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Friday, August 21, 2015

Links - 21st August 2015

Bishan Gay Judgment - "Public Prosecutor v Cheng Hoe Huat
[2015] SGDC 188...
The Accused, aged 52 years, claimed trial to the charge that on 13.11.2013, at about 3.20 p.m., in the male toilet on the first floor of Bishan Junction 8 Shopping Centre (“Junction 8”), used criminal force on the Victim, a 12 years old male, knowing this would outrage his modesty, by touching the tip of his penis and tickling it 3 times. This was an offence punishable under section 354(2) of the Penal Code, Cap 224... In 2013, the Victim and his friends were Primary 6 school students at a Madrasah. They would often go to Junction 8 after school lessons ended. At Junction 8, the Accused was always seated outside Coffee Bean. The Victim and his 4 friends testified that the Accused would always wave, greet and chat with them. Hence, they thought he was a kind and friendly “old uncle”. The Accused however claimed that he could not recognise them because he met and talked to many students...
At different stages of this case, he gave various reasons for his presence at the said shopping centre:
- he was doing a highly secretive project which involved conducting a survey on penises of different races for a secretive international organisation;
- to speak to students about sex education taught in their schools as he intended to submit his recommendations to the Ministry of Education to improve the teaching of sex education; and
- to read the Bible, newspapers and write journals...
I also considered the fear caused to the young Victim as he and the Accused were locked inside the toilet cubicle. The Accused’s actions must, inevitably, have eroded to some degree the trust and respect that the Victim normally held for elderly persons. His depraved, immoral acts will leave their marks on the young and vulnerable Victim forever. I also felt that the Accused was indeed very bold to perpetuate his criminal act in a public toilet in a shopping centre, a place which could be accessed by any male person."
Is it better to molest people in private? If it were in private wouldn't the space being restricted/private be used as an aggravating factor?

The disturbing difference between black and white Barbies - "Johnson found that the African-American version of the doll retailed for almost twice as much as its white counterpart... Target isn’t the only retailer to have a difference in the price between light- and dark-skinned dolls. At Toys-R-Us, the same African-American doll was on sale for four dollars less than its white counterpart. Wal-Mart’s website also listed an African-American Barbie for $11.87 while its Caucasian version cost $9.88, CNBC found"
Maybe an algorithm made Black Barbie more expensive because it was more in demand. Is it also insulting for Black Barbie to be cheaper than White ones? The market (and computer algorithms) are racist!

Genetic 'Adam & Eve' Chromosome Study Traces All Men To Man Who Lived 135,000 Years Ago - "These primeval people aren't parallel to the biblical Adam and Eve. They weren't the first modern humans on the planet, but instead just the two out of thousands of people alive at the time with unbroken male or female lineages that continue on today. The rest of the human genome contains tiny snippets of DNA from many other ancestors — they just don't show up in mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA, Hammer said. (For instance, if an ancient woman had only sons, then her mitochondrial DNA would disappear, even though the son would pass on a quarter of her DNA via the rest of his genome.)"

33 year old Singaporean, drawing $7k sgd a month cannot find gf anybody can help? - www.hardwarezone.com.sg - "33 year old
IT manager
$7k sgd a month
Stay with parents
Saves 50% of salary
Has gone on numerous dates but cannot find suitable life partner to settle down with
Gf criteria:
Can cook
Can do housework
Wants to have at least 3 children
Must exercise regularly to stay in shape
Must be able to hold intellectual conversations
Must save at least 30% of her salary
Must treat his parents well
Must not demand a car
Cannot take taxi too often
Must dress decently but be stylish and classy
Eyes cannot be smaller than his
Must be more talkative than him because he does not talk much
His friends must approve of her"

Extreme Metal Music and Anger Processing - "The claim that listening to extreme music causes anger, and expressions of anger such as aggression and delinquency have yet to be substantiated using controlled experimental methods... extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions. Listening to extreme music may represent a healthy way of processing anger for these listeners."

Why Russians Don't Get Depressed - "While American brooders showed extremely high levels of depressive symptomatology (as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, or BDI), Russian brooders were actually less likely to be depressed than non-brooders. This suggests that brooding, or ruminative self-reflection, has extremely different psychiatric outcomes depending on the culture. While rumination makes Americans depressed, it actually seems to provide an emotional buffer for Russians."
Paper: "The Impact of Culture on Adaptive Versus Maladaptive Self-Reflection"

Do Women Prefer Men with Masculine Faces? Not Always. - "A new study by Isabel M. Scott and her colleagues (2014) looked at women’s (and men’s) face preferences across a dozen cultures and their findings have been promoted in several media outlets... with some claiming their new findings seriously challenge evolutionary explanations of women’s sexual desires. In particular, the new findings have been portrayed as refuting the idea that women within high pathogen cultures report more desire for masculine faces... The breadth of the samples in Scott et al. (2014) study is remarkable. However, the sizeof most samples was extremely small (understandably so, given the difficulty in securing access to these remote populations), with women’s effective sample sizes including 5 Fijian women, 11 Aka women, and 13 Cree women, for instance. For many of their samples, such samples sizes are probably too small (lack enough statistical power) to reveal true empirical associations, if any exist, across sex, temporal context, facial dimorphism, and culture... Here are 3 findings that have not received as much media attention as the presumably anti-evolutionary psychology findings:
2) Scott et al. (2014) found UK, Kadazan, and Canadian women also expressed more intense preferences for masculine faces when evaluating men as short-term mates, as predicted from dualistic mating strategy perspectives... Overall, the male findings generally supported evolutionary psychology predictions concerning femininity-related facial mate preferences of men... By the way, for critics of evolutionary psychology, it may be worth noting that studies of non-WEIRD samples are much more typical among evolutionary psychologists than other types of psychologists"

Is Evolutionary Psychology WEIRD or NORMAL? - "Joe Henrich and colleagues’ paper, The weirdest people in the world, argued that psychology draws too much on WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) samples... I surveyed the 2012 volume of the top journal in social psychology, TheJournal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP) and the official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, Evolution and Human Behavior (E&HB). (And by “I surveyed” of course I mean that other people did all the work. Hat tip: Fatima Aboul-Seoud and Molly Elson.) For each empirical paper, we scored whether the samples used were exclusively WEIRD, both WEIRD and non-WEIRD, or exclusively non-WEIRD. The results are in the Figure below. Roughly 96% of the papers in JPSP, designed to “make sense of the bizarre and baffling diversity of human behavior,” came from WEIRD samples. This figure was 65% for E&HB. (A chi square on these values is hugely significant)... adding evolution to psychology makes the science less WEIRD, and more NORMAL (Non-Weird Organisms Resembling Mankind’s Ancestral Lifestyle"

SMRT's contingency plans need fixing - "Visitors do not always take the train during peak periods. And if you are a tourist, your perception of time is slightly different. You look at the country which you are visiting through somewhat rose-tinted glasses... When then Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan promised Singaporeans in 1995 that they would have a world-class land transport system, it set expectations fairly high... But trains are packed during peak hours everywhere in the world, right? Tokyo is infamous for having station staff shove commuters into already crowded carriages. I asked a Japanese government official whom I met recently whether people were happy with how crowded the trains were in Tokyo. He said no But the trains were extremely reliable and speedy. You could set your watch to train arrivals (for that matter, bus arrivals) in Tokyo. Disruptions caused by mechanical faults are almost unheard of (although there are delays caused by people who kill themselves by jumping onto the track). The high reliability helps Tokyo-ites bear with the crowdedness better... The MRT lines here are mostly less than 30 years old. The Tokyo subway is 88 years old, New York's is 111 and London's is around 150. And the network here is comparatively short, too. So, it is understandable that people are peeved about the rate of breakdowns here, when our system is an infant compared with those in cities like London, New York, Tokyo and Paris. At this point, it is interesting (and somewhat infuriating) to hear the popular official lines for breakdowns. When a line is new, we are told teething problems are to blame. When a line is barely 30 years old, we are told it is is ageing. These excuses don't exactly fly with Singaporeans, who are reasonably well educated and well travelled. Not when lacklustre maintenance has been found to be the cause of many breakdowns. And not especially when the alternative to public transport is so costly, and beyond the reach of most households... Going by how the July 7 incident was handled, it was a shoddy effort. For a breakdown of that scale, all bus rides should be free of charge - regardless of whether commuters were directly affected by the incident. Much of the evening's confusion and delays arose because commuters did not know which buses were free and which were not. Train fares on unaffected lines should also be waived. Likewise, fares on affected lines that are finally fixed and running again... People affected by the unprecedented breakdown formed long queues to get their refund. This also contributed to the congestion and to the overall confusion. Modern fare systems elsewhere in the world have a so-called "white list" feature, where a refund is automatically given the next time a stored value card is used. This is not only infinitely more efficient than queueing for something that is rightfully yours in the first place, but it also ensures that every affected commuter gets a refund. This is not rocket science."

Male circumcision leads to a bad sex life - "If a man is circumcised, he faces an increased risk of experiencing delayed orgasm, and his female partner has an increased risk of not feeling sexually fulfilled. This is the clear-cut conclusion of a new Danish research article, which has received international attention... “Circumcised men are three times as likely to experience a frequent inability to reach an orgasm”... “It appears that women with circumcised men are twice as likely to be sexually frustrated. They experience a three-fold risk of frequent difficulties in achieving orgasm, and an eight-fold risk of feeling pain during intercourse – also known as dyspareunia.” There appears to be a very simple reason why circumcised men and their partners are having problems with their sex lives. The circumcised man develops a thin layer of hard skin on his penis head, which decreases the sensitivity. This means that in order to reach an orgasm, he needs to work harder at it, and that can lead to a painful experience for the woman."

'Fitness' foods may cause consumers to eat more, exercise less - ""Unless a food was forbidden by their diet, branding the product as 'fit' increased consumption for those trying to watch their weight," write authors Joerg Koenigstorfer (Technische Universität München) and Hans Baumgartner (Pennsylvania State University). "To make matters worse, these eaters also reduced their physical activity, apparently seeing the 'fit' food as a substitute for exercise."

Go ahead quote me - "The more I thought I was special, the lonelier I grew.''
ACTRESS GIANNA JUN on why she has cast aside her image of mystery"

Trafficking laws used to prosecute other offences - study - "Ireland is using anti-trafficking laws to prosecute crimes unrelated to trafficking, a US state department report has found... it “continued to prosecute a high number of non-trafficking crimes as trafficking cases, including child molestation cases.” It said potential victims of forced labour in cannabis production were prosecuted and imprisoned for crimes they may have been forced to commit... the Irish law that banned trafficking conflated possession or creation of child pornography with human trafficking, which meant law enforcement statistics were “unreliable”.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

On Hypocrisy

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Hypocrisy

Michael Buerk: Relationships, politics, business, religion, all depend on some level of hypocrisy don't they? More than that, hypocrisy allows us to have standards and at least pretend to meet them. Where would virtue be without it? Is hypocrisy itself a vice or a virtue? Who casts the first stone?...

Giles Fraser: Well, I don't what you mean by that, really. I mean I think hypocrisy is a dealist (sp?) moral crime. I'm a hypocrite, I think we're all hypocrites. Sometimes hypocrisy is just a consequence of aiming high, of trying to be a better person than you are. And that's got to be so much better than aiming low, espousing no moral position as a way of avoiding being exposed as a hypocrite...

Melanie Phillips: Our society's obsession with hypocrisy, with consistency, with transparency shows that it no longer has any moral virtues to betray

Matthew Taylor: Isn't that precisely the problem with hypocrisy? Which is it's a charge which by its very nature is more likely to be directed to those who assert morality, who try to do good. Because they are the ones who fail to meet their standard...

The best way to avoid hypocrisy is none of us to ever assert anything that we could ever fail to achieve...

David Runciman: It's a necessary evil... in politics, politicians kind of have to wear two faces. I mean they're appealing to different groups at different times, they have to be able to change their mind.

If we put the premium on consistency, I think we get a thinner politics as a result. So we need to tolerate it. We don't have to like it, we have to tolerate it...

If hypocrisy pervades everything, if it makes a mockery of everything, if nothing that anyone says in public can be trusted, you have a very very corrupted and corroded society and politics.

But the other side of that is if you try and drive hypocrisy out of politics, you also get something that you don't want. The drive for sincerity, I don't think gives you sincerity, it gives you paranoia, it gives you politicians who are frightened of saying things, who are frightened of appealing to our better instincts..

There're lots of kinds of hypocrisy and my problem with it is that we use it as this kind of dealbreaking argument. You spot the hypocrisy and the argument is over because the other person is a hypocrite. Lots of that hypocrisy has to be allowed...

Certainly it's a criticism that we need to have available to us. But it has become ubiquitous.

It's not just that there's a lot of hypocrisy about. There's a lot of anti-hypocrisy about as well.

There's a lot of looking for it, searching it out, partly because we know in politics it works. Negative advertising works in politics. Because most negative advertising is identifying the hypocrisy.

You once said this, now you say that. You once did this, now you did that. You're a liar.

If you look for it you'll find it. And if you find it you won't get less hypocrisy, what you'll get is more secretive politicians...

If you think of the full range of hypocrisy that covers, that kind of hypocrisy that people hate.

For instance Hilary Clinton gives a speech about climate change and then she gets on a private jet. QED, she's a hypocrite. You can't believe what she says about climate change.

It's probably hard to campaign to be President of the United States without getting on a private jet. So does that mean that none of the candidates are allowed to take climate change seriously? That's the danger the other way. And the line is somewhere between the two...

Reverend Colin Coward: Everybody at times in their lives behaves hypocritcally. It's endemic to the human condition. Because all of us are setting out to present an idealised self to the world...

Melanie Phillips: We live in a society where hypocrisy has become *the* vice. Hypocrisy is the vice that the virtues are transparency and consistency and this is a society which does not allow hypocrisy because it does not have any moral virtues to deviate from.

So it elevates the transparency into a moral virtue, thus revealing and concealing at the same time the fact that it has no moral virtues. If you don't have moral standards you can't have backsliding. The backsliding cannot ever be condoned, but paradoxically if you say you can never have any backsliding, you can never have anything to backslide from and therefore you have no morality. And that's te society we're living in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Life Advice: Sports Bras

From friend's Facebook:

"After too many incidents of having my life flash before my eyes while I flail and struggle to get out of a sweaty sports bra ONLY TO HAVE THE DAMN THING STUCK AROUND MY ARMPITS which of course only makes me perspire more out of terror -- I've finally found a way to make my life easier. So I'm posting this tip in case there are other women with the same stupid awkward problem.

First, tug at the left strap (or right, if your left hand is dominant) and then snake your left hand through. Now your rubbery boob-prison should be wrapped around you like a toga top, and you have one hand free to pull it off. It should then be *much* easier. And THEN YOU CAN BREATHE."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Links - 18th August 2015

Crusade logistics and the battle over the slave trade | Podcast | History Extra - "Ryan Cronin: It's very easy to paint it as a very sort of black and white issue, of how in these days very wealthy, influential figures campaigning to keep slavery for their own interest. But when you actually get under the surface there's a lot more complexity to it because someone like *name* employed estate managers and farmhands, and sailors and dockhands to work for him. He didn't manage the plantations himself. So all of these people, this kind of vast workforce, as well as the slaves to him were dependent on that trade. If you were a relatively poor sailor and you made your living shipping slaves, you were dependent on that. Likewise if you were a dock worker or you worked in a factory that required one of the products that was produced by slavery: cotton or sugar, you could be earning a pittance yourself, but without the slave trade you would also be out of a job. Which is why there was a lot of popular opposition to it. It isn't just as straightforward as thinking it's the rich versus the abolitionists.
Host: Because it's quite easy in hindsight to see this as a simplistic good versus evil, almost, story"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Can America's Green Initiative Bring China and Others with it? - "I think some of the things that Trump said last night were, should not be taken seriously. Absolutely for show. And his comments about women were offensive but I mean I can't even be that offended, it's so silly. And so I think we need to look past all that and think, you know, when is Trump finally gonna be put on the spot about some of these serious policy issues. And that is when we will see him fail."

BBC World Service - Forum - Sixty Second Idea to Improve the World, Make Chinese pedestrians safer by turning brake pedals into car horns - "In China, rights of way are completely inverted. Rather than yield to pedestrians or cyclists, Chinese drivers simply make liberal use of their horns and expect people to give way. Honking is so incessant that people joke it's the Chinese brake pedal. All the noise and reckless driving threatens quality of life and public safety so I propose we actually connect the car horn to the brake pedal. Now drivers can't honk unless the brake pedal is engaged. And to solve the noise issue, I propose that all car horns play a recording that says 'I'm a selfish jerk who doesn't care about peace and quiet." This potential loss of face every time you press the horn will drastically reduce frivolous honking"

Cop to Call Girl: Why I Left the LAPD to Make an Honest Living As a Beverly Hills Prostitute: Norma Jean Almodovar - "I was willing to pay them for their services, which included screening those to whom they referred me, and they also knew where I was and when I was with a client. Under the law, they are pimps too, but if I wanted to hire them and pay them for their services, what business is it of yours or the government? Can't grown women who are sex workers have agents and managers just as people who are writers, artists, in show business, sports, music industry and others do? Would you think it appropriate for some young athlete to try to negotiate a contract with a sports franchise by him or her self? Do some of those young people get ripped off by a manager or agent? Yes, and when they do, they have legal recourse, which is something that sex workers would like to have as well."

Celebs Protest Amnesty International Call to Decriminalize Prostitution - "Despite the celebrity letter's assertion that "growing evidence shows the catastrophic effects of decriminalization of the sex trade," New Zealand—which decriminalized everything from street prostitution to escort services, living off the proceeds of prostitution, and brothels in 2003—has seen safer and better working conditions for sex workers on a number of levels; increased levels of condom use; and no increase in overall prostitution levels or instances of criminal sex trafficking. Kudos to Amnesty for embracing an evidence-based, harm-reduction-centered, rights-respecting approach to sex work instead of the empty rhetoric of saving women and children by using state violence against them."

Global Movement Votes to Adopt Policy to Protect Human Rights of Sex Workers | Amnesty International - "The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence. “We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,” said Salil Shetty. The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face... The policy has drawn from an extensive evidence base from sources including UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UN Women and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. We have also conducted research in four countries. The consultation included sex worker groups, groups representing survivors of prostitution, abolitionist organizations, feminist and other women's rights representatives, LGBTI activists, anti- trafficking agencies and HIV/AIDS organizations."

D.C. Police Prioritize Stopping Theoretical Sex Over Solving Actual Crimes - "Between May 1 and June 25, nearly 30 people were killed in what are believed to be homicides in the Distict of Columbia... So what have D.C. cops been busying themselves with this summer? Well, between July 14 and today, they've arrested 50 men for soliciting prostitution... e says both the bill and the police efforts are in response to a massive influx of street-based prostitution in his neighborhoods around Logan Circle. Yet Evans offers no evidence for this claim, and it seems especially unlikely considering the trend just about everywhere has been toward more web-advertised sex sales and fewer women walking the streets. But whatever: We don't have to fully believe Evans' claim to see that even were it true, D.C. cops are not actually addressing the problem. If they really wanted to stop street-based prostitution in Logan Circle, they would either go after street-based sex workers or go after people they witness purchasing sex from them. (Not suggesting cops should do more of either, but these actions would at least make sense in regard to their stated goal.) Instead, police have been posting online ads posing as sex workers, arranging to meet men at area hotels, and then arresting the men for solicitation when they show up."

Child sexual abuse and adolescent prostitution: a comparative analysis. - "In several studies, child sexual abuse has been identified as a characteristic of adolescent prostitution. The implication of these findings, especially for girls, is that the two phenomena are related in that childhood sexual abuse perhaps leads to prostitution. The present study explored the relationship between sexual abuse and adolescent prostitution by comparing 70 sexually abused children with 35 prostitution-involved children on 22 variables. Findings suggest that the relationship is not directed, but involves runaway behavior as an intervening variable. It is not so much that sexual abuse leads to prostitution as it is that running away leads to prostitution"

Sexual Abuse as a Precursor to Prostitution and Victimization Among Adolescent and Adult Homeless Women - "the findings indicate that early sexual abuse only indirectly affects the chances of victimization by increasing the likelihood of a life-style based on participation in risky activities and events"
In other words, the claim that prostitutes are only prostitutes because they were sexually abused as children is wrong

Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist - "Connolly has a plea for writer and producers: go beyond wheelchairs. “Only one in seven disabled people are wheelchair users. So it’s important to present disability in all its diversity … [and] for the disabled person to be presented not as the vulnerable member of the band, but as the leader, the person who finds the solutions to challenges the group face. We need more stories like that.”"
Comments: "I think that at least childhood has the right to be as carefree as possible."
"And you reckon that's what children turn on the telly to watch?"
"One option is that Guardian journalists finance a children's programme with a disabled character, rather than hoping that a private TV company does so."
""What gets counted as a disability such that 1 in 20 children supposedly count as disabled?"
"Being a bit more sensitive than the other kids?""
"How about having some fat, black, disabled lesbian characters?"
"I'm sure that a child who has problems socialising with other children, has behavioral issues issues and has learning difficulties, who is in a wheelchair, or at least crutches, would be popular with children. But people who make children's TV programmes are just afraid to make the leap. Perhaps the character could also be dumb and deaf. Would that be going too far?"
"Also a lack of representations in toys of disability. I was looking for a miniature wheelchair recently (doll size) and found it really hard and the only ones found were very expensive. Barbie in a wheelchair was discontinued - loved a blog that said this was because she could not access a doll's house - and you just don't get blind Action Men. I did find a picture of a bear in a racing wheelchair that looks great but it seems not to be available any more either."
"Maybe Horrid Henry and Dennis the Mennace actually have ADHD. I'm dyslexic but no one would ever know unless I told them." (in other words, disability isn't always visible so activists can't have their cake and eat it)

Taking the Mickey? Disneyland Paris accused of overcharging foreign visitors - "“Too often, consumers seeking to buy services or goods in another member state are prevented from getting the best price,” she added. The Financial Times newspaper reported that Europe’s biggest amusement park was under investigation for overcharging British and German customers. It said that Disney was charging French consumers €1,346 euros (US$1,487/£955) for a premium package, while Britons were charged €1,870 euros and German visitors a whopping €2,447 euros. France now has the responsibility to ensure that Disneyland Paris is complying with EU fair trading laws, an EU source said, adding that Brussels was expected to contact Paris about the case."
This must be why I don't get swindled in Europe - only in Asia

Hackers take a page (literally) from Jane Austen - "Researchers from Cisco Security said in a report released Tuesday that literary passages are becoming a new way to hide malicious code that allow hackers unlawful entry into computers and networks... Cisco researchers said encountering references to Austen characters on a webpage "may be perplexing but not a cause for immediate concern." Jason Brvenik, a Cisco engineer, said it remains a mystery about who is behind the literary hacking or why that novel was chosen over others. "It is a seemingly random selection but it always from that book," he told AFP."

Poverty Can Trump a Winning Hand of Genes - WSJ - "When psychologists first started studying twins, they found identical twins much more likely to have similar IQs than fraternal ones. They concluded that IQ was highly "heritable"—that is, due to genetic differences. But those were all high SES twins. Erik Turkheimer of the University of Virginia and his colleagues discovered that the picture was very different for poor, low-SES twins. For these children, there was very little difference between identical and fraternal twins: IQ was hardly heritable at all. Differences in the environment, like whether you lucked out with a good teacher, seemed to be much more important. In the new study, the Bates team found this was even true when those children grew up. IQ was much less heritable for people who had grown up poor... Richer children have similarly good educational opportunities, so genetic differences among them become more apparent."

Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children's intelligence - "we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children's IQ at ages 7 and 12... Our analysis provides the first DNA-based evidence that the well documented association between family SES and children's cognitive development, routinely interpreted as an environmental effect, is substantially mediated by genetic factors... it should be recognized that from a genetic perspective, equal opportunity will result in relatively greater genetic influence, as reflected in greater parent–offspring correlations: As environmental differences diminish, variation that remains between children in their outcomes will be due to a greater extent to their genetic differences. In other words, heritability can be viewed as an index of meritocratic social mobility."

Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth - "Among own-birth children (Column 1), the rank-rank coefficient is approximately 0.35. Among adoptees (Column 2), we find that child's wealth is predominantly associated with that of adoptive parents and has a much weaker relationship with biological parents’ wealth. The rank coefficient for biological parent wealth is 0.11 but that for adoptive parent wealth is 0.27... it appears that, even in a relatively egalitarian society like Sweden, wealth begets wealth... the pathway through which parental wealth affects child wealth does not appear to be primarily parental schooling and income or child human capital accumulation and greater labor earnings. Taken together, our findings suggest potential roles for intergenerational transmission of preferences (children of wealthier parents may choose to save more or invest in assets that have higher returns) or for financial gifts from parents to children. Unfortunately, we do not have information on savings behavior or on financial gifts so this evidence is only suggestive"
The conclusion is not that simple and doesn't demolish the idea of meritocracy: if rich parents teach their kids how to be rich this is still something the children have "earned"

UOB One vs OCBC 360 - Interest

So, probably to compete with the OCBC 360 Account, UOB has launched its UOB One Account which has very similar criteria for bonus interest, and provides up to 3.33% per annum interest.

Yet, this 3.33% does not apply to all of your deposit - you get 1.5% on the first $10,000, 2% on the next $20,000 and 3.33% on the next $20,000. And everything above $50,000 only gets you 0.05%.

On the other hand, OCBC 360 gives you a flat 2.25% on everything from $0 to $60,000. Even though this is down from the old 3.05% one can still intuit that for certain amounts OCBC will still give you more interest.

I have taken the liberty of doing some calculations to find the sweet range (as it is a range, and not a spot) where UOB One will give you more interest than OCBC 360.

Assumptions for UOB One:
- You credit your salary to the account or perform 3 GIRO transactions
- You spend $500 on your UOB One card

Assumptions for OCBC 360:
- You credit your salary to the account
- You pay 3 bills online or through GIRO
- You spend $500 on OCBC Credit Cards

For OCBC 360 there're additional bonus categories of 1% for insuring or investing with OCBC and 1% on incremental account balances. However I am excluding these: the first because you need to insure/invest a substantial sum and the bonus lasts for only a year, and the second because it requires an increase in your balance each month and only applies to your incremental account balance, and only for a month at that (i.e. the 1% per annum works out to a measly 0.083%).

After some Excel wizardry, the sweet range is calculated to be between $41,574 and $54,136 - below or above this OCBC's 360 gets you more interest than UOB's One.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On the Supreme Court on (Gay) Marriage Equality

Why These Four Justices Rejected Marriage Equality - "At the conclusion of his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts offers a backhanded word of congratulations:
"If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it"...
"for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening... Neither petitioners nor the majority cites a single case or other legal source providing any basis for such a constitutional right. None exists, and that is enough to foreclose their claim. One immediate question invited by the majority’s position is whether States may retain the definition of marriage as a union of two people. Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective 'two' in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. ... If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. ... It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage... By deciding this question under the Constitution, the Court removes it from the realm of democratic decision. There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance. Closing debate tends to close minds...
[The decision] will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent... If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims... Most Americans — understandably — will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage. But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends"

It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy - "the moral reasoning behind society’s rejection of polygamy remains just as uncomfortable and legally weak as same-sex marriage opposition was until recently. That’s one reason why progressives who reject the case for legal polygamy often don’t really appear to have their hearts in it... Why the opposition, from those who have no interest in preserving “traditional marriage” or forbidding polyamorous relationships? I think the answer has to do with political momentum, with a kind of ad hoc-rejection of polygamy as necessary political concession. And in time, I think it will change... Conventional arguments against polygamy fall apart with even a little examination. Appeals to traditional marriage, and the notion that child rearing is the only legitimate justification of legal marriage, have now, I hope, been exposed and discarded by all progressive people. What’s left is a series of jerry-rigged arguments that reflect no coherent moral vision of what marriage is for, and which frequently function as criticisms of traditional marriage as well... If we’re going to ban marriages because some are sites of sexism and abuse, then we’d have to start with the old fashioned one-husband-and-one-wife model. If polygamy tends to be found within religious traditions that seem alien or regressive to the rest of us, that is a function of the very illegality that should be done away with. Legalize group marriage and you will find its connection with abuse disappears. Another common argument, and another unsatisfying one, is logistical. In this telling, polygamous marriages would strain the infrastructure of our legal systems of marriage, as they are not designed to handle marriage between more than two people. In particular, the claim is frequently made that the division of property upon divorce or death would be too complicated for polygamous marriages. I find this argument eerily reminiscent of similar efforts to dismiss same-sex marriage on practical grounds. (The forms say husband and wife! What do you want us to do, print new forms?) Logistics, it should go without saying, are insufficient reason to deny human beings human rights... This bedrock principle of mutually-informed consent explains exactly why we must permit polygamy and must oppose bestiality and child marriage. Animals are incapable of voicing consent; children are incapable of understanding what it means to consent"
Do animals consent to be slaughtered for food? Didn't women use to be said to be incapable of consent? Can all adults meaningfully consent?

The Volokh Conspiracy - The Slippery Slope to Same-Sex Marriage: - "The California Supreme Court decision striking down California's opposite-sex-only-marriage rule helps illustrate, I think, what I call "legislative-judicial slippery slopes" — the tendency of some legislative decisions to affect future judicial decisions, even judicial decisions that cover territory considerably beyond the original statute. Now this tendency is often pooh-poohed when the initial legislative decision takes place — and of course that makes sense, because the decision's backers want to argue that the decision is quite narrow. Thus, for instance, consider:
1. Editorial, A Vote Against Hate, Louisville Courier-J., Feb. 3, 1994, at 6A, arguing that the claim that a hate crime law "would lead to acceptance of gay marriages" was "arrant nonsense."
2. Editorial, A Gay-Protection Forum, Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 1989, at A30: "Nor does passage of the bill [that bans sexual orientation discrimination in various commercial transactions] put Massachusetts on a 'slippery slope' toward [same-sex marriage or domestic benefit] rights."
3. Phil Pitchford, Council Members Wary of Partner Registry, Riverside Press-Enterprise (quoting Riverside Human Relations Commission member Kay Smith): "Those that truly have a problem with homosexuality will see [a domestic partnership proposal] as part of the 'slippery slope' [toward same-sex marriages] .... But, this legislation needs to be looked at on the face value of what it is, and it really does very little."
Yet consider how the California Supreme Court used the legislative enactment of these sorts of laws as part of its basis for deciding that the right to marry should be seen as encompassing same-sex marriage"
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