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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Links - 6th March 2019 (1)

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 212 - Ed Boyden on “How to invent game-changing technologies” - "when neurons undergo activity, the kind of activity that happens during learning, they manufacture virus-like particles that look a lot like HIV, the very same virus that causes AIDS... those virus-like particles might be able to carry genetic payloads from one brain cell to another... neurons can make cannabinoids, molecules that are not unlike the molecules in marijuana"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics" - ""Lost in Math” argues that physicists, in at least certain sub-fields, evaluate theories based heavily on aesthetics, like is this theory beautiful? Instead of simply, what does the evidence suggest is true?...
our ideas of beauty applied to the theories of nature have changed.Like, for example, I was previously mentioning the switch from the geocentric to the heliocentric model. So, as you probably know, there were a lot of astronomers at the time who didn't like the heliocentric model at all because, as Kepler found out, the planets move on ellipses around the sun and not on circles.And they were kind of really stuck on these circles, because circles were beautiful. You know, they're perfect. And then they had this idea that if there's one circle you can add another circle on it, then this gives you the epicycles. So they were really stuck on this, on these damn circles. But today this isn't something that anyone would argue. You know, what's so great about a circle? Why not an ellipse?So this is one of the examples, but there are probably examples where this shift in aesthetic ideals has been even more pronounced. Like the shift from an internally static universe, that was once considered beautiful, to one that is actually dynamical and evolving and expanding as we know now... Or the shift from the pre-quantum classical mechanics to the quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is really an entirely different thing. It works entirely differently. And at the time when it was proposed at the turn of the previous century, a lot of people thought it was ugly, because you have this break with the way that physics was done previously. So they didn't like it at all.But nowadays, for example, I don't think that quantum mechanics is ugly. I think it's a pretty theory. But other people still think it's ugly. So we're having somewhat of a disagreement. But I think it serves to show that we're not stuck on certain ideas of beauty and that, indeed, in the history of physics our conceptions of beauty have changed."

US billionaire Jim Rogers surprised by S’poreans’ poor command of English & Chinese when he moved here

Lim Jialiang - I’ve been thinking about a post I shared over the... - "I’ve been thinking about a post I shared over the past few days – that of Din Tai Fung’s splashy, and successful landing in London, and a rather problematic review by Grace Dent. Basically this was an entire review dismissing the “hype” surrounding the opening, with Dent considering the opening as nothing special... it’s very fascinating to see how Western Nations confront globalisation, and especially as restaurants and food chains Mcdonaldise. We are so used to western imports of restaurants both on the high and low end, and Asian chains opening in Asian countries. DTF’s splashy, confident opening banked on disaporic familiarity with their brand. They did adapt and change some of their menus, like vegetarians jiaozi (because we all know that vegetarianism is a big thing there), but I am sure that their purpose of opening in London was to provide familiarity and comfort... The magic of DTF is consistency, familiarity, and food that satisfies and most importantly, comforts. But this cultural confidence of course is threatening to her... How dare this Asian company throw so much money in this endeavour?! One wonders how we should react to Marco Pierre White’s entrance into the Singapore market in the form of The English House. Maybe in the same, pearl-clutching shock of Missus Dent.Related to this is also the certain rhythm of expectation that these food critics cover themselves in. There is always a certain asymmetry of power between reviewer and restaurant. Chinese food, outside of Chinatown, outside of hole in the walls? Inconceivable... as the world gets more connected, and as more Asian companies venture overseas into Europe and beyond, we will start seeing white restaurant critics panic as they encounter food that they just don’t get. This anxiety is entirely understandable, and ties in with the UK’s faltering confidence as a former colonial power, and with brexit looming around the corner, these cultural anxieties will display themselves as ugly, uncalled-for xenophobia in the form of “umami flavoured mulch.”"
To perceive a middling food review as an attack on you speaks of volumes of insecurity.
Apparently white food critics are not allowed to give mediocre reviews of Asian food or they're racist. If the queue were 5 hours I would also be disappointed at what I got (if it were the same standard as Ding Tai Fung in Singapore). Especially if so many dishes were not available. Plus it comes with the job to not be free with praise. You read film critics and it seems the last good film was Casablanca.

(PDF) Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital - "Poor families around the world spend a large fraction of their income consuming goods that do not appear to alleviate poverty, while saving at low rates. We suggest that individuals care about economic status and hence we interpret this behavior as conspic-uous consumption that is intended to provide a signal about unobserved income. We show that if human capital is observable and provides some information about income, a signaling equilibrium can emerge in which expected expenditure on conspicuous con-sumption as a fraction of total income is decreasing with income. This equilibrium results in an increasing marginal propensity to save that might generate a poverty trap."

Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation. - "it is commonly believed that increasing dietary intake of the omega-6 fatty acids ARA or its precursor linoleic acid (LA) will increase inflammation. However, studies in healthy human adults have found that increased intake of ARA or LA does not increase the concentrations of many inflammatory markers. Epidemiological studies have even suggested that ARA and LA may be linked to reduced inflammation. Contrastingly, there is also evidence that a high omega-6 fatty acid diet inhibits the anti-inflammatory and inflammation-resolving effect of the omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, the interaction of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and their lipid mediators in the context of inflammation is complex and still not properly understood."

Schwarzenegger 'terminates' troll who mocked the Special Olympics - "“The special Olympics make no sense. The Olympics are for the best athletes in the world to compete against each other to determine who is the best. Having retards competing is doing the opposite.”
“As evil and stupid as this comment is, I’m not going to delete it or ban you (yet) because it’s a teachable moment.“You have two possible paths ahead. Right now, I guarantee you that these athletes have more courage, compassion, brains and skill – actually more of every positive human quality than you.“So take their path – you could learn from them, and try to challenge yourself, to give back, to add something to the world. Or you can stay on your path, and keep being a sad pitiful jealous Internet troll who adds nothing to the world but mocks anyone who does out of small-minded jealousy.“I know that all you really want is attention, so let me be clear. If you choose to keep going this way, no one will ever remember you.”"
This is the textbook definition of an ad hominem attack. Yet so many people applaud Schwarzenegger - apparently some propositions are articles of faith and cannot be questioned and if you do, you are stupid and evil. Apparently teleology is stupid and evil

In 30 countries, heads of state must belong to a certain religion - "30 of the world’s countries (15%) belong to a unique group of nations that call for their heads of state to have a particular religious affiliation... More than half of the countries with religion-related restrictions on their heads of state (17) maintain that the office must be held by a Muslim. In Jordan, for example, the heir to the throne must be a Muslim child of Muslim parents"

Susie O’Brien: Paedophilia is paedophilia, whether perpetrator is a man or a woman - "schoolteacher Diane Brimble avoided prison for this very crime, copping a mere 200 hours of community service and a two-year community corrections order although she begged a 10-year-old boy to have sex with her?I can only think she got away with a lesser sentence because she is a woman, and because she is a mother of eight children.There has been widespread condemnation of Brimble’s sentence because it seems to be not only totally inadequate, but well out of step with penalties handed out to men who commit similar crimes."
Of course feminists are either silent or try to spin this as being bias against women still, claiming that women are seen through stereotypical lenses

Woman is unable to hear the voices of men and can only pick up the higher frequency tones of females - "A woman has been diagnosed with a type of hearing loss which means she can't hear the voices of men - only women.The patient, who has only been identified by her surname, Chen, woke up to find she was unable to hear her boyfriend."

Facebook culture described as 'cult-like', review process blamed - "More than a dozen former Facebook employees detailed how the company's leadership and its performance review system has created a culture where any dissent is discouraged.
Employees say Facebook's stack ranking performance review system drives employees to push out products and features that drive user engagement without fully considering potential long-term negative impacts on user experience or privacy.
Reliance on peer reviews creates an underlying pressure for Facebook employees to forge friendships with colleagues for the sake of career advancement."

Keep Your Hands Off of My Kimono, White People
Author's name: "Diep Tran", which is Vietnamese. HMM
Cultural appropriation and SJW dogma means all Asians are the same
Comments: "if she is indeed Vietnamese, why is she not boycotting the West End production of Miss Saigon which stars a Filipino-American as Kim, the lead role which is very specifically Vietnamese? We are on the edge of a very slippery slope. While screaming accusations of inauthenticity and disrespect I keep seeing people post "Can't they find Asian performers for these roles?" Which to me sounds ridiculous coming from someone of Asian ethnicity because what I hear when I read that is "We are pretty much all the same, take your pick as long as they have olive skin, a round face, and almond shaped eyes." Does a valid argument exist for Filipino actors portraying Vietnamese as acceptable while Whites portraying Japanese is not"
"The Mikado is not about Japan. It is about Victorian England. Perhaps we should demand that it be played by British-born actors, and not appropriated by these beastly Americans. Tut tut..."

BBC deletes tweet asking whether Saudi woman's decision to flee threat of murder was worthy of respect - "The BBC was forced to delete a tweet after it asked its followers to debate whether they 'respected' the decision of a Saudi Arabian refugee who was fleeing murder threats. BBC Asian Network asked its followers to debate the choices of 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who took to Twitter on Monday to plead for her life after Saudi officials and Thai immigration officials stopped her in Bangkok and confiscated her passport. She was on her way to Australia, escaping her family who she claimed would kill her for disobeying them... Shortly after her official refugee status was decided, the BBC radio station tweeted: "18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam - do you respect her decision?"... The network has previously had to delete other controversial tweets after outcry"

BBC apologises for 'what is the right punishment for blasphemy?' tweet - "BBC Asia has apologised after it posted the question “what is the right punishment for blasphemy?” on its Asian Network Twitter account"
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