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Saturday, December 31, 2016

'Natural' Food

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Naturally Misleading?

"We see Haagen-Dazs with an artisan ice cream for example. We see Nestle with a mainstream brand of chocolate in Europe which is called l'Atelier which is the workshop... It looks handcrafted, it looks like it's made in a workshop. It's made in a Nestle factory alongside our Nestle chocolate products. But it's using that sort of language and using the visual appearance sometimes of products and even the colour of the packaging to emphasise something which is perhaps a little bit more natural...

'Consumers are less informed and therefore often base their food choices more on assumptions than facts. Take growth hormones for instance. According to both industry and regulatory sources, use of synthetic hormones in widespread in both beef and dairy farming. I asked Joe about hormones for chicken'

'Not legal... which is why it's so silly we see so many labels saying no added hormones for chicken, because it's not allowed. This whole thing really comes down to marketing'...

'One packet of pork loin steaks... the pork loin steaks, they're from Tesco and it says on it Woodside Farms. And the sausages they've got on it a nice picture of a country cottage.'

'Yeah, we've got a little bit less picture of the Woodside Farm. But I think the Woodside Farm they focused on that name being enough for us to get that illusion of providence and Britishness.'

'The problem is only one of the farms mentioned on those particular packets there is real. The other doesn't actually exist'

'It's a fictional farm, yeah. It's a brand. It's designed to do two things. One to give the consumer this illusion of provenance and make them think they're buying something British but also to give Tesco or whoever else creates these fictional farm names the flexibility to source from anywhere. Because they don't want to just source from one farm. And to be fair one farm unless it was pretty large couldn't supply all of Tesco's pork loin steak needs. But they want the flexibility to source from anywhere whether it's cheaper, whether they want to go around the world. But it is slightly misleading because if you see the Woodside Farms the big label at the top and you have to look very very small letters there...'

'Reared in Denmark, slaughtered in Denmark'...

'And there's no Danish flag or anything to help us realise that'...

[In China] Koon Ho [sp?] is a lawyer who used to work for China's equivalent of the FDA in Beijing. He says he's spent most of his time dealing with people who made a living out of suing food retailers.

'We have a very special group of people. I call them professional defective food buyers. Their main activities are going to the supermarket, locating some defective food, especially on the food labelling. They pick what's wrong in the labelling and they file a complaint to the FDA. If FDA rules that it is a food law or regulation violation, then they will be mostly likely to get 10 times compensation from the food seller.'

Some people are making up to $45,000 a year doing this...

Consumers also want consistency... they trust products where every time they eat it, it's going to taste the same, it's gonna feel the same and look the same. That's kinda of impossible when we're talking about really pure and natural products. Processing is part of what consumers like because it brings consistency and it brings a distribution that they appreciate so they want a level of processing whether they say it or not because they want a brand that means something, every time they buy it they know exactly what they're going to get. Or maybe what they really want is the feeling that it hasn't been processed too much...

The additives, they fall into 6 groups. So we've got anti-oxidants, colours, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers, preservatives and sweeteners. We use additives on an everyday basis in lots of our foods. And we preserve in lots of our ways. For example, fresh vegetables over frozen vegetables. If we were to store those fresh vegetables longer than their sell-by date... than they were good in terms of vitamins and minerals, we wouldn't be getting the same nutritional value as if we were to have frozen. When it's frozen, it doesn't decompose, if you like"

Links - 31st December 2016

Berlin truck attack: German Christmas market suspect is 23-year-old from Pakistan: Report - "The suspected driver of a truck that ploughed into a Berlin Christmas market+ and killed 12 people on Monday was a 23-year old migrant from Pakistan, a German security source told Reuters on Tuesday... It evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people+ who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That was claimed by Islamic State."

Israel just announced it will take in wounded civilians from Aleppo
Certainly, some people will say that Israel taking in people from Aleppo is proof that ISIS is a Mossad creation

Chinese travel firm explains why it brought tourists to unremarkable Kidlington - "the Chinese firm behind the visits has now revealed they brought the tourists to Kidlington because they were 'looking for the true sense of this country'. A guide has told the BBC that the groups liked the houses and gardens, adding: 'We don't have [these] in China.' They, rather cryptically, said: 'The environment makes you feel you are closer to the simplicity of your original self'... 'It's really weird and nobody has a clue why Kidlington, and Benmead Road in particular, has suddenly become world-famous.'"

Saudi man shoots doctor after he delivered wife's baby because he didn't want man to see her naked

University of Nevada Cancels 'Sausage Party' Screening Because a Douche Raped a Juice Box - "the rape scene in question isn’t really a rape. It’s a scene were a giant douche sucks the juice out of a juice box through a hole in the box’s crotch area. While the scene has sexual implications, the douche is in fact simply draining the juice box of his life force to refill its own which was lost earlier in the film. The douche is in fact murdering the juice box as a vampire would to its prey"

Woman drank six Jagerbombs in 10 minutes on the night she was raped and murdered is an acceptable headlines, writes Corrine Barraclough - "A report entitled Under The Influence by Liz Hall and Dr Antonia Quadara, published July 2014, states, “Alcohol is a feature in a high proportion of sexual assaults”. McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth at Curtin University states, “Alcohol consumption increases the risk of sexual assault, as victims become less able to detect dangerous situations”. Attempting to perpetuate the “right to get drunk” is an alarming feminist fantasy obstructing vitally important education about the dangers of alcohol putting women’s safety at risk... It seems modern feminists don’t take personal responsibility seriously. These deluded dictators assert we must focus on the perpetrator and insist it’s not illegal to drink alcohol; it’s illegal to rape. However, reality is much more complex than left-wing slogan messaging. There are plenty of people who will take advantage of someone who is incapacitated and chances are, they’re not reading thought pieces, debating privilege or strategising victimhood before heading out."

Fears grow for Brit Muslim, 21, kept prisoner in Saudi Arabia by father after she ‘kissed a guy’ - "Henry Setright, QC, representing Amina, said the 21-year-old was moved to Saudi Arabia five years ago and held as a prisoner because her father did not agree with her western lifestyle."

Hizb ut-Tahrir: National anthem is ‘forced assimilation’ - "The Islamist activist group told its followers yesterday that Muslims should not have to submit to an oppressive campaign of “forced assimilation” such as singing the national anthem­ or pledging support for democratic values in the citizenship oath. The call came at a conference in Sydney where Muslims were encouraged to make use of printed material which recommends “refusing to partake in any of the government’s counter-terror­ism programs and initiatives”, and says co-operation with spy agencies “is outright haram (forbidden)”. The Treasurer said the conference differed significantly to Saturday’s National Mosque Open Day, an initiative that saw mosques open their doors around the country in an attempt to improve social cohesion and break down misconceptions... Among other speakers, British Muslim barrister and broadcaster Ibtihal Bsis, who created controversy in Britain by telling a group of young Muslim women that the Islamic State terrorist group was not really a problem, said in a prerecorded video to Australian Muslims that, when they needed strength, they should “look at your brothers in Syria who stand and fight against an unjust ruler”."

Calling Bullshit on the Men Who Think the Pay Gap Is a Myth
I hope Vice calls bullshit on Claudia Goldin, the female Harvard economist who says it's a myth
Comments: "I was born female, living as a man for almost a decade, transgender. No such thing as an atmosphere that benefits men in the workplace. I actually find that I have less to chose from when others see me as a man. All the jobs offered to me now involve risking my life which I refuse to call a privilege."
"One of my previous companies had >400 staff.. I can tell you as an absolute fact, I had 10x the grief from the small %age of female workforce than the male workforce"

Harvard economist Claudia Goldin examines the gender wage gap - "Goldin believes other fields could narrow their gender wage gaps, too, if they did not have an incentive to pay workers disproportionately more for working more. How to induce change in the labor market isn’t obvious. Why can’t you convince clients, she asks, that your employees are like puzzle pieces, each knowing everything the others know, so they’re good substitutes for each other? “As their labor costs mount,” she suggests, firms “will figure out how to make workers better substitutes for each other,” Technological change might also play a role, doing for law, perhaps, what it’s done for health professions, and making it easier for lawyers to hand off clients to one another. But in some cases, Goldin concedes, it may not be possible to embrace this modular model: “We don’t want the president of the United States to be a part-time president.” As for policy interventions to close the gender earnings gap—a California law makes it illegal to retaliate against employees for sharing information about their pay, for example—“That’s probably a good thing,” Goldin says. “If the fruit is low-hanging, by all means pick it.” But she balks at the suggestion that regulation can fix what she sees as a labor-demand problem. Creating an egalitarian workplace, she believes, will depend primarily on reducing the cost of offering time flexibility to workers—securing equal pay for equal work, in the strictest sense."

A radical fix to the world's wage gap: why not just pay women more – and pay men less? | Jessica Valenti - "Now, I never thought I’d find myself arguing against something in the US Equal Pay Act, and I understand that men may not exactly love the idea of taking pay cuts – or giving up power more broadly – in the name of gender justice. But the scales have been tipped toward the men for too long, and if fixing a huge systemic inequality means that some guys’ paychecks need to take a hit – I’m always OK with privileging the marginalized."
I thought feminism was about equality? And not punishing men?
Comment: "This is an excellent idea. As a man who has on occasion made mistakes, I'm all for redressing this with maturity. I only hope the four women and nine children (one of whom is not even my own as far as I can tell) I am supporting feel equally generous. Although as two of them are working it might all end well. Bring it on!"
"isn't there something a mite blinkered and, well, privileged in a Guardian columnist arguing for a pay cut that would include those on the breadline or struggling to ends meet?"

Bride lets guests pay money to touch her breasts in bizarre Chinese wedding custom - "The strange custom is said to take place at weddings in China and across other parts of Asia. Another common practice in Chinese weddings is the tradition of “nao dongfang”, which sees both the bride and groom subjected to pranks throughout their reception."
Apparently this is actually a transvestite

If Pokémon Go feels like a religion, that's because it kind of is - "Pokémon owes much of its its conception to creator Satoshi Tajiri’s childhood love of bug collecting, but the mythology and animist religious history of Japan also provided rich inspiration. Shintoism, Japan’s oldest religion, teaches that the world is inhabited by thousands of kami, or gods. When made offerings of food and incense, kami bestow good luck in business, studies and health, but when disrespected, they can turn vindictive... In her 2006 book Millennial Monsters, scholar of contemporary Japan Anne Allison argues that popular culture phenomenon such as Pokémon demonstrate a kind of “techno-animism”, which imbues digital technologies with a spirit or soul"

Teacher who repeatedly had sex with pupil claims to be the victim - "Mary Beth Haglin, 24, said: “I am the victim.” The busty brunette has admitted romping with the 17-year-old almost every day for six months and sending him raunchy selfies to turn him on."

Mum caught having sex with 14-year-old boy avoids jail because she was 'very, very drunk' - "A mum-of-two who was caught having sex with a 14-year-old boy has avoided jail – because she was “very, very drunk”. A relative of the teenage schoolboy stumbled upon Angela Gatt in the act after a boozy night. The 37-year-old had knocked back prosecco and the boy had been drinking alcopops... Prosecutor Virginia Hayton told Carlisle Crown Court that after being caught naked with the boy on top of her, Gatt fell and injured herself, so paramedics and police were called to the scene. Hayton said: “She was described as being fairly aggressive to them. She asked if she could just go home as she had made a fool of herself. She was then arrested”... "This offence was committed when she was drunk and she has no interest in young men. She is not a paedophile. She was very, very drunk and did something very, very silly.” Judge Forrester told Gatt: “There is a disparity of age, a serious breach of trust and you had both drunk alcohol but I accept you did not provide it to him. What happened after that, we will never know.”"
Luckily she isn't a man (e.g. Brock Turner), or that reason would never have flown

Locals outraged at 'pro-Muslim' leaflet campaign which calls for banning of all dogs in public - "“This has got to be a scam. I’m a Muslim and the Muslim law says that if you live in a country that is not Muslim, which is England, you respect the law of the land. “The Muslim law does not apply in any different country... “In our house in Pakistan we keep dogs and many of my friends here have dogs. "We keep ourselves clean and away from animals before prayer but Muslim people do keep dogs in their homes."
Presumably in Pakistan they have hot dogs, unlike in Malaysia
Does this mean dogs can be banned in Muslim countries?

Your Brain on Porn - It's NOT Addictive - "Over recent years, these fear-based arguments often invoke brain-related lingo, and throw around terms like dopamine bursts and desensitization, to describe what allegedly happens in the brains of people who watch too much porn. Brain science is hot these days, and it’s attention-getting to use brain and neuroscience lingo in arguments, because it sounds so gosh-darned convincing and scientific. The problem is, there has been extremely little research that actually looks at the brains and behaviors of people using porn, and no good, experimental research that has looked at the brains of those who are allegedly addicted to porn. So, all of these arguments are theoretical, and based on rhetoric, inferences and applying other research findings to try to explain sexual behaviors. Fascinating, rigorous new research has now been done, which actually examined the brains of alleged sex addicts, and guess what? The results are a bit different than the rhetoric. In fact, the results don’t support that sex addiction is real, or reflects any unique brain-related issues at all... when EEG’s were administered to these individuals, as they viewed erotic stimuli, results were surprising, and not at all consistent with sex addiction theory. If viewing pornography actually was habituating (or desensitizing), like drugs are, then viewing pornography would have a diminished electrical response in the brain. In fact, in these results, there was no such response. Instead, the participants’ overall demonstrated increased electrical brain responses to the erotic imagery they were shown, just like the brains of “normal people” as has been shown in hundreds of studies. Ah, but the sex addiction proponents might argue that this is because these porn addicts have a stronger response to sexual stimuli, and that is why they are addicts. This is one reason that porn and sex addiction theories are so tough to argue – they are unfalsifiable, by presenting opposing things as part of their theory, and having very fluid arguments, that explain when data or results don’t match their theories."

'Sharia police' street patrols did not violate law, German court rules - "So-called “sharia patrols” by sometimes violent radical young Salafists have also been seen in other European cities such as London, Copenhagen and Hamburg."

Australia’s National Women’s Soccer Team Lose 7-0 To A Bunch Of 15-Year-Old Boys - "These Aussie women apparently never got the memo that gender is merely a construct. They are exactly the same as men (or 15-year-old boys), after all... It’s common for elite female teams to play against boys' teams, since finding other female competition up to snuff can be difficult. The Aussie team is rumored to have been “smashed” by boys' teams in the past, too, namely the Under 16 Sydney FC team last year"

Food Manners

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Mind your Manners

"The country in Europe that first adopted the fork was Italy because if you think of long strands of spaghetti-like noodles, the prong is a perfect tool with which to eat them. When travellers came from England to Italy they found this profoundly odd and there was a man called Thomas Coryat in Elizabethan times who went to Italy and came back and reported on this and said that he would like to use a fork himself. And his friends made fun of him and called him Furcifer. There was something about fork eating that was, it was repeatedly seen as unmanly or effeminate in some way...

In Europe people carried around their own personal knife. You kept it in a pocket, you got it out when it was time to eat. But people increasingly saw that knives were also objects of potential violence. So the invention of the table knife which was something that was ostentatiously blunt. It's as if to say: don't worry, I'm not going to do you any harm. Deliberately pathetic. The table knife is a really strange passive-aggressive invention which on purpose does a worse job of cutting food. Once you have a table knife you need something to impale the food and put it up against the knife just to enable you to get any purchase on it. The fork in the West is an accessory to the table knife. The fork now has become completely democratic. A disposable fork is probably the single most universal implement the world over...

It is not exactly the appropriate apparatus to enjoy the Indian meal. If you are using a thin watery soup like rasam [sp?] with your rice in South India, eating it with a spoon will make you feel like a baby. So I would much rather enjoy that meal with my fingers... I don't feel that my stomach is full if I eat with spoon. If I eat with hand my stomach is full...

'I've lived in Asia for a long time and I notice there that people belch quite happily after a meal. And that there's no stigma attached to it'

'Is it good for you to belch after a meal?'...

'The Romans and Ancient Greeks thought it was very polite to belch and vomit after you've eaten. The fuller we are, the more pressure it puts on the stomach. From an actual digestive viewpoint that probably then leads to the feeling of indigestion, so certainly belching is one way of doing it'...

The average American eats 1 in every 5 meals in their car and the majority of American families report eating together less than 5 days a week...

The most interesting statistic to me is that in the Western world, the sale of dining tables has really declined...

It's been said that while on the European Continent people have good food, in England, people have good table manners"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Links - 19th December 2016

Saving Singapore's street food - "What is needed is also a re-examination of the role of hawker centres. Is it realistic to expect all food at hawker centres to be both cheap and good?... "At the end of the day, it all boils down to whether hawkers can earn a living," he said. "Right now, the price of hawker food is artificially low because many of the pioneer hawkers are still paying heavily subsidised rents. New hawkers who have to pay higher rents find it difficult to compete.""

Yellowstone National Park Tourist Dies While Hot Pot Bathing in Pool - "They couldn't recover her brother's body from the pool, and upon returning the next day, found that the acidic waters had disintegrated the body. "In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving," Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress said"

Explaining it all - "For the past two years, Ezra Klein’s philosophy in running Vox.com has been precisely this: people do not need facts, they need explanations... The Vox “explainers” say it plainly: about this, there can be no doubt. Yet strangely, Vox staff would likely bristle at being called mere manufacturers of “opinion” or “commentary.” This is because when a Vox-er declares a scandal to be “bullshit,” he intends it as fact rather than opinion. There is no attempt to distinguish between the journalistic and the editorial. It all blurs together as “analysis”... Vox inherently practices a crude and cruel form of rhetorical dishonesty: it treats matters of profound complexity as if they are able to be settled through mere expertise. If anyone disagrees with what the wonks have concluded, they must be dumb, delusional, or both. As conservatives quickly pointed out after Vox’s debut, this ends up meaning that liberal political values are implicitly assumed to be factually correct. It has also meant that over the course of 2015-2016, Vox became a powerful propaganda outlet for Hillary Clinton’s campaign... Clinton appeals so perfectly to the Vox sensibility that its writers become puzzled when trying to figure out how anyone could oppose her. So Ezra Klein will ruminate on the mystery of why Hillary Clinton is distrusted by the public but liked by those in her inner circle, concluding that it is because Clinton is a careful listener who prefers paying attention to the views of others rather than explaining her own. (Klein doesn’t mention the equally plausible thesis that Clinton is distrusted because she tells lies about things and treats the public with cynicism and contempt.)... As Fredrik deBoer says in his critique of Vox, the “explainer” stance is insidious, because it disguises partisanship as objectivity, falsely assuming that there can be such a thing as a “view from nowhere.” He shows how Vox used selective and highly unreliable empirical data in order to attack Bernie Sanders, while cultivating the illusion of rigor and neutrality... as Frankie Boyle has recently pointed out, it’s amusing to see those who whine about the rise of “post-truth politics” suddenly turn and declare that Donald Trump is a Russian agent... Vox’s factual unreliability is not merely a product of Klein’s sloppy oversight, however. It is in many ways inherent to the site’s model of content production, which depends entirely on having incredibly young writers assume a position of omniscient expertise"

Your Hitler analogy is wrong, and other complaints from a history professor - "Recently, writers and pundits have been on a quest to find historical analogs for people, parties, and movements in our own times. Trump is like Hitler, Mussolini, and Napoleon; the imploding GOP getting rid of one ill-suited candidate after another is like Robespierre in the French Revolution, who stuck the executioner in the guillotine because there was no one left to behead. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was like Robert E. Lee... Really? Trump is like Hitler? The egotistical buffoon who sees himself as his own primary foreign adviser and changes his views on abortion three times in one day is like the despicable human being who oversaw the death of 6 million Jews? Hitler comparison has become so common over the years that it has its own probability factor known as Godwin's Law... Mostly these comparisons are shallow and not rooted in any depth of meaningful knowledge of the past. They rely on caricatures and selective historical tidbits in a way that, indeed, just about anyone can be compared to anyone else. Even worse, they dumb down our political discourse, cheapen the actual realities of the past, and rob us of the opportunity to genuinely understand and learn from the past... Simplistic historical analogies do a sort of epistemic violence to the past and to ourselves. When we say that Trump or Obama is like Hitler, we slowly water down our actual knowledge of the very historical things we are using for comparison... what we want to remember and what we ought to remember are not always one and the same... The only problem is that history really doesn't repeat itself. If anything, it remixes themes, reprises melodies, and borrows nasty racist ideologies... To compare Trump to Napoleon or Hitler is to make a vacuous historical comparison that obscures more than it reveals"

‘Busy Tories’ are reason pollsters keep predicting wrong results - "Prof Curtice, whose exit polls correctly predicted the 2015 general election when others had failed, admitted that Labour voters were more likely to be at home - rather than out at work or undertaking social engagements - when samplers phoned or called round... Prof Curtice said that the 2015 pre-election polls had also overestimated how many young Labour supporters would actually vote. The sort of people who tend to respond to surveys are likely to be more politically motivated, so pollsters sometimes underestimate the numbers who will abstain."

This is pretty awkward for people who criticize Donald Trump’s immigration plans - "Obama will have presided over more deportations than any of his predecessors, even without accounting for this year's deportations"

Developed world sees huge increase in terror deaths - "The developed world became more dangerous in 2015 with a massive increase in deaths from terrorism, although globally there was a slight fall... In 2015, there were 731 deaths related to terrorism in the 34 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes the US, UK, Germany, France, and Turkey. The number represents the 650% increase on the previous year, with 21 of the 34 countries suffering at least one attack, the report says. Most of the victims were killed in Turkey and France... The report claims that within OECD countries, youth unemployment, levels of criminality, access to weapons and distrust in the electoral process are the most significant factors correlating with terrorism... ISIS became active in more countries -- jumping from 13 in 2014 to 28 countries in 2015."

Dad Who’s Been Trolling Daughter By Recreating Her Racy Selfies Now Has 2x More Followers Than Her

German poster of Baroque old master 'too disturbing' - "Residents in the town of Heppenheim were horrified when a poster showing Judith Slaying Holofernes - the best-known work of early Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi - went up on an advertising column... Museum director Alexander Klar defended the poster, saying many traditional images could be similarly criticised. "Have you ever seen children stand horrified in front of Christ nailed to the cross?" he asks the paper, adding that the work aims to arouse pity and get people to think about the nature of cruelty."

Jeremy Paxman 'baffled' by students' University Challenge boycott - "Jeremy Paxman has said he is baffled by students voting to boycott University Challenge over claims he made misogynistic and sexist comments to previous team members... “I have racked my brains to discover what on earth the Reading students’ union is on about,” he said in a statement. “I think they’re referring to a recording of University Challenge which took place in February 2015, though I am baffled at why it has become an issue a year and a half later."
Not being told the evidence for what you're accused of - very Communist

15+ Architects Who Had One Job And Still Failed

Remember When Trump Got Palm Beach’s Country Clubs To Desegregate? Neither Does The Media

Carrie Fisher Reveals She Had an Affair With Harrison Ford on ‘Star Wars’: ‘It Was So Intense’ - "“I looked over at Harrison. A hero’s face — a few strands of hair fell over his noble, slightly furrowed brow,” she writes. “How could you ask such a shining specimen of a man to be satisfied with the likes of me?” Although their unlikely romance took Fisher by complete surprise and ran its course once the film wrapped, she remembers the time fondly."

Swedish women get hotline to report mansplaining
Has Sweden hit peak feminism?

Clinton campaign staffer blames ‘internalized misogyny’ for candidate losing white women’s vote - "Jess McIntosh, who worked as director of communications outreach for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, told MSNBC Monday that white women didn’t vote for the candidate due to “internalized misogyny.”"

For the first time in India, the rich beg the poor to help them - "Maids, drivers, nannies, and cooks in India are experiencing unusual politeness from their employers. Beyond the work they do every day, they suddenly have another use – to launder the undeclared cash which the rich have been hoarding in steel wardrobes, under the mattress and in under-bed storage. This sudden outbreak of niceness is the outcome of India's current crackdown on "black money" - income in the form of cash that has not been declared to the tax authorities. On November 8, the day before Sharma's employer became a lamb, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped 500 and 1000-rupee notes to root out corruption and force more Indians into the tax net."

Sanders Urges Supporters: Ditch Identity Politics And Embrace The Working Class

Far-right, or do you just disagree with them? - "In Europe, anyone who favours exiting the European Union is hit with charges of far-right populism... Bill Shorten, who should know better, routinely describes the conservative faction of the parliamentary Liberal Party as ‘the far-right’ and castigates Turnbull for ‘caving’ into them. Anyone who didn’t know better would think Turnbull’s conferring with his conservative parliamentary caucus is tantamount to Churchill cosying up to Oswald Mosley or George W. Bush negotiating with the Klan... If the far-right constitutes a space on the political spectrum and if Hitler, Le Pen and Cory Bernardi are considered to occupy a space on that spectrum then the term essentially has no meaning... The extreme nature of the far-right has two unique characteristics that distinguish it from right-wing populism, the alt-right or ultra-conservatism. The first and most important is the role of violence in politics. Do they endorse violence, do their supporters engage in violence or has their recent tradition been one of violence? This aspect is very identifiable and would obviously include any neo-Nazi group, the Golden Dawn in Greece, or the British National Party (BNP) – many of whose members have violent pasts and voice justifications for racist violence. The second set of characteristics relates to divergent opinions on a range of questions of history and identity issues. The less complicated of these would include the belief in the racial superiority of one specific group and the inherent inferiority of another... the mere affirmation of a conservative mindset and a belief in things such as border integrity and the maintenance of social traditions is a red flag signalling malicious intent"

Before Capitalism, Medieval Peasants Got More Vacation Time Than You. Here's Why. - "Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year."

‘Doctor Strange’ Director Owns Up to Whitewashing Controversy - "“It was a challenge from the beginning that I knew I was facing with both Wong and the Ancient One being pretty bad racial stereotypes—1960s versions of what Western white people thought Asians were like,” he said. “We weren’t going to have the Ancient One as the Fu Manchu magical Asian on the hill being the mentor to the white hero. I knew that we had a long way to go to get away from that stereotype and cliché.”"
Presumably 'whitewashing' is a lesser sin than 'perpetuating stereotypes', so this was the best casting decision they could've made

Professor who tweeted against PC culture is out at NYU - "Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester... He chose to be anonymous, he explained in one of his first tweets, because he was afraid “the PC Gestapo would ruin me” if he put his name ­behind his conservative ideas on the famously liberal campus. “I remember once on my Facebook I posted a story about a kid who changed his pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ because I thought it was funny,” he told The Post. “Then I got viciously attacked by 400 people. This whole milieu is nauseating. I grew tired of it, so I made the account”... Rectenwald was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative, he says. “They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health. They suggested my voicing these opinions was a cry for help,” Rectenwald told The Post. “Then they said I should leave and get help.”"

NYU Brings Back 'Deplorable Professor', Awards Him a Raise - "Liberal studies professor Michael Rectenwald, the man behind the controversial @DeplorableNYUProf account, has been promoted by prestigious New York University and given a raise days after the University had put him on a paid leave for criticizing politically correct culture on campus... Now, according to the New York Post, liberal studies dean Fred Schwarzbach sent a “strongly worded” email to the department reminding them to be respectful of the opposing views."

2,400 MS-DOS Games For Free In Your Browser - Imgur - "The Internet Archive has put up a massive collection of old MS-DOS games that you can play directly in your browser... There are actually 4,023 games now"

Tech/Gaming Journalist wants "nerds" to go back to being scared and reclusive, because someone spoke to her about Pokemon Go - Imgur

Selamat Hari Raya or Eid Mubarak? | Surekha A. Yadav - "have you noticed lately that nobody says “Selamat Hari Raya” any more. More and more people are switching to “Eid Mubarak” casually, unthinkingly and nearly instinctively... The Sultan of Johor summed this up when he explained why he preferred to use terms like “Hari Raya” instead of “Eid al-Fitr”, or “buka puasa” instead of “iftar” as “I have been using these Malay terms since I was a child... I have no intention of replacing these terms with Arabic.”"

What Not To Do When You're In Bad Health

Regina Chow - "I've been traveling 3-4 times a month recently and it's taking a toll on my health. I know I need to find pockets of time to rest and relax hence I couldn't be more grateful to take a break in between my trips with a bottle of refreshing, ice cold Kronenbourg! It makes me feel instantly energised and ready to take on the world once again!"

Me - "Hi Regina,

If you have health problems, you probably shouldn't be drinking"

Friday, December 16, 2016

Links - 16th December 2016

My quarrel with a proud FGM cutter - "It was their own mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts - the women in their families - who had led them into their painful and degrading initiations. And here I was in Sierra Leone, a country where the majority of women have been cut, sharing pleasantries with a professional and proud cutter... She laughs and grabs my arm, pressing it against hers. "You are different to us," she tells me. "Look, you are yellow in colour, I am black. We are both women but we are not the same. You will never understand." I ask Memunatu what she would do if the government banned the practice. "We would storm the offices of the president," she bellows. "They know this is an important tradition. Many of them are in our secret society.""
If women do it to women, is it still patriarchy? Maybe Third World women are stupid and can't think for themselves

The Only Faces Men Recognize Better Than Women Are Transformers - "“This is the first category of faces where men do better than women,” lead researcher Isabel Gauthier said. All previous research has shown that women are better than men at facial recognition in general, or that there isn’t a difference between genders in how they recognize faces"

'Muslim Suburb' Proposal Has Quebec Politicians In An Uproar - "on-Muslims will be welcome to live there so long as they share the same values. “You don’t drive drunk on the street. If you want to drink alcohol, you drink it in your house,” he told the Post. “There must be some modesty in the way you dress. We don’t want women living there going half-naked down the streets. We don’t like that. … If they want to do that, let them go and live in downtown Montreal.”"

Planet Earth II producers defend brutal snow leopard 'rape' scene, saying they must compete with Game of Thrones - "And we show it… you can’t hide from the reality of animal behaviour and there are certain things that we might suddenly go, ‘oh, that’s not how we behave’ but actually, it’s instinct. And that’s all we can portray really.”

Planet Earth II's snake army killing baby iguanas shocks thousands as some call it 'the stuff of nightmares' - "Baby iguanas were seen fleeing a terrifying army of racer snakes in 'horror' footage as Planet Earth II returned to our screens last night."

Offensive language ruins search for world's worst word - "Oxford Dictionaries launched a service on its website so people could vote for their least favourite words, but it was shut down after "severe misuse". Oxford University Press said a mixture of swear words and "religiously offensive vocabulary" were to blame."

The driverless truck is coming, and it’s going to automate millions of jobs - "Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks. Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost. And the savings become even more significant when you account for fuel efficiency gains. The optimal cruising speed from a fuel efficiency standpoint is around 45 miles per hour, whereas truckers who are paid by the mile drive much faster. Further fuel efficiencies will be had as the self-driving fleets adopt platooning technologies, like those from Peloton Technology, allowing trucks to draft behind one another in highway trains. Trucking represents a considerable portion of the cost of all the goods we buy, so consumers everywhere will experience this change as lower prices and higher standards of living."

The Stark Contrast Between GOP’s Self-Criticism in 2012 and Democrats’ Blame-Everyone-Else Posture Now - "Democrats have spent the last 10 days flailing around blaming everyone except for themselves, constructing a carousel of villains and scapegoats — from Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, the electoral college, “fake news,” and Facebook, to Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein, millennials, Bernie Sanders, Clinton-critical journalists, and, most of all, insubordinate voters themselves — to blame them for failing to fulfill the responsibility that the Democratic Party, and it alone, bears: to elect Democratic candidates. This Accept-No-Responsibility, Blame-Everyone-Else posture stands in stark contrast to how the Republican National Committee reacted in 2012, after it lost the popular vote for the fifth time in six presidential elections. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Mitt Romney’s loss “a wake-up call,” and he was scathing about his party’s failures: “There’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement. … So, there’s no one solution: There’s a long list of them.”

Apple (AAPL) screwed up MacBook Pro by removing Escape and Function keys with Touch Bar that developers are turning to Windows PCs

Five myths about cheating - "young men don’t cheat because they have fallen out of love with their partners. Rather, they cheat simply because they desire sex with someone else, even if they want to preserve their relationship. I found that, though 78 percent of the men I interviewed had cheated on their current partner, only a handful said they cheated because they were near the end of their emotional relationships. And women may respond to similar pressures: According to a 1999 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 68 percent of female undergraduates also cheat. (Whether they cheat for sexual or emotional reasons remains unclear.)... In a 1991 study, sex researcher Shere Hite found that 70 percent of married women have cheated on their partners; a 1993 follow-up study found that 72 percent of married men have as well... Although society cherishes monogamy, the expectation of exclusive sexual activity is unsustainable for most couples. We may need to investigate other relationship models: open arrangements, or what sex columnist Dan Savage calls “monogamish” relationships, in which couples have flings, affairs or threesomes. These ways of loving, along with polyamorous relationships and even singlehood, should be as equally valued in our culture as monogamy. Only when men and women are able to make sexual choices free of stigma will people be honest with their partners about their desires."

Hate Crimes, Hoaxes, and Hyperbole - "When I reported last Friday that there had been "no violent hate-crimewave" happening—emphasis on the word violent—it was to dispel widespread rumors of a post-election surge in physical attacks on gay, transgender, and non-white Americans by emboldened and bigoted Trump supporters. Thankfully, this still holds true. While the public expression of nativist, racist, sexist, or anti-LGBT sentiments may have experienced a post-election upswing, incidents of actual altercations or attacks have still been very rare. Several of the most prominent early reports of Trump-inspired violence against people of color were later admitted to be fabrications or directly contradicted by police statements. Pointing this out seems to really anger people, who assume my intent is discredit all such reports, or to deny that there's any bigotry among Trump supporters. Neither is true. Rather, I saw a lot of distortions being spread and a lot of people who were really scared. I heard from LGBT and Jewish and non-white friends of mine, in private communications and on social media, who honestly believed it was open season on them this week. And I didn't want to see people I care about fearing for their very lives and physical safety because of a massive amount of misinformation floating around... when it comes to physical aggression inspired by this election, we are looking at a little more than a dozen incidents reported, over a 10 day period, in a country of roughly 318.9 million people—none of which resulted in serious injuries. And these incidents vary widely in how much they can be attributed to politics, prejudice, and hate versus tempers, egos, and mental-health issues flaring along with the election results and our collective heightened emotional state."

Sorry Democrats, But Americans Are Remarkably Tolerant People - "No rational person would deny that racists and bigots exist. Believe it or not, as a Jew myself, this election cycle isn’t the first time my background has been attacked. When you start likening contemporary political officials to Nazis, though, I tend to think you’re shortchanging the people who decimated my family back in the Old Country. It’s also undeniable that over the past year some legitimately worrisome voices have found footing with Republicans. Maybe Steve Bannon is going to be bad news. I wasn’t too crazy about Obama nominating someone who claimed her favorite political philosopher was Mao, either. Still, there was no Great Leap Forward. If you believe one side is normalizing extremism, think about this: Rep. Keith Ellison, a guy whose political career was launched as a member the anti-Semitic and racist Nation of Islam, and who is one of the most radically left-wing members of Congress, may soon be running the DNC. Just juxtapose the stories and rhetoric surrounding Bannon and Ellison. Only one is treated as if he’s outside the norm. In the minds of many, the only reason someone could be critical of Ellison is that he’s an African-American Muslim. Democrats have become so fixated on race and identity that they’re unable to imagine anything else could matter. Hannah Arendt once wrote that Western intellectuals had adopted one of Communism’s most effective tactics: they made all debate about motive rather than the merits of the argument. This outlook has consumed the American Left. Is there any contemporary political dispute today that doesn’t come down to accusing conservatives of harboring deep-seated motives about race or sex? Some (and I really, feel uncomfortable calling them “liberals” anymore) have convinced themselves Trump’s victory confirms that half the country is made up of white supremacists — as if voting and governance were that simple. In truth, the reason racism is treated as a grievous social sin is because it is so rare and intolerable in everyday discourse. The Left compensates for this by constantly expanding the description of bigotry to include anyone opposing their policy preferences. When everyone is a racist, no one is."

Girl 'made sex abuse claims' after $1k phone bill scolding - "Soon after he scolded his daughter for racking up a $1,000 mobile phone bill, she alleged he had sexually abused her... The man also testified he underwent penis enlargement surgery in Johor in 2005, 2007 and 2009, due to the state of his sexual relationship with his wife. But after the third procedure, they rarely had sex due to the size of his genitals, he said. Part of the defence's case against the charges is that it was physically impossible for the man to have had sex with his daughter."

I’ve changed my mind on the gay cake row. Here’s why - "Northern Ireland’s laws against discrimination on the grounds of political opinion were framed in the context of decades of conflict. They were designed to heal the sectarian divide by preventing the denial of jobs, housing and services to people because of their politics. There was never an intention that this law should compel people to promote political ideas with which they disagreed. The judge concluded that service providers are required to facilitate any “lawful” message, even if they have a conscientious objection. This raises the question: should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs? If the Ashers verdict stands it could, for example, encourage far-right extremists to demand that bakeries and other service providers facilitate the promotion of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim opinions. It would leave businesses unable to refuse to decorate cakes or print posters with bigoted messages. In my view, it is an infringement of freedom to require businesses to aid the promotion of ideas to which they conscientiously object. Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas."
Maybe just as Germaine Greer has been repudiated by modern feminists, Peter Thatchell will likewise be condemned

The End of Identity Liberalism - NYTimes.com - "In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing. One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end... the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country... When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.” Fox News and other conservative media outlets make great sport of mocking the “campus craziness” that surrounds such issues, and more often than not they are right to... Recently I performed a little experiment during a sabbatical in France: For a full year I read only European publications, not American ones. My thought was to try seeing the world as European readers did. But it was far more instructive to return home and realize how the lens of identity has transformed American reporting in recent years. How often, for example, the laziest story in American journalism — about the “first X to do Y” — is told and retold. Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own. No major news outlet in Europe would think of adopting such a focus. But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality... Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists. Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it... (To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms.)"

Jon Stewart slams liberal 'hypocrisy' for branding Donald Trump voters racist - "Former talk show host Jon Stewart slammed the “hypocrisy” of the left for supposedly rejecting stereotypes while painting Donald Trump voters as racist... “In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”"
Stereotypes are good when they're about 'bigots'

Rutgers Professor Taken to NYC Hospital for Psychiatric Evaluation After Tweets Threatening to Kill White People: NYPD - "A Rutgers University professor who created a "politicizing Beyonce" course was taken to a New York City hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after campus police said he made threats to kill white people... One tweet posted on Tuesday showed an American flag being ignited. In another, he said "will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting atrandom white people or no...?"... He also tweeted that students should all participate in a walk-out planned for Rutgers' New Brunswick campus in opposition of Trump's election"

[Serious] People who have met or dealt with Donald Trump in person prior to the race, what was he like? - AskReddit - "I went to school with his daughter Tiffany so I had a few interactions with the Donald and all were positive. The one anecdote that I'll share is from the school plays. Tiffany was involved in the school theatre program and so was my brother so I was usually helping out as an usher for the plays. Donald attended all the plays that were put on despite living across the country from our school in LA. The thing that was most impressive was how here arrived to the plays, he was always late, just 1 minute late. He'd arrive and take his seat in the rear just after the house lights went down so he didn't draw any attention away from the kids. He'd slip out as quietly as he'd arrived, when he was at the school his focus was 100% on his daughter and not himself. Despite living in a pretty solid liberal area most people from that school admit that's it kind of hard to square our experiences with him up with the media's portrayal of him as a brash, egotistical idiot."
"we saw him and some other businessmen walk out of Trump Tower. Someone around us yelled out 'Hey Trump you're fired!' and he looked over and gave us the classic Donald thumbs up and got into a black SUV."
"I worked at one of his golf courses for 3 years as a valet and i also upkept the practice facilities (including driving around the ball picker upper). Every time i dealt with Big Donald he was more than respectful. Also we had an Mexican guy who cleaned carts, Felipé who he personally provided housing for out of his own pocket because he thought Felipé was such a good worker and valuable asset to the course (which he was, the guy was such a nice guy and a crazy good worker). All in all, I had a polar opposite view of who Donald Trump was prior to this election cycle."
"Trump owns a golf resort in Scotland not far from my home, and he was speaking at a chambers of commerce meeting a couple of years ago, catered by students of the local cookery college, of ehich I was one - we did little canapes and nibbles, nothing major, but he popped in and thanked us for our efforts and said he enjoyed the food, which was nice of him."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Links - 14th December 2016

Sweet Cakes By Melissa, Bakery That Denied Lesbian Couple A Wedding Cake, Sees Business Boom - "Sweet Cakes by Melissa owner Aaron Klein is standing by his decision to turn away the same-sex couple, saying he’s received “lots of support” in the days since the case made headlines around the country. "
Even in Oregon, they received support

would burn his own heart to ash - "I just love this quote. It’s so easily overlooked, seen as unimportant, until you see the prequels. Because then you realize how utterly true and heartbreaking that phrase is. “He died about the same time your father did.” Meaning that Obi-Wan, that is, everything that made him who he was, his faith, his joy, his light, was murdered, killed, at the same time that Anakin was lost to the Dark Side. When Anakin became Vader, Obi-Wan became Ben. Anakin and Obi-Wan died together on that planet. Only Vader and Ben left it alive. One full of hate and darkness, the other a broken shell that was merely existing, not even really living. These two men were so deeply entwined, so bonded together in the force, that when one died, so did the other. That is the real definition of true love"

ANZ Bank launches a super deal for female employees - "Rather than talking about helping women progress, ANZ Bank will beat its rival banks and major corporates today by promising an extra $500 a year employer super contribution for its 12,700 female staff in Australia, as part of a raft of benefits aimed mainly at women... ANZ is the first bank in Australia to discriminate positively in favour of women in terms of compulsory super contributions, although actuaries Rice Warner have been giving female staff an extra 2 per cent since 2013 and Unions NSW followed suit about a year ago. The only complication to date is that organisations planning to do so have to get a waiver from the Human Rights Commission to be allowed to discriminate in that way."
So much for equal pay for equal work

Melbourne University advertises female-only jobs in bid to remedy gender imbalance in maths - "The University of Melbourne positions have been advertised using a special measure of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act. "The use of this kind of special measure that we're using has been used with regards to Indigenous employment," Professor Owczarek said. "For this kind of positions, permanent continuing academic positions, I believe it might be the first time it's been used," he added. Discrimination lawyer Rowan Skinner said the Act allows organisations to take actions to promote equality. "The Act specifically permits an organisation to engage in what is overtly a discriminatory act, but for the purposes of ensuring that there is equal opportunity overall," Mr Skinner said."
Do people advertise for male-only jobs to remedy gender imbalances? Maybe in feminist language, equal opportunity means equal results

Brett Caton's Controversial Commentary: Men are not regarded as 'Human' thanks to Feminist legislation in Australia - "I have confirmation, in writing, from the Australian government, that men are NOT protected by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) - equality only applies if it benefit women."

Australian Bureau of Statistics to discriminate against hiring men - "EMBATTLED Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs will allow the Australian Bureau of Statistics to discriminate against hiring men partly because they are more likely to commit domestic violence... the move has outraged Conservative Turnbull Government MPs, who have accused the Human Rights Commissioner of reverse sexism and demanded she resign. The plan has also split male workers within the ABS, who questioned why the Government agency would perpetuate stereotypes and not consider an employee’s qualifications and training."
They better not hire lesbians

Women in the Boardroom and Their Impact on Governance and Performance - "We show that female directors have a significant impact on board inputs and firm outcomes. In a sample of US firms, we find that female directors have better attendance records than male directors, male directors have fewer attendance problems the more gender-diverse the board is, and women are more likely to join monitoring committees. These results suggest that gender-diverse boards allocate more effort to monitoring. Accordingly, we find that CEO turnover is more sensitive to stock performance and directors receive more equity-based compensation in firms with more gender-diverse boards. However, the average effect of gender diversity on firm performance is negative. This negative effect is driven by companies with fewer takeover defenses. Our results suggest that mandating gender quotas for directors can reduce firm value for well-governed firms."
This suggests that the oft-trumpeted claim that gender diversity improves corporate performance is spurious correlation

You Are Still Crying Wolf - "the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population... All this stuff about how he’s “the candidate of the KKK” and “the vanguard of a new white supremacist movement” is made up. It’s a catastrophic distraction from the dozens of other undeniable problems with Trump that could have convinced voters to abandon him. That it came to dominate the election cycle should be considered a horrifying indictment of our political discourse, in the same way that it would be a horrifying indictment of our political discourse if the entire Republican campaign had been based around the theory that Hillary Clinton was a secret Satanist.

Ex-M1 staff gets 17 months' jail, caning for giving customer details to loansharks - "The court heard that in March 2015, Tay came under pressure from "Alvin", a loanshark he owed money to. Tay agreed to screen a list of NRIC and mobile phone numbers provided by "Alvin" against M1’s customer database, which Tay had access to as a customer service officer for the telco. "Alvin" paid Tay S$5 for each M1 customer whose particulars were provided. In addition, Tay also roped in his friend Mr Choo Kok Leong, who worked for Singtel, to similarly provide details of customers by accessing the Singtel database and searching for customers using the list of NRIC and mobile phone numbers provided by "Alvin". Tay paid Mr Choo S$5 for each Singtel customer whose particulars were provided. Tay, in turn, passed Mr Choo’s information to "Alvin", who paid Tay S$10 for the details of each Singtel customer."

TV5Monde hack: staff accidentally show passwords in report about huge cyber-attack - "Staff at a French TV station accidentally showed off passwords and other personal information during a TV report into a cyber-attack that happened only a day before. While filming interviews about the TV5Monde hack, which saw the station’s channel taken off air and its website made unavailable, staff were filmed in front of a wall that had sheets of paper with sensitive information stuck to it."

Retaliation -- Political Activity - Workplace Fairness - "Unlike many state and federal employees, most employees in America working for private employers do not have any legal protection against discrimination on the basis of political affiliation or activity. (A public employer can, under certain circumstances, be prevented from firing someone based on political speech (because that would constitute the government itself suppressing free speech.)) Only a mere handful of states (California, New York, and Washington, DC) have laws specifically making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of an employee's political activity or affiliation, while two more states (Colorado and North Dakota) prohibit discrimination on the basis of "lawful conduct outside of work.""

Throwing water into someone's face like in K-dramas may leave you with an assault charge

Woman guilty of assault for throwing water - Telegraph - "Speaking with help from an interpreter, Mrs Iqbal said water hit her son, now aged three, which turned his dry skin condition into eczema."

Woman Who Threw Water on Baltimore Mayor Gets Assault Charge - "Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had a large cup of water thrown on her Saturday at a community event at the mall where violence erupted in the city in April. Police have arrested Lacheisa Pailin-Sheffer, 37, of Baltimore and charged her with second-degree assault."

Sally Wen Mao - I've posted this on Twitter, but now I'm going to... - "the Trump supporter got aggressive and told us to go back to Tokyo (!), then called us c**** and whores. At which point I wasn't having it with his racism and misogyny -- I splashed my water across his face... More racist sexist shit poured out of him, "c*** whores," he wasn't very creative. So I splashed another glass of water on his face."
Luckily for Sally Wen Mao, throwing water at someone doesn't seem to count as assault in New York, so liberals can't get upset over her being "persecuted" by a "racist system" for "standing up for minorities". Though of course a few of them are cheering her on for splashing the water (and one said she should've used sriracha instead

You've got junk mail: SingPost says most residents welcome advertising material - "While some residents might complain about their mailbox being clogged up with promotional offers, furniture catalogues and discounts from food establishments, such advertising material is welcomed by most residents, SingPost told Channel NewsAsia. That could explain why only 0.8 per cent of the 1.2 million Singapore households have chosen to opt out of receiving unaddressed advertisements... Recognising that some residents do not like flyers being stuffed randomly, distributor Lim Yuan Hua said that he makes an effort to place the marketing material in the gate hinges and not dirty the surroundings. "I’ll fold the flyers and I will slot them in the gap of the metal gate. For letterboxes, I'll just use my bare hands to do from left to right so as to avoid any scratches on the letterboxes," said the 28-year-old."

How Jiro dreams of sushi turned into nightmare at Jiro - jokuti - "Don’t misinterpret: the sushi place is not a bad one by European standards. But, it is not at all the best in Japan! Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun, we have already seen that the media picks up someone not based on quality and merits, but thanks to an exciting story and strong characters. And Jiro is good at that, (old, 3 Michelin starred sushi chef in an underground passage) as much as the movie itself is good (for those interested in gastronomy and Japan). But the “restaurant” is not quite like that...
Given the strictness and the fastidiousness towards any possible violation of the etiquette, the ambience was anything but comfortable or friendly. I didn’t really feel welcome, and looking at my fellow guests, no one seemed to be at ease, either. And believe me, even if they served the best sushi in the world, you need a relaxed atmosphere to really enjoy it (and not to be rushed: 27 minutes for 21 big nigiris is anything but stress-free).
But the sushi is not the best in the world. It is not even close to perfect. I had so many great experiences in Tokyo on my trip, that it wasn’t simply enough to get nice food. Most of the fish were great, but some pieces seemed low quality or defective. For example, the mantis shrimp had a very strange slushy texture, definitely not the best quality...
Not even the Japanese think this is the best sushi. If you check out Tabelog, a reliable restaurant guide, you won’t see Jiro in the TOP20 in Tokyo, and it’s even lower on the list if we look at the whole country...
Service was not friendly at all - No 2. I was not allowed to take off my jacket!"

Democrats won't be able to block Trump appointments due to rules they imposed - "the Democratic Senate majority — led by Harry Reid (Nev.) — rammed through controversial rules fundamentally changing the way the Senate does business. They unleashed in November 2013 what’s called the “nuclear option” allowing senators to approve by a simple majority all presidential appointments to the executive branch and the judiciary, with a big exception for Supreme Court justices... Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that he opposed the rules change in the first place... Republicans warned at the time that Democrats were making a mistake with what they called a “power grab,” warning they would be sorry about the change when they eventually found themselves in the minority."

Tony Blair Wants To Shape Brexit Deal, Thinks Jeremy Corbyn Is A Nutter

Pence's shaming 'in the room where it happens' is itself a shame - "Broadway made it clear they were “With Her” during the general election, and now the “Hamilton” cast clearly felt it was time for a brave stand. Like those brave statements they made every time Obama's drone strikes killed innocent people of color and Muslims overseas. Those brave statements must just not be up on YouTube yet, I guess."

'I will not participate in dressing the next First Lady': Is fashion being hypocritical with its cold shoulder attitude to Melania Trump? - "For Sophie Theallet - one of Obama's favourite designers - the answer is a resounding yes. French-born, New York-based Theallet is the first fashion designer to come out publicly saying that she won't be dressing Melania Trump. “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady," she wrote in an open letter on Twitter. "The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.”... Because with her poker-straight bronde hair, love of Louboutins, lashings of lip gloss, permatan and "done" face (yes, of course, she has denied ever having had surgery or Botox), Melania's glamazon vibe is the antithesis of many designers' ideal - and the natural, accessible look which has made Obama so appealing... one can almost imagine Melania vindictively ordering a batch of Theallet dresses as a two-fingers to her public statement... The irony is that as a former model Trump knows how to wear clothes - and to many women she will represent the epitome of aspirational polish. Indeed, that Gucci shirt sold out on Net-A-Porter within hours of Trump being seen wearing it. And no doubt we will see a similar phenomenon happen to the tightly fitted sheath dresses, power coats and waist-cinching silhouettes she'll bring to the White House from January... some designers believe that by boycotting Trump, they could be going against the very values which they claim to be defending."

Designer Sophie Theallet Says She Won't Dress Melania Trump - "the swipe at Melania Trump is pre-emptive, and it’s clear Ms. Theallet has every desire to draw conclusions about Mrs. Trump before actually meeting her. She also seems to forget that Mrs. Trump is both an immigrant, and not responsible for her husband’s Presidential policies... at least one designer, Marcus Wainwright of the label Rag + Bone, said he’d definitely consider the opportunity. “It would be hypocritical to say no to dressing a Trump,” Wainwright told NYT. “If we say we are about inclusivity and making American manufacturing great again, then we have to put that before personal political beliefs.”"

The US Supreme Court

BBC Radio 4 - The Battle for the US Constitution

"Gay marriage is probably not something the authors of the 14th amendment, like radical 1860s congressman John Bingham had in mind. But Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the gay marriage decision last year, argued that it still may be faithful to their broader intentions...

The protected status, the protected classes that are there are all but religion are an immutable characteristic. What race, sex. Religion was the only one that wasn't an immutable characteristic, and that's specifically protected in the Constitution.

So they got it right in the Civil Rights Act and then went on down the line and we've watched this thing that transitioned to what others will say is an evolution and I would say is a digression of our society when we began to protect the mutable characteristics that society has.

An immutable characteristic is one that can be independently verified and cannot be wilfully changed. Age is one, we added age to Civil Rights. That's fine. Disability is another one. If it truly is a disability, it can't be changed and it can be independently verified.

But the balance of this, they've changed now the word sex, which is independently verifiable and can't be wilfully changed, to gender, which is something now that is only in the person's head that's on their way to the bathroom...

'Let's say you and I decided to buy a beach house. The law is very clear: the government cannot seize that property from us without just compensation. Now let's say you and I as friends decided to come together and buy it together. Maybe we should create a corporation just so we can spell out our rights. Repairs are necessary, how we're going to fund it. Without this idea of corporate personhood, the government could go seize that beach house from the corporation. There's nothing protecting the seizure of that.'

But if a corporation is a person, it is entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment, so the courts have decided, to the equal protection of the laws...

The irony is that it's generally liberals who make the argument that the constitution evolves. So you can use the Fourteenth Amendment to allow gay marriage... but in this case, liberals think the courts have betrayed the original meaning of the Amendment by choosing to regard corporations as people"

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Court in the Centre

"There is very little in American life that doesn't come at some time before the United States Supreme Court...

Since Bork's nomination was rejected by the Senate, the political significance of each appointment has been endlessly parsed and assessed and today the process has come to a complete standstill...

We have a Supreme Court that is, has become increasingly political. Has ventured increasingly into very political waters. Waters that don't belong in the judicial branch of government.

And so it shouldn't be surprising to those on the left that at some point, those of us who are conservatives are going to push back and say that ok, if you want them to play this political role, if you're going to cheer them on every time they play this political role and in fact you're going to try to intimidate them into playing that increasingly political role, we're going to exercise our rights within our political system to stop it'...

As a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff's name became a byword for corruption, and he spent time prison as a result. But he's out now campaigning for good governance, and he worries that in a few recent decisions, the court has showed that it doesn't really understand how corruption works. Perhaps because, for the first time in its history, nobody on the court has ever been elected to public office...

I spoke to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens... I asked him if the court was political, legal or both.

'Sometimes cases present issues that have political ramifications, there's no doubt about that, but it's a judicial body, it's a court. It does not initiate its own business. It decides cases that are initiated by litigants and there're a lot of issues that they might like to decide but if they are not presented to them in a judicial way, they can't decide them. Their business is to decide cases and controversies... It had been the tradition before every argument session that the judges do shake hands with one another and it's also a tradition that they have lunch together regularly, but during lunches they don't talk business. They're social gatherings and the social aspects and the business aspects of the court are really quite separate"

Monday, December 12, 2016

Links - 12th December 2016

Spotify is writing massive amounts of junk data to storage drives - "For almost five months—possibly longer—the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users' storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren't uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn't storing any songs locally."

Disturbing legal implications - Brave New World - "what is really disturbing is the fact that a fatwa, which is after all merely an opinion, can carry the weight of law even without going through the legislative process of debate and voting. This in effect means that one person’s words suddenly become akin to a law for we cannot challenge it and if we do we can face a fine and jail. This is frightfully undemocratic and can lead to some horrific scenarios. What if a mufti passes a fatwa saying that any sort of dissension against the civil government is wrong? According to the Federal Territories law, any challenge of fatwa can be punished. What kind of democracy are we living in if a person’s statement by itself can have such authority?"
Malaysia Boleh

China Discovers the Price of Global Power: Soldiers Returning in Caskets - WSJ - "His mother, Yang Bin, asked before he deployed if the work would be dangerous. “China is so powerful, who can bully us Chinese people?” her son replied, she recalled as she sat on a threadbare sofa in her rundown concrete home. “So our minds were set at ease.”... And there was a terrible irony: According to several U.N. officials, Cpl. Li may have been killed by a Chinese-made weapon, the likes of which China has sold to developing countries including South Sudan for years under its export-driven economic policy... Adding to the soul-searching in China, the U.N. investigation also found that Chinese troops abandoned defensive positions at least twice and refused to intervene to stop Western aid workers being raped. China’s foreign ministry called that finding “irresponsible criticism” and urged better protection for peacekeepers."

The equation of dual citizenship - "in the US (which began passing laws tolerating dual citizenship in the 1950s), the numbers show that Latin American immigrants who become dual citizens have greater employment gains and lower welfare use than those who become US citizens but let go of their first citizenship, indicating economic assimilation. In addition, these immigrants give birth to fewer children than their counterparts, possibly indicating cultural assimilation. Moreover, some governments have found ways to directly benefit from dual citizenship. Italy used dual nationality as a way to fight its declining population in the 1990s. The current law grants birthright citizenship to anyone with a parent, a grandfather or a great grandfather who held Italian citizenship"

Baldness Can Be a Powerful Business Advantage -- Study - WSJ - "Men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair... Mr. Landau, now CEO of Drybar, a chain of blow-dry salons, says the bald look "makes me more confident and more strong, which probably makes people respect me more." Plus, in the hair business, he says, "people remember the bald guy.""

What makes a classic RPG? Everything! - "There has been a fantastic array of different role-playing games through the years, and the critical questions of how to build them have never answered. It's clear that there's no one best way to build a classic RPG. It's also clear that this is the most diverse genre in video game history."

'Cinema ninjas' to silence naughty film-goers - "staff at London's Prince Charles cinema - perhaps most famous for hosting occasional singalong screenings of films like The Sound of Music - have come up with the idea of employing "ninjas" to stamp out audience members' bad behaviour during regular screenings. Volunteer Catherine Small is one of the team of unpaid ninjas who dress up in anonymous black body suits and monitor screenings at the cinema."

Prostitution: The hidden cost of Greece's economic crisis - "According to the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), the rate of prostitution in the country has soared by 150 per cent during the economic crisis... Over the past four years, Greece has seen a 200 per cent rise in cases of HIV... Women, jostling for a finite quantity of clients, are forced to charge less and less. And, of course, clients have vastly reduced spending power due to the financial crsis. The result is an average fee of about €15 (£11)."

SO WHAT I’VE DONE WITH TWITTER is just to log out for now. - "Basically, there are two problems with Twitter for me. One is that they don’t support their users — they pretty clearly suspend, ban, etc. using a political double standard even though they claim they don’t. But the other problem with Twitter is that it’s the crystal meth of social media: Addictive, but unsatisfying. I’ve been spending a lot of time on it even though it doesn’t make me any money, and even though I kind of doubt it has much of an impact on anything. As I said a while back: “I think Twitter is overrated. It’s a good way to chatter with the chattering classes, but (1) it doesn’t drive traffic; (2) its impact outside the chattering classes is basically nil; and (3) it encourages people to think they’re being ‘activists’ when they’re really just tweeting to a few hundred people... if I, a tenured professor whose university just admitted that his tweets are protected by the First Amendment, have concerns about this, I have to wonder why anyone whose job is less secure would stay on Twitter.”

UPDATED! In Defense of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, Suspended from Twitter for Suggesting Motorists "Run Down" Charlotte Protesters - "Whatever you think of the tastefulness of his suggestion regarding the protesters in Charlotte, the idea that he is seriously inciting any sort of actual or real threat is risible"

Whoohoo censorship! Free-speech advocate and well-known Conservative @Instapundit suspended on Twitter - "Because you know, it makes more sense to sit in your car and wait for the angry “protesters” to beat you to death and steal your car. Sure... There are accounts literally championing the harm of police officers openly on Twitter, and yet they felt it made more sense to ban the guy telling people to defend themselves."

Hate Speech on Campus | American Civil Liberties Union - "Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted...
Q: I have the impression that the ACLU spends more time and money defending the rights of bigots than supporting the victims of bigotry!!??...
A: Defending First Amendment rights for the enemies of civil liberties and civil rights means defending it for you and me.
Q: Aren't speech codes on college campuses an effective way to combat bias against people of color, women and gays?
A: As one African American educator observed: "I have always felt as a minority person that we have to protect the rights of all because if we infringe on the rights of any persons, we'll be next.""
One day soon the ACLU will be labelled bigots and part of the alt-right

Oregon official who bullied Christian bakery owners loses election - "Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian was defeated by Republican Dennis Richardson in his bid to be Secretary of State. It's the first time a Republican has been elected to a statewide office in Oregon since 2002. So consider this – Avakian was too liberal for what is arguably one of the most liberal states in the country."

Tuberculosis and the Vampire Myth - "When people died from consumption and other members of their household soon sickened as well, it was believed that the dead family member was visiting the house at night as a vampire and slowly sucking their lives away. Because tuberculosis patients were slowly being “consumed” by the disease, it was assumed that vampires were feeding off of their blood. If multiple family members began to fall ill after a consumption death and vampirism was expected, communities took a nontraditional approach to treating the disease, beginning with exhuming the body and removing its heart. If the heart contained “fresh” blood (an effect of decomposition, but believed to be blood the vampire had sucked out of the living), the heart would be burned and the ashes fed to sick family members as a cure, or a stake would be driven through the heart, a practice still associated with vampire myths today."

Why Skin Wrinkles in Water - "The full explanation of how and why our fingers wrinkle in wet environments is still the subject of some debate. What we know is that the physiological mechanisms causing this phenomenon are the result of our veins constricting (vasoconstriction) in your hands and feet. One might notice this occurs even in warm water, when we otherwise would assume blood vessels should dilate instead of constrict. This suggests an evolutionary benefit to wrinkling digits. One such advantaged recently demonstrated by two studies showed that wrinkled fingers provide us with better grip in wet environments... The most damning evidence that osmosis is not the cause of finger wrinkling is that if you cut the sympathetic nerve fibers (those that respond to your fight or flight response) to a person’s fingers, they will no longer wrinkle in water."

Spooning Is a Physical and Ideological Travesty. It Must End Now. - "Big spoons are manly and will take care of you (provided you let them use you to take care of themselves); little spoons are fragile, passive creatures that need to be held and kept safe. This, of course, is fundamentally a sexist arrangement, one that casts the big spoon as “the man” and the little spoon as “the woman.” To say that this power imbalance is built into all acts of spooning—whichever the sexes engaged—is not, I think, an overstatement. Indeed, I would argue that spooning is always already a power play, a perverse strategy by which we nightly enact the unjust relations of “big” and “little” privilege that plague our society on every level."
"Thanks to political correctness and social justice types who are offended by just about everything, I cannot tell if the author means this piece to be satirical, or if he really is a hypersensitive wet blanket who takes spooning way too seriously. I suggest some forking to help him mellow out."

2 homeless men from Saskatchewan given one-way bus tickets to B.C. - "two young First Nations men were each given one-way bus tickets from North Battleford to Vancouver and Victoria. They told the newspaper they were denied provincial funding to stay overnight at the North Battleford Lighthouse homeless shelter and that is when the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services paid for the two bus tickets. Charles Neil-Curly, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, arrived at Vancouver’s bus station on Wednesday afternoon. Asked if he was happy to be in B.C., Neil-Curly replied: “Yeah, I guess. I don’t have to sleep in a snowbank.”... Governments have offered people help to leave a province before. Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein cut welfare rates in the 1990s and offered one-way bus tickets to B.C. In 1995, the Ontario government offered up to $1,500 in travel expenses to welfare recipients to move to B.C. if they could prove they had roots in the province."

Blog: People in Blue States seek psychiatric help 50% more often than in Red States.

Affirmative Consent Laws: 'State-Mandated Dirty Talk'? - "Writing in the California Law Review, Harvard Law School professors Jeannie Suk and Jacob Gersen note that “Today we have an elaborate and growing federal bureaucratic structure that in effect regulates sex.” This is largely the result of pressure from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work. OCR also has told colleges like the University of Montana and University of New Mexico to classify all “unwelcome” sexual conduct or speech as “sexual harassment.” It did so even though this violates free speech, and even though courts have never defined sexual harassment that broadly. The Obama administration expects colleges to massively meddle in students’ romantic lives, even off campus. It has told colleges to investigate students for sexual harassment or assault even when their allegedly victimized partner does not want any investigation... By pressuring colleges to vastly increase their regulation of students’ sex lives, and demanding investigations students don’t want, the Obama Education Department has fueled vast expansions of college bureaucracies. There are now thousands of staffers responsible for enforcing Title IX sexual conduct mandates... If you expect colleges to police “remarks about physical appearance” made during a relationship with an ex-partner, and treat it as “violence,” you will end up with vastly more investigations (and need a vastly larger and more costly administrative apparatus)... when the co-sponsor of California’s 2014 “affirmative consent” law was asked how an innocent person could prove “affirmative” consent, she said, “Your guess is as good as mine.” Yet California state legislators expect colleges to enforce such rules for them (a number of colleges are now being sued by expelled students). As Gersen and Suk note, very little actual consent qualifies as “affirmative consent” under the extremely narrow definition of “consent” contained in many campus “affirmative consent” policies... Even if you liked being kissed, a college may deem it sexual assault if there was no explicit discussion beforehand between you and your partner to establish the existence of “affirmative consent”... Professors Suk and Gersen (and others) have argued that requiring students to do this sort of thing raises serious constitutional privacy issues under Supreme Court decisions like Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down Texas’s sodomy law as a violation of privacy rights"

American Law Institute rejects affirmative consent standard in defining sexual assault - "A group of 120 members wrote a public letter denouncing the proposal, arguing affirmative consent improperly shifts the burden of proof onto the accused when charges of sexual assault are levied. By forcing the accused to prove the near-impossible — that a sexual encounter was vocally agreed upon at each stage — affirmative consent standards deny the accused due process rights, the letter said.
The American Law Institute is presumably made up of rapists, since they reject Affirmative Consent

State-mandated dirty talk in California: Governor signs unconstitutional SB 967 - "There are lots of things in this world that I like, and view as consensual, that I never “agree” to, such as when my daughter suddenly hugs me without asking for permission, or my co-workers surprise me by leaving a snack on my desk. “Agreements” are for dry legal contracts, not warm, spontaneous human interactions. But now, you have to reach on “agreement” on everything, which could lead to some very uncomfortable conversations in the bedroom... Such explicit discussion can be more discomfiting even than an unwanted touching. One of my female relatives experienced sexual abuse as a minor, and is especially uncomfortable with graphic sexual talk in the bedroom as a result... Such “state-mandated dirty talk” should also be recognized as violating the First Amendment freedom from compelled speech, recognized in the Supreme Court’s 1977 Wooley v. Maynard decision. SB 967 could also lead to violations of the Fourteenth Amendment ban on sexual harassment by state governments, recognized in federal appeals court rulings like Bator v. State of Hawaii and Hayut v. State University of New York, which forbid the government, and state officials, from creating a sexually hostile environment. It could create a sexually-hostile educational environment for both men and women. It could do so for men, judging from the admissions of its supporters like Ezra Klein, by “creating a haze of fear and confusion” and “cold spike of fear” for men... Such sexual harassment and intimidation violate the civil rights laws — even when the victims are male"

Researchers say many students still struggle with affirmative consent - "Research by two California scholars, however, suggests that students’ understanding of consent is not in line with the new policies and laws. Instead, students often obtain sexual permission through a variety of verbal and nonverbal cues, both nuanced and overt, that do not always meet a strict definition of affirmative consent... many affirmative consent policies treat students as though they have “just hatched out of an egg,” rather than arriving on a campus with 18 years of socialization about sexuality and consent. A policy that assumes students are overtly asking someone to have sex with them is one that may privilege students who are extroverts, for example, while not providing a framework for introverted students who are less likely to talk openly about any issue, consent or otherwise. More broadly, the researchers said, students are taught from a young age that sex is not something meant to be talked about."
Even college students don't do affirmative consent, unsurprisingly enough
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