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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Links - 31st January 2019 (2)

Is writing overly romanticized as a career? - Quora - "Would you like to be a journalist, knowing that what you write today will end up as a paper aeroplane tomorrow?
How about a Copywriter advertising medicine you put in unmentionable places.
Again, you could write recipes on the back of tinned beans.
Jokes for Christmas Crackers might spark you off."
"I met and talked to published authors. They led thrifty lives. I learnt how becoming a full-time author was scary as shit. It was exciting, they said, but only in the beginning. They were content but passion didn't ooze out of them, as I would have expected it to, having grown up with a grossly skewed image of what it meant to be an author."

Ghost in the Shell beloved in Japan, despite box office blowout in the West - "Ghost in the Shell brought in more than $3 million in Japan during its first three days in theaters, a modest sum that looks stellar compared to its U.S. gross during the same period. Japanese audiences have reportedly taken to the film, despite its primary controversy stemming from its predominantly white take on a historically Japanese property. Yahoo Japan’s movie review site lists the film at a decent 3.56 user rating, higher than that of the original anime... Praise went to the visuals, Scarlett Johansson’s performance and the overall original approach to the iconic source material. On comment in particular stood out, however. THR spoke to a fan identified as Yuki, who thought that the film was better off with a white woman in the lead role, instead of a Japanese one as intended. "I heard people in the U.S. wanted an Asian actress to play her," Yuki told THR. "Would that be OK if she was Asian or Asian-American? Honestly, that would be worse, someone from another Asian country pretending to be Japanese. Better just to make the character white."... Although critics quickly decried director Rupert Sanders’ whitewashed take on Ghost in the Shell, both its creative team and original author didn’t see a problem... "What issue could there possibly be with casting her?" Oshii said to IGN in an interview. "The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name 'Motoko Kusanagi' and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply." Some stateside fans echoed Oshii’s argument in their praise of the film, as did Johansson and Sanders. Nonetheless, Ghost in the Shell was so roundly panned that its failure at the box office was ultimately a forgone conclusion."
Kicking up a fuss over a non-issue = hurting the film's prospects = you're less likely to get something 'ethnic' in the future = 'white supremacy' is advanced

Jury Convicts New York TV Executive of Beheading Wife - "The founder of a Muslim-oriented New York television station was convicted Monday of beheading his wife in 2009 in the studio the couple had opened to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan never denied that he killed Aasiya Hassan inside the suburban Buffalo station the couple established to promote cultural understanding. A jury deliberated for one hour before rejecting his claim that the killing was justified because he was long abused by and afraid of his wife."

Extreme Centrist Memes for Hardline Moderates - Posts - "When you xenophobically murder a mentally ill person of colour as punishment for illegal immigration but leftists praise it because your status as an uncontacted native tribe puts you 5 steps higher on the Oppression ScaleTM than him"

Taiwan asked voters 10 questions, including gay rights. It got some unexpected answers - "One of the biggest issues in the election campaign — and the subject of half the referendum questions — was gay rights.Voters expressed overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriage, despite a court ruling last year that limiting marriage to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional. Voters also supported the removal of content about homosexuality from primary school textbooks.Many in Taiwan, especially young voters, were stunned by the referendum results... Three of the referendum questions concerned energy policy, with voters supporting a reduction in the use of coal and a halt to construction of coal-fired power stations. They also voted to repeal legislation that would have halted all nuclear power production by 2025, driven in part by concern that without nuclear power, air pollution would worsen in southern Taiwan, which supplies the majority of electricity for Taipei and other northern cities."
The echo chamber is real
Presumably this is all the fault of Christians - even though under 5% of the population is Christian and European colonisation only lasted for 38 years in the 17th century
Of course now liberals are saying democracy is bad and we should just impose the gay agenda despite what voters think


Inside Britain's sex robot brothels and ‘it IS legal’ - " increasing technological unemployment in other industries could increase the number of sex workers.He said: "Human prostitutes will adapt in order to maintain their advantage over robot competitors."Sex workers will adopt safe sex practices if this is what the clients demand."They will cater to the emotional needs of customers and engage in different sexual practices."

Clever lass uses her dildo in genius life hack - "One lass has discovered that her dildo could in fact fix the dents on her car. The footage shows the French girl attaching the suction cup at the end of her plaything to her car door. When she pulls, the sheer power of the suction manages to pull back the dent into shape."

Dick Code - What kind of Dick do you have?

The end is nigh: terrifying robot choir sings Beethoven’s Ode To Joy - "This technology firm has been training their robots to sing a truly terrifying and haunting version of the triumphant final chorus from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, his ‘Ode To Joy’. This is literally the scariest thing we’ve seen in forever"

Children are suffering serious head lice infestations - "Mr Burgess and his team conducted tests in a primary school in Cambridgeshire before this year's summer holidays and found around eight per cent of the children had head lice. They handed parents of all the infested children vouchers worth £10 to collect any treatment of their choice from a pharmacy metres from the school.Yet only a quarter of the vouchers - for just eight of the children - were cashed in."
With 2 videos of people with serious lice problems

3D printers emit microparticles that can embed in your lungs - "there is no such thing as a 3D printer that doesn’t emit concerning microparticles into the air. Even industrial models that appear sealed, complete with fans and filters, put out measurable particulates... how worried should we be in the meantime? A bit. “I wouldn’t say it’s terrifying because you get exposed to these particles all the time from roadway emissions–like diesel cars. It’s not like 3D printers create the only nanoparticles in the world,” says Weber. “It’s just that it’s unregulated and people haven’t thought about it much.”“To be honest, I wouldn’t be too concerned as long as you have good ventilation,” he continues. “That’s what it comes down to. If you have a bunch of printers in one room like a classroom, you walk in and can smell plastic, then I’d be concerned about it.”"

Forbidden Transmissions - "don’t quote MLK if you’re white
don’t quote MLK if you’re white
DON’T QUOTE MLK IF YOU’RE WHITE
MLK DIDN’T MAKE HIS “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH FOR YOU… HE MADE IT FOR BLACK EMPOWERMENT.
STOP STEALING EVERYTHING."
"“Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.” -MLK"
"I love it when ignorant teenagers use legitimate icons of civil rights as martyrs to justify their own hatred without even knowing the level of human compassion those people really stood for."

My Little Pony: Lesbianism is Magic - "Bronies have their own ways of talking about shipping, referring to mare/mare relationships as “fillyfooling” (and relationships between stallions as “coltcuddling”). The amount of fillyfooling equals or outnumbers the amount of heterosexual shipping on many fansites. What is also surprising is how non-fetishistic these stories are. While sexual fanfic – called “clop” in the brony fandom – certainly exists (it’s Rule 34, after all), the majority of sapphic pony fanfiction I found was fairly chaste, and more focused on romance than titillation"

Intimate partner homicide methods in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian relationships. - "Previous research indicates that the killing method used in homicides may reflect the motivation of the offender and qualities of the victim-offender relationship. The effect of gender and sexual orientation of intimate partner homicide offenders (N = 51,007) was examined with respect to the brutality of killing methods. Guided by previous research and theory, it was hypothesized that homicide brutality will vary with the offender's sexual orientation and gender, such that the percentage of killings coded as brutal will be higher for (a) gay and lesbian relative to heterosexual relations, (b) men relative to women, (c) gay relative to heterosexual men, and (d) lesbian relative to heterosexual women. The rates of intimate partner homicide were also hypothesized to vary with the gender of the partners, such that (a) homicide rates will be higher in gay relative to heterosexual and lesbian couples and (b) homicide rates will be lowest in lesbian couples. The results support all but one prediction derived from the two hypotheses. We predicted that men would kill their partners more brutally than would women, but the results indicate that the opposite is true."
Of course, feminists will claim this is proof of patriarchy

I Love America. That’s Why I Have to Tell the Truth About It - "Then the U.S. re-established relations with Vietnam in 1994, and my parents took the first opportunity to go home. They went twice, without me, to visit a country that was just emerging from postwar poverty and desperation. Whatever they saw in their homeland, it affected my father deeply. After the second trip, my parents never again returned to Vietnam. Instead, over the next Thanksgiving dinner, my father said, “We’re Americans now.”At last, my father had claimed America"
At the same time, if you only ever have good things to say - or bad things to say - that is not the truth

Shin Bet foils Hamas-planned bombing in Israel - "Hamas communicated with the militants in the West Bank through messages passed on by Gaza patients allowed into Israel to undergo life-saving medical treatments, as well as other Gaza residents who had business contacts in the West Bank. The Shin Bet noted this was not the first time Hamas was exploiting humanitarian cases to carry out military operations in the West Bank
Of course, if Israel puts more scrutiny on humanitarian cases because of this, they will be slammed as inhumane

Ethnic Diversity, Economic and Cultural Contexts, and Social Trust: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence from European Regions, 2002–2010 - "across European regions, different aspects of immigration-related diversity are negatively related to social trust. In longitudinal perspective, an increase in immigration is related to a decrease in social trust. Tests of the conditional hypotheses reveal that regional economic growth and ethnic polarization as a cultural context moderate the relationship. Immigration growth is particularly strongly associated with a decrease in social trust in contexts of economic decline and high ethnic polarization. However, there is some evidence that in contexts of low polarization the relationship is actually positive."

ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND ITS IMPACT ON COMMUNITY SOCIAL COHESION AND NEIGHBORLY EXCHANGE - "Putnam's “constrict theory” suggests that ethnic diversity creates challenges for developing and sustaining social capital in urban settings. He argues that diversity decreases social cohesion and reduces social interactions among community residents. While Putnam's thesis is the subject of much debate in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, there is a limited focus on how ethnic diversity impacts upon social cohesion and neighborly exchange behaviors in Australia. Employing multilevel modeling and utilizing administrative and survey data from 4,000 residents living in 148 Brisbane suburbs, we assess whether ethnic diversity lowers social cohesion and increases “hunkering.” Our findings indicate that social cohesion and neighborly exchange are attenuated in ethnically diverse suburbs. However, diversity is less consequential for neighborly exchange among immigrants when compared to the general population. Our results provide at least partial support for Putnam's thesis."

The (in)compatibility of diversity and sense of community. - "Community psychologists are interested in creating contexts that promote both respect for diversity and sense of community. However, recent theoretical and empirical work has uncovered a community-diversity dialectic wherein the contextual conditions that foster respect for diversity often run in opposition to those that foster sense of community. More specifically, within neighborhoods, residential integration provides opportunities for intergroup contact that are necessary to promote respect for diversity but may prevent the formation of dense interpersonal networks that are necessary to promote sense of community. Using agent-based modeling to simulate neighborhoods and neighborhood social network formation, we explore whether the community-diversity dialectic emerges from two principles of relationship formation: homophily and proximity. The model suggests that when people form relationships with similar and nearby others, the contexts that offer opportunities to develop a respect for diversity are different from the contexts that foster a sense of community. Based on these results, we conclude with a discussion of whether it is possible to create neighborhoods that simultaneously foster respect for diversity and sense of community."

Concept Creep - the Slippery Slope by another name

How 'Concept Creep' Made Americans So Sensitive to Harm

"In “Concept Creep: Psychology's Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology,” Haslam argues that concepts like abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice, “now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before,”expanded meanings that reflect “an ever-increasing sensitivity to harm.”...

Society’s concept of what constituted an unacceptable risk, harm, or trauma expanded for ill. In Hanna Rosin’s words, it “stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer.”...

How did a working-class mom get arrested, lose her fast food job, and temporarily lose custody of her 9-year-old for letting the child play alone at a nearby park?

The concept of abuse expanded too far...

“The concept of bullying has spread from its original meaning to encompass a wider range of phenomena,” Haslam writes. “It has expanded horizontally into online behavior, into adult workplaces, and into forms of social exclusion that do not directly target the victim with hurtful actions, as distinct from hurtful omissions.” (For example,being excluded from a group of friends is dubbed bullying.)

Bullying has expanded vertically, too.

“Behavior that is less extreme than prototypical bullying now falls within its bounds”...

Trauma originally referred to a physical injury to the body...

By the government’s definition, a Wellesley student who saw that statue of a man in his underwear, perceived the event as “emotionally threatening” and experienced “lasting adverse effects” on her “spiritual well-being” is a trauma victim. Since the same designation also encompasses victims of torture and brutal sexual assaults, and people who experience adverse effects as extreme as suicide, an inevitable effect of this “concept creep” is to leave us without language to distinguish classic trauma, even though isolating such cases might be useful or necessary.

Creep in the concept of “mental disorder” has been much debated in elementary education. Are boys displaying normal restlessness in school classrooms being diagnosed with attention-deficit disorders and medicated so that they’re more sedate for teachers?

“Ordinary vicissitudes of childhood now find shelter under the umbrella concept of mental disorder"...

“By misrepresenting normal sadness, worry, and fear as mental disorders, the mental health professions overmedicate, exaggerate the population prevalence of disorder, and deflect resources away from more severe conditions.”...

The backlash to America’s “ever-increasing sensitivity to harm” is about a lot of diffuse, sometimes contradictory things, but it is partly about an aversion to being scammed...

Within academia, “concept creep” expanded what counted as prejudice “from direct, expressed antipathy...to inferred antipathy,” and then the concept was expanded in two more ways. “The concept of aversive prejudice (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2004) applies to liberally minded people who deny personal prejudice but hold aversions, sometimes unconscious, to other-race people,” Haslam writes. “These aversions are not based on hostile antipathy but on fear, unease, or discomfort.” And the idea of implicit bias—that subconscious attitudes and beliefs could shape actions—entrenched the notion that prejudice included negative racial sentiments held by people even if they were unaware of harboring them.

In yet another evolution, prejudice was no longer restricted to negative group evaluations. “The concept of benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996) extended prejudice to include group evaluations that were at least superficially warm and positive,” Haslam writes. “Benevolent sexists idealize women as pure creatures who are too delicate and morally superior to inhabit the hurly-burly public world of men.”

And the concept of prejudice as understood in the academy would not be complete without mentioning the rise of the controversial microaggressions framework...

It seems like there ought to be clearly distinguishable words and concepts for klansmen and demagogues who deliberately stoke racial anxieties, on the one hand, and college students who take a test that suggests that they have mild, negative associations about a racial group, without harboring any animosity toward people in that group, acting badly toward any members of that group, or advocating for anything but full equality on the other. Those college students may be labeled “prejudiced” or “racist,” but few people will be inclined to exclude them from their homes or their workplaces...

“Concept creep” exacerbates failures to communicate.

When a concept is stretched to include “milder, subtler, or less extreme phenomena than those to which they referred at an earlier time,” any earlier judgment or consensus about how best to respond to that concept no longer applies...

Why has the direction of concept creep, across so many different concepts, trended toward greater sensitivity to harm as opposed to lesser sensitivity?

Haslam endorses two theories.

One concerns the field of psychology and its incentives. “It could be argued that just as successful species increase their territory, invading and adapting to new habitats, successful concepts and disciplines also expand their range into new semantic niches”... The other theory posits an ideological explanation. “Psychology has played a role in the liberal agenda of sensitivity to harm and responsiveness to the harmed,” he writes “and its increased focus on negative phenomena—harms such as abuse, addiction, bullying, mental disorder, prejudice, and trauma—has been symptomatic of the success of that social agenda.”...

“If an increasingly left-leaning academy is staffed by people who are increasingly hostile to conservatives, then we can expect that their concepts will shift, via motivated scholarship, in ways that will help them and their allies (e.g., university administrators) to prosecute and condemn conservatives”...

There are many reasons to be concerned about excessive sensitivity to harm:

“by applying concepts of abuse, bullying, and trauma to less severe and clearly defined actions and events, and by increasingly including subjective elements into them, concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.”

“...concept creep can produce a kind of semantic dilution. If a concept expands to encompass less extreme phenomena... then its prototypical meaning is likely to shift... If trauma, for example, ceases to refer exclusively to terrifying events that are outside normal human experience, and is applied to less severe and more prevalent stresses, it will come to be seen in a more benign light.”

“...by increasing the range of people who are defined as moral patients—people worthy of moral concern, based on their perceived capacity to suffer and be harmed—it risks reducing the range of people who see themselves as capable of moral agency.” There is a tendency “for more and more people to see themselves as victims who are defined by their suffering, vulnerability, and innocence...The flip-side of this expanding sense of victimhood would be a typecast assortment of moral villains: abusers, bullies, bigots, and traumatizers.”
.
Expanding mental disorder “can pathologize normal experiences, generate over-diagnosis and over-treatment, and engender a sense of diminished agency.”...

Greater sensitivity to harm has affected college campuses.

“Of course young people need to be protected from some kinds of harm, but overprotection is harmful, too, for it causes fragility and hinders the development of resilience,” they wrote. “As Nasim Taleb pointed out in his book Antifragile, muscles need resistance to develop, bones need stress and shock to strengthen and the growing immune system needs to be exposed to pathogens in order to function. Similarly, he noted, children are by nature anti-fragile – they get stronger when they learn to recover from setbacks, failures and challenges to their cherished ideas.”


So the moral panic and obsession about bullying and mental illness are also the results of concept creep.

Concept creep is a great example of the "fallacy" of the slippery slope.

Links - 31st January 2019 (1)

Liberal, Not Lefty - FIRE‏ @TheFIREorg: "UCLA threatens academic freedom and public trust in higher education with its new requirement that all applications for tenure-track positions and promotions include a "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion" statement"
Jeffrey Flier‏ @jflier: "As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this. But I will now. Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion by trivializing it."
"Jeffrey Flier is the former Dean of Harvard Medical School. Knowing that, read the tweet again, and just sit in it for a moment. Sit in it.
The former Dean of arguably the most prestigious higher learning institution in the WORLD, admitting he felt the need to self-censor truth, due to progressive mob pressure.
How many others *currently* presiding as Dean think the same? How many other tenured Professors think the same? How many tenure-track, contracted, and adjunct Professors think the same?
I would hedge it's a significantly larger number than Antifa's latest membership count, but this is what happens when the many acquiesce to the demands of an authoritarian few. You give an inch, they make you sign away it all.
Imagine the difference that could be made in the academic free speech climate, if those who did think the same, came forward together saying so -- and did *before* they retired.
If this isn't a concrete example of the free speech chilling effect reaching even the most (seemingly) untouchables of academia, I really don't know what is.
Jeffrey Flier is not a conservative. He is not "alt right". He is not a religious driven man.
He is not able to be dismissed with the same overly-broad brush the critics of Peterson attempt to wipe him away with.
Sadly, I worry he'll be ignored by the left because of it -- it's far easier to pretend the only ones concerned with free speech are Ben Shapiro & the talking parrots at Turning Point. I sincerely hope more Jeffrey Flier's of the world will step forward, and prove them otherwise."

Huffington Post wants you to think a 10-year-old kid in drag is normal - ""In what moral universe is it acceptable to encourage a 10 yr old boy to dress like an adult male mimicking a sexualized adult female, use that as a ticket to fame and then claim it as virtue?"... Desmond says his parents introduced him to drag at two years old, when he saw his first episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Desmond wears feminine clothing, dresses in heels, lipstick, and eye shadow, and attends fashion walks and other LGBTQ advocacy events. He says he came “out of the closet” at three. Rather than question how any of this is possible, makes sense, or appears healthy, outlets simply embrace the message Desmond and his parents project. In interviews, Desmond has explained, “My mom says, ‘Be yourself always, no matter what anyone says.'" Good advice. But do 10-year-olds have the capacity to purchase makeup, heels, and dresses? Perhaps now Desmond does, but that certainly would not have been the case when he was even younger, meaning someone perpetuated this mindset by providing purposeful help. Desmond’s parents have taught him that he is an LGBTQ “advocate,” a word young children wouldn’t even know, let alone embrace. Desmond has told another interviewer that his parents didn’t think it sounded like a good idea to force a child to do something they didn’t want to do. That’s nonsense. Parents can and should do this all the time. My children would likely eat Little Debbie Cakes and watch movies all day long without intervention. School, chores, homework, reading — those are all things kids would often rather not do. Do we indulge that fantasy? Heck, kids would rather run out in the middle of the street, go eight days without bathing, and eat Pop Rocks all day long — do we indulge them in that too? There are no perfect parents, myself included, but the fine line between boundaries and freedom is one that every parent must navigate with their children... A recent Gallup poll says 3 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ, but more interestingly, the public believes almost 25 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ. They do so because the media hypes stories like Desmond’s to the point where the rest of America believes it’s healthy, common, and even enviable"

Vegan Wool? PETA mocked for asking to rename 1,000-year-old village - "The Dorset village, the name of which derives from the ancient word for well, has faced calls from PETA to change its name in an “animal friendly update”."

Which Textile Fibres Cause Microplastic Pollution When Washed? Here's What the Studies Reveal So Far - "While a 2014 study found natural textile fibers such as wool, linen, and cotton present in the marine environment, these were not found to pose a threat to the ecosystem, fish and marine life as these fibres are biodegradable"
So to prevent sheep getting a haircut, we should let more microplastics into the environment

The Best & Cheapest Things to Buy from ValuDollar & ABC 2018 - "you can actually halve your grocery bill if you shop at ValuDollar and ABC! Yes, you would definitely need to supplement your purchases with fresh produce, but for snacks, coffee/tea, toiletries and household items, these prices just speak for themselves. Do note that there are differences in price based on location!"

Australia Day Address orator Michelle Simmons horrified at 'feminised' physics curriculum - "Professor Michelle Simmons, a professor of quantum physics at the University of NSW, has expressed her horror at the "feminised" nature of the HSC physics curriculum.Delivering the 2017 Australia Day address on Tuesday, Professor Simmons said it was a "disaster" to try to make physics more appealing to girls by substituting rigorous mathematical problem-solving with qualitative responses... "When we reduce the quality of education that anyone receives we reduce the expectations we have of them"... Professor Simmons' Australia Day speech focused on the need for Australians to attempt the difficult things in life."It is better to do the things that have the greatest reward; things that are hard, not easy," she said... For her Cambridge was "too hierarchical and esoteric". The American culture, she said, restricts early-career researchers. When she arrived, people asked her "Why on Earth did you come?"But for Professor Simmons the choice was easy."Australia offers a culture of academic freedom, openness to ideas and an amazing willingness to pursue ambitious goals," she said.Professor Simmons is so proud of the one-way ticket to Australia she bought 18 years ago that she had it framed and sent to her brother for his 50th birthday.
Internalised misogyny!

Disrupting and Displacing Methodologies in STEM Education: from Engineering to Tinkering with Theory for Eco-Social Justice
Published in "The Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education", "one of the leading international journals in the field of science, mathematics and technology education"

Is modern Western culture a health hazard? - "materialism and individualism are detrimental to health and well-being through their impacts on psychosocial factors such as personal control and social support."

Why the Left Is Losing Ground - "On college campuses in particular, activists often take an almost religious approach to politics, rooted in a belief—sometimes stated, sometimes implied—in the irredeemable sin of America and its mainstream. Their work on vital issues gets diverted from real-world objectives and takes on the character of a church revival, with rituals to express its believers’ sin and salvation, and a fundamentalist attention to language and doctrine. The late American philosopher Richard Rorty famously argued in his 1998 book, Achieving Our Country, that this inward-looking dogmatism and zealotry was a major problem for the left. To a self-destructive degree, activists rejected dissent and criticism of their hallowed principles. They alienated the uninitiated with their join-us-or-else self-righteousness, undermining public support for the important causes they cared about. They turned away with disdain from any whiff of political power, elitism, or national pride, thus depriving themselves of some of the tools they needed to bring about tangible changes to policy. The left, Rorty claimed, had become too enamored with ideas of purity and sin. The sin at issue, though, was not about violating biblical commandments. It was the sin of bigotry, imperialism, and power: the accumulation of heinous acts in America’s history that, in some critics’ eyes, had moved the nation beyond redemption... The “cultural left,” as he called it, took concerns over Jim Crow and the Vietnam War and transformed them into a fiery jeremiad against American society and its principles. A kind of political nihilism emerged, Rorty observed, as anti-war activists arrived at the view that the Vietnam War “not only could never be forgiven, but had shown us to be a nation conceived in sin, and irredeemable.” At the same time, the new generation of activists did not follow through on the egalitarian economic agenda and savvy political strategizing of their predecessors, which would have provided a useful counterweight to their idealism. As a result, Rorty claimed, America’s left became trapped in its own indignation and skepticism, substituting sound and fury in the secular pews over the sorts of constructive, pragmatic, and unabashedly power-hungry action required to change an oppressive system. Importantly, it gave up on the white working class, neglecting their concerns about the disappearance of good jobs and the growth of economic inequality, and leaving that crucial voting bloc to be wooed by America-first conservatives like Pat Buchanan—and, later, Donald Trump... the new generation of activists, progressive and conservative alike, often seemed oblivious to the idea of forgiveness that figures so prominently in Christian understandings of sin, he argued... their focus on sinfulness turns politically useful activism into useless performance... activism becomes more about an insider conversation and competition, and less about effecting change"
So even Rorty argued that American liberals hate their country

Woman Hilariously Recreates Celebrity Instagram Photos (Part 2) - "You may remember a post we did last year about Celeste Barber, an Australian comedienne who hilariously recreates celebrity Instagram photos. Well, now she's back, and her latest batch of parody poses are even funnier than the first."

What Is the Evidence on Taxes and Growth? - "Nearly every empirical study of taxes and economic growth published in a peer reviewed academic journal finds that tax increases harm economic growth"

Effects of Income Tax Changes on Economic Growth - "The structure and financing of a tax change are critical to achieving economic growth. Tax rate cuts may encourage individuals to work, save, and invest, but if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts, they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit, which in the long-term will reduce national saving and raise interest rates. The net impact on growth is uncertain, but many estimates suggest it is either small or negative. Base-broadening measures can eliminate the effect of tax rate cuts on budget deficits, but at the same time, they reduce the impact on labor supply, saving, and investment and thus reduce the direct impact on growth. They may also reallocate resources across sectors toward their highest-value economic use, resulting in increased efficiency and potentially raising the overall size of the economy. Results in the literature suggest that not all tax changes will have the same impact on growth. Reforms that improve incentives, reduce existing distortionary subsidies, avoid windfall gains, and avoid deficit financing will have more auspicious effects on the long-term size of the economy, but may also create trade-offs between equity and efficiency."

THE IMPACT OF TAX CUTS ON ECONOMIC GROWTH: EVIDENCE FROM THE CANADIAN PROVINCES - "We examine the impact of the Canadian provincial governments’ tax rates on economic growth using panel data covering the period 1977–2006. We find that a higher provincial statutory corporate income tax rate is associated with lower private investment and slower economic growth. Our empirical estimates suggest that a 1 percentage point cut in the corporate tax rate is related to a 0.1–0.2 percentage point increase in the annual growth rate. Our results also indicate that switching from a retail sales tax to a sales tax that is harmonized with the federal value-added sales tax boosts provincial investment and growth"

Facial Recognition Flags Woman on Bus Ad for 'Jaywalking' - "China’s surveillance system is becoming increasingly omnipresent, with an estimated 200 million cameras and counting. While this state of existence alone is unsettling, it’s even more troubling that the machines are fucking up even the simplest task.Last week, the face of Dong Mingzhu—the chairwoman of a leading air conditioner manufacturer in China—was displayed on a giant Billboard-sized screen in Ningbo, a major port city in east China’s Zhejiang province, to publicly shame her for breaking a traffic law. Zhejiang is one of the provinces that last year deployed facial recognition technology that humiliates citizens who jaywalk by putting their photos on massive LED screens. But the cameras didn’t catch Mingzhu jaywalking—they identified a photo of her in a bus ad"

The Jews of West Africa?, by Peter Frost - "There has been much talk here about Chanda Chisala’s article “The IQ gap is no longer a black and white issue.” Much of the article focuses on the Igbo (known also as Ibo), a people who live in the Niger Delta and “are well known to be high academic achievers within Nigeria.” In the United Kingdom, their children do as well in school as Chinese and Indian students... even before the first European contacts in the 16th century, the Igbo were already the focus of a network of trading relationships that extended outward from the Niger Delta. European traders became integrated into this trade network, thereby enabling the Igbo to emerge as valued middlemen in the slave trade... This new political environment favored the Igbo, whose initiative, self-discipline, and future orientation predisposed them to succeed not only in their homeland but also elsewhere in Nigeria, where they soon became dominant as merchants and civil servants. They thus took on a role like that of middleman minorities elsewhere in the empire, such as the Parsis in western India, the Chinese in Malaya, and the South Asians in East Africa. By the 1930s, one Igbo boasted that “the Ibo domination of Nigeria is a matter of time” (Ibrahim, 2000, p. 56). This trend even affected the army. By independence, 24 of the 52 senior army officers of the rank of major and above were Igbos (Ibrahim, 2000,p. 55). This dominance led to jealousy among Nigerians in the north and west, who accused the Igbo of unfair business practices... “the North and the West have a deep-seated mistrust of the Igbo and so are bent on restricting, containing, and denying the Igbo their political right. Added to this is their subtle message to other minority groups: the Igbo, as a group, are not to be trusted!” (Abidde, 2004). This mistrust is founded on a not unjustified perception that the Igbo will prevail on any level playing field... Chanda Chisala uses the Igbo example to refute the “hereditarian-HBD” argument. In doing so, he comes closer to the HBD position than he may realize. Recent work on gene-culture coevolution has shown that the average mental makeup of human populations can change significantly over a short span of historical time. This notably seems to have happened with the Ashkenazi Jews and the English between the Middle Ages and the 19th century (Clark et al., 2007; Cochran et al., 2006). Why couldn’t a similar process have happened with the Igbo? Why assume that sub-Saharan Africa is a monolith whose diverse populations have evolved in exactly the same way? We know that human genetic evolution didn’t slow down with the coming of culture. It actually sped up (Hawks et al., 2007). For the most part, we humans have diversified genetically in response to differences in cultural environment and not to differences in natural environment. It is therefore plausible that the different cultures of Africa have had different effects on the gene pools of their respective populations."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Links - 30th January 2019 (2)

The Big Read: From the boondocks to waterfront town, Punggol grapples with growing pains and traffic jams - "Travelling from Sengkang to Punggol should take 20 minutes by bus, but for Ms Denise Wong’s husband, the journey home typically lasts an hour... “The transportation, facilities and malls are not growing as fast as the population. That has caused a lot of inconvenience”... Of the 11 districts in Punggol, seven feature waterfront living"

‘Drunk’ Chinese man’s Singles’ Day shopping frenzy ends with a live pig, peacock and giant salamander - "A man who claims he accidentally bought a live pig, a peacock and a giant salamander while drunk on Singles’ Day – China’s annual internet shopping frenzy – has gone viral on Chinese social media... The listings are still available on the Taobao and JD.com sites, where a number of animal traders are active in selling domestic pets and exotic animals, many of which are endangered species that are banned by law from being traded. However, it is legal to deliver live animals by courier services in China... A 21-year-old woman from Shaanxi, northwest China, died in hospital in July after falling into a coma for several days as a result of a bite from a highly venomous snake she ordered."

Making 'heong peah' the traditional way in a kiln - "You can find a number of heong peah (fragrant biscuits in Hokkien) makers in Gunung Rapat, but the biscuits from 362 Heong Peah are what people seem to crave for. Why, you ask? The answer is simple. 362 Heong Peah still makes the biscuits the traditional way in a small handmade kiln and instead of burning charcoal, they use coconut husks. “Coconut husks give a savoury aroma to the biscuits and the oil that is produced through the burning of the coconut husks will stick to the biscuit, giving them a distinctive taste”... “The biscuits made in a traditional oven are crispier than the ones baked in electric ovens”"
In Ipoh

How to Block Your Sugar Cravings With Chemistry - "One way people have been derailing the sugar train throughout the years is by consuming gymnema—a woody vine that grows in the tropics of India, Africa and Australia. Its bitter compounds have been used for centuries in traditions like Ayurveda to control sugar cravings and treat diabetes. There’s even evidence of the herb in use 2000 years ago in the treatment of “honey urine,” a poetic and archaic term for diabetes. Gymnema’s most noticeable effect is that after tasting the leaf, your tongue will be temporarily unable, or less able, to taste sweetness in foods"

Was there ever really a “sugar conspiracy”? - "Over the past quarter-century, historical research has revealed how major industries from tobacco to lead to petroleum have meddled in science to conceal the hazards of their products. Drawing on secret industry documents, these studies have shown how special interests have used financial incentives to influence scientists, fabricate doubt, and delay regulation (1). Recently, similar allegations have been made against the sugar industry, with claims that prominent industry-backed researchers in the 1960s downplayed or suppressed evidence linking sugar and heart disease. Building on a newly popular narrative holding that the low-fat campaign of the 1980s was not based on solid science, these allegations have suggested that if not for the machinations of the sugar industry and its cadre of sponsored researchers, the history of U.S. dietary policy might have unfolded very differently. In this article, we argue that the historical evidence does not support these claims. Although we do not defend the sugar industry and cannot address every aspect of this history, we believe recent high-profile claims come from researchers who have overextended the analogy of the tobacco industry playbook and failed to assess historical actors by the norms and standards of their time. Our analysis illustrates how conspiratorial narratives in science can distort the past in the service of contemporary causes and obscure genuine uncertainty that surrounds aspects of research, impairing efforts to formulate good evidence-informed policies. In the absence of very strong evidence, there is a serious danger in interpreting the inevitable twists and turns of research and policy as the product of malevolent playbooks and historical derailments. Like scientists, historians must focus on the evidence and follow the data where they lead."

Parliament: Allow employees to call in sick without doctor's note, NMP suggests - "New Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Irene Quay on Tuesday (Nov 20) called on the Government to encourage employers to allow their employees to take up to three days of non-consecutive sick leave each year without submitting medical certificates (MCs), saying that the move could help build trust and boost morale. Speaking in Parliament, Ms Quay - who is also president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore - said that individuals who queue at clinics to get an MC for common ailments such as the flu might inadvertently end up infecting others... As for the amendment requiring employers to recognise MCs from all doctors, Ms Quay asked the MOM and Ministry of Health (MOH) to consider allowing Collaborative Practice Prescribers (CPP) who run clinics in hospitals and polyclinics to issue MCs. CPPs are highly qualified pharmacists and nurses who can review and prescribe medication independently within the scope of their Collaborative Practice Agreement."
Plus it'll reduce healthcare costs and waiting times

Profit margins for hawker fare? As low as 20 to 30 cents - "He raised his price by 50 cents, but to his dismay, his business dropped by 40 to 50 per cent... Good-quality hawker food can only come from increasing the prices of the fare, he still reasons. But some consumers are also still unwilling to fork out that bit more for their hawker food... One man thought the profit margin for a plate of nasi lemak was S$1 to S$1.50. When told it was 30 cents, he exclaimed: “I don’t believe it. How to survive with that!”Another man was also surprised at the same profit margin for a S$3.50 bowl of ban mian (flat noodle soup), thinking it was S$1.50 instead.But despite saying that 30 cents was a low margin, he would not pay for the same bowl if the price were S$4. “I’d change my food,” he said. “Because hawker food is mostly catered for the low-income group.”... As for hiring a stall assistant, there is no guarantee the person would even stay.“Some of the workers … work for one day only. On the second day, they (stop) coming,” he complained. “They give the reason that (it’s) too hot – ‘I can’t take it.’ Seriously, it’s that bad.”... This perception that “hawker food has to be cheap, has to be good” must be changed, he stressed, suggesting that an across-the-board price increase of 50 cents to S$1 would be fair.That would, ideally, lead to hawkers buying better ingredients, hiring more hard-working assistants and churning out quality food for consumers. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” he added.If nothing is done, the danger is that in the next five to 10 years, “maybe 40 to 50 per cent of the hawkers will be gone, and then this heritage will die off”, he warned."

China Stimulus Efforts Are Failing for Good Reason - "China’s vaunted economic managers aren’t infallible — and they’re currently making a familiar mistake. They are trying to accomplish too many objectives simultaneously, many of which conflict with each other. Instead of engineering a recovery, the resulting confused policy mix is only feeding a growing feeling of uncertainty among Chinese markets, businesses and households. That will continue to depress growth in China — and the global economy — in 2019... policy tends to work best in China when there’s one clear, overarching priority. That’s exactly why regulators were so successful in their initial efforts to de-risk the banking system last year. Back then, after President Xi Jinping stated at an April 2017 Politburo study session that financial risk had become a national security risk, each economic or financial agency and official knew to put their energies squarely into reducing those risks.Now, though, banks are being told to de-risk while supporting risky companies. Local governments are being asked to crank up local infrastructure projects while hardening budget constraints. Investment authorities are told the economy should simultaneously be more self-reliant and more open to foreign businesses."

China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as 'social credit' system introduced - "Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity... Punishments are not clearly detailed in the government plan, but beyond making travel difficult, are also believed to include slowing internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets"

Why has Cantonese fallen out of favour with Guangzhou youngsters? - "“The schools and the government have been discouraging Cantonese in the community for a long while. My son and almost all his classmates are unwilling to learn both traditional and simplified characters because they think they are useless for daily life.”... Children are discouraged from using the local dialect at school, and local heritage is being given less prominence in community activities. Guangzhou’s Cantonese speakers and the local media cheered last year when a textbook designed to teach to teach spoken and written Cantonese was launched at the city’s Wuyang primary school. It included the basics, such as Cantonese romanisation and grammar, and the history and origins of the dialect, and the aim was to promote its use in other schools across the city.But the textbook’s author, Rao Yuansheng, said the local authorities soon put a stop to the project. He declined to comment further... Only one Hong Kong movie with Cantonese dialogue, Mad World, debuted on mainland cinema screens last year... “In many migrants’ eyes, Cantonese culture was advanced and developed,” Liang said.New arrivals had been keen to learn Cantonese and discover the local culture, viewing such knowledge as a way to get ahead in business. People paid hundreds of yuan to learn the dialect, and Hong Kong’s transformation into an ultra-modern, international community – with a flourishing entertainment industry – added to its allure.Until the late 2000s, Cantonese was the fashionable language among Shenzhen teenagers, whether at school, shopping centres or karaoke clubs. And there were protests in Guangzhou in 2010 when the city government proposed that its two main television stations switch from broadcasting in Cantonese to Mandarin."

Cantonese almost became the official language - "Many Cantonese speakers feel proud of their native language, saying it has more in common with ancient classical Chinese than Putonghua - which is a mix of northern dialects heavily influenced by Manchurian and Mongolian.Linguists agree to some extent. 'Cantonese is closer to classical Chinese in its pronunciation and some grammar,' Jiang Wenxian, a Chinese language scholar, said. 'Using Cantonese to read classical poetry is a real pleasure,' he said. 'Many ancient poems don't rhyme when you read them in Putonghua, but they do in Cantonese. 'Cantonese retains a flavour of archaic and ancient Chinese. Nowadays few people understand classical Chinese, so Cantonese should be protected as a type of language fossil helping us study ancient Chinese culture.'... In the 17th and 18th centuries, Guangdong was the only Chinese province allowed to trade directly with foreigners. Many Westerners at the time learned Cantonese. Up till very recently, there were more Cantonese speakers in overseas Chinese communities than Putonghua speakers. In Canada, for instance, Cantonese is the third most commonly spoken language after English and French."
The headline is an urban legend though

China slams Western ambassadors over plan to grill Uighur persecution - "Beijing justifies its Uighur crackdown as a counterterrorism measure, and has characterized the re-education centers as "free vocational training" camps that make life "colorful."But despite Beijing insisting its Uighur camps are fun, it has consistently refused to allow UN inspections. China's foreign ministry on Friday lashed out at the reported letter, calling the ambassadors involved "very rude."... Hua also accused the signatories of hypocrisy, claiming that all of China's ethnic groups - including the Uighurs and Hans, which are dominant in China - live in harmony and that the Uighur camps were a means of assimilating Uighurs"

Coral: Palau to ban sunscreen products to protect reefs - "The government has signed a law that restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals."
Save corals - get skin cancer

The Screen - Posts - "Female respondents think women are the majority of homicide victims whereas male respondents believe it to be roughly 50-50. The truth is, men are the majority of homicide victims
This male gender blindness is not uncommon and can easily play a part in perceptions of domestic violence & other issues which affect both sexes yet are only combatted when women are concerned."

CNN's Sally Kohn says 'I am gay and want my daughter to be gay too' - "A 37-year-old gay mom is set to spark controversy after she said she'd be disappointed if her six-year-old daughter wasn't gay when she grows up.Sally Kohn a political commentator who has appeared on CNN and MSNBC, describes herself as living in the 'liberal bubble of Park Slope, Brooklyn, where 'yuppies' want their kids to be happy.She said: 'I'm gay. And I want my kid to be gay, too.'... In 2014, she wrote that referring to an undocumented person as an 'illegal immigrant' was like calling a black person the N-word... she described her experience of being 'a butch lesbian' taking her five year old daughter for a Princess makeover at Disney World. She wrote: I have been a tomboy all my life. When I played with dolls they were usually being sacrificed in some sort of erupting volcano-like mud hole in my backyard or running for their lives.''My partner and I certainly didn’t teach our daughter to like pink and ruffles and such. And I can’t fathom some genetic or biological nodule that predisposes my girl to like dolls while little boys like trucks. Baloney.'She adds: 'Even in the midst of our hyper-liberal and hyper-diverse neighborhood with girls and boys of all kinds on display every day, it happened.'Did I do something wrong? Is feminism mysteriously skipping a generation? Meanwhile, I have to bribe her to wear jeans.'"
Of course straight people who want their kids to be straight are homophobes

Activist Sangeetha Thanapal issued stern warning for Facebook post that promotes ill will between races

Activist Sangeetha Thanapal issued stern warning for Facebook post that promotes ill will between races

Activist Sangeetha Thanapal, who lives in Melbourne where she is a researcher, was investigated this month when she returned to Singapore on Jan 2.

SINGAPORE - Activist Sangeetha Thanapal, known here for coining the term "Chinese privilege", has been given a stern warning by the police over a Facebook post that promotes feelings of ill will and hostility between races .

The 36-year-old Singaporean, who lives in Melbourne where she is a researcher, was investigated this month when she returned to Singapore on Jan 2, the police confirmed to The Straits Times on Tuesday (Jan 29).

Ms Sangeetha, who has since returned to Melbourne, was investigated for her remarks insinuating that Chinese in Singapore acted in a racist manner towards those of other races.

Her post was prompted by the Hollywood film Crazy Rich Asians.

The movie, touted as a big win for representation of Asian people on screen, was also criticised for a lack of representation of minorities in Singapore, where much of the action is set.

In a Facebook post last April, Ms Sangeetha called Singapore a "terribly racist country" before going on to make a series of claims.

For instance, she wrote that it is constantly reinforced that "only Chinese people" would be able to "save Singapore", while other races are "lazy and violent".

"Her remarks also alleged that the Singapore Government looks down on minority races and have embarked on deliberate policies to favour one race over the others," the police said in their reply.

In the same post, Ms Sangeetha claimed she had to "run away" to Australia after being threatened with sedition for speaking out on race matters.

In consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, police issued her a stern warning on Jan 16, "for an offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race" under Section 298A of the Penal Code.

Ms Sangeetha has written extensively about what she calls "Chinese privilege" in Singapore.

Akin to "white privilege" in Western countries, it refers to the claim that the majority race is unable to see things from the viewpoints of the minorities.

Attempts to reach her for comment have been unsuccessful.

However, in a Facebook post three days after being warned, Ms Sangeetha wrote that she had "a very traumatising experience" on her return to Singapore.

She said it prompted her to briefly shut down her Facebook page, "as anything we say on the internet is often used against activists".

"Right now, I am recuperating and focusing on other things in my life, but I won't be talking about what happened to me back in Singapore until and unless I know that I can't be threatened by the long arm of the Singapore state again."

In 2015, Ms Sangeetha found herself in a predicament after misrepresenting comments that current Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had made at a Singapore Press Club talk, where he spoke of a growing polarisation in Malaysia, with mainstream schools "becoming more and more Malay and Islamic".

His point was that trends in their education system made integration among the different races a challenge, with Chinese children attending Chinese-medium schools, and Malays going to mainstream schools.

But in a Facebook post, Ms Sangeetha suggested Mr Shanmugam had made the comments because he considered Malay-Muslims a threat.

Calling Ms Sangeetha's post "inaccurate and seditious", Mr Shanmugam said he had initially intended to make a police report.

But he later decided not to do so after meeting Ms Sangeetha, who took down the post and apologised for her comments.

His decision to drop the matter was not prompted by her apology, Mr Shanmugam later told reporters, but because she did not have the intention to cause ill will between races.

A police spokesman said they take a stern view of actions that can threaten social harmony here.

"Such irresponsible comments can promote feelings of ill will or hostility between different races, and are unacceptable in Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society," he added.


Notably, this is the first case I'm aware of of anti-Chinese racism being investigated in Singapore.

Links - 30th January 2019 (1)

TRUMP WAS RIGHT: Jerry Brown Eased California Logging Rules Back In August - "Months ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown urged state lawmakers to loosen restrictive logging regulations put in place to appease environmentalists -- a move that appears to have confirmed that President Trump's recent critiques of state logging practices was correct... Environmentalists in California weren't on board. They've been pushing for years to make California's logging rules more restrictive, not less -- but forest fires in recent years appeared to change the calculus for certain lawmakers... Forests, particularly in northern California, California lawmakers admitted, have become dangerously overgrown. But there's currently little incentive for landowners to clear their trees — they are only allowed to clear dead and decaying wood and undergrowth and can't clear healthy tress. By allowing landowners to recover some money from the process — letting them create and sell lumber, for instance — it could incentivize them to make bigger changes... Despite his own embrace of new logging rules back in August, Gov. Jerry Brown balked at President Donald Trump's suggestion that poor forestry and poor forest management might be to blame for the massive wildfires that ripped through northern and southern California earlier this month, claiming dozens of lives and tens of thousands of acres... Instead, Brown blamed global warming for the uptick in fires."

Trump was right: forests have been mismanaged - "Trump is right. We do have a management problem on the state, federal level and local levels (in that order). This can be broken down into six key areas where we have failed: Access, logging, grazing, endangered species, water quality and air pollution."

An0maly - Posts - "I took three of our scouts to a National Forest Ranger Station in Northern California to interview a forest ranger. We were ushered into a high-ranking ranger office where all four walls were covered with book shelves filled with thick binders floor to ceiling. The ranger sadly explained that he spent three quarters of his time dealing with injunctions that environmentalist groups have filed against logging companies to keep them from going into the forest to harvest dead trees. Pointing to his walls, the ranger quipped that the binders were filled with all the injunctions. The ranger detailed for the scouts that the environmentalists tie up the logging companies in court for so long that eventually the trees become full of beetles and no longer profitable to harvest and then the injunction is dropped. He said it will now cost billions of dollars to clean up the forests, whereas, if the loggers were allowed in, they could clean up the forests and generate a revenue stream for State and National forests. The ranger, while shaking his head, indicated that the environmentalists have been doing this for years and are hurting the forests as it has caused an extraordinary number of dead trees in the forests. He explained that this not only provides more tinder for catastrophic crown fires (vs. healthy and regularly occurring creeping fires which clean out the forest floor), but also attracts bark beetles which causes the trees to die. The ranger further explained that because of environmentalists not allowing for controlled burns in populated areas and fire suppression in wilderness areas that a disastrous situation has been created in the forests."

Unbiased America - "In a January article, the Times wrote that “A group of scientists warned in the journal BioScience that [100 million] dead trees could produce wildfires on a scale and of an intensity that California has never seen,” and that “scientists say they cannot even calculate the damage the dead-tree fires might cause; it exceeds what their current fire behavior modeling can simulate.” “‘It’s something that is going to be much more severe,’ said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at Berkeley and the lead author of the study. ‘You could have higher amounts of embers coming into home areas, starting more fires.’” The Times article even pointed the finger at California’s forestry regulations, saying “California forests are much more vulnerable now because, paradoxically, they have been better protected. In their natural state, forests were regularly thinned by fire but the billions of dollars that the state spends aggressively fighting wildfires and restrictions on logging have allowed forests to accumulate an overload of vegetation… That’s a scenario that could nudge the state into rethinking its forest management.“ And yet, fast forward to today, and The New York Times is suddenly interviewing “experts” to contradict its previous assertions now that President Trump has also questioned California’s forest management""

Finnish Forest Professor About Trump's Comments on Finnish Forestry: Raking Is Real Forest Management in the United States - "The word “raking” raises also a few problems. According to Professor Antti Asikainen from Natural Resources Institute Finland, in the United States raking means harvesting the logging residues to piles with a bulldozer with a brush rake. “Trump used the right word in the right context—knowingly or unknowingly”"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Brexit legal advice - "'Actually the best deal is a free trade deal. But don't be terrified of a World Trade Organization deal after all, most of the rest of the world trade successfully with the European Union indeed, in some arguments more successfully than we do under the World Trade Organization rules'"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Tuesday's business with Dominic O'Connell - "We've got companies who are doing really great work and who started very early on this and who are at 40, 50 percent women on their boards. And then we've got a very dreary percent who are going nowhere. We have four to five all male boards and we have 75 companies in the FTSE 350 with only one women on their board. Now, you know, these days, we've been doing this pretty seriously, since 2011, one woman on your board doesn't cut it. One woman is pretty much like where we were with all male boards… one woman is absolutely tokenistic. And you know, those companies are looking increasingly out of date, they're looking quite out of touch. And I think they need to be concerned about that, investor pressure has never been greater on this subject. It is now a topic that was a CSR nice to have a decade or so ago is a serious central business topic now. And, you know, those companies that are paying lip service, as you say are in the tokenistic space, are going to pay the price, everybody is watching. There is now no place to hide and our report publishes every company individually."
More evidence that the slippery slope is a fallacy conjured up by far right extremist misogynists

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Climate Change Alarm - "Bolsonaro’s really been tapping into a wave of disillusion and anger with the left wing Workers Party, the PT that was in government for over a decade, which have been embroiled in a huge corruption scandal, which has involved hundreds of politicians across the political spectrum, but has also jailed some of the main PT leaders. Also, he's also talking at a time when Brazil's experiencing a really deep economic recession. So people are really hurting and the country is suffering from a giant crime wave... [The Worker's Party] have never apologized for the corrupt system of politics in Brazil"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Trump's dilemma over missing Saudi journalist - "Many Muslim practices and actions considered normal in other countries have been deemed extremist by the Chinese authorities. New laws, for example, ban unusual beards and strange names. Muslim women are forbidden from covering their faces. Parents now, it seems, can be accused of extremism for simply not wanting their children to marry someone of a different faith or ethnic group."

Ahmed Al Omran on Twitter - "This story on Reuters about firing the Saudi consul in Istanbul is wrong. The agency fell for a fake website"
Breitbart has fallen for fake news before. Therefore Breitbart is unreliable and can't be trusted. So Reuters...

Debate ends when we label views we simply disagree with as ‘hatred’ | Kenan Malik - "‘It is better to debate a question without settling it,” observed the 18th-century French writer Joseph Joubert, “than to settle a question without debating it.”... If it is “hate speech” to question a particular definition of what it is to be a woman, or “bigoted” to express concern about non-natal women being allowed into female-only spaces, the very notion of public debate is transformed. There would seem to be little one could say on most difficult issues that could not also be construed as hatred... All it does is to cheapen the meaning of hatred, making life easier for the real bigots and to eviscerate public debate"

PNG security forces storm parliament over Apec pay dispute - "Police and security forces have stormed Papua New Guinea's parliament in a dispute over unpaid bonuses for last week's Apec summit... The impoverished island hosted leaders from both sides of the Pacific last week despite the high costs involved. The summit had seen delegates stay on cruise ships and the government buy 40 Maserati luxury cars for the event."

Completing a Race IAT increases implicit racial bias - "The Implicit Association Test has been used in online studies to assess implicit racial attitudes in over seven million participants. Although typically used as an assessment measure, results from four pre-registered experiments (N = 940) demonstrated that completing a Race IAT exacerbates the negative implicit attitudes that it seeks to assess. Increases in White participants’ negative automatic racial evaluations of Black people were observed across two different implicit measures (SC-IAT and AMP) but did not generalize to another measure of automatic racial bias (Shooter Bias task). Results highlight an important caveat for the Race IAT, but also for many other forms of psychological assessment: that by measuring, we often perturb the system that we wish to understand."

Indonesia's top Islamic body issues fatwa against measles vaccine, calling it 'religiously forbidden' - "The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) justified the ruling by claiming the vaccine contains traces of pork and human cells, which are banned in the Muslim religion. The organisation is chaired by Ma'ruf Amin, who was recently controversially announced as Indonesian President Joko Widodo's running mate in next year's presidential election. However, the fatwa also states that the use of the product will be allowed for the time being due to the lack of viable alternatives... a number of towns had already suspended the vaccine before the MUI even announced their decision... "There's a pattern that's emerged in Indonesia. In minority groups and cases of blasphemy, fatwas are relied on in court as evidence," Professor Lindsey said. Under Mr Amin, the organisation's fatwa committee also declared fatwas against secularism, pluralism and liberalism... the MUI has high levels of government support, which legitimises them in the eyes of the public."
I thought Islam allows you to eat pork if it's necessary to save your life
Undoubtedly people will still champion Indonesia as an example of "moderate Islam" and champion it as an example of a Muslim democracy


The Less People Understand Science, the More Afraid of GMOs They Are - "Across the board, however, women are slightly more likely to mistrust additives and genetic modification in food... A concerning implication, the researchers note, is "chemophobia" among the general public—the irrational fear of "chemicals" as synthetic, man-made compounds that are bad for us... Many natural substances are dangerous to human health, and many substances that are dangerous in large quantities are necessary in smaller doses. For example, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, but our bodies also manufacture and metabolize it naturally as our cells make amino acids and other building blocks of life. Its presence in consumer products and vaccines alarms some consumers, but the level of exposure is so low there's no evidence of any harm. Even if you choose unaltered "all-natural" foods, you can't get away from it—formaldehyde is found naturally in milk, meat, and produce."

Parkland Shooting 'Hoax' Latest in Right's Dishonesty Epidemic - "D’Souza doesn’t think George Soros is behind Parkland — he thinks George Soros was behind the Holocaust."

The danger of moderate Islam | The Spectator - "Prior to the World Trade Centre attacks, no one would have cared that I was a Muslim. My ethnic heritage was paramount. My Bangladeshi birth meant I was part of the South Asian migrant grouping, similar to Indians, Pakistanis or Sri-Lankans. The religious identity of being Muslim was not especially interesting, unique or a political badge of any kind... Not unlike terrorists who use the trappings of modern technology and civic freedoms to conduct attacks, many Muslims co-opt the freedoms and privileges they enjoy in the West, but convince themselves such luxuries are also ‘Islamic’. This helps shield them from the foundations of the Enlightenment as the true source of their standard of living and allows them to maintain anti-Western stances couched in grievance. Their public utterances, while usually discreet, are windows into their ambivalent relationships with Western societies. Meanwhile, like Yassmin, they can brush off the human rights abuses against women and minorities across the Muslim world as cultural stains not consistent with their own enlightened understanding of Islam. The opposite is often the case. Local cultures, particularly the more distant they are from the Arab origins of Islam, are the best bulwark against the worst excesses of Islam. This is notably the case in countries like Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh or Indonesia. All of these countries are struggling to stand up to a resurgent, fundamentalist strain of Islam disdainful to the local culture... British psychologist Kenan Malik has released a new edition of From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy. Most of us think our current debates around Islam were sparked by the World Trade Centre attacks. But their true origins lie in the Rushdie affair. The fatwa imposed upon the celebrated Indian author primed many Muslims of every ethnic origin to identify as Muslims first and foremost. It also accelerated the progressive trend of treating the notion of respect for minority groups as sacrosanct. Thus the new blasphemy became offence, particularly to Muslims. A key danger to our societies is when Muslims begin thinking of themselves as Muslims, first and foremost. In doing so, they can argue they are acting according to Islamic teachings, which urge Muslims to give precedence to the ummah, or the global Islamic community. They are also very much in keeping with trends in identity politics which allow them to seek privileges in the public space."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Links - 28th January 2019 (2)

Drivers using freaky reflective face decals to discourage high-beam users - "Some drivers in parts of China are so fed up with tailgating high-beam users that they’ve resorted to using these freaky as shit rear window decals that are only visible when the high-beam is flicked on. The ghoulish decals feature images of ghosts, spirits and monsters from Eastern and Hollywood films"

'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' Is Now Racist - "Another holiday classic has been slapped with the label "racist" by SJWs for supposedly marginalizing the token black character: "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." People on social media have expressed outrage over the fact that the lone black character Franklin in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" appears seated differently juxtaposed to the white characters... Fortunately, black journalist Jeremy Helligar cleared up some of the controversy on Friday when he noted that the character Franklin had prime seating in other episodes of the "Peanuts."... The historical significance of the character Franklin cannot be understated; his creation was reportedly demanded by Charles Schulz following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. when a teacher named Harriet Glickman sent him a letter... The Schulz Museum also celebrated Franklin's 50th anniversary in July. He has never been treated like a token black character added for cheap lip-service to diversity and has always been a valued member of the "Peanuts" gang... "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is not the only holiday classic the Left has skewered as racist in recent years. In 2016, Salon.com denounced "A Christmas Story" as a racist vehicle of "white nostalgia""

WATCH: John Kerry Warns Immigration Has 'Crushed' Europe - "A week after Kerry made his remarks, two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made similar remarks in an interview with The Guardian. "Clinton told The Guardian (UK) that Europe has badly mishandled the migration crisis from the Middle East," Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro wrote. "In verbiage reminiscent of one Donald J. Trump, Clinton acknowledged that Europe’s influx of unvetted immigration from Muslim countries has led to social fracturing on the continent.""
The comments on the NYT Facebook slamming Hillary were very funny

Man in burqa, woman in motorcycle helmet walk into Melbourne ANZ bank to test political correctness - "She asked why she had to remove her helmet while her party colleague, running as an upper house candidate for Southern Metro, could keep his burqa on. 'Well, how come that lady can wear a burqa?,' she said. The bank employee struggled to answer her question... Still wearing her motorcycle helmet, Mrs Robinson protested about being discriminated against."

A University Dean Defended Brett Kavanaugh. You Can Guess What Happened Next. - "A university dean who defended Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh from uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault has resigned from his leadership post. Will Rainford, Catholic University’s dean of social service, had held his position for five years, but was suspended after tweeting logical questions of the women who came forward to accused Kavanaugh just before he was set to be confirmed. “Swetnick is 55 y/o,” Rainford said on in a since-deleted tweet, according to The Washington Post. “Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!”... “We should expect any opinion he expresses about sexual assault to be thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values of Catholic University, particularly in communications from the account handle @NCSSSDean,” Garvey said at the time. “While it was appropriate for him to apologize and to delete his Twitter and Facebook accounts, this does not excuse the serious lack of judgment and insensitivity of his comments.” By “thoughtful, constructive, and reflective of the values,” he means Rainford should have accepted the accusations at face value and considered the women victims without any evidence, as colleges and universities across the country demand. Side note: Catholic University was sued in 2017 by a male student accused of sexual assault after the school’s Title IX coordinator helped the accusing female “create a coherent narrative” to explain why her text messages didn’t match her allegation"

Julie Swetnick: 3rd Brett Kavanaugh accuser has history of legal disputes - "Julie Swetnick, one of the women who has publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, has an extensive history of involvement in legal disputes, including a lawsuit in which an ex-employer accused her of falsifying her college and work history on her job application... the company said Swetnick, a software engineer, was an employee for a few weeks before its human resources department received a report that she had engaged in "unwelcome sexual innuendo and inappropriate conduct" toward two male co-workers at a business lunch... To support her claim for lost wages, Swetnick named "Konam Studios" as one of the companies promising to employ her. A court filing identified Nam Ko, a representative of "Kunam Studios," as a possible plaintiff's witness for her case.Ko, however, told AP on Friday that he was just a friend of Swetnick's and that he had never owned a company with a name spelled either way and had never agreed to pay her money for any work before she injured her nose. He said he first met Swetnick at a bar more than a year after her alleged accident."I didn't have any money back then. I (was) broke as can be," Ko said."

WATCH: Female Antifa Punches, Spits On Conservative Demonstrators. It Doesn't End Well For Her. - "The #HimToo rally was organized by conservative activist Haley Adams to draw awareness to the sexual victimization of men and the falsely accused. Left-wing counter-protesters showed up to disrupt the event. Demonstrators and at least one reporter on site were harassed and assaulted by the agitators. The rally ended with a total of six arrests... At least one reporter was victimized by Antifa at the rally. "I was assaulted by a mob of masked individuals in black. They also targeted my equipment. They called me a fascist & Islamophobe. They said my parents & grandparents would be ashamed of me," said Ngo. "It feels surreal to be treated this way by people who don’t even know me.""

Lonely Mob Fights Fantasy Nazis - "Feel blue? Lack purpose? Life a little dull? Get a lift by fighting some fantasy Nazis. Just before the election, an Andrew Gillum intern named Shelby Shoup was arrested and charged with battery after assaulting some college Republicans on the campus of Florida State University. It was rather less exciting than that sounds: She went on a rant about “Nazis” and “fascism” — Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, finished up at Harvard Law and then joined the U.S. military and helped to fight actual Jew-hating totalitarian thugs in Iraq, in case anybody cares about the facts — before dousing the Republicans with chocolate milk... Imagine a line that measures the moral distance between Shelby Shoup’s battery in Florida to the Antifa assault on Tucker Carlson’s home, and then extend that line by the same distance in the same direction. Where are we then? Arson? Bombs? The kind of massacre James T. Hodgkinson was trying to pull off when he shot Steve Scalise and fired on other Republicans? How long until we arrive at Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden — both of whom earnestly believed that their acts of terrorism were morally imperative in the face of tyranny and evil? Shoup and Antifa flatter themselves that they are what stands between the United States and fascism or Nazism. This is, obviously, absurd. It’s pure tribalism: President Obama authorized the extrajudicial killing of American citizens as a national-security measure; President Trump is an angry tweeter. But it is the latter rather than the former that apparently presages the rise of a Falange Americana. That is how you know that this is a fundamentally unserious point of view... The politics of opposition, like the politics of government, should be based if not on things that are self-evidently true then at least on those that are not self-evidently false.Calling yourself an “antifascist” while defining “fascism” as “the enforcement of ordinary immigration laws” or “thinking that Bernie Sanders is a grumpy Muppet who should be kept far from the levers of power” is entirely childish and deeply stupid. (These absurd characterizations also, not that anybody really cares, drown out legitimate criticisms of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans.) These play-acting buffoons aren’t the moral equivalent of the French Resistance — they are mincing would-be thugs looking for something that will make them feel better about themselves. Apparently, terrorizing Tucker Carlson’s wife scratches an itch that weed and NetFlix don’t. Periods of intense social change often are accompanied by mass hysterias. The snoopery and vindictiveness of the Red Scare were only partly about Communism — much of the paranoia of that time had to do with events in Muncie, not Moscow. The mass hysteria about Satanic cults engaged in the widespread sexual abuse of American children — a complete fiction—was probably a moral overcorrection set against the divorce epidemic of the 1970s and 1980s and the excesses of the so-called Sexual Revolution. The age of easy and instantaneous connectivity, globalization, and related phenomena have created a new kind of “lonely crowd,” full of people who feel isolated, inadequate, insignificant — and resentful of being made to feel that way. There are many ways to assuage that loneliness, but many of them — family life, religion — have fallen out of fashion. Ordinary politics provides insufficient drama, as anybody who has observed the real business of government in action knows. Fantasy politics — I’m fighting the Nazis! — offers a lot more emotional oomph."

Lecturers banned from using capital letters to avoid upsetting students - "A memo sent out to staff at Leeds Trinity journalism department suggested using uppercase letters may ‘scare them into failure’. It also suggested ways they could address their students, such as writing in a friendly tone and avoiding overbearing and negative language... one employee said caps were needed to ensure students don’t miss an important part of the assignment.The lecturer told the paper that despite their students being intelligent, they felt the education system just wants to treat them like children... The memo follows two other universities banning fancy dress and clapping.Kent University last month introduced a ban on students wearing costumes deemed ‘inappropriate and offensive’, such as cowboy outfits and sombreros, because they may jeopardise other students’ ‘right to a safe space at our university’.While at the University of Manchester, the student union replaced clapping with jazz hands in a bid to prevent people suffering from anxietyor sensory issues."

China Is Paying for Most of Trump's Trade War, Research Says - "That’s the conclusion of a new paper from EconPol Europe, a network of researchers in the European Union. U.S. companies and consumers will only pay 4.5 percent more after the nation imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and the other 20.5 percent toll will fall on Chinese producers, according to authors Benedikt Zoller-Rydzek and Gabriel Felbermayr... The Trump administration selected products with the highest “price elasticity,” or high availability of substitutes... “Through its strategic choice of Chinese products, the U.S. government was not only able to minimize the negative effects on U.S. consumers and firms, but also to create substantial net welfare gains in the U.S.”... With the economic costs shifted to China, the U.S. levies will lead to a $18.4 billion net gain for the American government"

Matt Taibbi on Donald Trump’s Chances of Winning the 2020 Election - "In a media business geared toward reassuring demographics, audiences during the Trump presidency have been deluged with stories about his vulnerabilities, leaving the impression that his disastrous presidency has fatally wounded him as a politician. We’ve been treated to a succession of wish-fulfillment exercises disguised as news features — a stream of “last days of the Trump administration” pieces reappearing across two years of scandals. These have created the expectation that not only will Trump not be re-elected, he may be dragged out of the White House at any moment. But such cheery stories run counter to reality. By any rational standard, Trump in the past two years has made huge political gains. Trump began his 2016 run as a sideshow conspiracist, a human rimshot the papers turned to for comic relief. Today, he commands the electorate within his own party. He regularly pulls between 85 and 90 percent of Republican support — he was right at 90 percent just before the midterms — which is where George W. Bush was heading into the 2004 race. Retaining above 85 percent of your own party’s voters is a characteristic shared by the past four incumbents to win re-election: Obama, Bush, Clinton and Reagan"

'Feminists' Silent When a Rape Survivor Wins Nobel Peace Prize - "As feminists were busy peddling their “War on Women” narrative in the U.S., Yazidi sex slave survivor Nadia Murad was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting a real War on Women in the Middle East... While any comparison between Nadia’s story and the accusations leveled against newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be completely unfair, it is fair to wonder how news of uncorroborated allegations of gang rape brought by porn lawyer Michael Avenatti can overshadow a gang rape survivor-turned-women’s advocate being honored with the most prestigious award in the world... It’s strange how women who self-identify as feminists get so worked up over unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault, yet so callously overlook human rights injustices staring them in the face. Imagine the difference these “feminists” could make if, in addition to banging on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court, they also took a few minutes to bang at the doors of the United Nations."
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