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Friday, February 13, 2015

Links - 13th February 2015

Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite

Prosecuting bankers: Blind justice | The Economist - "Yet imposing stricter standards of liability has costs. It would overturn a tradition in English and American law in which courts avoid second-guessing business decisions that are honestly made but wrong. Heinrich Honsell, a law professor, sees the use of Untreue recently in commercial cases as a disturbing phenomenon. “It’s not right to criminalise negligent mistakes,” he says. “Very soon judges will be telling us how to manage risk.” Opponents of the idea of a law against reckless management warn that the effect would be to discourage risk-taking of any sort."

Identity politics: Called up | The Economist - "Oliver Leistert, an expert in the politics of mobiles at the Central European University in Budapest, says the schemes are often a thinly disguised form of social control. In countries that lack proper privacy laws, security agencies can on a whim track locations, or scan calls and text messages for key words suggesting dissent... Pat Walshe, director of privacy at the GSMA, an industry club, says that little evidence exists of a link between registration and a drop in crime, but enforced logging will create a black market. Mr Donovan notes that someone determined to detonate a bomb or commit fraud can always use a phone obtained abroad."

Chinese Way of Doing Business - In Cash We Trust - NYTimes.com - "For all China’s modern trappings — the new superhighways, high-speed rail networks and soaring skyscrapers — analysts say this country still prefers to pay for things the old-fashioned way, with ledgers, bill-counting machines and cold, hard cash. Many experts say it is not a refusal to enter the 21st century as much as wariness, of the government toward its citizens and vice versa... All the buying, bribing and hoarding forces China to print a lot of paper money. China, which a millennium ago was the first government to print paper money, accounts for about 40 percent of all global paper currency output... Perhaps those paper bills should come with a warning about storage practices. Last month, a migrant worker in Shanghai discovered that mice had chewed into tiny pieces the $1,200 his wife stored in a closet"

5-year-old Kentucky boy fatally shoots 2-year-old sister - "A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot and kill his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday... The Crickett website features three .22-caliber rifle models for kids, with shoulder stock colors ranging from pink to red, white and blue swirls. "My first rifle" is the company's slogan."

Ant Appreciation Dinner (image)

Court orders Indian government to release Greenpeace funds - "A judge ruled Tuesday that the Indian government’s decision to block Greenpeace from receiving foreign funding was unconstitutional in what the environmental group described as a “victory for democracy”... Senior Indian officials have accused the group of undermining the nation's economic security with its pressure campaigns against coal energy projects... officials with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party have repeatedly accused nongovernmental groups of promoting “foreign agendas” contrary to India’s national interests. “The court’s words today were very strong,” said Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India. “Just because we have a different point of view doesn’t mean we are enemies. In a vibrant democracy, which India is, civil society has an important role to play and should be seen as partners, not adversaries.”"

Who ordered the attack against Charlie Hebdo?, by Thierry Meyssan - "We do not know who sponsored this professional operation against Charlie Hebdo, but we should not allow ourselves to be swept up. We should consider all assumptions and admit that at this stage, its most likely purpose is to divide us; and its sponsors are most likely in Washington."

Airport cabbies retaliate against Japanese passengers - "A group of taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi airport has responded to a Japanese businessman’s online complaint about an overcharging cabbie by refusing to take any Japanese passenger. It didn't take long for a picture of a sign to appear on Facebook and Twitter, where it quickly went viral, three days after the Japanese man's Facebook post also did. Using the pseudonym "Koki Aki," the Japanese educational volunteer and internet toy-business owner on Sunday posted a scathing review of what he saw as Suvarnabhumi's many customer-service failings, particularly its taxi service. He said a driver of a sports-utility vehicle taxi tried to charge him 700 baht - double the normal rate - to take him to Bangkok's Saphan Khwai area without using the meter. Although Koki never filed a formal complaint, officials quickly banned driver Chaiyan Charoensopha from working at the airport, which apparently didn't' go over well with his fellow drivers."
So Bangkok taxi drivers think that it's their right to overcharge foreigners, and nationalities who complain should be boycotted. I love Asia - full of swindlers and cheats

Response to “Let’s Discuss ‘NU Microaggressions’” | Purp Magazine - ""Have you ever been to Europe?" (uh, no. i'm poor.)"
Comments: "I bet I can find a so-called possible microaggression every initial conversation between two people.
“Oh I like art too!”
“Have you seen this exhibit?”
“No” (taking offence because this person works two jobs and simply does not have the time/money to spend at the art gallery."
"is it not more microaggressive to assume someone is poor and not ask them about travel altogether? If you commit a microaggression, and no one’s around to hear it, did it truly happen"
"As there’s talk of systems and institutions, let’s not forget that people are people and would prefer kindness, understanding, sympathy, and inclusion. I’m done with the cycle of anger and resentment and hatred. We don’t obtain meaningful change by using a different ideology while still adopting the same negativity. We have to create that change by learning to empathize with those we arrogantly deem ignorant, uneducated, and unaware. Let’s not turn friends and neighbors into a giant conglomerate of evil, into sub-human agents of some massive system to retain or gain supreme rule…

Should Paid 'Menstrual Leave' Be a Thing? - "Do these policies simply further the notion that women are weak, hormonally-addled creatures controlled by their uteri? Or do they encourage more equality by accommodating female workers’ biological demands, much as maternity leave does? The issue turns out to be surprisingly complicated, with complex historical roots and supporters on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide."

FGM and male circumcision: should there be a separate ethical discourse? | Practical Ethics - "such “cosmetic enhancement” surgeries in ‘Western’ countries are typically carried out under conditions of informed consent (a point to which I will return, as I think the moral analysis turns on this factor), although there is an alarming trend among some teenage girls in these countries — some as young as 13 or 14 — of having their labia reduced (or undergoing other forms of “designer vagina” surgery), apparently with the permission of their parents. Global health agencies such as the WHO, however, have been strangely silent on this issue, preferring instead to focus their FGM-eradication efforts almost entirely on the continent of Africa... in some countries, including in the United States, anyone, with any instrument, and any degree of medical training (including none) can attempt to perform a circumcision on a non-consenting child—sometimes with disastrous consequences. As Davis notes, “States currently regulate the hygienic practices of those who cut our hair and our fingernails … so why not a baby’s genitals?”... in 2011, nearly a dozen boys were treated for “life threatening haemorrhage, shock or sepsis” as a result of their non-therapeutic circumcisions at a single children’s hospital in Birmingham in England... 'The attitude that male circumcision is harmless [happens to be] consistent with Western cultural values and practices, while any such procedures performed on girls is totally alien to Western cultural values. [However] the fact of the matter is that what’s done to some girls [in some cultures] is worse than what’s done to some boys, and what’s done to some boys [in some cultures] is worse than what’s done to some girls. By collapsing all of the many different types of procedures performed into a single set for each sex, categories are created that do not accurately describe any situation that actually occurs anywhere in the world'... Defenders of FGC—including some medical professionals in countries where FGC is culturally normative—regularly cite such “health benefits” as improved genital hygiene as a reason to continue the practice, and at least one study has shown a link between FGC and reduced transmission of HIV!... in cultures where forms of FGC (and MGC) are culturally normative, many women regard the cutting as part of their cultural heritage and vigorously defend against the efforts of Western agencies, and sometimes the men in their own societies (see also here), who seek to wipe it out. Such a realization has led to the emergence of a counter-discourse among some Western feminists, who regard anti-FGC campaigns as a form of cultural imperialism. On this sort of view, the fight against FGC is inextricably bound up with a broader colonial and neo-colonial project of “white people saving brown women from brown men” (as well as from themselves)... in a survey of 3,805 Sudanese women, of whom 89% had experienced FGC, 96% said they would do it to their daughters and 90% favored the continuation of the practice generally... According to a recent review published by the reputable Hastings Center, “Research by gynecologists and others has demonstrated that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery [including excision] have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced.” Indeed, in one study, up to 86% of women who had undergone even “extreme” forms of FGC reported the ability to orgasm, and “the majority of the interviewed women (90.51%) reported that sex gives them pleasure.”"
Related to the above

Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias | New York Post - "in a poll in which Swedes were asked to describe themselves, the adjectives that led the pack were “envious, stiff, industrious, nature-loving, quiet, honest, dishonest and xenophobic.” In last place were these words: “masculine,” “sexy” and “artistic.” Scandinavia, as a wag in The Economist once put it, is a great place to be born — but only if you are average"

Dulwich picture gallery challenges art lovers to spot the fake - "A £120 replica of a priceless painting, commissioned online from a Chinese studio which churns out masterpieces from any period and style, will be hung in the genuine frame alongside the gallery’s collection of dazzling Old Master paintings this spring. The public and art experts will then be invited to spot the fake."

Epic Pinker Takedown

Response to the Book Review Symposium: Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature
Steven Pinker
Harvard University, USA

They say that ideology is like breath: you never smell your own. And so I was not surprised to see my book The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity described as ‘ideological’ by reviewers who strike me as black pots in glass houses casting the first stone. By the same token, it is not easy for an author to defend himself against such an accusation: ‘I am not ideological’ is bound to sound as convincing as ‘I am not a crook’ and ‘I did not have sex with that woman.’

But I will take my chances. The arguments in The Better Angels of Our Nature are in fact not ideological. They are empirical, though the facts on which those arguments are based are bound to gore some oxen of the hard left, critical theory, and various forms of post-X-ism (together with certain livestock of the hard right, libertarianism, and anarchism).

As I note in the preface, and as the paper and internet trails of my writing confirm, Better Angels was inspired by my coming across diverse datasets showing historical declines in violence. The existence of these declines (such as homicide since the Middle Ages, corporal and capital punishment since the 18th century, great-power wars since 1945, and autocracies since the 1980s) are well accepted by the scholarly communities who study them, but they surprised me at the time, continue to surprise most readers, and are adamantly denied by those who are unfamiliar with the relevant literatures.

Also, the ideology that has been pinned on me in the past (not least by one of the reviewers) is hardly one that people associate with a progressive view of the human condition. As an advocate of evolutionary psychology, I am supposed to believe in evolutionary selfishness, genes for aggression, demonic males, the territorial imperative, adaptations for rape, and other original sins that allegedly rule out hopes for reform and justify a reactionary fatalism.

It is true, as the reviewers note, that I point out some good things about modern liberal democracies, particularly that they have relatively low rates of several categories of violence such as war, homicide, and aggression against women, children, and gay people. But I will go out on a limb and submit that this is not an ideological dogma but a defensible factual claim. That is, I believe the evidence suggests that countries like Canada, Denmark, and New Zealand are less violent, and more conducive to several other measures of human flourishing, than various alternatives such as Maoist China, Fascist Europe, the Soviet Union, Islamic theocracies, Iron-age empires, African strongman states, medieval knightly fiefdoms, and tribal societies that valorize manly honor and blood revenge. If that banal observation is ‘ideological’, the term has lost all meaning.

I am prepared to risk a second defensive assertion. Whatever Better Angels may be, it is not ‘simplistic’ or ‘reductionist’. This 800-page book uses one hundred graphs and twelve hundred references to document six historical trends, five psychological sources of violence, four psychological sources of nonviolence, and five historical forces in which social, cultural, and institutional changes interact with the psychology. Any scholar who wishes to engage with it is going to have to work harder than slinging around these knee-jerk epithets.

Let me turn to the individual reviews. Larry Ray’s is the most generous, for which I am grateful, but many of his criticisms are inaccurate. He quotes me as claiming that rape is ‘instinctual sexual desire’, words that appear nowhere in the book, and faults me for not attributing rape to ‘an expression of patriarchal power’. In fact the book examines and refutes that politically correct dogma, which preposterously implies either that men do not want sex or that sex is the one thing men want that no man ever tries to seize by force. He claims that I fail to cite Bruce Knauft’s supposed finding that violence is ‘low in many pre-state societies but [rises] periodically’. In fact I cite Knauft extensively, including the article in which he notes that ‘the [New Guinea] Gebusi rate of killing during 1940–82 is 40 times the current U.S. rate of lethal violence’ and ‘only the most extreme instances of modern mass slaughter would equal or surpass the Gebusi homicide rate over a period of several decades’ (p. 463). Ray writes that my ‘reading of Biblical accounts of extreme violence is surprisingly literal rather than allegorical’, but the ‘surprisingly literal’ misreading is his. I cap off that discussion by writing ‘The good news, of course, is that most of it never happened’ (p. 10); the topic of the discussion was cultural attitudes, not historical events. Ray correctly notes that the statistic that 0.7 percent of the world’s population died in wars pertains only to direct battle-related deaths, but he fails to note the relevant continuation: ‘Even if we tripled or quadrupled the estimate to include indirect deaths from war-caused famine and disease, it would barely narrow the gap between state and nonstate societies’ (p. 50). And to his astonishing claim that ‘Pinker does not develop a theory of violence, nor examine the nature of violence in different contexts’, I can only reply: read the book again.

Ray notes that I do not engage with writers such as ‘Bauman, Collins, Foucault, Maleševic, Scheff, and Scheper-Hughes, to name a few’. Yes, and he could have named many more. This would count as criticism if he could identify some point that any of these writers made that explained the phenomena I address or undermined any of my analyses. But Better Angels is a book about violence, not about professors, and I do not subscribe to the style of scholarship that fetishizes a few hallowed theoreticians rather than seeking to explain things with the best intellectual tools available.

In his review, John Lea notes that ‘the facts are in his [i.e. my] favor’. I can assure him, though, that most people did not ‘know that already’. The claims in Better Angels are commonly met with incredulity and furious denial.

Together with Hilary Rose, Lea correctly observes that I restrict the term ‘violence’ to violence. I do not extend it metaphorically to other deplorable conditions that some theorists tendentiously call ‘structural’ or ‘slow’ violence, such as disease, poverty, inequality, or pollution. Not everything that is unpleasant in life is the result of deliberate malevolence or exploitation. Just as a book on cancer need not have a chapter on metaphorical cancer (the coarsening of popular entertainment, the decline of civility in politics, and so on), a coherent book on violence cannot lump together slave auctions and death camps with uneven economic development and the spread of AIDS as if they were a single phenomenon. To equate them all as different forms of ‘violence’ is to get carried away with words and to confuse moralizing and politicized theorizing with understanding. Physical violence is a big enough topic for one book, and even if the only thing that changed over the course of history was that physical violence decreased, that would be an important phenomenon to document and explain. As it happens, violence is not the only unpleasant thing that has changed: disease, poverty, illiteracy, premature death, and other scourges of the human condition have decreased as well, but documenting and explaining those developments would require another book (such as Charles Kenny’s (2011) Getting Better).

Like Ray, Lea faults me for not taking Foucault seriously, but the omission was deliberate. Notwithstanding his guruhood in certain sectors of the academy, Foucault is not the only scholar to have noticed that European states eliminated gruesome punishments, and his own theory strikes me as eccentric and poorly argued. See JG Merquior’s (1985) essay ‘Charting carceral society’ in his book Foucault for a lucid deconstruction. As for the theoretician who inspired Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the North Korean Kims, Marx is obviously a key figure in the history of violence as one of its causes, but I consider it a pathology of certain sectors of academia that he is still taken seriously as one of its explainers.

Lea’s ideological attribution of ideology to Better Angels is based on my failure to genuflect to ‘critical theory’, and so he considers it a valid criticism that I present studies which do not sit well with its doctrines. The sources in Better Angels show that democracies on average fight fewer wars than autocracies (notwithstanding the wars fought by the United States, which is far from a typical democracy), that policing policies matter to swings in crime rates whereas relative deprivation does not, and that there is no sign that post-Cold War stability is being undermined by resource conflicts fueled by western states and transnational corporations. Lea may be right that ‘many’ believe it is, but the fact that many people believe something has nothing to do with whether it is correct.

What Lea and Rose correctly sense is that Better Angels does not subscribe to a demonological theory of history with the West and its corporations as Great Satan. It is only through the lens of that demonology that my attempt to take a disinterested stance appears to them as an agenda of celebrating the West. In fact the acts of violence perpetrated by western states and empires are on full display. Imperial and colonial wars and genocides are featured prominently in the book’s graphs and lists of atrocities, and they are discussed in at least 25 places in the text. Slavery, the slave trade, lynching, religious wars and persecutions, and violence against women are also discussed (as are comparable practices in non-western civilizations).

It is true that I give credit to certain violence-reducing ideas and institutions that largely originated in the West, including human rights, liberal democracy, abolitionism, secular humanism, feminism, peacekeeping, and gay rights (together with some that did not come out of the West, such as reconciliation programs and nonviolent resistance). A major theme of Better Angels is that with increasing cosmopolitanism and technologies of information exchange, the world has aggregated violence-reducing ideas from many sources, just as it has done so with technological advances. But the prosecutorial mindset of certain leftist ideologies is discomfited by the fact that human rights, free speech, democracy, feminism, gay rights, and other good ideas largely originated in, and have been disproportionately embraced by, modern western societies. And so it chooses not to acknowledge the difference between an endorsement of these ideas and a chauvinistic celebration of the West. This inability to see straight may explain Lea’s claim that the book leads to ‘a version of Samuel Huntingdon’s [sic] clash of cultures’ – a thesis I examine and explicitly reject (pp. 365–368).

In her own review, Rose makes four errors of attribution. First, the thesis of Better Angels is not that state pacification is the sole cause of the historical decline of violence; it is that it is one of five causes. Second, the tallies of deaths in warfare are not ‘largely limited to those of the military’. The book presents (and carefully distinguishes) two kinds of tallies, neither of which exclude civilians: ‘battle-related deaths’, which include soldiers and civilians killed directly in battles, and ‘excess deaths’, which add the deaths attributable to war-caused famine and disease. Third, Better Angels explicitly disavows the idea that civilizing processes take place in some ‘linear way’, which is why it is organized around six historical declines in violence taking place at different times and on different time-scales, and why it spends considerable amounts of discussion on local reversals.

Most significantly, there is no ‘U-turn’ from my previous books, such that I now endorse recent genetic change as a cause of the decline of violence. The lengthy discussion of the evidence for and against recent biological change (pp. 611–622) ends with the sentence ‘At least for the time being, we have no need for that hypothesis.’ Incidentally, if I had rethought my views on recent biological evolution in light of new findings from genomics, this would represent a strengthening, rather than a weakening, of the evolutionary approach that Rose despises, since it would imply that humans are genetically adapted to recent as well as ancient environments, and would open the door to genetic differences among races and ethnic groups. But the point is that she has misunderstood the main idea of Better Angels, introduced in the preface and repeated many times: ‘The focus of the book is on transformations that are strictly environmental: changes in historical circumstances that engage a fixed human nature in different ways’ (p. xxv).

As for the boo-words ‘Panglossian’, ‘high Victorian progressivism’, and ‘Whiggish’ (the latter from Lea), they are as predictable as they are mindless. It is a matter of empirical fact whether the risk of violent death has changed over time. If it has – and as Lea notes, the facts are in my favor – then we need to explain that fact, that is, to identify a process that can cause such improvement. To label this straightforward intellectual responsibility as ‘Panglossian’ or ‘Whiggish’ is to substitute name-calling for analysis.

Like Ray and Rose, Bhatt seems to choke on every page in Better Angels, and his distaste has confounded his ability to assess it. He should have fact-checked his claim that John Locke is ‘neglected’ in Better Angels; the index lists more than a dozen pages in which he or his books are discussed. Ditto with his remarkable claim that ‘the actual modern state and its capacities relating to education, welfare, public health and so forth are absent from this book, as is the UN, education, social and economic mobility, national or global institutions, social movements or civil society’. Bhatt must have riffled past the hefty sections in which these factors are evaluated. Particularly odd is his assertion that the book’s endorsement of Enlightenment humanism lacks a commitment to the inherent equality of all human persons: that is exactly the conclusion of the lengthy section devoted to that topic.

Bhatt’s allergy to evolution is so systemic as to have clouded all discernment. It is true that I make no apology for invoking evolution as part of the explanation for patterns in human violence. Aggression is widespread among mammalian species, including our primate cousins, and is robustly linked to hormones, brain circuitry, genetic variation, and biological sex (notwithstanding long-discredited sniping from the ‘radical science’ movement of the 1970s and 1980s). The possibility that evolution is completely irrelevant to an understanding of human violence can only be taken seriously by creationists and blank-slate fundamentalists. And since for these biophobes, the correct amount of evolutionary analysis in human affairs is zero, Bhatt wildly exaggerates the centrality of evolutionary psychology in Better Angels. Though I do believe that evolution is indispensable in explaining psychological faculties, I also believe that it is just one of several indispensable levels of analysis.

In hurling every bad thing he can think of at evolutionary psychology, Bhatt has debated himself into incoherence. Logically speaking, explanations in evolutionary psychology cannot be both circular and reductionistic. Nor can they be both circular and factually incorrect. Bhatt similarly flails at basic game-theoretic concepts such as ‘costs’, ‘free-rider’, and ‘positive-sum’, and though it is hard to find an argument in his disorganized discussion, he seems to be suggesting that they are irrelevant to human affairs. But game theory (which at one point Bhatt disconcertingly likens to video games) simply analyzes the possible outcomes of interactions between intelligent, goal-seeking social agents. It could only be irrelevant to human affairs if human beings were unintelligent, uninterested in their own welfare, asocial, or exempt from the laws of mathematics.

Bhatt does raise a substantive question in asking how advances in medicine affect estimates of historical trends in homicide and war. As I note in the book, they do, but not by much. First, the historical declines in tribal warfare and individual homicide all occurred long before any advance in medicine or public health. Second, when it comes to institutionalized brutality, advances in medical treatment are beside the point: it is not as if modern societies still burn heretics at the stake or hang runaway slaves and then put the remains in an ambulance and rush them to an emergency room. Third, a little arithmetic shows why medical treatment can have only a marginal effect on long-term trends in war. Medicine affects percentages; war deaths vary over orders of magnitude. Even if modern medicine could have saved 75 percent of the victims of the Second World War (a ridiculously generous estimate, considering how many died in the complete devastation of sieges, firestorms, and holocausts), there still would have been more than thirteen million deaths, dwarfing the total from all wars since.

Bhatt concludes, ‘This book could have been published with those same evolutionary arguments on the eve of the First or Second World War or the Korean War.’ It is clear that this comment is intended as snide, but it is not clear what it means. If Bhatt is trying to say that nothing has changed in evolutionary biology since 1914, he must be unaware of the revolutions of the Modern Synthesis and evolutionary genetics, together with the breathtaking advances in neuroscience, genomics, psychology, and data science which so threaten the involuted scholasticism of his ‘interpretation and reinterpretation’. If he means to imply that an attention to human nature requires ignoring the historical changes that have taken place since 1914, he has snoozed past the book’s central thesis, which is that evolved psychological faculties are open-ended combinatorial systems which are sensitive to the social, cultural, and institutional contexts in which they find themselves (and which they are ultimately responsible for having created). Or does he mean that the worlds of 1914, 1939, or 1950 are really no different from the world of today, so that it is naïve to write about a decline in the likelihood of major violence? This possibility can be put to an empirical test. At the time of this writing (early March 2014) international tensions are running high over competing US, European, and Russian interests in a chaotic Ukraine, which has been riven by a coup, ethnic conflict, a Russian military incursion, and possible secessions by Crimea and eastern regions. These are just the kinds of tensions that in the past led to great-power wars with millions of deaths. I predict that because of the changes documented in Better Angels, such a war will not take place. By the time this article is published readers will know whether the prediction is correct.

Oh, poor thing.

Doesn't he know that Science is Socially Constructed and sexist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, ethnocentric, transphobic, capitalist, bourgeois etc?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Links - 12th February 2015

Politically correct CNN refers to black hostage taker in France as ‘African American’

Many People Use Drugs – But Here’s Why Most Don’t Become Addicts - "Addiction, unlike use, is heavily concentrated in our poorest communities – and within those communities it is the individuals who struggle most with life who will succumb. Compared to the rest of the population, heroin and crack addicts are: male, working-class, offenders, have poor educational records, little or no history of employment, experience of the care system, a vulnerability to mental illness and increasingly are over 40 with declining physical health... Most drug users are intelligent resourceful people with good life skills, supportive networks and loving families. These assets enable them to manage the risks associated with their drug use, avoiding the most dangerous drugs and managing their frequency and scale of use to reduce harm and maximise pleasure. Crucially they will have access to support from family and friends should they begin to develop problems, and a realistic prospect of a job, a house and a stake in society to focus and sustain their motivation to get back on track. In contrast the most vulnerable individuals in our poorest communities lack life skills and have networks that entrench their problems rather than offering solutions. Their decision making will tend to prioritise immediate benefit rather than long-term consequences. The multiplicity of overlapping challenges they face gives them little incentive to avoid high risk behaviours... In short what determines whether or not drug use escalates into addiction, and the prognosis once it has, is less to do with the power of the drug and more to do with the social, personal and economic circumstances of the user."

Swedish children’s TV dancing genitals cartoon sparks parental outcry - "The one-minute clip for Barnkanalen – Sweden’s equivalent of CBeebies – shows cartoon penises and vaginas smiling and dancing to the tune of a song which employs words perhaps sometimes used by small children to refer to their private parts."

Why Japanese don’t use LinkedIn - "One reason could be the way most Japanese view LinkedIn. In a culture where many still seek very long or even lifetime employment with the same company, LinkedIn is seen as just another job site. God forbid their bosses were to see that they’ve completed their LinkedIn profile. It would be career suicide. Another reason could be the way LinkedIn is fundamentally designed. Users are given a blank profile (a resume, if you will) in which users can talk about their career accomplishments. This is a problem, because Japanese tend not to boast about themselves so openly. On an American profile, for example, you might see something along the lines of “grew revenue from $5M to $20M in the first year while tripling profits.” It is very rare that you would see any Japanese talk about themselves that way... There is one more factor that plays a role. People tend to do business with someone they like over someone that can provide them with the better deal. In Japan, this is overwhelmingly the case. Business is often done based on close relationships, and building those relationships requires bonding and getting to know the other person. Sharing personal lives with one another is a way of doing that. Facebook gives them a window into each other’s lives."

Naya Rivera says showering every day is a 'white people thing' | Fox News Latino

If Femen was set up by a man, where does that leave its topless protests?

Audio: Teen calls 911 to report 'massive freaking' spider - "An officer did respond to the scene and estimated the spider was about 2 inches in diameter. Modern police equipment was not necessary to handle the eight-legged perp in this case. The officer disposed of the spider with an old-fashioned rolled up newspaper"

300,000 Parliament porn views - "Westminster officials sought to play down the almost 300,000 attempts to access online porn made inside the premise, insisting it was inflated by pop-ups, auto-refresh and other web design features."

Man Buys Promoted Tweet to Complain About British Airways

Jonathon Fletcher: forgotten father of the search engine

What Snowden and Manning Don't Understand About Secrecy - "These are young people at war with the concept of secrecy itself, which is just foolish. There are many legitimate reasons for governments to keep secrets, among them the need to preserve the element of surprise in military operations or criminal investigations, to permit leaders and diplomats to bargain candidly, and to protect the identities of those we ask to perform dangerous and difficult missions. The most famous leakers in American history were motivated not by a general opposition to secrecy but by a desire to expose specific wrongdoing. Mark Felt, the “Deep Throat” who helped steer Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate reporting, understood that the Nixon Administration was energetically abusing the powers of the presidency. Daniel Ellsberg copied and leaked the Pentagon Papers because they showed that the White House and Pentagon had never really believed the lies they were telling about the Vietnam War... It proceeds from a Julian Assange-influenced, comic-book vision of the world where all governments are a part of an evil plot against humanity... Snowden may have found a way to punish himself worse. He has turned himself into an enduring symbol of idiocy by fleeing the oppressive grip of Barack Obama for the open arms of that great civil libertarian, Vladimir Putin. Both Manning and Snowden strike me not as heroes, but as naifs"

Why I’m quitting the academy - "I rarely had an opportunity to draw on my subject area expertise in my teaching, even at postgraduate level. Instead, I was expected to be a jack of all trades, lecturing to a student body whose first-years frequently required remedial English and who almost all refused to read beyond lecture notes, ignoring the bibliographies I carefully put together. Nor were we allowed to censure them: we all had to bow to the managerial imperative of treating them as customers who have to be satisfied, allowing them to show impatience and lack of respect with impunity. And despite their inability (or unwillingness) to understand what studying for a degree entailed, inflated grades prevailed. But we also short-changed the students in some ways. For instance, we were never totally honest with them about their employment prospects, even though I know that a significant number are now unemployed and in debt, and many are working in completely different fields. For some, their dance studies degrees still only boost their CVs for jobs as Zumba teachers... Universities, aping the worst businesses’ obsession with their bottom line above all else, are churning out MAs and PhDs with little regard for the future either of students or subjects. I feel sorry for those currently embarking on doctorates, doomed to discover that their expertise is neither understood nor valued when – having realised that the academy can no longer absorb them – they enter the mainstream job market."

Men look at crotches - "Among the many interesting things in Online Journalism Review's article about using eyetracking to increase the effectiveness of news article design is this odd result"

These Ingenious New Meal Trays Save Virgin Atlantic Millions in Cash

Banned 'Throw Your Phone' Game Knows if You're Cheating - "It’s available on Android, but not the App Store. Apple determined the game was “encouraging behavior that could result in damage to the user’s device,” and thus did cast Send Me to Heaven out of its walled garden paradise. App creator Petr Svarovsky told WIRED that he was disappointed by the ban. The 50-year-old from Prague said he had hoped to have people shatter as many iPhones as possible. “The original idea was to have very expensive gadgets, which people in certain societies buy just to show off, and to get them to throw it,” he said via Skype... The leaderboards for Send Me to Heaven show some players have managed to get their phones as high as 40 meters (131 feet). Svarovsky did a little investigating to learn how that impressive score was achieved and discovered some players are using slingshots"

I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here's What It Did to Me - "I’d added more than a thousand things to my Likes page—most of which were loathsome or at best banal. By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked. To be honest, I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like what I had done."

Many Kenyan men flee to avoid forced circumcisions - "Traditionally the Turkana, a Nilotic tribe whose cultural practices and way of life has not been diluted by modern influences, do not engage in circumcision as a rite of passage into adulthood. But members of the Bukusu community say since the Turkana are living among them they should adopt their most celebrated custom. Wycliffe Khaemba, a laborer from the Bukusu tribe, said that because Turkana were living among them and marrying their girls, "we want them to be clean." The foreskin keeps a lot of germs and it also prevents them performing in bed," he said. Khaemba said that while some Turkana men are persuaded to agree to circumcision, others are "cowards" who have to be forced... Among the Bukusu, when one is circumcised in the traditional way rather than going to the hospital, he is considered a hero"

The War Photo No One Would Publish - "“I’m not interested in it either,” Jarecke recalls replying. He told the officer that he didn’t want his mother to see his name next to photographs of corpses. “But if I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies.” As Hermanson remembers, Jarecke added, “It’s what I came here to do. It’s what I have to do”... “There were 1,400 [Iraqi soldiers] in that convoy, and every picture transmitted until that one came, two days after the event, was of debris, bits of equipment,” Tony McGrath, the Observer’s pictures editor, was quoted as saying in the same article. “No human involvement in it at all; it could have been a scrapyard. That was some dreadful censorship.” The media took it upon themselves to “do what the military censorship did not do”... As David Carr wrote in The New York Times in 2003, war photography has “an ability not just to offend the viewer, but to implicate him or her as well.” As an angry 28-year-old Jarecke wrote in American Photo in 1991: “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”"

Using Pricing To Increase Customer Loyalty

Using Pricing To Increase Customer Loyalty

"Loyalty marketing has reached a plateau. It must now move to the next level, which is value-oriented customer loyalty programs. The new value-oriented customer loyalty programs attempt to establish an emotional relationship between company and customer to create long-term loyalty. This strategy is becoming increasingly popular in the US, Europe and Asia.

The main difference between value-oriented customer loyalty programs and the current loyalty programs is that they do not focus solely on simple discounts but rather offer a powerful package of advantages consisting of hard and soft benefits (financial and non-financial)...

While discounts have a high value for most customers (everybody likes to save money) they alone do not create loyalty. Long-term loyalty can only be established on an emotional level. Customer loyalty cannot be bought but must be earned over time with good value for money, superior products or services, and overall integrity of the company. Discounts alone attract bargain hunters. For instance, the customer who has joined a loyalty program for the 10% discount will be the first to leave if a 15% discount is offered elsewhere.

It must also be noted that giving discounts is giving away pure profit with no certainty that the increase in sales volume will compensate for the discount given. Therefore, smart loyalty marketers use more sophisticated pricing methods that make customers earn discounts rather than simply give them away. Discounts are used to reward customers and to direct their behavior into specific directions such as using other products, increasing purchasing volume, or switching to products with a higher profitability. Over time this type of discount builds a protection barrier which makes it more difficult for competitors to lure away customers. Consequently, while discounts or other financial incentives will get customers to join a program, soft benefits, the second half of the benefits package, actually build the relationship. Thus, the identification of the right mixture of hard and soft benefits is crucial to the development of a successful customer loyalty strategy...

Imagine you drove your luxury or sports car to the airport and instead of leaving your car in an unguarded parking space your are able to park it at the Avis station. For free. And protected. Imagine that when you got back your car had been cleaned inside and out. A dream? Not for owner’s of the Porsche loyalty card!

Imagine getting tickets for sold out shows like a Barbara Streisand concert at a special price, having access to vacation homes around the world, a free babysitter, tickets to a movie opening or premier nights, special rates for Harley Davidson rentals, an opportunity to be an extra in movie productions, have training sessions in a flight simulator, fly a MIG, or dine with celebrities. These are typical examples of soft benefits. This is the part of the loyalty program that is responsible for the long-term loyalty. There is no standard solution for a company or industry in the selection of the right soft benefits. It depends on the target group of the loyalty program"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Links - 10th February 2015

Why are Korean people so crazy? - Quora - "Something I heard very early on about the difference between Japan and Korea was that the Japanese suppress their emotions, while the Koreans repress theirs. I think the point was that Japan, especially among the younger generation, is relatively calm, the standard of living is relatively high, and people take great pains not to offend others or stir them up. In comparison, in Korea being stirred up and aggravated is pretty much inevitable, but people have to control their reaction, or risked being judged on it."

Jailed for Nonpayment of Child Support; But its Not His Child - "The feminists have ratcheted up the laws against men to such an outrageous level that paternity fraud is not just ignored, but routinely rubber stamped by the courts. Whether one agrees with the concept of child support or not, virtually everyone can agree that jailing men for child support over children who are not theirs is morally wrong. Men are routinely sent to jail for falling behind on paying child support, even though debtors' prisons in the U.S. were mostly eliminated in the mid-nineteenth century... It is brutally unfair as well as sexist towards men, that a mother can decide she does not want a child, and abort the child or place it after being born at a fire station, deserting the child with no consequences. She will never be required to pay child support. A man does not have that option. He cannot even stop the child from being aborted. It takes two people to have sex. Both should be treated equally under the law, instead of forcing men to act as a welfare system for women."

Lenore Skenazy: Eek! A Male! - WSJ - "Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van's tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids' grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face. Why? Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper. And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.Consider the Iowa daycare center where Nichole Adkins works. The one male aide employed there, she told me in an interview, is not allowed to change diapers. "In fact," Ms. Adkins said, "he has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening"... This queasy climate is making men think twice about things they used to do unselfconsciously. A friend of mine, Eric Kozak, was working for a while as a courier. Driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood, he says, "I got lost. I saw a couple kids by the side of the road and rolled down my window to ask, 'Where is such-and-such road?' They ran off screaming""

Did Pedophilia Hysteria Cause Child's Death? - "On Nov. 28, 2002, 2-year-old Abigail Rae died by drowning in a village pond in England. Her death is currently stirring debate because the ongoing inquest revealed an explosive fact. A man passing by was afraid to guide the lost child to safety because he feared being labeled "a pervert"... Last summer, an Illinois man lost an appeal on his conviction as a sex offender for grabbing the arm of a 14-year-old girl. She had stepped directly in front of his car, causing him to swerve in order to avoid hitting her. The 28-year-old Fitzroy Barnaby jumped out his car, grabbed her arm and lectured her on how not to get killed. Nothing more occurred. Nevertheless, that one action made him guilty of "the unlawful restraint of a minor," which is a sexual offense in Illinois. Both the jury and judge believed him. Nevertheless, Barnaby went through years of legal proceedings that ended with his name on a sex offender registry, where his photograph and address are publicly available. He must report to authorities. His employment options are severely limited; he cannot live near schools or parks. Arguably, the law would have punished Barnaby less had he hit the girl or not cared enough to lecture her... The effect on average people in non-extreme situations can be partially gauged through a study conducted by Dr. Heather Piper at Manchester Metropolitan University: "The Problematics of 'Touching' Between Children and Professionals." Piper examined six case-study schools through interviews with teachers, parents and children regarding the propriety of touch. Commentator Josie Appleton reviewed the study, "Reported cases include the teacher who avoided putting a plaster [bandaid] on a child's scraped leg; nursery staff calling a child's mother every time he needed to go to the toilet; a male gym teacher leaving a girl injured in the hall while he waited for a female colleague.""

Votes For Women & Sexual Morality - "Until the work of feminist historians in the 1970’s, most history texts ignored the emphasis placed on sex and morality by the suffragists and suffragettes. The few historians who did mention it ridiculed the suffragettes. For instance, the suffragette slogan ‘Votes for Women and Chastity for Men‘ is seen as an amusing peculiarity by George Dangerfield in the 1930’s and Roger Fulford in the 1950’s and as an example of spinsterish eccentricity by Andrew Rosen in the 1970s. However, the relationship between sexuality and the vote has enjoyed a long history in the annals of women’s suffrage. Both the suffragists and the suffragettes placed women’s franchise within the wider context of sexual politics and took the question of sexuality very earnestly indeed. For some suffrage campaigners such as Millicent Fawcett and Christabel Pankhurst the vote was as much about improving men’s sexual morality as it was about improving women’s working conditions."

The Slaughter Bench of History - "War is mass murder, and yet, in perhaps the greatest paradox in history, war has nevertheless been the undertaker’s worst enemy. Contrary to what the song says, war has been good for something: over the long run, it has made humanity safer and richer... by fighting wars, people have created larger, more organized societies that have reduced the risk that their members will die violently... while war is the worst imaginable way to create larger, more peaceful societies, it is pretty much the only way humans have found... as well as making people safer, the larger societies created by war have also—again, over the long run—made us richer... War has produced bigger societies, ruled by stronger governments, which have imposed peace and created the preconditions for prosperity"

Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean's comments on same-sex marriage mirror Obama's - "It's not often that we can check a Miss USA contestant with our Truth-O-Meter. So when Miss California USA Carrie Prejean, the runner-up in the Miss USA competition, likened her much-discussed, pageant-night response to a question about gay marriage to President Barack Obama's beliefs, we decided it was time."
Selective outrage!

What $14 Cocktails Say About Neighborhood Housing Prices - "Call it the $14 Cocktail Rule. D.C.'s Washington City Paper has made that figure shorthand for describing rising demand for services in the city's hotter neighborhoods. That this measure is indexed to the price of cocktails tells you something about the local alt-weekly, but also about the elasticity of demand for alcohol. As it turns out, the relationship between rising housing prices and rising everything-else prices is broader than just what's happening at the bar. A new paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research susses out the causal link between rising demand for housing and retail prices. In neighborhoods with large house-price movements, retail prices rise accordingly... Further, the report shows, there's a link between high ownership rates and rising retail prices (not just high home prices). "In zip codes with a high homeownership rate, house price increases lead to large increases in retail prices," the study reads, "while in zip codes with the lowest homeownership rates, house price increases actually lead to declines in retail prices."

Protesters arrested after trying to raise Lenin from the dead using holy water

Clifford Chance video: Trainee at top UK law firm uploads 21-minute online rant blaming Charlie Hebdo shootings on non-Muslims - "A trainee lawyer at one of Britain’s top law firms has been forced to apologise after posting a video online in which he blamed the Paris shootings on non-Muslims who “killed our people and raped and pillaged our resources”. Aysh Chaudhry, a 22-year-old whose job at magic circle firm Clifford Chance makes him one of the best-paid graduate employees in the country, accused moderate Muslims of “succumbing to the corrupt values that the kuffar (non-believers) are trying to impose on us” in the wake of the terror attacks that killed 17 in France... Throughout the course of the 21-minute video he refers to Muslims as “superior” to “the kuffar”, calls on viewers to “stop putting freedom on this pedestal” and refers to secular, liberal beliefs as a “bankrupt ideology""

Avoid men and eat plenty of porridge for a long life, says Jessie, 109: Scotland's oldest woman reveals her secrets - "Miss Gallan, who now lives in a care home in Aberdeen, said: 'My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth."

Rabbit breeders tell Pope Francis: 'Rabbits do not have a rampant sex drive' - "Pope Francis’s advice to Catholics that they need not feel an obligation to breed “like rabbits” has drawn the ire of people who know a thing or two about the subject – rabbit breeders. An association of breeders in Germany says that contrary to popular opinion, rabbits do not have a rampant sex drive and that the Pope should have chosen his words more carefully... Erwin Leowsky, the president of the German Rabbit Breeders Association, said the allusion to rabbits’ famed fecundity was “stupid”. "He should really think harder about giving up expressions like that and allow people to use contraception instead. I think it would be much more appropriate than saying such stupid things." The randy reputation of rabbits mostly applied to animals living in the wild, rather than those bred in captivity, Mr Leowsky said."
Offence and grievance culture moves on!

How Orwell's 'Animal Farm' Led A Radical Muslim To Moderation - "It was while in prison, surrounded by several prominent jihadist leaders, that Nawaz realized he wanted to take a different path. He was reading George Orwell's Animal Farm and came to a new understanding of "what happens when somebody tries to create a utopia"... He says he began to see that it's "impossible to create a utopia.""

How a crazy scientist duped America into believing vitamin C cures colds - "Part of it has to do with the fact that vitamin C is rarely harmful, so there's been little impetus to intervene. "There’s a lot of misinformation out there on vitamin C because it’s safe," says Heather Mangieri, a nutritionist working with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics... Pauling is the only person to ever win two unshared Nobel prizes. In 1949, Pauling and his team studying sickle cell anemia established it as a genetic disease. And he was also, arguably, the person most responsible for the great vitamin C myth... A Cochrane review of nearly 30 studies looking at people with colds taking the normal daily dose of vitamin C found that it reduced colds’ length by 8 percent. This means if your cold lasts five days, it might be shortened by about 10 hours."

Multiculturalism and fundamentalism: two sides of the same coin

Slavoj Zizek - The One Measure of True Love is: You Can Insult the Other

"So multiculturalism and fundamentalism could be two sides of the same coin?

Slavoj Zizek: There is nothing to be said against tolerance. But when you buy this multiculturalist tolerance, you buy many other things with it. Isn't it symptomatic that multiculturalism exploded at the very historic moment when the last traces of working-class politics disappeared from political space? For many former leftists, this multiculturalism is a kind of ersatz working-class politics. We don't even know whether the working class still exists, so let's talk about exploitation of others.

There may be nothing wrong with that as such. But there is a danger that issues of economic exploitation are converted into problems of cultural tolerance. And then you have only to make one step further, that of Julia Kristeva in her essay 'Etrangers à nous mêmes', and say we cannot tolerate others because we cannot tolerate otherness in ourselves. Here we have a pure pseudo-psychoanalytic cultural reductionism.

Isn't it sad and tragic that the only relatively strong — not fringe — political movement that still directly addresses the working class is made up of right-wing populists? They are the only ones. Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, for example. I was shocked when I saw him three years ago at a congress of the Front National. He brought a black Frenchman, an Algerian and a Jew on the podium, embraced them and said: 'They are no less French than I am. Only the international cosmopolitan companies who neglect French patriotic interests are my enemy.' So the price is that only right-wingers still talk about economic exploitation.

The second thing I find wrong with this multiculturalist tolerance is that it is often hypocritical in the sense that the other whom they tolerate is already a reduced other. The other is okay in so far as this other is only a question of food, of culture, of dances. What about clitoridectomy? What about my friends who say: 'We must respect Hindus.' Okay, but what about one of the old Hindu customs which, as we know, is that when a husband dies, the wife is burned. Now, do we respect that? Problems arise here.

An even more important problem is that this notion of tolerance effectively masks its opposite: intolerance...

Are you referring to what we call victim culture?

Slavoj Zizek: The discourse of victimisation is almost the predominant discourse today. You can be a victim of the environment, of smoking, of sexual harassment. I find this reduction of the subject to a victim sad. In what sense? There is an extremely narcissistic notion of personality here. And, indeed, an intolerant one, insofar as what it means is that we can no longer tolerate violent encounters with others — and these encounters are always violent.

Let me briefly address sexual harassment for a moment. Of course I am opposed to it, but let's be frank. Say I am passionately attached, in love, or whatever, to another human being and I declare my love, my passion for him or her. There is always something shocking, violent in it. This may sound like a joke, but it isn't — you cannot do the game of erotic seduction in politically correct terms. There is a moment of violence, when you say: 'I love you, I want you.' In no way can you bypass this violent aspect. So I even think that the fear of sexual harassment in a way includes this aspect, a fear of a too violent, too open encounter with another human being.

Another thing that bothers me about this multiculturalism is when people ask me: 'How can you be sure that you are not a racist?' My answer is that there is only one way. If I can exchange insults, brutal jokes, dirty jokes, with a member of a different race and we both know it's not meant in a racist way. If, on the other hand, we play this politically correct game — 'Oh, I respect you, how interesting your customs are' — this is inverted racism, and it is disgusting.

In the Yugoslav army where we were all of mixed nationalities, how did I become friends with Albanians? When we started to exchange obscenities, sexual innuendo, jokes. This is why this politically correct respect is just, as Freud put it, 'zielgehemmt'. You still have the aggression towards the other.

For me there is one measure of true love: you can insult the other. Like in that horrible German comedy film from 1943 where Marika Röck treats her fiancé very brutally. This fiancé is a rich, important person, so her father asks her why are you treating him like that. And she gives the right answer. She says: 'But I love him, and since I love him, I can do with him whatever I want.' That's the truth of it. If there is true love, you can say horrible things and anything goes.

When multiculturalists tell you to respect the others, I always have this uncanny association that this is dangerously close to how we treat our children: the idea that we should respect them, even when we know that what they believe is not true. We should not destroy their illusions. No, I think that others deserve better — not to be treated like children...

I must confess that the left also deeply disappointed me. Falling back into this safe pacifist attitude — violence never stops violence, give peace a chance — is abstract and doesn't work here. First, because this is not a universal rule. I always ask my leftist friends who repeat that mantra: What would you have said in 1941 with Hitler. Would you also say: 'We shouldn't resist, because violence never helps?' It is simply a fact that at some point you have to fight. You have to return violence with violence. The problem is not that for me, but that this war can never be a solution.

It is also false and misleading to perceive these bombings as some kind of third world working-class response to American imperialism. In that case, the American fundamentalists we already discussed, are also a working-class response, which they clearly are not."

Monday, February 09, 2015

Links - 9th February 2015

24 buttons | Online Fashion Boutique - "24 buttons core philosophy is to hope to bring out the most confident and happy face in every woman in all situations of her life"

In 2015, flying robot waiters will be a reality in Singapore

Matchmaking agency wrecker flip-flops on plea - "When Zhang Xiu Chun signed up with a matchmaking agency in February 2012, she expected success, but that was not what she received... "she felt that she was taken for a ride". It was revealed in court that Zhang was suffering from a "stress-related medical condition". He said: "It was an attack on her womanhood. She felt she was cheated into being a social escort"... After three hours in court, the accused was escorted out to be treated for breathing difficulties."

I lost weight by eating lots of bacon and cream. Here's a scientific explanation for why. - "I recently gained 16 pounds of body fat and I felt terribly uncomfortable in my clothes. I wanted to slim down, so I decided to dramatically ramp up the fat in my diet. Every day for about a month, I slammed as much bacon or heavy whipping cream as I could stomach. I lost weight (about seven pounds). My cholesterol dropped 10 points. My afternoon drowsiness faded and, overall, I felt pretty good... the real key to my diet was pork fat. A bespoke charcuterie, Boccalone, in San Francisco's historic Ferry Building imports Italian pigs. Boccalone slices the fattiest cuts of pork I've ever seen. I tried to consume at least a third of a pound of their delicious bacon per week. I almost completely cut out carbs: very little fruit and no grains... I ended up eating fewer calories. Fat is more satiating, per calorie, than carbs, and it curbed my otherwise ravenous appetite. I didn't even count calories; I just went with my hunger pangs. I ended up learning a very important lesson: that carbs trick my body into consuming far more food than necessary"

Sex: Who Has the Most? - "3. Jews and agnostics are 20 percent more sexually active than Catholics and Protestants... over twice as many observant married Jewish women reported having sex three to six times per week as married women in general.
4. People with Associate in Arts degrees have 32 percent more sex than people with advanced college degrees and people who did not finish high school.
6. African-Americans have 8.2 percent more sex than Caucasians... 25 percent of African-American men claim to spend at least an hour on each of their sexual encounters, compared to 19.4 percent of white men and 15.9 percent of Hispanic men. "I would be surprised if that many men really spend that long having sex," Herbenick says. "People have lives." She's intrigued by data examining different types of sex acts by race. "White Americans are more likely to engage in oral sex, and in some parts of the country Hispanics are more likely to engage in anal sex, perhaps as a way to preserve vaginal virginity."
7. Smokers are 10 percent more sexually active than nonsmokers.
8. People who rarely go to church have 31 percent more sex than people who regularly go to church.
9. People with a strong preference for jazz are 30 percent more sexually active than the average American... "Liking other types of music, such as rock or rap, was unrelated to sexual activity"
10. Artists and poets have as many as 233 percent more sexual partners than people who aren't artists or poets
11. Teenage girls are 6.5 percent more sexually active than teenage boys
13. Children whose parents read to them less than once a week are 33 percent more likely to be sexually active when they become teenagers than children whose parents read to them at least once a week.
15. Women of what doctors consider normal weight are 30 percent more likely to have had sex in the past year than obese women"

Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege - "Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued most—his wife and kids—to earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isn’t that influential. Now would you say that we’ve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped? That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still be conquering them now... I recognize that it was my parents’ privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant... Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color... I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing."
Ed: This is Tal Fortgang's Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege

What are some Japanese insults and swear-words? - "You may feel that it is worth learning some insulting words in Japanese, but the reality is that most people don't need to learn them. In Japanese, not using polite language may be considered insulting enough by itself"

Liberals are more emotion-driven than conservatives - "Emotions are powerful motivators of human behavior and attitudes. Emotions also play an important role in guiding policy support in conflict and other political contexts. Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya have studied the interaction between emotion and political ideology, showing that the motivating power of emotions is not the same for those on different ends of the ideological spectrum"

▶ Sabering Champagne - YouTube
Looks fun

University of Western Sydney study finds Australian babies understand Canadian accents better - "Until now it had been widely thought that infants were more able to distinguish new words if they were delivered in their native language... The researchers said the study shed light on why non-English-speaking migrants could find the Australian accent difficult to master. Associate Professor Escudero said Australian pronunciation of words like sheep, ship or shoot could be misunderstood because of the vowel sounds"

Israeli pianist Daniel Barenboim takes Palestinian citizenship - "The fact that an Israeli citizen can be awarded a Palestinian passport, can be a sign that it is actually possible"

Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal State Ban on Dwarf Tossing in Bars - "State Rep. Ritch Workman says ban on tossing in bars limits employment opportunities for little people... The cringe-inducing activity was outlawed in 1989, when national controversy over dwarf tossing prompted the Legislature to ban it in bars for safety reasons"

Feminist Arrested After Being Attacked By Group of Men - YouTube
According to this feminist, a man interrupting a woman is sexual harassment

Entrapment (images)

Feminist Abortion Activist Burger King Employee Attacks Peaceful Pro-Life Volunteers, 'I Have No Regrets' (VIDEO) : Videos : BREATHEcast - "The woman in the video has been identified as Victoria Duran, and according to training director Seth Drayer (the man filming), she pushed him twice. One of the times was into a stationary bus, which can be seen in the video. In addition she got in their faces, tossing curse words, and destroyed some of their Created Equal stands. "We're smart about it. We don't want people getting hurt. We try to behave in a way we think's Christ like, and respecting people's opinions whether they agree or not," said a Created Equal staffer to Fox News, "We believe in forgiveness. If she were to say I'm really sorry, and told me she was sorry for she did,; she'd sound truthful about it, we'd even consider dropping the charges.""
"You’re just a white f—— privileged racist f—— male who doesn’t stand for women’s rights"

The Diet Coke Weight-Gain Paradox - "The September issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just published a meta-analysis of the existing research on artificial sweeteners and weight gain. The conclusion lands in support of artificial sweeteners in the right context, specifically when they are substituted for sugar. People tend to see "modest weight loss," suggesting that low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) indeed "may be a useful dietary tool to improve compliance with weight-loss or weight-maintenance plans." That might seem obvious, but several studies have suggested that eating/drinking these nutritive sweeteners actually leads to weight gain... Those are all just correlations, but consuming artificial sweeteners in isolation has also been shown to make people hungrier later on. Dr. Barry Popkin, a distinguished professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, wrote in a recent literature review that since most artificial sweeteners aren't consumed in isolation, that's not really an issue. So the key distinction in studying and using these sweeteners is the idea of replacement as opposed to addition"

BBC Reporter Gets High as Fuck Filming in Front of an Opium Fire

Mobile Uploads - Social Justice Warriors - "Typical cisgender ableist people. 'Boo hoo, look! I'm soo fat!'. Try being a transgender, transasian, veteran amputee. All I want is to be kawaii..."
"As a genderless, aromatic panda with Tourette's syndrome and Hitler as a headmate, things are hard... KILL THE JEWS"
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