"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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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Links - 28th May 2019 (2)

Singapore minister puts Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande on 'offensive' playlist - "K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s home affairs minister, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that he gave the list as an illustration of things people may find offensive.“Doesn’t mean that it can all get banned, just because some people find it offensive,” Shanmugam, who is also the law minister, posted.In his speech on Monday, the minister had said the government’s approach had to be guided by common sense. He added either banning everything that is deemed insulting or offensive by anyone, or allowing everything that is insulting or offensive, was not doable.The statement came on a day Singapore submitted wide-ranging fake news legislation in parliament, stoking fears among internet firms and human rights groups that it may give the government too much power and hinder freedom of speech."
Maybe the ministerial statement on "Restricting hate speech to maintain racial and religious harmony in Singapore" should've cited "Islamophobic" material instead, then almost everyone would be happy

Parliament: Two out of three Singaporeans back Government's move to cancel Watain concert - "The Government decided to cancel the permit for Swedish black metal band Watain's concert last month when it got reports that mainstream Christians were very concerned and offended by the band, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday (April 1).And a survey of Singaporeans by government feedback unit Reach found that two in three supported the move, he noted. Among Christians, 86 per cent were supportive of the move to disallow the concert, the Reach poll found."
The sacred cows reign supreme

Shanmugam reveals more info behind decision to cancel Watain’s performance in S’pore - "Shanmugam said that Watain’s music contains anti-Christian messages that were as bad as anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic messages that were banned.Shanmugam revealed that Christian preachers told him that what Watain are saying is “far worse” than the Danish cartoon about Prophet Muhammad and the Satanic Verses book by Salman Rushdie, and both were banned in Singapore."
Of course, some people claim that insulting Christianity is good because it's "punching up", but you cannot insult Islam

Anti-Trump American history textbook 'blatantly biased,' critics say - "A new Advanced Placement honors American history textbook has not been distributed to students yet but it’s already stirring controversy for being anti-Trump and suggesting his supporters are angry xenophobes... Alex Clark, co-host of The Joe and Alex Show on WNOW in Indianapolis, Ind. tweeted the book was the latest example of “an effort going on in public school to indoctrinate kids with an anti-conservative agenda.”The final section of the book, titled “The Angry Election of 2016,” is highly critical of Trump.“Most thought that Trump was too extreme a candidate to win the nomination, but his extremism, his anti-establishment rhetoric, and, some said, his not-very-hidden racism connected with a significant number of primary voters,” Fraser wrote.Trump voters are described as “mostly older, often rural or suburban, and overwhelmingly white” while the book uses the viewpoint of Clinton voters to describe Trump’s supporters as fearful, backwards, sexist people who supported a mentally ill candidate... The book also bashes police for its handling of the Ferguson riots.In a section titled “Black Lives Matter,” Fraser wrote that after the shooting of Michael Brown, Brown’s “parents were kept away at gunpoint.” He paints a negative view of police while glossing over violent tactics carried out by some rioters... According to his bio, Fraser wrote the book to “help make U.S. History courses more lively, with a focus on the agency of everyday Americans or many different communities, times, and places.”"
“By the People: A History of the United States” - it's clear what sort of people the book is trying to represent

Diversity: A Managerial Ideology - "Elite institutions in business and education eventually defined nondiscrimination and equal opportunity as ‘affirmative action.’ Concretely this meant an expanding set of bureaucratic ‘best practices’ including written nondiscrimination policies, targeted recruitment, targeted financial aid, special managerial training programs, formal grievance and disciplinary procedures, an end to job tests, and performance evaluations. It also created hundreds of thousands of managerial best practitioners. From the early 1970s to the dawn of diversity in the late 1980s, the number of large US firms with a personnel office nearly doubled. The number with an equal opportunity office quadrupled. Those with an affirmative action officer grew five-fold. While the rapid spread of affirmative action policies met a backlash in the late 1970s, this resistance was largely a white middle class revolt. Support never flagged among elites. In fact, most of the country’s largest corporations opposed the Reagan administration’s efforts to dismantle affirmative action practices in the early 1980s... The country’s managerial elite now rarely misses an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to diversity. In California (1996), Houston (1997), Washington state (1998), and Michigan (2006), policies barring consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex in the public sector went to referendum. In each case, the largest corporations in the area – Exxon, Enron, Boeing, Microsoft, General Motors, Ford – were among the strongest opponents... Managers embraced diversity long before any meaningful evidence existed for its positive effects. The first systematic academic study of whether diversity policies even produce diversity, much less profitability, wasn’t published until 2006. Business and educational elites certainly aren’t waiting around for academics to tell them what to do now. Higher education managers are in a similar position. Universities claim the case for diversity is an educational one, an argument their most elite representatives pioneered decades ago. Yet academic debate continues, particularly over the degree to which diversity improves student cognitive skills and tendencies... Evidence suggests white women have in fact benefited more than any other group from corporate diversity initiatives... As an ideology and associated set of practices, diversity is attractive to managers and administrators because it is a particular version of the broader ideology of managerialism."

BuzzFeed - Posts - "We can all agree that Arya Stark is actually a lesbian, right?"
Comments: "Wow yeah this is really stereotyping. I also wear "not clothes" and have a "masculine job" Never knew I was a lesbian. Thanks for letting me know"
"So... then let’s talk about Brienne, but then Yara is stereotypically the same and bisexual. Ellaria Sand looked stereotypically straight but was bisexual. Just shut up, there’s plenty of sexuality representation on the show, and it was nice to see a woman wondering whether something was all she thought it would be after she CONSENSUALLY had sex with someone she’s grown with. Bye."
"So she can’t be a tough, independent woman and be straight?"
"Or...OR, she's thinking about the possible imminent death her and her entire family and friends including Gendry are going to face like any second now and is just in a contemplative mood before what very well be her final battle...and with never having the chance to kill Cercei. But sure BuzzFeed, let's reduce her character by thinking she can't possibly be thinking about anything deeper than maybe being knee deep in pussy."
"absolutely no one:
Buzzfeed : "ArYa Is AcTuaLlY A LeSbIAn""
"Ayyyyy Buzzfeed. This is seriously tone-deaf. What? So she can’t be athletic and wear pants and be straight? Hi. Welcome to Westeros, 1950."
"Maybe she looked that way after because she realized she should’ve spent her last night with Poddrick instead"


Thread by @HPluckrose: "OK,I know I wasn't going to be here but I really need to address the surprise at the "Dogs are a tool of white supremacy" thing. Of course t […]" - "My team and I keep trying to explain this thing we call "applied postmodernism." We call it that because of the way it is built on a Foucauldian understanding of the world that sees it as constructed of systems of power and privilege.People are positioned within these systems by their status in society which is tied to their identity and power works through them at all levels through discourses - ways of talking about things and being in the world. It is hard to spot this because it is so natural to us.Nowhere is this conception of the world stronger than in critical race theory... "The question is not "Did racism take place?" but rather "How did racism manifest in that situation?""So, we start with the conclusion that racism must be present but difficult to see & then we look for it & then we find it. It's very much a form of magical thinking. Reading into things for precisely the kind of significance one wants and then finding one's beliefs justified. This is why we called this approach "grievance studies" because its purpose is to start with a grievance & find cause for it... Did it seem to you that that white cashier served the black customer quickly? She wanted him out of the way coz she's uncomfortable with blackness. Did it seem she took her time checking out his stuff? Evidence that she resents having to serve a black person & does so grudgingly.You could then raise this with her as a way of making her racism visible to her and everyone else. She will need to accept it immediately, apologise & promise to do better. If she denies her racism or says she hadn't even noticed the race of the customer, this is white fragility... I can only read this stuff in short bursts and then I need to think about something else because otherwise it infects my perception of the world & how I see my fellow humans. They stop being individuals & become clusters of identity factors embedded within a power structure"

War Veteran Spends 60 Days On The Streets & Warns: Never Give To The Homeless Again - "One fascinating insight that Ed soon learned was that some homeless people are able to make a lot of money on any given day. In Manchester, one homeless person he met by the name of Mark, mastered the art of making easy money by smooth-talking his way through town... By the end of his 60 days on the streets, Ed couldn’t believe that he had actually put on 11 pounds when everything was said and done. He was overwhelmed by how much food people were willing to give him... everyone around who was also living on the streets was involved in some sort of illegal activity, in some shape or form."

Man accused of bringing gas cans to St. Patrick's Cathedral is college professor, was previously arrested at another cathedral - "The man who allegedly brought gas cans and lighter fluid into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City has taught philosophy at different colleges in New York and New Jersey, school officials said.Marc Lamparello, 37, was arrested on Wednesday night and was charged with attempted arson and reckless endangerment. He was taken into custody after a security guard at the cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan spotted him"

How much is academic achievement shaped by genes? - "Children differ widely in how well they do at school. In recent years, researchers have shown that around two-thirds of differences in school achievement can be explained by differences in children’s genes... twins’ educational achievement was remarkably stable: children who do well in primary school also tend to perform well in GCSE exams, which are taken at the end of compulsory education... We found that about 70% of the stability in achievement is explained by genetic factors, while 25% is accounted for by the twins’ shared environment, such as growing up in the same family and attending the same school. The remaining 5% was explained by their non-shared environment, such as different friends or different teachers... It’s reasonable to assume that this substantial influence of genes on the continuity of children’s achievement during their time at school can be explained by intelligence. But we found the influence of genes remained substantial – at 60% – even after accounting for intelligence, which was measured using several verbal and nonverbal tests taken by the twins over the course of childhood and adolescence... we could use DNA tests at birth to identify children at genetic risk for developing reading problems and give them early intervention. As preventive interventions have greater chances of succeeding early in life, a great strength of polygenic scores is that they can predict at birth just as well as later in life, which could be of particular help for those children who are likely to struggle the most."
People claim that SES being correlated with educational outcomes shows that meritocracy is a sham. But that only is true if you think everyone is born equally talented. Indeed, a high correlation actually shows that meritocracy is working
Addendum: This is about the paper: "The stability of educational achievement across school years is largely explained by genetic factors"

A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you - "merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called ‘grit’, depend a great deal on one’s genetic endowments and upbringing... There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck... believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways"
Luck is necessary but not sufficient for success
Just because moral luck determines merit doesn't mean that merit doesn't exist
Taking a leaf from diversity rhetoric, it doesn't mean that those who succeed aren't meritorious (just as diversity quotas/boosts doesn't mean those who get in aren't qualified - depending on your belief in diversity rhetoric those who get in through diversity might be as qualified, or just sufficiently qualified). And this can hold if we hold up a softer version of meritocracy - it is not that the best succeed the most, but just that those who succeed are good, and if we are more reflexive about it being an ideal rather than a perfect reality
As with all screeds against meritocracy, this doesn't posit a better alternative. It is indeed the worst way of allocating rewards except for all those other ways that have been tried from time to time
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