"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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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Links - 13th March 2019 (2)

How to change someone’s mind, according to science - The Washington Post - "The researchers analyzed nearly two years of postings on ChangeMyView, a forum on the internet community reddit where posters present an argument and invite people to reason against them... the arguments that end up changing people’s minds have certain dynamics. Numbers are important: The more people that try to persuade the original poster, the greater the likelihood of changing their view. So is timing: Those who write back first to the post first are more likely to persuade the original poster than those who write later... Interestingly, the researchers find that some back-and-forth exchange between participants is a sign of success in convincing someone, but that a lot of it is a sign of failure... the factor most linked with successfully persuading someone is using different words than the original posts do – a sign that commentators are bringing in new points of view. They find that longer replies tend to be more convincing, as do arguments that use calmer language. The research suggests that using specific examples is a big help. Definite articles (“the” rather than “a”) are more present in persuasive arguments, suggesting that it helps to speak in specifics. Successful arguments use the phrases “for example,” “for instance,” and “e.g.” more often. Quotations and question marks don’t appear to help the argument, but including links to supporting material does. Surprisingly, they find that hedging – using language like “it could be the case” – is actually associated with more persuasive arguments. While hedging can signal a weaker point of view, the researchers say that it can also make an argument easier to accept by softening its tone. Finally, they argue that language tells us something about whether the person’s mind can be changed in the first place... remember that convincing someone of your point of view is no easy task. The researchers point out that, even in this reddit forum where people are expressly charged with being open-minded, opinions don’t change in the majority of cases."

The digital-media bubble is bursting. That’s hurting a generation of promising young journalists. - The Washington Post - "That move to video didn’t pay off, not for Mic or the many other similar media companies that took their cues from all-powerful Facebook. The promises of more traffic — which turned out to be based on false interpretations of data — never came to fruition, and as Heidi Moore wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review, “Publishers must acknowledge the pivot to video has failed.”... “the numbers were never really there. Eventually they were always going to disappear as fraudulent traffic and metrics fell apart.”"

BuzzFeed News in Limbo Land - The New York Times - "The Mueller team’s challenge to the BuzzFeed report is also exposing the flaws of the wider media ecosystem, which is all too ready to spring into action at any sign of the Big One. Within minutes of the article’s publication on Thursday, Twitter was ablaze, and cable panelists were effusive. “This is stunning,” Don Lemon said on CNN. Lawrence O’Donnell spoke of “a Nixonian moment” on MSNBC... The further the disputed report traveled, the more it seemed to help Mr. Trump"

Opinion | The Cruelty of Call-Out Culture - The New York Times - "The guy who called out Emily is named Herbert. He told “Invisibilia” that calling her out gave him a rush of pleasure, like an orgasm. He was asked if he cared about the pain Emily endured. “No, I don’t care,” he replied. “I don’t care because it’s obviously something you deserve, and it’s something that’s been coming. … I literally do not care about what happens to you after the situation. I don’t care if she’s dead, alive, whatever.”... we see something of the maladies that shape our brutal cultural moment. You see how zealotry is often fueled by people working out their psychological wounds. You see that when denunciation is done through social media, you can destroy people without even knowing them. There’s no personal connection that allows apology and forgiveness. You also see how once you adopt a binary tribal mentality — us/them, punk/non-punk, victim/abuser — you’ve immediately depersonalized everything. You’ve reduced complex human beings to simple good versus evil. You’ve eliminated any sense of proportion. Suddenly there’s no distinction between R. Kelly and a high school girl sending a mean emoji. The podcast gives a glimpse of how cycles of abuse get passed down, one to another. It shows what it’s like to live amid a terrifying call-out culture, a vengeful game of moral one-upsmanship in which social annihilation can come any second.I’m older, so all sorts of historical alarm bells were going off — the way students denounced and effectively murdered their elders for incorrect thought during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and in Stalin’s Russia... civilization moves forward when we embrace rule of law, not when we abandon it. I’d say we no longer gather in coliseums to watch people get eaten by lions because clergy members, philosophers and artists have made us less tolerant of cruelty, not more tolerant."

In South Asian Social Castes, a Living Lab for Genetic Disease - The New York Times - "South Asians should be viewed not as a single population but as thousands of distinct groups reinforced by cultural practices that promote marrying within one’s community... Marriage within a limited group, or endogamy, has created millions of people who are susceptible to recessive diseases"

Will China let Belt and Road die quietly? - "Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia has canceled two mega BRI projects, including a $20 billion railway, citing high costs. Pakistan's new government has called for a review of the crown jewel of BRI -- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to which China has committed more than $60 billion in funding. Myanmar's government has just told Beijing that construction of a suspended China-funded hydropower dam would not be allowed to resume. The Maldives, the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, is trying to renegotiate down the $3 billion debt -- equal to two thirds of its gross domestic product -- it has borrowed from China to fund BRI projects... beneath the surface there is growing unease in China about BRI. And rightly so. With the country feeling an economic squeeze, fighting a trade war with the U.S. and facing criticism from nations receiving BRI funds, Chinese skeptics, including academics, economists and business people, of BRI are quietly asking if their government is putting its scarce resources to the right use. To be sure, there are no official announcements that Beijing is about to pare back Xi's BRI dreams. Tight censorship has removed any direct criticisms of BRI from the media.Yet, one can detect tantalizing signs that Beijing is already curtailing BRI, at least rhetorically... China's economic slowdown has triggered a capital flight, draining more than $1 trillion from its foreign exchange reserves. If we factor in the trade war's impact on Chinese balance of payments in the future, China will unlikely generate sufficient foreign exchange surpluses to finance BRI on the same scale... On the domestic front, Beijing faces a perfect storm of rising pension costs, slowing economic growth and dwindling tax revenues... BRI has few domestic supporters and taking money away from Chinese pensioners to build a road to nowhere in a distant land will be a tough sell politically."

China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Plan in Pakistan Takes a Military Turn - The New York Times - "All those military projects were designated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing. Chinese officials have repeatedly said the Belt and Road is purely an economic project with peaceful intent. But with its plan for Pakistan, China is for the first time explicitly tying a Belt and Road proposal to its military ambitions — and confirming the concerns of a host of nations who suspect the infrastructure initiative is really about helping China project armed might."

Opinion | There Is No ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ - The New York Times - "Most of Israel’s wars haven’t been fought against Palestinians. Since the invasion of five Arab armies at the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, the Palestinians have made up a small number of the combatants facing the country... Over the decades when Arab nationalism was the region’s dominant ideology, Israeli soldiers faced Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis. Today Israel’s most potent enemy is the Shiite theocracy in Iran, which is more than 1,000 miles away and isn’t Palestinian (or Arab). The gravest threat to Israel at close range is Hezbollah on our northern border, an army of Lebanese Shiites founded and funded by the Iranians... If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) In this tightly cropped frame, Israelis are stronger, more prosperous and more numerous. The fears affecting big decisions, like what to do about the military occupation in the West Bank, seem unwarranted if Israel is indeed the far more powerful party... Many here believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened around us in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors, Syria and Iraq, into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv... The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If our small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now."

French Diplomatic Driver Smuggled Pistols and Assault Rifles From Gaza to West Bank - "A driver working for the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been arrested for smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank, using his diplomatic vehicle as cover... Roman Franck, a 24-year-old French national, was detained by Israeli authorities on February 15 while leaving Gaza at the Erez border crossing. In the three preceding months he had reportedly transported 70 factory-made pistols and two assault rifles from the desert enclave to the West Bank"

John Lennon’s utopia is no dream, it’s a nightmare | Comment | The Times - "love requires a hierarchy, an element of discrimination or specialness. That’s why we would protect our nearest and dearest against danger, or look after their interests or welfare, before protecting or looking after anyone else... The pursuit of utopia always produces appalling outcomes. Even though it’s an impossibility, its adherents believe that anyone who opposes the perfection of the world is by definition an enemy of the good and therefore to be crushed... Our culture seeks to eradicate all divisions. There can be no hierarchy of values. Everything is relative. There are no objective truths or lies, only competing narratives. All judgment is wrong, except the judgment that current orthodoxies are wrong; in which case your professional career or social reputation will be destroyed. No culture is better or worse than any other. No group is entitled to define itself as a nation or rule itself on the basis of a shared culture.We were told this a few weeks ago by none other than the German chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that nation states should be willing to surrender their sovereignty. Their peoples were not entitled to object, because the people of a country were merely those who permanently lived there and not “a group that defines them as a people”. For Mrs Merkel, it seems, there is no such thing as “a people”; there are only people."

#MeToo shuts out men, says Keira Knightley | News | The Times - "Keira Knightley fears that the debate triggered by Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual bullying has segued into a hatred of men.The British actress, when asked if she worried that the debate was misandrist, responded “absolutely”, adding that men should be involved in conversations about future behaviour between the sexes... She said that she had never been assaulted by him, adding: “Maybe he just didn’t fancy me.”“I absolutely knew he was a womaniser, because you could see it,” she said. “But I thought that was consensual, and I’d never heard he’d raped anybody. Everyone knew he was a bully because he would scream and shout.”"

Opinion | Donald Trump Did Something Right - The New York Times - "Starting this month, hospitals must publicly reveal the contents of their master price lists — called “chargemasters” — online. These are the prices that most patients never notice because their insurers negotiate them down or they appear buried as line items on hospital bills. What has long been shrouded in darkness is now being thrown into the light... For years, these prices have been a tightly guarded industrial secret. When advocates have tried to wrest them free, hospitals have argued that they are proprietary information. And, hospitals claim, these rates are irrelevant, since — after insurers whittle them down — no one actually pays them."

Trump Is Delivering on Pharma Pricing - "Trump has actually delivered on drug prices— and not by just a little. By a lot. In fact, STAT called Trump’s results “a historic feat.” Really."

Students Petition to Ban ‘Offensive’ Evolutionary Psychologist - "More than 4,200 Northwestern University students have signed a petition demanding that administrators ban from campus an evolutionary psychologist whose research they deem “offensive” and “nonsense.”... She also accused Dr. Kanazawa of racism for using the word "minority" in his research articles. “Marginalized is a more encompassing term when talking about the systematic discrimination groups of people face,” said Shoola... Many students and alumni have condemned Kanazawa, writing comments on the petition such as “People like him reinforce the violence of science,” “This makes me feel so unsafe,” and “His presence is a threat to all students on campus."
I guess NWU is not a place where enquiry and research takes place

Mumbai's strictly vegetarian enclave gives flesh-eaters the evil eye - "In a roughly 2-square-mile patch containing some of India's priciest real estate, a firm and sometimes militant vegetarianism prevails. Most residents of this old-money section of South Mumbai are Jains or devout Hindus, and not only do they not eat flesh, but they also don't want it anywhere near them. Eateries serving meat and seafood are all but banned, and stories abound of certain apartment buildings refusing to consider prospective residents who are what Indians call — sometimes with more than a soupcon of judgment — non-vegetarians... A menu by prominent restaurateur Sanjay Narang that included tandoori chicken and lamb curry ticked off neighbors in an apartment building on an exclusive boulevard fronting the Arabian Sea. Narang shuttered his ground-floor establishment in 2005 after residents above reportedly spat on his patrons, dropped nails on them or keyed their cars."
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