When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Links - 25th January 2014

6 in 10 young S'poreans look to go abroad to fulfil dreams - "Their top reasons for considering going overseas include the high cost of living here, having more opportunities and a slower pace of life overseas... The survey also polled young people on their hopes for Singapore. They listed three priorities: An affordable place to live in, a society that defines success beyond academic and material achievements and a more fulfilling pace of life, which could include having a slower pace of life."
Funny, no one asked for higher GDP growth

Najib hits back at kangkung critics - "Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he used kangkung (water spinach) to explain the principle of supply and demand because it was a popular vegetable. "I like to eat kangkung, you all like to eat kangkung. As such, I gave an example which everybody eats. If I use quail as an example, only certain people eat it," he said. "The example should not be ridiculed by anybody because I gave the example on the principle of supply and demand which decide the prices of some of the food commodities which are not subject to price controls," he said."

Why Jezebel's 'Bounty' For Unretouched Lena Dunham Images Is Seriously Misguided - "in an effort to shame Vogue editors for the photoshopping job, Jezebel has gone one step further -- by placing a "bounty" on Dunham's original, undoctored photos. You know, the fat ones... Just because Dunham is a young feminist who speaks confidently about her "real body" does not mean we get to qualify her statements with an inappropriate cash prize. By hoping to publicize Dunham's original Vogue photos, Jezebel may end up shaming the actress more than the magazine whose photoshopping practices they hope to expose. And it's safe to say Dunham is actually quite proud of her Vogue spread. Doesn't she have a right to be? If Dunham wanted to release such photos, wouldn't she do so herself? Or at the very least call upon Vogue to do so?"
Comment: "Jezebel and Gawker (of which both are from the same company of course) consists of a bunch of snooty booty, glib and immature authors who will delete your post and ban you if you dare contest an issue. Even if others are snarky and down right profane towards certain folks / celebrities, they get a pass...as long as they go along with the Gawker/Jezebel logic."

Aerie's Unretouched Ads 'Challenge Supermodel Standards' For Young Women
If I were a young woman, Aerie's un-PSed ads would depress me even more - now I can't tell myself they aren't real

An End to Arrogant Atheism - "If we ever want to truly reach the general public with our message of skepticism, scientific inquiry and a conviction about the importance of basic civil rights and liberties, we need to recognize that you can respectfully disagree, but you can't respectfully ridicule"

Study: Heavy Drinking Harmful To Men’s Brains But Not So Much Those Of Women

'Before And After' Weight Loss Exposed - "Mel, an Australian personal trainer and owner of MelVFitness, was fed up with misleading "Before and After" pictures used to sell fitness programs and diet pills. Inspired by a similar project by personal trainer Andrew Dixon, Mel decided to make her own transformation in under 15 minutes (via Gawker). All it took was better posture, some tanning lotion, and black bathing suit bottoms"

Alan Wilzig Introduced 'Wolf Of Wall Street' Jordan Belfort To Wife Nadine - "Wilzig, now 48, wasn’t happy with the "nerdy" portrayal of himself in Martin Scorsese's movie based on actual events, and he took to Facebook to explain how the moment really happened. In the Dec.24 status update, Wilzig is most peeved that Scorsese left out the fact that he was driving a red Ferrari Testarossa at the time. He also offers a $1,000 charity donation to the "first person to take a photo of that scene" because he and his new wife "have no babysitter so I can't for at least 2 days.""

Joshua Brown 'Wolf Of Wall Street' - "I’ve known ten or twelve guys who worked at the Lake Success headquarters of Stratton during its heyday; all the stories are true and there’s very little embellishment in the movie. It all happened and then some. I’ve been hearing these stories for fifteen years... The great irony that’s not discussed is that Belfort, had he done Wall Street brokerage the legitimate way beginning in the late 1980′s, would probably have become a billionaire by now. I could picture him running a hedge fund of funds business or being a brokerage CEO and just selling the shit out of it while other people did all the real work. He could have been a major player legitimately if he wasn’t in such a rush... 100% of teenage boys who see this movie are going to want to grow up to be Jordan. I’m sure Scorsese didn’t set out to accomplish that but it’s inescapable. Oliver Stone didn’t think he was inventing Gordon Gekko to be the role model for a million young would-be finance guys, but that’s exactly what happened. Don’t think Belfort and Danny Porush (on whom Jonah’s character Donny Azoff is said to be based) didn’t have serious Gekko envy, that was the blueprint. Gekko’s like Billy the Kidd in that regard. He’s still quoted, revered and even emulated in every corner of the business world"

What Muslims should actually be angry about - The Commentator - ""There are many things that should offend those who are seemingly shocked by benign and ignorable mockery of religion. These include:
- The systematic destruction of Islam’s heritage in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Since the Saudi royal family conquered the Hijaz region, mausoleums, mosques, grave yards, and other significant buildings connected to the history of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and his companions have been bulldozed to make way for motorways, shopping centres and five star hotels.
- The fact that the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in Pakistan continue to blow up girls’ schools and violently attack young teenage girls for wanting to attend them.
- The systematic persecution of Ahmedis, Shias, Christians, Hindus, and other minorities in Pakistan who, if not being accused of blasphemy, are being hunted down by thugs claiming to be inspired by Islam.
- The destruction and vandalism visited upon the ancient city of Timbukto. Since the al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al Dine took over the city, mosques have been attacked, mausoleums raided, and other holy sites destroyed, including tombs of great saints.
- The systematic and widespread practise of female genital mutilation (FGM) that Muslim clerics in North and East Africa defend and promote. A practise that is vile, disgusting, inhumane, and recognised as such around the world.
- The hysterical anti-Semitism that emanates from pulpits all over the Middle East. A form of bigotry that is largely accepted and rarely goes challenged.
- The destruction of Buddist temples and Christian churches in Indonesia that has increased since Islamist parties have begun to make gains in South East Asia.
- The destruction of the Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban, statues that stood for hundreds of years and held great significance for Buddhists around the world.
These are the grievances that should inspire protests and anger but alas they are ignored in favour of ones that can be attributed to the evil West and Israel, however fictitious and spurious the linkages... Gravitation towards a grievance and victimhood culture is the easy option because it doesn’t compel Muslims to ask the difficult questions such as why we preside over some of the most corrupt, unequal, sexist, dysfunctional, and authoritarian societies on earth... Unfortunately, many Western leftists also encourage this defeatist and self-deprecating trend in the vain hope that it supports their cause. The primary victims of this phenomenon are Muslims themselves who are left dis-empowered and undermine their own agency by placing all responsibility elsewhere. The winners are Islamists and Jihadists who continue to wage war against art, culture, women, and vulnerable minorities, safe in the knowledge that most Muslims are distracted by their obsession with the next Danish cartoon or American YouTube clip. It is not easy to initiate rational conversation in such a context – ask those who have tried."

Taxi driver forces man to pay with kebab - "When the taxi arrived at the destination, however, the customer let it be known that he was fresh out of cash. He asked the driver if he could run into his home to get his bank card. The driver responded by saying he wanted the man's kebab meal as a deposit. Further negotiations ensued about how exactly the man should pay for his taxi ride. In the end, the taxi driver took the food with him and drove away, reported local media. The stunned customer then reported the driver to police for theft. Police have since dropped the case after the customer changed his mind"

Fake signs in London underground

Who knew? Men enjoy shopping, but many don't like strip clubs: poll - "About half of men in the United States enjoy shopping for clothes, many don't like going to strip clubs and it is typical for males under the age of 44 to have sexted someone... men believed it is normal to say "I love you" frequently and that they have cried in the past month. "There are some things about manhood as it existed in previous generations that are still more or less the same, particularly the interest and emphasis on sports and the excitement that men get from watching and playing sports"... Shedding tears is normal, as is using moisturizer, hair products and sexting, depending on a man's age... Having sex more than twice a week over the age of 45 is not normal, the poll showed, as is not having sex at all for males under that age. Twenty-six percent of African American men said they had a manicure in the last six months or longer, compared to 7 percent of Caucasians and 10 percent of the general male population. Men over 60 also were twice as likely to think of themselves as normal as men under 30."

Drinking, sex, eating: Why don't we tell the truth in surveys? - ""We do have an anxiety about trusting sex research generally, partly because of worries over talking about sex but recently more because of the misuse of the survey tool as an advertising device. It is hardly surprising, she says, that journalists and the public don't trust sex research: "What they see shared in mainstream media is not the careful and more balanced work undertaken in social and health research. "As sex stories on relationships advice in media are pinned on 'statistics', then this allows the dodgy PR polls to be used to tell us how we should be having sex and set up ideas about what is normal.""

People lie on surveys and focus groups, often unwittingly - "Usability participants also have a tendency to say "I'm being stupid" when those of us on the other side of the one-way glass are screaming "No you're not, the software is broken!" That's an interesting contrast—in some cases, pleading ignorance is a defense. In other cases, pleading mastery is. At the end of the day, you must ignore what the user said and base any conclusions on what they did"

How to use dice to stop people from lying on surveys - "Another way to get at the truth is to make people that they sometimes have to tell a lie. A toss of the dice allows people to confess things on surveys that they otherwise wouldn't. When South Africa wanted to conduct a survey about whether or not farmers had killed leopards (an illegal practice), the surveyors brought along a die. If the farmer tossed the die and got a one, they had to respond "yes" to the surveyor's question. If they got a six, they had to say "no." The rest of the time, they were asked to answer honestly. The die was hidden from the person who was conducting the survey, so they never knew what number the farmer was responding to."

Darwin's Witnesses

"Hello. We are Darwin's Witnesses. May we have five minutes of your time to share with you the good news about Evolution?"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Links - 24th January 2014

Long-Run Effects of Unions on Firms - "A successful effort to unionize a workplace apparently reduces the market value of affected publicly-traded firms, even if there is no immediate change in their operating performance. In Long-Run Impacts of Unions on Firms: New Evidence From Financial Markets, 1961-1999 (NBER Working Paper 14709), co-authors David Lee and Alexandre Mas estimate that the average effect of a union win at a workplace is to decrease the market value of the affected business by at least $40,500 (in $1998) per worker eligible to vote, based on monthly stock prices for 24 months before and after a vote to unionize. Their simulations suggest that a policy-induced doubling of unionization in the United States would “lead to a 4.3 percent decrease in the equity value of all firms at risk of unionization.”"

EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT EFFECTS OF UNIONS - "In this paper, we present estimates of the effect of changes in union strength on the likelihood of being employed or in the labor force. The results of this paper suggest that in areas where the percent of the labor force that is unionized is high or where the unionlnon-union wage premium is large; workers are less likely to be employed or in the labor force and more likely to be unemployed. Besides altering the number of workers employed or in the labor force, unions reduce the likelihood of having a full-time job by altering the mix of part-time and full-time jobs in the economy. Thus, unions appear to adversely affect the average workweek for those who remained employed. These disemployment effects from unions were concentrated mainly among females and young men. with little if any negative impact on prime age males. These disemployment effects, howevel-, were in general found to be
quite small. with unionism having a more pronounced effect on the mix of part-time and full-time employment, and hence the workweek, than on the number of jobs. All of these effects were dwarfed in importance by the state of the local labor market and the level of an individual's human capital or skills"

Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis - "for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, the relatively higher cost of healthy foods may be an impediment to eating better. On the other hand, Americans at all income levels allocate too little of their food budgets towards healthy foods. A daily price difference of ∼$1.50 translates to ∼$550 higher annual food costs per person. For many low-income families, this additional cost represents a genuine barrier to healthier eating. Yet, this daily price difference is trivial in comparison with the lifetime personal and societal financial burdens of diet-related chronic diseases. For example, suboptimal diet quality was recently estimated to account for 14% of all disability-adjusted life years in 2010 in the USA; if translated to a proportion of national health expenditures in 2012, this corresponds to diet-related healthcare costs of $393 billion/year or more than $1200/year for every American. Our findings highlight the nuanced challenges and the opportunities for reducing financial barriers to healthy eating."
This doesn't take into account the less direct costs (you need to shop more often and spend longer preparing your food)

North Carolina Town Councilman Resigns In Klingon - "Waddell even ended his resignation with a Klingon proverb, "Perhaps today is a good day (to) resign." The councilman wrote his four-line resignation letter in Klingon as an inside joke, and submitted an English translation and an extended letter entirely in English. "Folks don’t know what to think of me half the time," Waddell said in a Thursday interview with the Observer. "I might as well have one last laugh.""

Food deserts: If you build it, they may not come | The Economist - "Some academics would go further, calling the appearance of many food deserts nothing but a mirage—and not the real problem. Research by the Centre for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington found that only 15% of people shopped for food within their own census area. Critics also note that focusing on supermarkets means that the USDA ignores tens of thousands of larger and smaller retailers, farmers' markets and roadside greengrocers, many of which are excellent sources of fresh food... neither USDA nor the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has been able to establish a causal link between food deserts and dietary health. In fact, both agree that merely improving access to healthy food does not change consumer behaviour. Open a full-service supermarket in a food desert and shoppers tend to buy the same artery-clogging junk food as before—they just pay less for it. The unpalatable truth seems to be that some Americans simply do not care to eat a balanced diet, while others, increasingly, cannot afford to. Over the last four years, the price of the healthiest foods has increased at around twice the rate of energy-dense junk food"

Convicted: Two get death sentence in blasphemy case - "According to the prosecution, Riaz Ahmed, 34, and Ijaz Ahmed, 38, residents of Haroonabad, devotees of Chaman Sarkar in Gujrat district, had claimed in 2011 that they had seen God... Judge Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal also fined the convicts Rs100,000 each."
Ahh, Pakistan!

'Memories' pass between generations - "A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren""

Don't Buy A DSLR - "Photokina 2012, going on this week, might be the moment when the DSLR loses its ascendancy among aspiring amateurs. Two years ago, DSLR was the obvious best option. Alternatives (which I'll get into) were in their infancy, still too expensive and too limited to really recommend, and entry-level DSLRs were starting to get really good, so if you wanted to jump into photography, you bought a DSLR. That's what everyone's always said (well, "always" meaning in the digital age). Want to get into photography? DSLR. But that's no longer true. DSLRs have serious weaknesses for the entry-level photographer, and suddenly there are options without those weaknesses."

Japanese Company is looking for 300 Black People ONLY …WTF!!! | Loco in Yokohama
Presumably the writer has never heard of medical trials which are sometimes also segregated by race

Dating Study: Women Are Choosier Than Men - "In the study, participants were asked before the session to fill out a questionnaire about what they were looking for in a mate, listing such categories as wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, healthiness and attractiveness. After the session, the researchers compared what the participants said they were looking for with the people they actually chose to ask for another date. Men's choices did not reflect their stated preferences, the researchers concluded. Instead, men appeared to base their decisions mostly on the women's physical attractiveness. The men also appeared to be much less choosy. Men tended to select nearly every woman above a certain minimum attractiveness threshold, Todd said. Women's actual choices, like men's, did not reflect their stated preferences, but they made more discriminating choices, the researchers found. The scientists said women were aware of the importance of their own attractiveness to men, and adjusted their expectations to select the more desirable guys. "Women made offers to men who had overall qualities that were on a par with the women's self-rated attractiveness. They didn't greatly overshoot their attractiveness," Todd said, "because part of the goal for women is to choose men who would stay with them" But, he added, "they didn't go lower. They knew what they could get and aimed for that level." So, it turns out, the women's attractiveness influenced the choices of the men and the women."

Women Seek Less-Dominant Dates in Recession - "When thinking about the economic recession, women exhibit less interest in alpha males in favor of guys who call themselves "natural followers," a new study suggests. The results are surprising because they fly in the face of what evolutionary psychologists expect from women's mate choices. According to evolutionary theory, women will seek men who provide resources and protection. The new study found that women do still prefer high earners for long-term partnerships and marriage, but that for the short term they seem less concerned about snagging a macho man during a recession... Men with the highest earning potential were judged as the best husband material — somewhat surprising, Julal told LiveScience, as all of the volunteers were university students whose own potential earning power was high. "Compared to other historical periods, women are in a better position to support themselves independently, financially. For this reason, partner's earning potential may be less important," Julal said."Our findings suggest that when modern women think of marriage, the men who are most appealing are those who have high earnings. Things don't seem to have changed.""
I don't see why this is a problem for the paradigm. Recession = more danger = less fooling around (which could endanger one's primary relationship/chances of getting a primary relationship with a better provider)

Human mating: A buyers' market | The Economist - "WOMEN often complain that dating is like a cattle market, and a paper just published in Biology Letters by Thomas Pollet and Daniel Nettle of Newcastle University, in England, suggests they are right. They have little cause for complaint, however, because the paper also suggests that in this particular market, it is women who are the buyers... They have examined data from the 1910 census of the United States of America and discovered that marriage is, indeed, a market. Moreover, as in any market, a scarcity of buyers means the sellers have to have particularly attractive goods on offer if they are to make the exchange... in states where the sexes were equal in number, 56% of low status men were married by the age of 30, while 60% of high status men were. Even in this case, then, there are women who would prefer to remain single rather than marry a deadbeat. When there were 110 men for every 100 women (as, for example, in Arizona), the women got really choosy. In that case only 24% of low-status men were married by 30 compared with 46% of high-status men. As the men went west, then, so did their marriage opportunities."

The economic value of skills: Skills that pay the bills | The Economist - "'[R]eturns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.' The analysis shows, for example, that a 25% point increase in union density (the difference, say, between Belgium and the United Kingdom) leads to a 3.5% point lower wage increase for each one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills. But free-market types should not gloat. Pretty much unexplored in the paper is the question of whether high returns-to-skills are a good thing. Highly skilled people might simply be extracting “rents”—economists’ shorthand for earning more than they would need to continue doing what they are doing"

Why do many Asian women who write about Asian identity end up marrying or dating white men?

Why do many Asian women who write about Asian identity end up marrying or dating white men? - Quora

Details: "Some examples:

Shauna Singh Baldwin (What the Body Remembers)
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (When the Rainbow Goddess Wept)
Lan Cao (Monkey Bridge)
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (Dictee)
Susan Choi (The Foreign Student)
Amy Chua (Battle Hmn of the Tiger Mother)
Shing Yin Khor (What Would Yellow Ranger Do?: A Cartoonish Tale)
Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior)
Jean Kwok (Girl in Translation)
Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion)
Nami Mun (Miles from Nowhere)
Fae Myenne Ng (Bone - her ex-husband was Mark Coovelis)
Ruth Ozeki (My Year of Meats)
Linda Sue Park (Seesaw Girl)
Aimee Phan (We Should Never Meet)
Wena Poon (Lions in Winter)
Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club)
Lois-Ann Yamanaka (Blu's Hanging)
Jhumpa Lahiri(The Namesake)

One would imagine that given how important Asian identity/heritage/culture is to them, they would be reinforcing it in their personal lives."

"Asian Americans are much more American than Asian, and American identity is, in essence, white. It means that Asian Americans grow up with white standards of attractiveness and white stereotypes of people that look like them. It is extraordinarily difficult to break free from the influences of your own background, even if you fight those influences every day, and for something as instinctive as choosing a partner, I think this is even more true."

"Politically-correct answer: People don't marry their spouses to make a political statement. People love who they love, and race doesn't matter.
Unpleasant-but-cuts-closer-to-home answer: Because people are hypocrites."

"My heavy suspicion is these people are externalizing some inner conflict within themselves in their work. Usually, the more vocal, fixed, and angry an opinion the larger the wound. In the same way, Asian men who rail against Asian women dating White men, are really dealing with their own pain. So deep inside is some ambivalence."

"studying Asian identity is what enabled these women to consider marrying someone non-Asian. Because when you understand your heritage and identity, it becomes internalized -- part of you. So you don't need "more of the same" to reinforce those cultural touchstones."

"I think it's because of the tendency of Asian-Americans who write about Asian identity to have spent much of their formative years in areas without many other Asian people, which makes them more cognizant of their identities as "different" to make them want to write about them in the first place."

"Chinese people living in China don't feel very Asian, because everybody around them is Asian. People in Norway don't feel white privilege because almost everybody is white. The women who write about Asian identity are qualified to write about the topic because of their experiences as Asians in a predominantly non-Asian environment."

"The number of White guys making their way to parts of Asia for Asian brides or just Asian sex Is such that when I was once in Germany and going on to Thailand I was asked a lot of questions that made it clear that as an older White male traveling alone to Asia I was presumed to be going for more than just business. (They handed me a brochure on safe sex too.)"

"Some of the women on that list are somewhat feminist and may be reacting to the paternalistic culture they have left behind. They are already outside of the culture looking back in. And while their books may celebrate their mothers or grandmothers, many of those ancestors may have suffered under the hands of men. As a result I think they are both drawn to and torn from their culture. They are outsiders to it in a way and are loving and critical at the same time."

"how many [Asian] guys want to marry an Asian feminist author? Can they deal with all that?"

"no matter how many Chinese vocab words I memorized, or how much I strove to perfect my Asian sense of fashion, I never found an Asian or Asian-American guy with a sense of humor that fit mine, whose personality also challenged me and added spice and warmth to my life.
Whatever the reason, I'm going to dare to speak for my "genre" of people and venture to say that Asian-American women often come to have dynamic personalities that plain out outspunk those of Asian-American guys, and we naturally go looking for that spark elsewhere"

"Both living with it and writing about it all the time would get boring and dilute your energy for the subject. One and not the other is a stimulating contrast."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Links - 21st January 2014

Pro-Trayvon Martin protester: You need to 'check your white privilege’ daiily' - ""I want to say something to you white people. It is not enough to feel bad, it’s not enough to not be a bigot. Because if you are not actively dismantling white supremacy and checking your privilege every single day and thinking about racism the way that our young black men in our community have to think about it, you are not doing it right"... On Nov. 6, 2012, following word of the re-election of Barack Obama as president, a number of people of color took to Twitter to celebrate their candidate’s victory by tweeting “F**k white people.”"

The Dead End of "Disparate Impact" - ""The purpose of the rule, according to the Court, is not to enact affirmative-action or group quotas for employment, but simply to eliminate arbitrary disadvantages suffered by minority job-seekers. Despite this assertion, the development of the Griggs doctrine has proved anything but friendly to meritocratic objectives. Although the Supreme Court has never held that all workplaces must be racially balanced, lower courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is charged with administering Title VII, have firmly embraced the presumption that the racial profiles of particular workplaces should reflect the racial composition of the broader population... The unfortunate reality is that there today exist pronounced differences in worker qualifications by race. That pattern is rooted in historical and social circumstances that may well call for policy reforms and other remedies. But the Court's disparate-impact doctrine does nothing to change those circumstances or to bring about such reforms; indeed, it stands only to further disadvantage minority groups by setting their members up to underperform and by draining attention and resources away from the true causes of minority under-representation. Moreover, by burdening employers with an arcane tangle of perverse requirements — and by making it virtually impossible for companies to match the most qualified candidates to available jobs — the disparate-impact rule clearly does more harm than good... A strong consensus has emerged, based on hundreds of studies performed over decades, that general cognitive ability — known alternatively as IQ or g — is the best predictor of work performance for all types of positions, from least to most skilled... The process of demonstrating a link between hiring criteria and subsequent work outcomes is known in IOP as "validation." And the measured validity of g is in the range of approximately 0.5 to 0.6 (on a scale that runs from -1 for a total negative correlation to 1 for a complete positive correlation), which represents a relatively powerful social-scientific prediction... These observations spell trouble for employers' ability to maximize work-force productivity while meeting legal expectations for diversity... The screening devices with the strongest or most "valid" links to job success will tend to generate the least diverse work forces. This reality is well understood by industrial psychologists, who even have a name for it: the diversity-validity tradeoff... it is safe to say that cognitive ability better predicts on-the-job performance than does any personality trait or talent that IOP experts have yet identified. Conscientiousness — the personality trait with the strongest documented link to job success — shows a correlation with job performance in the range of about 0.2 to 0.4, in contrast with the significantly higher correlation of 0.5 or more for IQ. Contrary to the Supreme Court's assumption in Griggs, the comparative power of IQ extends even to relatively uncomplicated positions requiring modest skills, such as clerical or retail work. What this means is that hiring on the basis of intelligence — as opposed to other, non-cognitive personal attributes or talents — will almost always produce better-performing workers... An entire cottage industry is now devoted to refining personnel selection with the goal of increasing work-force diversity without compromising an employer's search for the most able employees... without significant changes in the distribution of human capital — which is where our attention should really be focused — the law will accomplish very little... The law was never intended to correct underlying disparities in human skill and capital, which employers are not in a position to address. It was instead premised on the implicit assumption that such race-based disparities do not exist. But that assumption was mistaken; these disparities are a fact of life. To make them disappear through hiring practices is to require affirmative action. And if affirmative action is the objective, it should be enacted explicitly and directly — not accomplished through subterfuge using a legal device that was never intended for that purpose... Ironically, the dissenting Supreme Court justices who voted to invalidate the firefighters' exam in Ricci v. DeStefano routinely hire law clerks with perfect grades, top class ranks, and law-review board positions. The racially disparate effects of those formidable hurdles are accepted without question"

'Tan tax' discussions include allegations of reverse racism - "The case can seem deceptively simple: Since patrons of tanning salons are almost exclusively white, the tax will be almost entirely paid by white people and, therefore, violates their constitutional right to equal protection under the law... courts have upheld a raft of other laws that also happen to have a disproportionate impact on particular gro/i>ups. For example, laws that impose higher penalties for possession or trafficking of crack cocaine as opposed to powder cocaine resulted in far harsher sentences for African Americans compared to whites. And laws that offer preferential treatment for veterans are much more likely to benefit men than women. But in both cases judges ruled that, because lawmakers did not intend to disadvantage black people or women when drafting those laws, they are legal"
Disparate impact!

capricornicis: mothernatureisamisogynist: ... - "The blurred lines thing everybody is arguing about isn’t about consent cause clearly she is initiating stuff with him and he’s giving her the go ahead. Any logical person could see that the blurred lines being spoken of is between her wanting him and wanting to stay faithful and not give in to her desires. Which she shouldn’t since she’s in a relationship and the singer is a scumbag for this... Even the rhyming is horrible hug me and implied fuck me don’t rhyme. You guys made this popular. I hope you’re happy... Nothing in this song is about rape. It’s a song about a guy trying to get a woman to cheat on her boyfriend with him, bragging about how big his dick is and how good at sex he is. You’re ability to misinterpret basic lyrics have caused a shitty song with stupid repetitive lyrics and idiotic rhymes to become far more popular than it ever would have been. And now you are attempting to interrupt a man’s career under false pretense...
Fuck look at this lyric from Rick Ross in the song “U.O.E.N.O.”
“You dont even know it
put molly all in her champagne, She dont even know it
I took her home and I enjoy that, She aint even know it”
This is literally a verse about about putting Molly (a drug) in a girls drink and raping her without her knowledge or consent. It’s there clear as day, but no it’s Blurred Lines that is getting all these reblogs and Robin Thicke who gets all the hate. It pisses me off cause there is a lot of shit out there that needs to be called out but because of tumblr’s herd mentality, all it takes is one asshole to misinterpret something and a snowball turns into an avalanche of righteous energy that ends up being aimed at the wrong target."

PLOS ONE: Group Membership Affects Spontaneous Mental Representation: Failure to Represent the Out-Group in a Joint Action Task - "Group membership has well-documented and striking effects on human social behaviour. From the quotidian to the more rare, the range of effects of group membership on behaviour is vast... In experimental settings, even membership in artificially formed groups of strangers based on arbitrary categories can have a profound impact on behaviour. In a classic study, Tajfel and colleagues experimentally formed such ‘minimal’ groups based on an arbitrary and randomly assigned criterion (supposed ability to estimate the numbers of dots presented on a screen) and showed that participants preferentially rewarded members of their own group and punished members of the ‘out-group’. Although these minimal groups were in fact formed randomly, participants’ rewarding and punishing behaviour was nevertheless significantly affected by the perceived group membership of others. In a more socially relevant setting, people were more likely to help an injured in-group member in need of physical assistance while ignoring out-group members in the same state
People naturally discriminate against members of other groups - racism, sexism, homophobia etc are just specific cases of in-group/out-group bias

THE CONTENT OF OUR CATEGORIES: A COGNITIVE BIAS APPROACH TO DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - "She suggests that a large number of biased employment decisions result not from discriminatory motivation, as current legal models presume, but from a variety of unintentional categorization- related judgment errors characterizing normal human cognitive functioning. Because of the lack of fit between the present disparate treatment model and the phenomenon it purports to represent, courts and litigants are presented with a confusing array of increasingly ill-defined and questionably premised analytical paradigms. Worse, as currently constructed, it may be exacerbating intergroup tensions and inflating both social and financial adjudication costs"

Social categorization and intergroup behaviour - Tajfel - 2006 - European Journal of Social Psychology - Wiley Online Library - "In the first series of experiments, it was found that the subjects favoured their own group in the distribution of real rewards and penalities in a situation in which nothing but the variable of fairly irrelevant classification distinguished between the ingroup and the outgroup. In the second series of experiments it was found that: 1) maximum joint profit independent of group membership did not affect significantly the manner in which the subjects divided real pecuniary rewards; 2) maximum profit for own group did affect the distribution of rewards; 3) the clearest effect on the distribution of rewards was due to the subjects' attempt to achieve a maximum difference between the ingroup and the outgroup even at the price of sacrificing other ‘objective’ advantages."

Timofei Gerber's answer to Philosophy: What does the quote "we have art in order not to die of the truth" by Friedrich Nietzsche mean? - Quora - "The ugly truth is that we come from nothing and we return to nothing after death. Nobody chooses to be born (that's out of reach), but once you are, you cannot choose not to die (that's out of reach, too). Never having been born would release us of the tragedy of dying - and hence it's the best alternative. The second best alternative is to die soon, so one does not have to endure the painful realisation of having to return to nothingness. "But what about life? Isn't life beautiful?" You will say. And that's the point. Nietzsche ascribes that realisation to the Greeks, who, he said, invented the Gods of the Olympus to aestheticise the world. To cover the ugly truth with a blanket of beauty. The existence of the Gods, their intrigues, fights, this whole 'theater of divinity' makes human existence more meaningful. Making life beautiful to compensate for the ugliness of death. A fascinating wager."

Summers Vindicated (again) - "For the past week or so the newspapers have been trumpeting a new study showing no difference in average math ability between males and females. Few people who have looked at the data thought that there were big differences in average ability but many media reports also said that the study showed no differences in high ability... All of these reports and many more like them are false. In fact, consistent with many earlier studies (JSTOR), what this study found was that the ratio of male to female variance in ability was positive and significant, in other words we can expect that there will be more math geniuses and more dullards, among males than among females... even by the authors' calculations you would expect twice as many men as women in engineering PhD programs due to math-ability differences alone (compare with the media reports above). But what the author's don't tell you is that the gender ratio will get larger the higher the percentile. Larry Summers in his infamous talk, was explicit about this point... As Summers also pointed out it takes more than ability to become a professor at Harvard and if there are variance differences in characteristics other than ability (and there are) we can easily get a even larger expected gender ratio... perhaps alone among the media, Keith Winstein at the WSJ reported the story correctly."

Another Fabrication About The PAP

""An area of obvious interest to the public" and he had been asked about it several times.

"One thing is certain," he said. "Because the Government will be paying for the construction of the MRT stations and lines, fares on our MRT will be lower than fares on MRTs in countries where commuters have to repay the capital cost and financing of the construction of their systems."

He pledged that the private company which will be set up to operate the MRT will not be allowed to profit at the expense of the public.

The principle for setting fares was clear. Fares will be kept as low as possible, consisted with collecting enough revenue to meet the running costs of the MRT, replace parts and equipment regularly and provide company shareholders a reasonable return.

- Transport Minister Yeo Ning Hong, The Straits Times, 9 July 1986"

To take just one of many problematic aspects of this pledge 28 years later, let us consider the concept of a "reasonable return".

What is "a reasonable return"?

Let us take the example of OCBC, one of the STI companies.

OCBC's (a private BANK - which presumably is the most profit hungry industry) dividend from 2008 to 2012 ranged from 14-17 cents per share.

Adjusting for share price ($0.50 of dividend on a $1 stock is fantastic. On a $100 stock, not so), we get 1.7% to 2.1% dividend each year.

In the same period, SMRT's dividend per share ranged from 7.45 to 8.5 cents a share.

Adjusting for share prices (from the annual reports), we get 4.2% to 5.1% dividend each year.

Let's also look at Thai Beverage, a relative newcomer to the STI. From their 2012 annual report, their dividend per share in 2012 was 0.42 Baht per share. Using current exchange rates that's S$0.016 and they don't seem to have an average stock price per year. Taking the simple average of high and low stock prices, I get 0.05% dividend per $ of share price.

SMRT seems to be giving much better dividends than other companies. I think I should invest in it since other companies give "unreasonable" dividends.

Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
per Share
per $ of Share Price
1.9% 2.1% 1.7% 1.7% 1.9%
Year   2009 2010 2011 2012
per Share
per $ of Share Price
  5.1% 4.2% 4.5% 4.3%
Thai Beverage
Year         2012
per Share
per $ of Share Price

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What is patriotism but love of the good things we ate in our childhood?

"What is patriotism but love of the good things we ate in our childhood? I have said elsewhere that the loyalty to Uncle Sam is the loyalty to doughnuts and ham and sweet potatoes and the loyalty to the German Vaterland is the loyalty to Pfannkuchen and Christmas Stollen. As for international understanding, I feel that macaroni has done more for our appreciation of Italy than Mussolini... in food, as in death, we feel the essential brotherhood of mankind...

The Chinese have no prudery about food, or about eating it with gusto. When a Chinese drinks a mouthful of good soup, he gives a hearty smack. Of course, that would be bad table manners in the West. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that Western table manners, compelling us to sip our soup noiselessly and eat our food quietly with the least expression of enjoyment, are the true reason for the arrested development of the art of cuisine. Why do the Westerners talk so softly and look so miserable and decent and respectable at their meals.? Most Americans haven't got the good sense to take a chicken drumstick in their hand and chew it clean, but continue to pretend to play at it with a knife and fork, feeling utterly miserable and afraid to say a thing about it. This is criminal when the chicken is really good. As for the so-called table manners, I feel sure that the child gets his first initiation into the sorrows of this life when his mother forbids him to smack his lips. Such is human psychology that if we don't express our joy, we soon cease to feel it even, and then follow dyspepsia, melancholia, neurasthenia and all the mental ailments peculiar to the adult life. One ought to imitate the French and sigh an "Ah!" when the waiter brings a good veal cutlet, and makes a sheer animal grunt like "Ummm!" after tasting the first mouthful. What shame is there in enjoying one's food, what shame in having a normal, healthy appetite? No, the Chinese are different. They have bad table manners, but great enjoyment of a feast.

In fact, I believe the reason why the Chinese failed to develop botany and zoology is that, the Chinese scholar cannot stare coldly and unemotionally at a fish without immediately thinking of how it tastes in the mouth and wanting to eat it. The reason I don't trust Chinese surgeons is that I am afraid that when a Chinese surgeon cuts up my liver in search of a gall-stone, he may forget about the stone and put my liver in a frying pan. For I see a Chinese cannot look at a porcupine without immediately thinking of ways and means of cooking and eating its flesh without being poisoned. Not to be poisoned is for the Chinese the only practical, important aspect of it. The taste of the porcupine meat is supremely important, if it should add one more flavor known to our palate. The bristles of the porcupine don't interest us. How they arose, what is their func- tion and how they are connected with the porcupine's skin and endowed with the power of sticking up at the sight of an enemy are questions that seem to the Chinese eminently idle...

Food, then, is one of the very few soUd joys of human life. It is a happy fact that this instinct of hunger is less hedged about with taboos and a social code than the other instinct of sex, and that generally speaking, no question of morality arises in connection with food. There is much less prudery about food than there is about sex. It is a happy condition of affairs that philosophers, poets, merchants and artists can join together at a dinner, and without a blush perform the function of feeding themselves in open public"

--- The Importance of Living / Lin Yutang
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