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Friday, January 20, 2017

Life in what Oxfam calls the Era of "Neoliberalism"

Au delà de tous les sophismes contre... - Corentin de Salle:

"Au delà de tous les sophismes contre l'abominable mondialisation capitaliste et la non moins exécrable financiarisation de l'économie, voici quelques chiffres sur l'état du monde. De quoi faire réfléchir tous ceux qui, quel que soit leur bord, appellent au protectionnisme et à la fermeture des frontières."

Translation: Going beyond all the sophistry about horrible capitalist globalisation and the no less awful financialization of the economy, here are some numbers about the state of the world. Food for thought for all who, regardless of their political leaning, call for protectionism and the closing of borders.

"Life in what Oxfam calls the Era of "Neoliberalism"
Hunger, Poverty, Illiteracy, Child mortality
Sources: Johan Norberg: Progress (Oneworld) - FAO, World Bank, UNESCO, World Bank, EPA"


Poor Thinking from Oxfam

"Oxfam began as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. It still does valuable disaster relief work today, but it often functions like a political campaigning group...

This year they highlighted Vietnam as a case of deprivation, and it is true that Vietnam is still a very poor country. But it started from a very low base: they only brought in broadly capitalist institutions in 1986. Since then, their income per capita has gone from $100 per annum to $2,000, and continues to grow at stratospheric rates, mirroring the widely-lauded situations in China and, to a lesser extent, India.

China and India are still poor by Western standards, but a report focused on how capitalism was failing them would rightly have been deemed ludicrous – everyone knows how well they’ve done since abandoning full state control of their economies...

Let us suppose that we went even further than Oxfam would like and redistributed the whole of the wealth of the richest people equally throughout the world and throughout the lifetimes of the world population.

Depending on how you do the calculation, you would end up giving everybody a pay rise of between 65p and £1 per year – or about 0.03 per cent for your average Kenyan.

And, at the same time, you would have destroyed the system by which entrepreneurial- led innovation promotes economic growth and which has enriched previously destitute countries in a way that Oxfam could never have imagined back in 1980...

We should stop focusing on the rich as if they are the problem and, instead, focus on the policies which reduce the number of people who are poor"

Links - 20th January 2017

Skipping Saturday’s protests could be the most ethical choice Trump opponents can make - "thanks to the way that we tend to think about our own moral behavior, these public displays of political identity could actually hurt protestors’ long-term goals. The potential harm comes from a phenomenon known as moral self-licensing. When we do something we perceive as good, like attending a protest march, we give ourselves permission to do something bad, like skipping political activities with arguably more consequence. In other words, moral self-licensing can thwart our efforts to make the right ethical choices. “There are times when you should step out and be a hero and this [inaugural protests] isn’t one of them,” Brennan says. “Save your energy and your time and use it when it really matters.” This isn’t a position universally shared among political philosophers."

Vladimir Putin says Donald Trump didn't use prostitutes because he's met so many beautiful women - "Putin said that Trump wasn’t a politician when he visited Moscow in the past and Russian officials weren’t aware that he held any political ambitions. It’s “complete nonsense” to believe that Russian security services “chase after every American billionaire,” he said... Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”"

The White House Gets Into the Nudge Business - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "the national school lunch program, which offers low-income students free and reduced-price meals at school. And I remember hearing that unfortunately many, many kids who are eligible for free meals at school were actually going hungry every single day because of a burdensome application process. And this was really remarkable to me, right? You don’t think about barriers like application processes as actually deterring kids from being enrolled in programs. But I was excited to hear that the U.S. Department of Agriculture took steps to eliminate the need for an application altogether for those students whose eligibility could be determined through existing administrative data"
Meanwhile in Singapore the process is often designed to humiliate you

Is the Internet Being Ruined? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "BENKLER: When browsers first came out in the 1990s, the idea was: here is a universal standard for describing what it is you want to say or show and if you use that universal language, then anyone using any device can implement this reader. And essentially what the browsers did was they decentralized power from the operating system. If you were writing for Windows, you needed to write for Windows in this way. If you were writing for Apple, you needed to write for Apple in that way. Once you could write something on the web, you could write to this general purpose reader, the browser, and anything could run. What happened with the app is that you got special-purpose containers, if you will, for every kind of content. So you shifted from a general-purpose platform that’s based on open standards and anyone can write what they want, to a platform that says, “Write a very special program that fits only your data.” It’s a complete transformation...
Apple has been known to reject apps that it finds objectionable:
BENKLER: For example, someone developed a game that essentially criticized the manufacturing conditions and the worker conditions at the Chinese company Foxconn that was putting together the iPhone. That got banned on the App Store and removed from the App Store.
TUFEKCI: There was another app that was blocked that sent out a notification every time a drone had been used to kill people. So, it was a political statement to say, “Look, this is how much we’re using drones to do this.” And the App Store wouldn’t approve this"...
WERTH: And while these may sound like fairly minor examples, Benkler says, consider the deal that Apple made to restrict the use of Skype when it first became available on the iPhone in 2009. At the time, AT&T was the iPhone’s exclusive carrier. And AT&T essentially told its customers, “by the way, we have this rule about Skype”...
TUFEKCI: There’s all these really smart engineers. They’re the brightest computer scientists, and all they’re thinking about is: “How do I keep someone on Facebook for 10 more minutes? What’s the exact combination of things that will keep them staying on the site for as long as possible so we can show them as much advertisement as possible?” And given the amazing, revolutionary, fascinating disruptive potential of the Internet, it really feels like a waste to have this much intelligence and smarts being used to figure out how to keep you clicking on ten more animal videos. Basically Facebook is an environment in which you’re structurally, architecturally encouraged, to be positive and liking things. And that means that most people’s feeds are dominated by happy news"

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Meet the Author: Jodi Picoult - "It's really hard to talk about racism without offending people. And honestly, that is what keeps most white people silent on the topic of racism. They're terrified and paralysed by saying the wrong thing. It is far more important for us to talk about this"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Russia: The Arrest No-one Can Quite Believe - "The interesting thing is that in all the discussion about it, what many people are focusing on is that that's such a small amount of money. People are saying things like $2 million, that's what a city mayor would ask, no a minister, so this is ridiculous. So that shows the peculiar Russian take on things but it also shows the level of doubt. People just don't believe this story as it's presented to them:"

Rationally Speaking: About Sam Harris’ claim that science can answer moral questions - "Harris begins with a rather startling claim: “The separation between science and human values is an illusion,” adding “facts and values seem to belong to different spheres [but] This is quite clearly untrue. Values are a certain kind of facts. They are facts about the well beings of conscious creatures.” This is a frontal assault on what in philosophy is known as the naturalistic fallacy, the idea — introduced by David Hume — that one cannot directly derive values (what ought to be) from facts (what is)... if we let empirical facts decide what is right and what is wrong, then new scientific findings may very well “demonstrate” that things like slavery, corporal punishment, repression of gays, limited freedom of women, and so on, are “better” and therefore more moral than liberal-progressive types such as Harris and myself would be ready to concede. The difference is that I wouldn’t have a problem rejecting such findings — just as I don’t have a problem condemning social Darwinism and eugenics — but Harris would find himself in a bind. Indeed, he seems to be making a categorical mistake: what he calls values are instead empirical facts about how to achieve human wellbeing. But why value individual human wellbeing, or the wellbeing of self-aware organisms, to begin with? Facts are irrelevant to that question."
Another critique of The Moral Landscape

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Burnt - "For acrylamide... the academic researchers who have studied dietary acrylamide that humans are exposed to haven't found strong associations...
The idea that acrylamide is something in food that we could actually reduce and have some control over, that might cause cancer is kind of appealing. And in a way the idea that oh industry could just reduce the acrylamide levels in cold cereal or potato chips and that would make us all healthier is nicer than thinking: oh, we really all need to be eating more fruits and vegetables. We need to be eating less processed food. We probably need just to be eating less overall and exercising more. And all of those things would reduce cancer risk. But those are pretty sweeping things that require people to make changes in their everyday lives. Whereas the idea that there is just one chemical that we could focus attention on and industry could focus attention on is kind of appealing as a way to reduce cancer risk"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Full English Brexit - "95% of the vets working in abattoirs in the UK are actually from the EU. It's very hard to get British vets to do this thing... when British people decide they want to be vets, remember it takes a long time to be a vet. It takes absolutely years. It's not much easier than being a doctor... and most people that do that have an image of them curing the family dog and seeing the looking of happiness on the girl's face. They're not really imagining that they're going to spend their life working in an abattoir watching cows get slaughtered and watching former convicts washing down the carcasses. That's not really what they're aiming for in their career"

What do these kind of feminists actually think... - Madelaine Hanson - "If you’re white, don’t call yourself an intersectional feminist because-
you do not experience the type of oppression that the term was coined to discuss
it has been used by white feminists as a shield to avoid being held accountable for bigoted actions or words
some white feminists fixate on it as a way to separate themselves from other white feminists in order to seem less problematic without putting in actual intersectional work (again, avoiding accountability)
intersectionality is often used without proper credit being given to the creators of the concept (Black women)
claiming it as a white woman erases Black women and pushes away the issue of anti-blackness"
"What do these kind of feminists actually think they achieve in our movement, other than massively pissing people off and creating unnecessary anger, frustration and division?... What they mean is: I'm angry at white women, I don't want them in my feminism. Which is, in itself, gender based racism."
"If you use caps for one ethnicity and lower-case for another in the same sentence, you're probably a racist cunt."

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Italian vote 'big rejection' of the establishment - "'I'm skeptical of the term populism, which increasingly people are using for anything that's just popular. Oh and anything they don't like and want to put scare quotes around. Anti-establishment, I think, certainly. And that is the great mistake that Matteo Renzi made, which was to make a referendum that was on a very specific set of constitutional reform issues on to effectively a referendum on him, the establishment, the established order, even the EU. And every time the public are getting a chance to kick against that established order, they are taking it. And I think, instead of denigrating this trend, one should try harder to understand it. There's a lot of pooh-poohing of it but the public may not be on to nothing. And this is something that mainstream politicians really have to think about... instead of saying that... they're being, their brains are being stolen by crazy politicians and lying media and so on, we should consider that the public have a real concern. In Italy, for instance, with such high youth unemployment, the public have a real concern. When the Eurozone crisis has gone on, crisis after crisis, they have a real concern. When as many people as were in the Calais Jungle... arrive every single day on the Southern Islands in Italy, you know the public have a concern that's justified about immigration. And again and again we see this tendency from the political mainstream, instead of saying ok they are actually on to something, and we're going to do something in response, is either to sort of tweak around the ideas of their rhetoric or to describe the people as being wrong. As populist. As people who've absorbed fake news and so on. This is a big mistake in the long term'...
'It's used much too broadly. And people should really define it very carefully. I think populism is about parties that simply say it's impossible for there to be pluralism and for reconciliation of competing interests in society. They posit a claim that there is a corrupt elite and there's we the people and these two things cannot be reconciled and that they are fundamentally at odds with one another. And in an open society that's a real problem because it means that you can't go for the kinds of compromises and negotiations between interests that are the essence of democracy. So the question is whether political systems can now absorb the new energy coming from new upstart radical parties, some of whom will become part of the establishment in due course, just as the Greens have done in many countries'"

Man in the Netherlands euthanised due to his alcohol addiction - "More than 5,500 people ended their life using Holland’s euthanasia laws last year. One of those who died was a sex abuse victim who suffered severe anorexia, chronic depression and hallucinations. Fiona Bruce, a Conservative MP, told the Daily Mail news of Mr Landedijk's death was "deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the UK". “What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction – which can be provided – not to be euthanised," she added. “It is once again a troubling sign of how legalised euthanasia undermines in other countries the treatment and help the most vulnerable should receive.”"
What was that about the slippery slope being a fallacy?

Singapore: From Third World to First? - "already by the 1970s, Singaporean GDP per capita actually exceeded that of the UK. But the main point to take away from that graph is that Singapore entered the community of independent states as a prosperous country, at least by the standards of the time. That Singapore has progressed tremendously since independence is true, but not a story of turning the “Third World” into the first. If anything, it is a story of how to escape the middle income trap."

'Power Rangers' Alum Amy Jo Johnson Talks Movie Reboot, Relocating to Canada in Trump Era - "Amy Jo Johnson, who played the Pink Ranger in the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series, did move north — only before the U.S. election — to launch herself as a Canadian film director. "I'm happy, I'm really happy here. I actually feel like I've become a nicer person, becoming Canadian," Johnson tells the Hollywood Reporter while attending the Whistler Film Festival. "I have friends here who say, 'We're not the backyard that you can just escape to. I tell them, good thing I did that 10 years ago,'" Johnson says of Toronto in the Trump era. The Power Rangers alum, who moved to Canada a decade ago, insists she crossed the border to leave Hollywood behind. "In my 20s, it was super fun (in Los Angeles). I was wild, and partied a lot. And when I got into my 30s, I started to panic. My mother had died, I was single, I couldn't find the right guy, my biological clock starts ticking""

Are animal ingredients included in white sugar? | Frequently Asked Questions | About PETA | PETA - "Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve its desirable white color. Other types of filters involve granular carbon or an ion-exchange system rather than bone char."
Oh no even sugar isn't vegan!

Eviltwin's Blog: Bollywood Veggies & Let's get Naked - "right at the furthest end of the farm just passed the Mr Pee Wee and the Jack-A-Loo eco toilet you get to The Sanctuary. During all my explorations I have come across many strange things I thought I would never see in Singapore but this must be the weirdest. Here it is for all those folks who enjoy an even more intense nature experience. The sign reads "Nudity is welcome in the Sanctuary - Be respectful - No cameras Please""
There is a nudist sanctuary in Singapore at Bollywood Veggies!

Genetic Structure, Self-Identified Race/Ethnicity, and Confounding in Case-Control Association Studies - "Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population"
Funny, I thought race was a myth
Addendum: Racial groupings match genetic profiles, study finds
Related: Genetic ancestry highly correlated with ethnic and linguistic groups in Asia
Keywords: Race is a myth,
Ed: This was previously posted in April 2015

Bad Medicine, Part 1: The Story of 98.6 - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "where there is death there is hope, as a cohort of doctors who rubbished it moved into retirement and then death, the opposition disappeared."

Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "Putnam found that social capital was relatively low in the U.S. in the early 1900s and rose fairly steadily through the 1960s. But that’s when the decline began.
PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.
“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”
HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time...
We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings...
If we were talking in America in the 1920s or 1930s, the difference between Irish people and Italian people would have been enormous. I have some friends who got married in the 1960s, he was from an Italian background, she was from an Irish background, and when they got married everybody called it a “mixed” marriage. Parents on both sides all said mixed marriages never work"

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Links - 18th January 2017

Avengers: Infinity War will only feature 67 characters, no big deal - "Sixty. Seven. Characters. Tallying up the main characters from the MCU, including those from the Netflix shows, only results in about three dozen names. So where exactly are these 30 extra characters coming from? The Marvel roster runs deep, but pulling 67 players into Infinity War seems ambitious, to say the least. Will some characters return from the dead to help reach that total? Can the Russos really wrangle 67 characters without losing control of the plot? Can 67 characters even fit on a movie poster?"

Andrea Bocelli backs out of singing at Trump's inauguration after receiving death threats | Daily Mail Online - "The revelation came as another singer – Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday – last night pulled out of the President-elect's festivities after being threatened and branded an 'Uncle Tom'."
A true basket of deplorables

Women’s March on Washington Opens Contentious Dialogues About Race - NYTimes.com - "she read a post on the Facebook page for the march that made her feel unwelcome because she is white. The post, written by a black activist from Brooklyn who is a march volunteer, advised “white allies” to listen more and talk less. It also chided those who, it said, were only now waking up to racism because of the election... contentious conversations about race have erupted nearly every day among marchers, exhilarating some and alienating others... some complained that the event had turned from a march for all women into a march for black women. In Louisiana, the first state coordinator gave up her volunteer role in part because there were no minority women in leadership positions at that time... at a time when a presidential candidate ran against political correctness and won — with half of white female voters supporting him — is this the time to tone down talk about race or to double down?... “I needed them to understand that they don’t just get to join the march and not check their privilege constantly,” she said. That phrase — check your privilege — exasperates Ms. Willis. She asked a reporter: “Can you please tell me what that means?”"

Rosie O’Donnell Calls For Martial Law: 'Delay The Inauguration'

Islamic State: Where does jihadist group get its support? - "the dodgy dealings and strange alliances are beginning to look very similar to events that occurred during the Lebanese civil war, when feuding war lords would similarly fight and do business with each other. The point is that Islamic State is essentially self-financing; it cannot be isolated and cut off from the world because it is intimately tied into regional stability in a way that benefits not only itself, but also the people it fights."

France shaken up by Zemmour and 'new reactionaries' - "None of the neo-reactionnaires - not even Camus - claims allegiance to the FN. Many of them are Jewish. Nonetheless they stand accused, by expressing such strong views on Islam, identity and the nation, of promoting the cause of the far right. Zemmour says he is fed up with being asked about the FN. "Can't they understand that the FN is not a cause, it is a consequence. It is a consequence of the disintegration of France. "People vote for the FN to say to their elites, 'Stop doing what you are doing!' But they never do. "It was Stalin who first realised how effective it was to turn the enemy into a fascist. That is what they are doing to us today.""

Millions of historical images posted to Flickr - ""Most of the images that are in the books are not in any of the art galleries of the world - the original copies have long ago been lost." The pictures range from 1500 to 1922, when copyright restrictions kick in."

China 'seizes' eight Taiwanese from Kenya - "Taiwan has accused China of "extrajudicial abduction" after eight Taiwanese acquitted of fraud in Kenya were deported to mainland China."
China's peaceful rise

Rise in CO2 has 'greened Planet Earth' - "This is in line with the Gaia thesis promoted by the maverick scientist James Lovelock who proposed that the atmosphere, rocks, seas and plants work together as a self-regulating organism. Mainstream science calls such mechanisms "feedbacks"."

Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi's family lose Call of Duty case - "A French court has rejected a case in which the family of late Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi sued the makers of Call of Duty over his depiction in the best-selling video game... Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 shows him rallying his troops with phrases like "death to the MPLA". His family had said they were outraged at the depiction. "Seeing him kill people, cutting someone's arm off... that isn't Dad," Cheya Savimbi said."

Gay slur aimed at hairdresser 'not homophobic' - French ruling - "A Paris tribunal has ruled that calling a male hairdresser a "faggot" is not homophobic - "because hair salons regularly employ gay people"."

A Point of View: When does borrowing from other cultures become 'appropriation'? - "PC has its absurd aspects. It is funny because it puts more weight on the words we use than the actions we take, always a mistake... There is something funny about this undue weight given to words, because we can't be endlessly sensitive and attentive and courteous in every interaction we have in life. People who try end up seeming insipid and exasperating rather than entirely admirable. My own wife, Martha, for instance, who does try to be so in every exchange, is, though much loved, also famous for the length of time it takes her to extricate herself from a social occasion, having first to be certain that she has been nice to everyone. This leads her, perversely, to avoid many social occasions for fear of wearing herself out from attentiveness - the price of such niceness can be very high. Prolonged punctiliousness is exhausting to all, particularly to husbands - er, mates - er, partners - er, co-habitating life colleagues... One of my favourite stories of how healthy cultural hybrids happen involves Japan and the West, though not, in this case, the Mikado. You know those beautiful 19th Century Japanese prints, by Hiroshige or Hokusai or their friends, poetically depicting everyday events, or favourite places, all in charming comic book colour, with Mount Fuji often delicately if secretively included in every view (like a kind of sublime Where's Wally). Those delicate black-edged figures and long almost cartoonish faces, those startling juxtapositions of foreground and distance, that informal and haiku-like lyricism - Japanese prints had, as everybody is taught in class, an enormous influence on French Impressionist art in the middle of the 19th Century. They were, exactly, an exotic appropriation. Well, it turns out that they weren't really exotic at all. They were the product of the Japanese infatuation with Western perspective drawing and graphics... The Japanese appropriated Western perspective in ways that Westerners would never have imagined. Then the Japanese pictures got sent back to Europe, where they looked wonderfully exotic, and re-made the Western art they originally hailed from... Appropriation is far more often empowering than oppressing. There's no cheaper way to get the drop on a bad guy than to borrow his hymns and habits and make them your own. That's what diaspora Jews have done throughout their history. It's how German bred with Hebrew to become Yiddish and Yiddish became the great language of Jewish folk tale and protest"

'Cultural Appropriation!': Theater Forced To Rewrite Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Set In Japan By Leftist Bullies - "the left’s asinine fight against cultural appropriation means that nobody can produce Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado the way it was written, warts and all. Instead, Gilbert and Sullivan will be set in Italy -- which isn't cultural appropriation because Italy isn't a foreign country. Or something... Odd, then, that the same theatergoing community that finds The Mikado so offensive has no problem whatsoever with Hamilton, a piece of musical theater in which historical roles clearly hijacked from white Americans are played by minority cast members. When the producers of Hamilton put out a casting call asking for only non-white actors, members of the Actors’ Equity complained... when politics trumps art, art dies."

Slippery banana study wins Ig Nobel - "The Japanese scientists are interested in how friction and lubrication affect the movement of our limbs. The polysaccharide follicular gels that give banana skins their slippery properties are also found in the membranes where our bones meet."

Characterization of lactic acid bacteria isolated from infant faeces as potential probiotic starter cultures for fermented sausages

Report buried Trump-related ‘hate crimes’ against white kids - "The SPLC’s widely cited report — “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools” — reported that 40 percent of the more than 10,000 educators who responded to the survey “have heard derogatory language directed at students of color, Muslims, immigrants and people based on gender or sexual orientation.” The takeaway was that Trump-supporting white kids have been harassing minorities at the nation’s schools... The Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit self-censored results from a key question it asked educators — whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: “I have heard derogatory language or slurs about white students.” Asked last week to provide the data, SPLC initially said it was having a hard time getting the information “from the researchers.” Pressed, SPLC spokeswoman Kirsten Bokenkamp finally revealed that “about 20 percent answered affirmatively to that question.” Bokenkamp did not provide an explanation for the absence of such a substantial metric — at least 2,000 bias-related incidents against white students — from the report, which focuses instead on “anti-immigrant sentiment,” “anti-Muslim sentiment” and “slurs about students of color” related to the election. “They left that result out because it would not fit their ideological narrative,” former Education Department civil rights attorney Hans Bader said. “It was deemed an inconvenient truth”... Bader pointed out that most of the anti-minority “hate crimes” and “hate incidents” cited by SPLC do not legally constitute hate crimes, and many involve constitutionally protected speech. “It is simply ridiculous that SPLC treats ‘build the wall’ as hate rhetoric,” he said. The center counted people mentioning “build the wall” as 467 incidents of hate."

How the fairytale of New York can become a nightmare - "you can have anything you want, as long as you pay for it. Put another way, it's a great place, if you have money, and a terrible place, if you don't have money. Things have got so out of hand that you can actually pay to bypass normal security lines at the airport - $85 and a background check will give you the right to keep your laptop in your bag and your shoes on your feet. One mustn't be delayed by those huddled masses, I suppose. Then there's the aggression and annoyance to be found on every New York street, and most of its avenues. An hour after landing at the airport - having gone through security with the normal people - I'd been barked at by a pizza chef, a taxi driver, a guy selling bus tickets, and some random woman crossing the street. The city's rudeness is of course legendary, but what really sets it apart is its completely unapologetic nature. Actually it's even more than that. New Yorkers are proud of being brash, loud, and offensive. They like it."

Fifty Shades of Grey 999 call spike expected by London Fire Brigade - "London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it was "concerned" the 13 February release could lead to a "spike" in people being stuck or trapped in handcuffs or rings."

Woman could win cash payout 20 years after divorce - "In a statement, Mr Vince branded the court's decision "mad". "I feel that we all have a right to move on, and not be looking over our shoulders," he said. "This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago." Mr Vince said the time gap was "extremely prejudicial" and the fact there was "no paperwork in existence" had enabled the claim. It was "hard to defend yourself" under such circumstances, he said."

Delays on M74 after dog 'drives' on to carriageway

'Vicious' fox traps eight people in Cambridgeshire sports club - "A woman who tried to distract the fox with food sustained a bite to her hand. A man who tried to outpace the creature on his bicycle was chased into a field and fell off, losing his glasses in the process. "He had to fend the fox off with his bicycle," Mr Staines said."

Egyptians lambast 'ugly' new Nefertiti statue

The day I ordered pizza that 'doesn't exist' - " I made the mistake of asking her for a marinara - which is a simple tomato and garlic pizza - with the addition of mozzarella. As soon as I say the words, Emanuela looks at me with disbelief and, in retrospect I realise, disgust. "You can't have a marinara with mozzarella," she says. "It doesn't exist." "What do you mean, it doesn't exist?" I reply, oblivious to her hostility, since she's quite aggressive at the best of times. "I'd just like a marinara but with some mozzarella on top." Unwittingly I make matters worse by miming her mozzarella-sprinkling action. "La marinara is a pizza rossa," she states frostily. "A pizza rossa is made with tomato and without mozzarella. So you can't have a marinara with mozzarella because there's no such thing." Then she says something I find incredibly funny. "I suppose," she mutters grudgingly, "I could make you a margherita with garlic." (For those unfamiliar, a margherita is a pizza topped with tomato and mozzarella. )"
Comments: "I had a similar experience in Rimini (in the Emilia Romagna region) where their local specialty is piada. You could order it with various (but not all) combinations of rucola (rocket), tomato, squacquerone (cheese) and prosciutto. However, when I asked for one with the lot, they simply didn't understand... you simply can't have a piada with all 4 ingredients together. Strange but true...
"When visiting Budapest and out for a quick lunch, I ordered fruit soup and my husband ordered the Gundell pancake. But he had noticed that there were house-made pickles on the menu so he asked for an order of those just to try them out. Our waiter, a true professional, was appalled. He said we simply could not have pickles with such an order nor would he compromise with any other selection than the goulash. As goulash was too large and heavy a dish for our lunch, we never did get the pickles."
"A dear, dear friend of mine upsets French waiters by asking for her meat to be 'very well done'. Through clenched teeth the waiters explain that the chef will refuse to cook all the taste out of the meat; they have standards to uphold. My friend ignores their obvious disdain and asks, 'But it will be cooked properly? Not a hint of pink?' They seethe and mumble unkind things about expecting nothing else from a nation that boils vegetables like their washing, while I try to salvage international relations by ordering my meat sanglant."

Towson University Hosts Student Presentation Claiming ‘White People Are A Plague’ - "“‘White people are a plague to the planet’ lmao imagine if it said ‘black people’ instead… that wouldn’t be so pretty,” one user said. Another sarcastically noted, “#ItsNotRadicalToSay white people are a plague to the planet.” But leftist Twitter users seem to agree with the anarchic statement, some even repeating it for full efffect."

Friendships at Age 50, episode #176 of Question of the Day on Earwolf - "The arenas in which you really want or need good feedback can be the arenas in which it's really hard to get it"

BBC Radio 4 - The Public Philosopher, The Global Philosopher: Should the Rich World Pay for Climate Change? - "'They should actually contribute in some way. But not because of a historical argument. I think that the idea that to blame the rich countries for global warming when we didn't even knew the consequences during the Industrial Revolution seems to be immoral. And I believe that if they have any responsibility it should be for reasons like outsourcing all their production to China in modern days, but not because of something they did ages ago and no one that is alive at that time is alive today'...
'The proposed taxes on countries or the carbon offsetting for admissions is like doing a sin and then paying alms to a religious leader and asking for forgiveness' [Ed: This is telling - environmentalism as religion]...
'I just don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with the consume nature. It is important to protect environment, yes, but if we can develop ourself, if we can improve the living standard of our peers, why would you put environment superior to humanity? Why would you care more about the need of environment over the need of humanity?'"

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister challenges bias

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister challenges bias

"Gay marriage. Student harassment. Racial vilification. There’s an endless list of social issues dominating Australia’s culture wars, with ferocious lobby groups working hard to close down views that challenge the trendy orthodoxy. Well, there’s an eminent newcomer to town who loves getting up the nose of those trying to shut down proper debate...

Even since the 1970s when there was much excitement about research showing women’s capacity for multiple orgasms there’s been a strong feminist push arguing women’s sex drives are generally as strong as those of men. The psychology literature is replete with articles by women arguing this case — yet out in the real world everyone knows that’s not true...

Baumeister was the first to seriously investigate the truth of the matter, embarking in a series of studies, along with some female colleagues. One of these, Kate Catanese, started off totally convinced by the feminist rhetoric that there are no gender differences in sex drive, but as the evidence piled up ultimately she realised that was wrong.

The researchers examined more than 150 studies and concluded there was overwhelming evidence that men have more frequent sexual desires than women. The findings: men think about sex more often, desire more partners, masturbate more, want sex sooner, are less able or willing to live without sexual gratification, initiate more and refuse less sex, expend more resources and make more sacrifices for sex, desire and enjoy a broader variety of sexual practices, and have fewer complains about low sex drive.

“It’s pretty damn conclusive,” says a recent article in Psychology Today. Yet Baumeister still reports regular encounters with female academics, including some on his recent trip to Australia, claiming it just ain’t so...

Baumeister remains optimistic. “A nice thing about science is that one can assume the truth will win out in the end,” he says.

“To be sure, that requires freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. On politically charged topics there are strong and influential minorities who actively work against those freedoms.”

Gender, sexuality, and race are key areas in which there is limited openness to new ideas and new facts, suggests Baumeister. He resents what he sees as left-wing bias in social psychology: “White prejudice is studied frequently while inter-minority racism is comparatively ignored. If you have a finding that says the conservative viewpoint did better, no one wants to publish it.”

One topic that is hardly likely to win brownie points in the current social climate is research suggesting that men are better than women in anything whatsoever...

He concluded that most people who write about gender are “too intimidated by the feminist establishment to conduct an open-minded consideration of the relative advantages and disadvantages of both genders. The basic feminist dogma is that women are equal to or better than men at everything, and that all women’s problems and failures must be blamed on men.”

Take the common assumption that women are more social than men. Psychologists often make this claim but Baumeister points out the evidence is actually weak and applies mainly to one-to-one close relationships. He says if you define “social” in terms of large groups or networks, it is men who are more social as shown in team sports, military groups, even children’s playing styles.

“It was men’s ability to co-operate with casual acquaintances and strangers to work towards common goals that led to men creating wealth, knowledge and power — which led to the gender inequality that our society is struggling to overcome,” concludes Baumeister, who is happy to label himself a feminist.

Men’s unique social skills were a key theme when Baumeister found himself addressing the American Psychological Association in San Francisco on the topic “Is there anything good about men?”

This led to a book of the same name looking at how culture exploits men. In it he argues differences in gender roles are a trade-off. A few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture’s best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it. One mistake of many modern feminists, he writes, is that they “look only at the top of society and draw conclusions about society as a whole. Yes, there are mostly men at the top. But if you look at the bottom, really at the bottom, you’ll find mostly men there, too.” His examples: The homeless; the imprisoned; or people who do dangerous jobs (92 per cent of deaths at work are male)."
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