"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, January 04, 2019

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"
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