTube Alternative 'BitChute' - "Payment processing service PayPal has blacklisted free speech YouTube alternative “BitChute,” stopping the platform from receiving or sending any money through its service, which BitChute used as its main payment processor. BitChute blames the action on its “stand against the current trend in censorship.”"

Swedish student who stopped deportation flight of Afghan asylum seeker to be prosecuted - "Authorities in Sweden are set to prosecute a 21-year-old student who refused to sit down on a passenger plane in protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker who was also on board.Elin Ersson single-handedly managed to stop the deportation on the 23 July flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul, due to take the 52-year-old man out of the country.Footage of her defiant stand in defence of the Afghan man has notched up 13 million views online and earned her international praise."

Harvard Has Spent $300,000 on Fine Dining for Faculty and Students - "Harvard University is spending approximately $120,000 per year on a fine dining program for faculty and students. The program has reportedly spent $300,000 already at restaurants near the campus."
No wonder college is so expensive

The FBI says hate crimes are soaring. It actually has no idea. - "In New York City, officials warned that hate crime numbers might only seem to be on the rise because people were paying more attention. “I think anytime you focus attention on anything like hate crimes, you tend to get an increased level of reporting,” the police commissioner said. The same official also wondered whether crimes were getting tagged with racial motivations even when they would have been committed either way: “Some hoodlums who would snatch your gold chain before will now snatch it and say, ‘Remember Howard Beach,’ ” he said... despite this broadening of categories, and larger pool of potential hate crime victims, the FBI data actually suggest that numbers have drifted downward over time. (The main exception is a sharp, temporary increase driven by anti-Muslim incidents in 2001.)"

Freeze! NZ Police’s most entertaining recruitment video, yet!

'Breaking News' New Zealand Police release EPIC new recruitment video

False rape claim: Teen serves 10 years - A teenage boy wrongly accused of rape spent nearly 10 years in prison even though the so-called victim confessed to making up the sex allegations shortly after the trial.The 17-year-old, Patrick*, was labelled a "dangerous sexual predator" by the judge who sentenced him to 4½ years in prison in 2005."

Who Decides How Much a Life Is Worth? (Ep. 344) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "these corporate officials viewed their compensation as the sole barometer of self-worth... It was as emotional as 9/11. “Mr. Feinberg, if you cut my pay by 90 or 80 percent — how dare you? I have worked for 25 years for this company, I have given up my sweat and my blood and all that I could. And now you have made me worthless in my own eyes.”...
VISCUSI: I’ve done studies with mock jurors, hundreds of mock jurors, where I presented them with different case scenarios. In some case scenarios, the companies didn’t place a value on life at all. Other scenarios, the company placed a value based on the lost earnings. Another variant was, the company placed a value on life based on the government’s value of statistical life. What I’ve found is that you get a seemingly perverse result, which is that if the companies value lives more — let’s say they value lives at $5 million or $7 million instead of a few hundred thousand dollars — jurors want to send companies a signal that they disapprove of what the company’s done. So, they want to punish them with an award that exceeds whatever dollar number the company used. If the company used a number of $300,000, then punishing them a million dollars would send them a price signal. But if they valued the life at $5 million, you have to punish them with a penalty of $10 million, in order to let them know that they’ve undervalued life."

Is the Government More Entrepreneurial Than You Think? (Ep. 348) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "MAZZUCATO: One thing that’s fascinating about Marx is that he’s known as a critic of capitalism. But actually when you read Capital — Volume 1, 2, and 3 — you end up really admiring and appreciating the dynamic aspect of capitalism, which is technological change. We shouldn’t forget that feudalism was 500 years of inertia. One of the defining features of capitalism is, in fact, the way that innovation has really broken down all sorts of walls, that it’s constantly changing how industries operate; how production, distribution, and consumption work. And Marx really talks about that. It’s quite curious that one of the most famous critics of capitalism actually described it in the most dynamic of all ways. And that’s what got me interested in the economics of technological change...
DUBNER: So to someone who says,“Free markets are almost always good, and governments are almost always bad,” you say what?
MAZZUCATO: The first is,“What do you mean by the free market?” And it’s curious, if you read Adam Smith, one of the first economists back in the late 1700’s, he actually meant by the word “free market” not free from the state, but free from rent-seeking, free from those activities that extract value. So what I say to those who say that we need less state in order to be more innovative, more dynamic, I say, “Let’s look at one of the most innovative parts of the U.S. economy, which is Silicon Valley. Did that come from the free market or from an active, visible hand: the state?” My point is, actually, the state was involved in almost everything in Silicon Valley. Not to exclude the role of the private sector, of course — we all know the very important companies in that area. But the role that public actors played was really across the whole innovation chain... all these successful U.S. investments which include everything in your iPhone or smartphone from the Internet, GPS, touchscreen display, Siri: all government-financed. But in this particular case, people didn’t know that Elon Musk himself had received financing for Tesla"

How Sports Became Us (Ep. 349) - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "THORN: Well, fair play and rule of law are taming. The tendency to invite women to watch the games goes back to the 1850s, because women were thought to be a civilizing influence — that men would not swear quite as much, they would not engage in physical confrontations...
NEWSON: So before I started all this research I didn’t have a huge interest in football. But I had a boyfriend who loved football and we went to a match and I found it so fascinating. I had never been in an environment that was so emotionally charged, where grown men were hugging and kissing each other and crying together... There’s violence in gender. So when England lose a World Cup match, the rate of domestic abuse go up around 30 percent. That’s disgusting."

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the Collapse of the Tech Mythology - "Think back a few years, before the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, before Susan Fowler’s viral blog post, before the #MeToo movement, before the 2016 election. Across the nation, Silicon Valley was the crown jewel of the economy. The companies were youthful and ambitious. The culture was loose and exciting. The capabilities they put into the world’s pockets were astonishing: talk to anyone, know everything, buy anything, all with a few little taps on glass. Yes, this had unleashed unprecedented surveillance possibilities, as Edward Snowden revealed, but these were still the most beloved companies in the country. Their founders were legends. The past several weeks have been like the past two years in miniature. First, The New York Times released a blockbuster article about Google’s sexual-harassment problems that placed the blame both on the institution itself and on the co-founder and current CEO, Larry Page. Then, Amazon selected its new headquarters, releasing a torrent of criticism of the deals: Why were municipalities subsidizing the richest man in the world in their race to the bottom? And finally, yesterday, the Times put out a 50-source story about Facebook’s obliviousness to its own platform’s darker possibilities. (In a statement today, Facebook’s board of directors called the story “grossly unfair.”)... A historical analog for this fall from grace does exist. There was a time when Americans loved and talked about the transcontinental railroads the way we loved and talked about the internet."

Break up Facebook (and while we're at it, Google, Apple and Amazon) | Robert Reich - "America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century began with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – but culminated in mammoth trusts owned by “robber barons” who used their wealth and power to drive out competitors and corrupt American politics. We’re now in a second Gilded Age – ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet – that has spawned a handful of giant hi-tech companies... First, it stifles innovation. Contrary to the conventional view of a US economy bubbling with inventive small companies, the rate at which new job-creating businesses have formed in the United States has been halved since 2004, according to the census.A major culprit: big tech’s sweeping patents, data, growing networks and dominant platforms have become formidable barriers to new entrants.The second problem is political. These massive concentrations of economic power generate political clout that’s easily abused, as the New York Times investigation of Facebook reveals. How long will it be before Facebook uses its own data and platform against critics? Or before potential critics are silenced even by the possibility?America responded to the Gilded Age’s abuses of corporate power with antitrust laws that allowed the government to break up the largest concentrations... Maybe the Democrats are reluctant to attack the industry because it has directed so much political funding to Democrats"

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Links - 3rd January 2018 (2)

Germany Must Come to Terms With Refugee Crime - "The researchers asked for data that specifically concerned asylum applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, who had arrived in 2015 and 2016. The state police -- in keeping with the unspoken taboo -- hadn't published such statistics, but they obliged the research team. It turned out the asylum seekers had reversed the decreasing violent crime trend in Lower Saxony. While such crime went down by 21.9 percent between 2007 and 2014, it was up again by 10.4 percent by the end of 2016. Some 83 percent of the cases were solved -- and 92.1 percent of the increase was attributable to the newcomers... Research done in the Netherlands, which has a large Moroccan population, has at times shown a connection between the immigrants' home culture and their propensity to violence, although their economic situation has been found to be a much bigger contributing factor... In some 91 percent of murders and three-quarters of cases involving grave bodily damage, the victims are other migrants. Yet in 70 percent of robberies and 58.6 percent of rape and sexual assault cases, the victims are German. The explanations are intuitive. Asylum seekers often share cramped quarters, which frequently leads to conflicts. For months after their arrival, they are forbidden to work, and their language skills and status often prevent employment long after that restriction is lifted -- so robbers are motivated by jealousy of the locals and a lack of legitimate ways to make money. As for the sex crimes, it's disturbing to think that it reflects behavior that would go unpunished, or is even encouraged, at home; it's certainly the case that the refugees are often uncertain how to behave with local women -- and many of them didn't bring their own...
'Groups of young men with a violence-oriented internal dynamic can form among the refugees. Demands for family reunification finds here a criminological justification.'"
At least the prescription isn't to take in even more 'refugees' so they feel happy and don't commit crimes

'The Road Not Taken' Poem By Robert Frost is Widely Misread - "Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is often interpreted as an anthem of individualism and nonconformity, seemingly encouraging readers to take the road less traveled. This interpretation has long been propagated through countless song lyrics, newspaper columns, and graduation speeches. But as Frost liked to warn his listeners, “You have to be careful of that one; it’s a tricky poem—very tricky.” In actuality, the two roads diverging in a yellow wood are “really about the same,” according to Frost, and are equally traveled and quite interchangeable. In fact, the critic David Orr deemed Frost’s work “the most misread poem in America,” writing in The Paris Review: “This is the kind of claim we make when we want to comfort or blame ourselves by assuming that our current position is the product of our own choices… The poem isn’t a salute to can-do individualism. It’s a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.” In the final stanza, we can’t know whether the speaker is sighing with contentedness or regret as he justifies the choices he’s made and shapes the narrative of his life. Frost wrote the poem to tease his chronically indecisive friend, Edward Thomas, who misinterpreted the meaning and enlisted in the military shortly thereafter, only to be killed two years later in WWI."

Singapore university's plastic straw ban sparks backlash from students: 'I've been greatly inconvenienced' - "One student claimed to be so irritated by the campaign that they purchased 1,000 plastic straws for $10 and dumped them by a rubbish bin. On the university’s anonymous confessions website NUSWhispers, they wrote that plastic pollution is caused by improper collection and disposal of waste, not by people producing and using plastic items.Another “angsty” student suspected that the move was not motived by environmental consciousness, but by companies that want to scrimp on cost. Complaining that they had been “greatly inconvenienced”, the student said they needed straws because they have sensitive teeth. They added that the ban on straws was pointless without also banning the plastic seals used to cover drinking cups.A reaction campaign against iReject, called iAccept, has emerged on ephemeral messaging platform Instagram Stories, with students posting images and videos of themselves enjoying using plastic straws after the ban was introduced. Some students have started bulk-buying straws to use in restaurants and coffee shops that do not serve them. In an anonymous message shared with Eco-Business, one student said that forcing a blanket ban is backfiring, as “unconverted” students are rebelling against the idea... KFC’s initiative prompted complaints from customers, particularly those wearing lipstick or braces, who went to nearby hawker centres to pick up straws to use in KFC"
I'm proud not all of my juniors have fallen to straw hysteria

NYC 'Feminist Bird Club’ Provides a ‘Safe Space’ for Bird-Watching and Fundraises for Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter - "NYC birder Molly Adams, 26, is leading the nation’s first-ever network of Feminist Bird Clubs to provide a “safe opportunity” for womxn, LGBTQ, and gender-nonbinary folks to practice bird-watching free from the constraints of the patriarchal world.Founded in 2016, the first Feminist Bird Club was launched in Manhattan by Molly Adams, who graduated from Stony Brook University with a master’s in marine science and who now works for the Wildlife Conservation Society in NYC."

These guys deal with cannabis in Singapore – and don’t feel paranoid - "Since May, Singapore has hosted the global headquarters of CannAcubed, an industrial cannabis grower whose operations are mostly located in Yunnan, China. CannAcubed specialises in the cultivation of industrial cannabis, or hemp – strains of cannabis with less than 0.3 per cent of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In China, cannabis is illegal but government permits allow hemp growers to operate in Yunnan."
Somehow they managed to start a company in a country where it's illegal and operate in a place where it's also illegal, while gays in Singapore, we are told, are in fear for their lives every day due to 377A

Discovery of dog leads to case dismissed against Oregon man convicted of sex abuse - "The discovery of a black lab named Lucy led to the unravelling of a criminal case Monday against an Oregon man who had begun serving a 50-year prison sentence.Joshua Horner, a plumber from Redmond, Oregon, was convicted on April 12, 2017, of sexual abuse of a minor.In the trial, the complainant testified Horner had threatened to shoot her animals if she went to the police about the alleged molestation, and said she saw him shoot her dog, killing it, to make his point."

Court says ‘pedophilia does not apply’ — because perpetrator is a woman - "Dr. Pearce testified that the current research suggests that women do not suffer from paraphilic disorders apart from masochism. This fact lends further weight to the conclusion that pedophilia does not apply to you"

Trump Is More In Touch Than You Think - "A strong majority (62 percent) of Americans favor leaving the Confederate statues standing as historical markers
Overwhelming numbers of Republicans (86 percent) favor this, as do 61 percent of Independents
The only group with a majority favoring removal (57 percent) are “Strong Democrats” — as opposed to “Soft Democrats,” who slightly favor keeping them (52 percent)
When defined by political ideology, only Liberal/Very Liberal people muster a majority for taking statues down (57 percent). Among self-described Moderates, 67 percent favor leaving the statues standing. A whopping 81 percent of Conservative/Very Conservative people favor the statues staying in place
Unsurprisingly, the Northeast is the region of the country most in favor of removing the statues — but even there, a majority (53 percent) backs leaving the statues standing
Here’s a stunner: 44 percent of African-Americans polled believe in keeping the statues standing. Of Latinos, 65 percent believe the statues should remain
Comfortable majorities — no less than 60 percent — in each age cohort support the statues...
The news media have been seriously distorting public reaction to Trump’s handling of Charlottesville. Whether this is a matter of only seeing what they want to see, or a matter of the talking heads being concentrated among coastal elites of both parties, is a matter of conjecture...
Continuing to attack Confederate statues is a big loser for Democrats and liberals. A strong majority of Americans favors keeping them standing. Only liberals want to see them go. When even 44 percent of African-Americans favor leaving the statues alone, the take-them-down faction of the Left has a serious echo chamber problem. This is likely to cause them to seriously overreach. If Democrats and liberals only pay attention to the media and to each other on the statue debate, they are going to alienate a lot of people. The hostile media environment has made it very difficult for anybody to speak up for keeping the statues, even though that is a majority opinion in America. So people will keep that opinion to themselves. In turn, they may very well stew on it, angry at the liberal gatekeepers of respectable opinion either not caring about their opinion, or shutting them down as racists... Americans have no trouble condemning white supremacists and the far right, while at the same time supporting the statues. Americans probably do not believe they are racist for wanting the statues to remain in place...
That’s the thing about the Left: the Law Of Merited Impossibility — “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it” — has infallible predictive powers."

Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives‏ - "Computer generated faces using generative adversarial network / progressive growing technique from Nvidia. Trained on 50,000 images from a photobooth at ZKM Center for Art and Media by @highqualitysh1t"
Someone: "Why is everyone white?"

The far-left: exposed - "To counteract such hate, we would expect politicians and activists on the left to double down on their liberal principles and spend their energies advocating unity.Instead, as I discovered when I went along to the international Stand Up To Racism conference, an event attended by Dianne Abbot John McDonnell, among 1,000 others, they are closing down debate, inciting violence and spewing racist rhetoric. My recordings, described below, prove just how lost our left - now high-jacked by the far-left - has become... I was shocked to hear the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, branded as 'House Muslim': 'We have Sajid Javid – who is, you know, the House Muslim – who just cos he’s supposedly brown… and just because he has a Muslim-sounding name…'To call someone a house Muslim is to say they do not align with a certain view on Islam, a particularly politicised view, and instead align themselves with the non-Muslims and the government, ie. ‘the house.’ It is clearly racist and derogatory to label someone, in a negative slur, as not ‘one of us’ - and to go as far as to contest their ‘browness’... When I said that Prevent has actually saved lives I was met with laughter:
‘I actually am a former Prevent practitioner and I have been in involved in stopping whole families going to ISIS (laughter) it is no laughing matter, a young family were going to join the Islamic state and because of prevent intervention they did not.’... It is clear from their violent language they are politically driven to oppose our British values, our strategies to safeguard people and to promote community cohesion. At the time we need them most, Corbynite leftist activists have turned against peaceful and rational defence of minorities."

How a selfie saved a Texas man from 99 years in prison - "She said he broke into her home in Temple.She said he sliced an "X" into her chest with a box cutter."

Early childhood education yields few academic benefits — but still has lifelong effects - "There’s a bizarre-seeming paradox sitting at the heart of research into early childhood education. On the one hand, there’s a sizable body of research suggesting that kids who go through intensive education at the ages of 3 and 4 don’t really come out ahead in terms of academic abilities. By kindergarten much of their advantage has receded, and by second grade researchers typically can’t detect it at all.On the other hand, there’s an equally substantive body of research suggesting that early childhood education produces a profound, lifelong advantage. Kids who enter intensive preschool programs are less likely to be arrested, more likely to graduate, and less likely to struggle with substance abuse as adults. One study with a followup when the students were in their mid-30s found that they were likelier to have eventually attended and completed college... Here’s an explanation that makes sense of all the research: The benefits of early childhood education aren’t coming from the academic skills they teach students. Early childhood education helps because it’s reliable daycare."

INFOGRAPHIC: Women Control The Money In America - "More women are taking the reins on their finances, holding 60 percent of all personal wealth and 51 percent of all stocks in the U.S."
Male privilege!

Does ethnic diversity increase violent crime? A global analysis of homicide rates, 1995–2013 - "Many scholars argue that diverse preferences and coordination failure stemming from high ethnic diversity results in high social frictions, leading to socio-political failure. Criminological theories suggest that crime is driven by very similar processes. The specialized literature on civil war, however, reports a diversity dividend, arguing that when two large groups (polarization) make up a society, the risk of armed violence is increased. Using data on global homicide rates from the period 1995–2013 for over 140 countries, we find that ethnic heterogeneity is associated with homicide rates in an inverted U-shape relationship. Measures of ethnic polarization confirm these results directly. The results suggests that ethnic polarization and ethnic dominance rather than diversity are what matter for personal security measured as homicide rates. The conditional effect of high diversity and income inequality is associated with lower homicide rates, results that reject the view that societal heterogeneity and income inequality drive social dislocation. Several possible intervening variables, such as unemployment among males and youth, ethnic exclusion and discrimination, good governance and institutional quality, as well as several demographic and political variables, do not affect the basic results."
So basically playing identity politics leads to disaster
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