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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Links - 30th January 2016 (Plastic bags etc)

Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein - "Einstein is the most famous and beloved scientist of all time. We revere him not only as a scientific genius but also as a moral and even spiritual sage. Abraham Pais, Einstein's friend and biographer, called him "the divine man of the 20th century." To New York Timesphysics reporter Dennis Overbye, Einstein was an “icon" of "humanity in the face of the unknown."... there are so many brilliant physicists alive today that it has become harder for any individual to stand apart from the pack. In other words, our perception of Einstein as a towering figure is, well, relative... For the first half of the last century, physics yielded not only deep insights into nature--which resonated with the disorienting work of creative visionaries like Picasso, Joyce and Freud--but also history-jolting technologies like the atomic bomb, nuclear power, radar, lasers, transistors and all the gadgets that make up the computer and communications industries. Physics mattered. Over the past few decades, many physicists have gotten bogged down pursuing a goal that obsessed Einstein in his latter years: a theory that fuses quantum physics and general relativity, which are as incompatible, conceptually and mathematically, as plaid and polka dots. Seekers of this "theory of everything" have wandered into fantasy realms of higher dimensions with little or no empirical connection to our reality. Over the past few decades, biology has displaced physics as the scientific enterprise with the most intellectual, practical and economic clout"

Government cannot invoke harassment Act to make website remove statements on Mindef: High Court - "the Government cannot use the Protection from Harassment Act to make socio-political blog The Online Citizen (TOC) take down statements on its site made by a doctor against the Ministry of Defence (Mindef)... The case turned on the legal question of whether the Government can be considered a "person" under the Act, which came into force this year to protect people from harassment and stalking and to provide remedies for victims of false statements. In the current case, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had invoked the Act against Dr Ting Choon Meng, co-founder of medical device firm MobileStats Technologies. MobileStats had sued the Government for patent infringement, claiming that Mindef had copied its concept of a mobile emergency medical station. But the firm dropped its claim in January last year, citing financial difficulties. In January this year, TOC posted an interview with Dr Ting about the case. The AGC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dr Ting , asking him to stop making false statements about Mindef. When Dr Ting and TOC refused to take down the statements, the AGC applied for a court order under Section 15 of the Act to have them taken down."

This obsession with 'cultural appropriation' is leading us down a very dark path - "The idea of ‘cultural appropriation’ sums up everything rotten in today’s intensifying politics of identity. It’s fuelled by the borderline racist idea that to mix cultures is bad... The PC rage against cultural appropriation is ultimately a demand for cultural segregation, for black people, white people, Latinos, gay people, women and every other racial, gender or sexual group to stick with their own culture and people and not allow themselves to be diluted by outsiders. Gay men have been condemned by the National Union of Students for ‘appropriating black female culture’. Barmy NUS officials think it’s the height of racism for a gay guy to talk about having an ‘inner black woman’. The irony being that it’s hard to think of anything more racist, or at least racially divisive, than the ideology of cultural appropriation: its obsession with cultural purity echoes some of the darkest political movements of the twentieth century. The fear of cultural mixing induces social paralysis. We have a new generation who can’t enjoy music, films, food, yoga or anything without having an existential crisis. The zany website Everyday Feminism, which incredibly is not parodic, has published ‘The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative‘, which advises against ‘seeking “authentic”, “exotic” or “ethnic” food’. How sad that these people can’t even tuck into a Thai curry without worrying that they’re being unwittingly Thaiphobic... the censoriousness and separatism of this pseudo-progressive politics is a tragedy. It’s a pox on the ideal of universalism. Identity politics constantly mitigates against the old, properly progressive values of sharing and solidarity, of people mixing with and learning from and standing with others"

Changing your Facebook profile picture is doing more good than you might think - "slacktivism can have real reach. There are the many people around these sharers, sometimes tens of millions, whom the researchers call the "critical periphery." These are the people responsible for taking a highly local protest movement and ensuring it is felt nationally and internationally. And the researchers found that in aggregate, their likes and shares pack as much of a punch as those of hardcore activists... the same people who are likelier to post about various causes on social media are also significantly likelier to volunteer, participate in a protest event, or encourage others to become more involved."

Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness - "Recently, many jurisdictions have implemented bans or imposed taxes upon plastic grocery bags on environmental grounds. San Francisco County was the first major US jurisdiction to enact such a regulation, implementing a ban in 2007. There is evidence, however, that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria. We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase."
Save the environment - kill people. And washing reusable bags has environmental impact

It's time to admit that plastic bag fees aren’t actually working - "For a short time this proved to be a dream issue for retailers: the chance to turn a profit on something formerly considered an expense, all the while wrapping oneself in environmental virtue. As a practical matter, however, banning or charging for bags never made much sense. Their contribution to urban waste is negligible: a recent Toronto street-litter survey found plastic retail bags constitute less than 1% of total garbage. Most customers reused their free bags for pet waste or something else. And most important, bags have the practical purpose of getting your groceries home safely. While everyone dutifully schlepped cloth bags around to save the fee, this simply added to the hassle of shopping. Fast-forward five years and plastic bag fees are in full retreat. Toronto has undone its bylaw; and many of the leading bag-fee proponents have gone back to handing out free bags—although they seem to have skipped the fanfare this time around."

Plastic bag levy is a drop in the ocean on environmental grounds - "It is estimated that there are about 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean. However, this is all plastics, not just bags, and can range from micro-beads to large debris. Bags are a small fraction of this. The main danger to marine life is not ingesting bags, but a concentrated toxic mix of water-borne chemicals that plastic absorbs and which fish and other marine life ingest through tiny plastic particles. Plastic is a derivative of the oil industry. Its production accounts for around 8 per cent of global oil use, but, again, that’s for all plastics. Bags will be a pretty small fraction of this. Research by the UK Environment Agency, indicates that the overall environmental impact of single-use plastic bag manufacture is considerably less than that of some “environmentally friendly” bags. Its life cycle analysis of a number of different types of shopping bags found that a cotton bag would have to be used 131 times to be below the total global warming potential of an HDPE bag used only once. And once you factor in reuse of HDPE bags as bin liners, which is reasonably common, this reuse factor rises. The point made by the study is that the global warming impact of HDPE bags is negligible."

Plastic bag charge: the unintended consequences of the 5p deterrent - Telegraph - "Bag bans lead many customers to start using paper bags - which are not subject to the English bag charge. This in turn led to "greater landfill waste than plastic bags" in San Francisco, according to one study. Carrier bag rules in the city of Austin, Texas had a similar impact. Shoppers there started to throw out many more heavy-duty reusable bags, resulting in increased landfill"

Life cycle assessment of supermarket carrier bags: a review of the bags available in 2006 - "A study on lightweight carrier bag usage (WRAP 2005) found that 59 per cent of respondents reused all carrier bags, 16 per cent reused most of them, 7 per cent reused around half of them and 7 per cent reused some of them. Overall it was estimated that 76 per cent of single use carrier bags were reused. The study also asked respondents how they reused carrier bags and found that 53 per cent of respondents said that they used carrier bags as a replacement for kitchen bin liners"

Getting to the root of Singapore's productivity problem - "we need to get to the root causes of low productivity rates. More often than not, these include:
- Hierarchical and bureaucratic practices that delay the decision-making process.
- Unclear work deliverables and/or approaches resulting in delays of deliverables as team members are uncertain about what is expected of them or do things the wrong way.
- Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach towards leading and managing a diverse workforce.
My friend Joanna Barclay aptly puts across what it means to remain status quo: "Maintaining the same leadership, management style, and behaviours while expecting your employees to embrace new habits and greater collaboration is cultural insanity!"

Stonehenge druid King Arthur resurrects remains battle - "A senior druid has vowed to seek a judicial review over a government decision allowing ancient human remains from Stonehenge to be kept in a museum. King Arthur Pendragon claims the cremated bones, unearthed in 2008, are from members of the royal line and wants them reburied."

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Food and the Fall of the Berlin Wall - "During the Cultural Revolution, there was an all out assault on bourgeois culture. And of course fine dining was one very conspicuous part of that. And so some dishes had their names changed. Gong Bao Chicken - Americans call it Kung Po Chicken - was changed in Szechuan to Hong Bao Ji Ding or Hu La Ji Ding, scorched chili chicken cubes, to take away Gong Bao, which was the name of a 19th century Governor-General of Szechuan. An Imperial official and representative of the Old Order. At the same time restaurants that had served very elaborate and expensive food were ordered to serve cheap and substantial food for the masses"

Michael Flynn, former DIA chief: Obama ignored ISIS intel to fit election narrative - Washington Times - "The nation’s former top spy said Tuesday that President Obama ignored early warning about the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group in 2011 and 2012 because the intelligence did not fit his re-election “narrative.” When asked if his warnings about the extremist group were ignored, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agencytold CNN, “I think they did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed, and I’ll be very candid with you, I have said and I believe that the people around the president, his sort of inner circle that were advising him, I think advised him incorrectly.”"

German companies gloomy on employing refugees, survey says - FT.com - "The polls by the Munich-based Ifo institute found that most companies thought the chances of employing refugees were low even in unskilled jobs: 59 per cent, versus 41 per cent who saw “a big potential” for refugees in such work. For more qualified posts, refugees’ employment chances were seen as substantially lower: 63 per cent of employers saw little chance of hiring refugees as trainees. For skilled jobs the figure rose to 78 per cent and for management roles 97 per cent. Overwhelmingly, employers cited poor knowledge of German as the main obstacle. Other barriers cited included poor qualifications, employment rules, and the German minimum wage, said Ifo."

In Sweden, Immigration Policies Begin to Rankle - The New York Times - "In some of those apartment blocks, the unemployment rate among immigrants stands at 80 percent. Still, their children need schooling, and they have elderly parents who need health care. Some are damaged by the violence they have lived through. They suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and drug and alcohol addictions. Prof. Jan Ekberg, an economist at Linnaeus University, questions the policies that allowed so many refugees to settle far from jobs. “They are depending on the public sector now as never before,” he said. “That was a policy mistake.”... A few years ago, the fire and ambulance brigades would not even enter Rosengard without a police escort. Youths there threw rocks and set cars on fire. Police officials say things are much better now. Fires were down 40 percent last year compared with 2009. But last month, two police vehicles parked at the station were set on fire with small homemade explosives... Even older immigrants who have made lives here say they have little contact with Swedes. A refugee from Bosnia, Ask Gasi, says he can understand that Swedes are reluctant to embrace the diverse and needy refugee population. He wonders himself whether the government made a mistake in letting so many come in."

Sweden’s ugly immigration problem - "“There has been a lack of integration among non-European refugees,” he told me. Forty-eight per cent of immigrants of working age don’t work, he said. Even after 15 years in Sweden, their employment rates reach only about 60 per cent. Sweden has the biggest employment gap in Europe between natives and non-natives. In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched. Forty-two per cent of the long-term unemployed are immigrants, Mr. Sanandaji said. Fifty-eight per cent of welfare payments go to immigrants. Forty-five per cent of children with low test scores are immigrants. Immigrants on average earn less than 40 per cent of Swedes. The majority of people charged with murder, rape and robbery are either first- or second-generation immigrants. “Since the 1980s, Sweden has had the largest increase in inequality of any country in the OECD,” Mr. Sanandaji said. It’s not for lack of trying. Sweden is tops in Europe for its immigration efforts... Sweden’s fantasy is that if you socialize the children of immigrants and refugees correctly, they’ll grow up to be just like native Swedes. But it hasn’t worked out that way."

Social Justice Bullies

Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice

"But millennials are grown up now — and they’re angry. As children, they were told that they could be anything, do anything, and that they were special. As adults, they have formed a unique brand of Identity Politics wherein the groups with which one identifies is paramount. With such a strong narrative that focuses on which group one belongs to, there has been an increasing balkanization of identities. In an attempt to be open-minded toward other groups and to address social justice issues through a lens of intersectionality, clear and distinct lines have been drawn between people. One’s words and actions are inextricable from one’s identities. For example: this is not an article, but an article written by a straight, white, middle-class (etc.) male (and for this reason will be discounted by many on account of how my privilege blinds me — more on this later)...

The resulting sociopolitical culture among millennials and their slightly older political forerunners is corrosive and destructive to progress in social justice. And herein lies the problem — in attempting to solve pressing and important social issues, millennial social justice advocates are violently sabotaging genuine opportunities for progress by infecting a liberal political narrative with, ironically, hate...

Sword drawn and bloodthirsty, millennial social justice advocates have taken to verbal, emotional — and sometimes physical — violence.

In a dazzlingly archetypical display of horseshoe theory, this particular brand of millennial social justice advocates have warped an admirable cause for social, economic, and political equality into a socially authoritarian movement that has divided and dehumanized individuals on the basis of an insular ideology guised as academic theory. The modern social justice movement launched on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Jezebel, Slate, Huffington Post, et al. is far more reminiscent of a Red Scare (pick one) than the Civil Rights Movement.

When George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four (and here some will lambast me for picking a white male author from a historically colonialist power despite the fact that he fought and wrote against this colonialism), he wrote it to warn against the several dangers of extremism on either side of the political spectrum. Orwell’s magnum opus is about authoritarianism on both ends of the political spectrum. If the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, then the arc of the political spectrum bends toward authoritarianism at both ends...

This particular brand of social justice advocacy assaults reason in a particularly frightening way — by outright denying it and utilizing fear-mongering to discourage dissent. There is no gray: only black and white. One must mimic the orthodoxy or be barred forcibly from the chapel and jeered at by the townspeople. To disagree with the millennial social justice orthodoxy is to make a pariah of oneself willingly. Adherence to the narrative is the single litmus test for collegiate (and beyond) social acceptance these days.

Take, for instance, a topical example: the University of Virginia/Rolling Stone rape story debacle... Erdely took Jackie at face value. Why? Because, at the behest of millennial social justice advocates, we are told not to question rape victims. To do so is “victim blaming” and can potentially “re-traumatize” the victim.

In “Fighting Against ‘Rape Culture’ Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry,” author Charles C.W. Cooke expands on the issue of this Rolling Stone debacle. Cooke writes that there was an initial questioning of Jackie and Erdely and he notes that the backlash to this line of inquiry was met with extreme hostility...

In “No matter what Jackie said, we should generally believe rape claims,” author Zerlina Maxwell suggests that we should generally write the equivalent of a blank check to someone who comes forward with a rape accusation. This is not justice and it certainly is not social justice either. It is an illiberal perversion of the justice system. Sir William Blackstone is famous for what is known as the Blackstone formulation: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” This axiom is a foundation of modern justice systems worldwide. It as a formulation that assumes innocence; to condemn on the basis of a certain accusation because of the identity or oppressed status of the accuser is a dangerous road to go down. It erodes the most essential tenet of liberalism: due process...

To the social justice advocate of our time, conclusions are not contingent on facts; rather, facts are contingent on conclusions. In a global example of confirmation bias, the truth is malleable. The malleable truth is molded around the theoretical viewpoints of social justice. In order to uphold the sanctity of this viewpoint, adherents ostracize dissension. It’s nothing new — it’s a tactic as old as religion itself. Instead of holy texts, though, the millennial social justice advocate bows at the altar of the currently-in-vogue ideological Trinity: Marxism, Feminism, and Post-Colonialism...

The Newspeak of the millennial social justice advocate is an intricately and powerfully designed mechanism that seeks to eradicate and socially criminalize dissent.

Let’s talk about racism. The mantra of the movement is thus: It is impossible to be racist against white people because racism is the equivalent of prejudice and power. Since white people have social and economic institutional power and privilege (in America), those who are racially oppressed cannot be racist toward whites since those who are racially oppressed do not have power...

It is now possible to absolve yourself of guilt by working enough academic nuance into a word to fundamentally change it — in your favor...

Instead of the discussion being focused on how advocating to “kill all white people” as a political statement or how the hashtag #KillAllMen are prejudicial and hateful sentiments, the millennial social justice advocate excuses and legitimizes these phrases and behaviors by suggesting that they are not racist or sexist but are legitimate expressions against their oppressors. The discussion of how legitimately hateful and anti-liberal these statements are does not ever surface because, as the script goes, this is “derailing” discussions of legitimate problems of oppressed people to focus on the non-problems of oppressors...

1-in-5 is a great way to fear-monger. In a report released by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault Among College-Aged Females, 1995–2013,” Lynn Langton, Ph.D. and Sofi Sinozich report that “the rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for non-students (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).” Using deliberately misleading statistics in a Machiavellian campaign — wherein the eradication of sexual assault on college campuses requires the misinterpretation of data and the removal of due process — does more to “derail” genitive conversations of sexual assault on campus than having productive, legally responsible conversations ever will.

Take also, for instance, the wage gap statistic recited everywhere between a sociology class and the President’s speeches: That women make 70-something cents on a dollar to a man. The truth is that this is, again, a misleading statistic that tries to apply nationally aggregated data to the level of the individual. TIME writes that “the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.” This is corroborated by a seemingly endless amount of sources like the Wall Street Journal and Abigail Hall who quips that “you wouldn’t compare the incomes of elementary school teachers with Bachelor’s degrees to those of individuals with PhDs in physics and complain that there is a ‘teacher-physicist wage gap.’” Note that there are five sources in this paragraph alone.

Using misleading statistics to push an agenda does no one any good. It derails progress by attempting to support a legitimate cause with shoddy foundations. Foundations that, in time, will collapse — and a movement with it...

As a heterosexual male, it is assumed that I am doing this fact-checking not in the name of academic honesty, but for sexist reasons or because I am a rape apologist or because I think women are “asking for it.”

But here’s the thing — who I am does not (or should not) have any bearing on facts. The problem with this brand of modern social justice advocacy is that who one is as a person (race, class, gender, etc.) is the be all and end all of their capacity to have a certain viewpoint. A millennial social justice advocate can discount an opinion simply because it is said or written by a group they feel oppresses them. It is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem whereby one attacks the person saying an argument rather than the argument itself. But this logical fallacy has become the primary weapon of the millennial social justice advocate. It is miasma to academia, to critical thinking, and to intellectual honesty. Yet it is the primary mode of operating on college campuses nationwide...

This particular brand of millennial social justice advocacy is destructive to academia, intellectual honesty, and true critical thinking and open mindedness. We see it already having a profound impact on the way universities act and how they approach curriculum.

The arguments made under the banner of this type of social justice are often petty, usually mean-spirited, and always absolved of any guilt by the speaker’s moral self-positioning. And yes, sometimes they’re sexist and racist, too.

To view everything through a particular theoretical viewpoint (that is, feminist, Marxist, post-colonialist, etc.) is an intellectual limiting exercise that works only in a vacuum. The world is more than one viewpoint. The ostricization of those who hold alternate viewpoints is not any way conducive to social progress. The opposite of hatred is not hatred in the opposite direction. There is no excuse — none — for being a bad person toward another on the basis of their identity...

The version of millennial social justice advocacy that I have spoken about — one that uses Identity Politics to balkanize groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy — is not admirable. It is deplorable. It appeals to the basest of human instincts: fear and hatred. It is not an enlightened or educated position to take. History will not look kindly on this Orwellian, authoritarian pervision of social justice that has taken social media and millennials by storm over the past few years.

Those who need to hear this message will probably respond that I am 1. too privileged to understand 2. tone-policing the oppressed (and that I shouldn’t tell the oppressed how to treat their oppressors) and 3. really just a closet racist/sexist in a liberal’s clothing. I expect these responses — partially because I am so used to having seen this script play out over the last four years at NYU.

But the fact of the matter is — anyone unwilling to engage in productive, open, mutually critical conversations with people they disagree with under the moral protection of liberalism and social justice are not liberals, are not social justice advocates, and are not social justice warriors; they are social justice bullies."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Links - 29th January 2016

Japan teacher who paid for sex with 12,000 women convicted over naked child photographs - "Takashima had meticulously catalogued nearly 150,000 photographs of his sexual encounters over a 27-year period in around 400 separate albums. Takashima was quoted as having said in court that he “has a habit of collecting things” and wanted “to keep the memories”. The former middle-school principal started paying for sex when he was dispatched to a Japanese school in Manila in 1988. He later went on three sex tours a year to the country, making a total of 65 visits. During that time, he had sex with more than 12,000 women, with Nippon TV saying they were aged between 14 and 70."
Are teachers in Japan paid so much? How do you have sex with almost 200 women a visit?

Why is Johor the only Msian state with its own private army? - "The army, called the Royal Johor Military Force (or Askar Timbalan Setia Johor in BM), was formed by the current Sultan Ibrahim’s great-great grandfather Sultan Abu Bakar in 1886. Not only is it the only state army, it is also the oldest army in Malaysia... At a time where Britain was colonising the Malay states one by one, Sultan Abu Bakar managed to hold on to a degree of independence. So in the Treaty, Johor was referred to as the ‘Independent State of Johor’. And to assert this independence further, he built an army... It was part of the agreement for them to join the Federation in 1948"

Local bus companies proven wrong by new bus company, Tower Transit - "Treating driving buses as a profession, with proper procedures for advancement and overtime benefits, is clearly more attractive than portraying bus driving as an dead end job. According the profession due respect by limiting the job scope to a specific skilled task – as opposed to lumping all sorts of duties on a driver – goes a long way. For example, a bus driver’s responsibility is to drive safely and punctually. He shouldn’t have to worry about refueling or cleaning the bus!"

Told to commit suicide, survivors now face elimination from history - "Choho Zukeran was a schoolboy, mobilised to dig beachfront trenches, when US soldiers landed on his native Okinawa, sparking one of the bloodiest battles of the second world war. Over the next few weeks, some 200,000 Japanese and Americans would die, including more than a quarter of Okinawa's civilian population. Most died in the invasion, others killed themselves - on the orders of the army that was supposed to be protecting them. "The army had given us two grenades each. They told us to hurl the first one at the enemy and to use the second one to kill ourselves," Mr Zukeran told the Guardian from his home in Okinawa, a subtropical island 1,000 miles south-west of Tokyo. Whole families and communities committed suicide together. Yet if the government in Tokyo gets its way, Japanese children may never learn how hundreds of Okinawa residents, under direct or indirect pressure from the military, took their own lives."

Haw Par Villa to get fine dining, new museum

81-year-old keeps sculptures in good shape - "For the past 68 years, Mr Teo Veoh Seng has maintained Haw Par Villa's 1,000-odd surreal sculptures. Mr Teo, who has been a painter there since he was 13, is the last of six artisans working on the park's statues after the rest retired. Armed with a paint brush, chisel and scraper, the 81-year-old nimbly climbs scaffolds to reach the larger-than-life statues that dot the sprawling park. Mr Teo was trained by a master craftsman who had worked at Haw Par Villa's sister park, the now defunct Hong Kong Tiger Balm Garden."

Senior Saudi Salafi Cleric: 'ISIS Is A True Product Of Salafism'

Google Online Security Blog: Are you a robot? Introducing “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” - "While the new reCAPTCHA API may sound simple, there is a high degree of sophistication behind that modest checkbox. CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text. However, our research recently showed that today’s Artificial Intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test... This new API also lets us experiment with new types of challenges that are easier for us humans to use, particularly on mobile devices. In the example below, you can see a CAPTCHA based on a classic Computer Vision problem of image labeling. In this version of the CAPTCHA challenge, you’re asked to select all of the images that correspond with the clue. It's much easier to tap photos of cats or turkeys than to tediously type a line of distorted text on your phone."

Alleged mum of ITE slasher defends son's actions and says victim had 'no guts' - "The fight had apparently started over a girl. A 19-year-old suffered lacerations and a fracture while the 16-year-old, who swung a bread knife at the older student, was arrested... In one profanity-laced post, the woman defended her son's actions and criticised the 19-year-old for not having the courage to fight her son. This post was apparently in response to Twitter users who slammed her son's behavior... The woman also called her son 'brave'."

BBC World Service - The Documentary, Africa Surprising, Africa Surprising - Change and Innovation - "Arriving at the Zanzibar capital, Stone Town by high speed jet foil ferry from Dar E Salaam, it didn't feel tense at all. From this Stone Town rooftop, you can see and hear that this is not a powder keg of fundamentalist extremism. Across the roofs one way, the stone spire and clocktower of the Anglican cathedral. Right next door here, the white spire of a Hindu temple... and when the sun has set into the sea, the town is bathed in the voices of imams calling from the mosques"
"Uniquely Singapore" is not so Unique, despite what surprisingly parochial Singaporeans think

BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, New Year Questions - "[On Kota Bharu] 10 years ago, this city was designated the Islamic City of Malaysia, where Islam would be observed in every aspect of life. There are morality police here, to keep an eye out for unislamic behavior. The only cinema closed down when it was decreed that the auditorium lights must remain on at all times and that male and female cinema goers should be segregated. The fun had gone out of going to the movies...
[On one of the largest Buddhas in Southeast Asia] The tourist leaflets at my hotel don't mention these sights, I tell her. No, she said. The policy is only to tell visitors about the Islamic monuments and museums"

Freakonomics » Is Migration a Basic Human Right? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast - "ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the basic issue is fear. And the fear often comes from a sense that there’s an economic loss. That somebody’s taken your job, or your house, or married your sister...
CALLAHAN: I at one point, myself, held the libertarian position like Tabarrok’s on immigration. Many of the libertarian economists are anarchists actually, and are in favor of the nation-state going away. And they think that private-law institutions could handle everything the nation- state does. So in many cases, I suspect that the real objection is to the existence of the nation-state, not to its particular policy...
many refugees now are paying thousands of dollars in smuggling fees and bribes. Wouldn’t it be better for that money to go directly to their destination country rather than fueling a black market?"

Freakonomics » Ben Bernanke Gives Himself a Grade: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast - "BERNANKE: the person who sort of most understood fiscal policy, in some sense, was Adolf Hitler. Because the rearming of Germany in the ’30s was so big and so extensive — of course, he had other objectives in mind — but the side effect of that re-arming, together with a big highway building program, was such that Germany, which had a very deep depression, actually came out of it much quicker than other countries, and suggested that a more aggressive fiscal program would have helped the United States as well. And of course, what ultimately brought the United States out of the Great Depression was World War II which was, unintentionally, a huge fiscal program... We’ll never know what would have happened if the Fed and Treasury didn’t do what they did. But I will say this: it’s always easier to shout about the things that have gone wrong than to appreciate what hasn’t gone wrong. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately after the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere. Every attack produces the predictable cycle of shock and then the recrimination and finger-pointing – sometimes as much at law enforcement and intelligence and military officials as at the perpetrators. But what about when those same officials prevent a terrorist attack? Our appreciation is generally muted and short-lived. We forget about the catastrophe that was a hair’s breadth from happening. And we move on. Kind of like we’ve moved on from the financial crisis that Ben Bernanke helped steer us through."

Why would a dissolute rebel like Paul Gauguin paint a nativity? - "It was painted in 1896 by Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), who inscribed the title at the bottom left of the canvas: Te tamari no atua, which means — roughly, since Gauguin’s grasp of Tahitian was shaky — ‘The Child of God’... He was attracted to the idea — in the air in the 1890s — that all the world’s religions and mythologies were essentially the same. In 1897 he wrote a long, rambling essay entitled ‘The Catholic Church and Modern Times’. In this Gauguin claimed that divinity was an ‘unfathomable mystery’. ‘God does not belong to the scientist, nor to the logician; he belongs to the poets, to the realm of dreams; he is the symbol of Beauty, Beauty itself.’"

Obituary: Big Daddy - ""Big Daddy" was born Shirley Crabtree in Halifax. According to some accounts, his grandmother picked "Shirley" from the eponymous novel by Charlotte Bronte for his father, who was also a professional wrestler, and seemed to have thought the name character-building. In any event, the young Crabtree soon had to contend with schoolmates calling him Shirley Temple. He fought them off, built his impressive physique, became a miner, and took up rugby like his father."

White Employee Wins Racial-Discrimination Lawsuit - "White supervisor fired for racial email has valid discrimination case over unequal discipline. A white supervisor received and then forwarded to others in the company a racial email titled “Why There Are No Black NASCAR Drivers.” It contained a series of derogatory stereotypes of Blacks. The supervisor was fired for violating the company’s anti-harassment and improper-computer-use policies. He sued under Title VII, claiming that the discharge was racially discriminatory. The court agreed that he had a valid case because, in the same time frame, several Black employees had been using company email to circulate “How to Dance Like a White Guy!” It contained a series of derogatory terms and stereotyped characterizations of white men. However, these employees only received short-term suspensions for violation of the harassment and computer policies. There was an appearance of racial disparity in the issuing of discipline for virtually the same infraction. Smith v. Lockheed-Martin Corp. (11th Cir., 2011)."

Barred from remote island, Myanmar's opposition sees dirty tricks in campaign - "Both the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the Nobel peace laureate's National League for Democracy (NLD) have fielded candidates on the Coco Islands, an archipelago off Myanmar's west coast and the country's smallest parliamentary constituency. But NLD parliamentary nominee Win Min has been prevented from going to the Coco Islands, where the main installation is a naval base, making it almost impossible for him to canvas for votes in the Nov. 8 poll... The Coco Islands are a restricted area and transport links are sparse. A military plane flies every two weeks from Yangon, while a navy ship and a state-owned boat also make occasional trips. Win Min said he made plans three times to visit the islands since the campaign started on Sept. 8, once by boat and twice by plane. His scheduled boat trip was abruptly cancelled while he was waiting to board. He was told there was no space on two subsequent flights to the island... Win Min's USDP rival, Thet Swe, who until August served as commander-in-chief of the navy, has been able to campaign freely on the island."

AUE: "anymore" and "any more" - "Opinion concerning "anymore" vs "any more" divides roughly into three camps:
1. There is no such word as "anymore". It is simply a misspelling.
2. "Anymore" and "any more" are two ways of spelling the same thing, and the two have the same meaning.
3. There is a useful difference in meaning between the two"

Look, I've gone slightly insane and installed Windows XP on my watch

As a fan of Star Wars, Mark Zuckerberg has... - The 501st Legion - "As a fan of Star Wars, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he is giving away a fully operational Starkiller Base. What you may not have heard is that he plans to give it away to loyal Imperial subjects like YOU! All you have to do is copy and paste this message into a post IMMEDIATELY and tag 501 of your friends. At midnight intergalactic standard time, Facebook will search through the day's posts and award one person with this multi-planet-destroying space station. Such a powerful vehicle for connection and bringing order the galaxy.
Edit: We have heard that this may be a hoax, but it can't hurt to share it anyway, right?"

Until NEXPTIME | bit-player - "I should mention a discovery I’ve made at the end of Knuth’s terminological proposal. Everyone knows that settling the P = NP question will earn you a prize of $1 million from the Clay Mathematics Institute. I suspect that many are unaware of another prize offer, made more than 30 years ago. Knuth writes:
I’m willing to give a prize of one live turkey to the first person who proves that P = NP.
Note that this appears to be a one-way-only offer. Proving that P ≠ NP won’t win you the turkey. (You have three days left until Thanksgiving.)"

Unexpected Tonality / Geographic Music

Via Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum : Podcasts:

46. Not Exactly What I Expected

"Some of us start to get a little anxious when we hear those second Viennese school names—Schoenberg, Berg, Webern. These composers are known for their atonal works, which are wonderful, but can be thorny at first listen. So it's always interesting to see an audience's reaction to, for example, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht - a luscious string sextet about a 180 degrees from what most of us think of as Schoenberg"

47. From Florence, With Love

"We often think of classical music as having a specific geographic origin, and indeed there are a lot of generalizations that can be made about the classical traditions of different countries. The French we often think of as expert colorists, the Germans as very structural in approach, and the Italians as melodic masters. But with a piece like Souvenir de Florence, a Russian composer’s memory of Florence, Italy, presented under a French title, those generalizations won’t help you much... In “Don Juan’s Serenade” we have a Spanish character, a Russian poem and an Italian vacation. You definitely can’t pin it down by geography, but when the music is this enjoyable, who cares?"

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Links - 28th January 2016

Dallas Buyers Club: iiNet case thrown out in landmark ruling on piracy in Australia - "AUSTRALIANS who download movies or TV shows without paying have had a major win. The Federal Court today threw out an attempt by the makers of Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club to not only seek the private details of almost 5000 Aussies it believes illegally shared copies of the film online, but to slap them with extra fines. It appears that Dallas Buyers Club had overreached with their claims in court, with the Justice Nye Perram calling its contentions “wholly unrealistic”.

A hairdresser explains why Donald Trump’s hair looks like that

'Racist' 'Chop Chop Chinaman' Restaurant Closes After Vandalism, Backlash - "After facing vandalism and backlash via social media on account of its “racist” name, the Chinese-owned "Chop Chop Chinaman" restaurant has closed its doors. In March, owner Larry Lee’s restaurant made headlines after anti-racism activist Jeannie Harrell used lipstick to scribble on the store's front window a message denouncing the establishment's name. She then bragged about the illegal act on Twitter. According to Harrell, the Chicago restaurant's name was a “hate crime” as the word "Chinaman" is a racist slur. Outraged by the sight of the name, the anti-racism activist, who is not Chinese, took a stand against Chinese discrimination by vandalizing a Chinese restaurant owned by a Chinese man... Individuals took to Yelp to leave negative reviews of the restaurant. As a result, the restaurant now only shows a rating of one to one-and-a-half stars. While many of the reviews mention poor food quality or bad service, other reviews reflect on the “racist” nature of the restaurant's name. People also posted negative reviews onto Chop Chop Chinaman's Facebook page. One such review encouraged others to report the restaurant’s page to Facebook for it to be removed."
How come black people get to call each other nigger?
Comment: "Is there anything worse than a self-described 'activist?' Activism is a code word for generally useless people trying to make themselves feel important."

Mum duped into sex by lesbian posing as a man blasts judge for jail let-off - "Carol Sanders, 28, said she had been left a “victim of a sex attack and political correctness” by Judge Michael Heath’s decision. Her attacker Fiona Manson got a two-year suspended sentence after the judge said: “It must have been enormously difficult for the defendant growing up.” Manson, 25, is now transsexual Kyran Lee... “We were both raped to all intents and purposes. We thought we were having consensual sex with one person but they were someone else... Lee, of Gainsborough, walked free from Lincoln crown court after admitting assault by penetration. He was cleared of a further count of tricking a second woman into bed in 2008. Judge Heath said Lee’s behaviour “was not a ruse to practise lesbian behaviour.” But Carol said: “The judge said this wasn’t about sex but I don’t believe that. He knew what he was doing. He/she enjoyed it. “He’s hiding behind ‘gender issues’. It disgusts me. I’m an open-minded person but this just makes a mockery of the system for people with genuine gender problems. He knew exactly what he was doing. That’s why he still creepily grins at me if I ever bump into him.” She also slammed plans for Lee to be granted a sex change on the NHS after the court heard he is having gender reassignment procedures. She said: “It’s madness that the system in our country rewards criminals. “I know everyone is entitled to health but a free sex change when you’re a convicted sex offender? As a victim that feels very perverse and wrong.” Sentencing guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service state sex by penetration offenders can face up to life in prison. However, up to eight years was the most likely range in Lee’s case... KYRAN Lee is the latest in a series of women posing as men to bed female victims. Gayle Newland, 25, of Cheshire, last month got eight years for having sex with a woman using a fake penis. Campaigners say she needed psychiatric help, not jail. In 2013, Justine McNally, then 18, from London, got three years after using a sex toy to pretend to be male. She was later freed by the Court of Appeal"
Trans privilege!

Fake penis woman Gayle Newland to appeal conviction over sex attacks on victim wearing blindfold - "An LGBT campaigner and professor claimed the so-called 'gender fraud' case was not legally safe and would send "shockwaves" through the transgender community... Newland sobbed hysterically and shouted "I'm scared!" as she was taken down to the cells last week... "While Gayle Newland does not appear to be a transgender person, this most recent of 'gender fraud' cases will send shockwaves through the transgender community.""

Women who pay for sex - "It's not just men who pay prostitutes to sleep with them. For some women, paying for sex is more convenient than cruising bars and clubs trying to find men. "They don't want to be found out. They want to do something private - it's their own world, a part of their life that they want to be secret"... some women don't think paying for sex is cheating, in the same way that having an affair would be... Catarina's escort, Andrew Rosetta, has written a book about his 10-year career called Whatever She Wants and he says women come to him for the chance to be selfish... "She would at one point bring out a green rock on a chain which was kryptonite - that makes Superman begin to lose his power. And of course when Superman loses his power, he's available to be taken advantage of.""

The escorts who want to rebrand male prostitution as a business - ""When I won Male Sex Worker of the Year, I texted my dad," says Brandon. "He said: 'I'm proud of you son.'""

Why men use prostitutes - "The men didn't fall into obvious stereotypes. They were aged between 18 and 70 years old; they were white, black, Asian, eastern European; most were employed and many were ­educated beyond school level. In the main they were presentable, polite, with average-to-good social skills. Many were husbands and boyfriends; just over half were either married or in a relationship with a woman."

Asian cities make up 5 of top 10 costliest expat destinations, Singapore at No. 4 - "Hong Kong climbed one place from last year to become the world's second-most expensive place for expats. Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul also made the shortlist."

KADOYA - "Sesame oil has been used for frying tempura, especially those of seafood from the Tokyo Bay. At home, adding a little bit of sesame oil into salad or tempura oil will not only bring a nice flavor to tempura but also prevent your oil from deteriorating. Please try sesame oil and enjoy gourmet tempura to the fullest."
No wonder restaurant tempura is so expensive

'Star Wars' soundtrack helps doctors detect bowel cancer

Japanese expats take their brooms to Paris streets - "Japanese expatriates took to the streets of Paris on Sunday armed with brooms to clean up the city for the tens of thousands of Japanese tourists who visit each year. To the amusement or indifference of passers-by, the team of Japanese expats called the Greenbirds chose to give a stretch of the Champs Elysees avenue their monthly cleaning treatment."

NeuroLogica Blog » Contaminants Found in 92% of TCM Herbal Products - "This new study from Australia is not an isolated study, but one of a chain of published research that shows serious problems in the international supplement industry. Contamination, adulteration, product substitution, and inaccurate labeling are rife within the industry. In addition, there is precious little evidence that any of these products, even as advertised, are of any health benefit. So essentially we have billions of dollars wasted for risk without any real benefit. They have survived largely by flying below the regulatory radar. They do this because their collective marketing campaign has convinced the public and regulators that supplements are safe because they are “natural” or because they have been in long traditional use. Neither of these assumptions are warranted."

China chain imposes 'filial piety tax' on employees - "The company automatically deducts 10% of single employees' salaries and 5% of married employees' salaries every month and wires the money directly to their parents. But it also gives compensation to employees, ranging from 100 yuan for those in their first year with the company to 300 yuan for those who have worked three years or more. The company also holds regular classes for employees where they are taught, among other things, about filial piety."

Renoir Protesters at Metropolitan Museum - "Passions ran hot on a chilly day as haters and supporters of French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir faced off outside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. Carrying signs and delivering spirited chants for and against, the demonstrators tried to shout each other down. The haters were outraged that 14 Renoirs hang at the museum. They denounced what they term his "feathery bullshit" and saccharine subject matter. “Treacly faces are disgraces!" they chanted. “Hang this trash in darkened basements!"... A trio of German tourists had a theory. “I think the museum must be paying them," said David Zovko. He'd never seen a Renoir, he said, and just happened to be passing by, but now he was climbing the stairs, curious to see what the fuss was about."

ACLU Board Member Resigns After Urging People To Kill Supporters Of Trump - "“The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before Election Day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force…”... It’s the second threat against Republicans in Colorado in one week. Fern Delise, 54, of Fountain was arrested after police say she called Planned Parenthood saying, “It’s tempting to walk into a republican party meeting with my dead husband’s gun and just start shooting people.”"
What's sauce for the "bigot" is also sauce for the "ally"

Someone briefly bought the Google.com domain for $12 - "Based on the slew of screenshots Ved has published to his LinkedIn blog post, and the descriptions he gives of his experience, it does indeed sound like he had managed to procure Google.com. However, his purchase was short-lived — he received an order cancellation and refund shortly after from Google, an easy process for the company given that it personally owns the registration service."

There Is Now A Dating Site For Disney Fans Seeking Their Prince - "Here’s how it works: Users check boxes ticking off their favorite Disney songs, Disney shopping habits (?) and Disney “Nerd Level” to hopefully find their happily ever after."

Dynamic balancing act needed on human rights - "It is to be appreciated that when it comes to human rights, we need to take a careful and responsibly balanced approach, so as not to disrupt the peace and stability that we all value ("Make haste carefully on human rights"; yesterday). It is to be recognised that we have made advances in the right direction, although we differ on the speed of the evolution. This pragmatic and non-partisan approach is necessary."
Why is "human rights" a dirty term in Singapore?

Why Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is A Social Justice Propaganda Film - "JJ Abrams revealing how he chose actors for the color of their skin, not for who he thought were the best actors or actresses. These preferences flowed into gender as well... The female Rey, who it is heavily implied is Luke’s daughter, is the most underdeveloped character yet in over 14 hours of Star Wars films. Her story arc is practically-speaking non-existent... other major Force-wielders in the series their abilities have previously developed or are developed over years, Rey seemingly does it in less than 12 seconds, rather than parsecs. Her whole trajectory in the film reeks of “god mode”... In the case of Anakin Skywalker in the prequels, by contrast, we learn that he is the only human pilot to engage in pod racing. His mechanical know-how has been honed over some years, culminating in his construction of both his own pad racer and the droid C-3PO. And when he destroys the droid control ship above Naboo, it is largely as a result of his good fortune, not just long-acquired skill. A decade later and with continuous training, he additionally fails to best Count Dooku on Geonosis... that’s a plot fueled by meth. To boot, Rey’s piloting and mechanical skills, to the point of knowing everything, is mind-boggingly “get more women in STEM” in its motivations. When she starts teaching Han Solo about the Falcon, things become breathtakingly contrived. It’s as if Abrams was paid by a female science scholarship foundation to drum up some public service announcements via film... Scientific ambiguities and inaccuracies can be tolerated if the story functions. But it’s entirely lacking here. For a start, the film borrows from or plain copies so many elements of A New Hope that I lost count... Finn is likeable but nevertheless a glorified white knight. Trained from just after birth to be a fighting machine, he does nothing relative to Rey and devotes the whole film to trying to protect her. You can sniff out Abrams’ leanings from the start. As First Order troopships prepare to land to take out a village on Jakku, the first villager who pulls out a a blaster in defense is a woman. And it is some sort of big, mounted-looking one! This girl power is really paralleled in our world, where millions of young Western girls are so keen to protect their village or country that they won’t even join up, as their male contemporaries are forced to, in places like Finland and South Korea during peacetime. Or make the slightest squeak about the double standard. Well done, JJ."
This is better as a critique of the film and only indirectly a SJW critique

What is it like being a woman on a dating site?

Lara l Lord's answer to What is it like being a woman on a dating site? - Quora

It's a grinder. It can be harsh on your self esteem, your self-image, and your view of humanity. But I'll try to answer your question as asked in the details.

1. The number of messages received. It varies, sometimes more than others, sometimes it is like a desert, nothing. I average about 10 messages a week.

2. Types of messages. About 40% are just one word. Another 20% are just a comment on my looks. About 35% are requests for sex. About 4% are from a couple asking me to be their unicorn or guest star in their sexual play. About 1% actually have any content to them.

3. Use of grammar and longer than one word. That is about 10%. Txt speak and gibberish seem to be far more common. As are the catfishing ones that it is obvious English is not their first language.

4. Just plain sleezy. About 65%. Since some are from men my father's age(60-80's) and/or sexual. Or they are from the 18-29 yr old crowd and/or sexual. Or they are from a couple who didn't read my profile and figure I should be excited they decided I fit their sexual wants. About 3x a year, I receive one form someone claiming to be a bisexual or lesbian woman that is convinced she can "turn me" because "all women are secretly bisexual". About 2x a year I have someone tell me they want me to be their transexual fantasy (since obviously in their mind that is the only reason a woman my age would not have children).

5. About 15% have made me laugh. Whether from intent or just plain WTF? varies. Though the WTF? is by far more common than intent.

I've tried several over he years. To the point I really don't see the point of paying for one in my area. The Match. com site is the "for pay" sister site to OKCupid. Plus many of the supposed matches on there they gave me, were also on the free sites, and if contacted through the free sites, informed me they hadn't been on Match in ages or had cancelled their account before I ever got the message. So, why waste the money?

If I go by the number of messages that feel the need to inform me I am "hot/sexy/lying about my age/younger than I claim/fuckable/their sexual fantasy", I'm fairly attractive. If I go by real life experiences, I am either extremely attractive, especially for my age, or average.

I don't list my job or education on my profile. Because;

1. I do not feel that is an accurate meter of me as a person, besides, many LIE about such on dating sites. English Master's degrees that can't spell "boo boo" properly, the number of supposed computer techies that can't get a Unix joke, etc. is kind of amazing.

2. I actually filled out my profile with proper spelling, grammar, and sentences.

Instead I list a broad range of interests, hobbies and activities I participate in. I avoid the cliche fillers of "I like to have fun/laugh" and "I like romantic dinners" etc. If you can't find a single item on my profile to discuss with me besides my looks, I know we most likely have zero in common.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Social Justice Warriors at Yale

The Halloween Costume Controversy at Yale's Silliman College
Addendum aka The New Intolerance of Student Activism

"Erika Christakis reflected on the frustrations of the students, drew on her scholarship and career experience, and composed an email inviting the community to think about the controversy through an intellectual lens that few if any had considered. Her message was a model of relevant, thoughtful, civil engagement.

For her trouble, a faction of students are now trying to get the couple removed from their residential positions, which is to say, censured and ousted from their home on campus. Hundreds of Yale students are attacking them, some with hateful insults, shouted epithets, and a campaign of public shaming. In doing so, they have shown an illiberal streak that flows from flaws in their well-intentioned ideology...

The Yale activists who’ve bullied these particular faculty in recent days [are] behaving more like Reddit parodies of “social-justice warriors” than coherent activists, and I suspect they will look back on their behavior with chagrin...

Everyone invested in how the elites of tomorrow are being acculturated should understand, as best they can, how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance...

Yale administrators face huge opportunity costs as they parcel out their days. Many hours must be spent looking after undergraduates, who experience problems as serious as clinical depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual assault. Administrators also help others, who struggle with financial stress or being the first in their families to attend college.

It is therefore remarkable that no fewer than 13 administrators took scarce time to compose, circulate, and co-sign a letter advising adult students on how to dress for Halloween, a cause that misguided campus activists mistake for a social-justice priority.

“Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers—but not more professors,” Benjamin Ginsberg observed in Washington Monthly back in 2011. “For many of these career managers, promoting teaching and research is less important than expanding their own administrative domains.” All over America, dispensing Halloween costume advice is now an annual ritual performed by college administrators...

It’s hard to imagine a more deferential way to begin voicing her alternative view... When I was in college, a position of this sort taken by a faculty member would likely have been regarded as a show of respect for all students and their ability to think for themselves...

A fundamental disagreement is revealed between professor and undergrads. Christakis believes that he has an obligation to listen to the views of the students, to reflect upon them, and to either respond that he is persuaded or to articulate why he has a different view. Put another way, he believes that one respects students by engaging them in earnest dialogue. But many of the students believe that his responsibility is to hear their demands for an apology and to issue it. They see anything short of a confession of wrongdoing as unacceptable. In their view, one respects students by validating their subjective feelings.

Notice that the student position allows no room for civil disagreement.

Given this set of assumptions, perhaps it is no surprise that the students behave like bullies even as they see themselves as victims...

The student explodes, “Then why the fuck did you accept the position?! Who the fuck hired you?! You should step down! If that is what you think about being a master you should step down! It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here. You are not doing that!”

The Yale student appears to believe that creating an intellectual space and a home are at odds with one another. But the entire model of a residential college is premised on the notion that it’s worthwhile for students to reside in a campus home infused with intellectualism, even though creating it requires lavishing extraordinary resources on youngsters who are already among the world’s most advantaged. It is no accident that masters are drawn from the ranks of the faculty.

The student finally declares, “You should not sleep at night! You are disgusting!” Bear in mind that this is a student described by peers with phrases like, to cite one example, “I've never known her to be anything other than extremely kind, level-headed, and rational.” But her apparent embrace of an ideology that tends toward intolerance produce a very different set of behaviors...

In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in “catastrophizing,” which is to say, turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear. After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.”

What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon.

According to The Washington Post, “several students in Silliman said they cannot bear to live in the college anymore.” These are young people who live in safe, heated buildings with two Steinway grand pianos, an indoor basketball court, a courtyard with hammocks and picnic tables, a computer lab, a dance studio, a gym, a movie theater, a film-editing lab, billiard tables, an art gallery, and four music practice rooms. But they can’t bear this setting that millions of people would risk their lives to inhabit because one woman wrote an email that hurt their feelings?

Another Silliman resident declared in a campus publication, “I have had to watch my friends defend their right to this institution. This email and the subsequent reaction to it have interrupted their lives. I have friends who are not going to class, who are not doing their homework, who are losing sleep, who are skipping meals, and who are having breakdowns.” One feels for these students. But if an email about Halloween costumes has them skipping class and suffering breakdowns, either they need help from mental-health professionals or they’ve been grievously ill-served by debilitating ideological notions they’ve acquired about what ought to cause them pain.

The student next described what she thinks residential life at Yale should be. Her words: “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain”...

Who taught them that it is righteous to pillory faculty for failing to validate their feelings, as if disagreement is tantamount to disrespect? Their mindset is anti-diversity, anti-pluralism, and anti-tolerance, a seeming data-point in favor of April Kelly-Woessner’s provocative argument that “young people today are less politically tolerant than their parents’ generation.”

Hundreds of Yale students have now signed an open letter to Erika Christakis that is alarming in its own right, not least because it is so poorly reasoned...

This beggars belief. Yale students told to talk to each other if they find a peer’s costume offensive helplessly declare that they’re unable to do so without an authority figure specifying “any modes or means to facilitate these discussions,” as if they’re Martians unfamiliar with a concept as rudimentary as disagreeing in conversation, even as they publish an open letter that is, itself, a mode of facilitating discussion...

This notion that one’s existence can be invalidated by a fellow 18-year-old donning an offensive costume is perhaps the most disempowering notion aired at Yale.

It ought to be disputed rather than indulged for the sake of these students, who need someone to teach them how empowered they are by virtue of their mere enrollment; that no one is capable of invalidating their existence, full stop; that their worth is inherent, not contingent; that everyone is offended by things around them; that they are capable of tremendous resilience; and that most possess it now despite the disempowering ideology foisted on them by well-intentioned, wrongheaded ideologues encouraging them to imagine that they are not privileged.

Here’s one of the ways that white men at Yale are most privileged of all: When a white male student at an elite college says that he feels disempowered, the first impulse of the campus left is to show him the extent of his power and privilege. When any other students say they feel disempowered, the campus left’s impulse is to validate their statements. This does a huge disservice to everyone except white male students. It’s baffling that so few campus activists seem to realize this drawback of emphasizing victim status even if college administrators sometimes treat it as currency...

During a conference on freedom of speech, Greg Lukianoff reportedly said, “Looking at the reaction to Erika Christakis’s email, you would have thought someone wiped out an entire Indian village.” An attendee posted that quote to Facebook. “The online Facebook post led a group of Native American women, other students of color and their supporters to protest the conference in an impromptu gathering outside of LC 102, where the Buckley event was taking place”...

'several attendees were spat on, according to Buckley fellows who were present during the conference. One Buckley Fellow added that he was spat on and called a racist. Another, who identifies as a minority himself, said he has been labeled a “traitor” by several.'

These students were offended by one person’s words, and were free to offer their own words in turn. That wasn’t enough for them, so they spat on different people who listened to those words and called one minority student a traitor to his race. In their muddled ideology, the Yale activists had to destroy the safe space to save it."

SJWs are not just found on tumblr.

When can they no longer be dismissed as a small, insignificant, unrepresentative minority?

The funniest is when people dismiss the media as being reactionary in reporting these incidents. As liberals used to say when conservatives complained, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Links - 25th January 2016

Making Valid Causal Inferences About Corrective Actions by Parents From Longitudinal Data - "As a result of an inherent selection bias, most longitudinal analyses are biased against corrective actions that parents use to address perceived child problems. This bias can lead to unjustified or even counterproductive recommendations about corrective parental actions"

Freakonomics » The Cheeseburger Diet: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast - "in anticipation of the federal calorie-count legislation, NYU’s Brian Elbel has been conducting studies in places where the restaurants already post calorie counts.... ELBEL: There is this subset, ten or so percent, say that they are using the information to purchase more calories. And in some respects that’s maybe not an irrational thing, right? They want to get the most bang for their caloric buck... We didn’t see any change at the population level in the number of calories purchased... What kind of person, you might wonder, has the incentive to get the most calories for their money? Probably a low-income person, right? So here’s another paradox: Considering that obesity is pretty common among low-income people — especially low-income women — the calorie-count legislation meant to curb obesity might backfire worst among the very people it’s most designed to help. And, who will these calorie counts work for? What kind of person will see them and take a second thought? Probably the kind of person who’s already counting her calories, or is at least already pretty aware of what calories are and how many should be consumed"

Ancient Rome special | Podcast | History Extra - "You start this hereditary, this would-be hereditary empire with no line of succession. And actually no system of succession. Not only no line of succession, no system. We think of... a monarchical systems as basically working through some form of primogeniture. And that was not the case in any sense in Rome. And we, I suppose we accept that primogeniture is a sensible system, because it provides no doubt about who the heir should be, even though sometimes it gives you an idiot. Romans would find that puzzling, I think, because they don't have an automatic system of primogeniture ever, anywhere. And they would say, because they're looking, they want to avoid idiots, but the cost of avoiding idiots is you have no system. And so succession is always fought out... We have been seduced into seeing the Roman Empire as a series of individual rulers and marking them down as good or bad... There is a basic rule of the Roman Empire. That if you are assassinated, you have a bad reputation... it is just as likely that you were turned into a monster because you were assassinated as you were assassinated because you were a monster...Actually, the Empire goes on in much the same way, being ruled from the centre, more or less - sometimes less, sometimes more - efficiently, no matter who the Emperor is. So, you read - the Romans themselves are very interested in the character of a ruler, what or not what crap was and how morality in that sense could be constructed around the virtues or failings of an Emperor, but the basic, the basic logic is it appears to have mattered not a jot who was on the throne. And so, if you want to understand the Roman Empire, you cannot understand it if you go into it through the history of its individual characters. There're all sorts... we love the stores and we don't want to get rid of them from our version of it, obviously, but I think more about us than about the Romans. It's us that's really interested in whether little fishes - boys - nibbled Tiberius's genitals when he's in the swimming pool."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Thailand Unprepared for Terror - "They've done what you would expect, which is you get far more visible security now. A lot more bag checking going on, but it's pretty haphazard and it's not very thorough. That's meant to reassure tourists. These kinds of incidents aren't stopped by bag searches or visible security anywhere in the world. They're stopped by good intelligence and good anticipation"
Keywords: Bangkok, patrols, theatre

Roman's palace of deparavity - "Tiberius missed the discarded Vipsania terribly. In a society where marriage for the upper classes was primarily a tool for political advancement, this was seen as a weakness. He was eventually banned by the Emperor Augustus from setting eyes on his first wife again... Tiberius was sent to war, and Julia apparently took full advantage of his absence. A predatory, drunken nymphomaniac, she once gave herself to a lover on the sacred speaker's rostrum of the forum. She had a particular fetish for dwarfs, and one accompanied her wherever she went. When Tiberius returned from Gaul in 7BC, he found his wife's outrageous behaviour was the talk of Rome and his house was being used as a brothel... Tacitus quoted contemporary writers who reported that, because capital punishment of a virgin was unprecedented, the daughter was violated by the executioner... In AD26, Tiberius retreated to the island of Capri, never to return to Rome - according to Tacitus, in order to indulge his carnal desire. There, he established a new office, master of the imperial pleasures, whose job was to gather the most beautiful youngsters in the land together, for the Emperor to defile... Tiberius's demise was met with widespread celebration in Rome. According to Suetonius: 'The people were so glad of his death, that at the first news of it some ran about shouting "To the Tiber with Tiberius!" referring to a form of punishment reserved only for common criminals - that their corpses would be thrown straight into the River Tiber, without the dignity of a resting place."

Racial Bias in Police Investigations - "Law enforcement discrimination studies are usually qualified by selection concerns regarding which encounters transpire between individuals and police. This paper over- comes these problems by examining automobile crash investigations by a State Police Department. Because officers are dispatched to investigate crashes on the basis of fac- tors unrelated to driver race, these interactions are effectively exogenous. I show that, conditional on the Census Block Group area of a crash, the race of the investigating officer is uncorrelated with that of the driver. For these investigations, I find that police officers exhibit significant bias in issuing citations to other-race drivers for both moving and nonmoving violations, though no bias is evident for felony violations such as hit-and-run. Because racial bias is present even for easily observable offenses such as expired vehicle registration, these findings are consistent with preference-based rather than statistical discrimination"

BBC World Service - Documentaries, Spain’s Battle for the Bull - "That's a central argument of the pro-bullfighting world. The animals graze outdoors for up to six years. So they get a good life. Much better than cattle raised for meat... The bull who dies in a ring, dies being the main character, the protagonist of the story. Otherwise the animals which just die in the slaughterhouse, they are no one... Everyone's a friend, except those who want to kill her. 'There are many people that think that we are killers, all of us. Or psychopaths, all of us. And we are crazy people, that we are doing evil. It seems that we are all very bad people. And me at least, and I know that everybody will receive a threatens. We receive a insults... Death, death. "You should be killed like bulls in the arena"... [We get that] very often, very often... [It's] increasing, yes. And very strong things that I have to read every morning when I wake up... [I get them via] Twitter, Twitter mainly, and Facebook'"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Russian cruise missiles in first combat action - "Moet (sp?) sells newspapers on the streets of Kolkata. When I ask him whether beef should be banned in the restaurant he works outside, he replies instantly. 'Of course. We worship the Cow, it's like our Mother. And people should respect that'. His friend Dineeta (sp?) walks over and joins in the conversation. 'Muslim countries ban pork. So why can't we ban beef? Nobody should be allowed to sell it. This is a Hindu country'... I've walked back into the restaurant, and now I have a menu in my hand. Rakesh (sp?) is on steak number 2. 'I'm going to eat as many as I can', he says. 'Who knows how long you'll be abl to get them here in India'...
Denis Healey, often described as the best leader Labour never had. He had a sharp mind and sometimes, a sharper tongue.
'I don't think I've ever said anything which I didn't believe and which didn't turn out to be true. But I've gotten into a lot of trouble. The worst thing in politics, as you know, is to say the truth at the wrong time. And above all, never be prematurely right'"
When religious respect involves restricting what other people do, it doesn't seem like such a virtue anymore, does it?
Maybe Denis Healey used to be called a Troll

Facebook update makes entire index of 2 trillion posts open to search - "The social network on Thursday announced it’s expanding its search function to include every publicly-available post in its archive, which means your searches will parse through over 2 trillions posts in Facebook’s index."

Women Like Being Valued for Sex, as Long as it is by a Committed Partner. - "How do women respond to being valued for sex by their partners? Although research supporting objectification theory suggests that women's reactions to sexual valuation are primarily negative, a separate body of research indicates that women expend significant effort to enhance their sexual appeal. Evolutionary perspectives suggest that whether women are more or less satisfied with partners who value them for sex may depend on how committed those partners are. Being sexually valued by a relatively uncommitted partner may violate women's desire to avoid short-term sexual relationships and thus may be negatively associated with relationship satisfaction. In contrast, being sexually valued by a highly committed partner may positively influence women's relationship satisfaction because it signals to them that they have successfully attracted a long-term relationship partner. Two studies of newly married couples supported these predictions. In Study 1 (N = 109), husbands' sexual valuation was positively associated with marital satisfaction among wives who perceived that those husbands were highly committed, but negatively associated with marital satisfaction among wives who perceived that those husbands were relatively less committed. Study 2 (N = 99) revealed the same pattern for wives (but not husbands) using a likely manifestation of sexual valuation-engaging in frequent sex. These findings join others to demonstrate that interpersonal processes do not have universally positive or negative implications for relationships; rather, their implications depend on the context in which they occur, including contexts that were reproductively beneficial or costly throughout evolutionary history."

Islam is still rooted in the values of the dark ages – and until we accept that, we will never get rid of radicalism - Telegraph - "British Muslims must “tackle extremism”. We must stop tolerating “social segregation”. “For too long we have buried our heads in the sand” about the growth of extremism among young Muslims in our country. No, not the words of Ukip's Nigel Farage but of Labour’s London Mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, speaking today at a Westminster lunch. Mr Khan, a Muslim born in London to Pakistani immigrants, is one of the very few politicians in mainstream politics who is brave enough to speak the truth about the ever growing issues facing Britain’s Muslim population. Of course, being a Muslim himself, Mr Khan is automatically exempt from the usual barrage of cries of “racist” and “Islamophobe” from the liberal thought police... British Muslims “have a special role to play in tackling extremism”. As he says, that’s not because they – simply by virtue of sharing the same religion as the terrorists – are any more responsible for terror attacks than non-Muslims, but because they can be “more effective” at tackling that extremism... “Too many British Muslims grow up without really knowing anyone from a different background. We’ve protected people’s right to live their cultural life at the expense of creating a common life.” Huge numbers of British Muslims are concentrated in distinct neighbourhoods, often living with, going to school with, working with, befriending and marrying only other Muslims. “This,” as Mr Khan so rightly pointed out, “creates the conditions for extremism and radicalisation to take hold.” Is it really any wonder then that so many young British Muslims feel they are not really British when they have grown up isolated and alienated from the rest of the population?"

Former Apple designers say the company has lost 'the fundamental principles of good design' - "Two early Apple designers have written a piece on Co.Design chastising Apple's new design direction, which they claim puts elegance and visual simplicity over understandability and ease of use. Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, who was Apple's 66th employee and the writer of its first human interface guidelines, and Don Norman, Apple's user experience architect from 1993 to 1996, aren't holding back in the least... They also criticized Apple for things like not including a universal undo or back button, which is present on Android, having too many "hidden" gesture-based menus, and for pushing visual simplicity over usability testing in its new human interface guidelines for developers... Norman and Tog state that Apple's design transgressions go far beyond the font on your phone, given Apple's vast influence over design culture, stating that Apple's choices could have reverberations in different industries like infrastructure and health care. "Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer’s sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use," they wrote... While they do admit that Apple has succeeded at making its devices visually appealing, in their eyes that appeal has damped some potential complaints from users. "The product is beautiful! And fun. As a result, when people have difficulties, they blame themselves. Good for Apple. Bad for the customer.""
"What kind of design philosophy requires millions of its users to have to pretend they are disabled in order to be able to use the product?"

The Truth about Fetal Tissue Research - "The Planned Parenthood videos caused even some supporters of fetal tissue research to feel uncomfortable. In one video, physician Deborah Nucatola, the group’s senior director of medical services, describes how she crushes fetuses above and below key organs to preserve them intact for research. She also described turning a fetus into a breech presentation to deliver the head last, when the cervix is more dilated, thus preserving the brain. This raised the question of whether physicians are altering abortion techniques to accommodate research requests, violating a widely held precept of research ethics"
The article justifies fetal tissue research by its value to scientific research. But then taking organs from cadavers would probably be even more helpful to help people

The Deep Roots of Japanese Emperor Worship

"The Japanese like to see in the Emperor as a living individual a condensed representation of the Japanese nation. Although this is not a phenomenon which is unknown to other nationalities, it has a special significance in Japan. In this matter Yaichi Haga has remarked: "There is a golden image of the goddess Germania at the top of a triumphal tower many feet high at the end of the Siegesallee in Berlin. The goddess was intentionally created as an imaginary person and designated 'Germania' to represent the German state. And in England in like manner an imaginary person called ‘Britannia’ has been fashioned, and in France one called ‘Gallia.’ In foreign countries where the form of government has often changed, or where one royal house frequently succeeds another, such artificial symbols are naturally devised from the need to cause people to think of their past history and to cultivate the concept of the nation. Only in our country‘ have the soil of the nation and the Imperial House been inseparable since the age of the gods. The expressions ‘for country’ and ‘for ruler’ are to be understood as having the same meaning." Whether the Emperor is to be thought of as simply equivalent to the state, or is to be interpreted as a symbol of national unity, the Emperor-institution is a thing unique to Japan, for it must be noted that it is not to be found among other peoples. Not concerning myself here with the problem of the political and economic basis of the Emperor institution, I should like to examine the question how Emperor worship has directly molded the way of thinking of the entire Japanese people.

Such a tendency of thought did not appear suddenly after the Meiji restoration (1868); on the contrary, an incipient tendency of this kind had existed since ancient times. According to the tales of the gods in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters), after the heavens and the earth were separated, the two divinities Izanami (Female) and Izanagi (Male) descended to the island of Onokoro, and then gave birth to the various islands of Oyashima (i.e. the territory of Japan). After that they gave birth to various other divinities; the gods of the wind, of trees and mountains were born, and at the end the goddess (Izanami) died from burns, because she gave birth to the god of fire. Thereupon, the god (Izanagi) wanted to meet his spouse, and went to the land of night and saw her. Then, after retuming to this world, when he washed the filth (of the land of death from himself), from his eyes and nose were born the three divinities Amaterasu Omikami (Sun Goddess), Tsukiyomi no Mikoto, and Susano no Mikoto. It is said that this Amaterasu Omikami was the ancestor of the Imperial Imperial House. ln this way the legend of the ancestors of the royal house is connected with the legend of the creation of the universe. This account is without parallel among other nations. At least among other civilized people of the East these two types of legends—-political and cosmogonic—generally are separated. Thus, the divine authority of the Imperial House is enhanced by the fact that its lineage is connected with the legend of the creation of heaven and earth.

Further, in the older language, the word oyake (“public”) originally had the sense of “the principal family,”‘" which meant the Imperial House. In contradistinction, all the people were called koyake (minor families). Thus the Imperial House came to be regarded as the principal ancestral family of all the Japanese. Consequently, in Japan there was originally no conception corresponding to "public." Among the Japanese, public affairs consisted in nothing but relations with the Imperial Family.

It would seem that the tendency to regard the Emperor as divine has existed in Japan since very ancient times. When one looks at the many legends related in the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki (History of Japan), one finds that stories of the gods are not told for the purpose of demonstrating the greatness of the divinities believed in by the ancients; on the contrary, it is only for the purpose of showing the divine character of the Emperor that accounts are given of the gods and of the historical blood relations of these gods. To be sure, in the Occident it is a historical fact that Alexander the Great and the Roman emperors were deified, but this was a matter of the deification of these men as individuals; this is quite a different thing from a national legend rooted in the primitive faith of a people. The theory of the divine right of kings in modem Europe has as its premise the Christian conception of God, and aimed at giving a basis to the power of princes in the will of God. And the theory of divine right in medieval India is to be understood in the same way. Thus, in archaic Japanese religion, the living totality of the nation is embodied symbolically in the Imperial ancestral sun—goddess and in the divine authority deriving traditionally from her. Here we find the unifying idea in the traditional stories of the historical age of the gods. Consequently, the people, united into one nation from various familial or political groups, give concrete expression to their corporate will through the Emperor or the divine Imperial ancestor who directs the government. Thus, in the society of that time, bound together by ritual, the distinction between submitting to or opposing the authority of the totality of society is a distinction between submitting to or refusing to submit to the ruler who is the concrete manifestation of that authority—and this in the last analysis is reducible to submission or non- submission to the authority of the Imperial ancestor goddess. Therefore, it has been felt that the moral distinction between goodness and wickedness is nothing but the distinction between submission or non-submission to the divine authority of the corporate whole, and this means the distinction between submission and non-submission to the Emperor. Therefore the Japanese people have generally felt that the rule of Japan by the Imperial House, generation after generation, has been maintained on the basis of the general will of their ancestors since antiquity.

Since the Imperial House was originally conceived as having the position of ruling the entire Japanese people, the Imperial House has no surname. Consequently there has almost never appeared anyone aiming at becoming the highest ruler in place of the Imperial House. Of course, in Japan’s long history, it is not the case that there were no persons at all who had undertaken to rebel against the Imperial House. Taira-no-Masakado (d. 940), Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo (1123-1 160), and Minamoto-no-Yoshi-naka (1154-1 134) are generally regarded as rebels. However, even these men did not attempt to supplant the Imperial House. They desired to have some position at court, and raised rebellions through dissatisfaction at being unable to obtain it. Thus it is said that even rebels have the Imperial authority. Perhaps the only exception is the case of Yuge no Dokyo (d. 772), the Buddhist priest Prime Minister (765). Even Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358) was able to establish his shogunate only by installing the Emperor of the northern court, at the beginning of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).

Subsequently, also, the concept oi the divinity of the Emperor became a religious tradition. In an edict issued immediately after the Taika Reforms (c. 650), the Emperor was called the “bright god" (akitsumikami). When the Emperor's power became stronger, there even appeared in an Imperial edict the following sentence: "We are the possessor of the wealth of the world; we are the possessor of the power of the world." The divine- nation-concept and the principle of ultra-nationalism have thus a close connection with Emperor worship. In the fact that Japan has been ruled by Emperors belonging to a line unbroken for countless generations, we recognize a unique historical characteristic of the Japanese state...

If we reason along the line of thinking which has been described above, we come to the conclusion that Imperial authority is not derived from abstract principles like the divine-right theory, but that his authority is regarded as inhering in his very person. For example, Banzan Kumazawa (1665—1691) emphasizes the divinity of the Japanese Emperor. “It is not to be doubted that the Japanese Emperor is the august descendant of the heavenly god.” “Only in Japan has the imperial house continued without change. Even in the age of the samurai, a man who conquered the country could not become ruler. This is because divine authority is naturally inherent in the three sacred treasures"...

In spite of the widespread acceptance of Confucianism, the Chinese and Japanese forms of it have differed in their emphasis. The basis of Chinese Confucianism was the virtue of filial piety. Thus, since a basic element in their thought was the idea of the change of dynasties, the idea of loyalty to the state could not occupy the central place in their ethical scheme. However, in Japan, due to the hierarchical structure of society, the particular virtue of loyalty to the Emperor occupied the highest place among all virtues.

This difference in ways of thinking between China and Japan on the matter of the authority of the Emperor was manifested in a difference in ways of compiling histories. In China, the practical motivation for the compilation of most histories, especially "standard histories," was to serve as a mild check on the power of the ruler in advance, and not to let it out of control. Therefore, the official Chinese historian recorded both the good and the bad actions of the Emperor, in order to encourage the reader, whether he was the Emperor or an official, to become reflective and critical. In Japan, however, this kind of intention is lacking. If we examine the motives for the work of compiling histories in Japan, the reason for the Kojiki and Nihonshoki was to make clear "the rule of the Imperial family and the broad basis of its royal influence.”‘ In other words, the intention was to record selectively, on the basis of Japan’s consciousness of itself as a state distinct from the rest of the world, the facts of Japanese history, emphasizing as central the genealogy of the Imperial House. Consequently, a critical spirit was not apparent in these books.

The absence of a critical spirit based on universal human reason was too often in the past a conspicuous characteristic of the Japanese way of thinking, and this uncritical attitude appears in the way of thinking which reveres the living Emperor as divine."

--- Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet, Japan / Hajime Nakamura
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