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Monday, May 30, 2016

Links - 30th May 2016

Forced Windows 10 upgrades push users to dangerously disable Windows Update - "Microsoft stepped on the gas in its quest to drive Windows 7 and 8 users to Windows 10 over the past couple of weeks, rolling the upgrade out as a Recommended update. Watch out! The only behavior that could deny the Windows 10 upgrade before—closing the pop-up by pressing the X in the upper-right corner—now counts as consent for the upgrade, and worse, the upgrade installation can automatically begin even if you take no action whatsoever. It’s nasty business, and it’s tricking legions of happy Windows 7 and 8 users into Windows 10. Over the past week, I’ve received more contact from readers about this issue than I have about everything else I’ve written over the rest of my career combined... Microsoft’s aggressive Windows 10 upgrade push began by adopting malware-like tactics to deceive users into upgrading, and it’s evolved into something so annoying that users are now willing to risk malware infection in order to make the pop-ups and non-consensual upgrades stop."

Trump protesters smash door, break through barriers - "Protesters lit fires, smashed a door and threw rocks outside a Donald Trump rally Tuesday night in New Mexico... anti-Trump protesters -- many critical of his positions on immigration -- loudly chanted, "F*** Donald Trump." The protesters had broken a glass door to the convention center. Some taunted police and jumped on police vehicles as officers in riot gear and on police horses moved them away from the convention center's exits... Inside Trump's event, protesters disrupted him sporadically. At least three were forcefully removed by police after they refused to leave. A group of a dozen protesters in the grandstands around the stage where Trump spoke unfurled banners that read "Undocumented Unafraid" and "We've heard enough." Another banner accused Trump of being a fascist.
Funny how it's supposed to be Trump who's inciting violence. And last I checked, trying to prevent people from speaking was a fascist trait

Anti-fascists are killing free speech - "Clearly, in the judge’s view, Britain’s populace is so riot-prone, and its white working classes so latently racist, that one poorly written blog post could be enough to unleash violence... how many social, scientific, political and cultural revolutions might have been halted in their tracks if earlier generations had applied the Garner logic of criminalising ideas that the ‘overwhelming majority’ find unacceptable?... Such has been the left’s abandonment of the ideal of freedom of speech that it can now be co-opted by elements on the hard right. You’d think it would be unnecessary to have to point out to liberal campaigners who want to shut down ‘fascists’ that one of the first things Hitler did when he came to power was clamp down on freedom of speech and the press."

A Call for Spelling Standardization (or Is That Standardisation?) - "Many now-common differences can be traced to Noah Webster's proposed reforms in the late 1700s and early 1800s, after America had gained its independence from Britain. Why did the language need to be reformed, one might (reasonably enough) ask? Not, it seems, because it was suffering from any particular malady, but because it would be a way to assert American independence, not just of land but of mind and spirit... There has been no lack of reform attempts. What has been lacking is an authority that is, well, authoritative enough for anything to stick"

The politics of "prescriptivism" - "Some of this is just misplaced nostalgia for a time when "grammar" was regarded as a God-given instrument for instilling schoolchildren with a sense of moral discipline. In recent decades, in fact, there has been a tendency to blame the deemphasis of grammar in the schools for an astonishing range of social evils... As Lionel Trilling once put it, "I find righteous denunciations of the present state of the language no less dismaying than the present state of the language.""

Dream a little DREAM - "Many DREAM opponents also want take care of these “kids” (or former kids) by making them legal. Mark Krikorian, the anti-amnesty advocate whom I cite most, wants to take care of them. Even Roy Beck of Numbers USA seems to want to take care of them. But there is a way to do it that minimizes the unwanted long-term side effects of encouraging future illegal immigration from parents now living in other countries (who’d understandably like their kids to be made Americans, too), which would set the stage for another amnesty, which in turn would build up a constituency for the next amnesty in a cycle that doesn’t seem to have any end point."

Death Threats to Author Questioning Islam Origins

How the Professor Who Fooled Wikipedia Got Caught by Reddit

FBI Chart and Documents Portray CAIR as Hamas-Related

Brainstorming Doesn't Work -- Do This Instead - "The students working alone came up with two times as many solutions as the groups did, and the solo students’ solutions were rated as more “feasible” and “effective” by an independent panel of judges. Why is it that people come up with more and better ideas when they work on problems alone? Consider your last brainstorming session. You may have noticed that, by and large, the majority of the ideas came from the more extroverted members of the team. Brainstorming sessions tend to exclude the potential contributions of an entire population of the problem-solvers who happen to be more introverted. And for those who do participate, there are still limitations to expression... many participants of a brainstorming session either consciously or subconsciously feel pressured to go along with the dominant idea or pattern of thinking. This psychological tendency, called collaborative fixation, inherently leads to conformity of ideas and reduces the possibility of original solutions... criticism can enhance the quality and quantity of viable creative ideas. Nemeth asked a team of students to come up with solutions to a problem without criticizing one another, and asked another group to brainstorm freely but also be willing to critique one another. The team that was encouraged to scrutinize came up with twenty percent more creative ideas than the others did... McCaffrey proposes a more silent approach called “brainswarming,” which encourages individual ideation within the context of a larger objective. You start brainswarming by placing a goal or problem at the top of a white board, then listing the resources available to meet these problems at the bottom. Members of your team sit independently and write down ideas for tackling the problem from either end"

Why Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time - "Ultimately, brainstorming continues to be used because it feels intuitively right to do so. As such, it is one more placebo in the talent management cabinet, believed to work in spite of the clear absence of evidence"

ESP proponents claim that ESP skeptics are psychic, and use their powers to suppress ESP

Judge Hits Blogger With $2.5 Million Charge for Not Being a Journalist - "Without the source, she couldn't prove the information in the post was true — and thus, according to the judge, she didn't qualify for Oregon's media shield law since she wasn't employed by a media establishment. In the court's eyes, she was a blogger, not a journalist. The penalty: $2.5 million."

Lenin's Body Improves with Age - "The Russian methods focus on preserving the body's physical form—its look, shape, weight, color, limb flexibility and suppleness—but not necessarily its original biological matter. In the process they have created a "quasibiological" science that differs from other embalming methods. "They have to substitute occasional parts of skin and flesh with plastics and other materials, so in terms of the original biological matter the body is less and less of what it used to be"... the Lenin Lab's efforts have even led to spinoff medical applications. One technique influenced Russian development of special equipment used to keeping the blood flowing through donor kidneys during transplantation. In another case veteran lab researcher Yuri Lopukhin and several colleagues developed a "noninvasive three-drop test" to measure cholesterol in skin tissue in the late 1980s. The Russian invention eventually received a patent in 2002 and was commercialized by the Canadian company PreVu as "the world's first and only noninvasive skin cholesterol test" for patient home care. That's one legacy of Lenin that neither the Soviets nor the West could have imagined a century ago."

The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s - "low expectations can be liberating. “When a friend comes to the grocery store with me because it’s what I have to do, the pressure to be fun evaporates,” says my friend Liesl. “Then we can just walk down the aisles and I can complain about the domestic shackles of having to make dinner and maybe get recipe ideas or maybe not, but somehow that kind of environment — purposeful, practical — allows me to be far more myself. And in that headspace — which is also key to feeling close to someone — the conversation organically weaves from the price of granola to something about my marriage to something I've read to petty gossip. And I feel way better after, especially since I got my groceries, too.”"

Swiss police release robot that bought ecstasy online - "The police department confirmed on Tuesday it has now released the robot they arrested – er, confiscated – in January after it bought 10 ecstasy pills on the internet as part of an art installation meant to explore the deep web."

IT worker's lawsuit accuses Tata of discrimination - "An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring "South Asians" in hiring and promotion. His complaint is being backed up, in part, with numbers. The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a "grossly disproportionate workforce.""

Female Portrayals in Video Games - "What really bothered me about the Overwatch pressure was the claim that all the Overwatch ladies were the same while the men were inherently different. The men of the game fit into one of four categories: One thin, one dwarf, two heroic, one large. You can probably guess which is which by the image above. But then people claim the women of Overwatch are all the same. I’m sorry but I don’t see that as true. Immediately, Pharah is big and bulky. Widow and Symmetra share a similar body type, being mostly legs and hourglass. Mercy may come close to Widow and Symmetra but is slimmer. But people seem to just lump Tracer in with the others. Tracer has a different body type, more bottom heavy, less hourglass, shorter legs. She’s stockier and close to a body type I’ve heard described as “Korean Radish”. So we have three body types for women, four for men. And yet this is apparently an issue that requires a cry of sexism. And this is the crux of this topic. How I feel these so called advocates, these people obsessed with social justice and crying misogyny and sexism at every turn, are not pro-women. They’re anti-sex and pro-ego. We have a game like Overwatch, with a diverse cast of women and men, of different nationalities, and yet it is still ‘problematic’... what they wanted was a body type that wasn’t considered classically attractive and, ultimately, to be listened to and have their ego stroked... These people do not care about choice. They don’t care about women. They ultimately just want to drag down sexy women and/or women with large breasts. For what reason, I can’t say. Maybe they’re puritanical or have low self-esteem. Either way, they couldn’t give a damn about women in general... Women must fit their mold. And I’m getting tired of it. Even when characters AREN’T busty, like industry icons like Zelda and Peach, they must fall into a very specific mold. Or else they are problematic and the developers deserve to be shamed over it... This is my problem with the so called criticisms about female portrayals in video games. The people who love to complain about it seem to be inherently sex negative and puritanical. It isn’t so much that there are women who AREN’T busty and sexualized, it’s that there are women who are portrayed as such. And no matter what, apparently, those kinds of characters shouldn’t exist."
The writer is a gay woman, so what sort of privilege will she be condemned for having?

Iowa Man Found Not Guilty of Sexually Abusing Wife With Alzheimer’s - The New York Times - "An Iowa jury on Wednesday found Henry Rayhons not guilty of charges that he sexually abused his wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, by having sex with her in a nursing home after staff members told him she was cognitively unable to give consent. In the highly unusual case, Mr. Rayhons, 78, a farmer and former Republican state legislator who by all accounts had a mutually loving relationship with his wife, faced a felony charge that could have resulted in up to 10 years in prison. The case ignited intense national discussion of an issue that will only gain importance as more Americans get older: whether and when people with dementia are capable of indicating if they desire intimacy"

Red for Chinese New Year

In view of the storm in a teacup over the "racist" Chinese detergent ad:

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