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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Links - 12th September 2015

The Chinese Lingerie Venders of Egypt - "Egyptian women need two separate wardrobes, for their public and their private lives. Usually, they also acquire a third line of clothing, which is designed to be sexy. The two women in niqabs quickly found two items that the sheikh approved of: matching sets of thongs and skimpy, transparent nightgowns, one in red and the other in blue... Chinese dealers rarely speculate about their Egyptian customers, even the ones they see frequently. Kiki told me that some local women visit two or three times a month, and they acquire more than a hundred sets of the nightgowns and panties, so China Star changes its stock every two months. When I pressed the Chinese to analyze the demand, they often said that it’s because Egyptian men like sex, and because there are so many restrictions on public attire... I was certain that even the most self-confident American woman would be mortified by the idea of shopping for lingerie with her fiancé, her mother, and her teen-age brother, not to mention doing this in the presence of two Chinese shop owners, their assistant, and a foreign journalist. But I had witnessed similar scenes at other shops in Upper Egypt, where an arusa is almost always accompanied by family members or friends, and the ritual seems largely disconnected from sex in people’s minds... when I asked casually what he considered to be the biggest problem in Egypt, the forcefulness of his response surprised me. “Inequality between men and women,” he said immediately. “Here the women just stay home and sleep. If they want to develop, the first thing they need to do is solve this problem""

Is new China the old Japan? - "Pointedly, at the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit in Shanghai, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a new “Asian Security concept,” which in essence called for Asian security to be left to Asians. China has indeed “stood up,” and a century of “humiliation” at the hands of Western powers is long over, as China, the second-largest economy in the world, resumes its “rightful” place in the world order. Flash back to the 1930s and 1940s as Imperial Japan’s propaganda machine exhorted Asians to control their own destinies and throw aside the yoke of Western colonial rule. Asia for Asians was the mantra. And better yet, Japan’s leaders argued, come join Japan in a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” where all would benefit as Japan took its rightful leadership role in the region. Well, we all know how well that played out"

As a former extremist who knew Anjem Choudary, I fear for the mentality of British Muslims - "Despite the fact that up to 1000 British citizens have travelled to join Isis’ medieval theocratic nightmare, and in some cases entire families have up and left, it is true that only a tiny minority of Muslims worldwide support ISIS. But I fear that too many Muslims disagree with Isis’ caliphate, not because it is a caliphate, but because it is not their caliphate. The very idea of resurrecting a theocracy in this day and age has worrying levels of support. According to one survey, 33% of British Muslims supported the notion of creating a worldwide caliphate based on a version of sharia, as law. And if our only criticism of Isis is that its theocracy is not utopian enough, this doesn’t bode well. The cumulative effect of our Islamist preaching in the UK since the early 90s has resulted in polarised communities and unhealthy theocratic aspirations forming a normalised part of life among too many British Muslims... when wider society adopts this trope of liberal Muslims being the ‘other extreme’, it shows how low expectations of Muslims have become in the mainstream"

Did defenders of castles really pour boiling oil down on attackers? - "oil was a valuable resource and it was probably too scarce to be anything other than an occasional weapon... the prize for ingenuity has to go to the defenders of Chester who, in 905, are said to have inflicted a stinging defeat on the Vikings by dropping the town’s beehives on them."

How MH370 Changed Malaysia - "Malaysia’s independent media and political opposition were energized by the government’s sudden responsiveness. MH370 was proof that enough pressure (combined with international shaming) could bring at least some transparency to Malaysian politics and governance. In the year since the disappearance, independent media and Malaysia’s opposition have been much more aggressive in their questioning of the government. And they've produced real results, including a long-sought audit of a Malaysian government development fund plagued by allegations of financial mismanagement... Not long after the disappearance, a former Malaysian ambassador to Beijing told the Malaysian Insider that he believed that China’s reaction revealed a “bullying tendency,” and added: “China has bullied the Philippines and Vietnam. So Malaysia has to be careful.” He also said that Malaysia should review ties between the two countries.Over the last year, the Malaysian government has also made an effort to build closer ties with the United States. It even invited U.S. spy planes to use bases on Malaysian territory -- an invitation that likely infuriated China"

British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown given police protection after being followed and photographed in Hyde Park - "Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has been accused of “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” after publishing documents on her blog Sarawak Report detailing how nearly $700m was paid into the personal bank accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Officials in Kuala Lumpur have said the money came from an unnamed Arab donor and was for political not personal purposes."

Two Mac viruses strike at the heart of the platform's secure image - "So proud has Apple been of its security that it even ran several spots in its Mac vs PC ad campaign dedicated to the idea that Macs don’t get viruses... “Apple was informed about said bug months ago and as usual did the irresponsible to fix it for some beta half a year in the future only.""

Breaking: Colorado Anti-Gay Cake Baker Loses Appeal, Again - The New Civil Rights Movement - "A Colorado Court of Appeals finds there is no difference between discriminating against someone because they are gay and discriminating against someone because they are marrying someone of the same gender."
If I refuse to sell a wedding cake to a Muslim man marrying his second wife am I guilty of discrimination?

Raising minimum wage a 'completely hopeless' way of reducing poverty, says OBR - Telegraph - "The Chancellor's new "national living wage" is a "completely hopeless" way of trying to reduce poverty that could leave the economy with higher unemployment if another crisis hits, economists have warned. Stephen Nickell, one of the leaders of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the Government’s fiscal watchdog, claimed that the number of people in “poor” households who were likely to benefit from a higher minimum wage was “very small”. “In other words, minimum wages as a method of relieving poverty is completely hopeless because most people on the minimum wage don’t live in poor households,” he told the Treasury select committee... the OBR expects half of the cash gains in household income to be accrued to to the richest 50pc of households. This is because many workers on the minimum wage are second earners living in higher income households"

'Abortion drone' to fly pills across border into Poland

What happened when an anti-Semite found he was Jewish? - "As his old personality collapsed, Szegedi performed radical surgery on himself. He even set fire to copies of his own biography, I Believe in the Resurrection of the Hungarian Nation... Budapest is a great place to be a Jew in, he beams - with its kosher restaurants, synagogues, and Jewish shops. You can practise your culture, and practise your faith here. You might get funny looks if you wear a kippah - a traditional Jewish skullcap - but you won't be spat on, or physically threatened as you might be in France or Belgium. "The paradox of Hungarian nationalism," says the man who used to fly its banner, "is that we are proud of our own achievements, but we're not willing to look at those of other peoples. We're afraid their cultures might be as valuable as ours.""

10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew - "In the film he dons a kippah - the traditional Jewish skullcap - in front of the Eiffel Tower, and wanders the streets of the city. He appears to face significant abuse as he walks around. Residents are seen staring and spitting at him, while others apparently shout "Jew" and "Viva Palestine"... The clips featured appear to be shot in poorer and predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods. Could he be accused of deliberately seeking out negative comments? He doesn't see it that way. "If I was walking around with an Israeli flag, I understand it might create negative feelings. But I don't think [wearing a kippah] should generate that kind of thing." So are Jewish people confronted with this kind of abuse throughout the city? No, not everywhere, Klein tells BBC Trending. In its more famous neighbourhoods - around the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower - he saw "a little bit, but nothing worth putting in the video". "As we went to the suburbs, or certain neighbourhoods in the city, the remarks became more violent," he says"
If you show evidence that Muslims are racist, you're racist!

Why Jianbing is China's Most Popular Street Breakfast - "After word of Grandy's success at cooking jianbing reached China, it led some to accuse her of "stealing" jianbing, leading to a storm of internet controversy. A sense of cultural ownership may go some way to explaining why everyday Chinese people felt the need to vent their rage when they learned foreigners were cooking "their" jianbing. Over the next week, every jianbing vendor in China seems to be discussing how an American has stolen the Chinese secret of jianbing and is now getting rich on the knowledge. "She learned how to make jianbing in Ningbo," one vendor tells me, confidentially. "It took two years." Another tells me she studied in Beijing. Everyone, it seems, can't believe an American can charge six dollars for something that costs them about 80 cents. "Those Americans," says one vendor. "They're so good at business.""

Two women referred to ‘terror’ court for driving in Saudi Arabia

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS140 - Kenny Easwaran on, "Newcomb's Paradox and the tragedy of rationality" - "in the 1950s, the statistician R.A. Fisher, in his early life developed a lot of the important groundwork of statistics and biology that shaped much of the 20th century. But later in life he was actually working for the cigarette companies. He was arguing that the evidence we have, so far, at least in the 1950s, doesn't prove that smoking causes cancer. What he said is, "For all we know, there's just certain people that tend to like smoking and this is caused by some sort of biological feature, and it's just a coincidence that the people who tend to like smoking, the same trait that causes them to like smoking also tends to cause lung cancer," he said... some hospitals have higher death rates, and people often assume that this means that the hospitals are worse, but in fact they're better hospitals and they're just taking on riskier cases of people who are more likely to die anyway, and the hospitals are increasing their chance of surviving. Still, the base rate of death is just higher, because those are tougher cases."

29 baller castles you can rent on Airbnb

Here is the New Indonesian Passport DesignIndonesian Perspective to Global Audience - "The new passport, which comes with 48 blank pages, has a variation of background images. These images are sampled from the Indonesian flora, fauna, scenery and other natural resources. Among the background images are those of a turtle, cendrawasih (bird-of-paradise), tropical forest, Samosir Island, and raflesia flower. These background images are significantly more enriched as compared to the old passport, which only contained one kind of background image in all its pages, a flower."
Third World country, First World passport

Canadian passport reveals its design secrets - "each fairly standard-looking page of the passport (historical figures, well-known monuments etc) is brought to life in a blaze of pattern and colour when view under a 'black light' or ultra-violet light source. The design feature acts as an additional security feature that many Canadian's are just unaware of but presumably is viewable at passport desks around the world."

"I don't like chocolate so I'm going to make sure that nobody eats it because I KNOW BETTER"

Buying Sex Should Not Be Legal - The New York Times


"Ms. Moran's description of the sex market is no different from any labor market susceptible to exploiting girls and young women, yet perfectly legal and accepted in society: the garment industry, the fashion industry, the nail salon industry, etc. All these industries too suffer from increased black market activity and human trafficking. Yet would it be the solution to criminalize all these industries?

Suppose we applied the "Nordic model" to the garment industry, where child labor and human trafficking are particularly notorious, in order to protect workers who make, say Nike sneakers, but we'd criminalize the "pimp" Nike and all "johns" who purchase Nike sneakers. Sure, consumption of sneakers would fall, the number of sweatshop sneaker factories would fall, the exploitation of factory workers would fall, and child labor and human trafficking would fall.

But under which model are workers more protected, earn better wages, work in better conditions, have greater pride in their work, when it is legal and visible with a panoply of regulatory protection or when it is illegal and underground?"

"For those of us who have worked in the legal system, we have seen first hand that prostitutes are not as they are portrayed by the media. And we also know that even in marriages, there is bargaining about sex and money and power. We cannot legislate morality."

"The surest way for government to abdicate control of any commodity is to prohibit it."

"The difference with your article is that Amnesty International has done its homework to develop a policy, and in that process interviewed a large number of sex workers to get their viewpoints too... To develop a policy which is based only on personal experience without the inclusion of others experience, as well as what is good for society at large, is to develop a flawed policy."

"My heart goes out to Rachel Moran for the harm she experienced as an underage prostitute. But she is not exactly an impartial observer in this debate and I don't mean because she is a former sex worker. I mean that she and her organization are getting paid to express these views... the Swedish approach -- criminalizing buyers -- that she espouses has not worked. It has not decreased the number of sex workers in Sweden or sex trafficking in that region; all it's done is make sex work more dangerous for the people who do it by choice. As I discovered in researching my book, Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, research shows that decriminalizing sex work -- in places like New Zealand and the Netherlands -- has made sex work much safer"

""I don't like chocolate so I'm going to make sure that nobody eats it because I KNOW BETTER". Recently I read some news in a British paper regarding the police freeing some Rumanian labor workers in the British country side, they were forced into picking fruit. In your eyes here's the solution: Let's ban fruit picking."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Links - 11th September 2015

Publishers have themselves to blame for the ad-blocking apocalypse - "many publishers both large and small are caught in a Catch-22 kind of situation: They rely on advertising for their financial well-being, but in order to cater to advertisers who want to see large numbers, many feel they have to pump out as much shallow click-bait as they possibly can. That in turn makes their sites even more reliant on advertising, because no one in their right mind would actually pay to subscribe to a site that publishes that kind of content. Meanwhile, the continuing decline in rates for most forms of digital advertising causes these publishers to make even more Faustian deals with sketchy ad networks, click farms, popup manufacturers and recommendation engines like Taboola and Outbrain. And that in turn causes reader churn, low engagement and poor clickthrough rates, and probably increases the growth of ad blockers. One tangible result of all this sturm und drang is that it is increasing the demand for “native advertising,” which looks like normal content and thus is theoretically impervious to ad blocking... the benefit of good native advertising is that readers don’t see it as advertising, they simply see it as useful or interesting content (if it’s done properly, that is). And therefore they don’t want to block it."

Chinese TV host to be punished for insulting Mao in private

How to save lions in Africa? Hunt them, conservationists say - "most conservation groups, wildlife management experts and African governments support the practice as a way to maintain wildlife. Hunting, they contend, is part of a complex economy that has so far proven to be the most effective method of conservation, not only in Africa but around the world as well. While hunting is banned in government parks here in South Africa, animals inside their boundaries are routinely sold to game ranches when their populations are considered excessive, generating money to maintain habitats and fight poachers. And because trophy hunting is legal in private game reserves, the animals end up fetching higher prices than they would in being killed for food or other reasons, conservationists contend... "There's only two places on the Earth where wildlife at a large scale has actually increased in the 20th century, and those are North America and southern Africa," said Dr Rosie Cooney, a zoologist who is the chairwoman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group. "Both of those models of conservation were built around hunting"... The reality in Africa, they say, is that most animals, including elephants, rhinos and lions, are not killed by trophy hunters.Instead, they are killed by local residents for meat or in clashes as wild habitats shrink... lions were now protected because of the high value attached to them as trophies. Locals tolerate them because of the income that trickles down. Without the trophy hunt money, locals would increasingly poison lions, which are considered dangerous to people and livestock"

This World Rocks 17 Bucket List Items RUINED by Real Images - "Here is a good rule of thumb: If bottomless-pockets Oprah isn’t able to visit somewhere without avoiding herds of tourists, then you won’t be able to either."
Wah, the Over Exposed Model visited Rome!

In Liberal Europe, Abortion Laws Come With Their Own Restrictions - "I assumed that Western Europe would be the land of abortion on demand, likely government-subsidized, and possibly with a free bag of condoms afterward. But as it turns out, abortion laws in Europe are both more restrictive and more complicated than that. Waiting periods, decried by American pro-choicers as infantilizing and unreasonably burdensome, are common in Western Europe... in America, abortion laws are about morality, while in Europe, they reflect national ideas of what constitutes the common good"

Eye Shapes Of The Animal World Hint At Differences In Our Lifestyles - "The shape of the animal's pupil, it "turns out, is closely related to the animal's size and whether it's a predator or prey."

You want hypotheticals? Here’s one. - "The fact is that by the end of Bush’s tenure the war had been won. You can argue that the price of that victory was too high. Fine. We can debate that until the end of time. But what is not debatable is that it was a victory. Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” This was, said the president, a “moment of success.” Which Obama proceeded to fully squander. With the 2012 election approaching, he chose to liquidate our military presence in Iraq. We didn’t just withdraw our forces. We abandoned, destroyed or turned over our equipment, stores, installations and bases. We surrendered our most valuable strategic assets, such as control of Iraqi airspace, soon to become the indispensable conduit for Iran to supply and sustain the Assad regime in Syria and cement its influence all the way to the Mediterranean. And, most relevant to the fall of Ramadi, we abandoned the vast intelligence network we had so painstakingly constructed in Anbar province, without which our current patchwork operations there are largely blind and correspondingly feeble. The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake?... the damage was self-inflicted. The current situation in Iraq, says David Petraeus, “is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years.”"

Black Lives Matter activists push Sanders off stage at Seattle event - "Sanders was just about to address several thousand people who gathered shoulder to shoulder at Westlake Park when two women took over the microphone. Organizers couldn’t persuade the two to wait and greed to give them a few minutes. The women spoke about Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown. They also held a four minute moment of silence. When the crowd asked the activists to allow Sanders to speak, one activist called the crowd "white supremacist liberals," according to event participants."

50 hospitals charge uninsured more than 10 times cost of care, study finds

Who Farts? And Who Cares? - "Non-heterosexual men were an interesting conundrum. They were as likely as heterosexual men to think that the hearer would think it was funny, but the least likely to engage in intentional flatulence and the most likely to make sure that when they poop, they do so alone. Non-heterosexual women were also a conundrum. They were the least likely to think the hearer would laugh at a fart, but second only to heterosexual men in the practice of farting on purpose to get a reaction."

How nonsense papers ended up in respected scientific journals. - "Cyril Labbé, a French computer scientist, recently informed Springer and the IEEE, two major scientific publishers, that between them, they had published more than 120 algorithmically-generated articles. In 2012, Labbé had told the IEEE of another batch of 85 fake articles. He's been playing with SCIgen for a few years—in 2010 a fake researcher he created, Ike Antkare, briefly became the 21st most highly cited scientist in Google Scholar's database... quantitative measures of citation have acquired an importance that is distorting the practice of science... As Peter Higgs said after he won last year's Nobel Prize in physics, "Today I wouldn't get an academic job. It's as simple as that. I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough." Jens Skou, a 1997 Nobel Laureate, put it this way in his Nobel biographical statement: today's system puts pressure on scientists for, "too fast publication, and to publish too short papers, and the evaluation process use[s] a lot of manpower. It does not give time to become absorbed in a problem as the previous system [did]." Today, the most critical measure of an academic article's importance is the “impact factor” of the journal it is published in. The impact factor, which was created by a librarian named Eugene Garfield in the early 1950s, measures how often articles published in a journal are cited. Creating the impact factor helped make Garfield a multimillionaire—not a normal occurrence for librarians... The gibberish papers (“TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce”) are only the absurdist culmination of an academic evaluation and publication process set up to encourage them."

New study shows that people stop listening to new music at 33

Study Finds That The More Beautiful Your Home Is, The Less Likely You Are To Be Religious - "One of most cited studies in the sociology of religion is Bronislaw Malinowski's work in the Trobriand Islands. Malinowski found that fishermen venturing onto the perilous open ocean applied “magical thinking” through rituals that were skipped by those catching food in the calm (and very beautiful) waters of the lagoon."

Physically-attractive males increase men's financial risk-taking - "Prior research has examined how sexual opposite-sex stimuli impact people's choices and behaviors. However, it is largely unknown whether sexual same-sex stimuli also do so. This research reports an intriguing phenomenon: men who see attractive males take greater financial risks than those who do not. An evolution-based account is proffered and tested across four experiments"

Why you shouldn’t tell children they can be whatever they want - "I am drawn towards this subject by two personal factors – my father telling me, as I was growing up, that ambition is a curse. In defiance of this, I became hugely ambitious – thus defying my father’s edict and, at the same time, in a strange way, confirming it. Because although I have achieved way beyond my father’s – and even my own – expectations, it has not brought the happiness I imagined was guaranteed with the package. In fact, most of the joy I have got out of my life has been through the commonplace activities of home, family and hobbies, rather than being that most sought-after occupation, a novelist, which pushes me constantly to the frontiers of my limited abilities. Yes, I have won a few laurels – but the price I have paid in terms of effort and struggle and disappointment is high... “By implying that the only options are superstardom or mediocrity, we ignore where most of us ultimately land – that huge middle ground between anything and nothing much at all”... is it so shameful to want to be a nurse rather than a doctor, a schoolteacher rather than a university lecturer?... The idea that your success in work represents your success as a person is useful for capitalism, but it can extract an exacting personal cost... Instead of teaching “you’re special, you’re great”, we should emphasise self-control and hard work, which are positively correlated with success. And we should define for our children some alternative life goals to reaching for the stars – because for the overwhelming majority of us, they will always sparkle, coldly, out of reach."

There are too many studies, new study finds - "In a paper entitled 'Attention decay in science', professors from universities in Finland and California conclude that "the exponential growth in the number of scientific papers makes it increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of all the publications relevant to their work."

Revolution and Tyranny

Episode 4: A New Hope

"They are led by the Hero, who motivates them through a bunch of empty concepts. Like Freedom. Or Justice. Or Peace. Or the People, the rakyat. Or Love, or Hope, or Good.

This word 'Freedom' stirs up lots of warm fuzzy feelings. And by definition, anyone who opposes freedom must be evil. But these are empty words. Of course freedom is better than tyranny. No one ever goes out there and says he's fighting for tyranny. Of course you're fighting for the People. Why would you fight for the Elite?

The Japanese said they were liberating us from the British...

Freedom is an abstract. If nothing specific is added, you instinctively fill in the blank with whatever freedom means to you. Have you noticed that in Star Wars, the Rebel Alliance never actually says what they are fighting for, beyond these empty abstractions?...

When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, and the opening crawl said: 'Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute' and people said 'Oh, that's so unrealistic. That's so boring. Who starts a war over a tax dispute?'

Well, actually that's how the American and French Revolutions both started... But no sooner did one group of men assume power than they promptly began oppressing everyone who disagreed with them. In America, the notion that All Men Are Created Equal was not extended to women, to Native Americans or to the enslaved. Indeed it had been the British Army which had been keeping the American colonies and the Native Americans apart apart, but the colonials wanted that land... In France, the ideals of the Revolution gave way to the Counter Revolution via the Reign of Terror...

In 1799, Napoleon returned to France to a hero's welcome and overthrew the ineffective, violent, hated dictatorship known as the Directory. And then seized power and had himself declared as Emperor...

The first wave of revolution around the world shows us that decolonisation inevitably leads to new oppression. How does this happen? We come back to the problem of what happens after the ragtag band of rebels wins. They want to hold on to power and get rid of their enemies: real or perceived. Freedom and democracy work both ways after all. What's to stop another ragtag band of rebels from overthrowing you?

So you need something to justify your continued hold on power. You need group solidarity. You need to convince people that you and you alone somehow have the right to rule.

Now, in the past, this was done by being the best or strongest or most powerful... or you had the Divine Right to Rule. For example the Chinese Empire... in the modern world, that doesn't work. This idea cannot be rooted in power or divine right, because people will rebel. It has to be somehow rooted with the people.

What do you do?

And so by the time we reach the second wave of decolonisation, the world was wiser. The answer was to localise anti-imperial pro-freedom ideology into racial, geographical and cultural context.

This is nationalism.

Indeed, the greatest love affair of the 20th century was between the people of the world and the concept of nationalism...

Nation states have become mini colonial empires. Our nationalism has resulted in new colonialism and imperialism within the borders of own countries. The Malay states of Southern Thailand, Sabah and Sarawak, Mindanao, Aceh, Timor-Leste, Papua, Requin (sp?). These are all also victims of new internal imperialism. Initially, Southeast Asian government supported insurrectionist movements in each other's countries.

But after the fall of Sukarno and the end of Konfrontasi, the governments got together and said, you know what? We're all elites. We're all in this together. Let's agree to stop undermining each other.

And hence ASEAN was founded in 1967, with its chief mission: to protect each other's borders against those pesky people who want to have rights of their own...

Someone is bound to disagree. Someone is bound to lose out. How you handle that disagreement is all important. If you try to silence those who disagree. If you dismiss them. If you ignore them. If you suppress them. If you arrest them. If you kill them. Then you are the new imperialist.

The only solution we have ever come up for all this, is democracy. The function of democracy is to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. And it is a terrible answer, it's far from the perfect answer. It has to be renewed everyday. It has to be constantly watched over. It has to be constantly refreshed to understand the problems - all these new problems that develop every day but: it's, it's all we have. It's difficult. It's tiring. But the day we stop fighting for more freedom, the day you stop being a rebel, is the day you start becoming the Empire. That is why the price of freedom is eternal vigilance"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Links -- 10th September 2015

GE2015: Voters concerned about future, weighing options very carefully, says ESM Goh - "A "very strong team" is needed, as every minister has strengths and weaknesses, he added. The exception, he said, was founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who "was all strength and no weakness"."
Let's beatify him already

Muslim Woman Offended by One Word on Restaurant’s Sign. Owners Take It Down. And the Word Was… - "after Sneakers Bistro & Cafe kicked in for “Operation Bloom” at the bottom of the Winooski Circle, the restaurant put a bright yellow sign on a lamp post telling drivers to “Yield for Bacon” at Sneakers."

Japanese north–south gradient in IQ predicts differences in stature, skin color, income, and homicide rate - "Regional differences in IQ are estimated for 47 prefectures of Japan. IQ scores obtained from official achievement tests show a gradient from north to south. Latitudes correlate with height, IQ, and skin color at r = 0.70, 0.44, 0.47, respectively. IQ also correlates with height (0.52), skin color (0.42), income (0.51) after correction, less homicide rate (− 0.60), and less divorce (− 0.69) but not with fertility infant mortali'ty. The lower IQ in southern Japanese islands could be attributable to warmer climates with less cognitive demand for more than fifteen hundred years."
If they're all the same race, it means he can't be accused of racism, right?

Temperature, skin color, per capita income, and IQ: An international perspective - "Our findings provide strong support for the observation of Lynn and of Rushton that persons in colder climates tend to have higher IQs. These findings could also be viewed as congruent with, although not providing unequivocal evidence for, the contention that higher intelligence evolves in colder climates. The finding of higher IQ in Eurasians than Africans could also be viewed as congruent with the position of Diamond (1997) that knowledge and resources are transmitted more readily on the Eurasian west–east axis."

Gene Expression: Validity of national skin color-IQ - "The criticisms by Hunt & Sternberg are based largely on a misreading of Templer & Arikawa's methods, particularly the method for deriving national skin color values. A paper published in 2000 by Jablonski & Chaplin ("The evolution of human skin coloration") can more directly address these criticisms. Jablonski & Chaplin published a table of skin color reflectance values from many old world populations (Table 6, also see the appendix). I very crudely averaged values from the same country to make a new measure of national skin color. This measure of national skin color correlates with the skin color index of Templer & Arikawa at r=-.91 (the negative is not important here). The reflectance measure of skin color correlates with national IQ at r=.87. The school achievement measure of Lynn et al. correlates r=-.79 with the skin color index of Templer & Arikawa and r=.75 with the skin color reflectance values crudely averaged from Jablonski & Chaplin. Thus, the skin color values derived by Templer & Arikawa are well validated by an external data source and the national IQ-skin color relationship is found to be robust across two measures of national IQ and two measures of national skin color... Latitude (and hence colder climate) is associated with IQ not only cross-nationally (.67) but within the US as well. AE found a correlation of .70 between his measure of state IQ and the latitude of the most populous city in each of the 50 states. Furthermore intelligence is associated with latitude equally for both US whites and blacks (.52 and .51)."

Political storm over a teacup - "High Court witnesses are not usually treated to warm beverages, and certainly not served by uniformed attendants. "It shocked the lawyers I spoke to that the judge should allow such a thing," says Stuart Littlemore, an Australian QC who observed the trial for the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). "It's not trivial, because it was a symptom of the court's deference." In his report for the ICJ, published after Mr Goh won his case last week, Mr Littlemore wrote: "He came to court as an ordinary citizen, not as Prime Minister, but it was impossible to escape the impression that the judge treated Mr Goh as a litigant of higher status than he was entitled to"... In his report for the ICJ, Mr Littlemore, himself a defamation expert, is scathing. The judge "betrayed an almost total ignorance" of the technicalities of defamation law. Moreover, he did the work of Mr Goh's lawyers for them, constructing an argument against Mr Jeyaretnam which they did not present, and against which he had no opportunity to defend himself. He was ordered to pay "aggravated damages" because Mr Carman's questions were held "to denigrate the Prime Minister and the way he governs Singapore". "The most troubling aspect," wrote Mr Littlemore, "is the judge's undue deference"... During his cross-examination of the Prime Minister, as he was sipping his hot water, Mr Carman referred to the "climate of fear" in Singapore. The judge interrupted, swiftly: "I will not allow questions on that subject.""

How startups such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Groupon and others acquired their first users. - "Quora and reddit solved the "empty site = no users / no users = empty site" problem in similar ways. The founders of both services spent the first months filling them with content themselves. On Quora, the founders simply answered and asked lots of questions under their own profiles. But the reddit approach was a bit more interesting. Instead of just using their own accounts, the founders would create fake users to make it look like there were multiple people submitting links. Their 'submit link' form featured a third slot: "Username". According to Steve Huffman, reddit cofounder, it took several months until they didn’t have to submit content themselves to fill up the front page. They also focused on keeping everybody in the same place in the beginning. reddit had no subreddits, and Quora was mostly focused on technology. Instead of having users spread out, everyone was in the same place- making the community feel bigger than it was."

Robin Stienberg - Mobile Uploads - "Seasons BISTRO closes its doors today and all staff had been laid off suddenly at 5pm. Due to lack of support in Advertising dollars, quality, and innovation. Can't blame on the Chefs, nor all the media outlets. Paid Advertising is the key. Many today even blame its the rent, but that is really a lame excuse. The reason is because every businessman would have calculated all its risks and it is also common sense if money is to be spend or not. So how can one blame its the rent? The real result is good customer service, second the wow factor, third great experience, and very importantly - Advertising. Others will argue that its also about location. That is possible, but there are cases where location is not an issue depending on the kind of concept and quality you provide."
Finally I find out what happened to Seasons Bistro

School children as young as 8 told they would be labelled 'racist' for missing school trip - Telegraph - "Around 100 pupils across four years were expected to take part in the course - which would have involved them being shown Islamic artefacts... Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child's education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career"

Online extortion by stranger after engaging with social escort company - "“I paid by credit card and was told by a lady on the other line to go to the certain hotel room and wait. I paid for the hotel room and went to the room to wait. Never did I realized the action of giving up my information would cause me such trouble and distress later on.” wrote Paul. He was shocked when the lady who turned up at the hotel room, is not the girl whom he picked, and the lady was also of a different race. “Well, even if it’s misrepresentation, it’s too late for me to regret because I have paid for the hotel room. I thought that was about it, and the bad service ends that day but I was wrong.” lamented Paul. A few weeks later after the deal, Paul received an email from a stranger. The person claims that he or she knows that Paul has a family and that there is evidence on the person’s hand that Paul engaged a prostitute few weeks earlier. The stranger went on to threaten Paul that his sexual adventure would be exposed to his wife unless he pays $5000 for their discreet services. Infuriated for being extorted by an unknown stranger, Paul stormed to the social escort company. After several rounds of confrontation with the social escort company, the company finally admitted that they had sold his personal data to a data dealer. They had no way of tracing who had his information and could do nothing to help Paul in his predicament."

Carly Fiorina Emerges as a G.O.P. Weapon Against ‘War on Women’ Charge - NYTimes.com - "Mrs. Fiorina once said her experience proved the glass ceiling was obsolete, and she has defined feminism as “a left-leaning political ideology” that pits “women against men” and is “used as a political weapon to win elections.” In the interview, Mrs. Fiorina said, “As a woman I am insulted when I hear somebody talk about ‘women’s issues,’ ” adding, “Every issue is a women’s issue.”... Her gender provided a shield from what many Republicans assumed would be repercussions against a man attacking Mrs. Clinton so early and often."

Qi Yuwu, who witnessed birth of his child with Joanne Peh, says it won't affect their sex life - "He does not think seeing up-close the birth of his child will affect his relations with Peh, saying matter-of-factly: "I've heard how some fathers view the delivery process and it affects their sex life aversely."

The Authenticity Trap - "In the armchair anthropologist game, Americans are the undisputed champs. The sheer conviction and depth of expertise in Mexican cuisine that these critics demonstrate is nothing short of impressive and intimidating. I was born and raised in Mexico and have lived in the United States for most of my adult life. I’ve worked in kitchens for many years, serving Mexican, American, and other kinds of food, but I would hardly call myself an authority on the authenticity of Mexican cooking, despite having been raised with it and devoting much of my culinary career to it. Yet armchair anthropologists exhibit no such uncertainty. These self-appointed authorities wield the stamp of authenticity fearlessly when it comes to a restaurant’s handmade tortillas, cheap prices, colorful ambiance, and quaintness of the family who owns it. Little is said about the food’s taste. It’s the handmade tortilla that is seen as the pinnacle of Mexican culinary achievement, and a rustic quality is emphasized above all. Clearly, Mexican food in the United States has an image problem, not a taste problem... Why is the American taco-eating public more concerned with the pedigree of their tortillas than the average Mexican? This is perhaps the core of the authenticity debate... For three generations, the women of my family have decided to leave the tortilla making to the experts: the machines... How sad is it to operate in a market where food cannot be sold on taste alone but relies on the merit of the tales told? Eventually, my authentic Mexican food became about spinning tales — not cooking, and not the way I wanted to make a living or the way I wanted to portray the food I grew up with... The Mexican food of today tastes different from the food of 10 or 20 years ago and undoubtedly is different from the food of “old Mexico.” Why would I, or anyone else, rustic tortilla press in hand, actively push for the backward evolution of food, all in the name of authenticity and tradition?"

The biggest mistakes people make when choosing a life partner - "Society has it all wrong and gives us terrible advice
Society encourages us to stay uneducated and let romance be our guide... If a business owner took society’s dating advice for her business, she’d probably fail, and if she succeeded, it would be partially due to good luck—and that’s how society wants us to approach dating."

It turns out parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment — even the death of a partner - "having a child can have a pretty strong negative impact on a person's happiness, according to a new study published in the journal Demography. In fact, on average, the effect of a new baby on a person's life in the first year is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner... The study's goal was to try to gain insights into a longstanding contradiction in fertility in many developed countries between how many children people say they want and how many they actually have. In Germany, most couples say in surveys that they want two children. Yet the birthrate in the country has remained stubbornly low — 1.5 children per woman — for 40 years... most couples in their study started out pretty happy when they set out to have their first child. In the year prior to the birth, their life satisfaction ticked up even more, perhaps due to the pregnancy and anticipation of the baby... The consequence of the negative experiences was that many of the parents stopped having children after their first. The data showed the larger the loss in well-being, the lower the likelihood of a second baby. The effect was especially strong in mothers and fathers who are older than age 30 and with higher education. Surprisingly, gender was not a factor."

Man leaves 20-year-old daughter to drown at Dubai beach rather than allow rescuers to touch her - "Afraid that it would dishonour her if she were to be touched by "strange men", a man left his daughter to drown at a beach in Dubai rather than allow lifeguards to stage a rescue... "He was a tall and strong man, and started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them." The man's daughter drowned, with Lt Col Burqibah pointing out that the delay in saving her probably cost her life. The man was subsequently arrested by the police for barring the rescue team from doing their job."


"Emigration does not only involve leaving behind, crossing water, living amongst strangers, but, also, undoing the very meaning of the world and—at its most extreme—abandoning oneself to the unreal which is the absurd.

Emigration, when it is not enforced at gunpoint, may of course be prompted by hope as well as desperation. For example, to the peasant son the father’s traditional authority may seem more oppressively absurd than any chaos. The poverty of the village may appear more absurd than the crimes of the metropolis. To live and die amongst foreigners may seem less absurd than to live persecuted or tortured by one’s fellow countrymen. All this can be true. But to emigrate is always to dismantle the center of the world, and so to move into a lost, disoriented one of fragments."

--- And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos / John Berger

Monday, September 07, 2015

Memory and Victimhood

BBC Radio Ulster - Everyday Ethics, The Crisis in Tunisia, Pope Francis' Encyclical and The Ethics of Memory

Baroness Onora O'Neill, former Principal of Newham College, Cambridge and current chair of the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission:

3 of my 4 grandparents were in one sort of uniform or another in the first war and they did not talk about it.

And the thing is if you've seen very dreadful and horrible things you don't want to burden the next generation. So this, what is called recovery actually faces quite a lot of barrier at the start because people have deliberately kept extremely quiet, not necessarily because they did dreadful things of which they are ashamed, but because they feel responsibility not to burden the future. And that's why there's a sort of archaeology to finding out even a question that sounds simple like "who were the victims".

Well, there's a lot of archaeology and again you have to wonder whether that coveted label of victim isn't itself a little bit difficult because people want to think, "Ooh, I was a victim, my lot were victims" whereas actually a pretty widespread role...

The Germans have, after all, a terrible past to remember and part of what they've done, which has, I think, proved fruitful is to encourage people to ask the question. Not: what did I suffer, what did my family suffer, what is our narrative of victimhood?

But what did we do? What did we perpetrate? Whom did did we, whatever it was: kill, drive off their land, drive into emigration and, of course, that is the reason for the Germans' thinking of memory as very much as terrible warning of what happens and they're not forgetting at all but what they're seeking to remember - ask the question: not, so to speak, what did we suffer, but what did we do?
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