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Monday, March 30, 2020

Links - 30th March 2020 (3)

20 Miss Universe Winners Of The Last Century Who Have Beaten The Time And Still Look Young And Beautiful.

Saudi businessman accused of paying £800,000 bribe to get his mother on terror watch list - "the man wanted to get his mother "out the way" by having her jailed after a financial dispute broke out between them."

Age Of Shitlords - Posts - "all of us queers are gonna love 2020.
Here’s why:
1. According to scientists, heterosexuality will be declining by 85% by the end of 2020, which means straight people will be a minority
2. 90% of gen z teens are lgbtqa+, which means the next generation aren’t straight
3. About 95% of “straight” men aren’t actually straight and in 2020 a lot of them are gonna show that
4. Jokes/Memes at lgbtqa+ people will no longer be tolerated and they just aren’t funny
5. No more heteronormativity in shows, movies, games etc
6. Trans people become more common than cis people
7. The future is lgbtqa+! ️‍
Hope this cheers all my queer followers up! This is the type encouragement we need. This is the truth! Don’t hesitate to share this around, the homophobes are gonna be crying!
the future is lgbtqa lgbtqia gay "
This was posted on collegegirlwonders on Tumblr, which is now deleted
From the other posts, this was not a joke

10 things you didn’t know – or might have forgotten – about Goh Chok Tong - "The four Tans who vied for the Presidency had close associations with Mr Goh. Dr Tony Tan was in his Cabinet, Mr Tan Jee Say used to be his principal private secretary, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, ex-People’s Action Party MP, is an old friend and his doctor while Mr Tan Kin Lian was his  PAP branch secretary at his Marine Parade constituency. Bet you don’t remember that last one…
He saw PM Lee Hsien Loong’s CV when the younger man was being vetted as a candidate for the 1984 general election. And Mr Lee is NOT a straight A student! He got a C4 for Chinese! The book doesn’t say at what level and it could be that it’s a B4 or a C5 – because I don’t think there’s a C4 even in those days….
More on the Lee family…You know that it was Mr Goh who brought Mr Lee into politics right? Mr Lee Kuan Yew didn’t recommend his son. But Mr Lee did suggest his daughter, Wei Ling. Mr Goh said no, after consulting her brother and former Foreign Minister George Yeo, both of whom also said no. No explanation was given for the no answer in the book.
More on the Lee family…he did consider Mr Lee Hsien Yang but decided against it because he thought the elder brother would outshine the younger one. Also, how was he himself going to cope with so many Lees? “Nobody would believe I am my own man, isn’t it?”
More on the Lee family…the candidature of Madam Ho Ching did cross his mind but she said “not at this stage”. Then she got married to Mr Lee Hsien Loong and…that was that.
He was uncomfortable and felt humiliated when the late Lee Kuan Yew publicly said in his 1988 National Day rally speech that his preference was for Dr Tony Tan as Number 1. He told his old friend Dr Ahmad Mattar that he would “walk out” if Mr Lee repeated it next year. But that year, all he could do in front of the public eye was stay “wooden” (his word). In fact, he wryly referred to several descriptions people have of his role straddling father and son – seat warmer, puppet, Holy Goh. He also described himself rather off-handedly as a “lubricant” because both the Lees had their own independent cast of mind and he had to stop them clashing.
Although Mr Lee Kuan Yew never pushed his son forward as prime minister, there was one time he lost his temper in Cabinet and told Mr Goh: “If Loong is not my son, I would have asked him to take over from you now.” This was during the Marxist conspiracy in 1988 when Mr Goh delayed his decision to re-arrest some conspirators who had recanted their confessions. He took a day. Mr Lee, who was not in town then, said he would have re-arrested them immediately...
I am going to take a deep breath here and say this: I know he’s being bashed for his statements on mediocrity but this is a man who grew up without electricity or sanitation facilities in Pasir Panjang and lost his dad when he was 14. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps, and there is very little hint of any kind of snobbery or elitism portrayed in the book. By all accounts, he’s a humble, nice guy whom the late Mr Lee thought was ‘too’ nice. I am going to go so far as to suggest that we don’t remember a man for one line, but for his life of service."

Singapore Matters - "Alfian Sa'at: "I just want them to come here and say their piece so I can block them."
Some people's idea of [free speech] is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage. —WINSTON CHURCHILL"
"The irony of people championing free speech is that they constantly block people they disagree with and deny them their right of expression.So what freedom of speech are they fighting for? Not yours."
More: SG Oppie Logic - Posts

Is it time to ditch the Fitbit? - "The 10,000 steppers not only struggled to meet their daily goal but broke less of a sweat than those doing the “Active 10”, who achieved 30% more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity despite moving for less time.More concerning, in my steps-centric view, are the programme’s findings on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), with a short burst of activity such as a sprint apparently as effective as a 45-minute run. Even worse: people who cycled for just 40 seconds three times a week recorded a quantifiable improvement in their fitness levels, and potentially a reduced risk of heart disease. I  don’t need to work it out for you, but I will: that is two minutes of exercise a week. Total."

You Don't Need to Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day - The Atlantic - "“It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy,” she explains. “In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.’”Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research... “The basic finding was that at 4,400 steps per day, these women had significantly lower mortality rates compared to the least active women,” Lee explains. If they did more, their mortality rates continued to drop, until they reached about 7,500 steps, at which point the rates leveled out. Ultimately, increasing daily physical activity by as little as 2,000 steps—less than a mile of walking—was associated with positive health outcomes for the elderly women. That nuance can mean a lot to people who want to be less sedentary but aren’t sure how to start or whether they can do enough to make a difference, says Lindsay Wilson, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “I don’t think setting the bar at 10,000 steps is a very successful way to approach exercise,” she says. “Some people are not walkers. They don’t have safe neighborhoods, or they feel unsteady on sidewalks. You need to be more creative. Is this a person who needs to go to a gym class or the pool, or sit on a stationary bike?”... setting the same goal for everyone can be discouraging to the people who need activity the most... “A big challenge is that the public and the media want cut-and-dried, black-and-white messages and findings, and science just doesn’t operate that way”... for people hoping to improve their overall health, there’s often significant evidence that incremental improvements in things such as diet, hydration, and exercise can have real benefits, even if numerical goals are missed."

Islam spread through the Christian world via the bedroom - "For much of the early Islamic period, the mingling of Muslims and non-Muslims was largely predicated on a basic imbalance of power: Muslims formed an elite ruling minority, which tended to exploit the resources of the conquered peoples – reproductive and otherwise – to grow in size and put down roots within local populations. Seen in this light, forced conversion was far less a factor in long-term religious change than practices such as intermarriage and concubinage. The rules governing religiously mixed families crystallised fairly early, at least on the Muslim side. The Quran allows Muslim men to marry up to four women, including ‘People of the Book’, that is, Jews and Christians. Muslim women, however, were not permitted to marry non-Muslim men... Underlying the injunction was the understanding that marriage was a form of female enslavement: if a woman was bound to her husband as a slave is to her master, she could not be subordinate to an infidel... Since Muslim men were free to keep as many slaves as they wished, sex with Jewish and Christian women was considered licit, while sex with Zoroastrians and others outside the ‘People of the Book’ was technically forbidden. After all, they were regarded as pagans, lacking a valid divine scripture that was equivalent to the Torah or the Gospel. But since so many slaves in the early period came from these ‘forbidden’ communities, Muslim jurists developed convenient workarounds. Some writers of the ninth century, for example, argued that Zoroastrian women could be induced or even forced to convert, and thus become available for sex. Whether issued via marriage or slavery, the children of religiously mixed unions were automatically considered Muslims... Because Muslims were members of the elite, who enjoyed greater access to economic resources than non-Muslims, their fertility rates were probably higher... The idea that one would have a public legal identity as a Muslim but a private spiritual identity as a Christian produced a unique subculture of ‘crypto-Christianity’ in Córdoba. This seems to have spanned generations, fuelled by the tendency of some ‘crypto-Christians’ to seek out and marry others like them."

Crip Sanchez, Jedi Dre... TMC on Twitter - " RT @6illeh: 9 years ago my middle school science teacher told me I will never amount to anything 8 years later I got his daughter pregnant, life’s crazy"

Why intelligent people suffer more mental disorders - "People with high IQ are considered to have an advantage in many domains. They are predicted to have higher educational attainment, better jobs, and a higher income level. Yet, it turns out that a high IQ is also associated with various mental and immunological diseases like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD as well as allergies, asthma, and immune disorders... highly intelligent people are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 80% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, 83% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, and 182% more likely to develop at least one mood disorder.When it comes to physiological diseases, people with high cognitive abilities are 213% more likely to have environmental allergies, 108% more likely to have asthma, and 84% more likely to have an autoimmune disease. The researchers turned to the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) to look for some of the answers. PNI examines how the chronic stress accumulated as a response to environmental factors influences the communication between the brain and the immune system.  The researchers point out that highly intelligent people have tendencies for “intellectual overexcitabilites" and a hyper-reactivity of the central nervous system... This hyper-reactivity, however, can also lead to deeper depressions and poor mental health. This turns out to be particularly true for poets, novelists and people with high verbal intelligence. Their intense emotional response to the environment increases tendencies for rumination and worry, both of which predict depression and anxiety disorders.  Heightened psychological responses can affect immunity... People with overexcitabilites may have strong reactions to seemingly harmless external stimuli like an annoying clothing tag or a sound. This reaction may turn into low level chronic stress and launch an inappropriate immune response."

Betteridge's law of headlines - Wikipedia - "Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no"."

Did Battlestar Galactica Have The Worst Ending In Science Fiction History? - "BSG is not just a space opera, it's a mystery, and the answer to all of the show's riddles is one of the chief attractions of the final episode. The fact that the answers tended to be either "God" or "because we said so" was, to be honest, a bit disappointing. And because Ronald D. Moore decided to build the last two seasons around "big mysteries" instead of character-driven storylines, you can't excuse his failure to pay off those mysteries by saying the show is really all about the characters.The other problem with God turning out to have been such a huge force in the show's narrative arc, Templeton notes, is the Ghostbusters rule: "If someone asks you if you are a god, you say yes!" (And the corollary is that gods, at least in science fiction, usually turn out to be false.) Templeton has a huge, exhaustive list of all the plot contrivances and happenstances that end up being laid at God's door, including everything Head Six arranged during the course of the series, and it's quite an impressive list. It's fine to have a Supreme Being set the story's events in motion and cause trouble for our heroes, but not quite so great for God(s) to swoop in and solve all our problems at the end of the story. There's also the always-tenuous relationship between science fiction and our reality — not to mention between science fiction and science... Katee Sackhoff has said there's a line of dialogue she refused to say in the final episode. After she puts in the notes to the magic song and jumps the fleet to Earth, President Roslin asks, "Where have you taken us?" And in Moore's script, she was supposed to respond: "Somewhere... all along the watchtower." But she and Mary McDonnell kept giggling when they got to that line, so it ended up getting cut. Thank goodness. Here's what I always come back to when I think about the BSG finale, though — I feel as though Moore put us on notice with the final episode of season three. When we first encounter the mysterious Bob Dylan Cylon signal, and four totally random characters turn out to be Cylons, and Starbuck comes back from the dead, the show is basically hoisting a giant sign saying "You Are Now Leaving Storytelling Logic. Please Drive Safely."

Battlestar's "Daybreak:" The worst ending in the history of on-screen science fiction - "its final hour was the worst ending in the history of science fiction on the screen... Other SF shows have ended very badly, to be sure. This is particularly true of TV SF. Indeed, it is in the nature of TV SF to end badly. First of all, it's written in episodic form. Most great endings are planned from the start. TV endings rarely are. To make things worse, TV shows are usually ended when the show is in the middle of a decline. They are often the result of a cancellation, or sometimes a producer who realizes a cancellation is imminent. Quite frequently, the decline that led to cancellation can be the result of a creative failure on the show -- either the original visionaries have gone, or they are burned out. In such situations, a poor ending is to be expected.  Sadly, I'm hard pressed to think of a TV SF series that had a truly great ending... Even "soft" SF, not so constrained to the rules of physics, has its rules. All good fiction must be consistent within itself and the writer's contract with the reader...  they usually lay out their magic at the start. We know at the very beginning that Gandalf is a wizard and the world of Lord of the Rings is full of elves and hobbits. From the beginning, there is a sort of "negotiation" of the suspension of disbelief between the reader and writer; a contract of sorts. We would be equally upset with battlestars appearing in Lord of the Rings as we would be with Nazgul aboard Cylon heavy raiders.  Still, while all levels of fantasy can produce greatness, there is a special relevance that can only be produced through realism. Non-realistic stories must gain their relevance through allegories. They present a world which is not ours, but has parallels that teach lessons about the real world... In the long run, using deus ex machina is a cheat. It's the easy way out of plot problems, and it must been seen as a failure. When you can say "god did it" you can write just about anything. The author takes on too much power, including too much power to do things that make no sense... some of the best character dramas reveal the ending right at the start. You are not in suspense about how it will end, but instead about how we will get there. I've seen a number of great shows begin with a character's death. There was never any doubt during MASH that the Korean war would someday end. That didn't hurt the show, in fact it made it better."

Muslim women thank PM Modi on passage of triple talaq bill - "Scores of Muslim women thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ensuring the passage of the triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha, at events organised by the BJP in the city on Wednesday. Addressing a gathering at party leader Vijay Goel's residence, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the move will empower Muslim women.Goel said Prime Minister Modi never indulged in vote-bank politics and was inspired only by the well being of people... In a major success for the Modi Government, Parliament on Tuesday approved the bill that makes instant triple talaq among Muslims a criminal offence after the contentious legislation was passed by Rajya Sabha."
Is this Islamophobia? Apparently despite his anti-Muslim reputation, this won him a lot of votes from Muslim women

The Evil of the "Virtuous"

A on the coronavirus: i hope it kills most of Trump's followers

Me: If you're wishing death on large groups of people, consider that you're worse than the people you so hate

A: awesome! 😂

A (an Asian) keeps raging about anti Asian "racism" but keeps saying racist things about "white people"

Anti racists are the biggest racists

Links - 30th March 2020 (2)

These are the world's most ignorant countries - "Participants were asked a number of questions about their society, including their country's population, healthcare spending, home ownership and the proportion of Muslims living in their country... The economic status of a country seemed to have less bearing on the results than might be expected.The USA, the richest country in the world, ranked as one of the most ignorant countries, below many less developed countries. However, Malaysia, which is not considered fully developed, was in the top 10 least ignorant countries.
The list, from most to least ignorant, is as follows:
South Africa
Hong Kong
Czech Republic
South Korea
United Kingdom
Interestingly Taiwan is the most ignorant developed country

F - Alexandra Czerwiński - "It's over. It's been a bumpy road. For some more than others.
But memes will always be there for us. Like they always have been/ We'll never forget the legends.
But people grow up. And so do we. We move on. And let the new memes take their place."

The Left's attempt to redefine science - "Science teachers in Washington state are being told that the only explanation for outcome differences by demographic is a broken system—anyone saying otherwise is a bigot.The Washington STEM organization, who “help[s] lawmakers craft policies that address major STEM education issues” and works to “advance equity, excellence, and innovation” shared the slide below during its annual summit:
Our Responsibility with Data
“If you conclude that outcomes [sic] differences by demographic subgroup are a result of anything other than a broken system, that is, by definition, bigotry.*
*racism, classism, sexism, etc.”
Not only is the Washington STEM organization advocating for predetermining an outcome and making assumptions (doesn’t seem very scientific of them), they are also saying, through their own redefinition, that any measurable difference must be a product of institutional bigotry.I can think of so many examples that would prove we shouldn’t let a set of presuppositions determine the conclusions. Take suspension/expulsion rates in schools, and even incarceration rates by gender. Because boys get suspended and expelled more than girls, and men make up the majority of prisoners, schools and society must be bigoted against men, correct?"

David Koch's legacy wasn't perfect – but it was far more positive than you've been led to believe - "David Koch, the political philanthropist who nearly everyone has an opinion on, has passed away at the age of 79. Many remember him as a cartoon villain of modern politics; however, the truth of his legacy is that, along with his brother, he championed many positive and noble causes that tend to be supported across the political aisle... “The Kochs have teamed with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Centre for American Progress, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Coalition for Public Safety, and the MacArthur Foundation to reduce incarceration and promote criminal justice reform. It’s informative that Koch political activism and charitable activities are motivated by classical liberal idealism, not by crony capitalist self-interest. They have changed the political atmosphere in a way that both conservatives and liberals can comfortably move in a more libertarian direction.”... Even individuals such as Van Jones and President Obama have applauded both David and Charles for the positive work they did where justice reform was concerned. Likewise, David was just as strong in his convictions towards issues such as privacy, a more sober foreign policy, a more open immigration system, and tolerance for other people. In some ways, David was actually better on “left-wing issues” than even a lot of prominent Democrats have been. In 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders went after the Koch Brothers for essentially being too pro-open borders. In an interview with Vox, Sanders specifically called open borders “a Koch Brothers proposal… which essentially says there is no United States.”... One could easily make that argument that because of the work that David has done on many of these issues that are commonly thought of as “left of centre,” the GOP has become a better version of itself as a result"
Good to know that the American Civil Liberties Union, the Centre for American Progress, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Coalition for Public Safety, and the MacArthur Foundation are all irrevocably contaminated now and liberals can dismiss them
If the Koch brothers promoted open borders, that means the Democrats shouldn't be promoting them, presumably!

Everyone Hates Open Offices. Here’s Why They Still Exist. - "“I even had to quit a job once because of it.”For as long as these floor plans have been in vogue, studies have debunked their benefits. Researchers have shown that people in open offices take nearly two-thirds more sick leave and report greater unhappiness, more stress, and less productivity than those with more privacy. A 2018 study by Harvard Business School found that open offices reduce face-to-face interaction by about 70 percent and increase email and messaging by roughly 50 percent, shattering the notion that they make workers collaborative... And yet, the open plan persists–too symbolically powerful (and cheap) for many companies to abandon.As with so many things today, we have Google, at least in part, to thank. Open floors have existed since the secretarial pools of the 1940s, but when the then seven-year-old Google renovated its headquarters in Mountain View, California, in 2005, the lofty, light-filled result was more than a showcase for the company’s growing wealth and influence; it signaled the dawn of a new professional era... Walls only make things complicated when you’re rapidly adding (and eliminating) staff... “The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote when he announced the design in 2012. Famously, he has a plain white desk in the communal area, just like everyone else. (He also has a private “conference” room, where he is rumored to spend much of his time.) The whiff of disruption that open offices carried became irresistible to startups and established companies alike... Open offices have become a way to indicate a company’s value to venture capitalists and talent. The goal is “not to improve productivity and collaboration, but to signal that the company [is] doing something interesting.” ... open plans are great at encouraging interaction between teams, which is useful when a company is trying to create new products. But they are terrible at encouraging interaction within teams, which is necessary for execution-based work, like writing code, when employees need to be in sync. An open office might be suitable for a company coming up with new ideas, but when someone has to implement them, it becomes distracting. Of course, one of the main reasons that business leaders default to open plans is simply that they’re inexpensive"

The Subtle Sexism Of Your Open Plan Office - "While some female employees felt like the new office space promoted equality, others had the opposite reaction. The researchers found that many women became hyper-aware of being constantly watched and their appearance constantly evaluated; multiple women told them that “there isn’t anywhere that you don’t feel watched.” Of the men Hirst interviewed, there was no evidence they felt similarly or changed their actions as a result of the lack of privacy... Not only were women’s physical appearances up for judging, the open office also meant there was no private space where workers could go if they were emotionally distressed or needed to conduct a private conversation"
"Sexism" seems to be anything that women, but not men, don't like

Do Dogs Have Winter Blues or Suffer from SAD? - "approximately 40% of dog owners saw a considerable downturn in their pet's moods during the winter months. In addition half of the dog owners felt that their dogs slept longer, with around two in five reporting their pets to be less active overall. According to the survey, the symptoms are not specific to dogs, since one in three cat owners also claim that their pet seemed "sadder" and less playful during the wintertime. For both dog and cat owners one in four of those surveyed reported that their pet's appetites increased in the winter... white light sources that mimic daylight can be purchased rather inexpensively. Just make sure that you get light bulbs which are labeled as being "full spectrum" or "daylight" bulbs, although some experts say that "cool white" will also work (although perhaps not as well)."

Powerful Women Told Me Getting a Dog Is the Key to Success. They Were Right. - "If you’re a working woman, it’s a good idea to get a dog, and not just because dogs are adorable, or because they offer the promise of unconditional love. We need dogs to navigate the working world because pets help us stay in touch with the parts of ourselves that a sexist society is often determined to strip away"

'It's pretty staggering': Returned online purchases often sent to landfill, journalist's research reveals - "Do you order different sizes of clothing online, knowing you can return the one that doesn't fit?Did you know the ones you return are sometimes sent straight to landfill?... The issue also affects unsold products. Burberry admitted in 2018 that it had incinerated £90 million worth of clothing and accessories in the previous five years. The company stopped the policy last year after a public outcry...
It actually costs a lot of companies more money to put somebody on the product, to visually eyeball it and say, Is this up to standard, is it up to code? Is this going to get us sued? Did somebody tamper with this box in some way? And is this returnable? And if it's clothing, it has to be re-pressed and put back in a nice packaging. And for a lot of companies, it's just not worth it. So they will literally just incinerate it, or send it to the dumpster... We're buying more of our clothing online, but it's actually hard because you don't really know exactly the sizing. So what many of us are doing is called bracketing. We will buy a medium, small and large or, you know, an 8, 10 and 12, and try them all on and then return the two that don't fit. Problem is, the two that we return are actually, in many cases, being landfilled"

HDI surprisingly similar to GDP/capita - "Human Development Index HDI is advanced as being a better indicator than “GDP per capita” in measuring the progress of Nations. HDI is calculated by UNDP from indicators for health, education and living standard (income/person). The methodology is quite complicated... BUT look at a plot of the correlation between HDI and GDP/capita... ou will be surprised! There is today a very strong correlation between rising GDP/capita. If you exclude 6 countries on the right side of the strong correlation that have higher GDP/capita than HDI due to oil or diamonds; and if you exclude 6 former Soviet Republics with collapsed economy but still high literacy rate on the left side of the correlation; you will find that the GDP/capita and the value on Human Development Index follow each other very closely from the worst-off country Congo to the best-off country Norway. The reason seems to be that nations today are surprisingly capable in converting the available national income (measured as GDP/capita) into a longer lifespan for the people (measured as Life expectancy at birth) and into access to education (measured by mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age).  But the reason may also be that nations today are very good at converting improved health and education into economic growth. Most probably the causality goes in both directions... GDP/capita appears to be as good a measure of progress of nations as are HDI."

Byron Dubois on Twitter - "Today I learned that there are female penguins who exchange sex for nice rocks so if you're having a hard day just remember that hooker penguins exist
Also some female penguins have been observed performing the mating dance but not putting out and STILL getting nice rocks so stripper penguins also exist"

Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven - Miniature of Joan of Arc Chasing Prostitutes from Camp - "Miniature Portrait of Joan of Arc chasing prostitutes from her army's camp just before the battle at Paris included in series of pictures in an 1484 manuscript about the Hundred Years War titled Les Vigiles de Charles VII"

Morality in the 21st Century: Moral Heroes

BBC Radio 4 - Morality in the 21st Century, Episode 13: Moral Heroes

"‘Throughout this series, I've been looking at the fate of morality in the modern world, because for the past 50 years, we've embarked on a fateful experiment. We've outsourced morality to the market and the state. The market gives us choices. The state deals with the consequences, but neither passes any kind of judgment on those choices. Words that once guided us like right, wrong, ought, duty loyalty, virtue and honor now have an antiquated air about them, as if they come from an age long dead. This has been a huge liberation.

We are freer to be whatever we choose to be than humans have ever been before. But as we've heard throughout these programs, there are costs, in terms of broken families, loss of community, a rise in depression, teenage suicides and loneliness, a loss of trust in big corporations and governments, the new tribalism of identity politics, and the vitriol that passes for communication on the internet.

Morality binds us together. Lose it, and we find ourselves vulnerable and alone. But there are powerful reasons for hope. And that's what I want to focus on in this, the last program'...

'Most people think that global extreme poverty has increasing, whereas in fact, it's been plummeting. There's been a 50% decline in the rate of extreme poverty just in the last three decades, and most people are just not aware of it. So it's not a question of saying, look at the bright side, it's a question of saying, look at some facts that you probably did not know... there's a phenomenon in polling called the optimism gap, where if you ask people about their own lives, they actually say they're going pretty well. If you ask them about the world as a whole, or the country as a whole, they say that it's going to hell in a handcart.

People have theories about the state of the world, that are not generalizations of their own experience. They're based on, on headlines. They're based on ideologies, they're based on theories. And you consistently see that that that discrepancy. And by the way, the view of the trajectory of the world that I presented is certainly not based on life in Oxford, or Boston or New York. It's based on data from the world as a whole'...

‘In the course of making these programs I found myself moved many times, but few as powerfully as when Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, the man with whom the series began, spoke about his daughter Michaela. All his teachings about character and personal responsibility came vividly alive in that story. This is what he said.’

‘My daughter was very ill for most of her life, but really for a five year period, it was absolutely, it was absolutely dreadful... between about 12 and 17, or 12 and 19, she has a very serious autoimmune disease of unspecified origin and it manifested itself in extreme depression, extreme fatigue. She had arthritis in 38 joints, which is really not good. And when she was 16, her hip disintegrated and then a year later, her ankle disintegrated. And so she was basically walking around on either one or two broken legs for about two years and was taking extremely high doses of opiates to contend with the pain which was absolutely excruciating. And to be in excruciating pain for two years is something that you just can't imagine. But, and this is the crucial part of the story or a crucial part of the story.

One of the things we were very careful about and talked with her a lot about was to not allow herself to regard herself as a victim. As soon as you use your, your illness, your lowly status, let's say, as an excuse, you blur the lines. Then you don't know what you can do and what you can't do. That's a very bad thing. And then you also start to view yourself as a victim. And that breeds thoughts of anger and revenge and, and all of those things. It takes you to a place that psychologically, let's say, as terrible as the physiological place.

And, to her credit, her great credit, I would say, and I think this is part of what allowed her to emerge from this because she did eventually figure out what was wrong with her and by all appearances, fix it by about 90% anyways, I mean, it's unstable, but it's way better was the fact that she didn't allow herself to become existentially enraged by her condition, and that, you know, that's relevant to this whole victim, oppressor narrative.

It's like people have hard lives. Their lives are characterized by suffering and betrayal. Those are ineradicable experiences. It's like well, what's the right attitude to take to that? Anger, rejection, resentment, hostility, murderousness? That's the story of Cain and Abel. It's like, no, that's not good. That leads to hell.’...

'What we fail to remember is that you can't outsource conscience. You can't delegate moral responsibility away. Because when you do you raise expectations that cannot be met, and when inevitably they are not met, society becomes freighted with disappointment, anger, fear, resentment and blame.

People start to take refuge in magical thinking, which today takes one of four forms: the far right, the far left, religious extremism and aggressive secularism. The far right seeks a return to a golden past that never was. The far left seeks a utopian future that will never be. Religious extremists believe that you can bring salvation by terror. Aggressive secularists believe that if you get rid of religion, there'll be peace. These are all fantasies and pursuing them will endanger the very foundations of freedom. So we have to bring back a sense of togetherness within society.'…

‘We do seem so fractured and polarized, that it's almost difficult to imagine, reasoned debate about the common good. But that challenge, I think, sets a project. And I think that schools and higher education have a big responsibility to do a better job of cultivating civic skills. The ability to argue, to reason based on mutual respect. But these civic skills, we’re not born with them, we need to learn them. I would also include the media and the tone it sets. The shouting matches, the emphasis on spectacle, sensation. This is deeply corrupting of the kind of discourse needed for the public good. So I think that the media has a big responsibility to play’

‘One thing that struck me watching you interacting with your students in Harvard is that you construct your course on justice one on one as a conversation. And clearly you see, public conversation is terribly important. It's what helps us reason together. But the trouble is, isn't it Michael, that the more we rely on the internet and social media, we are actually not really engaged in face to face conversation at all. You will have said that our global media allow us to connect people around the world, but that doesn't turn us into neighbors and fellow citizens. So what do we need to bring back into society that will allow us to reason together?’

‘I'm a big believer in experimenting with the internet, to open access to public debate, to education, to reasoned argument, to forms of community that reach across national boundaries. That's the hope, but there is a danger, and we've seen it on display all too often lately, that social media is a kind of atomizing form of public discourse. Unless it's very carefully structured, online discussion can be rude and vulgar, and doesn't really teach people how to listen very well. We're not just born with it, it has to be cultivated through practice. And here is where I think human presence - people gathering together, whether in a classroom or in the ecclesia in ancient Athens, arguing with one another, seeing one another, hearing one another, having to contend with one another, even where we may disagree. This is an important way of cultivating the human skills and arts to do with listening and persuading and being persuaded in turn.’…

'Some of the most inspiring remarks have come from our sixth form students, and they've shown how hungry people are for such conversations. They're tired as I am of black or white, friend or enemy, victim or oppressor shouting matches. They know how much we gain when we listen respectfully to views with which we disagree'"

Links - 30th March 2020 (1) (Bathing)

Bathing in the Middle Ages - "The different strata of society practiced hygiene differently at different times during the middle ages. At the bottom end of the cleanliness scale–as one would expect–were the manual laborers.  Because they had neither large tubs, nor sufficient fuel to heat water, bathing, for them, was generally limited to the summer months when they could wash off in a river or pond. (They enjoyed a cool, refreshing rinse after a hot day outside, the same as us.)However, it was basic good manners, at all levels of society, to at least wash your hands before eating (since forks were a late-medieval adaptation). This was especially true in the early middle ages, when two people often shared a plate of trencher bread and a cup. The poorer people in cities made use of public bathhouses–some leftover from the Roman period. Most condemnations issued from the pulpit against bathing were directed at public bathhouses rather than bathing in general. That’s because bathhouses had a tendency to get raunchy. Sexes were not always segregated, and prostitutes commonly went there to pick up clients (if not ply their trade outright)... In the later middle ages and into the Renaissance, the middle class was especially prone to bathing, because having a tub (and the means to heat the water to fill it) was a status symbol... Bathing among non-Christians was even more prevalent. Muslim doctors seemed to be aware, very early on, that being clean was better for the health. And Jewish law requires that men and (especially) women bathe regularly... Bathing may have actually become less common among the wealthy as the middle ages became the Renaissance, as people began to think that bathing might unbalance the humors and lead to illness. But certainly people like Isabella of Castile–who boasted that she had only ever bathed twice: on the day she was born and the day she married–were still in the minority.The reason why Isabella’s boast has come down through history is because, at the time, it was just that–a boast–something which was out of the ordinary. Even if some people were cutting back on their bathing, it was very unusual that anyone would bathe that infrequently. Isabella boasted of this because she saw it as an act of piety. Bathing was an indulgence of the flesh; abstaining was a pious act–just like flogging yourself or wearing a hair shirt. Medieval people liked bathing; that’s why some of them stopped doing it in a fit of religiousness. In fact, medieval people could teach us a thing or two about bathing in style. Eating while in the bathtub appears to have been fairly common; certainly there are plenty of pictures depicting it . And the wealthy had some hot tub parties that could put college fraternity blowouts to shame.Mind you, people didn’t bathe every day, the way most Americans do. They didn’t even bathe every other day. Let’s face it, hauling bucket after bucket of water up a few flights of stairs and heating if over a fire was not something you (or your servants) could do every day... medieval people washed their clothes. The Goodman of Paris admonished his young wife to see that their undergarments and sheets were washed frequently... Because outer-garments were made of silk or wool, and frequently lined with fur, it was impossible to do anything more than spot-clean those garments. But that’s why men and women both wore linen undergarments from head to rump: the linen, worn against the skin, kept sweat and oil off the expensive fabrics which weren’t washable."

Did people in the Middle Ages take baths? - "Medieval writers saw bathing as a serious and careful activity. One medical treatise, the Secreta Secretorum, has an enitre section on baths. It notes that the spring and winter are good times for bathing, but it should be avoided as much as possible in the summer. It also warns that excessively long baths lead to fatness and feebleness. Meanwhile, Magninius Mediolanesis offers over 57 bathing prescriptions to use in specific conditions, like old age, pregnancy and travelling and his rules for bathing run 1500 words long... By the thirteenth-century one could find over 32 bathhouses in Paris; Alexander Neckham, who lived in that city a century earlier, says that he would be awakened in the mornings by people crying in the streets that ‘that baths are hot!”... The prominence of the public bathhouse went into rapid decline in the sixteenth-century. Several suggestions have been made to as why – were more puritanical religious people able to impose their moral values on the community, or were the diseases that struck Europe since the Black Death convincing people from to avoid them. The disease of syphilis, which broke out in Europe the late fifteenth-century, would have also motivated people to stop their sexual promiscuity, thus reducing the other reasons for having a bathhouse."

Medieval Hygiene Might Have Been Better Than You Think - "As for the privies in castles, excrement would either fall into the moat, or released down the side of the castle’s walls. An interesting story about this medieval ‘sewage’ system comes from the 1203-1204 siege of Château Gaillard in Normandy, France. During the siege, the French forces succeeded in capturing the second wall by penetrating it via a unguarded toilet chute that led to a chapel. Moving from one end of the body to another, things were not looking much brighter in terms of dental hygiene either. During the Middle Ages far less processed sugar (if any) was in people’s diets and this was a key factor which led them to have surprisingly healthy teeth and so fresher breath than later in the millennium when sugar addiction was spread throughout Europe. People would simply clean their mouths by rinsing with water. As for teeth, these would be cleaned by wiping them with a piece of cloth. Later on, in order to keep their teeth white, people began to use mixtures of herbs and abrasives, including burnt rosemary, to scrub their teeth. A mouthwash made from a mixture of vinegar and wine was also used for oral hygiene. In addition to these measures, people of the Middle Ages would freshen their breath by chewing on strong-smelling herbs, such as mint, cinnamon, or sage."

I shower once a week. Here’s why you should too - "When I was a kid, bathtime was a once-a-week affair. We weren’t an unhygienic family – this is just how most of us lived in the 1960s, and I do not remember any horrific body odours resulting from it. By the time I was an adult, I was showering every day. With hindsight, I should have stuck to the old ways... the power-shower family would be emitting a staggering 3.5 tonnes of CO2. As we can afford only one tonne of carbon emissions per person – for everything from food to transport – if we are to keep global temperatures below the critical 2C threshold, this would consume nearly all of the family’s carbon budget. The daily bath or shower, then, is terrible for the environment and our bank balances. That’s one reason I have reverted to a weekly shower, with a daily sink-wash that includes my underarms and privates. But there are health consequences too. I first became aware of these when I was a touring ballet dancer and met a friend whose skin had been severely damaged by excessive use of soap products. He was condemned to treat himself with medical creams for the rest of his life. According to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, parents should stop bathing babies and toddlers daily because early exposure to dirt and bacteria may help make skin less sensitive, even preventing conditions like eczema in the long run. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends three times a week or less as toddlers’ skin is more sensitive; and as the elderly have drier skin, they should not be frequently washing all of their bodies with soap. Doctors say that overuse of soap removes the skin’s natural protective oils and good bacteria. This can exacerbate or cause complaints such as dermatitis. The longer one stays in the shower, the more of the skin’s oils are removed. The only real beneficiaries of over-frequent baths and showers are the companies that make and market soaps and shampoos... We do need to wash our hands frequently, for obvious hygiene reasons. But our skin has its own natural cleansing mechanism and it is generally only our armpits, feet and privates that produce any odours if unwashed. There is a similar story with frequent shampooing. When I visited the Yanomami in the heart of the Amazon in 1992, I noticed that they had lovely shiny, healthy hair, despite not using any shampoo or soap at all"

Showering daily — is it necessary? - "Approximately two-thirds of Americans shower daily. In Australia it’s over 80%. But in China, about half of people report bathing only twice a week.In the US, the daily shower tends to start around puberty and becomes lifelong. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?Perhaps your answer is: “because it’s healthier than showering less often.” Think again. For many — perhaps most — the daily shower is more about habit and societal norms than health. Perhaps that’s why the frequency of bathing or showering varies so much from country to country... Ever notice that directions on shampoo bottles often say “lather, rinse, repeat”? There is no compelling reason to wash your hair twice with each shower, but it does sell more shampoo if everyone follows these directions... a daily shower may even be bad for your health...
Skin may become dry, irritated, or itchy.
Dry, cracked skin may allow bacteria and allergens to breach the barrier skin is supposed to provide, allowing skin infections and allergic reactions to occur.
Antibacterial soaps can actually kill off normal bacteria. This upsets the balance of microorganisms on the skin and encourages the emergence of hardier, less friendly organisms that are more resistant to antibiotics.
Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental exposures in order to create protective antibodies and “immune memory.” This is one reason why some pediatricians and dermatologists recommend against daily baths for kids. Frequent baths or showers throughout a lifetime may reduce the ability of the immune system to do its job...
experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people (unless you are grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often). Short showers (lasting three or four minutes) with a focus on the armpits and groin may suffice."


The Filthy Middle Ages? | HistoryExtra Podcast - HistoryExtra - "‘The ingredients they add to add ammonia into their wash, so they use things like urine and wood ash. And I guess because its ammonia it would have a bleaching effect it would help them get clean, but it sounds pretty disgusting.’
‘Was there was no kind of discrepancy you see there between the urine in there and cleanliness?’
‘*Something* they're deliberately keeping it so that it’s stale urine so that the ammonia increases. Having done that then they’re very often very concerned to make their washes smell nice. So you do get stuff about putting herbs into the washing tub. And also about sort of drying things on fresh grass so that your sheets smell of freshly cut grass or something’...
'There is also this sort of school of thought in the Middle Ages, that if you're really holy, that maybe washing isn't for you, and it sort of fits in with this broader idea that you sort of, especially prioritize the soul over the body. And you're sort of proving that you're so focused on religious matters, that you're not indulging your body and maybe even you're depriving and deliberately harming it. And so you might do that by things like fasting. But you might also do that by things like, not washing. And so there are yes, some really horrible stories about late medieval saints who do things like, I've come across at least one who refused to wash her hair ever deliberately so that she would get head lice and they would sort of, the itch was seen as a sort of a, a form of asceticism, a way of punishing the body... Thomas Beckett, after he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, and the monks were stripping his body to prepare it for burial. They found that he was wearing a hair shirt, which impressed them. But what impressed them even more was that that hair shirt was full of little lice and fleas and they seem to have interpreted sort of that the really sort of unpleasant itchiness of that as almost a form of martyrdom sort of during life that therefore foreshadowed his literal martyrdom in the cathedral… that only works as a way of proving your faith because most people in the Middle Ages aren't filthy because if everybody was filthy, then that doesn't make you stand out does it?'"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

How to make China look alright: false equivalences

A: Congratulations US! We have surpassed China in our total number of cases! Are you sick of winning yet? 😂 Coronavirus Update (Live): 664,590 Cases and 30,890 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Outbreak - Worldometer

Me: China is faking their numbers though

A: Both sides have lower numbers than their reality. I am living in Washington state, one of the epicenters in the US and it is still hard to get a test kit even if you show mild symptoms.

So you can be infected and contagious but yet not show up in official figures.

Me: Not the same as actively faking

A: No you don't have to actively fake. You can't get a test kit in Washington state even with a mild fever.

Me: You don't think there's a difference between being unable to test people and making up data?

A: Do you think 1 side is any more honest than the other? Seriously? There is really a white vs black in your political view of the world? If so, then you have probably been brainwashed to believe that one side is always better than the other. 😂

Me: Nope. I look at facts

China’s Coronavirus Figures Don’t Add Up. ‘This Never Happens With Real Data.’ - Barron's

"A statistical analysis of China’s coronavirus casualty data shows a near-perfect prediction model that data analysts say isn’t likely to naturally occur, casting doubt over the reliability of the numbers being reported to the World Health Organization."

Please tell China that they have been brainwashed too

Here’s why it matters that China is admitting that its statistics are ‘unreliable’ - The Washington Post

"The Chinese government itself has just publicly acknowledged that its statistics aren’t always reliable. And it has done so not just in English but in Chinese."

Some Recovered Coronavirus Patients In Wuhan Are Testing Positive Again : Goats and Soda : NPR

"Under its newest COVID-19 prevention guidelines, China does not include in its overall daily count for total and for new cases those who re-test positive after being released from medical care. China also does not include asymptomatic cases in case counts."

A: That doesn't imply US numbers are therefore accurate either. Coronavirus: Doctors At Hospitals Say COVID-19 Death Numbers Aren’t Consistent

Reasons to trust China's coronavirus numbers and reports - Business Insider

How Many Americans Really Have the Coronavirus? - The Atlantic

Me: "You don't think there's a difference between being unable to test people and making up data?"

A: I think BOTH sides are as liable to make up data. Why would you think Chinese people are less trustworthy than Americans? Because the western media told you so? 😂

Me: I have posted the explanations. I can explain things to you. I can't understand them for you.

A: I have also posted my explanations that countered yours.

No wonder Singaporeans have a reputation, among Malaysians and Indonesians, even among Vietnamese Americans, as being overly obsequious to white people. 🤣

Me (to someone else since A: is an idiot): wuhan's medical system collapsed
They did lock down drastically. Outside Hubei damage was limited

A: There are just too many propaganda in western media right now against China.

I trust people who are actually in China to report what they see around them and discovered that there were really western propaganda that seeks to foment hatred against China through lies and disinformation.

What Was Lockdown Like In China? Daniel Dumbrill - YouTube

Again, the trusting old Singaporean! If it appears in CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News, it must be accurate! After all, they have no incentive to lie to us, right? 😂

Me: From people who were in wuhan

‘They’re chasing me’: the journalist who wouldn’t stay quiet on Covid-19 | World news | The Guardian

"Li Zehua, 25, a citizen journalist in Wuhan, is being chased. Wearing a facemask underneath a baseball cap, he quickly records a video while driving. “I’m on the road and someone, I don’t know, state security, has started chasing me,” he says breathlessly. “I’m driving very fast. Help me.”
Later, Li posts a live stream of himself in an apartment, waiting for those same agents to knock on his door, probably to detain him"

Coronavirus: journalist missing in Wuhan as anger towards Chinese authorities grows | World news | The Guardian

"In a video posted on 30 January, Chen described visiting hospitals full of sick patients, most of them on oxygen tanks and many of them laying in the corridor. The video includes footage of a woman with her arm wrapped around a recently deceased man in a wheelchair as she tries to call someone to take him away.

“I am afraid. In front of me is disease. Behind me is China’s legal and administrative power. But as long as I am alive I will speak about what I have seen and what I have heard. I am not afraid of dying. Why should I be afraid of you, Communist Party?”"

A: The Guardian is a UK based news outlet that is always against China! 😂

Me: If xi jinping says the capital of China is Beijing and the Guardian quotes him saying that, that means Beijing isn't the capital

Coronavirus: stranded in Wuhan, the people who just want to go home | South China Morning Post

Ah damn it. The South China morning Post has been corrupted by the cia. Time to purge the staff and send them to re-education camps

A: The Iraqi WMDs are irrefutable? 😂

Irrefutable - The Washington Post

As usual, anything that makes China look good is reliable and true, and anything that makes China look bad is unreliable, fake news and a Western conspiracy to put China down.

Given the number of Singaporean Chinese who are China shills, I have concerns if China ever attacks Singapore - there will be a ready fifth column.

Links - 29th March 2020

Shanghai’s New Year’s Eve drone show spectacular didn’t actually happen - "Ever since 36 people were killed on the Bund as 2014 became 2015, New Year’s Eve festivities in Shanghai have been rather subdued.Which is why we were rather surprised to see videos circulating around on Twitter of an apparent NYE light show spectacular on the Bund featuring nearly 2,000 drones. Those drones “took over the night sky” forming various shapes and patterns including a “running man” and a countdown clock right beside the Oriental Pearl Tower.Video of the show has been shared by Chinese media outlets as well as international ones, including even the New York Times, impressing people around the globe with the innovative replacement to air pollution-causing fireworks. However, there’s just one problem. People who were on the Bund on the night of New Year’s Eve say they didn’t see anything in the night sky. No drones. No nothing... a video posted onto Weibo does show the drone show over the Huangpu with the running man and 2020 spelled out. The video is dated December 29.Our best, most charitable, explanation for this whole head-scratcher is that this was a practice run for a planned New Year’s Eve show that didn’t end up happening for some reason. Packaged footage of the show was always going to be from this practice run, in case something should go wrong on the big night.And not even the show failing to take place ended up changing these plans."
In China, everything is fake

Canadian military police assigned Pokemon Go after fans invade bases - "At least three military police officers were ordered to play Pokemon Go in Canadian bases across the country, after players invaded the facilities in a quest to catch them all... "We should almost hire a 12-year-old to help us out with this"... At the entrance to the base, one woman was caught playing Pokemon Go while her three children were climbing over tanks.A man separately arrested at CFB Borden explained he was just collecting points playing Pokemon Go and told officers: "I have to beat my kids.""

'Shattered': Inside the secret battle to save America's undercover spies in the digital age - "When hackers began slipping into computer systems at the Office of Personnel Management in the spring of 2014, no one inside that federal agency could have predicted the potential scale and magnitude of the damage. Over the next six months, those hackers — later identified as working for the Chinese government — stole data on nearly 22 million former and current American civil servants, including intelligence officials... “Very few people, maybe shepherds in rural Afghanistan, don’t leave some form of digital trace today”... In the space of a few short years, the rapid advance of technology, including nascent international surveillance systems, increasingly endangered the CIA’s traditional human intelligence gathering.Singapore was one example, recall three former intelligence officials. By the early 2000s, the agency ceased running certain types of operations in the Southeast Asian city-state, because of the sweeping digital surveillance there. The Singaporeans had developed a database that incorporated real-time flight, customs, hotel and taxicab data. If it took too long for a traveler to get from the airport to a hotel in a taxi, the anomaly would trigger an alert in Singaporean security systems. “If there was a gap, they’d go to the hotel, they could flip on the TVs and phones and monitor what was going on” in the room of the suspicious traveler, says the same former senior intelligence official. “They had everything so wired.”“You used to be able to fly into a country on one name and have meetings in another,” recalls this person. “It limited a lot of capabilities.”... Today there are “about 30 countries” where CIA officers are no longer followed on the way to meetings because local governments no longer see the need, given that surveillance in those countries is so pervasive... with the advent of commercial genetic databases, exposing a spy or other covert operative could be as easy as taking a saliva sample from a cigarette butt or a drinking cup. A suspicious foreign government could send the sample in and potentially find out if the person has been operating under an assumed name.  “It’s right out of a spy novel”... Chinese intelligence successfully hacked into the biometric data from Bangkok’s airport. “The Chinese have consistently extracted data from all the major transit hubs in the world”... “Now you show up at the border of Russia, they’ve got your high school yearbook out there where you wrote about your lifelong ambitions to work for the CIA. All that stuff is digitized.”... Nowadays, say former officials, NOCs must truly “live their cover” — that is, actually work as the professional engineer or businessperson that they present themselves to be. NOCs live and work under their true names, say former officials, though they are known to their CIA counterparts by a pseudonym... Recruitment to the CIA of younger people, particularly those born in the age of social media, has become more difficult, say former officials, with the agency lacking clearly defined policies for social media use... Until a few years ago, agency officials were still counseling younger employees to quit social media, even though such behavior could be seen as suspicious... The CIA still considers a Facebook friendship a “close and continuing relationship” for security purposes"

The CIA's communications suffered a catastrophic compromise - "From around 2009 to 2013, the U.S. intelligence community experienced crippling intelligence failures related to the secret internet-based communications system, a key means for remote messaging between CIA officers and their sources on the ground worldwide. The previously unreported global problem originated in Iran and spiderwebbed to other countries, and was left unrepaired — despite warnings about what was happening — until more than two dozen sources died in China in 2011 and 2012 as a result... “Can you imagine how different this whole story would’ve turned out if the CIA [inspector general] had acted on Reidy’s warnings instead of going after him?” said Kel McClanahan, Reidy’s attorney. “Can you imagine how different this whole story would’ve turned out if the congressional oversight committees had done oversight instead of taking CIA’s word that he was just a troublemaker?”Irvin McCullough, a national security analyst with the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that works with whistleblowers, put the issue in even starker terms. “This is one of the most catastrophic intelligence failures since Sept. 11,” he said. “And the CIA punished the person who brought the problem to light.”"

No one is ready for California’s new consumer privacy law - "The California Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect January 1st, and it doesn’t look like anyone, even the state of California itself, is totally ready. Draft regulations for enforcing the law are still being finalized at the state level, and questions about specific aspects of the most sweeping privacy regulation since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are still not clear.“If you thought the GDPR was bumpy, the CCPA is going to be a real roller coaster”"

Toronto Is Canada’s Poverty Capital For Working-Age People - "Torontonians pay more of their income on rent than most other Canadians, but the report points out that they also make about $4,507 less than their counterparts in other parts of the country. Most financial experts recommend spending no more than 30 per cent of household income on housing — 76 per cent of Toronto renters making under $50,000 a year in their household spent much more than that on a place to live. The city’s official count of homeless people in shelters has grown a staggering 69 per cent in just five years... Black Torontonians, for example, are highly segregated to two major areas: north Etobicoke and Scarborough, and that correlates to their chances of growing their wealth in the future."
Comments: "Naturally the social work 'professor' attributes all his findings to race, with no apparent regard for education, experience, marketable skills, tenure, aptitude, language comprehension, work ethic, presentability, attitude, personal initiative, et al."
"What did you expect? Urban areas like Toronto are a hotbed for both wealthy individuals who are looking to live in urban luxury and poor individuals (like immigrants) looking to find a better life. Of course the wealth disparity is significant.Maybe you should try addressing the problems of globalization and technology rather than simply trying to continuously raise the min wage?"
"If you don't have a high income, live in a lower cost city, town etc. Contrary to popular belief in Toronto (or Vancouver) there are jobs outside the metropolis. If you job is specialized you will be making lots of money, if it isn't and you aren't, there are lots of other places with much better living conditions."

Diane Abbott's son, 28, charged with 11 new offences - "Diane Abbott's son was in court yesterday after being charged with a string of violent offences including allegedly beating up police, emergency workers and doctors as well as exposing himself in a hospital.James Abbott-Thompson appeared before a judge at Thames Magistrates Court where he was accused of 11 crimes - most of them on NHS property... The 28-year-old faces nine charges of assault, a charge of of racially aggravated criminal damage and one of exposure over the past five months... The mother of one made headlines when she decided to send her only child to the private City of London School in 2003 after criticising colleagues for choosing selective and independent schools.  She was accused of hypocrisy, but claimed she had done a lot of work on ‘how black boys underachieve in secondary schools’"

King’s College hires 'safe space marshals' to police controversial speaker events on campus - "The university’s students' union employs the £12-an-hour officials to patrol meetings where there is a potential for audience members to be offended.  While on duty at an event, the marshals are expected to hand out leaflets detailing the students' union's Safe Space policy, and put up posters reminding students that “This is a Safe Space”.  They must be ready to take “immediate action” if anyone expresses opinions that breech the Safe Space policy. This could include derogatory comments about someone’s age, disability, marital or maternity or paternity status, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture. Three marshals were present when Jacob Rees-Mogg MP spoke at the university’s Conservative Association last week. He said that the concept of safe space marshals is “bizarre” and “antithetical to free speech”... “It’s absolutely weird to send marshals to check the content of the speech by an elected Member of Parliament.“I think you should make the safe assumption that MPs have views that are acceptable to their electorate and therefore you should not need to send people whose purpose may be to censor what is discussed.”... she raised concerns about an event held during Israel Apartheid Week earlier this year, where speakers appeared to condone terrorism against Israelis. However, she said the student union refused to acknowledge that this was a breach of the Safe Space policy on the grounds that it was “political”. Ms Berena added that safe space marshals had been present at an Israel Society event last year but failed to prevent demonstrators throwing chairs and smashing windows of the room.
Clearly, safe spaces are only for "unproblematic" people with approved opinions

Stephen Pax Leonard on Twitter - "At British universities, safe-space marshals stand at back of room to ensure speaker doesn't 'trigger' students by saying anything sensitive. Speakers must sign form beforehand confirming material is not 'controversial'. This is the scar the Far Left has left on our universities."

Actually, opening up our failing NHS to the Americans may not be such a bad idea - "The NHS already contracts out great swathes of activity to private sector providers, including US firms such as the Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, and has done so for decades. There is no reason in principle why US firms shouldn’t be allowed to compete on an equal footing with UK and European providers for further NHS contracts, or even to run NHS hospital trusts; they could hardly do any worse than the incumbents.The confusion that Labour preys on is that whereas America has some of the best healthcare providers in the world, it also has a grossly inadequate healthcare system, one that is both fiendishly costly to use and discriminates according to means. You would not want it in the UK, just as you wouldn’t want to adopt the American system of pharma pricing, which for patented drugs is far and away the most expensive in the world. The US has always deeply resented the leverage enjoyed by monopoly healthcare buyers such as the NHS in bidding down drug prices, and with some justification believes that the high prices paid by its own citizens in effect subsidise the lower prices of European consumers. Yet to right this supposed wrong would require the UK to agree not just to much longer patents, but to the breakup of the NHS, and thereby the removal of its monopoly buying power.You either believe Boris Johnson when he says he won’t make the NHS part of any trade deal or you don’t, but on this, more so than any other issue, it seems very unlikely he is being deliberately duplicitous. Politicians that challenge our attachment to the NHS – stronger, some would say, than our allegiance to the crown – don’t tend to last very long... Labour is thus trying to create a political divide which doesn’t exist. More so than any other institution in Britain, the NHS desperately needs reform, yet its basic principles remain essentially untouchable, and the underlying causes of its ever more apparent failings politically unmentionable. Boris Johnson is not about to break the taboo.At its best, the NHS provides care as good as anywhere in the world, but it is also in effect a system of healthcare rationing; the producer, not the consumer, decides what you get and how you get it. With rising healthcare expectations, this naturally leads to a sense of permanent inadequacy and crisis.Yet our affection for the NHS has little if anything to do with the standards of care it provides. Rather it is a nostalgic throwback to the “all in it together” mentality of the Second World War. At a conference in China a year ago, Matt Hancock, then newly installed as health secretary, told me that his Chinese hosts couldn’t get their heads around the NHS, because in this supposed exemplar of the communist state it was far too socialist for them to comprehend. The NHS is a little bit of Corbynism at the heart of the UK economy, and oddly, citizens will have nothing else. This is their loss. The idea that the NHS is the only way of delivering reliable, universal healthcare, equally available to all, is ridiculous and increasingly disproved by the social insurance based models of the Continent.A study by the London School of Economics and Harvard School of Public Health published this week showed UK healthcare falling behind comparable foreign counterparts on multiple fronts, from cancer survival rates, to expenditure, nurses, doctors and beds per head. But woe betide the politician who dares to suggest the fault is in the system."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Links - 27th March 2020 (2)

The Laffer curve for high incomes - "Five countries have higher tax rates than the peak of the Laffer curve."

Estimating Income Responses to Tax Changes: A Dynamic Panel Data Approach - "We use the estimates to simulate the fiscal consequences of a tax reform that reduces the top marginal tax rate by five percentage points. Such a reform turns out to have negligible effects on tax revenues and may even yield a fiscal surplus."

Michelle Obama: George W. Bush is 'my partner in crime'
How times change. It seems like it was only yesterday that Dubya was literally Hitler

Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East | The Spectator - "I’ve noticed a change of mood on my own travels. I regularly meet Egyptians and others who desperately want to normalise relations with Israel and they offer three reasons. First, the events of the Arab Spring exposed the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and other related Islamists, with the hardliners now being viewed as a threat to both Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people. Isis and other ‘Islamic states’ are, of course, the logical outcome of Islamism. Now that this creed has been tested to destruction, it is being seen for what it is — and rejected.Second, the need to stand firm against Iran is becoming a cause that unites Israel with Sunni Arabs and anti-Tehran Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It’s well-known that mullahs in Tehran support Hezbollah, which is dedicated to destroying Israel. But they also meddle in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. So against this menace of Shiite political Islamism, committed to destroying Muslim secular governments and exporting Shiite revolutionary ideology, Israel is coming to be regarded as a benign neighbour.Finally, and most intriguingly, Israel is being seen by moderate Arab governments as a trade and security partner as the West sends mixed signals"

Maajid Nawaz - "White nationalists to Islamists in 2017:‬
‪“Your rhetoric is stoking jihadist terror”‬
‪Islamist reply: ‬
‪“Nothing to do with me guv” 🤷🏽‍♂️‬
‪Islamists to white nationalists in 2019:‬
‪“Your rhetoric is stoking far-right terror”‬
‪White nationalist reply: ‬
‪“Nothing to do with me guv” 🤷🏽‍♂️
‬ ‪Populists to #RegressiveLeft 2017:‬
‪“Tackle Islamist ideology to stop jihadist terror”‬
‪The Regressive Left:‬
‪“No. We must understand their grievances”‬
‪#RegressiveLeft to Populists in 2019:‬
‪“Tackle far-right ideology to stop racist terror”‬
‪“No. We must understand their grievances” 🤦🏽‍♂️‬
‪#RegressiveLeft to Populists 2017:‬
‪“It’s not about ideas. Jihadists are loners with mental health issues”‬
‪Populists in 2017:‬
‪“No. It’s ideology”‬
‪Populists to Regressive Left 2019:‬
‪“It’s not about ideas. Far-Right are loners with mental health issues”‬
‪Regressive Left 2019:‬
‪“No. It’s ideology” 🤦🏽‍♂️
‬ ‪Populists to Islamist 2017:‬
‪“Your leaders & ideologues are responsible for inflammatory rhetoric. Ban Islam!”‬
‪“Free Speech!”‬
‪Islamists to Populists 2019:‬
‪“Your President & ideologues are responsible for inflammatory rhetoric. Ban neo-Nazis!”‬
‪“Free Speech!” 🤦🏽‍♂️
And round and round and round it goes. Meanwhile, I feel like it’s groundhog day"

Meanwhile in Canada - Posts
So there're people complaining about Christmas trees now. Supposedly they take 12 years to grow, cutting them ruins the boreal forest and you shouldn't cut "lovely things" for a "stupid holiday". People always find something new to complain about. And the slippery slope continues to slide as people invent new problems...

Three year prison sentence for people who damage EU flag, German state proposes - "Anyone who attacks the blue and gold starred cloth displayed in public, rendering it “removed, destroyed, damaged, unusable or unrecognisable” could be slapped with a lengthy jail term or hefty fine. The proposed law will also protect the European anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, according to a report in Saarbrucken Zeitung, a daily newspaper in West Germany... Paragraph 104 of Germany’s criminal code states that anyone who damages the flag or symbol of a foreign nation will be imprisoned or fined"

German police is hiding facts about migrant crime statistics "to preserve civil peace" - "The German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine recently raised the question if violent crime statistics are tweaked in the country.A state police officer is quoted saying: “There is no lying, nothing is hushed, but things are deliberately left out.”...  “In the case these terms do appear in police reports, from what I have understood, the police chief will make a written note on the report which says: ‘Please review this’.” This is a signal to alert the police officer who wrote the report to remove certain terms which are provocative and could have a negative influence on the statistics. In these statistics you will find the term assault instead of sexual assault without any further specification."

Germany springs to action over hate speech against migrants - The Washington Post - "even leaders on the political left are questioning whether the bid to weed out hate is going too far. Stefan Körner, chairman of Germany’s liberal Pirate Party, argued that democracies “must be able to bear” a measure of xenophobia. He condemned the government’s deal with social media outlets to get tougher on offensive speech, saying that “surely it will lead to too many rather than too few comments being blocked. This is creeping censorship, and we definitely don’t want that.”... The offensive views include an online post of a hangman’s noose as one solution to the refugee crisis, a quip by a right-wing politician about the breeding habits of Africans, as well as a comment made by a controversial speaker at an anti-migrant rally lamenting the closure of World War II-era concentration camps.The surge of incendiary comments online has been so strong that one of Germany’s largest media outlets, Der Spiegel, disabled its readers’ comment function for articles related to refugees."

Sweden Refusing New Study of Migrant Crime Despite Alarming Figures From Norway - "In Norway, all parties are united in the standpoint that it perfectly legitimate to investigate the connection between immigration and crime, despite having different opinions of the results"

Reality Check: Are migrants driving crime in Germany? - "Since 2014, the proportion of non-German suspects in the crime statistics has increased from 24% to just over 30% (when we take out crimes related to immigration and asylum irregularities). Breaking that down even further, in 2017 those classified as "asylum applicants or civil war refugees or illegal immigrants" represented a total of 8.5% of all suspects.  This is despite their population representing just 2% of Germany as a whole. When it comes to violent crime, 10.4% of murder suspects and 11.9% of sexual offence suspects were asylum-seekers and refugees in 2017.  A government-backed analysis of the German state of Lower Saxony, which has taken the fourth-highest number of asylum seekers, showed there was an increase of violent crime by 10.4% between 2014 and 2016.  It analysed the crimes that had been solved, and attributed the overwhelming majority of the rise to migrants."

Booby traps: Man in Maine killed by own device - "A 65-year-old American man who rigged his home with a booby trap to keep out intruders has been killed by the device.Ronald Cyr called police in the town of Van Buren in the state of Maine to say he had been shot.Police found a door had been designed to fire a handgun should anyone attempt to enter. Mr Cyr was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.It is illegal for home-owners to install such traps... It is illegal to set up devices in your home to protect it from intruders, if those devices can cause harm.The legal argument is that life is more valued than property and that the devices have no means of preventing accidental harm or distinguishing between targets.Even if the trap targets a criminal, the trap-setter, though having the right to protect their home, has no right to determine the punishment. Injury can lead to lawsuits. In the 1971 case of Katko v. Briney, in Iowa, two homeowners were held liable for injuries caused by their spring-loaded shotgun to a trespasser intent on stealing from a vacant property.The court ruled the deadly force was not reasonable and awarded the plaintiff $30,000 (£23,000) in damages."
Freedom, fuck yeah!
I thought in some states you have the right to shoot and kill anyone who enters your home illegally

Nazi design exhibition in Netherlands raises fears of glorification - "An exhibition of Nazi design has opened in the Netherlands to protests and a request for visitors to the museum not to take and share photographs for fear of the exhibits being glorified on social media.The Museum of Design in Den Bosch is showcasing sculpture by Adolf Hitler’s favourite artist, Arno Breker, a 1943 VW Beetle, photos and Leni Riefenstahl films from the era, in what is being billed as the first great exposition of the “Design of the Third Reich”.Running for five months, the exhibition has been criticised by the Association of Dutch Anti-fascists, which has called in vain for local authorities to intervene."
People cannot be allowed to think the Wrong Thing. Telling people what to think is good when it's in the name of "anti-Fascism"

Twitter Doesn’t Realize that Protecting Hate Speech Promotes Tolerance - "In the 1830s abolitionists were using the U.S. mail in their campaign to end slavery. In 1835 United States Postmaster Amos Kendall found one bulk mailing to Charleston, South Carolina, to be particularly objectionable. He believed the mailing to be part of “a wicked plan of exciting the negroes to insurrection and to massacre” and conferred President Andrew Jackson on how to handle the mailing, which was characterized by Charleston’s postmaster as “inflammatory and incendiary.”Jackson’s response was to order the mail delivered only to “subscribers” and the names of abolitionists receiving the mail to be “published as supporters of ‘exciting the negroes to insurrection and to massacre.’” The abolitionists deserved, Jackson added, “to atone for this wicked attempt with their lives.”It was the speech of abolitionists that some, including the President, considered offensive. In slaveholding states the speech of abolitionists was criminalized, with their speech considered “treason against slavery.” In Maryland, criminal libel laws were used against abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.Which is more dangerous: “Offensive” words or suppression of speech? Today, particularly on college campuses, many believe that words are the greater danger. Pew Research Center survey data reveals that 40 percent of millennials believe that “government should be able to prevent people publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” Overall, 28 percent of the U.S. population shares that views.  Social media has responded to the call of the minority for censorship. At the urging of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Twitter has recently suspended the accounts of those on the alt-right that they determine to be guilty of hate speech. In October, YouTube restricted access to a video on the First Amendment by Wall Street Journal reporter Kimberley Strassel on the grounds that it was “potentially objectionable.” The restriction was reversed after others exercised their right of free speech to expose YouTube’s decision as ludicrous. This past spring when many in England were in an uproar about Donald Trump, the English author of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling offered this defense of the freedom to be offensive: “[Trump’s] freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine.”"

Gorillas, orangutans and chimps die in German zoo fire - "The fire was likely to have been caused by Chinese sky lanterns that were set off amid New Year’s Eve celebrations and landed inside the zoo... 48-year-old Massa, the oldest living silverback gorilla in the European endangered species breeding programme, had perished in the flames. Investigators believe it is highly likely the fire was was caused by Chinese sky lanterns, also known as Kongming lanterns, which had been illegally set off in the city, police said at a press conference on Wednesday.Several witnesses had reported low-flying lanterns in the city on Tuesday night, and three lanterns with handwritten messages had been found near the zoo enclosure, a police spokesperson said. Setting off rockets and firecrackers in the streets is a key part of Germany’s New Year’s Eve ritual, and the law allows citizens to light their own fireworks in public on 31 December and 1 January.In recent years there has been a growing debate about a ban on pyrotechnics, and about 30 German municipalities imposed partial bans on private fireworks this year.The sale of Chinese sky lanterns is already illegal in all German states bar the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, however."
I guess the death of charismatic animals pisses people off more than "racism"

A particularly unhinged person

Even by the standards of online commenters, this person is particularly unhinged

The Atlantic - Posts: "To what extent should the Constitution be violated to fight the coronavirus?"

Sarah IH: The Constitution should never be violated and anyone who feels otherwise is my committed existential enemy.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH The constitution is not a suicide pact

Thomas Jefferson:

“A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.”

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo I stand by what I said.

Scott Allen: Jeffe Sarah IH good luck with that. I hope you’re not with the “freedom” group that believes that anything you want to do should be allowed.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH you must be so clear on the constitution as to absolve all interpreting done by lawyers. Good on you! Also, existential enemy? Give yourself a break.

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo I am a lawyer. And I have not interest in discussing this with you further.

Scott Allen Jeffe Nor with you.

Alexander Gordillo: Sarah IH I will comment and respond as I please. You are free to share your opinion and I am free to respond.

Sarah IH: Alexander Gordillo Go discuss it with someone not your enemy. Blocked.

Caleb Kuddes: Sarah IH if you’re not interested in discussing it, why comment? Does declaring it satisfy you in some way? Unfortunately the Constitution is pretty useless to dead people, and without “violating” the letter of it, there are going to be a whole lot of them.

Sarah IH: Caleb Kuddes Because it interests me to see how many traitors and enemies are in our midst. So not you either. Blocked.

Jaana Reising: Sarah IH The way you are responding to Alexander and Scott is making me think that you must have received your “degree” in trump university.

Sarah IH: Jaana Reising I hate that traitor. Blocked.
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