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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Links - 7th December 2016

Defending the Electoral College. - "There are five reasons for retaining the Electoral College despite its lack of democratic pedigree; all are practical reasons, not liberal or conservative reasons.
1) Certainty of Outcome
2) Everyone’s President
3) Swing States
4) Big States
5) Avoid Run-Off Elections...
Against these reasons to retain the Electoral College the argument that it is undemocratic falls flat. No form of representative democracy, as distinct from direct democracy, is or aspires to be perfectly democratic. Certainly not our federal government. In the entire executive and judicial branches, only two officials are elected—the president and vice president. All the rest are appointed—federal Article III judges for life."

The Electoral College Is an Instrument of White Supremacy—and Sexism
Interestingly the article above was published in Nov 2012 and this in Nov 2016. Ahem.
Comments: "do you know which other popular governing system was created as a means for men, who owned slaves and viewed women as inherently inferior, to govern themselves? Athen's direct Democracy"
"I bet that if a sufficient number of College members refused to vote for Trump out author would gift us with a think piece hymning the praise of this fine old American institution devised by the wisdom of the Founding Fathers."
"Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't slavery end a while ago? I can't remember the exact dates, but I am pretty sure I have this one right, and living in the past doesn't make you a progressive. The electoral college was a stroke of wisdom from the founders. Without it, we would be a country run by about five major metropolitan areas and no one else would have a say. That would be a rule of tyranny. That you don't see that is an indication of how out of touch and politicized you are. Your goal was a Clinton presidency and, like Clinton, you don't care which rules have to be broken or changed to make that happen."
"You have clarity of vision on the issues. Get rid of the electoral college and the states. Let the majority rule. The protections afforded to minority interests in our constitution are no longer needed now that we can see a clear majority of like minded people on the left that should be in charge."

39 Things Women Will Just NEVER Understand About Being A Man - "3. If you’re with kids, people assume you’re a pedophile
4. Men live in a world where you are constantly unwanted, rejected, and outright feared, just for existing
“Women complain about how they are constantly being objectified and desired by men all the time. Try a world where you are constantly unwanted, rejected, and outright feared, just for existing.”
5. Women constantly attack us, and we’re not allowed to complain
“How helpless we are against the nasty mean looks, jokes, jabs and other subtle ways women attack us with. And on top of that, how society forces us to not complain about it.”
6. As a man you have absolutely no implicit value
Men are not seen as having any sense of valuable identity, beauty, or character. A woman with a career and a college degree is a unique success and glowing individual who is to be celebrated. A man with a career and a degree is only ever “good enough,” to meet the expectation enough that you aren’t ridiculed or seen ostensibly as a failure. Women with high levels of sexual activity may be called slut behind their backs, but they are also celebrated as being empowered. Promiscuous men are called assholes and considered predatory for expressing their sexuality. Many gorgeous men spend their entire lives without ever being complimented once by anyone other than their mother.
7. The constant absence of romance
10. We don’t get complimented on our looks
14. It’s hard to tell whether we’re attractive to women
28. No one ever asks us out "

More than 50% of Britain’s electricity now low carbon according to ground-breaking new report - "nuclear energy provided the largest share of low-carbon energy over the last three months, generating over a quarter of the UK’s electricity (26%), followed by on-shore and off-shore wind (10%), solar (5%), biomass (4%), low-carbon energy imports from France (4%) and hydro (1%)... for almost six full days last quarter, the UK was completely coal free – the first instance Britain burnt no coal to produce its electricity since 1881."
Yet many people want to get rid of nuclear energy

Salon on Twitter: "Sorry, but black people can’t “murder” whites: murder = homicide + power"

Thomas Edison, Power-Napper: The Great Inventor on Sleep and Success - "He reportedly slept a mere three to four hours at night, “regarding sleep as a waste of time, ‘a heritage from our cave days'”... While he carried his lack of sleep as a kind of badge of honor, he had a duplicitous little secret: Power-napping. Not only were napping cots scattered throughout his property, from labs to libraries, but he was also frequently photographed sneaking his stealthy shut-eye in unusual locations."

The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election - "Sanders supporters often dangle polls from early summer showing he would have performed better than Clinton against Trump. They ignored the fact that Sanders had not yet faced a real campaign against him. Clinton was in the delicate position of dealing with a large portion of voters who treated Sanders more like the Messiah than just another candidate. She was playing the long game—attacking Sanders strongly enough to win, but gently enough to avoid alienating his supporters. Given her overwhelming support from communities of color—for example, about 70 percent of African-American voters cast their ballot for her—Clinton had a firewall that would be difficult for Sanders to breach. When Sanders promoted free college tuition—a primary part of his platform that attracted young people—that didn’t mean much for almost half of all Democrats, who don’t attend—or even plan to attend—plan to attend a secondary school. In fact, Sanders was basically telling the working poor and middle class who never planned to go beyond high school that college students—the people with even greater opportunities in life—were at the top of his priority list."
Addendum: Other points the author makes are debunked

Altruistic People Have More Sexual Partners - "men will actively compete with one another (termed competitive altruism) by making charitable donations to women. Interestingly, these charitable donations increase when the target of one’s altruism is physically attractive... Previous findings from hunter-gatherer populations have shown that men who hunt and share meat often enjoy greater reproductive access to women... altruism mattered more for men’s number of lifetime and casual sex partners than for women’s... personality traits (some of which comprise the “jerk” traits described earlier) did not relate meaningfully to sexual histories.

Sex and dentistry: I made a fellatio prosthetic for my mouth - "Science doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to incorporating human sexuality into research and practice. Dentistry, for example, considers three functions for the oral cavity: aesthetics, pronunciation and mastication. “There is another function, sex, which is never mentioned in the textbooks,” says Ku. “I’m from the gay community and I realised that the medical school is a very patriarchal system, very serious, and the professors are very traditional, particularly in Asian countries. So I wanted to approach that relationship.” Instead of treating disease and restoring normal function to the mouth, Ku imagines dentists enhancing it along one particular line, the act of performing fellatio. To do this, he created retainers which offer a more intense sexual experience for your (male) partner... “A lot of health thinking is moving away from helping the negative of disease, the negative of death, the negative of pain, and moving toward something in its own right, the positive things we should be striving for through all kinds of interventions,” he says. “So this is part of a movement using technology and using science to improve life and not just to reduce harm.”"

Keeping Singapore’s hawker food affordable and accessible - "While the relative price difference between neighbourhoods is moderate, we found that hawker centres in many older estates, such as Bukit Merah, Queenstown and Toa Payoh, offer the cheapest meals. Data from Statistics Singapore show these estates tend to have larger proportions of senior residents, single-member households, divorced and/or separated individuals, and rental flats. In these estates, cheaper food prices could boil down to a simple case of demand and supply, where hawkers charge what they think their clientele are able to afford. In contrast, Bishan has relatively fewer senior residents and Marine Parade has a higher proportion of residents living in private condominiums and landed estates."
Now we know where to find the cheapest hawker food in Singapore

Apple releases $300 book containing 450 photos of Apple products
I guess if you're rich enough to afford Apple products you're rich enough to buy a $300 photobook of them

It only took 36 hours for these students to solve Facebook's fake news problem - "the students show that algorithms can be built to determine within reasonable certainty which news is true and which isn’t, and that something can be done to put that information in front of readers as they consider clicking"

Drivers in China turn to scary decals to deter motorists from using high beam headlights - "the decals are hardly visible in the dark. They appear only when motorists turn on their high beam headlights at the vehicle in front of them... Chinese media have previously reported on several accidents where drivers were momentarily unsighted by high beams, leading to deaths. Earlier in November, police in Shenzhen announced an unusual punishment for drivers who turn on their high beam headlights - staring into the blinding headlights for 60 seconds, and a fine of 300 yuan (S$61)."
In Singapore we have the LKY decal

Elected Presidency changes: Big step backwards for Malay community - "Malay Singaporeans grew out of their historical reliance on such crutches. And that has over time become a source of pride and motivation for the community. In my frequent travels to neighbouring countries and in the speeches I deliver there, I speak proudly of the significant progress the community has made as we proved we could stand on our own feet. That was thanks in no small part to the brave decision by our earlier leaders to take away our proverbial crutches and make us compete on a level playing field. Like everything else, healthy competition drives the community to a higher level. Now, I worry that all that is being undone... I did not sense any clamour for the next president to be from the Malay community... I would argue that more than a Malay president, what Singapore needs is policy consistency - we cannot afford policy twists and turns, especially on a selective basis, no matter how well intended... a hard-fought campaign leading to the election of a Malay president who deserves the position based on the famously Singaporean values of grit and merit. That is worth waiting for. The changes to the Constitution relating to the elected presidency may have inadvertently denied me and other members of Singapore's minority communities the pleasure of seeing that happen."

The truth about porn: why masturbation won't kill your sex life - "IT HAS been blamed for brain shrinkage, impotence, divorce and paedophilia – and in April this year, Utah declared it a public health hazard... About 46% of US men and 16% of women watch porn in a given week... David Ley, who heads an addiction clinic called New Mexico Solutions, says usually porn isn’t the problem, but people’s guilt about using it is. “Study after study shows that self-identified porn addicts are not watching more porn than other people, but have moral values that conflict with their use”... Many people, perhaps the majority, get more benefits than harms from porn, according to a Danish study of about 700 straight men and women. Both sexes thought that overall, it had a positive effect on their sex life, knowledge about sex and life in general"

Study from 2012 now corrected to show liberals, not conservatives, more authoritarian - "A correction to a frequently cited 2012 study has been issued, after researchers discovered they mixed up results purporting to show conservatives are more likely than liberals to exhibit behaviors linked to psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness... “Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response,” the authors said. “Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.”"
Keywords: Psychotic

North Korea requests China refrain from calling leader “Fatty Kim III”

Vegans and vegetarians think they don’t kill animals but they do - "For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent.
Have you met violent vegans?
I was the managing director of Buenos Aires Zoo. I resigned because I tried to transform it into a conservation centre for endangered species but couldn’t. There were these vegans who’d demonstrate in front of the zoo, shouting at the families who came in, calling them murderers. That damages veganism. People think: if this is veganism then I want no part of it. Not all vegans are like that, of course. But there are lots of people who develop a great empathy for domestic animals only. Many of them end up hating people and that’s a pathology: it’s not healthy... I never see them fighting for the creation of new protected areas or combatting the illegal trafficking of wildlife. I see them protesting bullfighting, which no longer goes on in Argentina, and slaughterhouses. It’s like they only care about domestic animals which, again, are not in danger of extinction"

Antibiotic abuse killing thousands in Thailand - "Many developing countries with poor healthcare systems allow antibiotics to be sold without a prescription. In middle-income Thailand, which draws medical tourists from all over the world, antibiotics are freely available in pharmacies and even convenience stores... Many also ask for the smallest available packs of amoxicillin - a 30-baht (S$ 1.20) strip of 10 generic capsules - and need to be persuaded to buy another strip to make it a full course of antibiotics"

Fewer Singaporean men finding love with foreign wives - "things changed the minute they registered their marriage two years ago. She did not show up for their wedding reception that night, saying she had to rush back to China as there was an accident at home. When she returned two months later, she gave excuses not to consummate the marriage and would often not be home for days on end. After she became a Singapore PR, she told Andy that she would not sleep with him as he was "fat and smelly"... "News of some Vietnamese wives running away shortly after marriage also does not help.""

Will Venice be loved to death?

Will Venice be loved to death? - BBC News

"The French novelist Victor Hugo said there are two things about a historic building: its use and its beauty. Its use is a matter for the owner, but the beauty belongs to everyone.

[Addendum from podcast: He was arguing that just because you own an old house you've no right to knock it down, but it's also an argument for the universal human right to visit Venice]...

Part of Venice's problem is what it represents. It is a city of comfort and consolation in an era of furious urbanisation. If you live in a Chinese megalopolis of 30 million souls which was not there not long ago, Venice will seem an ideal polar opposite.

Unable to expand over the water that surrounds it - it is built on islands in a lagoon - it is the gold standard for the city of human scale, the world's sentimental ideal city.

So what can be done to save sentimentality from economics? Venetians complain about the Chinese buying bars and houses today. Before them it was the Russians, the Americans and, 200 years ago, probably the Austrians.

The greatest writer on Venice, John Ruskin, suggested a tongue-in-cheek extra charge to visit, as do some of today's Venetians. A surcharge would raise money but surely not reduce numbers, which is what is needed.

Today's protesters say if you put a gate on it you make it a theme park, not a living city. Why not call it a reservation, for preservation?

As its a cultural Mecca, why not do what Mecca does and limit the annual number of pilgrims? Visiting Venice is, maybe, not a human right.

In his novel England England, Julian Barnes imagined a tourist's version of England built on the Isle of Wight - all the best bits recreated in one convenient place.

England England is such a success it becomes an independent state and joins the EU while actual England goes into decline. Could we imagine a Venice 2.0/Venice Venice?

Sadly the Japanese version, an Italian shopping experience called Italmura, with canals and gondolas, went bust.

But there are commercially successful replicas in Dubai, Qatar, Istanbul and, of course, Las Vegas, where the Venetian Hotel has opened a replica of its replica in Macau - even though China already has a copy of its own, Venice Water Town, a suburb of Hangzhou.

And even Venice itself is not entirely genuine. Those horses on St Mark's basilica are copies: do you mind? The medieval bell tower opposite fell down in 1902 and was rebuilt brick-for-brick. Can you tell the difference?

Could we not embrace the fake to help the real? Venice is like the panda: charismatic, unsuited to life today but too symbolic to be allowed to disappear. If our beloved wild animals end up existing only in zoos or reservations why not cherished cities?

Let's have a new Venice island experience - all the highlights recreated from scratch in one place and better organised for better pictures. Reliable tides, none of the smells and with better food and plumbing.

And you and I, obviously we can go to the old Venice and play spot the difference."

Monday, December 05, 2016

Links - 5th December 2016

Hate crime: the facts behind the headlines - "One of the chief criticisms of hate crimes is that they are rooted in perception. This introduces an element of subjectivity with the victim essentially determining whether it is a hate crime or not; people may see what they want and add a hate crime motivation to what may be an everyday crime or incident. Many of the incidents that fuelled press reports of increasing levels of hate crime were based on incidents logged in forums like Worrying Signs, often by an individual with no independent corroboration or context... The majority of police-recorded hate crimes are non-violent... no more than one in 10 recorded hate crimes are physically injurious to the victim... many crimes are being assumed as hate crimes, even when there is no evidence to suggest that they are. Press reports then often link the incidents to Brexit, even where there is no evidence of a link... The way in which all three collate information is problematic. None seeks independent verification that an incident has taken place: they all simply log the reports as they come in. Each is effectively a catalogue of alleged incidents with no corroboration... the first logged incident is as follows: Manchester – 28th June. A group of young men hurled racist abuse at a fellow bus passenger. Telling him to “get back to Africa” and throwing beer on him.‟ If we take this incident at face value and assume that the reporting of it is completely accurate, it is still difficult to see what it has to do with the EU referendum or the campaign... It should also be noted that reported hate crime has been trending upwards for the last few years, long before the EU referendum campaign began. Does this reflect a widespread increase in intolerance towards certain minorities? Or does it reflect the rising profile of hate crime as a category of offence and the opportunity to report it"

Police: Lafayette student lied about being robbed of wallet, hijab by Trump supporters – will face charges - "The 18-year-old Middle Eastern student reported to police Wednesday that she was walking to class about 11 a.m. when two white men, one wearing a Donald Trump hat, jumped out of an SUV, struck her and hit her repeatedly. She also said the men yelled racial slurs at her, ripped her hijab off her head and stole her wallet. She has since admitted to police that she lied about the attack. The story made national headlines and was featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post and other national media outlets. Messages of love and support were found all over UL Lafayette’s campus after news of the attack spread."

Sorry, Trump Protestors: This Is What Democracy Looks Like - "“This is what democracy looks like!” That was my favorite chant during the anti-war protests I participated in my senior year of high school in 2004. Twelve years later, the same folks I marched down Sixth Avenue with protesting outside the Fox News building are back at it, protesting the victory of Donald Trump. I’ve got some bad news for the thousands of my former comrades marching through the streets: You saw what democracy looks like on Tuesday night... I was driven from the progressive cause because I came to learn that messages about inclusiveness, love, and respect were contingent upon a very specific set of characteristics one had to already possess. We are seeing that same hypocrisy in the present... Chants of “not my president” are now heard reverberating through urban centers, shouted by the same folks who just a few days ago were warning of civil unrest when Trump was defeated."

Colleges Cancelled Exams for Students Traumatized by Trump's Election - "I don't blame students for being really, really upset about Trump's win. I know plenty of mentally stable, not-at-all-coddled people who were similarly upset. But they all still went in to work on Wednesday. Life goes on. It's possible the news is hitting students even harder than it hit members of the liberal media—college students, after all, are even more out-of-touch with the Trump movement than the media is. College campuses have created safe spaces to wall students off from the mildest forms of disagreement. Too many of them simply had no idea that great numbers of Americans despised their progressive agenda and were eager to strike a blow against political correctness... campus progressives have willfully pushed race-based and identity-group-based classifications: calling for segregated safe spaces and programs for students of color, LGBTQ students, Native American students, Latinos, and so on. At the same time, they have assailed white privilege and white fragility, treating white people like the enemy. In electing Trump, whites may have lived up to their expectations, but I can't help but wonder whether that was a foreseeable consequence of the left's campaign to demonize them."

Liberal Professors In America Give Students Day Off To Cope With Trump Victory

Democrats Blame 'Voter Suppression' For Clinton Loss At Their Peril - "There is thus far not enough evidence (as I’ve shown in this post) that these laws actually affected the outcome of the presidential election. We have statistics on a fewer number of polls open or early voting days in some of these states, and we know courts have found in some cases that up to hundreds of thousands of voters lacked the right kind of ID to vote in some strict voter id states. But it is a big empirical leap to claim that these cutbacks caused the losses for Democrats in states that mattered for the outcome of the electoral college. Lots of people who lacked id could have gotten it and voted. (A more plausible case could be made in some of these states that these laws mattered in races which are very, very close.) More importantly, even in states that had eased their voting and registration rules in recent years, such as Minnesota, Democratic turnout was way down. This is key: Hilllary Clinton is down millions of Democrats' votes (right now about 7 million votes) compared to Obama in 2012. People stayed home for reasons unrelated to voter suppression."

I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump. - "as a liberal Muslim who has experienced, first-hand, Islamic extremism in this world, I have been opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the “Islam” in Islamic State. Of course, Trump’s rhetoric has been far more than indelicate and folks can have policy differences with his recommendations, but, to me, it has been exaggerated and demonized by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, their media channels, such as Al Jazeera, and their proxies in the West, in a convenient distraction from the issue that most worries me as a human being on this earth: extremist Islam of the kind that has spilled blood from the hallways of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai to the dance floor of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla... The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia killed my support for Clinton... I have absolutely no fears about being a Muslim in a “Trump America.” The checks and balances in America and our rich history of social justice and civil rights will never allow the fear-mongering that has been attached to candidate Trump’s rhetoric to come to fruition. What worried me the most were my concerns about the influence of theocratic Muslim dictatorships, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in a Hillary Clinton America... We have to stand up with moral courage against not just hate against Muslims, but hate by Muslims, so that everyone can live with sukhun, or peace of mind"

Left-Wing Bigotry And Hatred Is On Full Display After Trump Win - " Exit polls show that 42% of women cast ballots for the Republican. Nearly half (49%) of independent voters backed Trump. So did 14% of LGBT voters. Trump did better among blacks, Latinos and other minorities, as well as lower-income voters, than the ultra-noncontroversial Mitt Romney did in 2012. Trump did almost as well among college graduates as Clinton — 45% to 49% — and captured half of the suburban vote. In other words, his support was widespread. But almost as soon as the election results came in, many on the left exploded in anger, smashing windows, setting fires, calling for Trump to be assassinated, and labeling his supporters bigots and sexists who should be murdered. Protesters burned Trump in effigy, and passed around a stuffed figure of Trump in a noose."

Sandbagged by Hope - Twenty-Six Letters - Quora - "Sure, the President was (still is) personally popular but the liking people feel for him never transferred to his policies. Since the day of its passage Obamacare has been about as popular as leftovers five days after Thanksgiving. If the right track/wrong track poll numbers are to be believed, the American people are profoundly dissatisfied with the state of the nation, i.e. with the policies pursued by the Obama Administration since 2009. In short, the President’s personal popularity is of no particular political significance."

Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch - "the attempt to make Trump’s victory about racism appears to be at odds with what actually happened on Election Day. Consider the following facts. Twenty-nine percent of Latinos voted for Trump, per exit polls. Remarkably, despite the near-ubiquitous narrative that Trump would have deep problems with this demographic given his comments and position on immigration, this was a higher percentage of those who voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Meanwhile, African Americans did not turn out to vote against Trump. In fact, Trump received a higher percentage of African American votes than Romney did... The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters. The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump... those with college degrees — again, with some significant exceptions — don’t necessarily know philosophy or theology. And they have especially paltry knowledge about the foundational role that different philosophical or theological claims play in public thought compared with what is common to college campuses. In my experience, many professors and college students don’t even realize that their views on political issues rely on a particular philosophical or theological stance... Higher education in the United States, after all, is woefully monolithic in its range of worldviews. In 2014, some 60 percent of college professors identified as either “liberal” or “far-left,” an increase from 42 percent identifying as such in 1990. And while liberal college professors outnumber conservatives 5-to-1, conservatives are considerably more common within the general public... While some of the political differences between educated and working-class voters is based on a dispute over hard facts, the much broader and more foundational disagreements are about norms and values... a reduction of all disagreement to racism, bigotry and ignorance — in addition to being wrong about its primary source — will simply make the disagreement far more personal, entrenched and vitriolic. And it won’t make liberal values more persuasive to the less educated, as Trump victory demonstrates"

What This Means, How This Happened, What To Do Now - "you reach a somewhat fatalistic conclusion about Trump supporters. You can’t persuade them, because they’re racists, and racism is an irrational feeling. Instead, you fight them, by mocking them, and trying to turn out your own base. By treating Trump’s support as largely the product of racism, one gives up on any attempt to actually appeal to Trump voters’ concerns and interests, since racism is not an interest worth appealing to. This was what Democrats did. This was a campaign of mockery: Trump voters were treated with disdain. Hillary Clinton dismissed huge swaths of them as a “basket of deplorables.” To be a Trump supporter was to be dumb, a redneck, a misogynist... There are facts that complicate the simple “racist deplorables” explanation. As Nate Cohn of The New York Times noted, “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters,” meaning that this was “not a simple racism story”... running Hillary Clinton for president was never a very good idea. Running Clinton against Donald Trump was an especially bad idea, because all of Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate played to all of Trump’s strengths. Clinton gave Trump precisely the kind of fodder (mini-scandals, shady dealings, etc.) on which his bombast thrives. She also happens to be a very poor campaigner, and a complacent one. The weakness was obvious even in the differing campaign slogans. “I’m With Her” is about the interests of the candidate. “Make America Great Again” is about the voters. Let’s learn an important lesson here: do not run a widely-despised ruling-class candidate who has open contempt for the white working class. That is a recipe for electoral catastrophe... We need something that has what Obama had: inspiration, hope. It was joked that Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan was “No you can’t.” That’s no good. Trump inspires people. He may inspire people by appealing to their nastiest, most inhuman and unneighborly instincts. But he inspires them. We have to have an agenda that gets people excited. It can’t be like trying to make people eat their vegetables. “You’ll vote for me and you’ll like it, because you have no alternative” is not an effective way to get votes"

An Open Letter to My Friends on the Left… about Donald Trump’s Hair, Unfortunately - "What scares you about Trump is that he will get his hands on the levers of power — levers that you yourselves constructed, over the protests of libertarians and old-style conservatives. For years we who are not of the left put up with the taunts: Isn’t the right wing crazy? How silly to be afraid of the government! How unfair to think of federal agents as jack-booted thugs! To worry about black helicopters and FEMA camps and Jade Helm! And now just maybe the jackboot is on the other foot... In a democracy, progressives’ second goal, populating the government, depends on one of two things. Either the oppressed must be the most numerous — unlikely for long in a democracy — or else a coalition must be built consisting of the oppressed and their sympathizers."

Trump Gives Victory Speech, Liberals Rediscover Appeal of Limited Government - "the left is interested in limited government again. Would have been nice to have them with us during Obama's eight years in office, but we'll take what we can get, I guess."

Dear Democrats, Read This If You Do Not Understand Why Trump Won - "Wikileaks has a 10-year record of never releasing a single falsified document, and is not connected to Russia. Everything they released were the actual e-mails of Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff... In an attempt to inform my friends, family, and followers I posted dozens if not hundreds of Wikileaks e-mails, and tweeted alt-right news just as much as I did liberal news. I did this because most of my followers are liberals, and I realized they were all living in an echo chamber on social media where they were not being exposed to differing opinions or news. I was mostly rejected by liberals for doing this, they didn’t understand why I was sharing things that made them uncomfortable, but now they know why. Ironically, I got far more support from Trump supporters for trying to tell Democrats the truth... While you weren’t paying attention, Trump is actually a former Democrat. If you study his actual values he has far more in common with traditional moderate or liberal values than he does a traditional conservative. In fact, Trump may even be more liberal than Hillary Clinton on several issues. The media prevented any kind of discussion on values, and instead focused on rhetoric and propaganda... politically he’s actually a New York Democrat in Republican clothing (this is why the Republican establishment rejected him). You also need to consider Donald Trump just overthrew a group of political elites who have been ruling this country for decades. He just beat the political establishment singlehandedly. No matter what you think about him personally, he just accomplished something historic to become our President. At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to learn and grow and consider another world view. This is a wakeup call to get out of safe spaces, politically correct thinking, shatter echo chambers, and challenge yourself to consider the other side of the fence. This is an opportunity to reach out and truly learn to understand each other."

Research finds women feel happy when their husband or partner is upset - Telegraph - "The detailed study found that wives or girlfriends were pleased when their partner showed emotion because they believed it demonstrated a healthy relationship. The survey, carried out by Harvard Medical School, also found that when men realised their wife was angry, the women reported being happier, although the men were not. It revealed women most likely enjoyed spotting when their partner was dissatisfied because it showed his strong “engagement” or “investment” in their time together... “This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict”... “Women’s satisfaction was more strongly related to the perception that their partners were trying to understand their negative emotions than to men’s actual accuracy in reading those emotions.”"
The article is Eye of the beholder: the individual and dyadic contributions of empathic accuracy and perceived empathic effort to relationship satisfaction.

Why I am Pessimistic about Racial-Religious Harmony in Singapore - Case Studies

Exhibit A:

A: Bloody scenes as Muslim Shi'ites beat and mutilate themselves to celebrate Ashura | Daily Mail Online

Warning - gruesome images.

A majority of Muslims worldwide don't subscribe to this ritual.

B: There's no basis for this at all in Islam. And yet many are calling this practice 'islamic' which therefore means it's one of those smearing campaigns yet again

Me: Shias are Muslim too

B: Yeah right. And you're using dailymail as your go-to reference. Lol

Me: Hitting one’s body in grief [Ed: This is from Shia Pen, whose "sole goal is to refute the false propaganda against Shia and the teachings of Islam". This link looks at what the Qur'an and Sunnahs say about hitting oneself, which Shiites use to justify hitting themselves during the Mourning of Muharram]

B: Islamic practices are those that are premised in the Quran and Hadith or the prophet's traditions. Not from any others. Strange but are we supposed to believe what Islamic and non Islamic is about based on those who never read the Quran, are not practising Muslims or even study the prophet's tradition. This is certainly a smearing campaign

Me: There are other Shia forums talking about it. Are Shias smearing themselves?

B: And A - stop posting these kinds of fabrications. You're not helping much but are creating confusion amongst those who are lazy to read and do research

Me: Lol

A: One thing's for sure - self-mutilation is not Islam because as B mentioned, it's not sanctioned in any Quranic verse/Hadith, and none of the Messengers/Prophets had practiced it.

C: It's is best not to question the state of someone's Islam. The witnessing of the shahadah and the belief in it is enough to make someone a Muslim.

If or not he is a good Muslim or how far the deviation is is altogether another matter. The Shia are varied and the theology equally varied, many still falling squarely among the ahli shahadah despite not being among the mainstream. That in no way discounts that some of the Shia have deviated far too much so much so that it has invalidated their shahadah. This however requires careful analysis. Responsible Sunni traditional scholarship has acknowledged this wide variation among the Shia and are careful to issue a blanket ruling.

I think you should do your research on the Shia before you make any accusations.

However it is clear that this action has no basis in Islam

B: Yes there are different interpretations. And to fan this whole anti Islam and anti Muslim feelings, I think Gabriel should be taken to task by the authorities. He's insinuating something here

Me: And this is why Singaporeans don't want to talk about race and religion. Because even talking about the diversity of Islam gets you

B: Because you're not a credible person to be talking about islam

C: Gabriel stop sticking your nose in where it's not wanted. It's pretty rich of you to lecture us on our religion. You are not having a conversation about Islam, you wish to lecture Muslims on Islam so please you have no authority to do so. This is not a conversation of sharing and understanding. And I've seen your posts in the past, you hide behind civility but you intend malice.

B I agree with you on Gabriel's attitude but let's but surgical abt it. Do not fall into injustice in trying to uphold justice.

A: I have to agree with C about Gabriel's tone. a little humility will go a long way..


Exhibit B:

Wake Up, Singapore posts an article: Saudi woman pictured not wearing hijab faces calls for her execution | The Independent

Caption: "Some Saudis care more about her clothing than her life."


Sean Bautista: A big fuck you to the admin of this page. You're just inciting more hatred against Islam. Doesn't matter where you stand or your opinions but just let them be! This doesn't concern you or any Singaporeans whatsoever. Fuck you again. There I said it.
(30 likes as of the time I write this)

Abu Maysarah Al Makani: 😂bro i dnt condone swearing in public but u said what i was thinking..#mangkukadminla

Wake Up, Singapore: And what exactly are you gonna sue us for? If they really have nothing to do with Islam and it's practioners, then why get so worked up?

Haha, you amuse me. When we post about the Rohingyas or Palestinians, who also have, as you put it, 'nothing to do with Singapore,' you don't say anything.

When we call out Saudi's barbarism, you get your knickers in a twist.

Grow a thicker hide la brother..

Abu Maysarah Al Makani: Take this post down or face the authority! For stirring religious hate amongst singaporeans. I promise u if u dnt, this post will go viral amd it will reach the media. Police report will be made against u.

Shukri Shukri: Walauwei i used to like this page untill few mins ago yall strt calling others barbaric and have no respect for other religion.

Affandi Tahugoreng: You are rude.

Khai CT Monstar: i'm unliking this page

Hairi Asuka: Fucked up. Unlike liao. Bai.


Exhibit C would've been a thread where a few people reacted to critique of racial relations in Singapore with comments along the lines of how talking about this was disrupting racial harmony, but I can't find it.

This is not an uncommon occurence, however.

Close enough is:

Recent Posts in Atheism - SgForums.com:

"It's just the Singapore way, stemming from traditional family beliefs that one should not talk about things taboo.

The best way to have racial harmony is to not raise sensitive issues or debates."

Addendum: I've found one

Racism Looks Different In Singapore - And Yes, It Still Hurts

OP: Race is an incredibly sensitive topic, especially in a nation like Singapore. To question racial harmony in this country is to poke at the very social fabric that binds our nation together—and I think this is where the root of the problem lies.

A: Whether one likes to believe it or not, the racial fault line is deep here and one tremor let alone an earthquake, all hell could break loose.

B: Agree with A. We need to be sensitive.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Links - 4th December 2016

Telegram bot that tells you bus timings : singapore - "I create a bot that gives you the nearest bus stops as well as bus timings just by sending your location!"
This beats the bus apps

The Crown’s portrayal of history is an insult to my generation’s struggles | Harry Leslie Smith | Opinion | The Guardian - "I am angry that Netflix has spent $130m (£105m) on the 10-part series The Crown. This is a biopic concerning the marriage of Queen Elizabeth when she was still a princess in 1947, followed by her coronation in 1953. Unfortunately, The Crown views postwar Britain from the perspective of our sovereign and all who inhabited her world. This does an enormous disservice to the epoch, because it was a time when a socialist tide raised all boats. History was literally being made from the bottom up because, while Princess Elizabeth was being fitted for her wedding dress, ordinary Britons were dismantling a thousand years of feudal mentality through the creation of the welfare state. We’ve seen this approach before. Nothing better illustrates TV’s lush treacle homage to the landed gentry than Downton Abbey, a drama that ran for six series as a parlour-room interpretation of historical moments that shaped Britain at the turn of the 20th century. But Downton has not been the exception to the rule, rather a template used by TV and movie producers to crush the truth from history and make the entitled the heroes of narratives about our nation’s collective past."
This is like being upset Doctor Strange doesn't feature the perspective of ordinary Nepalis
Comment: "And there have been no tv series or movies EVER on the the ordinary joe, the worker, the plight of the down trodden? If you don't want to watch a tv series about the wealthy ruling class, don't watch Downton Abbey or The Crown, watch Billy Elliot, Brassed Off, How Green Was My Valley, Call the Midwife, Our Friends in the North, Grange Hill."

A woman ‘calling for jihad’ was invited on a German talk show

'Ferguson Effect' is a plausible reason for spike in violent US crime, study says - "A new justice department-funded study concludes that a version of the so-called “Ferguson Effect” is a “plausible” explanation for the spike in violent crime seen in most of the country’s largest cities in 2015... The new research cuts against months of statements from Obama administration officials denying that there is any evidence for a Ferguson Effect, a suggested link between protests over police killings of black Americans and an increase in crime and murder... Rosenfeld explores an alternative version of the Ferguson Effect, in which “longstanding grievances and discontent with policing in African American communities” are “activated” by controversial incidents of police violence, and then “chronic discontent erupts into violence”... This idea, which is not new in the fields of criminology or sociology, holds that the emergence of “honor codes”, for example ones which admonish “snitching” and promote informal resolutions to conflict, can drive violent crime. “Predatory violence increases because offenders believe victims and witnesses will not contact the police,” Rosenfeld said. Phillip Atiba Goff, a leading researcher on racial bias in policing and the president of the Center for Policing Equity, told the Guardian in April that it would a “reasonable hypothesis” to suggest “the decay in police legitimacy is harming both police morale and community morale”. Rosenfeld notes that 10 cities with relatively large African American populations accounted for two-thirds of the increase in homicides, which would be expected if the spike represented a crisis of confidence endemic to black communities... A study of Baltimore’s dramatic homicide spike found a close correlation between drops in some proactive policing and a rise in violence. Researchers dubbed this the Freddie Gray effect. An analysis of recent Chicago police and crime data by FiveThirtyEight found a similar link"

Murder Rate Spike Could Be 'Ferguson Effect,' DOJ Study Says - "Rosenfeld says "some version." That's because people disagree about what that effect is. It could be about police holding back, afraid they'll be criticized later for what they see as doing their job. Or you could look at it from the opposite point of view: that it's a matter of citizens — especially black people — losing faith in local cops... Rosenfeld says he wants to see more detailed statistics. For instance, he wants to see if the month-by-month arrest records show the police holding back. The problem is, the FBI is painfully slow about releasing detailed national numbers. We may not get a complete view of the Ferguson effect until this fall — a full two years after Ferguson itself."

Is There a ‘Ferguson Effect’? - The New York Times - "The sociologist Stephen Morgan. Working with a researcher named Joel Pally, he tracked reported crimes and arrests in Baltimore from before the 2014 uprising in Ferguson until well after the 2015 Baltimore protests over the death in police custody of Freddie Gray. Professor Morgan found that in the eight months after Ferguson, arrests did in fact decline in Baltimore. The police didn’t stop arresting people for serious offenses, but there were fewer arrests for things like vandalism and prostitution. There was even a drop-off in arrests for driving violations. This is consistent with Ms. Mac Donald’s idea that broken-windows policing suffered as law enforcement came under heightened scrutiny. Against Ms. Mac Donald’s idea, however, was the fact that crime rates didn’t budge. After the Freddie Gray protests, it was a different story... By itself, scrutiny of police departments doesn’t seem to move the needle when it comes to crime — contrary to the Ferguson effect thesis. On the other hand, when departments were required to alter their policies, signifying stronger public concern, crime was higher (temporarily) and officers spoke of working in a low-morale environment"

The Ferguson effect - "A 2005 study of de-policing after the anti-cop riots in Cincinnati in 2001 by University of Washington economist Lan Shi, for example, found a significant increase in felony crime caused by the drop-off in officer engagement."

Every Republican Presidential Candidate Is Hitler - "“Except for Adolf Hitler's extermination of the Jewish people, the American bombardment of defenseless peasants in Indochina is the most barbaric act of modern times.” That quote didn’t come from some Soviet hack coughing up copy for Moscow, but from Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. (Some years later, McGovern would compare the Communist massacres in Cambodia to the Holocaust and call for some of that barbaric military intervention.)... Even though Goldwater had been an early NAACP member, NAACP leader Roy Wilkins warned, "Those who say that the doctrine of ultra-conservatism offers no menace should remember that a man come out of the beer halls of Munich and rallied the forces of rightism in Germany. All the same elements are there in San Francisco now." The NAACP accused Goldwater of appealing to “fear and bigotry”. Martin Luther King said, “We see danger signs of Hitlerism in the candidacy of Mr. Goldwater.”... Goldwater was Hitler. Nixon was Hitler. Reagan was Hitler. Bush was Hitler. None of the latter three men declared the Fourth Reich, made themselves dictators for life and ran concentration camps. But the Big Lie retroactively rewrites the past by claiming that last decade’s Hitler was a decent moderate while the latest Republican Hitler is a terrifying monster. Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan were all resurrected as moderate contrasts to each other and then to Bush. The process of recreating Bush as a moderate has already begun. And so each Republican makes the electoral journey from Hitler to a political moderate whom a latter generation of liberals mourns while complaining that this latest Republican really is Hitler."

Jim Howard's answer to Why are people comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler? - Quora - "One of Hitler's men shot my Dad! As far as I'm concerned equating any US politician with Hitler is holocaust denial . Most 'your guy is Hitler' comes from the Democrats, which is ironic when you think about it. After all, it's the Democrats who think that the government doesn't have enough power over individuals and businesses. And new this year, many Democrats are at last open socialists. Like Hitler"

How to View a List of Extensions Installed in All Your Browsers - "Installing extensions in web browsers can provide some very useful features. However, if you install a lot of extensions in multiple browsers, you might forget which you installed in which. We have an easy solution if you use Chrome, Firefox, and/or Internet Explorer."

Commentary: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s slam of Trump does the nation no favors - "Those on the left who are tempted to give Ginsburg a pass on her comments should ask themselves if they would want Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself in a Clinton v. Trump case if he went on Fox News and said he would move to Britain if Hillary Clinton were elected, or if he called her “Crooked Hillary.” Ironically, Ginsburg has taken a strong position that states can impose codes of conduct on judicial candidates to stop them from making statements that might raise questions about their impartiality. She has also found due process violations when judges serve on cases in which they have an apparent conflict of interest. What about due process rights here?"

Germany's Migrant Rape Crisis Spirals out of Control - "German authorities have repeatedly been accused of underreporting the true scale of the crime problem in the country. For example, up to 90% of the sex crimes committed in Germany in 2014 do not appear in the official statistics, according to André Schulz, the head of the Association of Criminal Police (Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter, BDK)."

Lawyer who focused on molest victim's breast size rapped by judge

The Best Restaurants in Lima Are Putting Culture on the Plate - "In 2015, Lima’s international airport welcomed a whopping 4.22 million international visitors, more than any other Latin American hub and double the figure of its closest competitor, Mexico City, according to MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Index (PDF). That number represented a 7 percent year-on-year rise and put it on the list of the top 10 fastest-growing tourism destinations worldwide since 2009. Think all those newcomers were on their way to Machu Picchu? A separate study by the UN World Tourism Organization claims that at least 42 percent of them were coming, first and foremost, to eat"

PETA Killed A Little Girl's Dog, And Her Family Wants Them To Pay. A Lot. - "Among the allegations is that Maya’s death fits with the group’s longstanding practice “to kill lost or stray pets” instead of finding them homes or returning them to their owners — a claim that is bolstered by PETA’s self-reported figures filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services."

China passes restrictive new film law - "China has passed a restrictive and long-discussed film law on Monday (Nov 7) banning content deemed harmful to the “dignity, honour and interests” of the People’s Republic and encouraging the promotion of “socialist core values”... Films must not “violate the country’s religious policies, spread cults, or superstitions”, insult or slander people"

Qing dynasty textbook shows how Chinese people tried to learn English 150 years ago - "If you think learning Chinese is hard now, how about mastering English pronunciation via Chinese characters in the mid-19th century?... The book contains helpful phrases such as, "You want cheap go buy other man," "Tomorrow I give you answer" and "Very much this silk." Along with words of wisdom like, "Don't stop half way and fail" and "Don't answer at random."
So the "racist" American "stereotypes" about Chinese people are actually true?

Giant Sucking Sound? That's Singapore Retail - "With a vacancy rate of 8.4 percent, shopping spaces are already the emptiest in almost a decade. And that's with e-commerce accounting for just 2 percent of total sales. Considering that 20 percent of China's retail is already online, industry forecasts of 7 percent e-commerce penetration in Singapore by 2025 may be a "gross underestimation," says Raghav Kapoor, CEO of Smartkarma, a research website... If an Amazon-Alibaba war breaks out in earnest, Singapore's warehouses might be a more interesting investment option than deserted stores."

Brazilian sex theme park set to open in 2018: Erotikaland - "Other bizarre parks around the world include BonBon-Land in Denmark, an X-rated theme park where you can ride on the Fart Dog Switchback, the Rubbish Dump and the Skid Mark roller-coaster, Pedroland, in South Carolina, based on a 1950s-era ethnic stereotype and The Holy Land Experience in Florida, which is based on the life and times of Jesus Christ."

In Our Time, Penicillin

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Penicillin

"He did do some trials on some of his colleagues at St Mary's. He grew the mold in liquid culture. He got one of his colleagues to eat some crud, some mold... Somebody who had a sore throat, it didn't really help them. Same person had some mold juice instilled in their nose when they had sinusitis...

The drug itself, penicillin, is not new. It's been around for millions, probably hundreds of millions of years in the soil. Because the molds protect themselves with it. And in fact you find resistance to penicillin in the most unlikely places... in corpses before Columbus in the New World... there's penicillin all around us...

In Asia, the idea of you could prevent the sex worker carrying gonorrhea. They would then give it to the soldier who would then be debilitated. Unfortunately what they did was they bred penicillin resistant gonorrhea which then disseminated...

Some of them do bizarre things. They change their own mutation rate. Their as in their own DNA. Produce hundreds or thousands of strange errors which normally wouldn't survive in nature but some of those manage to knock off the antibiotic so they can survive and the others die. And some even cut great sections out of their DNA, great chunks of DNA just thrown away, because that allows them to copy themselves more quickly. Now without penicillin, they would never survive. So that generally speaking, most bacteria are penicilin sensitive. But once you start using the antibiotic it's pretty certain that you're going to get resistance. We still have possibly one antibiotic which everything is more or less susceptible to, with very few exceptions. But now we realise the dangers. People are using these last ditch antibiotics much much more cautiously than they did before. And we're really almost at the end of that road of drug development, which is a real worry...

If you look at the number of companies over the last 30 years that are investing and researching in antibiotics, it's been dwindling. The number of companies involved in antibiotic research has dropped by 20-25% each decade for the last 3 decade. The financial drivers as you say are quite clear. For antibiotics you produce a medicine and I guess we're used to having antibiotics cheap. We're used to be able to pick up antibiotics for pence. You have a therapy which lasts for maybe a week or couple of weeks. Whereas the company is much more interested in having a drug which they can sell for a lifetime. It's a bit like... Starbucks. What would encourage Starbucks to make a coffee you would drink... for a week and would stop needing to drink Starbucks ever again in your life?...

drugs for hypertension, drugs for diabetes, companies invest a lot in that sort of area. So I think there need to be real financial drivers set up for the companies to encourage development...

MRSA... which spread like wildfire from a single mutation in Germany across Europe in just a few years. Now we know exactly what's going on there, and ironically enough it's begin to drop in frequency. Because of a new antibiotic? No. Because people now wash their hands... So maybe the simpler answers will be part of the solution"
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